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Self-defense allowed by law, Oklahoma County DA says

BY JAY F. MARKS Published: May 28, 2009
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Even though he decided to charge a pharmacist with murder for killing a would-be robber, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said he supports people’s right to defend themselves as allowed by state law.

"I do not want the charging of Jerome Ersland with first-degree murder to have a chilling effect on any person legitimately in a position to defend themselves from an assailant,” Prater said Wednesday in a news conference.

He said the decision should not cause anyone to hesitate to use appropriate force if faced by the "imminent threat of serious injury or death from another person.”

State law allows people to use deadly force if they’re threatened somewhere they have a right to be, he said.

Ersland was not justified in killing robbery suspect Antwun Parker because the 16-year-old was already incapacitated from a bullet to the head, prosecutors said.

Surveillance video from Reliable Discount Pharmacy and court papers indicate Ersland walked by the unconscious Parker at least twice before retrieving another gun and firing five shots into his abdomen. Those injuries caused Parker’s death.

Prater said it appears city homeowner Scott Henson was justified Tuesday when he shot a burglar inside his home because the other man made an aggressive move toward him.

Ersland, on the other hand, shot a suspect who was unarmed and unconscious. "It’s a good example of what not to do,” Prater said.

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