Posted on July 30, 2013

Homeowner Charged with Attempted Murder After Shooting Unarmed Black 14-Year-Old in the Head Who Was Standing next to His Car at 2am

Hayley Peterson, Daily Mail (London), July 30, 2013

A 14-year-old boy is in critical condition after a homeowner shot him in the head on suspicion that the child was about to rob his house.

Merritt Landry, 33, of New Orleans, is facing a second-degree attempted murder charge after shooting Marshall Coulter in the head at 2 a.m Friday.

Merritt Landry

Merritt Landry

The teen was unarmed and standing near Landry’s vehicle, which was parked in the gated driveway in front of Landry’s house on Mandeville Street, when he was shot.

Police say the teen, who has a history of burglary arrests, did not pose an ‘imminent threat,’ according to the Times-Picayune.

Landry claims otherwise, saying Coulter made a quick movement ‘as if to reach for something,’ so he shot him out of concern for his own safety, according to an arrest warrant.

Coulter was shot from 30 feet away, according to evidence recovered at the scene. He can’t move the left side of his body and doctors say if he survives, he will likely suffer severe brain damage.

The case has national implications in the wake of the George Zimmerman case, as Landry is white and Coulter is black. Zimmerman, of Hispanic descent, was acquitted earlier this month of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges after he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed. Prosecutors claimed Zimmerman had targeted Martin because he was black.

Landry is an employee of the City of New Orleans. He works as a building inspector for the city’s Historic District Landmarks Commission. He is married with one daughter and his wife is pregnant with their second child.

Coulter’s family says the teen has been involved in petty crimes, but has no history of violence.

‘He would steal – he was a professional thief, sure,’ Coulter’s 23-year-old brother, David, told the Times-Picayune. ‘But he would never pick up a gun, not in a million years. He was too scared to aim a gun at the grass, let alone aim it at a person. No way. Before he’ll ever pick up a gun, he’ll be your friend first.’

‘He’s still a little boy,’ the brother added. ‘Who pulls a trigger on a 14-year-old? What if it was your little brother or your sister? How would you feel?’

Marshall Coulter’s mother and grandmother are by the teen’s bedside at the hospital. He is the second-youngest of eight children.

The Times-Picayune spoke to a neighbor of Landry’s, Charles Hazouri, who has surveillance video from the night of the shooting.

He said the video, which he gave to detectives, shows two teens talking in the middle of Mandeville Street outside of Landry’s house. One of the teens then climbed over Landry’s fence, Hazouri said, while the other watched from Mandeville Street, according to Hazouri.