Self Defense or Revenge?

Man Faces Prison for Shooting Carjackers 
A Houston man is facing a pretty severe penalty for defending his property, after shooting and killing one carjacker and wounding another.

He’ll probably be ok under Texas law, but this was clearly not self defense. Since they had the drop on him, he did the smart thing and let them have what they demanded. Now, if he’d been openly armed, they probably would never have approached him, of course. But that’s a separate issue. He may have had no chance to access his gun during the confrontation, though many do… and succeed. He’s the only one who knows what the actual threat was at the time.

Fail on several other counts, however. He let his situational awareness lapse, for a big one. Houston is a big place, and I have no idea what the reputation of that particular area might be, but it’s probably not all that wise to go out alone, in the evening, and not have someone to watch your back.

Shooting up your own car doesn’t really seem like a good idea anyway. I’m assuming he was insured for the loss. Since the criminals already had everything else… what was the point? Revenge alone accounts for it, not self defense.

Now, whether or not he should face any particular penalty for this, I won’t be the judge. He needs to answer to his own community and family for it.

Do you think this was self defense? What would you do?

Comments

  1. Texas use of force/lethal force law:

    Sec. 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON. (a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:

    (1) if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; and

    (2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

    (A) to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or

    (B) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

    Also Castle Doctrine, he was removed from his vehicle:

    The actor’s belief under Subsection (a)(2) that the deadly force was immediately necessary as described by that subdivision is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

    (1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:

    (A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

    (B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/docs/PE/htm/PE.9.htm

    Revenge has nothing to do with it. He was pulled out of his car at gunpoint and underwent aggravated robbery. He wanted his stuff back. He reaquired the drop while the gunmen were still at the scene. He neutralized the threats using lethal force under Texas law.

  2. In the above comment, nix the castle doctrine portion. I read somewhere else that he was taken out of his car. Apparently not. Aggravated robbery still stands as justified use of lethal force.

    • As I said, he’s probably safe under Texas law. I just don’t happen to agree that he was in the right to shoot when he did. I’m not wasting any sympathy for the attackers at all, but the assault and theft were over. His life was no longer in any danger, and he seriously damaged his own vehicle. If the other criminal had returned fire, he could have been killed himself. Hardly worth it as far as I can see.

      My main point, really, is that he was not aware of his surroundings so the robbers could sneak up on him that way. That is the major “fail” in this situation, and the lesson for us all. Situational awareness is the first and most important part of self defense.

      • Susan P says:

        As I read the facts of the case, this was an active aggravated robbery and the victim used deadly force at his first real opportunity to do so successfully. He could hardly win a quick draw contest against a man already pointing a gun at him. Were I on the Grand Jury, I would say “No charges” under Texas law.

        I see your point about a failure of “situational awareness”, but that should not negate his legal right to defend his property under Texas law.

  3. “Frazier says the jury will also consider whether deadly force was necessary to avoid his own death or harm.” from KTRK TV.

    Reading the originating article and the quote above from it, one has to wonder. Article doesn’t state whether the Bad-guy/s were still brandishing weapons as they’re attempting to drive away.

    Would a reasonable person still fear for their life?
    From this vantage point at a computer terminal, I’d say no.
    But in the moment, I think I’d say yes.
    Whether it’s justifiable; I’d say that depends on many bits of info that the article simply doesn’t shed light on.
    My thoughts on self defense have always been, if the threat is removed, it is no longer a threat. This situation isn’t at all clear from my reading about it.

    • Absolutely, which is why all such discussion needs to recognize the fact that news stories tend to be incomplete, even when they are otherwise factual and not biased. There is simply no substitute for actually being there.

      My point was that IF there was no more actual threat, there was no legitimate justification to shoot – whether or not such is “allowed” by Texas law.

      Then, if we can use this sort of story to evaluate our own preparation, situational awareness, choice of action to potentially prevent such an attack from even starting… seems good to me, which is why I write about such things. 🙂

      • Oh, no doubt on your “IF” point! True. Yet early this year I ran across another case in TX where a guy was inside a residence visiting when he heard his car being broken into. ……….Shot and effectively stopped the theft. http://www.kens5.com/news/SAPD-Car-thief-killed-another-wounded-outside-Stone-Oak-home-186923501.html

        Or just this past week in Fl. Road Rage trial: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/palm-beach/fl-west-boca-road-rage-trial-verdict-20130926,0,3679036,full.story

        I’ve taken a bunch of time to familiarize myself with Self-Defense law in my State, GA. And nothing I have gleaned has made me thing the above two cases are justified. Of course neither happened here in GA.

        Both those stories tell me that the local community agrees with their actions. But both of those stories seem removed from what I know about Self-Defense/Defense of Property.

        tw 🙂

        Apologize for linking instead of just commenting.

      • Gosh, no problem. Link away!

        And yes, the consensus of the surrounding community has a lot to do with what is perceived as justified. I just know that if I hold to my own principles of shooting only when my life – or that of another – is truly threatened, I won’t likely fall afoul of the “law.” At lest not where I live.

        But that doesn’t mean that I would tolerate an intruder or a theft, by any means. Both are serious threats, and need to be addressed immediately. Anyone confronting me in a parking lot, breaking into my home, etc. would be met with very likely lethal resistance. I certainly wouldn’t wait until the encounter was basically over. The trick is not to be blindsided or surprised.

        Since I carry openly at all times, a potential attacker would see me as not a helpless victim… and he would go away quietly to find an easier victim. In my community, I’m very well known as both armed and totally committed to self defense, so only an absolute stranger with unbelievably poor powers of observation would even dream of attacking me in my home.

        And yet, it COULD happen. I’m prepared for that. Just one of those things.

      • Totally agree, thanks for replying.

        For me, and it would appear you, there is this thing I like to call a ‘Moral-Compass’.

        I trust my moral compass to tell me what is right and/or wrong within a split second if necessary. I think by combining my understanding of these laws AND my moral-compass, I’ll be fine.

        I’ve wondered about that open carry thing with females. I know how I see females, but have been uncertain how the criminal type may see them. Sounds like open carry works for you. I prefer that carry-style myself.

        On the matter of property defense, I just cannot justify leaving the safety of my house and then shooting someone for stealing my car, like the TX case I linked earlier today. If the law allows that, then fine. But I do believe I would never have shot the thief.

        cheers, tw

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