Tag Archive for 'deadly force'

Police Use Deadly Force in a Brawl with Christian Musicians

A family of traveling Christian musicians brawled with four cops in a Walmart parking lot on March 21st.  The fight resulted in an officer shooting and killing one of the brothers.

Arizona Walmart Brawl Deadly ForceThe brutal 9-minute long fight was caught on the cop car’s dashboard camera. The fight started when a female employee tried to use the restroom at the Walmart and was shoved by two of the brothers because their mom was using the restroom.

The family immediately started to assault the cops as soon as they arrived at the scene. Punches were thrown and the cops attempted to subdue them by pepper spray and a Taser. The family kept fighting even after pepper sprayed and hit with a Taser, prompting the officers to call for back up.

A struggle for one of the officer’s guns left Enoch Gaver dead, and David Gaver shot in the stomach.

Peter Gaver, Ruth Gaver, Nathan Gaver, and Jeramiah Gaver were all arrested and are facing charges for aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and hindering prosecution.

Was the Police Use of Deadly Force Legal?

Police officers can use deadly force in self-defense. If an officer feels there is imminent threat to his or the public’s safety, he is allowed to and is legally protected if he deems it necessary to use deadly force.

Enoch Gaver reached for and struggled to grab the officer’s gun. Therefore, the “reasonable choice” the officer had in the situation was to immediately kill him. Deadly force may be used when no other action is believed to succeed. In this case, the officer either needed to kill, or be killed. The shooting was completely justified.

Why Is It so Hard to Indict Cops?

With so many recent cases of white cop vs. black man, the country has erupted into protests demanding change. The George Zimmerman, Darren Wilson, Tamir Rice, and the Eric Garner case, have thrown the U.S. into a racial tailspin. These cases have all exemplified the complicated process of indicting cops.

why is it so hard to indict cops?Why is it so hard for a grand jury to indict cops? When 90% of cases end in indictment, why do the majority of cop vs. citizen cases end in non-prosecution of the cop?

What Law Does the Grand Jury See?

Indicting a police officer is a far more complicated process than indicting a citizen. The primary reason is that the law is very generous in giving cops the authority to use deadly force.

For example, in the Ferguson case, Missouri law gives officers the right to use deadly force “in effecting an arrest or in preventing an escape from custody” if the officer reasonably believes the deadly force is necessary to “effect the arrest” and also he “reasonably believes that the person to be arrested has committed or attempted to commit a felony…or may otherwise endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay.”

What Protects Cops from Indictment?

Major criminal cases use police investigators and detectives, which poses an extreme conflict of interest in cop cases. Police officers can also serve as eye witnesses, since they were often the only people there (or the only people who lived to testify about it). This massive conflict of interest can affect a prosecutor’s expectations of the cop’s involvement.

Cops enter into the law enforcement field knowing they need to protect their fellow colleagues at any cost. This is exemplified in the field, as well as the court.

Police also have an extensive amount of specific legal protection. Each state has guidelines for what protects its police, but the laws that allow the use of force are backed by the Supreme Court. Police can use force when resisted against, and will extend their use of force if the criminal does the same.

It’s crucial to remember that police officers must make immediate, instinctive decisions to stay alive. This fact that influence a grand jury’s determination as to whether the officer acted reasonably under the circumstances.

Even in times where racial tension is at a high, the majority of the population favors cops. There is a central knowledge and belief that cops are essential to the safety of our country. Some might say they are a necessary evil. Jurors are often asked to put themselves in the police officer’s shoes in these types of cases, rather than the criminals. This creates an even bigger push to side with the police.

Even when police officers are indicted, reports from Philadelphia and Seattle show that most of these cases become overturned. This is a direct cause of the substantial due process protection for police officers.

The criminal justice system is corrupted with racial discrimination. This has especially been prominent in cases such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner. But, it is key to remember that the criminal justice system is also a complicated one. Only experts can decide if an indictment is necessary. Hopefully, this article has shed some light onto the widespread unknown reasons why indicting a cop is so hard.

Why Stand Your Ground Laws Are Bad for America

Stand your ground” laws have been controversial since Trayvon Martin’s death. With stand your ground laws in twenty-three states, the unfortunate case of Trayvon Martin was only the beginning. In a recent case, 17-year-old Diren Dede, a German exchange student, was killed when he was shot four times by Markus Kaarma in Montana.

stand your ground laws and Diren DedeMarkus Kaarma was arrested and charged with homicide. Teens “garage hop” in Montana—a game that involves sneaking into random garages to steal beer. Kaarma’s home had been the target of two recent burglaries. In response, Kaarma, father of an infant, installed motion sensors and video cameras to monitor his home. A witness told police that Kaarma had been waiting three nights with his shotgun “to shoot some kid.”

