Racial tensions run high in Paris after charges dropped in murder case

Charles Crostley and Shannon Findlay
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PARIS, TX -- Racial tensions are running high in Paris after two white men were released and all charges were dropped against them for the murder of 24-year-old Brandon McClelland. Rita Kotey has the story.

Members of the community joined the New Black Panther Party raising their voices protesting special prosecutor Toby Shook's motion to drop all criminal charges against Charles Crostley and Shannon Finley.

Two men accused of dragging Brandon McClelland to death in September 2008.

Shook says the lack of evidence contributed to the decision as did the statement of a truck driver who claims he may have hit McClelland.

"We made the decision that at this particular time there were enough questions and problems that we would move to dismiss the case and keep they investigation ongoing," Toby Shook said.

Brandon's family members say they vividly remember the day he died
and life hasn't been the same without him.

"I’m still hurt and pissed off," Brandon’s mother, Jacquline, said.

"I just graduated. I wish my brother was there to see me walk across the stage. But he wasn’t there," said Tevin McCleary Brandon’s brother.

"I miss that one word my son used to say. He called me pops," Brandon’s father Bobby McCleary said.

His mother Jacquline says hearing that Crostley and Finley had been released only adds to frustration.

"I am mad as hell. I am mad as hell," Jacquline said.

Those who oppose the New Black Panther Party were also at the rally because they say its members push the racial divide.

"I just don’t believe that we are a racist community. We have a black president now, things are supposed to be calm we are learning to get along but this right here perpetuates the anxiety of racism," David Stewart said.

Members of the new Black Panther Party say they believe Finley and Crostley killed McClelland and letting them go free will spark further racial tension.

"They tried to move the case out of Paris, Texas because they didn’t want any more attention. Well if you didn’t want the attention you should have done the right thing you should have done the right thing in the first place,” Krystal Muhammad said.

Brandon's mother says she wants whoever is responsible behind bars so that her family can be at ease.

"My son did not kill himself. He did not take himself way out there. So something needs to be done about it. Somebody has got to be charged with my son’s death," she said.