A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Shooting Through Doors

I was recently taken to task in this thread on The Firing Line for opposing shooting through doors. The fact is, I have met more than one man who made a fatal error by not identifying his target and shooting through a door. While the merits of shooting through doors can be debated endlessly, the necessity of identifying your target should not. I was reminded of this Firing Line argument when I read this article from Jackson Mississippi.
Burglary suspect killed on porch
By Kathleen Baydala
kbaydala@clarionledger.com

A Jackson man who shot through his front door at a suspected house burglar early Sunday morning never intended to kill him, a relative said. But Marcus Rawls, 23, of Jackson was found dead on the porch at 4:36 a.m. wearing a ski mask and gloves, officials said. Tory Willis said his brother, Cedric Marshall, was shaken up after learning he had fatally shot a man at 464 Willaman St. "He was trying to protect himself," said Willis, 23. "He wasn't trying to kill anybody."

Jackson Police Department Detective Brendon Bell said police had not charged the shooter as of Sunday night. Bell would neither identify nor confirm the shooter described as "an occupant of the house," but Willis identified his brother as the shooter. Marshall could not be reached. But during an interview at the home Sunday afternoon, Willis described what happened.

Willis said his brother told him two men he didn't know knocked on his door at 2 a.m. Sunday. And when Marshall didn't answer, the men tried to kick down his door, so he fired shots to scare the men off. Thinking he had done so, he went to bed, Willis said. A few hours later, Marshall's cousin drove by the house and called Marshall when he saw a man lying on the porch, Willis said.

Rawls died from a gunshot wound to the head, said Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart. "Right now the case has to be prepared and presented to the grand jury," Bell said. The grand jury will determine whether the shooting was justifiable. Bell could not confirm whether there was a second potential burglar.

Many of the surrounding neighbors on Willaman Street said the neighborhood is usually quiet except for a recent string of break-ins. Precinct 2 Commander Lee Vance said there has been criminal activity in that area in the recent past. "I would not say house burglaries are any more prevalant there than in other places," Vance said.

The homeowner stated he did not intend to kill. With those statements he may have destroyed a defense grounded on fear for his life. The threat was still on the homeowner's porch when he was shot. This one will be interesting. I hope this homeowner has some skin on his teeth, he might need it. Mississippi's justifiable homocide law can be found here.

UPDATE


Ski-masked man shot to death on porch had criminal history
Victim pleaded guilty to burglary in 2004; mother says he wasn't breaking in

By Kathleen Baydala
kbaydala@clarionledger.com
A bullet hole scars the center of the door of the Jackson home where Marcus Rawls was shot early Sunday. Although Marcus Rawls has a criminal history, including burglary, his mother said Monday she does not believe he was trying to break into a house when he was fatally shot early Sunday morning. "Why would he rob somebody when he had money in his pockets," Vonda Rawls said. Her 23-year-old son had been working construction jobs since being released from jail, she said.

Rawls pleaded guilty in October 2004 to charges of burglary of an occupied dwelling, receiving stolen property and cocaine possession dating to 2000, according to Hinds County Circuit Court records. He was sentenced to serve four years in prison and, with time served, was released last month, according to Mississippi Department of Corrections records. Police found Rawls dead on the porch at 464 Willaman St. at 4:36 a.m. Sunday wearing a ski mask and gloves. He died from a gunshot wound to the head, Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart said. Rawls had died shortly before his body was found by police, Grisham-Stewart said.

Jackson Police Department Detective Brendon Bell would not identify the resident, whom he described as "an occupant of the house," but Tory Willis identified his brother, Cedric Marshall, as the one who fired the gun. Bell would not confirm that identification Monday, saying the case is still being investigated and no charges have been filed. But Vonda Rawls said she is upset police have not charged the man who shot her son. The case will be presented to a grand jury, which will decide whether the shooting was a justifiable homicide. Attempts to reach Marshall on Monday were unsuccessful. Willis said Marshall told him Sunday he thought two men were trying to break into his home at 2 a.m. and shot through the door to scare the intruders away. "He was trying to protect himself," Willis said. "He wasn't trying to kill anybody." Bell would not say if Rawls was accompanied by anyone else at the time of the shooting. Willis said his brother did not realize he had hit anyone until a few hours later and called the police. Bell would not identify the person who made the 911 call to authorities.

Good luck to Cedric Marshall. Vonda Rawls is obviously delusional in her grief and avarice, and some slick attorney will be looking for a score. It's time Cedric Marshall told his brother Tory Willis to shut the hell up and hire legal counsel. Even if a shooting is justified, the defense costs in civil court can wreck a person.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Firehand said...

Not good. I can understand him shooting if he thought they were about to break in and he was in fear for his life/safety; if he just wanted to scare them the shot- if he fired at all- should have been into the floor.

Mind you, I'm very glad I've never been in the situation.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Windaria said...

Yet another reason why we all need Castle doctrine. If someone with a reasonable suspiscion of criminal intent tries to break into a house then it should be the same thing as calling "open season".

8:23 AM  
Anonymous pax said...

Wow.

Having fired his weapon, the homeowner didn't even open a door or peek through a window to see if he'd hit anything! (That's negligent -- if you fired blindly out your front door, wouldn't you want to check to be sure you hadn't nailed an innocent passer-by or the guy across the street?)

Having felt so threatened that he thought deadly force was necessary, the homeowner didn't feel the burglars' behavior was threatening enough to call the cops on them.

And did you catch this tidbit? The burglar laid on the porch for several hours after the homeowner shrugged and went to bed. The burglar laid there bleeding until the homeowner's cousin called the homeowner to tell him there was a body lying on his porch. At that point, the homeowner finally called the cops -- but the burglar expired "shortly before" the cops arrived.

No matter how horrible a person the burglar was, the image of him lying there in a pool of his own blood, dying slowly while the homeowner slept just a few yards away -- that's bad. Very bad.

pax

2:11 PM  
Anonymous pax said...

Wow.

Homeowner was negligent. Not simply for firing through the door, but for the totality of circumstances:

1) He fired blindly, and didn't even bother to look to see whether he'd hit anyone -- burglar or innocent passerby.

2) He felt so threatened by the burglars' activity that he thought deadly force was needed. But he didn't feel their behavior was threatening enough to call the cops on them.

3) And did you catch this tidbit? The homeowner went to bed after the shooting, while the burglar laid there for several hours -- until the homeowner's cousin called to tell him there was a body on his front porch. Whatever you think about the shooting being justified, the image of the man lying there in a pool of his own blood, dying slowly, while the fellow who shot him sleeps just a few yards away -- that's bad. Very bad.

pax

2:16 PM  

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