Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Have Heard It Said: A District Attorney Could Get A Grand Jury... indict a ham sandwich. I think that maybe a DA in New York City has taken it a step further by charging an allegedly mentally disturbed with assault after New York City Police officers shot two bystanders while in an altercation with said man. The DA reportedly charged him with assault on the premise that the man was responsible because if not for his actions, the police would not have drawn their weapons and fired at him, albeit missing and hitting the bystanders.  (Source.)

Note, there was no reported physical contact between him and the officers as they shot - they shot and missed and hit innocent people on a crowded NYC street. I do not see this charge having a chance should the man take it to trial. The person responsible for the shot fired is usually the person who pulled the trigger. There are very few exceptions to that although one could be if a gun were discharged at a bad guy by an officer and the bad guy hit or grabbed the gun, just as it went off, redirecting the shot. In this case though, that apparently did not happen.

Now please note, I am not saying the man was an innocent nor am I faulting the officers. I am saying I think the DA is pushing for a what seems to be a very strange prosecution. Yes, the man was acting like he was emotionally disturbed, was putting his life and possibly those of others at risk. Then he placed his hand into his pocket, evidently like he was about to draw a weapon and the police fired on him but the man did not fire on anyone or grab the officers' guns causing the shots to go astray.

There have been lot of questions as to whether or not the officers should have discharged their weapons with such a large crowd in the area. Sometimes they have to weigh all the potentialities and do whatever they decide in a split second, and physical changes to their senses - such as tunnel vision - come into play during such stressful situations and he was quite possibly all they saw. I will not second guess them - at least I will not without a lot more information indicating that they were wrong.

Regardless of what comes of that, I find it fairly amazing that the man was charged with assault on the reported theory that he was responsible for the shots being fired. I would be even more amazed if the DA actually expects to successfully prosecute that charge at trial. I was always taught that I was responsible for the rounds I fired out of my issued weapons and I taught other shooters likewise. To say that the defendant was responsible for those shots seems to be a stretch, a big one. As I said, a DA could get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich.

All the best,
Glenn B

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