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NAACP lauds murder charge in pharmacist shooting case

Associated Press | 6/3/2009, 5:24 a.m.

OKLAHOMA CITY — The NAACP last Friday praised Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater for filing a first-degree murder charge against a white pharmacist in the shooting death of a black teenage would-be robber and urged community leaders to allow the judicial system to work.

“This is not a black issue. This is not a white issue. This is a justice issue,” said Anthony Douglas, state president of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “The judicial system must be allowed to run its proper course.”

Douglas referred to the case as an “execution-style murder” but said he is not taking a position on the guilt or innocence of Jerome Ersland, a 57-year-old disabled Army veteran accused of shooting 16-year-old Antwun Parker to death on May 19 during an attempted robbery at Reliable Discount Pharmacy in south Oklahoma City.

“The DA has properly done his job,” Douglas said. “Allow justice to prevail.”

Ersland was charged after Prater examined video surveillance footage of the robbery attempt that showed two black boys bursting into the pharmacy and one of them threatening employees with a pistol. Ersland fires a weapon, hitting Parker in the head as he is trying to put on a ski mask.

Ersland, who wears an upper-body brace, then is seen chasing the second armed boy outside before he walks back behind the counter with his back to Parker, retrieves a second gun, returns to Parker and fires five more times. An autopsy determined Parker was alive after being shot in the head and died from abdominal wounds.

Prater says Ersland was justified in shooting Parker in the head but went too far when he returned and repeatedly shot Parker as he lay unarmed and unconscious.

Prater said last Friday he will also file felony murder charges against three others who were involved with Parker, including the second attempted robbery suspect, 14-year-old Jevontia Ingram of Oklahoma City. Ingram was arrested last Thursday and taken to a juvenile detention facility.

In addition, Prater said a murder charge will be filed against 31-year-old Emanuel Dewayne Mitchell and another unidentified man. Mitchell, 31, and the other man are believed to have talked the teens into trying to rob the pharmacy. The other man is still at large.

NAACP officials and others condemned Parker’s death but said the two boys were wrong to try to hold up the pharmacy. The said more needs to be done to attack crime and gang violence across racial lines.

“Crime is on the rise and crime don’t have a color,” Douglas said.

“These two kids made an egregious mistake,” said the Rev. Reginald Mitchell, president of the Oklahoma City branch of the NAACP. “The community is going to have to take ownership. These are our problems.”

Franco Cevallos of the Hispanic Action Coalition blamed Parker’s death on a “culture of violence” that he said should be universally condemned.

“He didn’t have to play Rambo,” Cevallos said referring to Ersland. “That is shameful.”

(Associated Press)