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I'm pretty sure this guy is wishing he could take that shot back........

Friday, October 2, 2009
Last updated 10:11 a.m. PT
Man who shot car prowler in Northgate pleads guilty to manslaughter
He may be sentenced to nine months

By SCOTT SUNDE
SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF

A Seattle man facing manslaughter charges for fatally shooting a car prowler with a rifle pleaded guilty Friday after reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Filing a second-degree manslaughter charge in September, King County prosecutors alleged that Douglas Cameron Sheets acted with criminal negligence when he shot Jhovany Hernandez outside his Northgate home. According to court filings, police came to believe that Sheets shot Hernandez as the 21-year-old fled.

Sheets was arraigned Friday, then pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter. Since he has no other criminal record, he would face a sentence of 21 to 27 months.

But prosecutors will recommend just nine months, pointing to a mitigating factor listed in sentencing laws. That factor is invoked when the victim instigated the incident as Hernandez did during the car prowl.

Describing the Sept. 24, 2008, shooting, Seattle police Detective James Cooper said in statements to the court that incident began when Sheets heard several men breaking into his car.

From the balcony of his apartment in the 9700 block of Fifth Avenue Northeast, Sheets saw an unfamiliar car idling near the parking stall underneath the balcony where his Toyota Camry was parked. Three other men, Cooper said, were breaking into the vehicle.

Sheets returned to the balcony with a Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle, Cooper said, prompting the men in the car to flee as two of the apparent car prowlers, including Hernandez, remained near the apartment. Trying to get to the prowlers' car, Hernandez ran carrying a 27-pound subwoofer taken from Sheets' car.

Cooper said that Sheets told officers Hernandez turned and reached for the waistband of his pants before the shooting. Sheets took aim and fired, striking Hernandez in the back of the head.

Sheets then rushed out of his apartment, Cooper said, checking Hernandez for a pulse and found the man dead. Police later determined that Hernandez was unarmed at the time of the shooting.

Speaking to officers after being taken into custody, Sheets allegedly told investigators he had not intended to kill Hernandez.

"When the defendant told them to freeze, the defendant claimed the last guy turned around holding the subwoofer up by his head with one hand," Cooper said in court documents. "The defendant said (Hernandez), with his free hand, then started reaching for his waistband."

Sheets, the detective added, "said he wasn't going to take any chances, he 'freaked the (expletive) out, and he fired."

During an autopsy, staff with the King County Medical Examiner's Office found Hernandez had been killed by the single gunshot to the back of his head.

Sheets will likely be sentenced in about a month.
 

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Its importand to know your state laws on defending property. I kinda feel for the guy, but in my state if I take a shot like that I would go to jail as well. Know you state laws.
 

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I wonder if Sheets knows how to dial 911? Probably does now.
 

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As already said, know the laws of your state. If this had happened in TX no charges would have been filed, most likely. Here in VA you'd be in the same boat as Sheets. Personally I don't think property is worth taking someone's life over, but someone else may.
 

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Heck of a penalty for becoming involved without knowing the laws...:frown::twak:
 

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In PA you can not use deadly force to protect personal property.

Also Known As:
Stealing a car speaker does not fetch a death penalty conviction in Pennsylvania and shooting a thief in the back of the head from a distance with a rifle would come across as a true Lead balloon here also.
 

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9 months for shooting a fleeing suspect in the back of the head? If he turn and reached for his waistband how did he get shot in the back of the head? Shooter gets off light here. He should be doing 10 years.
 

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If this occurred in Texas, he'd be given the keys to his town as a hero.

In this case, he's in Seattle and uses a Russian battle rifle to gun down a fleeing thief. I can see why he did a plea, 'cause they were probably tossing the book at him.

Had he, instead, come out to his car and found three people who then turned on him, he'd be defending himself and have had a much easier time of claiming he did what he did to survive the encounter. But then, in such a case, it's his life (and not merely the life of a woofer) that would be in jeopardy. Far easier to justify that sort of thing.

Heck of a penalty for becoming involved without knowing the laws...:frown::twak:
Just what I was thinking. Pullin' out the Mosin-Nagant in Seattle at a fleeing thief isn't exactly a ticket to stardom.
 

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Irresponsible use of deadly force and bad press for the rest of us:hand1:
 

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Yep, you gotta know where you stand in your State.

People these days are really getting tired of criminals getting away with so much. They hate the injustice and the next thing they know... They end up on the wrong side of the law themselves.
 

