Justice for Jonathan Mitchell
In Albuquerque, NM, on a dark night in a quiet neighborhood, 23 year-old Iraq War Veteran Jonathan Mitchell was shot and killed in March 2013. He was killed by Donnie Pearson. Pearson has not been arrested due to a claim of self-defense.
The story given to police is Pearson’s and his neighbor’s story. Ventana Ranch resident Jose Beltran told police that when he came home from work, he saw a man with a gun in his driveway. Instead of parking, he drove away and called his family to warn them. One of Beltran’s family members then called Pearson and told him that Jose said he saw an armed man in the driveway.
Pearson told police that he then got his 15 year-old son, and they both got into Pearson’s SUV, and set out to look for the suspicious man with a gun.
Pearson told officers he saw Mitchell run from a neighbor’s house into an open garage. As Pearson stopped by the garage, Mitchell stepped out and fired at Pearson and his son. Pearson returned fire, hitting Jonathan in the shoulder.
A few minutes later, Jonathan Mitchell was dead from loss of blood, only a few feet from his own back door
Reports say that Mitchell was the first to fire. His brother, Aaron Mitchell, said Jonathan would only fire if he saw a gun. Aaron is a police officer in the state of Florida, and said “Pearson had no business driving around at 11:23 at night with his 15-year-old son looking for an armed assailant. Why they haven’t charged Pearson is unbelievable to me.”
He said the violent crimes investigators bought Pearson’s version of events because of their “preconceived notions” about his brother. “Before they knew he was an Iraq War veteran, they treated him like he was a prowler that didn’t belong in the neighborhood,” Aaron said.
Aaron is correct. A news report of KRQE represents Jonathan as a burglar or someone who was dangerous to the neighborhood rather than a homeowner with Castle Doctrine rights.
In the video, please listen carefully to Jonathan’s neighbor, Mandy Hatfield. She states that she talked to other neighbors “briefly” but never expected someone to be shot. Not expecting someone to be shot indicates that the talk she had with other neighbors was to make Jonathan uncomfortable living there. Why? When did she talk to those neighbors? Why did she think there was a problem to resolve, but not to resolve by shooting?
Subsequently, the video from a police helicopter was released. It reveals that Pearson slowly pulled up to Jonathan’s drive-way. He stopped across the drive-way. Jonathan was in his garage with the door opened. It shows Jonathan fire towards Pearson’s SUV.
Jonathan’s younger brother Benjamin said that after the shooting, he and his brother ran out the back door because they thought they were under attack, but they only made it as far as the neighbor’s yard before Jonathan collapsed and died. Benjamin says the Albuquerque PD made matters worse by leaving him handcuffed for several hours while he was detained for questioning—without medical attention, bathroom access or a phone call.
Albuquerque police said investigators didn’t have probable cause to charge Pearson. Just last week, almost a year since Jonathan was killed on his own property, the New Mexico State Police has now taken over the investigation.
University of New Mexico sociology professor Maria Vélez said this case illustrates society’s tendency to overestimate the relationship between race and crime. “I think what happens is we are quick to judge someone who is minority and assume some sort of problematic behavior rather than give that person the benefit of the doubt.” Vélez said these assumptions persist because “it is difficult to change people’s fears about minorities.”
What we don’t know is what may have taken place between Jose Beltran and Jonathan Mitchell before Beltran made that call to his family. Neither do we know why Beltran’s family would call Pearson. It is obvious why Pearson had his 15 year-old son ride with him. According to reports, Pearson’s reason for returning fire was because Jonathan allegedly shot at his son.
There is a petition on change.org for the arrest of Donnie Pearson. Click here to sign.
The petition sets forth New Mexico statute:
“Under New Mexico law, the defendant’s perception of the threat must have been reasonable. Armed pursuit of an individual through a dark neighborhood does not show reasonable fear or perception of threat.”
The rule in New Mexico is that “a defendant who provokes an encounter, as a result of which he [or she] finds it necessary to use deadly force to defend himself [or herself], is guilty of an unlawful homicide and cannot avail himself [or herself] of the claim that he [or she] was acting in self-defense.” Lucero, 1998-NMSC-044.”
Posted on 03/17/2014, in Trials & Cases and tagged change.org, Donnie Pearson, Jonathan Mitchell, Justice for Jonathan Mitchell, New Mexico, petition, self defense. Bookmark the permalink. 54 Comments.