Was it self-defense or an act of unnecessary violence? That’s the question many are asking in a case involving an Oklahoma pharmacist. Fifty-nine-year-old Jerome Ersland has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder in the shooting death of a teenager who tried to rob the south Oklahoma City pharmacy where he worked.
Ersland, maintaining his plea of self-defense, had no reaction and said nothing as the sentence was handed down. While exiting the courtroom, he responded to a reporter’s shouted question by calling the sentence “an injustice of a monumental proportion.”
The actions under question took place in May of 2009 with the shooting of 16-year-old Antwun Parker. Confronted by two holdup men, Ersland pulled a gun, shot one of them in the head and chased the other away. Then, in a scene recorded by the drugstore’s security camera, he went behind the counter, got another gun, and pumped five more bullets into Parker as he lay on the floor unconscious.
At the trial, prosecutors argued that it was those five bullets that crossed Ersland into the wrong. Ersland contended that he was defending himself and two co-workers from a robber who still posed a threat. Outraged by this decision thousands of supporters have reportedly signed petitions pushing Gov. Mary Fallin to pardon the pharmacist, or ease his sentence. The final decision still holds, no word yet on the impact Ersland’s supporters are having.