A Black man who has spent more than a year behind bars after shooting a white burglar who was attempting to break into his business last year had been released on bond.
LaRue Bratcher, a 34-year old father of five, has been released on $400,000 bond after he was jailed for more than a year after fatally shot a man trying to burglarize his Oklahoma City marijuana grow shop, Premium Smoke, LLC, in May 2020.
Bratcher appeared at a bond hearing on June 14. According to the Black Times Oklahoma, the bond was paid for by Black Lives Matter Oklahoma. Bratcher was released from the Oklahoma County Jail on Tuesday afternoon, reunited with his family and will remain under house arrest until his trial in October.
Bratcher is facing a first-degree murder charge in connection with an incident last year, in which Bratcher fatally shot 42-year-old Daniel Hardwick through a door as he tried to burglarize Bratcher’s business.
On May 26, 2020, police responded to reports of shots fired at Bratcher’s south Oklahoma City marijuana shop.
“He was trying to break in when the business owner, who was inside the business at the time, apparently opened fire with a handgun, striking and killing the man who was breaking in,” Oklahoma City Police Department spokesman Gary Knight said, KFOR reported.
Authorities contacted the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority to confirm that Bratcher’s business was illegal but found his license had expired.
Bratcher was arrested and $1,500,000 worth of marijuana was confiscated. Initially, Bratcher was booked for growing marijuana without a license and his bond was set at $5,000, but after the district attorney’s office reviewed the case, his charge was upgraded to second-degree murder. Bratcher was taken into custody and late last year, his charge was upgrade to first-degree murder.
Although Oklahoma law permits self-defense if the person is in the process of forcefully entering, or had unlawfully entered, a home, occupied vehicle, or business, prosecutors say Bratcher’s actions were felonious because his cannabis license had expired at the time. If convicted, Bratcher could spend life in prison.
In May, Bratcher’s community rallied behind the veteran. “Someone broke into his place,” Bratcher’s uncle Derrick Neighbors said at a rally for Bratcher last month. “He didn’t go out looking for trouble. He was in his own place of business.”
Laura McNeal, chief legal correspondent for the Black News Channel, called Bratcher’s ordeal another example of a “dual justice system.”
“You’re in your business at night, somebody is literally busting down the doors trying to break in. What do you do? You defend yourself.”