(Update: Cranston arraigned; Dec. 7 plea hearing set; Peacekeepers rally, defense attorney statement)
Supporters of Washington's family rally outside courthouse; defense attorney disputes DA's statements
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Deschutes County grand jury late Thursday indicted Redmond resident Ian Mackenzie Cranston, 27, and he was quickly arrested, then arraigned Friday on second-degree murder, manslaughter and other charges in the Sept. 19 fatal shooting of 22-year-old Barry Khristiano Washington on a downtown Bend street corner.
District Attorney John Hummel made the announcement Thursday night in a livestreamed news conference on a downtown Bend street, not far from the scene of the shooting. He also said he had called and informed Washington’s mother, Lawanda Roberson, in the Bay Area and “she thanked God” for the news of the re-arrest and stronger charges against her son’s alleged killer. "That's what she said to me -- 'thank God.'"
Hummel said an arrest warrant was issued and Cranston was arrested by Bend police at his home on charges of second-degree murder, first- and second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. Cranston is white and Washington was Black, but Hummel said he did not have sufficient evidence at this point to also seek a bias crime charge against Cranston, though the investigation continues.
A small crowd had gathered for the hastily called street-side news conference, and someone in the crowd said “Yes! That’s what I’m talking about!” when the formal charges were announced. Hummel said Cranston was booked back in the county jail without bail pending an initial court appearance scheduled for next Tuesday.
Cranston’s initial arrest on a second-degree manslaughter charge meant he was able to post 10 percent of his $100,000 bail and be released hours after the killing that Sunday, sparking heightened concern and even anger among many in the community.
Cranston was arraigned on the charges Friday afternoon, and Deschutes County Circuit Judge Beth Bagley set his plea hearing for Dec. 7. His lawyer, Kevin Sali, said they would have been comfortable submitting a not-guilty plea on Friday, but Bagley said that does not happen at arraignment. The judge ordered Cranston remain held without bail, though his attorney said he might seek a release or bail reduction hearing in the future.
Close to 100 members of the community showed up for the proceedings, including members of the Central Oregon Peacekeepers. But the public was not allowed in the courtroom, so a rally with signs such as "Justice For Barry" took place outside the courthouse.
Peacekeepers President Luke Richter told NewsChannel 21, "We just want to show the family that we stand with them. We'll never be able to speak for them, and how they knew Barry, and what they knew of Barry - how much they loved him. So we're just here to show them that we're here to support them through this entire journey, and that this community doesn't stand for things like that."
Meanwhile, Sali, Cranston's defense lawyer, provided this statement to NewsChannel 21, disputing Hummel's statements about what took place that night:
"When this case goes to trial, it will provide another example of why in this country cases are decided on the basis of evidence presented in court, not press conferences by politicians.
"The undisputed evidence will be that before Ian Cranston ever drew his weapon, Barry Washington had assaulted him without provocation, resulting in head injuries that required the police to take Mr. Cranston to the hospital, where a brain scan and other procedures had to be performed.
"Indisputable video evidence also demonstrates that, in direct contrast to the district attorney’s public statements, that unprovoked assault was still actively in progress when the single shot was fired.
"After the evidence comes out at trial, I trust someone will ask the district attorney why he deliberately inflamed the community with statements he knew were not supported by any evidence. In the meantime, we will make our presentation in the courtroom, where it belongs," Sali said.
Despite his criticism of Hummel's statements, Cranston's attorney said he has no current plans to seek a change of venue in the case.
"I have full confidence in the citizens of this county to give my client a fair trial, based on the actual evidence," Sali said.
Hummel said Thursday night that “tactical” police methods ensured a quick arrest was possible: “We weren’t going to let him out of our sight.”
Though no bias crime has been charged, Hummel read a statement (see below) in which he said he’d received hundreds of calls and emails to remind him of the nation’s “disgraceful history of denigrating, prosecuting and lynching black men for talking to white women.”
He said he attended college in Virginia in the 1980s and law school in Arkansas in the ‘90s but that “racism didn’t only happen back then, and ‘down there’ (in the south). It happens right here and now.”
The DA said he’d heard from man area residents who are black and “described how uncomfortable you are walking the streets in Bend. …. There is a reckoning with race that needs to happen in Central Oregon, and it needs to happen now.”
“Know this,” he concluded. “Justice will be done in this case.”
Responding to reporter questions, Hummel said that if subsequent evidence shows race played any part in the crime, his office will go back to the grand jury to seek a bias crime charge. But he said going to the grand jury for that charge with insufficient evidence would have prevented any return, should more information come to light.
Hummel said the grand jury indicted Cranston on every charge sought by his office. He also said the second-degree murder charge is not a lesser crime than first-degree, but that state law lists “additional elements” required for a first-degree chare, such as killing two or more people, or a child.
