WARNING: DISTRESSING VIDEO BELOW
Racism Led to Murder
(VA) – Ex-Bellevue police officer and former NASA employee, Michael Hetle, had a long-standing dislike for his mixed race neighbor, Javon Prather. Hetle made multiple complaints about Prather in what appears to be an attempt to harass Prather. However, neither the home owners association nor the police department must have felt there was any merit to his complaints since no action was taken against Prather.
Per Prather’s mother, in Oxygen.com,
“[Hetle] would call the HOA [Home Owners Association] and say there was dog poop in their backyard,” Shavon Prather told the Post. “He would call and complain when they put out the trash. Anything he could do to scold them and to get them in trouble.”
Javon Prather worked at a grocery store and was also a member of the Maryland National Guard. Hetle’s hatred of Prather seemed to be race-based. Hetle used a racial slur not only to Prather, but also when speaking about Javon Prather to his family members. “During the trial, Hetle’s son testified that Hetle used a racial epithet when he spoke about Prather, the Post reports.”
Ex-Police Officer Guilty of First-Degree Murder
None of the articles on the shooting say why Javon Prather went to knock on Hetle’s door the day of the shooting. But we can tell that Hetle was already contemplating killing Prather. “On the morning of the shooting, Hetle reportedly sent an email to the neighborhood association warning that his feud with Prather could “result in tragedy,” Fairfax County prosecutor Joe Martin said.”
Hetle’s own Ring doorbell captured the scene. Hetle claims Prather was banging on his door. If so, it’s not in the video. What we see is Prather waiting for Hetle to come to the door. The actual shooting is not shown. However, you will see Prather’s wife try to get to her husband to help him and Hetle threaten to shoot her too.
According to AtlantaBlackStar.com,
In the clip, viewers can see Hetle walk outside and fire his weapon, shooting and killing Prather. Seven shots went off in the matter of six seconds, four of which were at point-blank range and two in the back as the young man tumbled down a set of stairs.
Hetle fired his last shot as Prather lay in the driveway.
Hetle tried to claim self-defense. He said he thought Prather had a weapon. But the jury wasn’t buying that tired old line we’ve heard so many times. The video was enough to convince the jury that Michael Hetle had committed murder with malice. On October 14 they convicted him of First-Degree Murder.
Third Man Killed by Michael Hetle
Prather was not the first man killed by Hetle, He wasn’t even the second one. Javon Prather was the third man that Michael Hetle killed. The two previous shootings occurred when Hetle was an officer with the Bellevue Police Department. The first man killed occurred during a bank robbery.
Less than 11 months later, Hetle was involved in another deadly shooting. The shooting happened in the parking lot of an east Bellevue apartment complex.
Hetle claimed he thought victim Nelson Martinez-Mendez was reaching for a weapon, but it turned out to be a wallet.
This was a more controversial shooting. Martinez-Mendez was a Guatemalan immigrant who didn’t speak very much English. Hetle claimed he told Martinez-Mendez, who was sitting in his car, to put his hands in the air in both English and Spanish. But according to witnesses, Hetle never spoke in Spanish. Hetle “refused to give a statement about Martinez’s shooting to internal investigators.”
Another unarmed minority. Another claim that he thought the person he killed was armed and going to try to kill him. Though Hetle was, unsurprisingly, cleared in the 2001 shooting, the murder of Javon Prather casts doubt on the validity of that determination.
WARNING: DISTRESSING VIDEO
The video below is from Fox 5 and gives a weird commercial in the beginning. The actual breaking story begins at about the 47 second mark.