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Shooting fleeing people

A cop is facing murder charges for shooting a fleeing suspect in the back. And he may have doctored the scene. It’s not enough to prosecute this guy but also anyone else who lied for him. Unlike Trayvon and Brown, this one actually is something to be upset about.

It’s a no no for store owners to shoot fleeing shoplifters:

A business owner fired his gun at two shoplifters as they ran from his liquor store in north Knoxville Tuesday night, according to a Knoxville Police Department Facebook post.

19 Responses to “Shooting fleeing people”

  1. HL Says:

    I can’t believe the person filming the scene wasn’t hassled. Which leads me to believe the officer thinks its a good shoot, or just had tunnel vision (understandable).

    Either way, based on the video alone, I believe the charge is warranted.

    Based on this video, a jury needs to have a look.

  2. Ken in NH Says:

    WRT fleeing bad guys, I have mixed thoughts on this. If the bad guy is taking your sole means of making a living, then why shouldn’t you be justified in shooting them in the back. On the other hand, if they’re just getting a few hundred bucks of items or cash that will not absolute break you or your business, then I do not think it is worth their life. How you write the law to take this into account is another question.

    The equivalent scenario for the cop is how much of a threat the suspect is to yourself or the public. In this case, AFAICT the suspect did not seem to be a danger to anyone. On the other hand, if he had a weapon and had demonstrated a willingness to use it to murder or assault others, then shooting him in the back is warranted.

    In any case, the murder charges are correct given the circumstances, even without the video, and I truly hope the jury is able to come to the correct and just conclusion from the apparent paucity of evidence.

  3. Will Says:

    If you read the old book of the collected NRA’s Armed Citizen columns, you will find that it was common to chase down armed robbery suspects after they fled the scene, and to continue shooting until they surrendered or died. Quite often it turned into a group chase with other business people getting involved. That included vehicle chases! This was normal until some time after WW2, maybe the early 60’s (memory is fuzzy on the time frame, been 20 years since I read the book). The book starts about 1900.

    The other change is the perps could be in front of a judge for sentencing in less than a week.

    I don’t recall how unarmed (strong-armed) robberies were handled. Not sure if they were included in that collection.

    Neat book. You can see the social changes occurring over the century, in how the press and police handled self-defense cases involving guns, and other weapons. The changing attitudes of the press are evident since most, if not all, of the accounts are clippings from newspapers.

  4. Phelps Says:

    For the context, the guy was stopped for a broken taillight, and had a warrant for unpaid child support.

    So, he was murdered for being pulled over to be taxed for driving while he had unpaid fornication taxes.

  5. JTC Says:

    Dude was running away in slow motion and backup was there in 30 seconds; only way to justify emptying into his back is if he had shot or stabbed the cop which is obviously not the case.

    All the rioters and publicity whores from cases wherein a guy took a life to save his own, and a cop shot a giant thug who had just punched him and tried to take his gun, would be more than justified to bus on down to SC and do their thing if there wasn’t swift and severe response and charges…but there was. Charged with murder which it so far, apparently was.

    And you know they’re disappointed. “Dang, dawg I was so ready to burn some shit down and get my mug on the 6 O’clock news!” And they still might; it ain’t justice they’re after, just an excuse.

  6. Jake Says:

    Speaking only to the legality of shooting a fleeing suspect:

    I know in Virginia, it’s legal to use lethal force on someone if they are committing a felony. A security guard got his case dismissed after firing at a fleeing shoplifter because he had a “reasonable belief” that the value of the stolen merchandise was enough for it to be a felony.

    This cop, however, based on everything I’ve read about the video, is scum and needs to face the full power of the legal system.

  7. Deaf Smith Says:

    “I can’t believe the person filming the scene wasn’t hassled.”

    Bet they didn’t know he was filming.

    SCOTUS long time ago ruled if a person was not an immediate danger to the pubic you could not shoot them while fleeing.

    Cops got a lot of explaining to do.

