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Cranston Takes the Stand 

Accused killer makes his first comments about the shooting since it occurred in Sept. 2021

Ian Cranston took the stand this week in a trial in which he’s accused of murdering Barry Washington. Cranston was the defense’s first witness in what amounted to his first public comments about the shooting.

During cross-examination Cranston’s defense attorney Kevin Sali highlighted the injuries Cranston sustained, Cranston’s supposed inability to defend himself against Washington without a firearm, what Cranston perceived as threatening and his actions immediately following the shooting. Prosecutors questioned his decision to bring a concealed firearm while drinking at bars, how he contributed to the argument, other options Cranston could’ve taken and inconsistencies in the timeline Cranston and others gave at different times.

Cranston told the jury that he carries a concealed handgun as part of his normal routine, and that he carries to “be prepared for the unexpected.” He alleged that when Washington approached the group he was smoking with outside of The Capitol in downtown Bend and called his fiancee beautiful, he was initial polite in tone when asking Washington to move along. Cranston said Buter had rebuffed Washington, who continued talking to her and that he intervened after sensing her discomfort.

“[I was] not initially firm, I was to the point, I guess but I wasn't firm, per se, it was kind of friendly. I expected him to kind of go, ‘Oh, sorry, I didn't realize,’” Cranston said.

The argument escalated and Cranston alleges Washington said he was from California and made hand gestures he interpreted as gang signs, before saying “I don’t care about your gang, get the f*** away from me.” Shortly afterward, Washington punched Cranston, who said Washington started shouting “Cali Crips” repeatedly. Prosecutors and Washington’s family deny that Washington was in a gang.

After being punched Cranston stumbled backwards onto a wall and produced his firearm from a holster in the small of his back. He said he didn’t plan on using the weapon but wanted to be prepared to do so. He said he hoped it’d deter Washington, but claims Washington saw the gun and continued acting aggressively.

“In this moment, as this is happening you raise your firearm, do you believe he sees your firearm when you raise it?” Sali asked.

“Yes absolutely,” Cranston responded. “He was making eye contact with me; when I lifted the firearm he looked down at the firearm.”
click to enlarge Ian Cranston recounts the fatal shooting of Barry Washington in Sept. 2021. Cranston is accused of seven counts, including murder in the second degree. - DEAN GUERNSEY / THE BULLETIN
  • Dean Guernsey / The Bulletin
  • Ian Cranston recounts the fatal shooting of Barry Washington in Sept. 2021. Cranston is accused of seven counts, including murder in the second degree.

Cranston later claimed that Washington became more aggressive after seeing the firearm. Cranston fired the shot after Washington pushed Butler and hit Cranston’s friend Tyler Smith in the nose. Cranston claims Washington turned toward him with a raised fist prior to shooting, a claim that prosecutors deny has any evidence. Cranston said he fired the shot and asked Washington if he was hit.

“He stopped dead in his tracks, and then he fell to the ground. As he was falling to the ground, I'd asked him if I hit him. I asked him that because he was so close to me that it was kind of a blind shoot situation. I didn't have an opportunity to use my sights. When he fell on the ground it was obvious. When I walked over to him, I asked him again. He responded ‘Don't kill me, bro.’ And I said, ‘I’m not going to kill you,’” Cranston said while tearing up.

After that, Cranston said he searched for a wound and began applying pressure. He said he continued applying pressure until someone confronted him for shooting Washington.

Prosecutors began questioning by asking about the guns Cranston owns and his practice of carrying a concealed weapon. Prosecutors scrutinized Cranston’s carrying of a firearm while drinking, something that’s discouraged during the concealed carry training course. Cranston’s blood-alcohol level was measured at .04% after drinking two rum and Cokes, two beers and a sip of a mixed drink over five hours.

“Do you agree it would’ve been the responsible thing for you to do, to have left your handgun at home?” Prosecutor Swart asked Cranston, who responded he felt he was being responsible with his firearm.

Prosecutors also questioned how he may have intensified the argument, asking about the number of times he and his group used profanity, if he could’ve left during the argument and if he could’ve made it known that he was armed. Swart question what Cranston’s first reaction was, suggesting running, calling for help or calling 911.

“In fact, your first reaction was to immediately reach around your back to the small of your back and take out your handgun,” Swart asked.

Prosecutors also asked about inconsistencies in stories. Tyler Smith reported Cranston used profanity around 20 times rather than the few Cranston reported and Cranston’s contact with EMS professionals at times doesn’t align with symptoms he reported throughout the incident. The prosecutions final question to Cranston was about the timeline he gave his father from jail.

“Did you tell your dad that after Mr. Washington punched you, and you pulled your gun out—did you tell your dad that you waited 30 seconds before you shot and killed Barry Washington?” Swart asked, calling attention to the amount of time between being struck and the shooting—something that’s been an important factor for the prosecutors.

“I didn’t, no. I didn’t think it was 30 seconds; it felt a lot faster than that,” Cranston replied.

The trial is scheduled to conclude by Nov. 18 at the latest, but is running ahead of schedule.

About The Author

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
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