Monday, November 19, 2007

*sigh*

The current Internet story of the day involves Joe Horn.

For those Gentle Readers who may be living under a staircase somewhere, Mr. Horn is the South Texas gentleman who discovered two men breaking into his neighbors house.

He then dialled 911 and had a conversation with the dispatcher in which he told the dispatcher some stuff he probably shouldn't have, before going outside and killing both men.

Now, I'm not going to get into whether Mr. Horn was justified or not in taking those men's lives -- this is Texas, and a Grand Jury of twelve good men and true will determine if Mr. Horn was justified or not.

No, what I am interested in is that during his conversation with Mr. Horn, the dispatcher told Mr. Horn that killing those men "wasn't worth it".

Some folks on the Internet have a bit of a problem with that. There's some thought that this wasn't the dispatchers business.

You know, near as I can tell the only person who has a right to say if it was the dispatchers business to beg Mr. Horn not to go outside ... is Mr. Horn.

Mr. Horn's lawyer and his family state that he "is crushed". The New Black Panther Party and the Millions More Movement are protesting outside of his house. Mr Horn's face is on the TeeVee and in newspapers around the world, where people Mr. Horn doesn't know -- and will never meet -- are calling Mr. Horn a murderer and demanding his arrest.

The local Houston paper reports that their poll finds that 60% of their readers feel Mr. Horn was justified in his killing of the two men.

Sounds good, yes?

60% means that 40% think Mr. Horn wasn't justified.

Two out of every five people he meets think that he is a murderer -- and that's a lot of people. That amount of ill-will can weigh on a man's mind.

Killing another human being is the ultimate taboo. To take the life of some mother's son leaves a stain -- no matter how small -- on your soul.

And everyone -- no matter how foul a critter -- was, at some time, some mothers baby. Don't think that this seemingly irrelevant fact won't jump up and steal your breath in the long hours spent wrestling with your conscience afterwards.

The guilt and self-doubt that can plague a man for even the most justified of killings can be overwhelming.

It is possible -- even likely -- that a man who has been forced to take a life in the most justified of circumstances; circumstances such that no one can find fault in his decision -- it is possible for that man to be wracked by guilt and self-doubt regarding his actions; it is possible for him to spend the darkest hours of the nights torturing his soul with
'What I Could Have Done Differently' questions.

Unfortunately for Mr. Horn, his shooting wasn't so clean. There is some doubt as to his justification; nearly half the people who have heard of this event are finding fault and are naming him 'murderer'.

No matter how stoic you are, each whisper of 'murderer' will lodge itself in your psyche.

Mr. Horn is going to be bombarded with the grief of the dead men's loved ones. False or not, that grief and those tears are all over the TeeVee, and false or not, each tear becomes a burden, if only a tiny one.

Some of the people who believe that Mr. Horn wasn't justified in his actions are going to uncork their vitriol and their loathing for Mr. Horn through phone calls, speech, and the printed word.

His own conscience is liable to replay the faces of those dead men at three in the morning.

Seeing as how these men were minorities, the powerful minority lobbies and national civil rights organizations will probably supply the funding and the lawyers for any resulting Federal lawsuit.

Against these lobbies and these organizations, Mr. Horn will have ... his retirement? Donations from family, friends and strangers?

*sigh*

Whether Mr. Horn was justified in his actions, or not, will be decided by a Grand Jury.

Whether the dispatcher was justified in advising Mr. Horn not to proceed -- is up to Mr. Horn.

And I think his answer today, or next month, or next year might be different than his answer on that fateful day.

LawDog

39 comments:

Matt G said...

Good post.

The most important thing an armed person needs to remember is that they always have the very real option of not shooting.

phlegmfatale said...

My heart goes out to anyone faced with a terrible choice like this - I certainly understand the urge to reduce the dirtbag-to-good citizen ratio - but I hope his choice doesn't ruin the rest of his life.

Anthony said...

Great post, and a lot to think about. I fear whatever the Grand Jury concludes, things are going to be pretty rough for Mr. Horn in the forseeable future.

I do fear, however, that this will be spun by the GFW crowd as another reason for more gun restrictions. We would all do well to remember that it was Mr. Horn, not the firearm that took action. He could just as well have caved their skulls in with a baseball bat.

Simeron said...

Well, this is my home. Quite litterally, I can WALK to where Mr. Horn lives. I can drive there in under 10 minutes even in traffic.

I agree with LD (I do) alot. Hard not to because he very rightly tries to steer a middle path in his post though, as a good LEO, I believe in my soul he would have to say that Mr. Horn shouldn't have shot those men. And I agree in part.

It's not clean for me either. Part of me says, Good for him. He got thier sorry skins and tacked them on the door. They were criminals, plain and simple. They were stealing from hard working people. They were threatening him as they entered his yard before he shot them. Not the smartest of things to do, approaching an elderly man with a shotgun in a threatening manner. This is why I believe Mr. Horn will not have CRIMINAL charges filed on him. God help him for the civil shitestorm that's coming.