  8. Phelps Says:

    Yeah, you can tell how furtively the guy with the phone was filming. That’s why the elevation kept changing — he was trying to make it seem like he wasn’t watching the camera.

    (When I was doing TV production, I would do that by holding the camera under my arm and keeping my hand over the tally light.)

  9. Robert Says:

    As the guy runs, you can see the two Tazer leads stretch out. Which means the darts were still stuck in the guy or his clothing, and the cop still had the Tazer.

  10. wizardpc Says:

    I have a couple of questions I honestly don’t know the answer to.

    Did the charges come only because of the video?

    Has the officer who witnessed the dropping of taser next to the body been charged, or are THEY the reason charges were brought?

  11. JTC Says:

    Now it appears as if the cop did a throwdown of the taser to support his statement the guy grabbed it from him? If that turns out to be true…burn his ass.

  12. JKB Says:

    I highly recommend anyone thinking that shooting at someone fleeing, you check the local laws. In TN, non-law enforcement are specifically prohibited from using deadly force to stop someone fleeing. The language has changed in the last few years, but the SCOTUS case, TN vs Garner (which controls nationally) limits the use of deadly force by law enforcement against a fleeing individual requires reasonable belief of an immediate threat to other officers or others and that there is no other ready means to stop the individual, like other responders. Texas I believe is a bit different, permitting the use of force to stop someone stealing property, but valuable property, but if they drop the property, it is “don’t shoot”. All in all, if the person isn’t a mad dog killer on a spree, it is unwise even for law enforcement to shoot a fleeing suspect.

  13. JKB Says:


    If that proves to be true, and he could have reported the movement in his first statement, then it demonstrates that he had doubt as to the justification of the shooting. And that may be why the charge is murder instead of manslaughter.

  14. Phelps Says:

    Actually, the standard in Texas is that the person has to be a fleeing felon (hence the value of the merchandise on theft), and the shooter has to reasonably think that if the felon is allowed to flee, that he will escape prosecution.

    Defending real property (meaning your land) is a different standard in Texas, with the normal standard from most states (fear of loss of life, etc) during the day, but a pretty free hand at night (including specifically your curtilage and outbuildings.)

  15. Jeffersonian Says:

    There was once a time when everything you owned was considered “property”. Not just land.Those were good times. Nonetheless, even though I watched the vid and still don’t know the whole story in this case, what I have seen and read tells me this cop is in a world of hurt. And cops are indeed out of control although I don’t believe it is because “racism”.

  16. Phelps Says:

    The term “Real Property” came from the middle English idea that you would have to perform a Real Action to take ownership of it (meaning, some sort of legal document) because it was secured by a deed. Personal property was something that could be owned simply by taking it with your person rather than a Real Action. For personal property, it was assumed to be yours if it was on your person.

    BTW, one of those Real Actions could be a Livery in Seisin, where you hand a clump of dirt from the land you are selling to the person who is buying it — which is as legal a conveyance as signing the deed over.

    (There was a case in Texas in the last 10 years or so that I recall where a transfer of land was very murky until the judge heard that at one point the owner handed a handful of dirt to the buyer and said, “it’s yours now.” The judge ruled that legally binding regardless of the documents.)

  17. Ron W Says:

    Now if this was a Fed cop shooting a “suspected terrorist” (citizen) it would all be OK and the media would be compliant to ignore it, unless it was a Border Patrol agent shooting an illegal alien at the border. I forget the names of the two agents prosecuted and imprisoned for shooting a fleeing illegal alien/ drug dealer in the butt back during the Bush Administration. And with the “change” of Obama, illegal aliens are even more preferred.

  18. DocMerlin Says:

    Texas is the only state that allows you to shoot people fleeing with your property.

  19. Jake Says:

    Texas is the only state that allows you to shoot people fleeing with your property

    Not so. See my comment above about Virginia – if it’s enough to make it a felony ($5 if stolen from your person, $200 or any firearm if not), it’s legal.

    But you’ll most likely still have to go at least partway through the Court circus (pour encourager les autres, y’know), and you’ll probably end up more hounded by the media and the feds than George Zimmerman.