Monday, January 27, 2014

He got out of the boat.

In the movie Apocalypse Now, the character "Chef" goes foraging for mangoes in the jungle along the river and has a memorable encounter with a tiger that leaves him shaking back on the PBR, repeating over and over "Never get out of the boat! Never get out of the boat!"

It's a phrase that can be applied well to borrowing trouble.

Which leads to our current example, in which a known dirtbag barged his way into a home invasion robbery wielding a rifle. In the ensuing scuffle, someone got shot, but the perp lost his rifle and fled into the pre-dawn dark.

While the shot dude sought help, another occupant of the invaded home noted that the dropped rifle was a .22 just like his own, and scooped it up, grabbed a flashlight, and headed out after the departed perp.

As it turns out, that was when he got out of the metaphorical boat, because sure enough, he found the perp. And when he did, he says he yelled at the perp to freeze, and instead, the homeowner says the guy made a move towards his waistband and the homeowner shot him, with eventually fatal consequences. The dead guy was a convicted criminal, had just shot a man in a strong-arm robbery, and was as clear a case of misdemeanor murder as you're likely to find on any given day.

Now, in a cowboy western, it would end there, but 21st Century Real Life Pennsylvania is not 19th Century Hollywood Arizona Territory. Further, there are problematic witness statements that have the homeowner saying he was going to "shoot that [blankety] with his own rifle" and even shooting the fleeing man in the back.  The local authorities seem to believe that the homeowner's mantle of innocence as the aggrieved victim ended when he scooped up the rifle and set off into the darkness to pursue the fleeing bad guy, rather than leaving that chore to the guys on the other end of the phone; the ones dripping with qualified immunity.

If he'd done that, then all the gun owners on the internet could be excoriating a cop for shooting an unarmed man for making a furtive movement rather than trying to defend a non-cop for doing the exact same thing.

Listen to Chef. Stay in the boat.
.

36 comments:

TBeck said...

People who go looking for trouble can usually find it.

Matt said...

In 19th Century, non-Hollywood Arizona, he might of been charged. Wyatt Earp was charged for the deaths at the OK Corral even though he was a Deputy U.S. Marshal at the time.

The pursuer in this case was wrong in so many legal and practical ways it warrants a face palm.

TJIC said...


If he'd done that, then all the gun owners on the internet could be excoriating a cop for shooting an unarmed man for making a furtive movement rather than trying to defend a non-cop for doing the exact same thing.


As much as I'm anti-cop, I wouldn't be terifically likely to shake up a can of rage and crack it open if a cop had shot a perp under those circumstances.

There's a video going around right now which has many of the other anti-cop folks in a tizzy: citizen raises hands and is shot by cops. I've avoided joining in the circus on this one because let's dig into who the citizen is, and ... oh, he's a carjacker, caught in the middle of a carjacking.

When an individual is in the middle of an obvious criminal activity, I'm a lot more willing to accept shades-of-grey arguments. No person or machine operates at 100% efficiency, and the fog of war is real. For example, the "the carjacker had his hands up" video shows that he was putting his hands on the roof of his car, which is inches away from an open window...so I can understand how a mistake could happen on the cop's behalf.

The cases that really get my dander up are where (a) the cop created the tense situation in the first place (e.g. Thomas Kelly), (b) there is no reason to assume evil intent or weaponry on the part of the citizen, and/or (c) the cops are caught lying about the video (e.g. the Dallas cops who shot a guy standing still in the middle of the street and later claimed that he was advancing on them).

And, back to the original topic you raise: yes, I agree with you entirely. Hunting down someone with out any legal mandate to do so is utterly stupid in today's legal climate. Heck, legal climate aside, the morality of it is suspect.

Tam said...

"As much as I'm anti-cop, I wouldn't be terifically likely to shake up a can of rage and crack it open if a cop had shot a perp under those circumstances."

You would not have had the circumstances reported to you the same way.

Jim said...

Shared on FB under a line I use when I can: "You have a right to defense. You have no right to revenge."

I know that omits a good deal, but it is not a bad mindset for armed citizens.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

Letting your adrenaline make you do stupid shit is a badness thing.

Mossyrock said...

He left "sanctuary". NEVER leave sanctuary. When you step accross that threshold, the circumstance moves out of the realm of self defense and into something more likely to send you someplace unpleasant.

staghounds said...

Word, Mossyrock.

This killing is not a case of self defense in the robbery attempt. The robbery attempt had ended and all danger had vanished.

The way I might analyse it is as an attempted arrest. Shaffer has every legal right to pursue and arrest Hughes, as does any other citizen. If that was his intent, although stupid, then it's still a fact question whether Hughes placed Shaffer in reasonable fear of deadly peril (or whatever the PA. terms are) at the time of the attempted arrest.

