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Thread: Gunshot on Federal Street. Shooter’s acquittal worries authorities. St. Albans, VT Messenger

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    http://www.samessenger.com/NewsView.asp?ID=3458

    ST. ALBANS CITY –– Matthew Martel is polite and has soft, boy-band looks. He was home-schooled and lives with his genial parents, Bob and Deborah, in a rustic white house with a wraparound porch that overlooks Route 105. Martel does not look like a member of the Franklin County Sportsman’s Club, but he is. He does not come off as someone who would buy a $450 handgun for target practice, but he did. Nor does he strike you as someone who pocketed a loaded handgun for protection four or five times during the last three years, but he has.

    Carrying a loaded handgun is not against the law in Vermont, and St. Albans City ordinances only prohibit guns in parks.

    “I think this city’s becoming a haven for criminals,” Martel said recently.

    That, he said, is why he loaded his Smith & Wesson with 10 rounds of ammo before walking to a friend’s house to play video games and watch a movie last Aug. 13. It was 10:30 p.m. They went to another friend’s house. At 2:45 a.m. the next day, Martel – the designated driver with a buddy’s car – dropped a friend at his North Elm Street home and trekked toward his residence, his gun concealed.

    This is Martel’s account of what happened next.

    He cut through the Food City parking lot and saw Jonathan Bushee and Jonathan Wells – both from Berkshire, both about his age – standing on a set of railroad tracks, at Lake Street. Heidi Chauvin, 16, also of Berkshire, waited nearby, with Hans Gill, of Enosburg.

    Martel didn’t know them. They didn’t know Martel.

    Wells was urinating on the tracks.

    “Quit looking at me *******, you (expletive) queer,” Wells said.

    “Yeah, ******,” Bushee added.

    Martel kept mum and walked. He knew they were drunk. They later admitted they were.

    Near the former Giroux furniture building, Bushee tried to cross the street, toward Martel. Martel immediately brandished his gun and cocked it.

    “Leave me alone,” he said.

    Bushee didn’t cross or speak to Martel. No one did.

    Martel thought about crossing over to Catherine Street and toward the police station, on Lower Welden. Instead, he headed north on Federal Street, thinking “home.” He heard Bushee and the others again, 15 feet behind him.

    “I’ve had a gun pulled on me before!” Bushee yelled. “I’m not afraid!”

    Bushee’s bravado scared Martel.

    “You don’t want to do this,” Martel said.

    “Yes, I do,” Bushee said, now 2 feet behind Martel. “Put the gun to my head and pull the (expletive) trigger.”

    Martel walked backwards, gun in hand, as Bushee and Wells closed the gap.

    “You really don’t want to do this,” Martel repeated.

    “Yes, I do,” Bushee replied.

    BANG!

    Even with a near-fatal gunshot wound in his left thigh, Bushee, with Wells, chased Martel. Martel jumped on a northbound train. His gun discharged again, accidentally. He traveled about 50 yards, jumped off and returned to his friend’s North Elm Street home for the night. Martel’s brother urged him to surrender to police later that day.

    “I didn’t do it sooner, because I panicked,” Martel said.

    “I would have done the same thing,” his father added. “I would have been so afraid.”

    The shooting hung over the Martels for almost a year. Matthew's conditions of release prohibited him from being alone, which strained Bob and Deborah’s marriage. Matthew shrunk from 165 to 130 pounds and is being treated for depression for the second time in three years. The case has made it difficult for him to find work, he said.

    When the jury rendered its verdict, he nearly cried.

    “I felt like I had 20,000 pounds lifted off my back,” his father said.



    Dangerous implications



    Given the straightforward language of Vermont’s self-defense law, Franklin County Deputy State’s Attorney John Lavoie felt confident about Martel’s trial, but he harbored concerns about how the jury would perceive Bushee. Bushee had told a TV reporter that he “always wondered how it felt to get shot.” Bushee had a criminal record. Martel didn’t; he still doesn’t.

    According to Lavoie, Martel arrived at the 9 a.m. trial wearing a nicely tailored, dark suit with a royal blue shirt and gold tie. His hair was short and spiked.

    Bushee took the stand with a whiskered chin. He wore a T-shirt and cargo pants, and his tattoos were visible.

    On the witness stand, Bushee said he and his friends were at a Federal Street party and were returning there when they came up behind Martel. They weren’t intentionally following him, Bushee said.

    The gunshot wound to Bushee’s inner left thigh was inches from an artery that, with a direct hit, might have caused fatal bleeding, Lavoie said. Bushee was treated and released that night but returned to the hospital for a week with an infection that nearly caused amputation.

    Martel testified that he carried the gun and used it because he didn’t feel safe leaving home without it, given St. Albans’ recent crime sprees. He shot Bushee because he felt threatened, he said in court.