Also, while I think the dispatcher did everything right, I'm a bit hacked off at the Houston Police Department. Over 5 minutes into a 911 call and this with the person on the other end with a LOADED SHOTGUN saying he's going to have to kill someone and they haven't got a single car out there? Even if they had plain clothes officers there, the dispatcher could have told Mr. Horn there were officers there without uniforms. The situation was that critical.

These two men were drug abusing criminals. They attacked or intended to attack an elderly man with a very visible lethal weapon. They may not have deserved to die, its true they were at some point dear little babies, so was Hitler, and its true this should not have spun as it did. But the fact is, they rolled the dice many times in this scenario. And thier final toss was to go after an armed man that was willing to kill them. They bet he wouldn't pull the trigger.

They lost.

The taking of a life is never something to be done lightly nor without fully understanding the profound change that this is going to have in your life and the lives of many people, most that you don't know. You are taking all of thier tomorrows, ending any chance at redemption they will have and giving a piece of your soul away forever.

Against this you must wiegh what you will gain. Stopping the theft of property? Preventing a rape? Saving the life of someone else? It boils down to what you will gain for this huge price.

Mr. Horn should have stayed in his home to me. The police shouldn't have taken so long to get there when the dispatcher knew an armed, elderly man was "agitated" enough that he was telling him on the phone he was going to go outside and shoot them if he had to do it. The men shouldn't have been stealing nor should they have gone after a man with a shotgun. There are many, many things that could have derailed this and kept two lives safe.

But the fact is, they intended to harm Mr. Horn once he left his house and entered his yard. They approached him and he killed them because they were going to attack him. This "he should have shot them in the legs" crap is just that..crap.

If I am gonig to get to the point where I must discharge a weapon at someone to defend myself, I ain't shooting to wound. That's not what the weapon is for at all. It's a device to kill. It's up to me to not get to that point if I can avoid it and, in this, Mr. Horn exercised poor judgement. He did put himself into that position instead of disengaging himself.

And he will pay for it for the rest of his life because, I can't believe he will be able to remove the sight of those men dying by his hand from his mind.

Legally, Mr. Horn is fine on the criminal charges from what I've gleaned I think. Civi chrages are an entirely different kettle of fish.

I would have played it differently I think but, I wasn't there. I don't know everything that was going on. I do know these two men were criminals...repeat ones. For whatever reason, they decided to gamble thier lives on the assumption this elderly man with a shotgun wouldn't kill them. They lost that bet.

There are no winners in this one at all. Just some lost more then others. And as always, the innocent loved ones and friends on ALL sides, criminal and shooter, are going to lose and pay the price.

I feel the shooting justified but, not right. As I've said before, that which is legal is not always right.

And there is plenty of blame to go around here unfortunately.

I pray God will comfort all concerned...and help them all too. They'll need it.

dfwmtx said...

I hope the best for the old guy. Those who disapprove of his actions are now dishing out plenty of insults the man doesn't deserve.

And how does that quote go, the one about evil triumphing when good men sit by and do nothing? A man saw evil happening next door, and wanted to do something about it, while his detractors told him to sit by and (pretty much) do nothing.

reno said...

If he is No Billed by the GJ, shouldn't he be protected by Section 83.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code?

Sec. 83.001.  CIVIL IMMUNITY
A defendant who uses force or deadly force that is justified under Chapter 9, Penal Code, is immune from civil liability for personal injury or death that results from the defendant's use of force or deadly force, as applicable.

Anonymous said...

Reno,

Anyone that is no-billed in situations like this should be immune to civil litigation, however I can think of several instances where home owners in Texas that have killed critters, who have broken into their homes, have been sued for wrongful death by the families of the critters, and lost. This is one of the things the newly passed "Castle Doctrine" was supposed to address (to further protect the home-owner).

Mr. Horn has got a bleak legal future ahead of him, unfortunately. Whether he is indicted or not.

The legal question here is whether, in daylight hours, he was legally entitled to use deadly force to protect his neighbor's property, and whether this was a premeditated act or not. His comments to the 911 dispatcher are especially damning on that last question.

Rorschach said...

Anon, that might have been the case as little as a year ago, but with the changes in the castle doctrine law in Texas, that is no longer the case. If Mr. Horn is no-billed, he is likely free and clear in the civil matter as well.

the 911 call lasted something like 9 minutes, if HPD could not respond in that time frame, I can see where Mr. Horn would think that unless he went out there to stop them, they were going to get away with it free and clear. Mr. Horn unfortunately said some things he really should not have said. That is going to weigh heavily on the minds of the grand jury I think.

I forget, does a grand jury have to be unanimous to indict or is it a simple majority in Texas?knafrl

Anonymous said...

Regarless of the Texas laws allowing lethal force to protect property, every concealed carry class I have been associated with (three different ones so far) has used the standard of threat to life as the only justification for a shooting. Mr. Horn would seem to have chosen to go outside out of anger, not fear. If he's not a sociopath, he will be feeling the repercussions of that decision for the rest of life, no matter what the grand jury decides.

