When Stand Your Ground Goes Too Far

Posted: June 18, 2012 in criminal justice system
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Smith & Wesson Model 686 Revolver Muzzle
image by bk1bennett on flickr, creative commons

A pedestrian walks in front of a car and the driver stands his ground.

In Arizona, Cordell Jude shot and killed a mentally disabled pedestrian named Daniel Adkins. Mr. Jude claimed that as he entered a Taco Bell drive-through, Adkins walked in front of his car. When Jude yelled at the man to move, the man came to the driver’s side of the car and waved something that looked to Jude to be a “metal pipe”, but did not hit the car or anyone in the car. Jude, who is black, claims that Adkins, who was hispanic and who lived with his mother, “raised his arms” as if to swing again. Jude then shot Adkins in the chest and killed him.

The ‘metal pipe’ was a dog leash. But still. Mr. Jude had every right to stand his ground, apparently, so he went ahead and shot and killed the mentally ill pedestrian who walked in front of his car. No charges have been filed, even though the police report recommended that second degree murder charges be filed.

Adkins died, holding his dog’s colorful green leash, in his right hand. The officers who responded to the scene found the dog still at his side. They did not find a pipe, bat or other weapon.

Jude said he didn’t drive away from the confrontation because the dog was in the way.

Was Mr. Jude in imminent danger of being killed or suffering serious bodily harm, and was he justified in killing the pedestrian who walked in front of his car?

Arizona’s stand your ground law.

A group of teenagers in an SUV drives away from a verbal altercation. A man stands his ground and fires into the SUV that is moving away from him, killing a 15-year-old.

In Louisiana, 21-year-old Byron Thomas started shooting into an SUV full of kids that was driving away after a verbal altercation over marijuana. Fifteen-year-old Jamonta Miles was shot in the head and killed. A stun gun and some fireworks, but no firearms, were found in the SUV; Miles was unarmed. Byron Thomas claimed self-defense and the grand jury cleared him. There will be no indictment.

Although the SUV was allegedly driving away when Thomas opened fire, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said to local media that as far as Thomas knew, someone could have jumped out of the vehicle with a gun. Thomas, said the sheriff, had “decided to stand his ground.”


Was Thomas acting in self-defense when he shot and killed a 15-year-old eighth-grader in a vehicle that was moving away from Thomas? Is it enough to say, “You just never know. One of them could have had a gun?” In Louisiana, that is enough, apparently, to justify killing.

Louisiana’s Justifiable Homicide law

20-year-old man in Wisconsin killed for being on a porch..

Police were called to a neighborhood in Wisconsin because of a noisy underage drinking party. A man at the party, 20-year-old Bo Morrison, left the party to avoid confrontation with police, and hid on a porch at a different home in the neighborhood. Morrison was shot and killed by the homeowner, and the killing is justifiable under Wisconsin’s new castle doctrine that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed into law.

In Florida, a man acted well within his self-defense rights, when he chased a burglar for more than a block, and then stabbed him to death.

In his ruling throwing out a second-degree murder charge against Greyston Garcia, a Miami judge found that Garcia was “well within his rights” to confront a burglar and demand his stolen radios. Garcia chased the burglar for more than a block and stabbed him to death.

Is this truly standing one’s ground?

So, let me see if I have this straight. If a mentally ill pedestrian walks in front of my fucking car in Arizona, I get to pull out a great big gun and kill him, because even though the green dog leash that the pedestrian possesses has a dog attached to it, you just never know, it could be a metal pipe. Even though the imagined ‘metal pipe’ is outside the car and I am inside the car, well you just never know, that pipe, that is really a green leash with a friendly dog on it just might start chasing me down the street. Homicide justified. Check.

If I live in Louisiana, I can embrace the racism, kill kids, claim “you just never know, one of them [insert racial slur that starts with an n here] might have a gun.” Assuming the kids were [slur again] and I am not, I totally get away with it, claiming ‘self-defense.’ Homicide justified. Check.

Somebody on your porch isn’t technically really an intruder, could be somebody lost and needing directions, somebody hurt, or it could be the cable guy but hey, close enough. Homicide justified. Check.

Question: Are the stand your ground laws licenses to kill pretty much anybody you feel like killing? Or are they being misread by the courts?

Reference article- Five ‘Stand-Your-Ground’ Cases You Should Know About.


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