Ever since we discussed the famous case of Ladon Jones
, who was exonerated in the shooting death of someone in the act of stealing his SUV, I've been intrigued by the image of a man with a handgun shooting in self defense at an attacking vehicle. I don't know about anyone else, but I find it a bit incredible. Nevertheless, there are two cases in the news today.The Los Angeles Times reports
on the acquittal of an off duty policeman who shot at such a vehicle wounding the driver and her 8-year-old boy.
The Houston Chronicle reports
Officer Frank White, 29, was charged in a March 2008 "road rage" incident that occurred while White and his wife were shopping in Oceanside.
Another driver, Rachel Silva, 29, allegedly followed White and rammed her car into his in a parking lot. White identified himself as a police officer and fired five bullets into her car, striking Silva in the arm and her son in the leg, according to court papers and White's testimony.
on one that took place in El Paso in which the offending driver was killed.
El Paso police have identified a 12-year veteran with the department as the officer who shot and killed a motorist accused of trying to hit a police officer and a group of pedestrians with his car.
Police said Sgt. Louis C. Johnson shot 31-year-old Ruben Troncoso on Friday night after Troncoso fled from a traffic stop after allegedly trying to run down an officer and then steering his car toward a group of pedestrians.
Troncoso died after being shot and running his car into a light pole. No one else was injured.
Please don't get me wrong. I'm all for a righteous shooting, but I can't quite shake the feeling that shooting a handgun at an out-of-control automobile is the stuff of Hollywood movies, not real life. This is the kind of thing Bruce Willis does convincingly, not real-live cops and homeowners protecting their property.
I still have serious reservations about old Ladon, and the two cop shootings don't really work for me either. The first one sounds a bit excessive and the second, completely implausible.
What's your opinion? Does the idea of Officer Frank White shooting at Rachel Silva and discovering later that her kid was in the line of fire, bother you? It bothers me. Does the fact that Officer Louis Johnson killed only Ruben Troncoso and no one else comfort you? It doesn't comfort me. In fact, I put this one in the same category with Ladon.
Does it sound plausible to you that Troncoso's car was first "trying to run down an officer"
and then was aiming "toward a group of pedestrians,"
and that the officer was able to shoot and kill the driver in time to prevent the tragedy?
To me it sounds exactly like what I suspect happens in a questionable DGU. The shooter, whether it be Ladon Jones or Officer Johnson, describes the sequence of events in such a way as to excuse the incident as justified. Sometimes that sequence of events is transparently implausible. And what happens next is the other cops and the prosecutors and the judges decide to accept that version all for their own reasons.
What's your opinion? Were these justified shootings? Do you think unjustified shootings are sometimes passed off in the way I've described?
Please leave a comment.