Black Man Acquitted After Killing White Man During Racially Charged Bar Dispute
Pittston, PA — Stephen Spencer, a 31-year old Black man from Pennsylvania, has been found not guilty after he shot a white man to death while defending himself during a racially charged dispute.
On a late Sunday night in July 2017, Spencer was in a bar when he got into an argument with Christopher Williams, a 32-year old white man when Williams refused to shake Spencer’s hand. The situation escalated and Spencer fired one shot that hit and killed William, who was unarmed at that time.
Spencer immediately turned himself in. He was then charged with criminal homicide, simple assault, and terroristic threats.
After more than a year, however, a jury acquitted Spencer of all charges. He was freed after being held in jail for almost 15 months.
During his trial, Spencer testified that he acted in self-defense. He claimed he had been enduring racial taunts inside the bar that night before he left. He said that a group of several white men followed him outside the bar and yelled at him, “We’re going to get you, n—–!” Fearing for his life, he pulled out his gun and fired one shot.
Meanwhile, the prosecution argued that what Spencer did could not have anything to do with the confrontation inside the bar and said he should have ran away instead of pulling out his firearm.
But in a rare case, the court sided with Spencer, a Black man, and acquitted him.
“I was fighting for my life for 15 months and I finally made it. Justice was served,” Spencer said.
Spencer was described during the trial as a family man and a business owner. It was also stated that he has a concealed carry permit and has no criminal record.
His lawyer, John Pike, said the case was “more than just someone shooting an unarmed person. And the jury saw it, they saw it for what it was — ugly racism.”