GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The Kent County prosecutor has ruled a Christmas Day 2012 shooting of a Grand Rapids man as justifiable homicide.
Darwin Weathers, 34, was found by police lying in the driveway of a Leonard Street NE apartment building around 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 25, according to a news release from the Kent County Prosecutor's Office. He had been shot in the lower back and was unresponsive. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead around 9 p.m.
An autopsy showed Weathers had been shot once in the lower back, which resulted in his death, and that a second bullet grazed his head.
Witnesses told police Weathers' girlfriend, Taneesha Smith, told other building residents that "I shot my boyfriend...I'm gonna go to jail," shortly after gunshots were heard, according to the prosecutor's office. They called 911.
Smith, 30, was arrested at the scene. She told officers at the time, "I did it because he was beating on me," according to the prosecutor's office.
Further investigation revealed that at least three gunshots had been fired from a semi-automatic handgun recovered in the apartment.
Smith told police on the night of the incident that Weathers had been upset and confrontational all day, that he had threatened her and used foul language toward her, and that he hit her once before company arrived to celebrate Christmas. After the company left, Weathers continued to be confrontational.
Smith told her children to go to their rooms, at which point Weathers grabbed her by the hair and punched her in the back of the head. She didn't fight back, she said, but she did cry and tell him to stop.
Then, Smith told police, Weathers pulled the gun from his pocket and put it to her head, threatening her. The gun fell to the floor as he was attempting to put it back in his pocket. They both grabbed for the weapon, she told police, and "she got it first." She said she picked up the gun, closed her eyes and pulled the trigger.
Smith said Weathers told her that she had shot him, and when she opened her eyes he was already running out of the building. She went downstairs and told a neighbor that she had shot Weathers and asked the neighbor to call police.
She told police she fired upon Weathers because she thought he was going to shoot her.
Smith also told authorities that Weathers had assaulted her before, and that on more than one occasion he had threatened her with a gun. Kent County authorities were able to confirm some of the incidents she described to them through records from other cities.
Smith said despite the fact that there was a warrant for Weathers' arrest out of Saginaw and that he had previously broken her jaw, she didn't call authorities because she was afraid for her family. She said Weathers had broken her son's arm after police got involved in one previous incident of assault.
Weathers had a history of assaults on other women, according to the prosecutor's office.
Kent County Prosecutor Bill Forsyth wrote in a Monday news release that he believes Smith's account of what happened on Christmas Day was accurate, and has therefore ruled the shooting to be in self-defense.
Smith will not face charges.
Police are looking for the suspect in an armed robbery that occurred at a gas station in Plainwell Thursday night.
The rink will be open that day from 3-9 p.m.
Bethany Murk, 48, was arrested Thursday following a drug bust in Van Buren County.