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Acting in emergencies, force, and the law

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I'd like to pose the following question to Objectivists and/or those knowledgeable in it:

Suppose that a robber steals a man's wallet and wedding ring at knifepoint. After purloining the man's valuables, the robber turns and makes to escape with the stolen goods. From the standpoint of Objectivism, does the man have the right to use force to prevent the robber from getting away with his property? How about deadly force?

Does the entire act of theft count as the initiation of force? I.e. does he have the right to pull a previously unnoticed gun and shoot the robber in the back to prevent him from escaping and thus completing his theft -- thereby preventing an initiation of force? Or is the emergency over when the robber turns and runs?

I think that in our present society (or at least some localities) the law says that the emergency is over when the robber turns to run away. But I surmise that a man has the right to act in self-defense to prevent a crime, even if the robber has stopped immediately threatening others.

Your thoughts?

Edited by Inspector
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Suppose that a robber steals a man's wallet and wedding ring at knifepoint. After purloining the man's valuables, the robber turns and makes to escape with the stolen goods. From the standpoint of Objectivism, does the man have the right to use force to prevent the robber from getting away with his property? How about deadly force?

Does the entire act of theft count as the initiation of force? I.e. can pull a previously unnoticed gun and shoot the robber in the back to prevent him from escaping and thus completing his theft -- and thereby preventing an initiation of force? Or is the emergency over when the robber turns and runs?

I think this is an interesting thought experiment. My immediate reaction is that when the robber is making his escape, this is still an emergency for the victim. The victim has great reason to believe that if the robber escapes, then he will never see his and possibly his wife's personal items again, some of which might have enormous personal value. If the victim could somehow stop the robber without harming any third party who the robber might flee past, that would be a legitimate act of self-defense in my opinion. For example, if he could shoot the robber without endangering anybody else.

The issue becomes much more complicated if passing third parties get forced into the situation. For example, after the robbery, both robber and victim rush to their respective cars to ensure an action-packed, high-speed car chase that involves unintentionally destroying the wares of hot dog stands, fruit stands, news vendors, and two guys carrying a large, rectangular pane of glass. The problem here is that the victim is contributing to the creation of other victims in his hot pursuit when the situation was not an emergency for any of these third parties. A similar situation could be if the pursuit is on foot and the robber decides he will take a pedestrian hostage. In either case, the robber is obviously the one who initiated the whole situation. Nevertheless, a citizen who pursues him in a crowded public venue could endanger the well-being of others.

Anyway, I think one principle is quite clear: If you can stop the escaping robber without harming anybody else, then this is a legitimate act of self-defense. After rereading Ayn Rand's essay The Ethics of Emergencies, I might be able to formulate the principle on how to approach the situation, from the perspective of a citizen, if there is significant risk of third parties becoming victim if the robber is being pursued.

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Is any inanimate object worth a man's life? Is someone is warranted to shoot the fleeing robber in the back and kill him just to retrieve a simple gold band and some cash?

To me there has to be a point where the individual must step back and let the lawful authority of the government take the reigns. Even if that means he will never see his wedding ring again.

Please note that I am not trying to deny the mans right to defend himself as long as he is in physical danger from the robber, but as soon as the robber turns and flees, the responsibility for what is now "retribution" for a crime already committed has to be passed on to the appropriate authorities.

Edited by Zip
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I would say the emergency is pretty clearly over once the robber has withdrawn the threat and gotten what he is after. At that point it becomes a legal matter. I think the key here is in separating the need of individuals to defend themselves in the extremely exceptional event that their lives or well-being are threatened, as opposed to the situation you describe where the tendency would be towards a punitive use of force, in other words, taking the law in your own hands.

I think it is very important that Objectivists make this clear, as in my experience, critics will use the rather strident language of Rand in, for example, Galt's speech, to paint Rand as advocating unlimited retaliatory force in response to any use of force (see this thread for an exposition).

While you can take a quote like this:

If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules.

This is the task of a government—of a proper government—its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government.

A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.

Ayn Rand, "The Nature of Government," The Virtue of Selfishness, 107.

..to illustrate that Rand was emphatically not an advocate of putting unlimited retaliatory force at the disposal of ordinary individuals, it is hard to find anything codified in Objectivist literature that draws a bright line where emergency retaliation stops and government "monopoly" of force kicks in.

