Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When is homicide "justifiable"?

I live by the "Non-Aggression Principle" (henceforth known as the "NAP"), and as such, I don't believe in "preemptive wars" against other nations, laws that limit freedoms based upon what someone *might* do, et cetera.

The NAP is not a principle of "non-violence". Before I go further, I would like to add that I am not a violent person. You don't see me training to be a "cage fighter". I don't get into barfights just for giggles. I actually really hate physical violence, because it is destructive to the soul. That does not mean I will not employ an act of violence, if someone acts aggressively violent toward me.

The NAP is not a principle of "appropriate response". It is a principle of not acting aggressively. There is no such thing, in my mind, as a "proportional response"...because a violent act toward another person is either aggressive or retaliatory. It's flipping a coin, not rolling dice. It either is, or it isn't.

Moving right along, we must analyze our society's penal code. This discussion was brought up because of a story involving a man from Oklahoma City that shot a robber during a robbery attempt. The single shot to the robber's head left the robber incapacitated...and yet, the victim of this attempted robbery chose to go back to retrieve a second gun, and chose to continue shooting the incapacitated robber in the abdomen five times.

The pharmacist that shot the robber during this attempted robbery is now charged with murder...not for shooting the robber in the head, but for going back and shooting him five more times in the gut.

****The following is a legal examination, the moral view will follow this.****

Even under Texas law, which has some of the most liberal "use of force" laws in the Union, this may or may not be considered "illegal". I can legally peel your wig back, for something as trivial as you trying to steal my car stereo. The justification of shooting someone immediately following a failed robbery attempt breaks down to something very simple...and, at the same time, extremely difficult to define.

"At what point does the robber cease to be in the course of a robbery?" This is the question that must be asked.

In this particular case, there is no possible way that the prosecution can ever prove that a crime has been committed, for one specific reason. They cannot prove that the robber WAS NOT a danger to the pharmacist, beyond a reasonable doubt...simply because aside from the surveillance video of the robber going down, there is no further footage of the robber but crime scene photos taken after the five rounds to the abdomen.

The prosecutor, in his press conference, likes to mention the fact that he was "motionless, with his palms up". Yeah. Most people end up like that when they're shot in the head, and five times in the abdomen. It doesn't mean he was like that after the guy shot him in the head.

Like it or not, there really are several known occurrences of people taking a bullet directly to the forehead, and not even slowing down...let alone, actually FALLING DOWN. Even with .45ACP, which generally equals "one-shot stop".

The pharmacist's coworkers left the immediate area, with good reason, as soon as they were able they are not reliable witnesses, as they were not there between the head shot and the abdominal shots.

So, at that point, all you have are the medical examiner's "expert opinions" on what he may think the robber's body was capable of prior to the abdominal wounds, and the pharmacist's testimony of what he BELIEVED the robber was capable of prior to the abdominal wounds.

If someone threatens me with a gun, or is an accomplice to someone threatening me, I am going to do my best to kill that person. If he's still twitching after the first shot, I'm gonna go back for more. The fact that the robber in question was unarmed is completely and totally irrelevant to the situation at hand. If the cops can "fear for their lives" because an unarmed person doesn't act in the manner they think they ought to, and are justified in shooting that person based solely upon this fact alone, why can the victim of an armed robbery not respond in the same manner?

On top of this, there's also that little tidbit of legal history known as "jury nullification". It predates the United States legal system, is still valid in our legal system, and boils down to essentially this: If a juror feels that a particular law (or even a particular portion of a law) is unjust, even if the law is technically "constitutional", that juror has every legal right to cast a "Not Guilty" vote...even if the defendant has actually violated said law, and the defendant's violation has actually been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

There's a good solid chance that the defendant will find a juror who believes like he does, in the fact that an initiation of force is justification for the ending of the offender's life.


And now the moment we've all been waiting for...the moral portion of this discussion!

Okay, so the above discussion was about the technical legal aspects of the situation. This portion, obviously, ISN'T. This is about nothing other than my personal feelings on the situation.

The robber shot during this attempted robbery was UNARMED. Yet, he was a CONSPIRATOR of this attempted robbery. What, exactly, is a "conspirator"? Literally translated, it means "to breathe together". In the legal and practical sense, it means "to be one of the same spirit, mind, or goal". In this instance, the "spirit, mind, and goal" was to rob a pharmacy for all the drugs and cash that the pharmacy had to offer and could be placed inside a small bag...which was, in fact, a metric shitload of cash and pills.

The unarmed robber shot during the armed attempted robbery was not the man holding the weapon, but he was definitely an accomplice and an active participant...which makes him every bit as guilty as the man holding the gun.

