Charges filed against alleged shooter — and victim — in Atlanta booting dispute

Alexander Bland Jr. (left), Matthew Stevens

Combined ShapeCaption
Alexander Bland Jr. (left), Matthew Stevens

A booting company employee and the man he allegedly shot are facing criminal charges in a recent dispute over parking in northwest Atlanta.

Alexander Bland Jr., an employee with Empire Parking Services, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of reckless conduct in the shooting that injured Matthew Stevens. His attorney said it was a case of self-defense.

On Thursday, police confirmed they had also charged Stevens with second-degree criminal damage to property and simple battery. His attorney said video evidence will prove his client’s innocence.

Stevens turned himself in Thursday afternoon, his attorney, Matt Wetherington, told Stevens claims his innocence against both charges.

Bland was released from the Fulton County Jail on Thursday on a $2,500 bond, online records show.

On Thanksgiving Day, Stevens said he and a friend were returning from a late night out in Buckhead when they discovered Stevens’ car had been booted. Stevens said he called the number for the booting service twice and waited more than an hour for Bland to arrive, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.

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He told the attendant he’d paid for parking and claimed he threw the cash for the booting fee on the ground before Bland pulled a gun out of his own car. Stevens was shot in the leg.

Bland had to remove two boots from Stevens’ car so he and his friend could drive to Grady Memorial Hospital. Stevens never spoke to police until they interviewed him at the hospital.

Bland also left the scene. Police said after an initial investigation the shooting resulted from a “verbal altercation” that somehow escalated.

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Police did not provide further explanation about Stevens’ charges.

Bland’s attorney, Lawrence Zimmerman, told Channel 2 Action News that his client feared for his life.

“It’s not even reckless conduct. It’s justifiable conduct that he did in self-defense,” Zimmerman said.

He told Channel 2 that Bland, who is a military veteran, said Stevens and his friend approached him and made threats toward him.

After the incident, a representative for the parking company told Channel 2 Action News in a statement they were cooperating with investigators and expected their employee “will be fully exonerated.” They did not immediately respond to the news station’s request for comment Thursday.

Wetherington, Stevens’ attorney, said, “Those charges (against Stevens) are based on the statements of the booting employee. Video evidence has not been reviewed by police yet or released.”

He added that the video is bodycam video that was on Bland.