For me, there aren't many things that a mugger could take from me in terms of valuables that would make it rational for me to want to shoot at him once he is no longer threatening me. However what about the following example:

You've spent the last ten years of your life writing a masterpiece of literature and a crazed intruder is holding the only copy of the manuscript over a fire (I know, why would there only be one copy? Just go with it.). Do you shoot to kill, shoot to maim (my understanding is that "shoot to maim" is almost never recommended for practical reasons of self-defense)?

What if you've discovered a cure for cancer and some eco-terrorists are about to burn down your lab because you are conducting animal trials?

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I think the problematic practical issues along with the anarchy thread deal with the facts of imperfect information, and a tendency to not act in a perfectly rational manner in all such situations.

How does the man know that the threat from the robber has passed?

What is the reasonable expectation for this?

Given the passions of the moment, what sorts of errors in judgement is it reasonable to allow the man to make?

What is a citizen's proper role in helping to aprehend criminals at large?

My initial thought is that if the man is sure the personal threat is passed, he could use force to subdue the criminal up to and including the threat of deadly force (as a blufff). I am not convinced that the use of deadly force would be warranted.

If however the man has reasonable (maybe even unreasonable, inflamed) expectations that the threat persists, then I could see a lot of leniency given to his actions. The initiation of force on teh part of the robber makes him ultimately responsible for some level of errors of judgement on the part of the victim.

I think actions that can be clearly shown to be retributive only, and with malice shoudl be punished but the burden of proof would have to be higher in such a case. That is the victime ought to get the benefit of the doubt for reasonable "errors in judgement".

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I think the problematic practical issues along with the anarchy thread deal with the facts of imperfect information, and a tendency to not act in a perfectly rational manner in all such situations.

How does the man know that the threat from the robber has passed?

What is the reasonable expectation for this?

Given the passions of the moment, what sorts of errors in judgement is it reasonable to allow the man to make?

What is a citizen's proper role in helping to aprehend criminals at large?

My initial thought is that if the man is sure the personal threat is passed, he could use force to subdue the criminal up to and including the threat of deadly force (as a blufff). I am not convinced that the use of deadly force would be warranted.

If however the man has reasonable (maybe even unreasonable, inflamed) expectations that the threat persists, then I could see a lot of leniency given to his actions. The initiation of force on teh part of the robber makes him ultimately responsible for some level of errors of judgement on the part of the victim.

I think actions that can be clearly shown to be retributive only, and with malice shoudl be punished but the burden of proof would have to be higher in such a case. That is the victime ought to get the benefit of the doubt for reasonable "errors in judgement".

I think that your scenario would be covered by a jury of peers and the concept of reasonable doubt. But it is a trial that would have to be held.

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Just shoot him in the knee. Most juries would find that entertaining. :lol:

Seriously though, my desire would be to shoot him, but it is probably more philosophically correct to let him go, and give the police an accurate description. Essentially for all the same anti-anarchy reasons that one shouldn't attempt to get revenge when they were wronged.

If you saw your next door neighbor shoot a loved one, the desire would be to go take care of it, but the right thing to do is let the law handle it.

What complicates it, is inefficiencies in the legal process. There is every reason to believe that if you do let him get away you will never retrieve your stolen items. Unfortunately, I think that would be emotional reasoning and valuing your own items more then a life is probably not a correct balance of values.

There might be some differentiation between and armed robbery and say a pickpocket, in the sense that you could(should) feel threatened physically. Not sure though.

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I think that until the perpetrator is out of sight or out of reach there should be no doubt that any amount of force necessary to stop him and retrieve the property is legitimate. This does not mean that the victim is entitled to commit crimes (such as trespass, property damage or personal harm) against innocent bystanders, though. Gunning the thief down in the middle of a crowd would be idiotic (and criminal, if anyone gets hurt or anything gets damaged).

This is based on the fact that losing sight of the criminal means that recovery of your property uncertain. In fact, the emergency cannot be considered over until 1. the thief is stopped and values recovered or 2. the thief gets away and values are considered lost (though they may or may not be recovered later). Until he is out of sight, your wallet and ring are right there.

Whether one has a right to hunt down the thief and take back the property after he gets away, this is what is being discussed in the other thread.

Personally, I would not hesitate to shoot the thief in the back and get my stuff back if, in my judgment, this act did not put innocents at risk (i.e. not on a plane or in a movie theater, definitely on a deserted street in the middle of the night). I would not try to hunt down a criminal who actually managed to get away, preferring not to run the risk of being mistaken.

But in this country I'm not allowed to carry a gun, so the point is moot.