    “The gist of his testimony,” Lavoie recalled, “was that it was a habit to carry this gun, and that it was for self-protection.”

    During Lavoie’s closing remarks, he reminded the jury that even though they would rather take Martel to dinner than Bushee, the case was about an unnecessary, illegal use of deadly force. Martel shot an unarmed man without first exercising any other means of self-defense, Lavoie explained. No one touched Martel. He never ran or cried for help before he fired.

    After 2 ½ hours of deliberations, the jury acquitted Martel. Bushee’s family wept.

    “I don’t believe this,” Lavoie thought.

    The jury volunteered to undergo a post-trial survey from Lavoie. His first question: “What were you thinking?”

    In retrospect, Lavoie wishes he had started more diplomatically, because the jury became defensive.

    “For us,” a female juror said, “it came down to credibility.”

    “About what?” Lavoie asked.

    Another juror saw Bushee as the aggressor. That didn’t matter, Lavoie repeated. With no gun, he said, Martel would have been forced to find other means of protection. By even carrying the gun, Lavoie continued, Martel saw no other alternative but deadly force.

    “The victim was drunk,” Lavoie said, “but is death the penalty for that?”

    “I have no doubt in my mind that if the defendant had not shot the victim,” another juror argued, “the defendant would be dead.”

    That night, Lavoie wondered whether state lawmakers would use Martel’s acquittal to tighten Vermont’s handgun laws – not to infringe on anyone’s constitutional rights, but to prevent a Bernie Goetz mentality (the infamous New Yorker shot alleged assailants on a subway) from overtaking the state.

    The next day, the U.S. Supreme Court historically overturned a Washington, D.C., handgun ban. The 5-4 decision marked the first time in 70 years that the nation’s highest judges had dealt with the Second Amendment.

    “I think it is an unfortunate decision,” Lavoie said. “It limits the government’s ability to control guns. Carrying a gun to go hunting is different than carrying a handgun on Federal Street at three o’clock in the morning.”

    Lavoie said Martel’s acquittal has no legal implications, nor does it set any precedent.

    “But in terms of the facts, and what a jury perceives as acceptable behavior,” he said, “it frightens me as a prosecutor.”

    Gary Taylor, St. Albans City police chief, called the verdict “bad timing, and bad for St. Albans.”

    “This is one case,” he said. “It’s about a victim and a decision that was made after hearing testimony. That shouldn’t be confused with a blanket message about this being appropriate conduct, if there is no legitimate reason.”



    Running shoes



    Taylor was visiting his daughter in Massachusetts last Aug. 14. City Police Lt. Judy Dunn called him early that morning and said officers were investigating a shooting, Taylor’s first since he became chief in July 2005. The suspect was on the loose.

    “I felt like I needed to come back home,” Taylor recalled, “and I had some assurances that I didn’t need to.”

    Still, he cut his trip short. When he returned to St. Albans, he learned Judge Ben Joseph had released Martel into the custody of his parents. No bail.

    “I don’t think this was a random attack,” Joseph said at Martel’s arraignment. “It grew out of a confrontation, as it was.”

    City police were already dealing with frightening crime trends when Martel shot Bushee. Weapons-related violence. Drugs. Gang-like activity. They were rampant – and still are. The Federal Street shooting weighed heavily in Taylor’s decision to hold a public safety forum last October. About 200 people attended. Following a similar session this year, the city council formed an ad hoc committee to address St. Albans’ crime problem.

    At least four city policemen took the stand at Martel’s trial, each describing the investigation. Officers from three agencies scoured the city for Martel and cordoned off the Kingman-Lake Street block. The operation cost an estimated $6,000 in salaries alone, Taylor said.

    Shortly after 6:30 p.m., on June 25, City Police Sgt. Ben Couture walked into Taylor’s office.

    “The jury found him not guilty,” Couture said.

    Taylor was silent. He e-mailed Mayor Marty Manahan and Dominic Cloud, city manager, warning them that the verdict “could be interpreted as a message to the bad guys that people were going to stand up for themselves, or that the bad guys would now believe they could do this sort of thing and get away with it.”

    “We were concerned that a self-defense claim would be a strong possibility,” Taylor said. “We believed they would make that argument.”

    Martel believes it was his only argument. Today, he seeks work through a temp agency. He wants to save money and buy a car. He doesn’t want to walk anymore. He also won’t carry a gun anymore, he said.

    What has he learned from all this?

    “Wear running shoes.”


