March 8th, 2008 10:51 AM
Three NDs, but only 2 are charged...Why?
I've been reading stories posted in this forum and others about real life self defense shootings. Unfortunately, there are cases where innocents & loved ones get killed due to unintentional discharges of a weapon. Here are three that I read about recently. Other than being LE, what was different about the one case that did not result in charges?
Two where charges were filed:
One where charges were not filed:
Former cop accidentally shoots, kills his wife | ajc.com
March 8th, 2008 11:09 AM
Yes, interesting. I had wondered why that cop was not charged too.
I can offer some reasonable possible explanations, but they are guesses as I don't know the details of any of this.
There are negligent discharges and there are negligent discharges. Some, perhaps the vast majority occur without there having been any immediately prior horse play or stupidity. They are pure "accident." In other situations the ND may have occurred when other things were also being done; drinking? neglecting child care? negligently (thoughtlessly) pointing a gun at people. Maybe firing the gun while bragging about how safe it is that a ND can't happen?
Some of the decision will be the prosecutor's discretion taking all of the circumstances into account.
I did wonder if that cop shouldn't have been held to a high standard, and if a more thorough investigation should not have been conducted before quickly calling it an accident. But then, I wasn't there. There were witnesses.
Stuff happens, and I like to point out that not all bad things that happen are criminal acts. Nor should they be. We don't have to punish everyone for every little thing (not that shooting folks by accident is a little thing).
I want to also offer a slightly off topic comment. We punish too harshly in many cases. Somewhere we got the idea that 60 day jail sentences or 5 year prison terms are light punishments. We got the idea that more serious crimes should be punished with 25-30 year sentences.
These are big chunks out of a life, and having worked one morning within a state prison, I can assure you that you wouldn't want to spend more than a few hours there.
So, except for the violent and dangerous guys, the incurable sociopaths and psychos who should never be out, we need to rethink how we punish.
March 8th, 2008 11:14 AM
The first two have only the shooters story to back them up, while the third was at a "family function" and was presumably witnessed by others. I don't know Montana law, but it may be a legal requirement to keep guns away from young children, which clearly didn't happen in case 1. In case 2, there are all sorts of unanswered questions that would make me, as an investigator, very suspicious of the shooter...perhaps the charges were brought simply to allow them to conduct a more thorough investigation.
A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands - love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper - his hands remember the rifle.
March 8th, 2008 11:22 AM
It amazes me how an 'accidental discharge' seems to find vital organs a goodly percentage of the time. I can't say, we only have the facts as the reporter decides to give them, but it just has that good ol' boy aura.
March 8th, 2008 01:59 PM
1943 - 2009
Regarding this, Montana has no law mandating secure storage of firearms to keep them inaccessible to children. Probably why we get an "F" from the Brady Bunch.
I don't know Montana law, but it may be a legal requirement to keep guns away from young children, which clearly didn't happen in case 1.
I sure hope this doesn't cause problems for the prosecution of case #1. The suspect is charged with negligent homicide.
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
And go to your God like a soldier.
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