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Texas Sheriff and Shaun King Pushed False Narrative in Jazmine Barnes Murder

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Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and activist Shaun King continued pushing the theory that a white man murdered Jazmine Barnes, even after both had received a tip that the seven-year-old Houston girl’s killer was black.

Gonzalez acknowledged at a press conference Sunday that he received a tip from King in the middle of the week that Barnes’s killer was not the white male initially suspected in the case.

King wrote Sunday on Instagram that he received the tip on Jan. 3 that a 20-year-old black man named Eric Black Jr. and another man had shot Barnes.

The girl was killed around 7 a.m. on Dec. 30 while riding in a car with her mother and three siblings.

“I reported this to the Sheriff immediately, because the witness was so compelling, but the sheriff and I both just could not make sense of it,” King wrote Sunday, shortly after Black Jr. had been charged with capital murder.

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But King and Gonzalez’s timelines raise questions because both continued disseminating information suggesting that the suspect in the shooting was white.

Gonzalez retweeted posts as recently as Saturday of a composite sketch of a white man who was initially sought as a suspect in the case.

Screen grabs of tweets from Harris Co. Sheriff Ed Gonzalez

It is unclear what time Gonzalez circulated the tweets. He said Sunday that Black Jr. was apprehended on Saturday afternoon.

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King also circulated the sketch after receiving the tip. And on Friday, he posted a request on Twitter for information about Robert Cantrell, a white man who had been arrested in the Houston area on felony charges. Cantrell’s mugshot closely resembles the composite sketch, which was drawn by celebrity sketch artist Lois Gibson.

Gibson was the same artist who drew a composite of a man who Stormy Daniels claimed threatened her in 2011. That composite bears a striking resemblance to the sketch in the Barnes case.

Barnes’ murder drew widespread national media attention, partly because of suspicions that she was killed in a racially-motivated shooting.

Barnes’ mother, LaPorsha Washington, asserted that the shooting was a hate crime.

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Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee echoed that theory at a rally on Saturday.

“Do not be afraid to call this what it seems to be: a hate crime,” she told a crowd gathered at the Houston Walmart near where Barnes was killed.

The suspect in the case was initially described as a white male in his 30s or 40s driving a white pickup truck.

King and other activists and celebrities pushed that theory, with King setting a $100,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.

Gonzalez said Sunday that the sheriff’s office received up to a thousand tips in the case. He also said he did not believe that there was anything nefarious behind a white man being falsely fingered as the initial suspect. He said that the man driving the red truck was likely merely a witness who sped away after hearing gun fire.

This is not the first case in which King has made false allegations in racially-charged cases.

On May 20, 2018, King accused a Texas state trooper by name of sexually assaulting a black woman while she was in jail.

The woman, Sherita Dixon Cole, was a close friend of Lee Merrit, the same attorney who is working with Jazmine Barnes’ family, King wrote at the time.

King acknowledged three days later that video footage showed that the trooper did not assault Cole.

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