A 27-year-old Denver park ranger who was shot while serving as a spectator at a Black Lives Matter rally was charged Monday with second-degree murder.
The Denver district attorney, Beth McCann, said in a statement the ranger, Joseph Leone, shot and killed Ashanti Billie, 28, in the nearby park because he feared for his life. Billie and another woman were carrying signs protesting the police killing of Corey Jones, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed by a police officer on a Palm Beach County, Florida, highway.
McCann said the shooting took place in July, in the park in the City and County of Denver. She said Leone told police a black male came up to him with a pistol and pointed it at him. He told police he fired his gun at the man and that he believed the man was going to shoot him. Police found gun residue on Leone’s clothing, McCann said.
After a review of the case, McCann said she determined Leone committed a crime by using unreasonable force.
“I appreciate our citizens and their right to peacefully assemble to express their opinions,” McCann said. “However, that right does not extend to violence against our law enforcement officers. A park ranger is supposed to be a peacekeeper in this democratic society, not a lethal weapon.”
Leone is scheduled to be arraigned on October 30.