The Real Reason Woman Who Killed Firefighter Went Uncharged

I have to wonder how George Zimmerman felt upon reading about the shooting death of Kansas City firefighter Anthony Santi, 41.

Ten years ago, after getting his head pounded into the concrete for a minute or more, Zimmerman famously shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.  Although Martin attacked the much smaller Zimmerman without provocation, and eyewitness evidence supported Zimmerman's claims of self-defense, the media and the woke mobs frightened state prosecutors into charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder and ruining his life.

Santi's shooter, by contrast, faces no consequences whatsoever, not even a review before a grand jury.  According to the Kansas City Star, Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, a liberal Democrat known for her racially sensitive leniency, "decided not to move forward with a second degree murder charge against the woman because it could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was acting outside of Missouri's self-defense law."

The Star article compares the case to Zimmerman's and mistakenly argues that he was cleared on Florida's "Stand Your Ground."  He wasn't.  The Zimmerman case was pure self-defense.  Unlike with Zimmerman, the local media did not rail against self-defense laws in the Santi shooting.  This is curious in that just a few months before the shooting, the media were widely denouncing a pending Missouri Stand Your Ground bill as the "Make Murder Legal Act."

Although admittedly not an attorney, I think a good case could be made that Santi's shooting involved neither self-defense nor stand your ground.  I think an excellent case, however, could be made that the critical variables were the same as they were in the Zimmerman case: race and politics.

Here's what happened.  On the afternoon of October 6, 23-year-old Ja'Von Taylor started a ruckus in an Independence, Missouri, liquor store.  (Independence borders Kansas City.)  Upon being told the store did not have the kind of cigars he wanted, he cursed out a female clerk.  When the clerk asked him to leave, Taylor acted up.  Santi backed the clerk and asked him to leave as well.

Taylor should never have been out on the streets.  In March 2022, he pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree robbery in Jackson County Circuit Court and was sentenced to ten years in prison.  The judge granted him a suspended execution of sentence and placed him on probation.  Seven months later, Taylor was out riding around with a loaded gun in his possession.

After threatening Santi, surveillance video shows Taylor retreating to his SUV and retrieving a firearm with an extended magazine.  A subsequent cell phone video clip shows Santi restraining the armed Taylor on the ground while Taylor violently struggles to break free.  At one point, Taylor hands off the gun to the unnamed woman.  While waving the gun around, she screams at Santi to get off Taylor while she pulls on his shirt and pounds on his back.  Santi turns to her and says, "What are you doing?"

"Get off," she yells.  "I've got a kid in the car."  According to bystanders, the struggle lasted as long as ten minutes.  From the video, it seems clear that Santi is simply trying to restrain Taylor until the police arrive.  He is not punching him or banging his head on the pavement.

The video clip does not show the gun being fired, but the woman admittedly shot Santi in the back, killing him.  After shooting Santi, she and Taylor took off in the SUV.  While the police were processing the crime scene, the shooter returned and was taken into custody.  Taylor was later arrested on federal gun charges.

Under current Missouri law, a person may "use physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful force by such other person."

This law justifies the shooting only if the force used by Santi against Taylor was "unlawful."  It wasn't.  Santi was the one standing his ground.  He had no real choice.  Had he let Taylor up, he had every reason to believe Taylor would have shot him.

The Missouri law contains several caveats under the rubric "unless."  The first of these is "unless the actor was the initial aggressor."  In this case, Taylor was the initial aggressor.  Unless Taylor faced "death" or "serious physical injury," the woman had no right to shoot Santi.  As seen on the video, he made no apparent effort to kill Taylor or inflict serious physical injury although he was in position to do both.

The prosecutor's decision not to press charges of any sort against the shooter is, I believe, a consciously racist misreading of the law.  Although Taylor has been charged in federal court with one count of a felon in possession of a firearm, Baker could have charged him under state law with "exhibiting in the presence of one or more persons, any weapon readily capable of lethal use in an angry or threatening manner."  The shooter saw her boyfriend take the gun and brandish it.  She aided and abetted him in the commission of this apparent felony.

Then, too, there is the universally applied felony murder doctrine: "Any death which occurs during the commission of a felony is first degree murder, and all participants in that felony or attempted felony can be charged with and found guilty of murder."  Although the Missouri interpretation of this principle is complex, what is clear is that the underlying felony "need not be inherently dangerous."

Missouri law did not lead Jean Peters Baker to decline filing charges or even sending the case to a grand jury.  What surely inspired her was the race of the perp and the race of the victim.  Santi was white.  Taylor and the shooter were black.  Predictably, local media — all of them — refused to mention the race of any of the principals.

The media exercise this discretion, of course, only when it suits the larger political agenda.  Consider, for instance, this Star headline from earlier in 2022: "Ex–Kansas City officer sentenced in black man's killing."  The local NPR station took the same tack: "Kansas City detective convicted in killing of Black man will remain free even after he's sentenced."  The Associated Press added further clarification: "White Missouri officer convicted in Black man's 2019 death."

The 2019 shooting followed a police pursuit of a vehicle involved in a high speed chase with another vehicle that ended in the garage of the vehicle involved.  One officer fired at the suspect, Cameron Lamb, after he saw Lamb reach for a weapon.  The case hinged on the fact that his partner did not see the gun, although a gun was found on the scene.  The case went before a grand jury, which handed down an indictment for involuntary manslaughter.

In the years between the shooting and the death, Cameron Lamb was publicly mourned, defended, even celebrated.  Anthony Santi, a good Samaritan to the core, will be quickly forgotten save by friends and family.  Ja'Von Taylor, meanwhile, will soon be back, wandering the streets, armed and dangerous.  Such is justice in America's lawless Democrat-controlled jurisdictions. 

Jack Cashill is the author of If I Had A Son: Race, Guns, and the Railroading of George Zimmerman.  To learn more, see

Image: Tony Webster via Flickr, CC BY-SA 4.0.

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