I would REALLY like to know the back story on what the local police department was doing during that 6 minute 911 call.

Rebekah said...

I must be one of those people under the rock (and I watch national news) but I haven't heard of this case.

Fist off, "HE" called 911 so that made it the dispatchers business! That is our job, to talk people through emergency situations. I don't know much about the story so I can't really argue it but I am a bit confused as to why they would question the dispatcher telling him not to go over there and shoot them.

As far as public scorn. Hind sight is always 20/20. And NOBODY, even trained officers, know exactly how they themselves will respond in a tense (life or death) situation.

And the whole story will only come out in court so these people are making talk on a subject they don't have all the facts on.

And lastly, if these two YaHoos hadn't been trying to break into someone elses house.... they wouldn't have been killed!!!!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the back story about what law enforcement was doing at the time, I think I can make a guess. LawDog can chime in with whether my guess is reasonable.

The speed with which non-uniformed officers showed up after the shooting was staggering. I'd say they staged around the corner and was waiting for uniformed personnel while making sure the suspects didn't get away. I'd also say there was another cruiser or two boxing them in and moving forward.

I won't cry over those burglars, but my initial reaction is that this was a bad shoot.

Sailorcurt said...

I understand your overall point and I agree with it but I want to pick just one little nit:

The 40% who do not definitely feel that Mr. Horn was justified does not necessarily equate to 40% condemning him.

If asked, I would not definitively say "he was justified" but I don't necessarily think he was not justified either.

I simply don't know the details nor have I seen the evidence.

I don't have enough concrete information to make that determination; so, although I won't say he was definitely justified, nor am I prepared to condemn him for his action either.

Jared said...

Ayoob gets a lot of grief on many pro-gun internet sites. Yet Ayoob teaches in LFI-1 (and in his books and articles) that there is often a huge cost that comes with the use of deadly force even when it is justified.

I'm sorry to see this fellow caught in the meat grinder. I won't shed a tear for the perps.

This should be a cautionary tale for us all. Leaving a place of safety to confront someone stealing from a third party can put you in a world of hurt.

I agree with the dispatcher -- it just isn't worth it.

Deputy Polarbear said...

LawDog,

I feel for this guy. Having been forced to use deadly force on several occasions, it is something that I will never forget.

I hope it turns out well for him; and I REALLY hope the laws in Texas are alot different than in California regarding this type of incident. He probably would already have been booked for homicide out here in LA.

What would hurt him the most out here would be; 1) It's not his property that he was defending 2) He went outside to confront the suspects 3) and his statements to the dispatcher would probably seal his fate "hurry up and catch these guys, I'm not going to let them get away with it" after he had been told in no uncertain terms to stay inside.

As to the extended LE response, there can be several reasons for it. He may have lived quite a distance out from where the units were dispatched from; Units were already on scene (it sounds like the plainclothes units was either on scene, or very close) and were waiting for assisting units (we dont roll into hot calls until the containment is set up...this helps with officer safety, and also makes capture more likely). Five minutes is an eternity when you are waiting for help. It is also on the very LOW end of the average response time for us here in LA; and that is in an urban area that has a bunch of cops.

However it turns out, this fellow has a rocky near future.

jimbob86 said...

No Winners In This Situation? REALLY?

The only thing necessary for Evil to Triumph is for Good Men to stand idly by and not stand to oppose it. A Good Man stood up for the Right, and defended Himself when he was attacked for it.

The only way Civilization comes out the worse in this is if Mr. Horn is legally persecuted for doing the public service he did. The anquish he might feel in having killed these men can either be magnified or minimized by the public reaction. I say support the man by pinning a medal on him.

If you want more of something, make it cheaper, safer and more convenient. If you want less of something, make it more expensive, dangerous, and a bigger hassle. Mr. Horn wanted less housebreaking, and fewer thugs assaulting elderly men carrying shotguns. What do you suppose the Grand Jury wants? Or the judge giving the instructions?

This isn't the first Rodeo for these two. They rolled the dice again and lost, this time. Mr. Horn did NOT shoot those men. They shot themselves. He just carried the buckshot for 'em awhile.

Simeron said...

I often use the very quote people are using here about evil.

But there are no winners here, just losers.

The two criminals lost thier lives in a stupid manner.

Mr. Horn lost the innocence of not knowing what it felt like to kill another human being and quite possibly alot of his peace of mind for the forseeable future if not the rest of his life.

The loved ones of both are now going to be effected in God only knows what ways.

HPD gets a black eye for the time of response most likely.

There are countless other ways there are no winners.

As I said, I wasn't there (thank God) and I don't know all the details. I live close by though and I know alot about it.

It was NOT a good shooting because Mr. Horn didn't need to go outside. He felt he needed to but, I think it would have been better if he had not.

