Monday, February 22, 2016

Don't aim a firearm at law enforcement personnel

This story is sad on so many levels.

A police constable in Pennsylvania, in full uniform, served an eviction notice on an apartment. This was not the first notice served, and the occupants allegedly were fully aware of their status as “about to be evicted.”

Answering the constable's knock, the male occupant opened the door, shut it, then opened it again and aimed a loaded rifle at the constable.

The constable fired a shot at the man. The bullet shattered his arm on its way through, and lodged in the body of the man's 12yo daughter, standing behind him, who was home from school because she was sick. She died.

We can all do Monday-morning-quarterbacking, saying the constable should have “stood down” or basically done anything other than shoot back, but that may not have ended well either. He was standing at an open door, staring into the business end of a loaded rifle. Turning away may have cost him his own life.

"The father put the constable in a situation where he had to make a decision to use deadly force," the trooper said. "And he did.”

"He was put in a position from which he couldn't retreat safely," another constable said of the shooting, calling it "every constable's worst nightmare." "He had no other option, really, than what he did."

The constable is heartbroken.

Investigators recovered the rifle the man had been carrying and found it with "a loaded chamber and a magazine containing 30 rounds."

The man now faces charges including homicide, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, and a firearms charge, because under state law he was not allowed to have a gun because of past mental issues.

I practice eviction law. I have a client who had had occupants of its buildings shoot at the sheriff officers who come to evict them. Fortunately, this is not common. But it does happen.

Don't aim a firearm at law enforcement personnel. It never ends well.


  1. When I was in middle school we would come home and shoot cans off a log. My uncle handed me a 12 gauge when I was 7 and in the midst of six adults and several cousins I shot my first gun. Everyone laughed when I went flat on my back from the recoil. The gun thing in the US is the scariest part of the culture and one of the reasons I am happy to raise my child in a country where it is not legal.

    1. I can certainly understand that. Many people here don't take gun ownership as seriously as they should. And I didn't know that about France. Thanks.

  2. We had a similar situation just happen in Alaska. In this case it was a woman, and she (allegedly) actually fired. All the facts aren't in yet, but it is heartbreaking for the police officer(s) involved. it comes down to exactly what you said. Don't aim a gun at law enforcement.

    1. Very sad for everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Aiming a firearm at law enforcement is self-destructive and guarantees a tragedy. Usually in movies, when someone wants to commit an "heroic" suicide, that's what they do. Sometimes believing what we see in movies is not a bad idea…

    1. Yes, it guarantees a tragedy, usually for EVERYONE involved. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.