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    This is an interesting article as far as its composition. The reporter was very careful to craft it so it sounds neutral (largely by being neutral in the beginning and end); however, the weight of time given to ADA Lavoie and his thoughts on the trial in the meat of the article gives lie to its neutrality. Virtually everything said in relation to the trial and verdict implies that it was the wrong verdict because virtually all of it is told from Lavie's POV, and very little heed is paid to the fact that the defendant really was a good guy and his assailants really were bad guys; it's spun to imply that that's what the defense wanted everyone to believe.

    I sincerely wish police officers would stop gauging their success on how many of their arrrests result in convictions. Their job is not to protect and serve (not anymore), and it is not to get convictions. Their job is to enforce the law, and in doing so investigate possible crime. So they spent $6,000 in man-hours to discover it wasn't a crime. As a taxpayer I see no difference between that and paying a building inspector to go over every inch of the houseand then tell me there's nothing wrong withit. The only way that could ever be thought of as a bad thing is if you can tell the house is about to collapse even if you don't know anything about civil engineering. The equivalent case for the police would be the gunman in a drive-by shooting being acquitted of self-defense. This situation was nothing like that; a man walking down the road, minding his business, was accosted and pursued by two drunks who were provoking him to shoot them, and could reasonably have been in fear for his life (there quite simply is no telling what a person who admitted in court that heWANTEDto get shot was capable of doing to get his way).

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    Honestly, I don't think the kid handled himself correctly. I'm all for the stand your ground idea, but when confronted with two drunk idiots that are across the street just ignore them and walk a little faster (hell, run ifyou have to). Shooting a drunk idiotthat's simply taunting you without making threats sounds like piss poor judgment to me.

    However, Isupport the verdictbecause of moronic statements like this:

    “I think it is an unfortunate decision,” Lavoie said. “It limits the government’s ability to control guns. Carrying a gun to go hunting is different than carrying a handgun on Federal Street at three o’clock in the morning.”


    I can't think of a better time to be carrying a gun and I'm all for limiting the government's ability to control guns so it sounds good to me.

    And then you also can't forget to ask yourself, "Would a cop have gotten away with it?" Obviously the answer is a resounding YES, so, again, I support the verdict even though I think the kids actions were 50/50 at best.

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    I too think he was a little premature in drawing the gun at first, but I imagine that if someone were following me around that late at night I'd be worried too. I do think he was justified in shooting when he did however. With two guys acting that aggressive while being so close to him, it's easy to see why he felt like he was in danger.

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    Righteous shooting. Maybe shouldn't have drawn the first time.

    "He e-mailed Mayor Marty Manahan and Dominic Cloud, city manager, warning them that the verdict “could be interpreted as a message to the bad guys that people were going to stand up for themselves..."

    WTF? How is this a warning. That is a good thing. Warning - good guys pissed, not going to take it anymore, all gov't jobs in town now at risk?

    "or that the bad guys would now believe they could do this sort of thing and get away with it.”"

    Bad guys shooting bad buys. I'm ok with that as long as innocents aren't hurt. Hope they aim carefully.

    Liko81 - good analysis of the story bias and saved me lots of typing.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    deepdiver wrote:
    Righteous shooting. Maybe shouldn't have drawn the first time.

    "He e-mailed Mayor Marty Manahan and Dominic Cloud, city manager, warning them that the verdict “could be interpreted as a message to the bad guys that people were going to stand up for themselves..."

    WTF? How is this a warning. That is a good thing. Warning - good guys pissed, not going to take it anymore, all gov't jobs in town now at risk?

    "or that the bad guys would now believe they could do this sort of thing and get away with it.”"

    Bad guys shooting bad buys. I'm ok with that as long as innocents aren't hurt. Hope they aim carefully.

    Liko81 - good analysis of the story bias and saved me lots of typing.
    I posted a comment to this effect, but their site doesn't seem to show comments. Hmmm...

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    AWDstylez wrote:
    SNIP Honestly, I don't think the kid handled himself correctly.
    I try toremember that noteverybody has spent hours and hours studying self-defense tactics and law. It certainly isn't something we learn in high school like driver's ed.

    Being afraid is natural. Not thinking clearly is part of that picture. Its part of the human condition. I think it was Supreme Court Chief Justice Holmes who once wrote that detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an up-raised knife. Although there was no knife here, there was possibly a good chance of a severe beating. Two on one. The defendant knows how well he can fight, which would influence his fear, I would think.

    Also, do not forget that in those last seconds before the shot, there was a gun almost withinreach of the bad guys. Lose control ofyour gunbecause you've taken a punch to the jaw that stuns or knocks you out, and you areat the attackers' mercy. (If you don't believe how easy it is to get knocked out by one single blow, go on the web and google for videos of street fights. They're full of guys who go down or out from one solid punch to the head. And plenty of those are guys who where fist-fighting back, not just sucker punches.) Also, read up on Roger Root's article about the constitution and police in the other threads. Either in the article itself or in the footnotes Root points out that even some police use the idea thatan LEOs gun may end up in the criminal's hands in a fist fight to justify lethal force. (I don'tagree that a police officer, trained and practiced in going hands-on, and having non-lethal weapons like pepper spray is automatically justified in using lethal force in a situation like that. But this defendant didn't necessarily have those advantages.)