“This isn’t a judgment on Barry,” he said. “We charged the highest crime there is for this act.” While not pre-meditated, the DA said, “It was an intentional act. That’s what our theory was. It wasn’t a fumbling with the gun, or an accidental discharge of the gun. It was an intentional decision by Mr. Cranston to shoot and kill Barry Washington.”
Regarding the possible racial motive, Hummel said, "The hate crime, or bias crime aspect of this case is an active investigation. If we obtain sufficient evidence to prove that this shooting was at least partially motivated by race, we will go back to that grand jury and ask them to add the charge.
"I determined we did not have sufficient evidence at this point to present it to the grand jury, and that was a tactical decision made by myself.," Hummel continued. "If we presented it now, and the grand jury said, 'No, the state doesn't have enough evidence,' then that case is gone. And if we gathered more evidence later, we couldn't go back. That is an active investigation."
Hummel urged anyone with information to contact his office or police, "if you have any information any racial motives of Mr. Cranston in this incident." And he said they are still gathering electronic evidence.
"I'm going to tell you this: Some people in this community criticize a group in town called the Central Oregon Peacekeepers," he said. "I think highly of them. They gave me evidence that I shared with the Bend Police Department about this case that we didn't know when we gave it to them. I give them kudos, I thank you." And he urged others with information that could assist in the case to do the same.
Asked why there are both murder and the lesser manslaughter charges, Hummel referred to a common move that presents "alternative theories" of what transpired, but added, "I'm confident that murder is the correct charge, but if you commit murder intentionally, you also killed someone recklessly. ... If you do the greater crime, you've also done the lesser crime"
Hummel also was asked if, due to the furor over Cranston’s initial release, those procedures will be reviewed. He said there every alleged crime has a bail schedule, but that he’s been focused since the crime not on looking back – “I needed to look forward, to prepare this case for the grand jury.”
“Got to keep an eye on the prize,” he said.
News release from DA John Hummel:
UPDATE ON DOWNTOWN BEND SHOOTING INVESTIGATION
Barry Washington was shot and killed on a downtown Bend Street by Ian Cranston, in the early morning hours of September 19, 2021. Bend Police officers quickly responded and arrested Mr. Cranston for the crime of Manslaughter in the Second Degree. Shortly after his arrest, Mr. Cranston paid the bail amount previously established by the Deschutes County Circuit Court for people charged with the crime of Manslaughter in the Second Degree and he was released from jail on the condition that he appear in court on October 5, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.
This afternoon, the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office presented this case to the Deschutes County Grand Jury. After the presentation the Grand Jury returned an Indictment that charges Mr. Cranston with the following crimes:
Murder in the Second Degree, Manslaughter in the First Degree, Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Assault in the First Degree, and two counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon.
Immediately after the grand jury returned the Indictment, District Attorney Hummel requested that the Deschutes County Circuit Court issue a warrant for his arrest, and this request was granted. Pursuant to a tactical plan previously arranged by Hummel and the Bend Police Department, Mr. Cranston was immediately arrested in Redmond and lodged in the Deschutes County Jail. Mr. Cranston is being held without bail until his court appearance on October 1, 2021 at 1:30pm.
Statement from District Attorney Hummel to the residents of Deschutes County:
“Our country has a disgraceful history of denigrating, prosecuting, and lynching black men for talking to white women. Over the last week, hundreds of people called and emailed me to remind me of this history; I responded to every one of you. In many of these calls and emails you referenced Emmett Till; the 14-year old boy who was kidnapped, beaten, mutilated, shot in the head, and dumped in a river, all for allegedly whistling at a white woman. If that was not bad enough, his killers were found not-guilty at trial.
I went to college in Virginia in the 80’s and law school in Arkansas in the 90’s. Racism was alive and well in the South back then. But racism didn’t only happen back then, and down there. It happens right here and right now.
I started my legal career in 1995 as a public defender, representing farm workers from Mexico who lived and worked in Prineville and Madras. My farm worker clients were the hardest working people I ever met, yet they were treated as if they were lazy, drunk, and stupid.
And what happened in the 90’s in Prineville and Madras is happening today in Deschutes County. Many of you who called and emailed me these last two weeks are black: You described how uncomfortable you are walking the streets in Bend. Most chilling were your accounts of how the killing of Barry Washington impacted your children. Thank you for taking the difficult step of reliving your pain by telling me stories I needed to hear. There is a reckoning with race that needs to happen in central Oregon, and it needs to happen now.
At the same time, as much as it’s my job to protect and advance the rights of Barry and his family, I have the duty to protect the rights of the accused. Ian Cranston is innocent of the crimes he’s charged with, and he will remain innocent, unless and until the State proves his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. By ensuring Mr. Cranston’s rights are protected, when we obtain a conviction, which I’m confident we will, the conviction will hold up during the appeals process, thereby sparing Barry’s family the pain of a second trial.
To the hundreds of people who have been advocating on behalf of Barry and his family: thank you. Keep it up. I see you and I respect you. Our community needs you.
Know this: Justice will be done in this case.”