Markynn West ‘vindicated’ after murder charge dropped due to self defense, attorney says

Markynn West was forced to act in self defense when he shot and killed Jin Shin in August, his attorney Lesa Pamplin said in an interview four days after the murder charge against West was dismissed by prosecutors.

Fort Worth police arrested West in December, and authorities later filed murder charges against three other men in the case. A grand jury indicted West but did not hand up murder indictments against the other three defendants. The Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office on Friday announced that it dropped the charge against West because he was defending himself and others.

Police had alleged that Shin was killed after a group of people surrounded him and he was assaulted and prevented access to his vehicle following a minor traffic accident. Pamplin said that’s not an accurate depiction of what happened and that Shin was intoxicated and threatening to the people at the accident scene. Pamplin said that Shin was the first one to shoot after he and West both retrieved handguns from their vehicles.

In 911 call audio obtained by the Star-Telegram, a woman who made one of the calls told dispatchers that Shin was drunk, had a gun and was shooting at the group. Surveillance video released by Pamplin shows Shin point his gun at people standing around him while West approaches with his own gun and multiple shots are heard. It’s unclear from the video whether Shin fired first.

Police previously said in arrest warrant affidavits that Shin kept his gun aimed toward the ground.

The Star-Telegram has requested a copy of the toxicology report from Shin’s autopsy. Star-Telegram media partner WFAA-TV reported, according to a source close to the investigation, that Shin had an elevated blood-alcohol level..

Fort Worth police declined to comment on the toxicology report or whether their investigation found that Shin fired his gun, citing “this trial being active.” While no murder charges are pending, two defendants, Keeton Sheppard and Quamon White, were indicted on charges of assault causing bodily injury to Shin during the incident.

Pamplin said she believes the accusation made against West was the result of an overzealous district attorney’s office eager to file charges. She blamed it on pressure from the Asian-American community in Dallas, where Shin lived, for Fort Wort police and the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office to take action.

“It was a pressure campaign put on to smear my client,” Pamplin said. “That community wanted a hate crime and so they tried to give them a hate crime.”

West, 29, was arrested before new District Attorney Phil Sorrells took office in January.

Pamplin said West lost his job and sold his car to pay bills. She said that’s because of the information released by law enforcement.

“He’s been portrayed as a villain,” Pamplin said. “He’s been portrayed as a bad guy. When in actuality he saved some women’s life that night.”

A GoFundMe for West has been set up by one of his cousins to raise money for legal expenses and lost wages.

“Kynn has been a pillar of our family, supporting his mother and brother financially even during this case,” his cousin Kendra Richardson wrote in the GoFundMe description. “He has spent thousands of dollars on lawyer fees, court fees, and has had to sell his car to continue to support himself and his family.”

Pamplin said West didn’t want to shoot Shin but felt that he needed to in self defense.

“You don’t want to take anybody’s life, but he had to act,” Pamplin said. “He’s not going around saying anything about the guy (Shin.) We have kept quiet until now. He just wants people to know that he’s vindicated.”

Kerri Mejia, Shin’s sister, said the family has more questions about the murder charges being dropped than they did before now that videos and 911 audio have been released.

She said the family is concerned that videos might have been deceptively cut and that not enough context is available with the 911 calls, such as the times they were made.

A family friend told the Star-Telegram in August that all that Shin’s family and friends wanted was justice. Some in the Asian-American community in Dallas, including Shin’s family and friends, held events to raise awareness, demanding more transparency from law enforcement and arrests of anybody who illegally attacked or killed Shin.

Shin has been celebrated since his death as a uniter of different communities. He has been described as a kind person who went out of his way to help those in need. He was seen as a mentor with a philanthropic heart and an advocate for the Asian-American community.

In an update last week to a GoFundMe raising money to cover the costs of Shin’s funeral, legal fees of the family and other expenses, the family wrote that they don’t agree with the decision to drop charges.

“I know justice my family and his loved ones wanted will not occur in court, but I do hope those individuals know their wrongdoing and I believe God will see that through on their Day,” the update reads. “I honestly don’t know what to say other than I’m sorry to my brother this is how it turned out, and for anyone that loved/cared about him.”