Of course if it was his intent to pursue Hughes in order to shoot him, then Shaffer is a murderer or a manslaughterer. His comments, if proven, don't help him at all.

Having said that, no jury will convict him IF it finds out about the robbery attempt and shooting of Fulton. Someone with sense will hang it up, any decent prosecutor should know that.

This is one that should have been submitted to the Grand Jurors, who wouldn't indict.

Listen to Chef.

Tam said...

staghounds,

"Having said that, no jury will convict him IF it finds out about the robbery attempt and shooting of Fulton."

I've always wondered where they get the jurors for cases like this. There can't be that many non-newspaper-reading deaf people who don't have TVs on the voter rolls in any jurisdiction.

billf said...

I think it's somewhat a natural tendancy to take matters into your own hands and think that you're gonna be a hero,but chasing the guy with a gun ,is no longer 'stand your ground',it's 'chasing a guy with a gun'.
I agree,never get out of the boat.

Boat Guy said...

"Never get out of the boat! Never get out of the boat!"

Discovered the Boat Guy mantra, have we?

Goober said...

We had a case here where a guy stole another guys truck. Truck owner shot truck taker to death as he drove off. Truck owner is going to jail and rightfully so.

Here's the thing to drill yourself on:

Imminent threat to life and limb of yourself or another innocent that you played no part in creating.

If you fail to meet that standard expect to do some time.

Paul said...

NEVER LEAVE THE BOAT.

If you go looking for a problem it will usually get pear shaped in a hurry.

mikee said...

Laws differ from state to state. Some places allow, or encourage, hot pursuit of felons by citizenry, other places want you to roll over and be a good victim.

Houston, TX, had a neighbor on the phone to 911 explain that the house next door was being robbed, and when he shot the two miscreants as they exited that house and crossed his lawn, he was legally in the clear, although much opprobrium was heaped upon him in news articles (but not the comments to those news articles).

Still and all, why ask for more trouble - the guy in the linked article had just obtained a free .22LR rifle, and could have stopped while ahead.

DaddyBear said...

"I've always wondered where they get the jurors for cases like this. There can't be that many non-newspaper-reading deaf people who don't have TVs on the voter rolls in any jurisdiction."

You'd be surprised at how many people who get called for jury duty are proud of the fact that they don't pay attention to the news. I was pulled out of two jury pools because I could articulate the publicly known facts about the cases to the judge, but they didn't have much trouble finding someone to take my place. Willful ignorance must be really blissful.

Laughingdog said...

I'm a little surprised, in light of recent events, that no one is over here using this post as another "example" of how you are opposed to self-defense and such.

Blackwing1 said...

Our CC permit instructors have all tried to drill the "four easily popped balloons" of self-defense into their students:

1. There must be an immediate/imminent danger of death or grave bodily injury.
2. It must be clear that no lesser force would have stopped that danger.
3. You must (in Minnesnowta, at least) have no practical retreat, with the sole exception of being in your own home, from which you are not expected to retreat.
4. There must be a clear perception that you were a RELUCTANT PARTICIPANT.

If you fail any of these at any time during a lethal-force encounter, you have "popped" one of the balloons of self-defense, and can expect to find yourself in very poor legal position.

The "reluctant participant" portion requires not only that you not initiate or exacerbate the event (through words or actions), but also that you are not permitted to pursue or follow. It would appear (from what's available) that this poor S.O.B. is probably facing a very difficult legal defense because of the pursuit.

"Not shooting a thief is the same as encouraging them" only works in unpublished H.Beam Piper novels.

BryanP said...

I swear I'm half tempted to attach a little speaker to my holster that plays "Is this worth going to prison or going bankrupt?" on the draw stroke.

Anonymous said...

this is why the usa is in the condition we are in
everyone is scared to do the right thing and stop evil and tell the bad guys if you rob steal or comit a crime you will die

Kristophr said...

Rage comes in cans, TJIC?

Damned ... I need to stock up.

Steve C said...

"Not shooting a thief is the same as encouraging them" only works in unpublished H.Beam Piper novels.

Well... that and Texas.

Tam said...

"this is why the usa is in the condition we are in
everyone is scared to do the right thing and stop evil and tell the bad guys if you rob steal or comit a crime you will die
"

I swear to Ghu that you will not die if you use the shift and punctuation keys.

JohninMd.(too late?!??) said...

I'm guessing that would hold in an "active shooter" incident as well. We just had one at Columbia Mall here in Md. Of course a "Gun-Free " zone....

Sigivald said...

