Shooting death of Sinzae Reed, Ohio teen killed by man claiming self-defense, now ruled a homicide

Charges against the shooter were dropped in October.

January 18, 2023, 10:21 PM

The fatal shooting of a Black teenager by a white man in Columbus, Ohio, who claimed self-defense was officially ruled a homicide in an autopsy report.

According to a police complaint in October, a witness to the shooting saw Krieg Butler, 36, shoot and kill 13-year-old Sinzae Reed outside of an apartment complex on Oct. 12. The witness said Butler exited his truck, fired shots at Sinzae and drove off, the complaint said.

Butler was arrested days after the shooting and charged with murder, but those charges were dropped pending completion of the investigation after prosecutors said Butler claimed self-defense in the shooting during his arraignment in October, according to a statement from the Columbus Police Department.

The Franklin County autopsy report released Tuesday said the teen was shot twice, once in the hand and once in the chest, concluding the manner of death was a homicide.

The county prosecutor's office told ABC News on Wednesday, "The matter is under internal review and as such no statements will be made at this time."

The Columbus Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday on the autopsy results.

"In Ohio, the self-defense law changed and the legal part of that is the burden changed," Channa Lloyd, criminal attorney and managing partner of The Cochran Firm, has said. "Previously, if a shooter said 'I shot someone in self-defense,' they had to prove it was self-defense. Now that the law has changed, it changes that burden and shifts it to the prosecution."

According to Lloyd, the self-defense rule is a byproduct of the Stand Your Ground laws and is controversial because it protects the shooter as opposed to the victim.

"The Krieg Butler case is under review for potential presentation to the grand jury as evidence is gathered and reviewed," the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office previously said in a statement to ABC News. "Because this is an active case, we cannot comment further at this time."

Columbus Police said in a statement on Dec. 31, "The investigation continues and the Division will not be providing any more statements on the case. Once the investigation is complete, it will be presented to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office. Any further questions regarding this case should be directed towards them."

Sinzae Reed is shown in this undated photo.
Megan Reed

The mother of Sinzae, Megan Reed, told ABC News' Linsey Davis earlier this month that she is seeking justice for her son and that she herself asked Ohio law enforcement officials to provide answers as to why her son was killed.

"I need justice for my son. My son's no longer here," Megan Reed told Davis. "I'm going to continue this war, and I will be his voice until he gets justice."

Megan Reed said she believes race played a part in the death of her son and that if her son was white, he probably wouldn't have been killed that day.

"I'm very frustrated because I know if it was the other way around," she said, "if it was a Black man and my child was white, the Black man would be in jail and my son would have justice.

Attempts to reach Butler or an attorney for him were unsuccessful.

Megan Reed previously told ABC News a detective on the case called her and asked her why she allowed her son to carry a gun, even though the police report never stated that Sinzae was in possession of a firearm. Reed said she would never allow her son to carry a gun.

Court documents obtained by ABC News show no record that Sinzae had a weapon during the encounter with Butler. Dejuan Sharp, a community activist in Columbus, Ohio, who said he is helping the teen's mother search for answers regarding the death, said witnesses have told them that her son did not have a weapon during the time of the shooting.

"We have people in the community...we found witnesses that seen it, that said Sinzae didn't have a gun, that Krieg had the gun," Sharp said.

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