Edited by mrocktor
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I would like to see how a lawyer answers this situation. Speaking as a non-lawyer, my understanding of state law is that typically you can only use deadly force if you have reason to believe that your life is in danger. So, if a thief is running at you, even if his intention is only to steal your television, you can shoot him. You don't know his intention, but reasonably fear that he may harm you.

However, if he already has your television (or wedding ring, etc.) and is running away from you, you cannot shoot him. Not only is the imminent risk to your life over, but you are now acting as a judge imposing a death sentence for the crime of stealing. You cannot do that.

Certainly, context matters. In the example of shooting a criminal who threatens your irreplaceable manuscript, one would probably have to go to trial, and let a jury of your peers evaluate the context. If I were on that jury, I would probably vote for acquittal. Or, I would vote for conviction and entrust the judge to give an appropriate, nominal sentence (e.g., a suspended sentence or probation).

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Unlike most people I have been in the situation.

The situation being:

a. Things under my control/ownership had been stolen

b. I had the means to react up to and including the use of deadly force

However I did not have the legal authority to use deadly force unless 3 specific criteria were met, namely that the thing stolen was of importance to national security (cryptological equipment etc.) or a weapon/weapon system (something which would enable the killing of others) or thirdly if I or someone else was in imminent danger.

As much as I hated working for the UN this ROE (Rules of Engagement) was prudent. There are very very few things on this planet that are worth a mans life. My rings and my wallet certainly do not qualify.

The ridiculous analogy for those who would shoot and kill a fleeing man who stole $5 out of their wallet would be to execute any man legally tried and found guilty of the same offense. Would that punishment fit the severity of the crime?

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My understanding of the law is minimal, so I can only say what I would do in the situation.

Where does this robbery occur? If it is in my house I would shoot the robber as he walks away. If it was in my business I would shoot the robber as he walks away. If, however, I'm walking down the street and am robbed at knifepoint, and the robber turns and begins walking away, I would likely let him just walk away and call the authorities. As far as what the law should enable one to do, I would like to believe that the above scenarios would be acceptable. I do need to think about it more though.

There was a case that this thread reminds me of which happened here in the DC area a few months ago. A man had purchased furniture from Marlo Furniture, who had sent two men to deliver the furniture. The claim by the homeowner was that he went upstairs to direct the delivery and found the two delivery men in his daughter's bedroom. He informed the two delivery men that they needed to exit his house immediately, and some sort of altercation broke out where the deliverymen stated they were not leaving. A scuffle ensued and the homeowner then pulled a gun and shot one of the men dead and seriously harmed the other. Afterwards, he called 911 and stated to dispatch that he had just shot two men, and apparantly the dispatcher heard a man groaning in the background over the homeowner's voice. The thing was in court and he was found guilty on manslaughter and a host of other charges. I know it isn't exactly a parallel, but I was still reminded of it nonetheless.

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Texas law seems to say this:

A person is justified in using deadly force against another to pervent the other who is fleeing after committing burglary, robbery, or theft during the nighttime, from escaping with the property and he reasonable believes that the property cannot be recovered by any other means; or, the use of force other than deadly force to protect or recover the property would expose him or another to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.

See this page. Yes, they did spell that "pervent". Or if you want the official penal code, here. I would need to read the code carefully before leaping to a firm conclusion, but my initial reading tells me that this is a good description of when it is proper to use force, and it looks like a dang good law. I haven't sorted out the "proportionality" requirements, but a propos this:

does he have the right to pull a previously unnoticed gun and shoot the robber in the back to prevent him from escaping and thus completing his theft
the question is whether a lesser degree of force would be as effective. Perhaps a simple "Stop or I'll shoot" would suffice. Since the scenario involves armed robbery, considerations of lesser force diminish substantially in moral and legal stature. On the other hand, if you catch a pick-pocket snitching something from your backpack, you're not justified in blowing his head off. You are justified in threatening to blow his head off so that you can hold him until the police arrive.

