Family of man killed by neighbor in front of 5-year-old questions lack of arrest

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Kevin Battle Sr. was holding his 5-year-old grandson’s hand when he was shot in the face and head, according to Battle’s son, who witnessed the shooting.

Battle, 57, died on March 25. Officers with the Fort Worth Police Department detained Battle’s duplex neighbor, but later released him.

Now, Battle’s family is demanding answers and trying to find closure while being kept in the dark.

Battle’s son, who is named after him, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last week that he was at the duplex the afternoon of the shooting with his young son.

“We were sitting in the garage and my son was coming into the house,” Kevin Battle II said. “He said the neighbor said something to him, so my dad took my son’s hand and was heading toward the neighbor’s door.”

Battle II said he went back inside his father’s side of the duplex to get some food. He heard a knock on the neighbor’s door — which he said is about a foot from his father’s door on the same side of the wall — and he heard the neighbor say something.

“Then I heard two gunshots and I saw my dad fall,” Battle II said. “I could see my dad and my son from my angle, but I couldn’t see the neighbor. I just saw my dad’s body drop.”

He ran outside and grabbed his son. Then, Battle II ran to a neighbor’s house to call 911.

Battle II said his father’s relationship with the neighbor — who hasn’t been identified by police — was up-and-down.

“My dad used to help the neighbor,” he said. “If he was drinking, he would help get him in at night. The neighbor totaled one of his cars and my dad helped him. He was always willing to help people.”

Kevin Battle 3.jpg
Kevin Battle Courtesy photo

A week before the shooting, Battle Battle II said, the neighbor called his father by a racial slur and a police report was filed.

The Star-Telegram requested a copy of that police report, and all incidents at both sides of the duplex, from the Fort Worth Police Department. A spokesperson from the department told the newspaper to make an open records request. Police haven’t responded to the request as of this reporting.

After the shooting, Battle II said he was interviewed by police inside of the detective’s car. He said he hasn’t been invited back to the department for a more in-depth interview. He also said detectives talked to his son.

“He recalls what he sees so much that he just repeats what he saw,” Battle II said of his son. “We’re trying to keep him occupied now. If he has idle time, he repeats what he sees. We’re getting counseling.”

Battle II said he doesn’t understand why his father’s neighbor hasn’t been arrested.

“Police have on record that there was a prior dispute,” he said. “That’s what my concern is. If you know that there were known disputes between them, I think he should have been detained. That’s my personal opinion.”

Bridgette Warnsley, Battle’s sister, agrees.

“I cannot for the life of me understand saying this guy said it was self-defense,” she said. “He got shot in the face and the back of his head. Why would he take a grandson, who he loves, to somebody’s house if he had the mindset to be aggressive? Even if they’re not going to charge him (in the shooting), why not child endangerment?”

Police have not said whether the neighbor claimed self-defense, just that he was interviewed and later released.

Battle II said a detective told him that the case would be presented to a grand jury, who will then decide if charges should be filed.

Battle Sr. lived in Fort Worth for about seven years. He’s from Indiana, lived in Washington and had worked for General Motors.

In his spare time, he loved to barbecue for his family and friends.

“My dad was one of the most awesome people,” his daughter Kayla Battle said. “He was a family man, he was the funny guy, he was the life of the party. To know my dad was to love him.”

He attended Indiana University and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Alpha Chapter.

“He was so proud to be a Kappa and that was one of the things he loved,” Kayla Battle said. “He really created a beautiful brotherhood.”

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Nichole Manna is an investigative reporter for the Star-Telegram. Before moving to Fort Worth in July 2018, she covered crime and breaking news in Tennessee, North Carolina, Nebraska and Kansas. She is a 2012 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and grew up in Florida.