AP: Deaths loom over self-defense laws

AP: Deaths loom over self-defense laws

This is a discussion on AP: Deaths loom over self-defense laws within the The Second Amendment & Gun Legislation Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com AP Enterprise: Deaths loom over self-defense laws By SHELIA BYRD Associated Press Writer Advertisement JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- A convenience store clerk ...

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Thread: AP: Deaths loom over self-defense laws

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    AP: Deaths loom over self-defense laws

    HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

    AP Enterprise: Deaths loom over self-defense laws

    By SHELIA BYRD
    Associated Press Writer
    Advertisement

    JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- A convenience store clerk chased down a man and shot him dead over a case of beer this summer and was charged with murder. A week later, a clerk at another Jackson convenience store followed and fatally shot a man he said tried to rob him, and authorities let him go without charges.

    Police say the robber in the second case was armed, while the man accused of stealing beer was not.

    Just the same, the legal plights of the two clerks highlight the uncertain impact of National Rifle Association-backed laws sweeping the nation that make it easier to justify shooting in self-defense.

    In 2006, Mississippi adopted its version of the so-called castle doctrine, which lifts requirements that individuals first try to flee before using deadly force to counter a threat in their homes, vehicles or, in Mississippi's case, at work.

    Gun rights advocates who have helped pass the law in 23 states since 2003 say it removes an unfair legal penalty for people exercising a constitutional right in a life-or-death emergency, though some police and prosecutors are skeptical of self-defense claims under the law.

    An Associated Press review found a growing number of cases but no clear trend yet in how the law is applied or how cases will be resolved in court.

    All a defendant has to do is establish a threat, and usually the other witness is dead. That shifts the burden to prosecutors and police investigators, who have to gather evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that deadly force wasn't justified, according to a report released this summer by the National District Attorneys Association.

    "It's very difficult to prove a negative," said Steven Jansen, president of the NDAA. "It might be a little too early to get the overall effect through the court process because we're just seeing the cases enter the court and finding out how the judges are going to rule."

    Sarbrinder Pannu, the first clerk, alleged that James Hawthorne grabbed beer from a cooler and left without paying for it. Police Lt. Jeffery Scott said Pannu followed Hawthorne outside the store and shot him twice.

    Surinder Singh, president of the Jackson Indian Storeowners Association and a spokesman for Pannu, said Mississippi's law gives you the right to protect your property.

    "For them, it's a case of beer. For us, it's our property," Singh said. "That person didn't have respect for his life. He put his life against one case of beer."

    Police and prosecutors disagreed and charged Pannu with murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle. Pannu has not entered a plea and has declined to be interviewed.

    About a week after Hawthorne was killed, a clerk at another Jackson convenience store chased and fatally shot a clown mask-wearing robber outside the store after he stole cash from the register. The clerk wasn't charged.

    Police didn't release the clerk's name because he wasn't charged. As with Hawthorne's shooting, the case will be presented to a grand jury, though police said the second clerk was justified because he felt a clear and present danger.

    "The first thing about it is that you want to fairly apply the law," said Scott, who helped investigate both shootings and pointed out that the second robber was armed. "The problem is that there's an exception to every rule."

    Castle doctrine laws drew national attention when Joe Horn of Pasadena, Texas, shot and killed two men in November 2007 after he saw them crawling out of the windows of a neighbor's house, carrying bags of the neighbor's possessions. Horn claimed the shooting was justified by Texas' law, and a grand jury declined to indict him.

    Cases this year have included a man in San Antonio who shot and killed an intruder who climbed through his bedroom window and a Lexington, Ky., man who shot through his house's front door, killing a man who had been beating on it. No charges were filed in either case.

    A woman in Missouri, which enacted its castle doctrine last year, could still face charges for shooting her former boyfriend after he came through the window of her home. A coroner's jury in Adair County ruled that Jackie Gleason committed a felony when she killed Rogelio Johnson in May. Prosecutors said the jury might not have understood the law and have asked the state attorney general to review whether to file formal charges.

    The law's rapid rollout across nearly half the nation is largely the result of lobbying by the NRA. Most of the state laws, including Mississippi's, are patterned after Florida's.

    Michael Edmondson, who works in the state attorney's office in Palm Beach County, said castle-doctrine claims have increased since the law took effect three years ago.

    "You would rarely see a case prior to the change of the statute here in Florida," Edmondson said. "I can recollect a half dozen cases in the last year or so. Some successful. Some not."

    Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the NRA, dismissed concerns about the law being misused or misinterpreted, saying all cases are reviewed by law enforcement authorities.

    The laws have become popular in a country that's grown increasingly anxious, said Mat Heck, prosecuting attorney for Montgomery County in Ohio, where a castle doctrine law went into effect in September.