I'm not going to shed a single tear for the two dead men. While I don't think they deserved death, attacking an armed man without a weapon has certain risks tied to it and getting killed is certainly high on that list. This time, they did get killed.

I believe evil was stopped by a good man. The question is did he do it in the best way he could have.

He called 911. THAT could have stopped these two also. He had acted right there. No need to shoot someone. But, so far as I know, none of us were there. We don't know the situation nor do I think we'll sit on the jury.

If we do, then we'll get to know more and thus, our judicial system, as screwed up as it is, will get a chance to work.

But its never a "winning" situation when you have loss of life, anyone's life, to me. Everyone might get redemption sometime...we don't know...however unlikely the chance is.

That is until they are dead.

For these two, any chance at redemption is gone.

Will said...

It's been my experience, and observation, that calling 911 and then EXPECTING the police to show up prior to the festivities ending is both foolish and hazardous. This goes double for a call about "man with a gun".
Frankly, unless they are talking to an off duty officer, they treat most all callers like children. I've not been impressed by most of the operators/dispatchers I've dealt with over the years.

Deputy Polarbear said...

Will,

Working Dispatch was (for me at least) more stressful than working the street. You sometimes have 8-10 phone lines ringing at once (which was one way we could almost always tell the severity of the call)....and you have to get ALOT of information from the person that is calling in; editing/typing that info into your call screen, and then forwarding it to the field units.

Are far as taking our time getting to a 'man with a gun' call; that doesnt happen where I worked...everybody was usually tripping over one another to get there. But, that being said, once on scene/near the scene we set up a tactical approach. Which takes time. If one of my fellow Deputies rolled right up into a hot call like that, the least that would happen is the field superviser would have his/her ass.

Officer involved shootings often result from these types of calls. Everybody wants to go home in one piece at night. Also, an OIS is critiqued to the nth degree...and if your tactics contributed to the incident escalating to an OIS, you are looking at serious time on the bricks; plus the fun aspect of the federal lawsuit.

Yes, some dispatchers/officers/deputies ect are rude...some are just buttheads in general, most are trying to do a good job in a very unforgiving enviornment; ALL want to go home to their families in as few pieces as possible.

shooter said...

Dawg, we can ACQB this to death (arm-chair quarterback) and come to equal conclusions pro v. con.

I can only say: "In any life or death situation, we never rise to the occasion. We only sink to the lowest level of our training."

Mr. Horn sank to the lowest level of his training and experience. Now, I don't know his C.V. or background, but from what I know, it appeared he didn't have much. Who's to say? When the schumer hits the oscillating air mover, things turn to mush real quick. Some people rise above it, and others become dumber than a box of hammers.

Mr. Horn probably felt the adrenaline dump upon hearing the glass break next door. I know from experience that the excited state adrenaline puts you in remains high when you get on the horn to 911.

I've listened to the call and can only commend the dispatcher for trying to calm Mr. Horn down. Horn was agitated and very excitable. Get worked up over something, and it is hard to calm back down. I think I can speak for many of us who've been down that road and wanted action in an excited time when action wasn't forthcoming. It sucks when the cavalry doesn't heed your call right away.

As part of a weekly training class, I am constantly reminded time and again that "we who carry concealed must constantly be mindful of our actions." This holds true for anyone involved in a deadly force situation. How many cops have been tried and convicted because their dashcam or microphone were on when they didn't realize? How many criminals don't realize that even the grungiest convenience store camera can still make out identifying features on the nightly news?

Ladies and gentlemen, we must remember that our actions will somehow be remembered (video, audio, eyewitness) and shown to the jury. Everything we do or say in this modern information age is recorded in some fashion. "ANYTHING you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." Doesn't have to be a criminal court, it can also be a civil court.

Mr. Horn forgot that and ran off at the mouth. He has been labeled a murderer and scum by media and public alike. Not for his actions, but for his words. "Well, gee, Mr. Lawyer, I HEARD him say "Drop Your Weapon", so I have to assume the other guy had one."

We heard Mr. Horn say he was going to kill someone, and he did. We just don't know the context in which the killing took place. That's between God, Horn, and the men he ventilated.

The laws are such in Texas that he may get a pass. If the Harris County DA gets a bug up his butt, this case may be shopped to other Grand Juries until Horn is hung out to dry.

For all I know, he did the right thing. He defended his neighbor's and his property. What he said leading up to the shooting is what makes me cringe.

Stephen Renico said...

And everyone -- no matter how foul a critter -- was, at some time, some mothers baby. Don't think that this seemingly irrelevant fact won't jump up and steal your breath in the long hours spent wrestling with your conscience afterwards.

I disagree with this. There are people, like bin Laden, whom I could kill, then go home, eat dinner, play Uno with the kids, and go to sleep, with the satisfaction of knowing that a job has been well done.

dwight insane diego said...

Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his brother.

Mr Horn may have just sacrificed the rest of his life to litigation or worse -- but he did all of the good citizens in his neighborhood a favor by confronting those thieves.
Too bad for them they weren't wise enough to freeze when he told them too.

