The media loves to publish stories about people who found their stolen possessions on craigslist and confronted the person who stole them. I always thought that this was irresponsible of the media as I knew it would eventually lead to something like this.
63-year-old William Knight, of Akron, Ohio, is said to have found his son-in-law’s stolen dirt bike, worth $4000, being sold on craigslist. The bike had been stolen a year earlier. Knight and his family reported the ad to police who said they would go with Knight to approach the seller. Police then had to respond to another call, but Knight and his family went anyway.
Knight is said to have shot and killed 24-year-old Keith Johnson who was selling the bike. Knight claims the shooting was in self-defense, but reports make it sound like that Johnson was fleeing the scene rather than attacking Knight.
“I had to,” Knight said, alleging that Johnson had tried to flee and that he could have hurt his family members.
Knight told dispatchers his son-in-law tried to hold on to the bike to prevent Johnson from riding away. He said he fired his gun to protect his family and himself, and that he thought he hit Johnson in the chest.
Johnson was not the man who had stolen the bike. Relatives say that Johnson had bought the bike from someone else last year. Knight has only been charged with involuntary manslaughter which has set off tensions in Akron since Knight is white and Johnson is black. While I can’t say that the charges are based on race, I will say I think the charge of involuntary manslaughter is not enough and Knight should be charged with second-degree murder.
If you find something of yours that has been stolen appearing on a site like craigslist, do not approach the seller on your own. Call the police and wait for them to go with you. Taking the law into your own hands could result in lethal consequences, for you or any one else involved.
Akron Beacon Journal
Akron Beacon Journal
UPDATE 4/13/2017: A grand jury has indicted Knight on charges of murder and felonious assault.
UPDATE 5/4/2017: Back in mid-April, Knight pleaded not guilty.
UPDATE 3/15/2018: Knight’s trial is set for April 2nd.