HUNTSVILLE, Ala -- The church family of a Huntsville teen that police say was shot by a delivery driver while fleeing June 21, spoke up Monday about their concerns about the case.
Mustafa Bearfield, 16, was killed on 10th Avenue near 4th Street on June 21.
Delivery truck driver Jonathan Wayne Scott, 50, is charged with manslaughter in the teen’s shooting death.
Oakwood University Church pastor, the Rev. Carlton Byrd held a press conference Monday at the church. Shameka Williams, Bearfield’s mother, sat nearby while Byrd addressed the media.
“We seek to express concerns about the minimal charges of manslaughter being brought in light of the circumstances,” Byrd said. “Clearly Mustafa was unarmed. He was running away, he posed no threat to the life of Mr. Scott.”
Scott was set for a preliminary hearing Wednesday be through his attorney he waived his right to a hearing late Tuesday. The case will now go to a Madison County grand jury.
Huntsville Police Department spokesman Stacy Bates said following the shooting that the teen was “allegedly taking items out of (Scott’s) truck,” when the driver emerged from a store after making a delivery.
“As the victim was fleeing from the scene the suspect fired a gun and struck him," Bates told WHNT News 19 in June.
Scott’s attorney Chad Morgan said his client is remorseful about the events of that day and how it ended. But Morgan said there shouldn’t be a rush to judgment.
“There is a bunch of speculation going on right now, but they weren’t there. They don’t know,” he said. “People can speculate all they want, but unless you were an eyewitness … The truth will come out in a trial and that’s where we’re headed.”
Byrd said the church is concerned about details of the case, including whether Scott was authorized to carry a gun. He said he was concerned that a church member, who posed no threat, was killed. But he said his concern doesn’t stop there.
“And I would think that, not because it’s our church member, for any young man, any young woman, any boy, any girl in Huntsville, I would be concerned,” Byrd said.
The pastor was asked if he thought murder was the appropriate charge in the case. He pointed out that in the Alabama Criminal Code, “intent” is a required element in proving a murder charge.
“Firing multiple shots at Mustafa who was unarmed, and running away from the killer, certainly should have been seen as an intent to cause death,” he said.
Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard said the case is in the early stages.
“The specifics, as far as charging, that’s an investigator’s opinion on the matter,” Broussard said. “The grand jury will be the deciding factor after hearing all the evidence. Ultimately what he will face will be decided by 18 people on the grand jury.”
Kobina Bantushango, a representative of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, InPDUM, has helped establish the “Justice for Mustafa Committee.” He also spoke at Monday’s press conference.
Bantushango challenged the suggestion that Bearfield had stolen items from the delivery truck. He said the teen was on his way to the Pinnacle School, when the encounter occurred.
Bantushango said that not only was Bearfield shot, multiple shots were fired at him, endangering other children in the area that morning.
He called for a murder indictment to be issued for Scott.
Byrd said that the church is concerned about every member and Bearfield’s mother is feeling the loss of her son.
“But the reality is Shameka lives every day with the fact that her son is gone,” he said. “The reality is, Shameka’s two daughters, siblings to Mustafa, live each and every day now with the fact, knowing their brother is no longer here and he’s not coming back.”