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Thread: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    Quote Originally Posted by Aderleth View Post
    I care, because we live in an allegedly civilized society, and in such a society we have rules and we have Constitutional Due Process. These three guys took the law into their own hands and decided that some person they've never met, about whom they know nothing, deserved to die. This is not rational, it's not just, and it's not legal.
    Well said!!

    That's should have been the end of thread right there...

    There's really nothing else to say. Anyone who disagrees or doesn't understand the core concepts you so succinctly summed up is living in the wrong country.

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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    If they'd gone to his house, or his regular hangout, and hunted him down and killed him dead just because he was a drug addict, I'd entirely agree that was murder and completely unjustifiable.

    However, that's not what happened. The dead scumbag went to their place of business with intent to rob while armed. Different kettle of fish, IMO.... he was killed in the commission of a serious felony while armed and potentially dangerous.

    If he'd stayed home, he'd still be alive.
    True. But if he'd been unarmed, they'd still have killed him. They didn't know he was armed at the time they shot him, and he certainly wasn't actively threatening them with physical violence at the time he was shot. According to the article in the OP, they made the decision to shoot anyone trespassing on their property, irrespective of whether or not that person was dangerous. This is not a justifiable action.

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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    Quote Originally Posted by Aderleth View Post
    True. But if he'd been unarmed, they'd still have killed him. They didn't know he was armed at the time they shot him, and he certainly wasn't actively threatening them with physical violence at the time he was shot. According to the article in the OP, they made the decision to shoot anyone trespassing on their property, irrespective of whether or not that person was dangerous. This is not a justifiable action.

    Well, Aderleth, I'll tell you something: upon careful reflection, I'm not entirely displeased at how things turned out. They were not prosecuted for murder, which I agree with... but the quarter-million-plus civil judgement is certainly society saying "you did that WRONG, don't do it that way again!"... and perhaps that's not such a bad thing.

    They did violate the strict letter of the law, as I've acknowleged several times. I still don't consider it murder, because they were reacting to felonious crimes and protecting their property, and the guy that they actually shot WAS, in my opinion, a scumbag criminal well-deserving of the "honor". However... they did act in a hasty and overly aggressive manner, which can lead to fatal mistakes being made.

    In this case they shot the right guy (IMO): a meth-head thief who was indeed trying to burglarize their business. But what if some poor schmuck had been driving past the dealership, needed to pee real bad, and crossed their property line to take a quick whizz? Poor guy might have had his bladder emptied through a new hole, given their hasty and aggressive actions.

    IF that had been the actual outcome, I would support criminal sentences for negligent homicide and large cash awards for wrongful death, because they would have killed an honest man whose only crime was a full bladder and poor choice of bushes.

    Of course, that isn't what happened... and my position has been based on what the actual outcome was: one felonious scumbag buried, to society's great benefit. I still wouldn't convict them of murder in a million years.

    But maybe the civil liability award wasn't really so bad... it certainly sends a message of "hey, dipstick, if there's a NEXT time you might want to do things a little more carefully."

    I suppose I'm okay with that.

    I still have no sympathy with the dead meth-head, and remain appalled that the family had the gall to sue for "lost wages" for a thief.

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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post

    IF that had been the actual outcome, I would support criminal sentences for negligent homicide and large cash awards for wrongful death, because they would have killed an honest man whose only crime was a full bladder and poor choice of bushes.

    Of course, that isn't what happened... and my position has been based on what the actual outcome was: one felonious scumbag buried, to society's great benefit. I still wouldn't convict them of murder in a million years.
    I actually almost commented on this issue the last time I posted, because it's an important one, and it highlights a fundamental difference between the way you're thinking, and the way I'm thinking. I am very much coming from a criminal law perspective. By this I mean that I'm thinking in terms of what the law can and should do in situations like this; but also in terms of the philosophy of criminal legal thinking generally...

    To prove that someone has violated any given criminal statute, one needs to establish, generally, two things: 1) a physical act, and 2) a mental state. For example, say I see your watch sitting on a table in a restaurant. I know it's your watch. I pick it up and take it home. This could, or could not be theft, depending entirely on what I'm thinking at the time. On one end of the spectrum, I could be thinking, "hey, someone left their watch unattended, I will now steal it." On the other end of the spectrum, I could be thinking "Hey, that's Goshin's watch. He left it here unattended. I should take it home so I can give it to him when I see him tomorrow." The first situation is theft, the second situation isn't. The physical act is the same in both situations, the mental state isn't. This sort of thing is true for pretty much every crime, and it's certainly true for murder. So I'm largely focused on the mental state of these three guys at the time they performed the action that could (and in my opinion should) lead to criminal sanction. In other words, motive and reasoning are quite a lot more important to me than outcome.

    Put another way, what I'm concerned about is the legal and ethical validity of the actions of these three guys based on the information they had available to them at the time. Whether or not the outcome was a good one, did these guys do something illegal, and was it ethically or maybe even logically appropriate, based on what they knew?
    Last edited by Aderleth; 09-03-11 at 02:14 AM.

