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Rally held to support Black veteran arrested for standing his ground

Published: Last Updated on

 

LaRue Bratcher and his family. (Change.org)

(Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include a GoFundMe for the family.)

Family members and community advocates held a “cruise for LaRue Bratcher” in Oklahoma City on Saturday as the United States army veteran remains in jail on murder charges for using lethal force to defend his cannabis cultivation company from an attempted burglar.

“When you’re in trouble, somebody has to fight for you,” Derrick Neighbors, LaRue Bratcher’s uncle, said, according to News 9. “This is my family and we’re going to fight for him.”

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Rally to support LaRue Bratcher

Relatives and supporters at Saturday’s rally called on all Oklahomans to support a family that has given back to the country and community. 

A caravan of supporters started at the Ice Event Center, making their way through downtown Oklahoma City before stopping at the County Jail. For nearly two hours they chanted “justice for LaRue Bratcher” and “free LaRue Bratcher” in order to raise awareness for his case, according to the OKC-based news outlet The Black Times.

LaRue Bratcher called the police in the early morning hours of May 26, 2020 shortly after he shot and killed an alleged burglar attempting to break into his cannabis cultivation company for the second time.

Bratcher was defending his business from intruder

According to the family, Bratcher meant to fire warning shots, though one ended up striking and killing the man, later identified as 42-year-old Daniel Hardwick. Because Bratcher’s cannabis business license was expired at the time, police arrested him. 

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater, who previously placed terrorism charges on unarmed Black and brown activists during George Floyd protests in 2020, decided to place second-degree murder charges on the veteran. Bratcher’s wife, children and six-month-old baby were escorted out of their home at gunpoint. 

Read: Okla. County activists call for DA Prater’s resignation.

DA charges Black veteran with first-degree murder

Weeks later, the charges were upgraded to first-degree murder, with Bratcher being held at the Oklahoma County Jail. Officials denied his bond, and relatives and friends wonder why, considering he’s a business owner in the community who expressed remorse for using lethal force to defend himself in a state that prides itself on standing one’s ground.

“It’s just me with the kids, and to know that you go from one charge to the next charge and not knowing what’s going to happen. It’s like our life is at suspense right now, LaRue’s wife Vicky Bratcher previously told local media.

Oklahoma’s Stand Your Ground law reads in part:

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“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

OMMA updates license renewal policy

Because Bratcher’s cannabis license had expired at the time he stood his ground, prosecutors view his actions as unlawful, felonious activity.

Yet, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, which oversees all aspects of the medical cannabis industry, including license renewals, has previously claimed it takes days or even weeks to process a new application. 

This year, the OMMA updated its policy to allow cardholders to apply for a new license while still using their expired one until the new one comes in the mail. It’s unclear whether charges would’ve been brought against Bratcher had this policy been in place last year.

Instead, Vicky Bratcher has been forced to take over the family business, raise their kids, and advocate for her husband’s release. Saturday’s rally proved that she has supporters in the community willing to have her back.

“I just wanted to thank everyone for supporting my Dad, and I just really miss him,” Bratcher’s daughter, LaRiah Bratcher, said at the rally, according to The Black Times. “I want him home because he’s my protector and supporter… every day when I wake up I just want him to be home.”

A petition calling for justice for LaRue Bratcher has received more than 1,600 signatures, and a GoFundMe for the family has raised nearly $10,000.

12 comments

gregbreakpointgmailcom May 10, 2021 - 3:35 pm

If this was a white man shooting a black intruder to his business, he would be free today. Does anyone doubt this? Law enforcement in Oklahoma has always been about keeping black people in their place. Whether its being successful economically other than on a sports field or recording studio or a black person picking up arms. This from a State that just legalized rednecks in big pickup trucks running down black folks demonstrating in the streets. Oklahoma just banned teaching about the Tulsa Race Massacre in schools, demanding that all history taught to children be “whitewashed.”; fictionalized as to eliminate any telling of what really happened in America.

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WeAreAmericans May 10, 2021 - 7:39 pm

I doubt this.

Stop seeing race. We’re standing with him because he stood his ground AS AN AMERICAN.

You’re a disgusting racist. Stand up for the Constitution and America. Stop dividing us, Greg.

