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State Police to review case involving shooting of neighbor

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New Mexico State Police announced Thursday that their investigators will take a new look at the March 2013 shooting death of an African-American man by his neighbor in Albuquerque following an outcry from local groups and a miscommunication between the family and the District Attorney discovered last week.

State Police have received a complete copy of the Albuquerque Police Department’s investigation into the death of Jonathan Mitchell, an Iraq War veteran, and will begin reviewing the facts. Until State Police finishes its review, Bernalillo County District Attorney Kari Brandenburg has said, her office will hold off on deciding whether to press charges against Donnie Pearson, Mitchell’s neighbor.

Before midnight on March 19, 2013, Pearson and his 15-year-old son left their home in Pearson’s SUV after hearing reports of a man in the neighborhood with a gun. Pearson told police he shot at Mitchell after Mitchell shot at him and his son in the SUV from a neighbor’s garage.

Representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Mitchell’s family dispute Pearson’s version of events and say he instigated the confrontation by circling Mitchell’s home nearby in his search of the neighborhood on the city’s West Side. They are calling for him to be charged with manslaughter and child abuse at the very least.

The State Police announcement prompted the NAACP to postpone a rally scheduled for today and cancel another rally scheduled for March 21.

NAACP president Harold Bailey, in a news release, said that Mitchell’s father, Isaac, felt that State Police’s decision to take an outside look at the investigation was “crucial” in the father’s decision to postpone the rally.

Isaac Mitchell did not respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

Brandenburg last week said she was unaware that State Police had declined to review the case all the way back in November after State Police met with Mitchell’s family. That meant that the DA had been waiting for the State Police review for four months, stalling prosecutors’ progress in making a ruling about whether charges will be filed.

But on Thursday, State Police announced that it would, in fact, review the shooting. They did not say when the review might be completed.

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