    Also, Massad Ayoob, in his video on self-defense and lethal force discusses someone coming at you even though you are pointing a gun at them. Ayoob says something likeyou can bet he is not an itinerant Smith & Wesson armorer wanting to give your gun a free inspection.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    3 v 1? Sorry, I think the kid was well within his rights to defend himself. They followed him....he warned them (twice)....they bluffed (twice).....he called....he won (in the end).



    IRT the chief and bad guys using the self-defense excuse---I don't believe felons can possess firearms...nor does castle doctrine apply to those committng crimes (i.e. possessing a firearm illegally)

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    Citizen wrote:
    AWDstylez wrote:
    SNIP Honestly, I don't think the kid handled himself correctly.
    I try toremember that noteverybody has spent hours and hours studying self-defense tactics and law. It certainly isn't something we learn in high school like driver's ed.

    Being afraid is natural. Not thinking clearly is part of that picture. Its part of the human condition. I think it was Supreme Court Chief Justice Holmes who once wrote that detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an up-raised knife. Although there was no knife here, there was possibly a good chance of a severe beating. Two on one. The defendant knows how well he can fight, which would influence his fear, I would think.


    I suppose I would have to agree, but you can't forget that your position walks a very fine line betweenrighteous self-defence and justified vigilanteeism.

    In the case of this kid, it worked out alright. The guy that got shot happened to be a bad guy and the world would probably be a better place without him. That judgment in and of itself is highly debatable, as is the assumption that goes with it (and also seems to be a pervasive, although not openly stated, opinion on this board): killing common criminals is acceptable. But let's put even that aside and just use the simple mental exercise of applying the logic that this kid's actions were justified based on WHAT HE KNEW AT THE TIME (he didn't know the guy had a criminal record before he shot him). Anyone that's able to use some imagination can come up with numerous senarios. I don't know about you, but the ones I can come up with involve you, myself, or one of our friends getting shot becausewe had a little too much to drink and decided to yell at some random guy walking down the street. Like I said before, I'm all for self-defense, but only deadly force (or the imminent threat of deadly force)should be met with deadly force. Taunts and jeers should not be met with deadly force, they should be walked (or run) away from, and someone crossing the street towards you is not justification for drawing a gun.



    And I agree that it's easy to sit here and arm chair analyze the whole thing, but the fact of the matter is, if everyone could get away with shooting people, "because it seemed right at the time," we're going to end up with the a whole lot of unnecessary, unjustified shootings.



    "This drunk guy jumped out of the woods and said 'boo!'"

    "So what did you do?"

    "I shot him."

    "Sucks it was just your neighbor playing a joke."

    "That's easy for you to say now. I was scared at the time."

    Sorry, that just doesn't fly.



    I think this says it all:



    "He also won’t carry a gun anymore, he said.

    What has he learned from all this?

    'Wear running shoes.'"



    That statement alone is all that's necessary to see that even he himself knew he was in the wrong.



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    AWDstylez wrote:
    SNIP I suppose I would have to agree, but you can't forget that your position walks a very fine line betweenrighteous self-defence and justified vigilanteeism.

    In the case of this kid, it worked out alright. The guy that got shot happened to be a bad guy and the world would probably be a better place without him. That judgment in and of itself is highly debatable, as is the assumption that goes with it (and also seems to be a pervasive, although not openly stated, opinion on this board): killing common criminals is acceptable. But let's put even that aside and just use the simple mental exercise of applying the logic that this kid's actions were justified based on WHAT HE KNEW AT THE TIME (he didn't know the guy had a criminal record before he shot him). Anyone that's able to use some imagination can come up with numerous senarios. I don't know about you, but the ones I can come up with involve you, myself, or one of our friends getting shot becausewe had a little too much to drink and decided to yell at some random guy walking down the street. Like I said before, I'm all for self-defense, but only deadly force (or the imminent threat of deadly force)should be met with deadly force. Taunts and jeers should not be met with deadly force, they should be walked (or run) away from, and someone crossing the street towards you is not justification for drawing a gun. I think this says it all:



    "He also won’t carry a gun anymore, he said.

    What has he learned from all this?

    'Wear running shoes.'"



    That statement alone is all that's necessary to see that even he himself knew he was in the wrong.
    Good discussion. Thanks for staying with it.

