Jesse Murray (Photo Credit: Provided by family spokesperson Nia Walker)

Jesse Murray (Photo Credit: Provided by family spokesperson Nia Walker)

A clearcut stand your ground case in Georgia is showing that when it comes to race there is a separate level of proof that must be reached. On February 16, 2014, Jesse Murray, 33, met with his estranged wife at Benefields Sports Bar in Clayton County, Georgia. The couple was there to discuss the future of their marriage and the well being of their children. The couple had frequented the bar for many years and was known by many members of the staff.

After eating dinner, the couple decided to play a game of pool and enjoyed a few drinks during the night. There was a party taking place at the bar and a drunken White male stumbled into Murray’s wife Traci, and made no apology for his actions. It was at this point that Murray stood between his wife and the man and told him to get away from his wife. The drunken man, later identified as Nathan Adams a former police officer, told Murray, “You need to f*cking leave” and four other White men began to surround Murray.

Murray was able to move away from the men and went to his car to retrieve his licensed handgun and try to get his wife out of the bar and away from the men. When he tried to reenter the bar, the door was blocked by the group of White men who continued in their aggressive behavior. Murray told the men to let his wife out of the bar and they told him his wife wasn’t going anywhere and started towards him in the parking lot.

That is when Adams threw a punch at Murray and the other four men jumped into the fight and began to kick and punch Murray, tackling him to the ground. During the scuffle, Adams attempted to reach into Murray’s pocket where he had his gun and during the fight the weapon went off, striking and mortally wounding Adams. One of the men in the group then pulled his gun and shot four times at Murray, who was able to escape and run into a nearby tire shop where he called police.

When police arrived, Murray surrendered his weapon and was trying to explain what happened and was handcuffed by the responding officer. While he was cuffed, a member of the group that assaulted Murray ran forward and punched him in the head. The officer did not arrest the man who assaulted Murray and instead placed Murray into the back of his patrol car.  While he was being placed in the car, an off-duty and out of uniform White officer, who was a friend of Nathan Adams, arrived at the scene. He shouted at Murray, “Do you know who we are?! We’re going to fry your black ass!”

Adams was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead and Murray was transported to jail. He was charged with malice murder in the first degree as well as aggravated assault. No other person was charged for their actions that night. Murray appeared in court yesterday and took the stand stating he feared for his life. Prosecutors maintain that the shooting was murder.  A judge will now decide if Murray will face prosecution for his actions or whether the case will be dismissed under the stand your ground law. He is being represented by noted Atlanta attorney Maluwi Mel Davis of the Davis-Bozeman law firm.

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.