In other words, to prevent a person from committing a crime or escaping after committing a crime, you have an unrestricted right to threaten force. If he choses to continue the rights-violation business, you have the right to actually implement force. But the level of force should be objectively justified, thus the fact that a person has violated your rights does not translate into a free execution. Simple drawing your weapon could be sufficient to cause the thief to stop, realizing what the alternative is, and in that case, it would be unjust to start with maximum force. OTOH if the thief has already attempted to kill you, it would be difficult to justify a cautious, persuasive approach. The question which you must answer, as a juror, is whether the particular level of force really was reasonable. The law should punish unreasonably excessive force, but the defendent should be afforded wide latitude in answering the question of whether the force was reasonable. A victim can't be expected to know that the gun was really a toy gun, or that it wasn't loaded. The victim can be expected to know that if the thief was the mayor of the city, then even if he escapes, his identity is known and the police can deal with the problem, so it is not necessary to shoot the mayor in the back to prevent him from escaping. (Of course, if the mayor intends to take your property and destroy it out of malice, then you can't assume that an orderly law-abiding recovery is possible. So the context matters).

[DW: Note that the Texas law does not afford the justification defense in the case of reckless injury or death of an innocent third party, as it should be].

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Texas is relatively permissive of retaliatory force in defense of property. Other states are not so much. In some states, our assumption that the mugger's threat with a knife constitutes an emergency situation with which one may respond with force is not a safe one. In these states, if the mugger says "your money or your life," you do not have a justification defense if you then use lethal force. You are required to give over the property. In these states, you can only respond with deadly force as a last resort. Similarly, many states have a "retreat" rule for self defense in the home - you must attempt to retreat to a safe part of the house before you have a justification defense to the murder of the intruder.

As to the philosophical question, I would ask: What is the essential difference between allowing the use of force to stop a thief from absconding with property and allowing the use of force to recover stolen property from a thief who has already gotten away?

~Q

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I'll clarify a few points:

My example is most certainly NOT intended to include a retributive use of force. The point of shooting the man in the back is not revenge for stealing, but to prevent the crime by stopping the criminal.

I say deadly force because shooting a man is deadly force, no matter if you are aiming for the kneecap or whatever. It is considered deadly force, and rightly so. But the POINT of the use of force is not specifically to kill the robber, but to stop him. It's just that the only effective means of doing the one is to do the other. This is a very much non-controversial fact among self-defense experts that I know and I do not wish for this thread to argue this point. If you don't agree with it, then simply assume for the sake of argument that it is true. (by the way, this same thing applies to defending oneself against deadly force: your use of force, legally, is not specifically to kill the attacker, but to stop him. It's just that the law recognizes that the one may and often does do the other)

Tactically speaking, for most men in that situation, it would be suicidal to attempt to stop a knife-armed robber by any other means.

Also, while interesting, let's not assume that there is a crowd or any other complicating factors. The question is whether a man can act in self-defense to stop a criminal who is attempting to violate his rights when he is not under the immediate threat of bodily harm.

Edited by Inspector
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...you're not justified in blowing his head off. You are justified in threatening to blow his head off so that you can hold him until the police arrive... Simple drawing your weapon could be sufficient to cause the thief to stop, realizing what the alternative is, and in that case, it would be unjust to start with maximum force.

That's a good point.

But assuming that the robber does not comply, the question is whether the man has the right to act on his threat and use potentially deadly force to stop the crime from being committed. Threats are useless without the rights to carry through with them.

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That's a good point.

But assuming that the robber does not comply, the question is whether the man has the right to act on his threat and use potentially deadly force to stop the crime from being committed. Threats are useless without the rights to carry through with them.

Are we assuming a special case scenario where the robber's head will be an easier target than his rear end? If you are confident enough of a shot to shoot him in the head, why not just shoot the guy in the butt? It'll disable him, I'm sure, and no lethal risk necessary. I'd say the man has the right to do that.

Of course, torso would be a still easier target, and that does carry lethal risk.

[edit] Oh, wait. I just read your previous post, about how you didn't want to argue the technicalities, and assume it's all lethal force. Your thread, your hypothetical, I withdraw my comment (so to speak).

Edited by musenji
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As much as I hated working for the UN this ROE (Rules of Engagement) was prudent. There are very very few things on this planet that are worth a mans life. My rings and my wallet certainly do not qualify.

Good point.

Another thing to consider, and I do not want to sound flippant after what you've said, is whether it's worth the time out of your life the police investigation would take (we're assuming it won't ever come to trial because shooting a fleeing robber would be legal).

I was robbed at gun point two and a half years ago. I had no gun with me at the time. I don't know what I would have done if I had one. But judging from what I did do after the actual crime, I can say I very likely wouldn't have shot the robbers ater they fled. Why not? Well, I never did report the robbery to the police, largely because my employer decided he could absorb the loss (the valuables stolen were his) and we were extremely unlikely to get anything back. Truthfully I was relieved. If we had gone through the legal system I'd have wasted days giving statements to police and the public ministry, at the least.