    "There really is a change in perception of public safety after 9/11," Heck said. "Citizens are just anxious. They fear attacks, not only from the terrorists abroad, but from residents here in our own country."

    A lack of confidence in the justice system and the perception that defendants' rights overshadow victims' are other reasons cited in the NDAA report.

    Heck said his state's law pertains to a person's home and car, and is only applied when someone has unlawfully entered.

    "We tried to make it somewhat restrictive so it wasn't like the old wild, wild West," Heck said.

    Pannu is free on $50,000 bond and has returned to work at the store, where jugs of candy clutter the cashier's counter and pictures of Pannu standing with $1,000 winners of scratch-off games are posted on the bulletproof barrier that separated him from Hawthorne on Aug. 17.

    "The real debate is 'Can you kill a man for shoplifting?'" said Dennis Sweet, a Jackson attorney representing Hawthorne's family in a lawsuit against Pannu and A&H Food Mart.

    "The guy was in his truck leaving," Sweet said. "He posed no danger."

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    All a defendant has to do is establish a threat, and usually the other witness is dead. That shifts the burden to prosecutors and police investigators, who have to gather evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that deadly force wasn't justified, according to a report released this summer by the National District Attorneys Association.
    Under our judicial system it is suppose to be the prosecutions responsibility to prove his case. You know the old "innocent until proven guilty". Isn't it nice to see the NDAA admitting they have not been playing by the rules all these years!
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    Quote Originally Posted by archer51 View Post
    Under our judicial system it is suppose to be the prosecutions responsibility to prove his case. You know the old "innocent until proven guilty". Isn't it nice to see the NDAA admitting they have not been playing by the rules all these years!
    I was going to say exactly that. Poor prosecutors, having to play by the rules.


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    Quote Originally Posted by archer51 View Post
    Under our judicial system it is suppose to be the prosecutions responsibility to prove his case. You know the old "innocent until proven guilty". Isn't it nice to see the NDAA admitting they have not been playing by the rules all these years!
    Exactly.

    Gun rights advocates who have helped pass the law in 23 states since 2003 say it removes an unfair legal penalty for people exercising a constitutional right in a life-or-death emergency, though some police and prosecutors are skeptical of self-defense claims under the law.
    The benefit of the doubt should go to the homeowner, the business owner, the law-abiding citizen, instead of one willfully engaged in a crime.

    "Citizens are just anxious. They fear attacks, not only from the terrorists abroad, but from residents here in our own country."
    Duh.

    A lack of confidence in the justice system and the perception that defendants' rights overshadow victims' are other reasons cited in the NDAA report.
    Duh x2.

    I am so grateful for people in those states who did the early work that paved the way for CCW and Castle Doctrine enaction. The pendulum had swung way too far in the criminals' favor.

    Would those who are so concerned about someone defending themselves legally show as much concern for rights had the criminal succeeded?

    May the pendulum continue to swing toward common sense and self protection. May we remove all legislators who believe otherwise.

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    While I'm sure some of those are questionable, that's what the investigation should uncover if the circumstances were suspect. The Bradies love to cry wolf and say, usually in excited tones that this means a neighbor will shoot another neighbor when taking out the trash just because he insulted his lawn. Do that, and you're going to jail, castle doctrine or not.

    It's just the application of common sense to prevent some rich, spoiled, holier-than-thou prosecutor from making an example of an innocent man/woman.

    Sorry, but if someone purposely breaks into your house, they are not there just to say hi.

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    Has anyone been killed that wasn't breaking the law?

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    Quote Originally Posted by puncho View Post
    Has anyone been killed that wasn't breaking the law?

    The first subject was just getting a case of beer to take along to his "how to turn your life around" class, and we can assume the 2nd one was just collection money for his class also.

    Remember, they are all good people, just on the verge of a complete make-over of their lives.


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    Police say the robber in the second case was armed, while the man accused of stealing beer was not

    All a defendant has to do is establish a threat, and usually the other witness is dead. That shifts the burden to prosecutors and police investigators, who have to gather evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that deadly force wasn't justified, according to a report released this summer by the National District Attorneys Association.

    "For them, it's a case of beer. For us, it's our property," Singh said. "That person didn't have respect for his life. He put his life against one case of beer."

    Police and prosecutors disagreed and charged Pannu with murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle. Pannu has not entered a plea and has declined to be interviewed.