A robbery, by definition, is the forceful and unjustified theft of property. A robbery is an assault on a person, even if it does not result in an actual injury to a person, because it relies upon the threat of injury to a person.

In other words, say a man points a gun at your head, while telling you to give him your money. You give him your money, and he runs away. You don't give him your money, and he puts a bullet through your skull. Either way, you have been assaulted. Either your property or your health/life has been taken from you, in a manner that cannot be justified. You'd be hard-pressed to find ANYONE, even the most astute of legal scholars, who would disagree with this.

So my question is, if using deadly force to PREVENT it is justified, why is using deadly force to ensure that it doesn't happen again not justified?

Granted, I am not talking about the state. I'm talking about the victim, and the victim's immediate family. I'm not talking about theft or burglary (even though the state of Texas says deadly force is allowed in such cases), but actual cases of assault upon a person.

If you're misunderstanding this, allow me to clarify. In the case of CONFRONTING a burglar, it is reasonable for a person to believe that his life MAY be in danger, just the same as if he were chasing after the burglar once the burglar has left his home...and shooting him would be justified. Seeing the burglar on the street a week later, or walking into the courtroom, would not present such a the theft of property by means other than force is not an "assault on the person", in such a sense. There was no assault, or threat of assault, in order to commit the crime. The person committing the crime is a criminal nonetheless, but has not committed an assault.

In the case of a robbery, on the other hand, the crime of assault has clearly taken place. He has taken property in full view of the property owner, and did so under the THREAT of assault, and the threat of assault is just as much of an assault as an ACTUAL assault.

This goes back to the NAP that I was discussing earlier. The Non-Aggression Principle dictates that I am not allowed to act aggressively toward another human being. I am not allowed to harm another human being without justification, nor am I allowed to threaten to harm another human being without justification.

If an assault occurs, it does not occur in degrees. It either exists, or it does not. Just the same, my retaliation does not require aforethought with regard to degree of assault. If you assault me, I have every natural right to retaliate using whatever force I deem necessary and/or appropriate.

Keep in mind, I'm not talking about the "legal definition" of assault, because it's been used for piddly stuff like people spitting in the general direction of a cop's boot. I'm talking about the actual, attempted, and/or threatened assault upon a person's safety and/or life.

If you do, attempt, or threaten to endanger my safety or life, you have committed an act of aggression upon me. There is no grey area here. Either you have, or you haven't. If you do so, I have every natural right to respond with retaliation, up to and including the taking of your life.

Now, here's some theoretical "example questions" I pose to you, if you tend not to agree with what I've said.

Situation 1) A twelve year old boy refuses to back down from a bully twice his size. That boy has been physically assaulted, while attending public school, for four days straight, with no response from teachers or administration. The boy is told to "keep us informed" ("us" being school administrators), et cetera.

Situation 2) A woman has an "on again/off again" relationship with a man she is legally divorced from. Man and woman get into an argument. Man attempts to kill woman with his truck, by driving his truck through the house and attempting to drive the truck through the woman.

Situation 3) A woman is brutally beaten and raped in her own home, by a home invader. After the brutal physical and sexual assault, the home invader attempts to rob said woman. Said woman shoots the home invader in the stomach, and he flees the home after being relatively incapacitated with a gut wound, while the woman is severely injured and requires hospitalization.

Now, here's the questions.

In situation 1, would it be unjustified for the boy to rely upon himself (and what is considered to be a "prohibited weapon"), if he had no reasonable expectation of protection from assault by a classmate, when in the confines of a public school?

In situation 2, would it be unjustified if the woman retaliated against such an assault, by attempting to kill or injure the assailant after the fact?

In situation 3, would it be unjustified for the woman to shoot her assailant (with the intent to kill), as he limped away from the crime scene, while physically unable to present a reasonable danger to anyone?

In all three questions, the hypothetical reactions taken by the victims are ILLEGAL according to our legal system. Are they justified? That is what I am asking you.

Once again, you have the same scenario occur in all three occasions, regardless of circumstances. Assault has occurred, with personal remedies being outlawed for "the greater good". Our legal limits are defined to the best abilities of the English language, but once again we have the "flip a coin" v. the "roll the dice". You have "is or isn't" v. "varying degrees".

What's your stance on it?

1 comment:

  1. 1. I think the child has every right to defend himself. What should he defend himself with? IDK. If this were my child, he would be defending himself with me beside him and all the weapons I felt I needed to defend him.
    2.This is what court is for. I don't know that I wouldn't like to see some vigilante justice in this case, and I guess that's why I don't get to decide.
    3. As long as I am able and I have ammo, I'm going to continue to protect myself however that plays out.