Last May, 42-year-old Daniel Hardwick was attempting to burglarize 34-year-old LaRue Bratcher’s grow shop when Bratcher opened fire and killed Hardwick. Bratcher reportedly intended to fire three warning shots at Hardwick, who was attempting to break in for a second consecutive night.
“He was trying to break in when the business owner, who was inside the business at the time, apparently opened fire with a handgun, striking and killing the man who was breaking in,” said Master sergeant Gary Knight.
Bratcher called 911 after avoiding the burglary. However, officers contacted the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority and discovered that Bratcher’s license was expired. As a result, the grow shop owner was arrested and $1.5 million worth of marijuana was confiscated.
Bratcher was initially charged with growing marijuana without a license and was released on a $5,000 bond, but the district attorney’s office decided to charge him with second-degree murder. While out on bail, the police arrested Bratcher again while he was at home with his family. Later in 2020, Bratcher’s charge was upgraded to first-degree murder.
“At that time, I had the baby who was six months old, and to have a gun pointed at her face, that was horrible,” said LaRue’s wife, Vicky Bratcher. “It’s just me with the kids and to know that you go from one charge to the next charge and not knowing what’s going to happen. It’s like our life is at suspense right now.”
Bratcher’s family and community members have rallied and protested throughout downtown Oklahoma City and in front of the county jail. In addition, a petition for Bratcher’s release has received more than 1,600 signatures.
While many believe Bratcher acted in self-defense, the prosecution argues that Bratcher’s actions were felonious because his cannabis license had expired at the time. The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority recently updated its policy to allow cardholders to use their expired license while waiting for a new card to arrive.
Nearly one year since the incident, LaRue Bratcher remains in jail as he waits for his trial to start later this month.
Source: Atlanta Black Star