Based on that, I wouldn't have shot the robber while he was fleeing.

BTW I wasn't hurt at all and I managed to conceal the greater part of the valuables I was carryig from the thugs.

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But assuming that the robber does not comply, the question is whether the man has the right to act on his threat and use potentially deadly force to stop the crime from being committed.
I don't have any doubts that he does; the only philosophically interesting question that I can think of at the moment is whether that right is completely unrelated to the nature of the rights violation. Should lethal force be allowed to prevent theft of pencil? If it is possible (I mean that in the Objectivist-epistemological sense) that the person plans to harm you, then you should stop him and your response is not related to the theft, it's related to the assault. Theft of pencil is not a capital offense, and killing a person for stealing your pencil and then running away is just plain barbaric. Now I honestly can't say at what objectively-definable point it becomes acceptable to actually shoot a fleeing thief, but a pencil is too trivial a loss to justify taking a man's life.
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I don't have any doubts that he does; the only philosophically interesting question that I can think of at the moment is whether that right is completely unrelated to the nature of the rights violation.

I'm pretty much in the same place at this point, although if anyone has any objections to the former from an Objectivist standpoint, I'd like to hear them.

Well, while we're waiting for anyone to respond on the former point, I've no objection if the latter is discussed. That is an interesting question.

Oh, and I do like that Texas law. That's encouraging, although the qualifier of being at night seems inessential.

But anyhow - I think that with minor property the issue actually becomes a matter of having given sufficient warning. I mean, if you have a gun on someone who stole your pencil and are warning them to stop running away or you'll shoot, then I really see it as being on them if they're dumb enough not to stop.

Of course, torso would be a still easier target, and that does carry lethal risk.

This is the bottom line - we're not assuming an elite marksman. I consider it a bit fallacious to assume that in a situation like that, with adrenaline pumping, that it's realistic to expect that you can aim so precisely unless you're very highly trained. Besides, no matter where you aim for it's still potentially lethal, and so the legal status is the same.

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I thought about it a bit and upon reconsideration I say that deadly force should be permissible whenever the perpetrator brandishes a weapon. I used to work in the Southeastern quadrant of Washington, D.C. as a Domino's Pizza store manager (notoriously a bad inner-city neighborhood); I did get robbed once, and I guess thanks to the goodness of the thief he left me alive. Of course not before making me lie face down with a shotgun to the back of my head while he ruffled through my back pockets and took my wallet. After this incident I did purchase a handgun and kept it under my apron at all times while I worked. If another thug came while I was there and I had a chance, I would shoot before asking questions. I figured I would rather be in prison for X amount of years than be dead.

The point is that crimes like this and this occur all the time, whereby the victims comply and are killed anyway. The victim must decide what is the best option: to comply and hope he isn't killed, or to try to take the thug down and hope he isn't killed. The escape thing is meaningless, as is the pencil thing. Contrary to what several people have said, the emergency is not over simply because the robber turns his back and begins to walk away. The emergency ends when the thugs are not in sight of the victim anymore. Who is to say that the thug won't have a change of heart and turn away, and then come back and kill his victim? Also, contrary to what most have said, nor is a pencil any less serious than a Rolex watch or a case full of 10 million dollars. I've read accounts of people murdered over $5, NorthFace jackets, bicycles, jeans, etc. Things like this can and do happen, especially when one is in the worst of neighborhoods. It should be permissible to take down the thief at any given moment one can during the robbery, as long as that thief has shown a weapon and threatened the victim with it. I recognize that this isn't always ideal, as it may be too late to act once the thief has shown a weapon. Generally in a situation whereby a business is robbed, the victim can anticipate the robbery long before the weapons are shown, as I could the time I was robbed. If I had a gun at the time, I would have shot before a weapon was shown, as I knew the series of events about to unfold. I would be prepared to deal with the consequences of that act, but at least I wouldn't have given the decision to murder me to the thugs.

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  • 1 year later...

There's a recent case where a pharmacist shot a robber. Two guys entered his store with guns and he pulled out his own. One fled immediately, but the other lay down on the ground. The pharmacist shot this guy. The surveillance video is on the web.

HT: American Thinker blog

Edited by softwareNerd
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The surveillance video is on the web.

