DENVER (KDVR) — The family of a man charged in a deadly road rage shooting are pleading for charges to be dropped, claiming self-defense.
Stephen Long, 25, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the killing of two brothers in a road rage incident on Interstate 25 on a June afternoon this year. The two victims were brothers Damon and Blake Lucas, ages 22 and 21.
Long’s family does not deny he fired the shots but said he acted out of self-defense.
Both Long’s and the brothers’ vehicles were stopped under West Sixth Avenue, and one of the brothers allegedly approached Long’s vehicle and was shot, police have said. Police said the other brother then got out and jumped on Long’s car, and Long drove off and he fell.
Long was arrested after a deputy in the area heard the gunshots and followed his vehicle until the car was stopped at 13th Avenue and Meade Street. Long was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
Shooter’s family pleads to Denver council
Long’s family went to the Denver City Council meeting on Monday night to ask for support from council members for the charges against him.
They say he was only acting in self-defense and the Lucas brothers attacked him. Long’s girlfriend and two children were in the car behind him during the incident.
His family and others were at the council meeting to show support.
“It’s unfortunate what happened — definitely don’t want that outcome in any situation — but if you look at what happened, my brother was not at fault. He never exited the vehicle. He was just in the road and got approached and got attacked, and I don’t think self-defense is a crime,” brother Shannon Long said.
“This is a young man who felt threatened, this is a young man who was being assaulted, and this is a young man who felt self-defense was the only option to preserving his life and the life of his family,” said Alexander Landau, with Denver Justice Project.
Supporter: Self-defense laws unevenly applied
Landau went with the family to the council meeting to show the organization’s support.
“This case highlights critical flaws in the equal application of self-defense laws, especially when people of color are forced to defend themselves against violent white aggressors. Research has proven that race plays a pivotal role in the way self-defense laws are applied. The reality is, Black men are less likely to be afforded the right to defend themselves, especially when defending themselves against white attackers,” Landau said.
Long has no criminal history. He’s still behind bars on a $1 million bond.
Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said they’re still reviewing the case and released a statement: “My office makes charging decisions based strictly on a case’s merits and on whether we believe we can prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But, as we do in all cases, we will continue to evaluate the evidence in Mr. Long’s case to ensure that justice is served for everyone involved.”