    I understand guilt and stress are common post-shooting problems. Lots of people get stuck in"if only I had..." after somethingbad happens. I understand the stress is sometimes attributed to society's backlash, if any. I can see that its possible his statement is a tactic confession of not needing to shoot; but I can also see its not the only explanation.

    Regarding walking a fine line between righteous self-defense and vigilantism, I wonder if we don't have to recognize that there is a difference between the truthof the event, and the determination ofa jury. The survivor and witnesses are the ones who know the facts. The jury are the ones who determine the facts on behalf of the state/people. What if the jury just can't make out the distinction between righteous and vigilante based on the evidence in a fine-line case?

    I guess there are limitations to what a jury can discern. Hopefully, if they are having trouble, they'll let the defender go rather than convict just because they don't want to take a chance on letting a vigilante loose.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    the shooting was justified i believe.

    an armed society is a polite society. i think its fairly obvious that they guys were about to assault the loner. if you don't want to get shot don't threaten to hurt people. if you're a naughty drunk, don't get drunk, or risk it. whatever.

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    I too think it was justified, and I'm surprised some would say it's not. I was going to post more extensive reasoning here, but decided this was really a broader discussion than this specific incident, so my thoughts are in this post.

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    AWDstylez wrote:
    And I agree that it's easy to sit here and arm chair analyze the whole thing, but the fact of the matter is, if everyone could get away with shooting people, "because it seemed right at the time," we're going to end up with the a whole lot of unnecessary, unjustified shootings.

    "This drunk guy jumped out of the woods and said 'boo!'"

    "So what did you do?"

    "I shot him."

    "Sucks it was just your neighbor playing a joke."

    "That's easy for you to say now. I was scared at the time."

    Sorry, that just doesn't fly.



    I think this says it all:

    "He also won’t carry a gun anymore, he said.

    What has he learned from all this?

    'Wear running shoes.'"

    That statement alone is all that's necessary to see that even he himself knew he was in the wrong.

    I respectfully disagree with these intrepretations. First, state laws generally provide for justification in acting if the circumstances, as the actor reasonably believe them to be, justify the response, even if, through mistake of fact, the actor's perception of the circumstances is incorrect. Even if not specifically codified, the doctrine of mistake of fact and of self-defense are common law and more often than not can be mixed. I see two guys beating on a third guy. I draw my CCW and order them to desist and lay down on the ground. I'm charged with aggravated assault because it turns out these guys are performing a social experiment and it isn't really assault, so my action of displaying a deadly weapon with intent to use itwasn't really justifiable given all the facts. My defense is that Iam not omniscient,could not have known it was fake, and in fact the situation was designed to hide that fact.

    This situation wasn't as clear-cut, but consider it: two drunks shouting sexual epithets, crossing a street to follow you, then one of them demanding that you shoot him and thus implying, given you've already drawn, that they will not back down till you do so. I don't care how funny they thought it was at the time; I've got two guys who will not back down against an armed man,evenwhendrawn on. When drawing a defensive handgun ends 98% of hostile encounters without firing a shot, having two guys who are both in the 2% categoryis scary enough. Added to that, these guys didn't give up even when he shot one of them; they chased him for another couple of blocks before the guy who was shot couldn't continue. Ask any LEO and he'll tell you a guy who refuses to go down when shot is his worst nightmare, especially when alone. They start asking questions like "what is this guy on?" or "didI tell my wife I loved her when I left for work?"

    Second, the statement that the individual would no longer carry a gun and instead would just wear running shoes speaks no more to his wrongful actions than me saying I'd rather pay to fix my car after being rear-ended then deal with the insurance companies. This man ended up in jail, then on trial, and justified or not his fate was in the hands of 12 people. Only with the not guilty verdict could he continue with his life, and it's still going to be seriously screwed up; he'll have to account for any time unemployed as being in jail awaiting trial. That does not look good on a resume, regardless of whether the judge agrees to be a reference on said resume. Would you want to go through the criminal justice system a second time after having your life placed in the balance not once, but twice? I'm all for the carry of firearms but if I went through what this kid did I'd think twice about doing it ever again.


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    Liko81 wrote:
    Would you want to go through the criminal justice system a second time after having your life placed in the balance not once, but twice?

    If I truely believedmy actionssaved my life, without a doubt. That was just my point. IMO, he decided to no longer carry a gun because he realized that his actions were not justified because the situation was not immediately life threatening, therefore he was lucky to get off as he did so he's now quiting while he's ahead. I can see where you're coming from and I'm not saying you're wrong, but that is how I'm seeing it.