Mr Horn,
On behalf of my wife and children, thank you.

dw

Strings said...

I have to admit, I know what Mr Dawg's talking about here. The aftereffects on the human psyche of taking another's life are extreme. Lady Macbeth was absolutely right, it does NOT wash off...

What bothers me even more are the Keyboard Commandoes, who will critque every aspect of the event to what type of undergarment Mr Horn was wearing. They'll judge, they'll argue, they'll pontificate. And, for the most part, they will ignore the fact that a good man now has the weight of the world pressing down on his shoulders.

He may make it through the GJ. He may avoid civil problems. But, to the public (or a great many of them), he's already tarred. THAT is the saddest part of living in the society we do...

Saladman said...

"Are far as taking our time getting to a 'man with a gun' call; that doesnt happen where I worked...everybody was usually tripping over one another to get there. But, that being said, once on scene/near the scene we set up a tactical approach. Which takes time. If one of my fellow Deputies rolled right up into a hot call like that, the least that would happen is the field superviser would have his/her ass."

So, in effect, as far as making contact with the person making the call, bystanders or victims, you may get to the scene fast but do in fact take your time "getting to" the man with the gun. Which, I truly do understand there are valid reasons for, but this is something that it is fair for us civilians to know and take into account. In this case, for example, its possible the non-uniformed officers waiting saved either their lives or the citizen's or both from a terrible misunderstanding - but the cost of that was leaving him unattended with robbers coming at him.

Anonymous said...

"I'm afraid my neighbors are home, I know the burglars have a crowbar at the least, I'm afraid of what they might do to them, and the police are nowhere in sight."

I had heard the tape already, and although he didn't say anything like that, that's what I would be thinking if I saw somebody breaking into my neighbor's house.

The burglars came at him in his own yard. Was he supposed to wait till they hit him, or took the gun away?

No, but people say he should have stayed in his house. With no sign of police and the dispatcher not telling you they were there, how long do you wait? Until you hear screams, or shots? That would have been an act of cowardice and irresponsibility.

Does anyone think that if there had been no shotgun-toting neighbor but a police officer had confronted them as they came out the window, and the cop shot them as they came towards him, that we would be having this conversation?

Its the tape that's going to screw him. If he had chosen his words differently from the beginning, then yelled "stay back!" I think some of the public opinion would be flipped.

I don't claim that I would do any better, though, which is a sobering thought.

Tom said...

It is sad that we live in a time when people have a problem with this old man putting down a couple of predators. 50 years ago noone would have had a problem with it. That is why incidents like this didn't occur then as often they do today. These mutts know the system. Mr. Horn made good burglars out of them and now the new black panther party is out to protest the death of their felonious brothers. The way I see it if the burglars are the ones who caused and created this situation. These kind never accept responsibility for their own actions, it doesn't go with their victim mentality. Whether or not the shoot was legal is for the Grand Jury to say but morally I don't have a problem with it. These mutts have committed their last burglary. I guarantee you neither one of them ever contributed one positive thing to society. Walking,talking pieces of shit.

Kevin said...

One thing Mr. Horn should have been reminded of: Each round of ammo you fire has about a $50,000 invoice attached to it.

Unless a life is at risk, it's probably cheaper to not shoot.

Another thing: You have a right to remain silent. It would appear that Mr. Horn, while having that right, didn't have the ability.

Tom said...

Oh and one more thing........

Mr. Horn's major error in this incident was calling 911 and attempting to deal with it himself. He should have chosen one or the other. If he was already decided on dealing with this issue himself he should not have made the 911 call until after the incidents completion. His second call should have been to his attorneys office who know doubt would have advised him not to say a word until he got there.

jimbob86 said...

Kevin-

Yes. It WOULD have been cheaper to let those hoodlums get away. But it would not have been RIGHT. When the only thing that matters is the bottom line, you end up with the richest, most morally BANKRUPT country in the history of the world.

Deputy Polarbear said...

saladman,

I should have been a bit more specific about the 'tactical approach' setup.

It doesnt involve everyone getting together before the call and discussing how we are going to approach. That is done on the WAY to the call, over the radio.

Example:

Attention Lennox Units, we have a Burglary in Progress at 1234 6th street. Informant advises that at least two males are attempting to break into the rear of the house at1236 6th street. Informant also adivses that he is armed with a shotgun and is going to confront the suspects. Unit 31 has the handle, Unit 31A; 31B; 32 the assist; attention to 30S (field supervisor)

31 to assisting units; 31B you take the rear of the location; 31A and 32 take the West; 30S come in from the east with us. Advise when on scene. Disptach; advise the informant to stay inside his house, and see if he has a visual on the suspects. Also check on the status of an air unit.

Dispatch to units: Informant advises that he will not wait for units, and is going outside to confront the suspects.

31 to Dispatch; please get a description of the Informant ASAP, and readvise him to stay inside. We are at least 5 minutes out.

