Community anger over the shooting death of a Black man at a Bend bar continued Friday when accused killer Ian Mackenzie Cranston appeared before a judge who barred some journalists from the courtroom and a crowd of nearly 100 people gathered on the Deschutes County Courthouse steps.
Cranston, 27, of Redmond, appeared by video in Deschutes County Circuit Court to face charges he killed Barry K. Washington Jr., 22, whose death in the heart of downtown Bend has shocked and angered many in Central Oregon.
The public was not allowed to attend the hearing in person. It was Cranston’s first court appearance since being indicted Thursday by a grand jury.
Deschutes Circuit Judge Beth Bagley refused to allow The Bulletin to send a reporter and photographer to the hearing but gave two local TV news crews access. Angie Curtis, trial court administrator, told The Bulletin prior to the hearing that Bagley had ruled the newspaper be excluded due to “social distancing” and because there was an online viewing option. Bagley did not respond to a request Friday from The Bulletin for clarification or to calls to her office.
The courthouse crowd outside listened to the hearing over a public address system or watched a streaming of it on their cellphones. They held signs that read “JUSTICE FOR BARRY” and “BLACK LIVES MATTER.”
Cranston, a machinist for bullet manufacturer Nosler, is being held without bail at the Deschutes County jail. He’s charged with six counts: second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.
“We do acknowledge having received a copy of the indictment and waive further reading and advice of rights,” Cranston’s attorney, Kevin Sali, told the judge Friday.
Thursday night, Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel called a press conference across the street from the Capitol nightclub, where the shooting took place and announced the grand jury decision to indict Cranston, who is white. He said America’s ongoing racial reckoning had reached Bend, and invoked Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black youth murdered in 1955 by white men for allegedly flirting with a white woman.
But Hummel said his office has no evidence the shooting was motivated by race, though he noted the investigation was ongoing.
Just after midnight Sept. 19, police responded to a shooting at the corner of NW Oregon Avenue and NW Wall Street. Cranston was arrested at the scene on suspicion of second-degree manslaughter. After being taken to the hospital, Cranston was jailed and he later posted $10,000 to bail out.
Hummel has provided the media with an account of the events outside the Capital nightclub that preceded the shooting. There are four principal people involved, according to Hummel: Cranston, his girlfriend, Allie Butler, an unnamed male friend of Cranston’s and Washington.
Washington approached Cranston’s girlfriend and complimented her. Cranston and his male friend asked Washington to “move along.”
“Some words were exchanged and some pushes and punches and Mr. Cranston shot Barry,” Hummel said Friday.
On Friday, Cranston’s attorney, Sali, released the following statement to The Bulletin:
“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.”
Despite a suggestion that Hummel was biasing the jury pool, Sali said he is not currently considering a request to try the case in another jurisdiction.
“I have full confidence in the citizens of this county to give my client a fair trial based on actual evidence,” he said.
Cranston’s next court appearance is a plea hearing scheduled for Dec. 7.
Washington’s family is planning a memorial service Oct. 6 in his hometown of Benicia, California.
His aunt, Valencia Roberson, declined to comment Friday, citing a gag order in the case.
“We are not at liberty to speak anymore, as we have legal representation now,” she wrote to The Bulletin.
Washington’s mother is represented pro bono by Erin Olson of the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center.
“Obviously, this is a high-profile case, and the family has just been inundated with questions and requests for information,” Olson said.
On Monday, a video of the shooting was aired on the website of Central Oregon Daily News. The wobbly, 64-second clip was provided by Cranston’s girlfriend, Butler. Three days later the station’s news director, Matt McDonald, appeared in a clip professing to have the family’s approval to post Butler’s video. But Washington’s mother, Lawanda Roberson, quickly responded that was incorrect.
On Friday outside the courthouse, members of the crowd chased away journalists with the station.
“Shame on you,” they chanted.
Hummel has called the footage “cherry picked.” The city of Bend maintains several security cameras downtown near the site of the shooting, which could also provide key evidence in the case.