    As for what you said about acting reasonably, I wasn't aware that that is how most defense laws were written. However, and obviously I'm no lawyer, but I don't see how you would get off in the situation you gave, especially if you shot someone. While you didn't know whether the fight was for real or not, you had other many other options at your disposal for determining whether it was short of drawing a gun. I believe it is the same in this case. The boy had many options available to him before shooting someone. Running away from stumbling drunks isn't a terribly difficult thing to do, neither is threatening to call the cops. Instead, he immediately resort to drawing a gun when they simply moved in his direction. If you and I were to get into a verbal argument(which would be even more threatening than the randomtaunts and name calling this kid recieved)from across the street, are you going to draw a gun on me if I simply cross the street towards you?

    Maybe he was justified and maybe he wasn't. None of us were there to witness it first-hand so it's impossible to say for sure. But I don't like this idea of getting into, "It's justified because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time." Your perception is different than mine, and the next guy's is different than both of ours. What I considered the right thing to do mightbe worlds awaywith what you think, but under your logic it would still be justified and that's kind of a dangerous path to go down.

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    If two or more people *know* you are armed and choose to pursue and threaten you anyway, what does that tell you about them?

    If someone is so determined to attack you that they're willing to do it despite the fact that you have a gun pointed at them, would a normal person be "reasonable" in fearing for their life/safety?

    I work at a company with a few hundred employees, go to church with about 1000 families... I'm relatively certain I could ask every single one of those people, "if you were chasing someone for no reason other than to scare or intimidate them, and they pointed a gun at you and told you to leave them alone, would you continue chasing/threatening them?" - and I wouldn't find a single person who would say, "yeah, sure I'd still keep harassing them. "

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    AWDstylez wrote:
    Maybe he was justified and maybe he wasn't. None of us were there to witness it first-hand so it's impossible to say for sure. But I don't like this idea of getting into, "It's justified because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time." Your perception is different than mine, and the next guy's is different than both of ours. What I considered the right thing to do mightbe worlds awaywith what you think, but under your logic it would still be justified and that's kind of a dangerous path to go down.
    Well, we might have to agree to disagree on this one, but maybe there's common ground here. Mistake of fact coupled with self-defense/defense of others does not boil down to "it's justified because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time". That assertion may be made, but justification only applies if 12 others agree. In order for them to agree, you have to be able to explain your position, discerning the circumstances leading you to fire. That explanation must fit the facts, AND it must be plausible. Shooting a guy walking down the other side of the street because he looked at you the wrong way is not going to sound to 12 men like "the right thing to do at the time". Shooting to defend yourself against two guys who continue to advance even when drawn on is far more plausible, especially when those guys survive the shooting and back up your material facts in court, right down to "I wanted him to shoot me".

    He tried to ignore the initial encounter. His assailants pressed it. I think he drew a bit too soon, but do you think the encounter would have gone any differently if he'd let them close to5 yardsbefore drawing on them? They were already advancing on him, and were not intimidated by the gun. After he put it up and walked away YET AGAIN, they closed to 5 yards. That's inside the danger zone; a person in full stride can cover 7 yards before the average shooter can draw and fire a well-aimed shot. He drew again. They didn't back down. By this time they were almost in arm's reach, demanding that he shoot them.

    There are very few "trick questions" in violent encounters. Though things aren't ALWAYS as they seem, in the large majority they are EXACTLY how they seem. The cases you hear about on the news are one of three situations: the incident was very high-profile or very public, the circumstances push the boundaries of self-defense, orthe result is viewedby common sense as amiscarriage of justice. The large majority of defense cases don't even make it off the police blotter; guy breaks into another guy's house at night and is shot by the homeowner. Thug approaches weak-looking girl on the street and tries to grab her, she pulls a gun and shoots him. If that kind of stuff makes the news it's page-six filler; it's not interesting to the majority of viewers, and leftist-leaning media will avoid covering "good shoots" by civilians.

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    Wow. I grew up outside St Albans, and it really surprises and depresses me to read about violent crime sprees alluded to in the article. I've walked the same streets described.

    That said, this sounds like a good verdict, for the reasons that have already been discussed. I was a little puzzled by the police chief's worries about what message the verdict sends to the bad guys--his statement seemed contradictory.

    ETA: It's hard to tell from the account, but Ithink it was premature to pull the gun during the attempted street crossing, unless they BG was locked-on to the intended victim. As already pointed out, this scenario is a good argument for carrying pepper spray in addtion to your gun.

    And all this happened just a few blocks from the police station, in a city of only 15,000 people.....sad.

    Guns don't kill people. Drivers on cell phones do.

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    The way I look at this is if I believe that in the same circumstance an officer would draw his weapon, and if he would shoot.

    In the example of two people beating a third. . I would expect an officer to draw and instruct them to stop. Why should I be expected to not do the same? Perhaps I can take the time to call the police, but do any of you realize exactly how long it takes to call the police using 911? Especially from a cell phone?? My GOD! In that time they could kill the third person and I sure wouldn't feel good about myself if that happened.