This type of setup takes very little extra time. We would REALLY want a description of the informant; as anyone displaying a firearm will be considered a threat; and treated as such; until proven that they are one of the good guys. This also includes plainclothes units...that is why everyone shows up at briefing to let everyone know what they are wearing that night. I have had a gun pointed at me on more than one occasion by a FELLOW LEO (once from a guy from my own station), until they realized that we were the plainclothes guys on scene.

This was a crap situation all around. Mr. Horn sounds like he believed he was doing the right thing by confronting the goblins. The awful fact (out here in SoCal at least) is that you may NEVER use deadly force to only protect property. That includes the police as well. It is only legal if you believe your life or the life of another is about to be lost. The goblins attempting to attack Mr. Horn after being confronted would most likey (if he phrased his statement correctly) fall into this field.

We dont (usually) use the grand jury system out here for this kind of incident. The case would be presented to a City/District Attrny, and then they make the decision on what (if anything) to file. A grand jury of other citizens might actually work out better for Mr. Horn

saladman said...

"I should have been a bit more specific about the 'tactical approach' setup.

It doesnt involve everyone getting together before the call and discussing how we are going to approach. That is done on the WAY to the call, over the radio."

That is good for me to know. Since we're talking about the example of a 9 minute 911 call where the police were on the scene and cuffed the caller very shortly after he shot the two burglars, I'm still taking away the following lesson:

"Which takes time. If one of my fellow Deputies rolled right up into a hot call like that, the least that would happen is the field superviser would have his/her ass."

And I'm not doing this to criticize the police or dispatch, but to be realistic about the costs of meeting the demand (more from liberals and hoplophobes) to just call 911 and wait for the police versus the costs of getting involved.

Rick R. said...

IMNSHO (& IANAL), It isn't a dirty shoot -- but it is a dingy one. (Based purely on the scraps I know.)

The fact that they approached HIM while he was still in his own yard tends to the cleaner side for Mr. Horn.

The fact that he announced his intent PRIOR to teh shoot:

"I'm going to shoot."

"I don't want to but if I go out there to see what's going on, what chance am I going to have?"

This snippet of the 911 call seems to make it clear that he was declaring that, IF he went out there to confront them, he WOULD feel OBLIGATED to fire, as otherwise, ". . . what chance am I going to have?"

Well, if you KNOW that escalating the situation WILL push you to shoot, then you MUST NOT escalate the situation.

he could have holed up in HIS house behind locked doors and a cracked window, shotgun at the ready, and continued to report -- ready to blow away the malefactors if they so much as cast an evil look at him that "resulted in his reasonable fear of immediate and grievous harm" (a paraphrase of the boilerplate language in most leathal force laws).

In fact, the cops MAY have then showed up earlier, not having to worry about the gun carrying civilian who had already informed the police he was going to kill people.

An already existant life-threatening situation -- such as if he heard screams or such from his neighbors -- would not be an "escalation". . . once you pass the "lethal force" gate, you're already escalated to the top end. Even if it is the OTHER guys who took it there, you aren't escalating a thing by intervening.

But in this case, Mr. Horn announced his INTENT to USE lethal force in a PROPERTY crime, that didn't even involve HIS property. To the best of his knowledge, no human life was threatened, until he went out the door and threatened it.

We DON'T kill people for being simple thieves.

Even Castle Doctrines exist NOT becuase thievery is worthy of death -- but because you have no way of knowing (nor does a jury afterwards) with 100% certainty that the thieves AREN'T planning on murdering you as well. So the Castle Doctrine exists as a "presumption of immediate and grievous threat" exemption to the general rule you don't shoot people.

"I'm going to shoot."

"I don't want to but if I go out there to see what's going on, what chance am I going to have?"

Answer -- DON'T GO OUT THERE. Not if going out there means you WILL shoot someone over a non-life threatening property crime.

Deputy Polarbear said...

saladman,

Calling 911 and waiting for the troops is USUALLY the best idea. However, you need to know the average response time for whatever agency covers where you live. Some of that is also just plain happenstance. I have been driving down the street 'drinking coffee and sucking lollipops' when a hot call went out; and suddenly realized that the address given is two houses away. That only happens once in a blue moon though.

Nine minutes is an eternity when you are in the 'bad and scary'. 15-20 minutes is much worse, and also much more common if you live a way out in a rural area. Thats when you better be prepared to 'repel boarders' if needed.

I have absolutly no issue with the 'good guy' citizens having guns (most street cops dont, its the REMF admin pukes that do), just that the person needs to know how to reasonably use the weapon if needed, and know the local laws that apply to their use.

Assrot said...

Tough call here for a person that I am assuming has never shot a human being before this incident.

I want the world to be rid of scumbags that steal other peoples' hard earned property as much as the next honest, law abiding person does. However, no amount of property is worth another person's life to me.

I am of the mind that you only use deadly force when it is being used or attempted on you. I meet whatever force is coming at me with what is necessary to stop it.