It’s not clear whether Dede entered Kaarma’s home to steal alcohol or the marijuana Kaarma had on his property. Nevertheless, Germany is calling for justice for Dede’s death.

Dede’s death is comparable to Trayvon Martin. In both cases, the state removed requirements for self-defense arguments. In Florida, the state removed the duty to retreat from public places if the person was lawfully there as long as the person didn’t start the conflict. In Montana, lawmakers lowered resident use of deadly force from belief that assailants would use violence to a reasonable belief that deadly force was necessary. The underlying logic is the same: the gun owner’s right to self-defense is paramount.

The problem with this change in self-defense laws is that it undermines the rule of law. If Dede had been captured by the police, he probably would have had a few years in prison for burglary.  Instead, he received the death penalty at the discretion of one man. Dede was put to death for a crime which would have warranted at most a few years of jail. And Dede was put to death without trial. Compare that to the murderers and rapists, real vicious criminals, who spend decades on death row with years of appeals before they are executed. Under stand your ground law, young people like Trayvor and Dede are given fewer rights than serial killers.

Politically, this case trades the explosive internal racial tension of Trayvon Martin for international hypocrisy. It’s difficult to sell political rights in countries like China when foreign citizens are being killed for burglary without trial in our own backyard. In 1994, Singapore wanted to cane Michael Fay for vandalism. President Clinton convinced Singapore to commute the sentence from six strokes of a cane to four, even though Singapore canes its own citizens six times for vandalism. Since Dede is dead, Germany cannot ask for clemency for a punishment that Germans feel is barbaric. It’s impossible, given that Dede’s “punishment” is not given to American citizens for the same crime. Somehow, Singapore has more social equality than we do.

TX Woman Shoots Husband After He Threatens Her Cat

When a couple decides to tie the knot, they do so with the intent to be bound to one another for life within the sacred bonds of holy matrimony.  But when one or both of the parties are cat-lovers, they enter marriage with a caveat known to every feline-keeper: the cat comes first.

Don’t believe this unwritten rule?  Well readers, Audrey Deen Miller is here to prove you wrong.  The 42-year-old Texas woman has been accused of shooting her husband in the stomach after he allegedly threatened to shoot her cat.  Apparently, the couple had gotten an argument on their way home.  But things turned serious when Miller’s husband announced his plans to fire a pellet gun at her cat.  So what would any respectable cat owner do in such a situation?  If you said pull out a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun and shoot the potential cat-attacker in the belly, then congratulations, you know how Miller thinks.  Also, you’re probably mental.

While no decent human being would ever want to see any harm befall on their beloved pet, blasting a dude is a little extreme, especially if you’re married to the other party.  In Miller’s case, she was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  Her husband was rushed to the hospital and later released.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Miller’s cat is fine.

This story is interesting on a number of levels.  The first being that Miller somehow lucked out in an odd way because so far she has only been charged with aggravated assault after shooting a person.  With a gun.  In Texas.

But don’t misunderstand, aggravated assault is still a serious felony and carries some major prison time in the state.  However, the penalty for attempted murder is much worst and could’ve fit the facts in Miller’s case just as well.  While there’s no word yet on what prosecutors plan to do, don’t be surprised if they push for this charge later.

The other interesting legal question in this story revolves around the issue of self-defense, or more specifically, defense of others.

It’s a long standing tenet in criminal law that killing another person is arguably the most heinous crime possible.  It’s for this reason that exceptions to murder are extremely limited.  One of those exceptions is protecting another person or yourself from being killed or severely injured.  In such situations, the killing is considered justified.

However, the keyword in this legal exception is “person.”  Animals, no matter how real or severe the threat or harm to them, are not covered under the laws of self-defense.  Furthermore, in Miller’s case, even if the exception did apply to animals, it still likely wouldn’t protect her against conviction.  That’s because the third party victim must actually be under attack at the time the protector acts.  A threat of future harm isn’t a sufficient basis to off an attacker.  As any law professor would say, the harm must be imminent.

But, this doesn’t mean that a person can’t act to protect a cat.  Animals are actually considered a type of personal property (or chattel).  As such, you’re allowed to use reasonable force to protect your belongings from theft or damage.  This legal exception applies in Texas and the majority of states.

However, you’re never allowed to use deadly force to protect your property, regardless of the property’s emotional and/or monetary value.  Also, like with the defense of others exception, the harm to a person’s property must be imminent for the exception to apply.  And if you remember, Miller’s husband only threatened to shoot her cat, but as far as all reports say so far, the cat wasn’t with the couple at the time of the alleged threat.  This means that even if Miller could somehow convince a jury that she was justified in using deadly force to protect her cat, the exception still wouldn’t apply because the feline wasn’t under any imminent threat of harm at the time.

So, in closing, there are two lessons that you should take away from this post.  The first is that our justice system has created legal arguments for nearly every situation imaginable.  The second is don’t mess with cat owners.