    I would run it like a citizen’s arrest. I would draw and tell them to get down. Once the third person was safe and the two perps were down I would then call the police.

    If they don't stop, then what am I to do? I believe the other person’s life may be in danger, I have given them a verbal warning. If they continue to beat the third person I will shoot at least one of them to get their attention. If that doesn't work I will shoot the second. My goal would be for non-vital areas, but sometimes that doesn't work.

    Now after all this, or even if they stop it is discovered that this was a social experiment, I am sure that if a reasonable person would not have done the same based on the facts that I knew taking the actions I have taken then they are either not reasonable, or perhaps an cowardly person thinking it would have been better to let the other person die than shot either of his attackers or perhaps risk getting hurt themselves. . . Perhaps to wait until the "authorities" were to arrive.

    The fact is that we carry arms for personal AND public defense. I would believe that most of us have some training and are both capable at handling our weapons properly and judging a situation and hopefully will, act in a calm and consistent manner. Does it mean that because I am trained, calm and collected that I am in any less fear for the person’s life? Does it mean that because I warned them first I am any less in fear for the person’s life?

    I think some people need to have an understanding. The only thing that separates an officer from an average armed citizen is merely that they are getting paid as "professionals". Have more faith in your fellow citizens and you will find that although we cannot always prevent the Virginia Techs, the mall shootings, or even the occasional mugging, we might be able to mitigate the damages and save lives, because the plain fact is that this no government can keep you safe enough without taking away your rights or your life.

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    Pointman wrote:
    Matthew Martel seems to have the four points of self-defense:

    1.) He was not the aggressor and was a reluctant participant. He tried to avoid the situation in the first place and further tried to withdraw several times and was not willing to escalate a situation against three other persons.

    2.) The threat was immanent. They closed the gap and were still coming at him and were at a close distance. He tried to escape but could not. Running away is not necessary, as he might have been overtaken by any of the three and been in a worse situation.

    3.) He faced death or great bodily harm. There were three people that assaulted him, and the threat of battery and potential death were stated. They obviously had no concern for life, as they were facing into a gun and still continued to assault Martel.

    4.) The use of deadly force was necessary. He obviously did try to defend himself without using deadly force and was unsuccessful. He immediately stopped using deadly force when the attack was neutralized.

    His opinion that he never wants to relive shooting someone, even to the extent of having no gun for self defense and possibly sacrificing his own life, is no proof he did something wrong. He may simply not want to live with the outcome of another shooting.
    And for those same reasons, I also agree it was a good shoot.

    Stories like these have convinced me to carry OC spray, though.


    On another note, it sounds like Lavoie would rather be prosecuting murder convictions than letting citizens defend themselves, given his anti-gun comments.

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    The sad thing here is that Martel is traumatized and is now afraid to protect himself.

    I was once by a group of bad boys, only I wasonly with out a gun. It had a different outcome.

    A few years back my kids talked me into writing down some of my life stories. What follows is my account of that incident.