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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    Quote Originally Posted by Aderleth View Post
    I actually almost commented on this issue the last time I posted, because it's an important one, and it highlights a fundamental difference between the way you're thinking, and the way I'm thinking. I am very much coming from a criminal law perspective. By this I mean that I'm thinking in terms of what the law can and should do in situations like this; but also in terms of the philosophy of criminal legal thinking generally...

    To prove that someone has violated any given criminal statute, one needs to establish, generally, two things: 1) a physical act, and 2) a mental state. For example, say I see your watch sitting on a table in a restaurant. I know it's your watch. I pick it up and take it home. This could, or could not be theft, depending entirely on what I'm thinking at the time. On one end of the spectrum, I could be thinking, "hey, someone left their watch unattended, I will now steal it." On the other end of the spectrum, I could be thinking "Hey, that's Goshin's watch. He left it here unattended. I should take it home so I can give it to him when I see him tomorrow." The first situation is theft, the second situation isn't. This sort of thing is true for pretty much every crime, and it's certainly true for murder. So I'm largely focused on the mental state of these three guys at the time they performed the action that would (and in my opinion should) lead to criminal sanction. In other words, motive and reasoning are quite a lot more important to me than outcome.

    Put another way, what I'm concerned about is the legal and ethical validity of the actions of these three guys based on the information they had available to them at the time. Whether or not the outcome was a good one, did these guys do something illegal, and was it ethically or maybe even logically appropriate, based on what they knew?
    Yes, I see your point.

    I tend to be more outcome-oriented, rather than process oriented. I will grant you that process (or correct proceedure, to put it another way) has its points, since doing things a certain precise way tends to lead to desireable outcomes.

    However, "in the field" it is often necessary to modify the process "on the fly" in order to achieve the desired outcome. Field conditions are invariably less precise than "lab conditions", and often require improvisation or "quick and dirty patch solutions" to keep the whole project from going down the tubes to the worst outcomes.

    I consider the strict letter of the law to be a process formulated as an ideal, but not always directly correlating to what you run into on the street.

    I'm an ex-cop, if that explains my thinking any more clearly. One of the first things the old vet who was my mentor told me was something like this: "First thing you got to learn is what not to see. If you run around writing every jaywaking ticket you can, you'll miss the big picture." Things happen in the street where you have to make quick decisions and do what had to be done, then pretty it up in the report so the desk-jockeys upstairs don't get upset. I'm not talking about trampling all over people, but maybe glossing over some choice words that slipped out while the perp was trying to resist arrest.

    In this particular case, the outcome was okay by me. Yes, the biz owners probably did need a stern message that they had their process screwed up and had better be more careful next time... though I don't like seeing that family profit by a quarter-mil because their boy was an armed druggie thief who screwed up so bad he got himself killed by some amateurs from Eastern Europe.


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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    Here is the law as it pertains to this subject.

    Texas Penal Code - Section 9.42. DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY.

    A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or
    tangible, movable property:
    (1) if he would be justified in using force against the
    other under Section 9.41; and
    (2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the
    deadly force is immediately necessary:
    (A) to prevent the other's imminent commission of
    arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the
    nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime; or
    (B) to prevent the other who is fleeing
    immediately after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated
    robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the
    property; and
    (3) he reasonably believes that:
    (A) the land or property cannot be protected or
    recovered by any other means; or
    (B) the use of force other than deadly force to
    protect or recover the land or property would expose the actor or
    another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.
    Last edited by SgtRock; 09-03-11 at 02:33 AM.

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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    I'm pretty sure this was in Colorado, though, rather than Texas.

    Wasn't it?

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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    Quote Originally Posted by Goshin View Post
    I'm pretty sure this was in Colorado, though, rather than Texas.

    Wasn't it?
    I thought it was in El Paso. My bad it was in Colorado.
    Last edited by SgtRock; 09-03-11 at 02:40 AM.

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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    Well, it says El Paso County. The paper was the Colorado Gazette, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Now I'm not sure... is there an El Paso county in Colorado?

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    Re: Burglar's family awarded $300,000 in wrongful death suit

    Ok here is Colorado Statute that pertains to use of deadly force against an intruder
    1. 18-1-704.5. Use of deadly physical force against an intrude.
    2. The general assembly hereby recognizes that the citizens of Colorado have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes.
    3. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 18-1-704, any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and when the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed a crime in the dwelling in addition to the uninvited entry, or is committing or intends to commit a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry, and when the occupant reasonably believes that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.
    4. Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from criminal prosecution for the use of such force.
    5. Any occupant of a dwelling using physical force, including deadly physical force, in accordance with the provisions of subsection (2) of this section shall be immune from any civil liability for injuries or death resulting from the use of such force.
    Last edited by SgtRock; 09-03-11 at 02:56 AM.

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