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Quote
police came to believe that Sheets shot Hernandez as the 21-year-old fled.
End

ccw9mm,
I seriously doubt that TX would permit the shooting as the man fled. Are there any actual cases that would verify your claim that TX would not prosecute?
I don't believe the Horn case would be a verification. Hernandez did not have the car in possession when he fled.

I think it is deplorable the way the crooks get away with crime, but the law does not give you unlimited authority to use deadly force even in TX.

Regards,
Jerry
 

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Agreed, he should have known the state laws. If it were in NY State that person would have been given the same treatment. I urge each gun holder to check their gun laws.

Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that should I have to apply deadly physical force against a BG, and assuming that I have followed the letter of the law, I would probably be arrested, and at best, my CCW license revoked and face civil suits. Hence all of my assets seized while the family of a BG would vacation in Costa Rica on my dime. A real pathetic state government we have in New York.

For the State of NY, there is an excellent book called:

Firearms and Weapons Laws: Gun Control in New York
Lee O. Thomas & Jeffrey Chamberlain
Ring-Bound, 568 pages
Looseleaf Law Publications, Incorporated
March 01, 1997

It is written by an attorney and a retired NYS Trooper. It also comes with updates.
 

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I seriously doubt that TX would permit the shooting as the man fled. Are there any actual cases that would verify your claim that TX would not prosecute?
I don't believe the Horn case would be a verification. Hernandez did not have the car in possession when he fled.

I think it is deplorable the way the crooks get away with crime, but the law does not give you unlimited authority to use deadly force even in TX.
Texas statutes allow the use of deadly force to stop "theft at night time" and/or to stop the actor from fleeing with the property... I didn't see a reference in the original story to the time. TX also allows the use of deadly force to stop burglary at any time of the day/night. This would be considered "Burglary to a Motor Vehicle".

TX laws give a lot of leeway in the use of deadly force, but just because it's covered by statute, doesn't mean it's the wise or ethical thing to do....
 

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for analysis sake, Washington States Law:

Chapter 9A.16 RCW: Defenses

RCW 9A.16.050
Homicide — By other person — When justifiable.


Homicide is also justifiable when committed either:

(1) In the lawful defense of the slayer, or his or her husband, wife, parent, child, brother, or sister, or of any other person in his presence or company, when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer or to any such person, and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished; or

(2) In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode, in which he is.
I agree that having your car broken into while watching from your balcony does NOT justify deadly force. If he could have articulated in court that he was in fear for his life due to the man reaching into his waist band and the jury believed him, he could have been acquitted. That would have been tough with the rifle shot to the back of the head. This plea deal is acceptable from my perspective.

Here is a similar-ish story from here in Spokane where a drunk off-duty officer shot an unarmed man after some sort ride home or car theft argument. The officer was able to articulate in court that he feared for his safety and was acquitted...

Jay Olsen found not guilty | Top Stories | KREM.com | News for Spokane, Washington

On a personal note: ALWAYS STAY INSIDE. Lock the doors and call 911. Less people get shot that way.
 

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Irresponsible use of deadly force and bad press for the rest of us:hand1:
Not really, first he was shot with a rifle, not a handgun. Secondly there is no mention of the shooter being a permit holder.

To say one misguided gun owner sheds a bad light on all gun owners, is like saying one drunk driver sheds a bad light on all drivers.
 

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Not really, first he was shot with a rifle, not a handgun. Secondly there is no mention of the shooter being a permit holder.

To say one misguided gun owner sheds a bad light on all gun owners, is like saying one drunk driver sheds a bad light on all drivers.
I agree 100%!

Unfortunately, the press doesn’t break it down in detail like that nor does the “uneducated sheep” care when they go to vote at the polls.

Headline: “Gun owner shoots kills thief from balcony while fleeing with rifle”
 

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People don't equate drunk drivers with all drivers; but you can bet sheep consider all gun owners to be the same. These people don't think rationally. When they see a person behind the wheel of a car they assume he's sober. When they see someone with a firearm, they assume the worst. Which is kind of silly considering that the odds of the driver being drunk are much higher than the odds of the gun owner being irresponsible or criminal.

Yeah, this guy f'd up pretty good. He should have taken a pistol down to the car and been "surprised" when confronted by the thieves and "forced to act" when they moved toward him "in a threatening manner."
 

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It only takes one stupid act to cause years and years of damage for the rest of us.
 
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