    OK. Not that I disagree with shooting to protect one's self while in clear and present danger, I'm not sure I wouldn't have a personal problem with shooting an unarmed person. Now if he was beating the hell out of me or had a knife, wouldn't think twice. I think it would have been a different story for the prosecutors if the BG had been dropped in the store. I believe running away defines the level of danger posed. My opinion is based solely upon the information provide here. Singh stated the robber had put his life up against a case of beer. I believe it its Shing that has no respect for life. Would I shoot some one for a case of beer, NO. Would I shoot them for stealing my car, YES. Why the difference, one effects the quality of my life while the other doesnt. I expect other will disagree and thats OK.
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    Maybe I have a tendency to over simplify things. I read a lot of reports on crime and have come to a few conclusions.

    1) The demise of a felon, regardless of the circumstances ain't so bad.
    2) The police do a pretty good job.
    3) The criminal justice system does not.
    4) Criminal Justice is an oxymoron)
    5) Many of the statistics similar to the AP report would be moot if plea bargaining were kept to a minimum.
    6) If more bleeding heart liberals were the victims of the criminals they are so eager to defend, there would be a) fewer criminals and b) fewer bleeding hear liberals.

    I choose to assume the responsibility for mine and my family's safety. Those who do not, while they may not get what they deserve, they need to understand the consequences of their choices.

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    IMHO the purpose of the Castle Doctrine is to protect an individual who is protecting his person, in some cases property, and family during instances of great danger. ie. rape, attack with a deadly weapon, instance where the individual fears for their life, etc. and as in my state when someone is breaking into ones house. (Allbeit not after he is in, unless you are in mortal fear, and can prove it, but I don't think at that point it would be too hard to prove.)

    Once the danger is gone, as in being in the truck leaving, and one is no longer protecting themselves from mortal danger, they become a vigilante. However outraged one becomes (and I would be very outraged from being robbed, threatened, or attacked) if the mortal threat is not there, and both of these people persued the asailant once outside the stores after the fact, you yourself become the agressor.

    In the heat of the moment, it would be natural to want to do this.

    In both cases the robbers, both criminals at the time, were shot outside the stores. The article stated that one was armed, but did not say if his gun had been drawn, this tidbit may have been omitted for the conveniance of the reporter, or not.

    These two people in effect made themselves judge, jury and executioner. Right or wrong, it is a very difficult decision that must be made on the spur of the moment and under great pressure.

    One of our responsibilities as CCW holders is to remember:

    CCW does not a LEO make.
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    I agree. Emminent threat to my person, family or possession. I wonder can the Castle doctrine be correctly applied to my place of business, if I am merely an employee - or is there another doctrine/law that applies in that case? hmmm

    Anyway, the first guy - no weapon? Obviously no threat.
    Second guy - has weapon, but is fleeing - chase or no? Tough call.

    Seems to me (based solely on the info in the story) good call by the LEO's or prosecutors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Divebum47 View Post
    1) The demise of a felon, regardless of the circumstances ain't so bad.
    2) The police do a pretty good job.
    3) The criminal justice system does not.
    4) Criminal Justice is an oxymoron)
    5) Many of the statistics similar to the AP report would be moot if plea bargaining were kept to a minimum.
    6) If more bleeding heart liberals were the victims of the criminals they are so eager to defend, there would be a) fewer criminals and b) fewer bleeding hear liberals.
    I completely agree.
    If we error, let it be on the side of the criminal.
    Bleeding heart liberals 'personally' affected by crime usually change their tunes.

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    Definition of a liberal; a conservative who has not been mugged yet.

    Castle doctrine in Texas for anyone anywhere means anywhere you have a legal right to be, home, work, car, store, park. It means you don't legally have to flee from evil, but can stand and defend yourself instead.

    You want to stop a robber, but the use of deadly force for the beer theft is a little dicey unless the truck he was in was being used as a weapon against you. The threat of deadly force to hold them until LEO arrival, okay.
    But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself...
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    Deaths loom IN THE ABSENCE OF self-defense laws...


    ... the deaths of innocents.

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    This article is very cleverly written. It takes 2 cases there there was not danger to life and says that all shootng are unjustifiable. it is hard for anyone to say that it is ok to go and shoot those 2 people. So this leaves those whom support castle doctrine and SD shootings in a hard spot. The way one should look at those shootings is let the courts figure out what should be done.

    What they have done in this article is scare those reading the article into thinking that anyone carrying a gun can shoot them if they feal like it. The response to this article should be that nobody will be shot unless they are engaging in clearly criminal behavior. Should those whom are breaking the law really be protected from the consequences of there actions while they are still committing the crime?

    Also the other reaction is that they have sighted extreme cases tell them to talk about what the law normally does. ie. someone starts pounding on your door and breaks it down in the middle of the night. anyone would be reasonably scared at that point and the person that just entered is not saying hi or asking to use your phone to call a tow truck they are trying to rob/harm you.

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