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Cee Ride May 22, 2021 - 11:08 am

Honestly, yes we stand with him because he stood his ground but Greg above is also right. There’s much more going on here than just standing his ground. Until we see the big picture as an American Family this won’t stop (Family together…White, Black, or any other race we are all one family… Americans). There are many who won’t stand with us on this because of his race. They are trying to find every reason to think he is guilty because of his skin color. That’s the real reason they tried to charged him with 2nd degree murder. When simply the color of his skin makes him guilty of something or becomes grounds to arrest and hold him but no one sees this and assume its a one off because they compare 10 instances where 8 was deemed self-defense instantly and 2 were not so they were isolated incidents then that contributes to the problem because they become blinded to the underlying issue. To see the big picture you realize the 8 where white and the 2 were black you see it for what it is… a pattern.

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CHRIS June 5, 2021 - 7:58 pm

Greg, I doubt it. First I can tell you are a very racist person. Second the reason Oklahoma passed a law to allow law-abiding citizens to run down the piles of crap blocking roads is because those piles of crap blocking roads are violent and dangerous and if they are so stupid to stand in front of 6000lb machines and threaten people they will run the risk of becoming a speed bump. Second you need to read the REAL story of the Tulsa Race massacure, in short it was 75 black men some of which were armed that started it. BTW if a white man shot a black man under these same conditions I am sure he would be spending time in prison.

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Jerry May 10, 2021 - 9:57 pm

First-degree murder is the most serious of all homicide offenses. It involves any intentional murder that is willful and premeditated with malice aforethought. Premeditation requires that the defendant planned the murder before it was committed or was “lying in wait” for the victim.

OK County DA must’ve forgotten the criteria necessary to be charged with first degree murder. If George Zimmerman can use the Stand My Ground Law, this man should be exonerated as well.

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Jerry McQuire June 1, 2021 - 7:26 pm

I get it, we all want justice. However, this was the second night in a row the burglar tried getting in, so the owner may have been lying in wait, hence the first degree murder charge. Shot through the door. Northern Minnesota had a similar case and the homeowner, old white man was convicted of murder. So the whole if he were white thing he would be free idea is ridiculous. The guy screwed up. Now he has to pay up.

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Bob June 1, 2021 - 7:58 pm

According to court documents, Bratcher grabbed his gun, then when he heard Hardwick at the back door he “asked the subject what he was doing,” before shooting through the door three times “to scare the subject off.”

When he opened the door he found Hardwick dead on the other side and called 911.

Bratcher admitted to police that the door was “locked and secured” when he started shooting.

It’s not self defense, stand your ground, when a locked door is in between you and a potential burglar.

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Lynda June 2, 2021 - 6:44 pm

Despite the door being locked and secured, burglars/robbers find a way to break in anyways. And most of the time those criminals have a weapon. Should Bratcher have waited for Hardwick to break in and shoot at him first? He instead shot some warning shots to scare Hardwick off but mistakenly shot him dead. He promptly called 911 to report himself. Doesn’t sound like he was trying to murder him on purpose. And he had every right to defend himself and his property.

And, if that doesn’t make sense to you then the George Zimmerman case should make less sense. It’s not truly self-defense if you instigate an altercation with the victim as he did with Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman called the police to report him as a “suspicious person” (a.k.a. “black boy walking down the street minding his business”) and then engaged him despite the police telling him not to. The police said they were coming to handle it instead, but he decided to engage Martin anyways and shot him. And somehow that was not premeditated? Yet despite him instigating the altercation, he was acquitted so….we’ll see how this one plays out.

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Lynda June 2, 2021 - 6:46 pm

Meant to say “Doesn’t sound like he was trying to KILL him on purpose”

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LaRue Bratcher Faces Murder Trial for Shooting, Killing Intruder June 2, 2021 - 1:29 pm

[…] Rallies and petitions in Bratcher’s favor have been held and circulated. […]

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Jen Farmer June 2, 2021 - 7:55 pm

Its completely possible to do the right thing and still go to prison. See jan 6.

This guy did nothing wrong. When someone is intent on trying to break into your house, you don’t know their reason. If this were a woman and it turned out the guy outside had a history of violent rapes, none of ya’ll would be saying “pay the price”.

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Chris June 4, 2021 - 5:49 pm

Does anyone know if there is a defense fund we can donate to? This is outrageous. Please let me know how I can help

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