Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reckless Use of a Firearm or a Legitimate DGU?

David Walker Jr., 29, center, was arrested Wednesday night on Des Moines' east side by police after he allegedly fired two shots into the air.

The Des Moines Register reports

A Des Moines man told police he fired a gun into the air to scare a group of juveniles who had attacked his fiancee.

When officers arrived, they found David Kevin Walker Jr., 29, standing in front of his house, unarmed. Police detained Walker without incident.

Walker told police his fiancee had walked outside their house and yelled across Dean Avenue for their neighbors to quiet down. A group of juveniles ran across the street and attacked the woman, Walker told officers.

They dragged her to a corner of the intersection of East 16th Street and Dean Avenue and began punching her in the face, Walker told officers. He said he grabbed his gun and ran toward the group, firing two shots into the air.

The juveniles stopped and ran away after he fired the shots, he said, and Walker put the gun away in his home.

Walker’s fiancee had a bloody nose and bruising and swelling to her face.

Walker was charged with reckless use of a firearm.

What do you think? 


  1. It was reckless to fire the shots into the air since those bullets have to come down somewhere. Chances are, they didn't hit anybody, but it's still a stupid move.

    Bad execution aside, it sounds like a situation where use of the gun, if done responsibly, would have been justified. Given the description--woman hollers at youths to pipe down, youths cross the street to attack her, and drag her away from her home to keep beating her up--I can see a legitimate argument of fear for her life which would have justified her fiance to shoot the youths in defense of a third party.

    Instead, to reduce the chances of accidentally hitting her, and to keep from having to kill the youths, the guy opted for warning shots--this was an example of the restraint you sometimes call for, Mike; attempting to resolve the life threatening situation without a loss of life. However, he should have fired them into the dirt to prevent danger to others.

    Unfortunately, in most jurisdictions, even if he fired into the ground, prosecutors have a habit of prosecuting people who fire warning shots for reckless endangerment, regardless of where or how they're fired. The argument is, "If you Really feared for the lady's life, you would have shot at the attackers."

  2. I agree that guy was in a tough situation. The only thing I can think of is to teach his woman to keep her big mouth shut. It seems entirely possible that she didn't ask the youths politely to lower the noise, which of course, wouldn't justify what they did, but she probably could have handled it better. Don't you think?

    1. Could she have handled it better? Maybe. Who knows. Diplomatic handling of a situation is always best, but I don't see how it would have made much of a difference here, and I can't see how anything she said would or should have changed the legal outcome.

      However, now we need to look at your comment that he should "Teach his woman to keep her big mouth shut." Seriously, Mike? If Greg or I said something like that, Dog Gone would probably write two or three posts on Penigma citing it as an example of just how misogynistic and patriarchal we are. After all, we're the ones with the "war on women." I mean...Da-yum! "HIS woman!" "Keep her big mouth shut!" It would be hard to fit anything more into that sentence to offend a feminist without trying!

      All teasing aside, why would you respond with a comment suggesting that the situation was, in part, the woman's fault for yelling at those damn kids to pipe down? Isn't that a person's prerogative in a free country or not?

      It's almost like it was an attempt to toss in a bone of contention where one didn't really need to be--something you always accuse us of doing.

    2. What do I think? I think blaming the victim is a pretty low move, Mike.

      That aside, I agree that he was in a tough spot. Firing into the air was not the right move at all. I agree with Tennessean that firing into the ground would have been a better move, but would probably have resulted in his arrest anyway. Pretty bad when shooting them would likely result in no charges while firing warning shots gets him arrested. Common Sense at its best.

    3. T., that was a half-joking way of making my point, which is this: I figured the woman did not politely ask them to quite down. In fact, it's quite possible that she used profanity and threatening language. Who knows what she might have said and what role she might have played in the escalating violence. Then, what a surprise, she was the victim.

      You know I'd hate to flesh it out too much.

  3. Given the circumstances, the prosecutor should let this one go, presuming that those rounds didn't hit anyone. But as always, you defend the thugs here, attack the good citizen, and even suggest that the woman shouldn't be so uppity--Tennessean already explained that one to you.

    By the way, can he offer an affirmative defense that he was just doing what the U.S. vice president told him to do?

    1. Joe Biden is not an affirmative defense. LOL

      Regarding letting him go, given the recklessness of what he did, I think a stiff fine would be in order, or a stripe or two if we brought back corporal punishments. (Wonder what kind of hornet's nest that suggestion will stir up.)

    2. Actually, I could see a judge giving the guy a break, depending on his history and the way he explains his motivations. What TS said struck me too about the story. The guys beating up his lady might not have known there was a gun present and what he did got their attention without hurting anyone.

      If there's any indication that he's a hot head, or has had violent incidents in the past, I'd give him the old "one strike you're out" treatment.

  4. His problem was that his gun wasn't a double barrel shotgun- then it would have been ok.

    In seriousness, warning shots are generally a bad idea, but a case where it could be used is where you are defending another person. The attacker(s) may not know there is a gun present and may not be responding to yelling especially in a chaotic mob attack. Also warning shots could be justified when defending against animal attacks. That said, put the bullet in the ground.