A Time for Prejudice
"Prejudice" in this context means simply to pre-judge certain kinds of criminal cases, and many jurisdictions' Castle Doctrines already do. Florida statute 776.013, "Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm" prejudges a motorist's use of deadly force against a carjacker in favor of the former. "A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself…" if the aggressor was trying to drag the person from his or her car. Common sense says that trying to drag people from vehicles, as practiced by Black Lives Matter and Antifa extremists, puts victims in reasonable fear for their lives regardless of jurisdiction.
Prosecutors in left-leaning venues are, however, siding with aggressors by charging people who use firearms or their vehicles against violent assailants. The proverbial twelve people who are too stupid to get out of jury duty and will rubber-stamp these junk prosecutions meanwhile walk among us. They are arguing that a cop should not have shot Jacob Blake despite the latter's apparent access to a knife, and that Kyle Rittenhouse "murdered" his assailants. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s administration even fired an employee for defending Rittenhouse. We must therefore use social media and other channels to prejudice potential jury pools, i.e. all citizens who are eligible to serve on juries, before they are actually selected for jury duty. (It is illegal to do so afterward.)
None of the following constitutes an accusation that any prosecutor has violated the Rules of Professional Conduct: "The prosecutor in a criminal case shall: (a) refrain from prosecuting a charge that the prosecutor knows is not supported by probable cause…" because I do not have personal knowledge of evidence beyond what I have seen on video. If, however a prosecutor brought any of the first four cases cited below to me as a juror, he would start with two and a half strikes against him before I even heard the defendant's side of the story.
Violent Threat Plus Ability to Carry it Out = Reasonable Fear
The general prerequisite for deployment of deadly force, such as gunfire or a vehicle used as a weapon, is that the actor be in reasonable fear for his or her life. The best way to understand this is through Colonel Jeff Cooper's color code of situational awareness. When you are in Condition White and oblivious to your surroundings, a thug can run up behind you and bash you over the head with a brick.
CBS Baltimore video screen grab
Condition Yellow means you are attentive to your surroundings. I make a point of looking around me frequently when walking on a city street. Condition Orange means you think there might be an imminent danger. "Might be" is not however reasonable fear that justifies drawing, much less using, a weapon; Condition Orange happens when you hear somebody running up behind you as shown in the video. He could be just a jogger who is going to pass you, so you have no right to menace him with deadly force. You can and should however keep an eye on him until he has gone by.
Condition Red is when you see the upraised brick, and only then are you justified shooting the thug or, if you don't have a gun, ramming a cane or umbrella into him like a bayonet while letting his own momentum do most of the work.
Condition Red means therefore that one or more thugs have made a verbal or implied (e.g. body language) threat and displayed the immediate means of acting on it. If a skateboard-wielding thug like Anthony Huber is across the street from you, he lacks the immediate means of hurting you so you can't shoot him. If he is standing over you with it while you are on the ground and unable to escape, then you can shoot him where he stands.
Disparity of force that consists of either superior numbers or superior strength also constitutes a deadly threat at close quarters. In addition, the instant somebody like Huber seeks to disarm you, he has just brought a gun -- yours -- into the situation. This is why "disarming a police officer" is far more serious than just rendering the cop temporarily unarmed as the phrase implies. Now let's look at some real scenarios and how prospective jurors should prejudge similar ones.
Some Two-Minute Trials
- Multiple potential assailants surround a woman in a restaurant with menacing body language, and also deny her the option to retreat in complete safety. This one ended luckily with nobody getting hurt but my opinion is that they (1) made at least an implied violent threat and (2) had the immediate means (disparity of force) of completing it.
- Nikolas Fernandez was charged with felony assault for shooting Daniel Gregory, who reached through the window of Fernandez's car to punch him. Gregory even admitted openly, "I catch him, I punch him in the face." He claims that he was trying to stop Fernandez from running over "demonstrators" but the video shows that Fernandez had come to almost a complete stop by the time Gregory reached into his car. Another "demonstrator" had meanwhile thrown a "hasty roadblock" in front of Fernandez's car so Fernandez had every right to believe reasonably that they meant to drag him from his vehicle and beat him Reginald Denny-style. What they actually intended is irrelevant because Fernandez couldn't read their minds, he had to act on what he saw. Gregory meanwhile appears to really believe that he was protecting people, so he may have acted in good faith, but that does not change the fact that Fernandez was in reasonable fear for his safety.
- Here is a video in which a tanker truck slowed down for a swarm of unruly individuals who then mobbed the truck and dragged the driver from the vehicle to beat him. The option of retreat in complete safety was not available to the driver due to the fact that the aggressors mobbed the vehicle. Had he run over them instead, all I would need as a juror would be the still image of several aggressors attacking the vehicle from the side and another on the hood trying to kick in the windshield to decide, "Stupid game, stupid prizes, not guilty." My personal opinion is that the driver should have just kept going with the air horn blaring, at perhaps 15 miles an hour (school zone speed) to give the mob plenty of time to get out of the way and also to minimize injury to any who insisted on blocking his path.
- Here is a picture of two gunmen standing in front of a pickup truck. Had the driver run over them, my decision as a juror would be that they menaced him with deadly force from which retreat in complete safety was impossible because you cannot drive faster than a bullet. I am glad he was able to retreat without using deadly force, but he did not do so in complete safety.
- This, on the other hand, is not acceptable. The driver was 100 percent right to throw the rioters off his vehicle but he changed from victim to aggressor when he turned to hit somebody who was no longer a threat to him, and he also exposed himself to further attack by lingering near the mob. I might be inclined as a juror to conclude that the driver acted in hot blood rather than with the intent to take the law into his own hands, but it is not something I condone.
None of this is legal advice because I am not a lawyer. It is my opinion of what I can see of the incidents in question. If I am in the jury box with the power to at least hang the jury, mine is however the only opinion that counts, and the same goes for everybody who reads this. The prosecutor gets a limited number of peremptory challenges and, if we educate enough potential jurors, he or she won't have enough to exclude everybody who will derail a junk prosecution on sight.
Civis Americanus is the pen name of a contributor who remembers the lessons of history, and wants to ensure that our country never needs to learn those lessons again the hard way. He or she is remaining anonymous due to the likely prospect of being subjected to "cancel culture" for exposing the Big Lie behind Black Lives Matter.