I can't tell when the retailer shot the robber, given that it is dark on my computer. I think it does make a difference if he shot him when he came in with a drawn gun versus shooting him once he is on the floor and disarmed. I would think that once the robber is disarmed, and he can be held with the shopkeepers gun pointed at him, then the shopkeeper should have called for police backup. The only extenuating circumstance would be if the shopkeeper was fearful the other robber would return or if he couldn't get to a phone without taking his gun off the robber.

As to the issue in general, the Objectivist position is that one can only retaliate if one's life or property are in immediate danger; so if he is pointing a gun at you or is still present after doing so and has not been disarmed, then one could shoot in self-defense, by my understanding. Texas law supports this interpretation (especially on or in your property).

The tricky part comes in as to determining when one's life is in danger; as in stalking and harassment and you don't know what they are going to do with you. That is, is reasonable fear a factor in making the determination that your life and limb might be in danger? Objectivism says to go by reason, not emotion; but if you are out in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by persons harassing and stalking you and indicating they might do more, then I think retaliatory force is justified, though you'd have to explain that to a jury.

I have had angry customers act threateningly to me, but after standing my ground, they backed off. One guy did throw a chair at me and put a hole in the wall, but when I asked him to leave, he did. Had it gone further in any of these cases, I think I would be justified in defending myself physically; or at least holding them there until the police arrived by making a citizen's arrest (though that can be tricky as well).

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I can't tell when the retailer shot the robber, given that it is dark on my computer.
News reports said he shot him 5 times, and that the robber was alive when the ambulance arrived but died soon after.

I think it does make a difference if he shot him when he came in with a drawn gun versus shooting him once he is on the floor and disarmed.
Sure it makes a difference. I think it also makes a huge difference if he waited for a long while and then decided to shoot the robber as opposed to shooting him when his adrenalin was still flowing. The pharmacist claims he was still afraid the robber -- who was on the floor completely healthy -- might decide to do something with the gun he (presumably) still had.

The video shows the pharmacist walk by the place where the robber must have been. When he does so, he looks relatively unconcerned. Then (after calling the cops?) he comes back to the spot and shoots him. Many facts are unclear just from the video. I know that if I were on the jury, I'd likely have a hard time convicting if the penalty was severe.

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The problem with the video is that we cannot see what the robber is doing, once he is on the floor. If he was reaching for his gun, then I'd say shoot him -- and shoot him dead. Once the robber came in with a drawn weapon with the clear intent to commit armed robbery, the shopkeeper had a clear right to self-defense. However, if the robber was not going for his gun after going to the floor, then the shopkeeper should not have acted as judge, jury, and executioner. So, it all depends on what the robber was doing once he was disarmed. I understand that the shopkeeper was still afraid of what would happen before the police arrived -- I certainly would be -- but acting on fear alone or the need for retribution after the fact is exactly what the police and the court system is for.

Given the evidence, I'd need to have the specifics of when he actually shot the robber those five times; which I can't tell from the video. In a court of law, those details would be brought out. It would certainly be different if there was a pitched gun battle, in which case self-defense would clearly be on the shopkeeper's side. I think it would also make a difference if the robber was trying to get up and flee before the police arrived, since he was effectively under arrest at that time.

I don't have any sympathies for the robbers. If the shopkeeper would have shot them dead as soon as it was clear that they were there to commit armed robbery, then they would have deserved it. I would think that so long as they are still armed and on his property, he could shot them at any time and it would be self-defense. The question is what could the shopkeeper do with them once they are disarmed and still on his property? I also don't think one should expect the shopkeeper to act as a well trained police officer under that situation. In other words, if the robber was threatening him while on the floor, I'd say shoot the bastard.

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I would definitely vote not guilty. (unless there's evidence that the shopkeeper knew the robber was unarmed and not a threat-from the 911 call, or a confession-but that is very unlikely.)

For a conviction, it needs to be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the man was in fact no longer threatened, and acting specifically to punish the robber, and I've seen no such proof. In fact (if the video is real time) I can be pretty sure just based on what I already know from the tape that, as an untrained civilian, he did not have time to make sure he is safe.

Also, he seems to be holding a mid sized handgun (9mm, maybe 40 cal.). With those guns, if you wish to immobilize someone, it goes to reason that you shoot them four or five times (in fact cops empty an entire magazine of 12-13 rounds into suspects all the time). Fewer than four or five is ineffective, in an actual fight (as opposed to I guess an execution through a point blank head shot), so I would not hold that against the shopkeeper, quite the opposite: it's a sign that he felt he was in a fight.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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