2 years after fatal shooting, family questions whether a Black man can stand his ground

William “Marc” Wilson was recently convicted of involuntary manslaughter for a shooting that he maintains was self-defense against a racist attack on a Georgia highway, and his family and lawyers say the case reveals a racial double standard with “stand your ground” laws.

“If you put me in Marc’s shoes, there’s no way that I would’ve been prosecuted,” Wilson’s cousin, Chance Pridgen, who is white, told Yahoo News. “Odds are I would’ve been given a medal — probably gotten a parade in my name. It’s unreal how he was treated just because he’s a little bit more tan than I am.”

Video transcript

EMMA RIGDON: I didn't realize how bad our justice system is. And then when it affected somebody-- somebody you love, I feel like I've gone through everything he's gone through for the past 2 and 1/2 years.


GAYLE KING: A Georgia man charged with killing a teenage girl claims he shot her in self-defense after a racist attack. Now his lawyers want the state's Stand Your Ground law to clear him.

- Marc Wilson has been held in pre-trial detention for over 400 days now. You might remember, he's accused of shooting and killing a 17-year-old girl back in June of 2020. Wilson has argued he was just defending himself, as he says the girl and her friends were chasing him in their car trying to run his car off the road while shouting racist slurs.

MARVIS HERRING: Just moments ago, a Bulloch County jury found Wilson guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty on all other charges against him.

CHANCE PRIDGEN: My name is Chance Pridgen, and I am Marc's cousin. Everything that's happened since he was arrested, it's definitely been a battle. We fought to get him a bond. We had a bond reconsideration hearing, and the judge said he would give us an answer within a few days. Well, a few days turned into a year and a half. It's been a battle for him. But hopefully, we're near the end of it. It's been a long 2 and 1/2 years.

If you put me in Marc's shoes, there's no way that I would have been prosecuted. Odds are, I would have been given a medal, probably got a parade in my name. I mean, it's unreal at how he was treated just because he's a little bit more tan than I am. Justice is not just bringing Marc home, it's helping others that are unjustly incarcerated. But to me, justice is going after the ones that are really responsible for what happened. Marc has been deemed the monster ever since this happened on June 14 of 2020. But the true monsters, they're still out walking free.

SUJUANA WILLIAMS: My name is SuJuana Williams. I am Marc's aunt. But as a family, we have stood strong on our faith. I would say that's what has kept us together for the extended period of time. That is what has kept us focused, knowing that justice will prevail. There are several things that we're looking for. First and foremost, we want Marc to be released and completely exonerated of all charges. Then number two, we've got to look into our legal system and the things that transpired that led up to him being incarcerated. The investigation of what happened was not done properly. We want to be treated equally.

EMMA RIGDON: My name is Emma Rigdon. I was the girlfriend in the car with Marc that night, or on June 14. I don't even know where to begin to describe the last 2 and 1/2 years. I feel like all my words have been turned against me. My words have been twisted. I've had death threats. I've had people telling me that I should not walk, I should not live.

I've had the DA's Office tell the world my address. Any and everybody that watched the live of that court hearing had my address, my physical address. I had to move apartment. I've had to defend myself on the witness stand because I have gotten treated like a monster. We are fighting the world, and we do need a change. And that was something that was thrown in my face when detectives showed up to my house 2 and 1/2 years ago.

You know, I didn't realize how badly it needed to change until just 2 and 1/2 years. And I do believe, you know, we've gone through this for a reason, and I will continue to stand by Marc. And I have never-- I have never went against him. I've always stood beside him. No matter how much people tried to keep me quiet, I was still out there supporting. And I will always support and I will always stand by him forever.