Lawyer Who Shot Driver During BLM remonstrate Suspended From Profession
Lawyer Who Shot Driver During BLM Protest Suspended From Profession
James Edward Marshall IV (Photo courtesy of Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office)
Colorado attorney James Edward Marshall IV shot the driver of a truck, Danny Pruitt, in the head during a protest over the murder of George Floyd in June of 2020. Pruitt survived the incident, but suffered a serious traumatic brain injury resulting in permanent damage.
Marshall said at the time of his arrest that he was afraid for his wife’s life, as described by 9News:
Just before 6 p.m. on June 4, 2020, an arrest affidavit says Pruitt was stopped at a red light near the intersection of Main Street and State Avenue in Alamosa.
At the same time, many protesters, including Marshall and his wife, were in the intersection, the affidavit says. Marshall’s law office is near where the protest was taking place, but he told investigators he had planned to attend the event.
Surveillance video from a nearby store shows Pruitt inch his vehicle forward through the crowd of protesters who split to avoid being hit, the affidavit says.
The affidavit says the video also shows Marshall reach into his waistband, pull out an item police believe was a handgun and point it at the truck. Marshall and his wife are then seen running away.
According to police, the surveillance footage shows Marshall’s wife behind Pruitt’s truck, not in front of it, when Marshall shot his weapon.
Marshall was originally charged with Second Degree Attempted Murder, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Second Degree Assault resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, and Reckless Endangerment, but, in a controversial move, the charges were reduced to Tampering with a Deceased Human Body in a plea deal.
Matthew Beresky, a Rocky Mountain Victim Rights Center attorney representing the victim, condemned the deal saying it “offends the very concept of justice and does not reflect the nature of the crime or its effect,” and that “allowing James Marshall to plead guilty to abuse of a corpse disregards the fact that Mr. Pruitt is a living human being.”
Nevertheless, in December Marshall was sentenced to 11 years in prison, one year short of the maximum sentence. Judge Gilbert Martinez said of the sentence, “This is a case where a good man did a very bad thing. Is there undue risk that the defendant will commit a crime again? No. But would a minimum sentence unduly diminish the seriousness of the crime and respect for the law? Yes, it would.”
The judge also noted that at the moment that Marshall shot his weapon his wife was already behind the truck and no one was in front of Pruitt’s vehicle, saying, “The fact of the matter is he shoots through a truck, the back window, when his wife was standing at the back of the vehicle. If there was any danger, it certainly seemed that that danger had already passed.”
And Marshall apologized to the victim, his community, and the court, noting, “I recognize the incredible irony of protesting unlawful violence against a man and engaging in unlawful violence against a man.”
Now the Colorado Supreme Court has disciplined Marshall and suspended him from practice for three years. They found that Marshall violated the rules of professional responsibility which provide that it’s “professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”
Of course, Marshall will likely be jailed for the duration of the suspension. Though he was sentenced to 11 years, he did not plead to a crime of violence. (Told you that plea deal was controversial.) As a result, there’s a likelihood his sentence will be reduced by 50 percent, and he could be released earlier than that for good behavior.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter ().