OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The case against an Oklahoma City man for shooting a suspected burglar is moving forward.
It’s been nearly two years since police say Larue Bratcher shot and killed a man trying to break into his marijuana grow business in Oklahoma City. The Army veteran, husband and father was later charged with first-degree murder. After Friday afternoon’s hearing, that charge has been dropped to second-degree murder.
“We simply believe that we are all here because we we’re asking for justice for him,” said Dr. J.A. Reed Jr., pastor of Fairview Missionary Baptist Church and a supporter of Bratcher who attended the hearing.
“This is a waste of Oklahoma County taxpayers’ money,” said Pastor Derrick Scobey, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and a supporter of Bratcher who also attended the hearing.
Supporters of Bratcher showed up in droves Friday at the hearing that moved the trial that was originally scheduled for the end of February.
“We’re going to continue to fight for Larue until he’s free,” said Jabee Williams, a supporter of Bratcher in attendance at the hearing.
In May of 2020, Bratcher was arrested for shooting and killing Daniel Hardwick. Bratcher claims he was trying to break into his marijuana grow business the night of the shooting. At the time, Bratcher told police he saw Hardwick on camera coming through a hole in a gate and then heard him at the back door. Bratcher told police he asked him what he was doing, then fired three shots through the door to scare him. He found Hardwick dead on the other side. Supporters said Bratcher was just standing his ground, including the author of Oklahoma’s stand your ground law and current Oklahoma County Commissioner, Kevin Calvey, who says Bratcher shouldn’t be charged at all.
“There’s not right versus left,” Calvey said. “It’s right versus wrong.”
The state, though, argues Bratcher’s license to grow marijuana had lapsed, making it an illegal grow operation. That is a felony in Oklahoma. Prosecutors said Bratcher was technically committing a felony at the time of the shooting. Second Amendment attorney Robert Robles said the stand your ground law does not apply.
“You will not be allowed to get the protection of the Castle Doctrine, which gives you the presumption under a series of facts that you are in fear for your life or in fear of being seriously injured by the opposing party,” Robles said.
“If that’s true, then what if somebody is in their car and they have let their driver’s license expire or their car tag or their liability insurance,” Calvey said. “Does that mean someone can go carjack them and they have no right to defend themselves?”
Robles also said that because Bratcher didn’t know exactly what was on the other side of the door, that indifference could be grounds for the second-degree murder charge.
“There’s no specific intent to kill a certain person, but you don’t care about the consequences,” Robles said. “It would be similar to shooting at a passing train.”
While not objecting, the state voiced concerns about the delay of the trial. Calvey is running for district attorney this year and the state claims Calvey said he would dismiss the charges if he won.
“This has nothing to do with any election, anything like that,” Calvey said. “I’m here solely in my role as the author of the Stand Your Ground Law. So, in that role, I believe that the Stand Your Ground law does provide the protection to LaRue Bratcher that would for any other Oklahoman.”
District Attorney David Prater sent a statement about the situation that can be read in full below:
“The false narrative being pushed by the defendant’s supporters is completely inconsistent with the facts of the case. The true facts will be presented in open court at trial. I welcome anyone interested in the truth to observe the trial. They can make their own determination as to what happened.”DAVID PRATER, OKLAHOMA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Bratcher’s new trial date is set for June 6.