The trial of Ian Cranston began on Tuesday, Nov. 1, over a year after Cranston shot and killed 22-year-old Barry Washington outside of The Capitol, a bar in downtown Bend just after midnight on Sept. 19, 2021. Cranston is accused of second-degree murder, first and second-degree manslaughter, assault and unlawful use of the weapon, all of which Cranston pleaded not guilty to in a hearing on Dec. 7, 2021.
The case has sparked controversy for the original charge of manslaughter and quick release of Cranston the afternoon after the shooting, and for perceptions that the shooting was racially motivated. Cranston, who is white, shot Washington, who is Black, after he complimented Cranston's fiancee, Allison Butler — drawing comparisons to the lynching of Emmett Till after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. District Attorney John Hummel said he'd bring bias charges if his office could obtain sufficient evidence to prove the shooting was at least partially motivated by race, but no additional charges have been filed.
The timeline of events from court documents and testimony at Cranston's bail hearing in January show Cranston, Butler and Cranston's friend Tyler Smith arriving at The Capitol at 11:12 pm, just a few minutes after Washington arrived with his friend Austin Herndon. Washington first approached Butler and complimented her inside the bar around midnight. Butler told Washington she was engaged, and the encounter ended amicably with a hug.
At 12:05 am Washington left the bar and chatted with a group. Two minutes later Cranston and his group left the bar to smoke. Washington walked away from his group and again complimented Butler, telling her she's "good looking." Cranston told Washington that Butler was taken and told him to move along and mind his business. Washington continued speaking to Butler, and Cranston told Washington to f*** off, according to the state's memorandum.
The argument continued to escalate and at 12:08:49 am Washington punched Cranston twice, causing him to stumble backwards. Within five seconds he was holding a previously concealed pistol to his side. Smith started fighting with Washington and then they continued arguing. Washington started moving away when Butler approached Washington while filming on her cell phone, which Washington pushed away. Washington and Smith again started struggling, at which point Cranston assumed a shooting stance and fired a shot at Washington's torso. Cranston started rendering aid 17 seconds after firing the shot at 12:09:22, and police arrived about five minutes after, prosecutors say.
Washington was transported to St. Charles Medical Center where he died during surgery. Police charged Cranston with second-degree manslaughter and by the afternoon he was released after posting 10% of his $100,000 bail. On Sept. 30 Hummel announced in a press conference that Cranston had been arrested on a no-bail warrant for murder, manslaughter, assault and weapons charges.
"I'm confident that murder is the correct charge. But if you commit murder intentionally, you've also killed someone recklessly. We sought the murder conviction in this grand jury, we'll be seeking the murder conviction at trial. But if you do the greatest crime, you've also done the lesser crimes," Hummel told members of the press at the time.
At the trial prosecutors will have to prove Cranston intended to kill Washington and that Cranston doesn't meet the standards for self-defense. To prove self-defense, Cranston's attorney must show that Cranston faced an imminent threat of bodily harm.
A trial memorandum from the defense posted on Oct. 31 asks the judge to exclude testimony about other downtown police dispatches, the level of danger members of Cranston's group reported feeling, character evidence about Cranston and a no-gun sign at The Capitol. The memorandum also asks the judge that Washington be referred to as an alleged victim rather than a victim, and introduce evidence that allegedly links Washington to gang activity. Washington's mother La'Wanda Robinson sought a protective order claiming Washington's phone records were outside the scope of the search warrant for the phone.
Jury selection is set to start Wednesday, Nov. 2 and opening arguments could be heard as soon as Nov. 3. The trial will take an estimated eight to 12 days in court over the coming three weeks, with the last scheduled court date on Nov. 18.