    "Following my Junior year in High School on graduation night 19__, I left the festivities at the High School and with my clothes and my .22 rifle loaded in my mother’s old 1953 Plymouth, I started off for Buena Vista, Colorado. The plan was that I was going to get a job working in the mine at Climax Colorado and make a lot more money than I would have made if I had stayed home and hauled hay. As things went, I got the job at the mine, but only if I joined the Union. It didn’t take me long to learn that by the time I got through paying union dues and the like I would work the whole summer and not end up with much money to show for it. I did not take the job.
    I got a job pumping gas and that was OK for a while but I finally decided that I would be much better off hauling hay. I lined up a job with a local farmer and found a crew and this job went well. I was living in a trailer court and I made friends with some of the other boys who were my age. They became my crew and we had fun working, swimming, hiking and doing other activities.
    After I had been there for about a month I decided it was time to change the oil in my mother’s car. It was so black that I couldn’t even read the dip stick through the oil. One of my friends knew a guy who worked at a gas station that had bays where they worked on cars and we went to the gas station and asked this worker if I could use one of the bays to change my oil. He said that I could if I did it at night when the mechanic was not there and they were not busy.
    The next night I went over to the station, with my friend, and started preparations to change the oil. We had not been there long when a gang of young men came in. The leader of this group was a guy about 20 and as we all stood around in the waiting area talking, he took out a package of cigarettes and offered them to everyone. The others each took a cigarette, but I declined, telling them that I didn't smoke. For some reason, this young man took offense to my refusal and he offered me a cigarette for a second time. Again I refused.
    At this time I was 17 years old, 6 foot 3 inches tall and about 135 pounds, soaking wet. One of the young men, who had come in with this gang was a guy about my age that had worked with me at the gas station where I had my first job. He was about my height and outweighed me by a good 100 pounds. The leader of the gang handed him a couple of cigarettes and told him to make me smoke them. It was about this time that I turned my back to the group and walked back into the bay, in an attempt to continue with the changing of the oil in my mother’s car. For the next 15 or 20 minuets this big kid would kick me as I was under the car or push me as I was walking, call me names and just generally try every way he could to get me to fight him. I refused to give in to anger and did my best to ignore him. Finally I had just gotten out from under the car when he came at me with a big gob of grease on his fingers, saying he was going to rub it all over my nose. I ducked and he got my ear.
    I then realized that it was time to stand my ground and suffer the consequences, what ever they were. I said, “Ok. That’s it, I will fight you!” I put up my dukes and readied myself. I knew how to fight, my father had taught me, but he had also taught me to not relish fighting, but only do so when I had no other choice. I did not want to fight this guy. Him being so big and all, did not increase my desire to fight him, but I was not afraid to fight.
    He took a swing at me, I ducked, he missed and I countered with an overhand right. He swung again, with the same result. After 3 or 4 more attempts to hit me failed and each time only resulted in him receiving a blow from me, I guess he realized that he needed to change his tactics. He then lunged and grabbed me in a bear hug, lifting me off the ground. I felt like I was in a vice, but I just leaned back and continued to rain blows on his face. Soon his arms lost their strength and he put me down. Then he went to his knees and then to the floor on his back, with me astride him, still raining blows. When I finished he lay on the floor, his face a bloody pulp.
    I didn’t want to fight him, but when I had no choice, I did. To say the least, the gang of young men, in the gas station, were stunned by the outcome of the fight. They quietly left me to change my oil, taking their battered friend with them. News traveled fast, and soon the word around Buena Vista was not to mess with me. From that day, till the day I left, in late July, no one did."

    It is my experience that bullies are generally cowards, and if you stand your ground they show their colors. If the other boys had jumped in with their champion, my story would have had a very different ending.

    If you can get away it is good to run, but you have to be ready to stand and fight.

    Tarzan

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    And here I kept thinking that the moral of Tarzan's story was going to be, "And that is why you should just shut up and take the damn cigarette." :P


    Seriously though, while bullies often will back down if you face up to them, that isn't always true anymore. For many modern urban cultures if you don't give certain bullies their "props" or if you "dis" them, even unintentionally, they will not back down but attack. It is not always easy to figure out which kind of bully you are dealing with and if you guess wrong, your sidearm very well may be all that keeps you from being a statistic on the morning news.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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    AWDstylez wrote:
    Liko81 wrote:
    Would you want to go through the criminal justice system a second time after having your life placed in the balance not once, but twice?

    If I truely believedmy actionssaved my life, without a doubt. That was just my point. IMO, he decided to no longer carry a gun because he realized that his actions were not justified because the situation was not immediately life threatening, therefore he was lucky to get off as he did so he's now quiting while he's ahead. I can see where you're coming from and I'm not saying you're wrong, but that is how I'm seeing it.
    Your "IMO" says it all - it's your opinion. There are no facts in this story to justify that conclusion,although I grant you that it might be a valid assumption. I doubt it though.

    This poor kid was victimized twice - first by some drunken thugs, then by the agonizing experience of being put on trial for something he thought he was justified in doing. You've judged his actions in the incident in a manner that indicates you've never been the victim of bullying. I have. When I was a kid, I was beaten to a pulp by another kid who was bigger than me (and also a Golden Gloves boxer, BTW) simply to show off for a friend of his. To this day I do not cotton to bullies, but I know how to stand up to them now.

    I agree with you that he pulled his weapon too soon in the encounter, but I disagree about your assessment of his actions. He was scared witless that he was in danger of serious bodily harm, possibly of being killed by these guys ganging up on him and using his own gun against him. Frankly, I'm surprised he didn't fire more shots than he did. And I feel sorry for him. He'll forever question his own judgment in serious situations, unless someone can help him work through the emotional trauma.

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    deepdiver wrote:
    And here I kept thinking that the moral of Tarzan's story was going to be, "And that is why you should just shut up and take the damn cigarette." :P.....
    You are exactly right.

    Back when this happened, no one thought of carrying a handgun., and it wasn't needed.

    I have heard a saying before that goes something like; "Don't pick a fight with an old man, because he knows he can't out run you, and he has no real desire to fight, so he will just kill you."

    If I found myself in the same situation today, I would have been armed.

    If they persisted I would have called the police and been prepared to stop the threat.

    My real moral to the story is that I used what I had to defend myself then, when all else failed, and I would do the samenow, but now I would use different tools.

    Tarzan

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