I can see where Mr. Horn may have thought that he was up against deadly force beings he is an old man and the two criminals were possibly younger and stronger than him.

I guess my only problem with the whole thing is that Mr. Horn was warned not to go out there to begin with and ignored those warnings. Yes, he was trying to do a good deed and keep his neighbor from being robbed but he had already done his part. He called 911 and had the cops on the way.

If he felt he just had to go out there and do more, why not shoot the legs out from under them to stop them? Why kill them over what was probably less than a couple thousand dollars worth of property?

It's very hard to say what was going through his mind without actually being there and in his shoes. I'm glad that we have two less scumbags on the street but I'm not glad they are dead.

Mr. Horn's job as an honest, upright citizen was done when he made the 911 call. In my mind he had no business going out the door after these guys. When he did that he assumed the role of a police officer. Something I doubt he was trained for and something he obviously was not very good at.

One thing I know for sure, whether Mr. Horn goes to jail over this or not, he will regret it and he will feel bad about it the rest of his life. Unless of course he is more like the criminals he shot than the upright, law abiding citizen he tried to be.

I know this for a fact because I had to kill a man when I was 22 years old. I had no choice. It was kill or be killed. No charges were filed against me. That does not mean I have not paid dearly for it. There has not been a day go by in the last 30+ years since that happened that I have not thought about that person. It still hurts my soul to this day that I took a life. The person more than deserved it and everyone was glad he was gone but to me, it changed me inside forever.

This kind of shit that Mr. Horn pulled is also what gives the Liberal, whinebag gun banners ammo to enact more gun control. The idea of owning a gun (other than for sporting purposes) is for self defense and defense of human life from a would be killer.

There was no would be killer here. there was no self defense here. Mr. Horn created the situation by trying to play cop and now, God Bless Him because he will pay for it dearly one way or the other.

In my mind Mr. Horn is just the kind of person that we don't want owning a gun because he did not use it for it's intended purpose within the law. He tried to be Mr. Gung Ho and save the day. All he did was kill two people for what amounts to less than a months pay that I am sure the insurance company will reimburse the homeowner for. The only other thing he accomplished was to give the gun banners more reason to try and take away our guns.

Just imagine what Mr. Horn's family would be going through right now if he had gotten his fool ass killed.

I guess I am rambling so let me end it with this. A gun is a tool that should be used wisely for sporting and self defense purposes. Nobody has the right to buy a gun and then automatically assume they can take the place of local law enforcement and act in that capacity.

Use deadly force only when faced with deadly force. Don't create situations that may require deadly force then try to be Mr. Lawman of the neighborhood. You won't get away with it and you will pay dearly. If the courts do not make you pay, your own mind, morality and good conscience will.

If you can take another human beings life over a few dollars worth of goods and it not bother you then in my mind you are just as much a criminal as they are and should be dealt with accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I've been following this thread and thinking about this.

"Nine minutes is an eternity when you are in the 'bad and scary'. 15-20 minutes is much worse, and also much more common if you live a way out in a rural area. Thats when you better be prepared to 'repel boarders' if needed."

In my county in the mountains in north Georgia, there are place where the SO's response time will be closer to 45minutes. Many of the local cops are pro-gun and pro-SD... with a distance and response time like that, you better be able to handle it. They'll be along as soon as they can to fill out the after-action reports. I'm not saying that'll make killin' any easier.

Now, another poster made a comment about Mr. Horn "playing cop". I don't know about Texas, but in Georgia, Citizen's Arrest is legal. (I know because I did some poking around online after somebody told me Georgia had outlawed Citizen's Arrest in 1992 and it turned out it was the former Soviet Republic of Georgia that did that.) A lot of cops don't seem to like Citizen's Arrest and accuse a citizen of "acting like a cop", but as I understand it, every citizen has the right and authority to make an arrest if a felony is committed in his presence. However, from what I'm getting, Mr. Horn didn't go out there thinking of making an arrest. I agree that he shouldn't have gone outside, but rather observed while armed from a window. In any case, I don't envy him his current position.

My sister and brother-in-law have a neighbor who once told me, in the event I saw someone carrying his tv set off down the driveway, he wanted me to shoot them dead where they stand. I told him I'd make a Citizen's Arrest if I thought it were necessary, but I am NOT the neighborhood sniper. That's about all I have to say about that.

mustanger98 on THR

Anonymous said...

Jimbo86 makes an interesting point. Legal and right are not always the same. There is the old saying, "All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." He may have real and very costly legal troubles, and it may still be that he did the right thing.
If he was an active LEO, who had gone outside to confront a pair of criminals, and had been threatened and used deadly force, would we think differently about his actions? Why?
Once the bovine effluent is in the oscillator, it had to say what you or I would do. Once he was outside and threatened, he had as much right to act as anyone. Still, I would like to think I would not have gone outside "just for property".
As far as this situation giving ammo to the gun banners, it doesn't matter. They have their agenda, and they cherry pick stories and data to fit their world view. They want all the guns, yours, mine, LawDog's, big, small, hunting, self defense, automatics, pumps, single shot, black powder. None of us will live long enough to see America free of the pressure to ban private ownership of firearms.

