A white man will spend 10 years in prison for the death of a Black man that sparked protests over racial violence in Oregon.
Ian Cranston, 28, was convicted of manslaughter, assault and unlawful use of a deadly weapon for the September 2021 fatal shooting of Barry Washington Jr.
Reports show Cranston shot Washington after the man hit on his girlfriend, who was also white, outside a bar in downtown Bend, Oregon, last year.
Cranston argued that Washington, who was bigger and stronger, punched him first, so he had to pull out the weapon to defend himself.
A judge sentenced Cranston to a decade in state prison and three years of parole Monday. The victim’s mother said she believed Cranston would’ve responded differently if Washington was white.
“Does anyone think that Cranston would have even noticed my son if he was not Black?” Lawanda Roberson said. “What’s clear to me is that if my son was white, he would be alive today. You don’t have to be Black to know that.”
Reports show that Washington flirted with Cranston’s girlfriend, Allison Butler, inside The Capitol in Bend. Butler told Washington she was engaged, and he backed off. However, Washington tried to talk to her again while she was outside with Cranston and a group of friends.
Cranston and his friend Tyler Smith told Washington to “move along, she’s taken,” but he became “angry,” according to prosecutor Michael Swart.
“Without any notice to Ian Cranston, Barry punched Ian in the face,” Prosecutor Michael Swart said. “After Barry punched him, Ian took out his handgun and waited 30 long seconds to take his revenge, to look for an opportunity to assuage his pride.”
Swart said Cranston killed Washington because he “wounded” his pride” and “bruised his ego,” and there was no evidence that Washington tried to hit him again, putting his life at risk.
However, Cranston’s defense attorney argued that he knew he didn’t stand a chance against Washington in a physical altercation and had “the right to fire a shot if he reasonably believes that there is a threat of physical injury, which is indisputably the case.”
Defense attorneys also argued that Cranston was under the influence of alcohol and had been drinking at two bars that night. They also tried to insert that Washington was part of a gang after an unwarranted search of his phone, where he used the word “blood” to refer to other people.
Butler also claimed Washington hit her that night after she took out her phone to record the altercation but later walked back the accusations in court.
Protestors rallied for justice for Washington throughout the trial and marched from the courthouse to the site of his murder on Monday. Many say Washington’s killing was a modern-day lynching. They pushed for hate crime charges for Cranston but the district attorney’s office said they did not have enough evidence to support a bias crime.
Cranston did not speak during the sentencing hearing. Judge Beth Bagley told him she imagined he wished he had reacted differently.
“Everybody here lost, some much more than others,” Bagley said.
Roberson said Cranston’s sentence was “a slap on the wrist.” Still, his defense attorney Kevin Sali said he plans to appeal Cranston’s conviction.
“I know you have no discretion on what Cranston’s sentence will be because, under Oregon law, people convicted of manslaughter in the first degree will be sentenced to 10 years in prison,” the victim’s mother said.
“But God will deal with Ian Cranston the way He sees fit,” she continued. “And while I hope whatever time you get, Ian Cranston, instead of feeling sorry for yourself. I hope you feel all the pain that me and my family have felt.”