Family Claims Hate Crime, Prosecutor Says Self-Defense

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COLUMBIA - The FBI will investigate a Columbia case that some are calling a hate crime and others are calling self-defense.

On May 19, Brandon Coleman and a group of friends confronted Rolland Deacon at his home in Columbia. Coleman pointed a loaded gun at Deacon's head and threatened to shoot him. Deacon's son, Dustin Deacon, responded to the altercation by shooting Coleman four times, killing him.

On October 23, Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight said he would not file charges against Dustin Deacon, citing Missouri's self-defense and defense-of-another laws.

Missouri Statute 563 states, "A person may, subject to the provisions of subsection 2 of this section, use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful force by such other person."

Mary Ratliff, President of Missouri NAACP, filed a complaint about the decision which prompted the FBI to investigate whether Coleman's civil rights were violated. The FBI will not investigate Knight's decision, but the case itself to see if federal charges should be filed.

Knight said he was confident in his decision to not file charges.

"We worked hard in this case and I'm very confident I made the right decision under the laws of the state of Missouri and looking at my ethical obligations," Knight said.

Knight's full explanation of the case and his decision can be found here.

Coleman's mother, Winona Coleman- Broadus said she believes race played a large role in the investigation and Knight's decision to not file charges.

"I've never thought it was self defense and I have multiple people who even worked for the Columbia Police Department who told me they've never seen a case handled like this in the case of a homicide," Coleman-Broadus said.

She said the FBI investigation gives her hope.

"It restored some least there's another opportunity that someone could draw a different conclusion than what has already been drawn," Coleman-Broadus said. "Maybe, just maybe, there could be some justice for my son."