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District Attorney: Man likely won't face charges in shooting death of black veteran neighbor


ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — An Albuquerque man who police said fatally shot his black Iraq War veteran neighbor — a shooting that some civil rights advocates later compared to the slaying of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin — likely won't face charges.

Second Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said Thursday the state attorney general's office and New Mexico State Police both have reviewed the shooting death of Jonathan Mitchell, 24, and agreed with her agency that no charges should be filed.

"Obviously, it's a tragedy for everyone involved," Brandenburg said. "But we've all agreed that this would not be an easy case to prosecute."

Authorities say Mitchell was shot by neighbor Donnie Pearson during what Pearson described as an exchange of gunfire. Pearson told investigators Mitchell shot at him and his 15-year-old son.

Mitchell's family claimed Pearson drove up to Mitchell's garage and shot him in his front yard.

Video taken from an Albuquerque police helicopter showed Mitchell firing first in an exchange of gunfire with Pearson. The video also revealed that Pearson's SUV drove up to Mitchell's garage.

Albuquerque police later said investigators didn't have probable cause to charge Pearson.

The decision not to seek charges comes after civil rights groups demanded an investigation into the shooting.

Brandenburg said Mitchell's family asked for the review from state officials.

Albuquerque chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference have disputed Pearson's version and said he instigated the confrontation. They also suggested race may have been a factor and have compared it to the shooting death of Martin.

George Zimmerman told police he shot Martin only after the African-American teenager physically attacked him. Martin's family and supporters say Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, marked Martin as a potential criminal because he was black.

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