MATTHEWS, N.C. - No charges will be filed in the shooting death of Jonathan Swierski, Matthews police and the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office announced Thursday.
“We’re going to continue to fight for Jonathan,” said his father, Scott, at a news conference outside of the Matthews police station. “He deserves for his killer to be charged.”
More than a month after first telling their story to FOX 46, the Swierski family met privately with Matthews police and officials from the DA’s office. They want to know why no charges will be filed in the shooting death of their 20-year-old son, which FOX 46 first reported Wednesday.
“We’re disappointed. We’re outraged. We don’t understand it,” said Scott Swierski. “And we want to see our son get justice. He was killed for no reason.”
“He killed my best friend,” said Jonathan’s girlfriend, Lacey Horne, who was with Jonathan the night he was killed but did not witness the shooting. “I do miss him very much.”
Horne joined the family in calling for “answers, justice, something to be done.”
The shooter, who FOX 46 is not naming because he has not been charged with a crime, was a friend of Jonathan’s. He told police he fired the fatal shotgun blast “on accident” during a fight with another group of people at the Paces Pointe Apartments in Matthews back in July.
“I’m so f-----g scared. I’m f-----d. Oh my God I can’t believe I did this s—t. I shot him on accident.”
Police and the district attorney’s office now say the shooter was hit on the arm with a table leg, which caused the shotgun to accidentally go off. The DA says they can’t prove the shooter ever pointed his gun at anyone, which is a crime, or that he wasn’t acting in self-defense.
“The killer says that he wasn’t pointing the gun? Well I say of course he was pointing the gun,” said Scott Swierski. “Because, if he wasn’t pointing the gun, Jonathan would be alive right now. He would not be dead.”
“Hand it to the Grand Jury. Put it to the jury,” he added. “Well this guy [from the DA’s office] makes a face at me and thinks it’s funny and says, ‘Well I don’t take cases I don’t think I could prove 100 percent.”
The family now plans to sue the apartment complex, and the shooter, in civil court.
“I’ll never see him again,” said Jonathan’s mother, Dawn Swierski. “I will never see Jonathan again and you can’t tell me it was an accident…He sits on my mantle [referring to his ashes]. That’s all that I have left of my baby.”
“They never gave the case a fair shake,” said Scott Swierski. “For some reason, they think Jonathan’s life is disposable and they’re not concerned about it. Well, we’re concerned and we’re going to keep fighting. We’re not going to stop fighting.”
The family created a Facebook page called Justice for Jonathan to call attention to their son’s killing.
The Swierski’s say District Attorney Spencer Merriweather refused to take their call or meet with them. FOX 46 reached out and was told “the DA is willing to meet with them,” according to spokesperson Meghan McDonald. “That said, the facts, evidence and law supporting the decision of the Matthews Police Department remain unchanged, and the DA agrees with their decision.”
The Matthews Police Department released a statement saying, in part, " The evidence shows that the individual who fired the gun did so as a result of an unintentional discharge which was caused after he was struck in the arm with a table leg during a physical altercation among several people.
North Carolina law states that a person who points a gun at another without justification may be guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter if the gun accidentally discharges and kills another person; however, the evidence, in this case, was not sufficient to prove if this individual ever intentionally pointed the gun at anyone or not. This was compounded by the fact that, through corroborating witness statements, this individual had originally come to the scene in defense of the victim. The totality of these circumstances was a determining factor that this case does not meet the required elements of this crime."
The Mecklenburg County District Attorney also released a statement, saying, in part, "Evidence shows Mr. S------- was struck on the arm with a table leg, causing the shotgun in his hand to accidentally discharge. This does not meet the elements necessary to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the charges of murder or voluntary manslaughter as they both require an “intentional” killing.
According to North Carolina law, someone who points a loaded gun at another without justification may be guilty of involuntary manslaughter if the gun accidentally discharges and kills another person; however the evidence as to whether or not Mr. S------- actually pointed the gun at someone is unclear and in dispute. Even if the State could prove Mr. S------- pointed the gun during this encounter, the State would then be required by law to prove that he was not acting in defense of others when he did so. In light of the information other involved individuals communicated to Mr. S------- leading up the confrontation, the State would be unable to meet that burden of proof."