"Never get off the boat. Damn straight. Unless you were going all the way..."

This guy got all the way off the boat, and like with Col. Kurtz, it doesn't end well.

Al T. said...

Something's obviously off here. How the heck did TWO guys find .22LR ammo?

Joe in PNG said...

Anon 2:07- Your homework assignment is to study up on a concept called "Rule of Law".

burkdoggy said...

There totally should be a mulligan if the perp is found to have a pattern of behavior. Just sayin'.

Toastrider said...

Joe in PNG @ 5:08PM:

"Anon 2:07- Your homework assignment is to study up on a concept called "Rule of Law"."

In this day and age? Rule of law? Pull the other one, it's got bells on it.

Windy Wilson said...

"You would not have had the circumstances reported to you the same way." --Tam.

THIS is what I was thinking of:
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/365659/unarmed-man-goes-shooting-rampage-mark-steyn#!

If the the shooter of the choirboy had had qualified immunity dripping off him like (I hesitate to use my intended porn metaphor here), it will not hit the national news at all except for Mark Steyn or Ann Coulter who will write columns with titles like this one. The Mainstream Media would have nothing on Pravda and Isvestia in disappearing the story!

Joe in PNG said...

No more fanciful than the idea that if we could, and would only shoot fleeing crooks in the back, the moral decline of the USA will be stopped.

Will said...

Joe:

Read the NRA's compendium of "Armed Citizen" back in the early 1900's. It was published in a large book.

You were expected to chase down the bad guys and continue shooting until they surrendered. We're talking get in your vehicles and chase them across the county, if needed. They were considered fair game until they quit. Refreshing reading. Shame things have changed so much. That mostly seemed to happen in the sixties.

If you read the whole book, you can see when the changes regarding police, courts, and the media occur. You can see reports about robbers being wounded and caught, and appearing in court a couple days later to be sentenced to prison. None of this crap about being out on bail for a year or so before your case comes to trial.

Tam said...

Will,

"You were expected to chase down the bad guys and continue shooting until they surrendered. We're talking get in your vehicles and chase them across the county, if needed."

Or even farther if they were negroes, wops, or commies.

Thankfully I would have been allowed to stay home with the rest of the womenfolk until you caught them, and then I could have made sammiches for the Lynchin' Bee.

What a funny ol' rose-colored view people have of the past!

Anonymous said...

The expectation to wait for uniformed law enforcement personnel to arrive and take care of the situation is strong where the population is dense and/or the LE personnel are unionized. In the absence of those two conditions, letting someone who has just enacted an armed home invasion to roam freely is just letting the problem wander to the home of some other person who may be less prepared to deal with it. This is truly a "damned if you do and a damned if you don't" situation. If you were on the grand jury or jury, would you vote to indict or convict the man for pursuing the home invader? I do not think that I would.

Just because someone has voluntarily left the boat does not mean that you must let them drown.

Goober said...

Don't forget the Irish, Tam. :)

In all seriousness, Tam makes a decent point at 7:57, in her own way...

Since the early 1900's, our society has undergone a transition from agrarian to industrial to post-industrial, and with that came specialization and the separation of duties.

A family no longer needed to grow their own food, build their own house, churn their own butter, etc because people were more widely working in specialized trades. They had people for that, and as long as you were someone else's "people" that someone would pay you money so you could pay YOUR people.

I don't have to grow my food because farmers do that for me, and in return, I build schools for their kids... you know how it works.

With that came the elimination of the need for a person to be their own law enforcement - we have specialists for that, too.

I, for one, am quite glad that we train, equip, and pay people to go off galavanting into the night after armed felons, instead of having to do it ourselves. After a day of project managing $30 million dollar college buildings, I'd be too tired to want to put in the effort, to be honest.

Long for the past all you like, but until you've experienced a trans-continental road trip on dirt roads in a model T chasing after the guy who robbed you, I don't think you ought to be pining for it too hard...

burkdoggy said...

Yes. It is nice to have someone else chase the bad guys, grow the vegetables and slay the barnyard animals. Even raise our kids.

Isn't it a brave new world?

Kirk Parker said...

Oh, please, all you folks... it's perfectly OK to criticize the shooter on tactical grounds in an AAR style, go ahead!

But so many of you are moving from there (or just jumping straight to) The Only Ones™ fallacy it makes my head spin.

Goober @ 7:14pm: yes, you make a good point, but in any reasonable rendition of a common-law polity (I know, I know) the authority of the police is totally, and only, a delegated authority. Go read your (pseudo-)Peel!

And also contemplate, in most (but not all!) jurisdictions, it's still legal to grow a bit of your own food if for some reason you want to try your hand at it.