A dispute over showing proper respect apparently is what led to the 2018 fatal shooting of Rashard Williams, a Columbus police detective testified Friday, relaying a complicated story witnesses gave investigators in the murder case against Ruschaun Demario “Detroit” Burton.
Sgt. Michael Dahnke said police got a 911 call at 10:54 a.m. on July 31, 2018, reporting that two men, one shirtless, were fighting near the Macedonia Baptist Church at 2717 Cusseta Road.
That call soon was followed by another reporting a guy just got “pumped” around the corner from the church, in front of 2713 Dawson Street, Dahnke testified.
That’s where Williams, 32, was found in a pool of blood, mortally wounded from a single gunshot wound.
Witnesses told police the dispute had started earlier at 2722 Cusseta Road, where they heard Burton, whom they knew as “Detroit,” asking Williams why he was showing such disrespect, Dahnke said.
A woman there with Burton told Williams, “Really, Taz, you so stupid that you going to get pumped,” witnesses reported.
The woman then persuaded Burton and a second man to go back inside the house, and Williams left, walking to Dawson Street, the detective said. But later Burton followed, cutting through the church lot and a residential yard to confront Williams, Dahnke said.
He said Williams reportedly shouted at Burton, “Man, I ain’t disrespected your house!”
Burton raised a “long gun” – meaning a shotgun or rifle – to his shoulder and fired once, hitting Williams, the officer said.
Two witnesses identified Burton as the shooter, picking his picture from a six-photo lineup, Dahnke said.
Police got warrants for Burton’s arrest on Aug. 2, 2018, but could not find him. With the aid of U.S. Marshals and other agencies, he was captured in Oklahoma City, Okla., on April 3, and extradited to Columbus on April 30.
In addition to the murder charge, Burton was also charged with using a gun to commit a crime and being a convicted felon with a firearm. The 39-year-old has a previous conviction for armed robbery in Michigan on Sept. 30, 1997, Dahnke said.
Questioned Friday by defense attorney Mark Shelnutt, the detective said the two witnesses identifying Burton saw the shooting from about 25 yards away, with their view unobstructed. The assault was provoked by “some sort of beef” Burton had with Williams at the Cusseta Road home, he reiterated.
Shelnutt afterward called the evidence “a couple of convoluted stories,” of Burton adding: “There’s not any physical evidence linking him to this. Supposedly there are two witnesses that gave somewhat conflicting accounts about what had happened, and we don’t know their interest in the case. We don’t know their relationship – if they knew Ruschaun ... if they did, what their motives might have been for what they said.”
If that’s all the evidence police have, then they don’t have much, he said: “Other than that, there’s absolutely nothing else really to connect him to this. You’ve got two witnesses that are unnamed and unknown…. This morning’s case, it seemed very, very weak to me.”