ANTIOCH -- While expressing sympathy for family of, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton said the circumstances surrounding the gun battle with the suspect prevents a murder charge from being filed.
The suspect, Ronald Benjamin Jackson III, was being held on robbery and other charges, but the lack of a murder charge had drawn the ire of the family of James Williams.
"The family, friends, and loved ones of James Williams are understandably devastated by the shocking news of his death in a gun battle at the Chevron station in Antioch on November 26th," Becton said in a statement released Thursday.
"Our sympathies and condolences go out to those closest to him. The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office declined to file murder charges in this case solely on a legal and factual determination — and not an elective, optional, or discretionary one."
Becton said her decision "was based upon an established law."
Video evidence of the incident clearly shows Jackson and another suspect exiting the Chevron station convenience store after the robbery and running from the scene.
Williams is then seen in the footage leaving the station store with a firearm while running after the robbers.
"Williams then fired upon Mr. Jackson, hitting him in the leg while he was fleeing and causing him to fall to the ground," Becton's statement read. "Mr. Williams continued to approach Mr. Jackson with his firearm pointing at him when Mr. Jackson fired shots at Williams hitting him twice. Once in the chest and in the leg."
In the eyes of the law, Becton said, Williams' actions ceased to be self-defense when he pursued Jackson and the other suspect with a firearm and continued to pursue Jackson after he shot him.
"The legal distinction is clear: when your property and life are being threatened, an individual is legally justified in using deadly force in self-defense," she said. "However, once the threat of harm has dissipated, the victim of a property crime cannot then use deadly force to reclaim stolen property."
But Becton promised Williams family that once Jackson and his convicted, prosecutors will be pressing for a long prison sentence.
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