BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A 23-year-old Alabama woman says she was acting in self-defense when she fired her gun and hit another woman who was later arrested on manslaughter charges for the death of her own fetus.
In an interview with AL.com, Ebony Jemison said she was "minding her own business" before a December altercation when she shot Marshae Jones in the stomach, killing her 5-month-old fetus.
"I will never get over the baby," said Jeminson, "but I will get over doing what I had to do to protect myself."
Jemison was initially charged with manslaughter, but a Jefferson County grand jury declined to indict her after police said an investigation determined Jones started the fight, and that Jemison fired in self-defense.
Jones, 28, was indicted by that same grand jury, which decided she intentionally caused the death of her fetus by starting the fight. News of Jones' arrest sparked outrage and cries of injustice. Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice Washington announced last week her office would not move forward with prosecuting her.
Mark White, an attorney representing Jones, told the Associated Press that Jemison's account of the incident was "flawed." He said his firm obtained footage of the altercation showing Jones "in retreat" with "her hands up" when she was shot by Jemison.
"You don't get to use deadly force unless in very limited circumstances and a simple argument or a simple altercation is not that circumstance," White said.
Jemison told AL.com she initially clashed with Jones' friends, getting in arguments and at least one physical fight in the months leading up to the December altercation. The pair were co-workers with the father of Jones' fetus at a charcoal plant in western Jefferson County.
The weekend before the December incident, Jemison's car broke down as she was leaving a friend's house. She said she was looking under the hood when the father of Jones' baby pulled up. He tried to jump start the car, but it still wouldn't start. While they were standing outside the vehicle, Jemison said, one of Jones' friends passed by and said she was going to tell Jones.
The following Monday, Jemison said she received a Facebook message from Jones that said, "I gotcha tomorrow." The next day, Jemison said she was leaving a Dollar General when she spotted Jones approaching her. She said she hurried to her car but Jones grabbed a handful of her hair and began punching her before she could shut the door.
Jemison, a licensed firearm holder, said she then pulled out her gun.
"I shot. Just one time. But I thought I shot it into the ground," Jemison said. "That was all I could see. I seen the ground and aimed at it and shot. I thought the sound was going to scare them off ... I didn't point-blank shoot her. I didn't walk up to her and shoot her. If I didn't have to use my gun, trust me, I wouldn't have."
White said that his firm's investigation did not support Jemison's account.
Jemison said she was not immediately aware that Jones had been hit and said she learned about Jones' indictment via social media. She said she met with the district attorney last week and decided against moving forward with assault charges because Jones has a 6-year-old daughter.
"I just want everybody to know that I'm not a bad person," Jemison said.