On October 12, 2022, outside of the Wedgewood Village Apartments in Columbus, OH, 36-year-old Krieg Butler got out of his truck and fired fatal shots at Sinzae Reed, 13. Butler then got back in his truck and drove off, according to a witness statement from the police complaint.
After being found near a speed bump on Wedgewood Drive, Reed was rushed to the hospital; but it was too late. Reed died after succumbing to his injuries.
There have been no released statements or confirmations about what led to this altercation or if Butler and Reed were acquaintances.
One day after the fatal shooting, Butler was arrested and charged with murder; however, “Butler claimed self-defense in the shooting during his arraignment.” A week later, the “felony charge of murder against Butler was dismissed in Franklin County Municipal Court, which, at the time, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office said was ‘standard practice,’” as “Franklin County prosecutors wanted to make sure it had the autopsy and ballistic reports and any other evidence in the case.”
People all over the country have been calling for accountability, adding to the hashtag #SinzaeReed online.
“Why is the man who shot and killed 13-year-old #SinzaeReed free?” Bernice King tweeted last month.
The autopsy has finally concluded, and per the report released this week, Reed was shot twice, “One of the wounds hit Reed in the wrist on his right, predominant hand. The bullet was found lodged in his wrist. The other shot struck Reed on the right side of his chest, damaging his heart and a lung before exiting through his back, ultimately causing his death.”
This report prompted a ruling of homicide, which “is defined as the killing of one person by another.” It is extremely important to note that, unfortunately, a homicide ruling in itself is not indicative of the fact that a crime has been committed.
Ballistics evidence is still anticipated to be reviewed alongside the autopsy report, which will be utilized in the determination of charges potentially being “refiled against Butler and/or presented to a grand jury,” but, as of Tuesday, charges still remain to be re-filed—indeed, a thorough search of online court records does not show any record of current criminal charges against Butler that have been filed.
Mercifully, in Ohio, there is no statute of limitations for a charge of murder. Megan Reed, Sinzae’s mother spoke with ABC News, saying “I need justice for my son. My son’s no longer here…I’m going to continue this war, and I will be his voice until he gets justice…I’m very frustrated because I know if it was the other way around…if it was a Black man and my child was white, the Black man would be in jail and my son would have justice.”
Alas, the path to justice will be filled with hurdles due to Butler’s initial claims, which ignited the self-defense rule, which is essentially “a byproduct of the Stand Your Ground laws…protect[ing] the shooter as opposed to the victim.”
According to The Cochran Firm’s managing partner Channa Lloyd, a prominent criminal defense attorney, “In Ohio, the self-defense law changed and the legal part of that is the burden changed…Previously, if a shooter said ‘I shot someone in self-defense,’ they had to prove it was self-defense. Now that the law has changed, it changes that burden and shifts it to the prosecution.”