Will said...

Here's an example of an extended wait for 911 response:
Friend finds drunken boyfriend of landlord at the door, who at some point voices threat to get his shotgun and shoot him. Proceeds to open trunk and root around in it. Friend dials 911. Eventually, the woman succeeded in dragging the drunk into the car and drove off.
TWENTY minutes after the call, 4 units with officers show up. The cop shop was about 8-10 minute WALKING distance away. (BTW, this was in the heart of Silicon Valley)
Fortunately for the drunk, he never brought a weapon into view. My friend had his mod 625 handy, but out of sight.

5150Wife said...

Well, throw me under the staircase. This is the first I've heard of this incident.

I don't pretend to know Texas law. But it seems to me that at face value, the use of deadly force would be justified. IF Mr. Horn was correct in his statement that the men were on his property when he shot them...and IF the article is correct that the men were both shot within 15 feet of Mr. Horn...sounds to me like he had reason to fear for his life.

Regardless of whether the rest of us think he should have or not, I can't imagine there's a law out there that says a man doesn't have a right to step outside on his own property. IMO, his going outside is NOT what caused the threat and he had every right to do so regardless of what was out there or what his reasoning was.

Now, perhaps in the great state of TX it's not lawful for him to carry a loaded shotgun outside. Such a law is certainly understandable. But I wonder if perhaps it becomes legal when carrying said shotgun is in defense of his life or property in what he perceives is an inevitable threat? After all, before going outside, he did state to the dispatcher that one of the men was outside, looking at his home, right? Perhaps that gave him cause to think he or his home would be the next target?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I get the feeling from many of the comments that guilt/blame lies on Mr. Horn because he chose to go outside his home. I tend to look at it more from the vantage point of what was happening at the EXACT MOMENT lethal force was used -- which appears to me to be that the 2 dirtbags were approaching him on his own property.

Deputy Polarbear said...

One thing to consider about doing a "citizens arrest aka private persons arrest" is this:

You can (and will) be held both criminaly and civily liable for such arrests. That is why as a LEO, I tell my non-LEO friends and family members to NEVER do it. You will be only liable on the criminal side if it is a flat out bad arrest, but you are leaving yourself WIDE open for civil lawsuits.

If the DA refuses to file the case, you just opened yourself up to a major lawsuit; and (at least where I worked patrol) the DA would refuse to file about 95% of private persons arrests, because they were usually a case of 'he said; she said'. They would only file if there were non-involved; non-biased witnesses to the act. In the case of a felony; you cant make a private persons arrest anyway...you detain the goblin for the cops, and THEY arrest him for whatever it was he was doing. That helps keep you protected on the civil side.

Even if Mr. Horn is not held criminally liable for this incident, he will most likely lose EVERYTHING that he owns; either to the families of the knuckleheads that he blew up, or to the lawyers that he is going to have to hire to defend him. As an earlier post said "each round has a $50,000 price tag" on it.

LEO's are usually sheltered by the county/city/state that they work for; I have been sued numerous times over my 19 year career, and have not had to pay for my own defense, or for a settlement when the county decided to roll over and play dead instead of fighting the lawsuit. You, as private citizens, dont have that shelter. It's sad, and wrong. It's also the cold, honest truth

Rick R. said...

5150wife and others,

The problem with the shoot isn't that Mr. Horn went outside and blew away a couple of goblins who were (apparantly) approaching him in a manner that caused him to (allegedly) reasonably fear for his life and well being.

I'll give him the break with a smile -- at the EXACT INSTANT he pulled the trigger, he was in a lethal force incident.

That's not the issue, unfortunately.

He PROVOKED the assault, after having clearly announced that he was planning on killing those guys -- even after being warned that police were en route, and he should stay inside his house.

He had two choices, each mutaully exclusive --

1. Stay indoors and report, as requested by 911. Stand ready to repel boarders as needed.

2. Go outside and kill these two guys for stealing.

Not "confront", not "arrest". . . KILL.

Mr. Horn announced his decision to shoot both of those guys dead for stealing -- and he did his best.

To illustrate, let's turn the situation around a hair.

Mr. Horn is on the phone with 911, reporting the break in. He has his shotgun beside him when he and the 911 operator hear (somehow) one goblin say to the other one,

"I'm gonna go over next door and shoot that nosy old man."

Would Mr. Horn have been justified in shooting the bad guy the INSTANT he headed towards Mr. Horn's house?

I'm not a Texas criminal attorney, but I can assure you that as a jury member I would not indite or convict (depending), if (under those circumstances), Mr. Horn had dropped the guy as soon as he left the other house (regardless of direction he walked or looked) AND his buddy if the other guy did anything but immediately prone out.