An Indiana man who killed a Black man during the summer 2020 protests will not serve prison time after a judge found him guilty in a bench trial last month.
Tyler Newby was charged with the fatal shooting of Dorian Murrell amid rioting and protesting in downtown Indianapolis in May 2020. Newby shot Murrell after an altercation over a tear gas canister. He claims it was in self-defense.
Newby was initially indicted on voluntary manslaughter charges, but after jurors could not reach a unanimous decision in October 2021, and the judge declared a mistrial. Marion Superior Court Judge Angela Davis found Newby guilty of the lesser charge of reckless homicide on Oct. 17.
On Thursday, Davis sentenced Newby to a five-year suspended sentence. He will spend a year on home detention followed by four years of probation.
Murrell’s family said the judge’s decision shows a lack of regard for his life. They believe Newby should’ve been charged with murder.
“The family of Dorian Murrell is highly disappointed that Judge Angela Davis has allowed Tyler Newby to not do prison time for the killing of our beloved Dorian,” they said in a statement. “Her decision devalues the life the God of Justice gives all human beings. Our grief is great. Her decision increases our grief. Dorian is not resting in peace.”
According to court documents obtained by WTHR.com, a group Murrell was with asked Newby to hand over a tear gas canister, and he did not respond. Three to four men approached him and “kind of pushed him a little bit, but no one hit him,” he told investigators.
Newby said the group pushed him to the ground and when he rolled over, Murrell was standing above him and he was afraid the man would hit him. He drew his gun and shot Murrell in the chest. Reports show that Murrell was not armed and witnesses said he did not strike Newby.
“I don’t know who I need to tell, but I just shot somebody,” Newby reportedly told police.
Some of the people in the group Murrell was with that night were charged in connection to a robbery and murder of hours earlier, and investigators allege they had been threatening to shoot and rob people.
Murrell’s family also criticized prosecutors for not “fighting” for Dorian in the jury trial.
“The defense team was running the whole game. He was talking to the prosecutors who were on our side, letting them know when to start the video, when to end it, the whole nine yards,” Murrell’s grandmother Artonia Armstrong said. “It kind of looked to me like they were working together, that’s what it’s been looking like the whole time instead of fighting for my grandson.”
Newby’s case draws some comparison to a highly publicized trial that saw a then 17-year-old Illinois teen escape conviction in the deaths of two men. In August 2020, Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and paralyzed another during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A jury agreed with Rittenhouse’s claims of self-defense and acquitted him of murder and reckless endangerment charges in November 2021.
Rittenhouse claimed that a man chased him in the crowd and grabbed the barrel on his AR-15 style rifle, and he shot him. He was then pursued by a group of people, which also caused him to retaliate, he said.