An Oklahoma court convicted an ex-cop of killing his daughter’s boyfriend, a crime that may have been racially motivated, as reported by KTUL.
Shannon Kepler, a 24-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department, was convicted in Oct. 2014 shooting death of 19-year-old Jeremey Lake. The teenager was dating the officer’s daughter, Lisa Kepler, at the time of the murder. Lake was black, adding a possible racial motive to the slaying.
Kepler sought out Lake while he was off duty, while he and 18-year-old Lisa were passing out water bottles to the city’s homeless population. Kepler initially told police that Lake had a gun and he shot him in self defense, though authorities never recovered a weapon from the scene.
“He’s bringing it, I’m bringing it,” Kepler told the court last month, according to Huffington Post. “It was either him or me. I’m not going to stand there and get shot.”
Lake’s aunt told the court that her nephew was simply reaching out his arm for a handshake when Kepler fired the deadly shot. Lisa had moved in with Lake and his aunt, with the murder occurring outside of their home.
This is the fourth time the case has been tried in front of a jury. The previous trials all ended in deadlock, as reported by CBS News. Civil rights lawyers have accused Kepler’s defense team of purposefully excluding black jurors during each of the first three trials. Additionally, Kepler argued that he could not be tried by state attorneys because of his Native American ancestry, with him being 1/128th Muscogee.
Kepler’s attorney, Richard O’Carroll, has said that the charge of racism was levied by prosecutors in order to get a conviction.
“If the government is going to prosecute you four times in a row, the odds of you being convicted go up,” he told The Washington Post. “They argued racism without a shred of evidence … [The judge] was biased from the beginning. I know that sounds like sour grapes, but it’s the truth.”
In addition to murder, Kepler was also found guilty of recklessly using his firearm. He was sentenced today to 15 years behind bars and ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.
[Featured Image: Jeremey Lake, Shannon Kepler/Handout/ Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office]