It was simply a horrible tragedy, but no criminal intent was involved, according to a bank security guard who shot a customer.
"The jury convicted me on, I'd say, 70 percent of the facts," Clifford O'Rear told KCTV5.
O'Rear has been waiting nearly six years to tell his story. He is coming forward now after the Kansas Supreme Court earlier this year threw out his 2007 conviction for aggravated assault. O'Rear served two days in jail. He was also placed on probation.
The high court said the Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office failed to show sufficient evidence.
Representatives for Jerome Gorman's office did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
The ordeal began in 2006 when Bank Midwest planned to close the branch at Fifth Street and Minnesota Avenue. The community was upset, and O'Rear said he faced angry customers almost daily.
"One fella who had mental problems, he got unruly to the point where he came back a few days later with a knife when I was off and was threatening people. He got arrested," O'Rear recalled.
In June 2006, Samuel Jackson walked into the bank wearing a hat, dark shades, glasses and carrying a cane. He was not armed.
But O'Rear, who was already on edge, mistook the cane for a shotgun. O'Rear said he ordered the then 60-year-old man to drop his weapon. He didn't repeat his command a second time, instead he opened fire.
"Instead of keeping his hands where I can see him, he turned toward me and I thought I was in a gunfight with a man with a shotgun," O'Rear said.
Shot in the chest, Jackson collapsed. And that's when O'Rear discovered the only weapon was a cane.
In distress, he suffered medical problems and was loaded up in an ambulance. O'Rear recalled what he was thinking.
He said he was "a basket case" because he had "hurt a good man." He said it was the worst day of his life.
O'Rear has apologized to Jackson and his family, who have forgiven him.
Gorman charged O'Rear with aggravated battery. O'Rear said what he did was not a criminal act.
"It's what I said all along. While it was a terrible accident, there was no crime, and essentially, I was prosecuted for political correctness as far as I could see," O'Rear said.
Now that his conviction has been overturned, O'Rear would like to return to security work. He thus far has been unable to find a job and is doing landscaping work.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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