Outrageous Police Murder

  • This is outrageous. A young man murdered in Overland Park.

    I have always been very pro law enforcement. I have seen and heard about multiple officer involved shootings. In nearly every case, the rational is solid.

    But this is too much. This call was related to a mental health issue. No crime had been committed. A third party had called the police on a suicide threat. He had not threatened any third parties.

    There are two views that are on the link. The second one shows an officer purposefully put himself behind the vehicle that is slowly backing out. And then, inexplicably, he fires into the vehicle.

    Clearly, the kid was struck as the vehicle spins around, and officers unload more bullets into the van.

    This makes me sick. Absolutely sick.

    Saying this is justified undermines all sense of justice and rationality. I cannot even fathom it.

    The DA said, Steve Howe, said "“None of us can be in the mind of the officer at that time,” Howe said. “He felt he was in danger and he took reasonable action.”

    We are to judge. A jury should judge. And to suggest firing into a vehicle when NO ONE WAS THREATENED, is outrageous.


  • I don’t like getting into these debates, I would say this instance is border line IMO. He’s why, the police yelled his name repeatedly to stop, he didn’t comply. Now some will say he was of no harm in a drive way which I agree to extent but he appears to be leaving which could put several other civilians at risk. I think the shooting was a little over board but you can hear an officer shaken and saying I thought he was gonna run over me. These situations happen so fast and it’s a simple equation to me if you make the officers feel threatened in any way, they won’t take chances on their life and I don’t blame them. Nonetheless it’s a sad situation for all parties involved.

  • Police were called in that situation to help de-escalate the situation. Instead, shots were fired and the kid ends up being killed. So just from the perspective of was the goal (de-escalation) accomplished, the mission was a failure. The hope is that the officers can create a situation to calm the kid down and get him the help he needed, otherwise they might as well have not responded at all. It’s a true tragedy.

    But this video and @HighEliteMajor point to something very significant - the officer created the dangerous situation for himself by potentially moving into the path of a moving vehicle. The vehicle did not speed up until shots were fired, meaning its likely he sped up after he was hit and killed. The officer was actually put in more danger because the young man lost control of the vehicle after he was shot and nearly spun into the officer, then nearly hit another patrol vehicle and another officer as the vehicle continued to roll (similar to what happened in the Samuel Dubose shooting, where the officer said he continued to fire because he thought he would be dragged after Mr. Dubose was shot and his body weight slumped onto the gas until he crashed down the street).

    Nevermind that these shots were fired in a residential neighborhood - every police manual instructs officers to consider the danger presented to other individuals prior to discharging their firearm. Shooting into a vehicle could have been even more tragic had one of those shots missed and went into one of the houses nearby.

    The officer created a danger to himself, then, in an attempt to get out of that danger, created a danger to anyone else on the street at the time, as well as everyone in the nearby houses. As I said on the thread a while back - these types of shootings should not be investigated by the local DA that works with the department all the time. They should be investigated by a neutral third party, either the state AG or another DA’s office that has no professional ties to that jurisdiction to ensure neutrality. Or even better, they should be independently investigated by an entity with no ties to law enforcement.

    DA Steve Howe has a professional relationship with the police that he needs to maintain. They testify for the prosecution regularly. He needs the support of the department. Its very difficult for him to be neutral on something like that.

  • @HighEliteMajor Those mental health calls are all too often fraught with confusing or incomplete information. Cops go into those situstions not knowing what to expect, probably expecting danger far more than we would think. There are always fake calls, calls where a domestic violence situation has not been reported by a caller, etc. I would hate to be a cop, especially since they get less training in these scenarios than they should.

    That said, some cops make situations worse by being needlessly confrontational. As here, apparently, where, per your description, the cop was only threatened as a result of his own foolishness. One can imagine legitimate reasons for trying to block the car–the most legitimate being a visible weapon ready to possibly harm other people if he was allowed to leave. Other possibilities include being under the influence so that just letting him drive posed a threat, voiced threats to the cops or family members, and the like.

    The least legitimate case for killing him would be the “I dare you to back this car up” scenario you described. We had one happen here last year, where a teenager in a drug deal got killed by would-be arresting cops who “felt threatened” even though, IIRC, the car was backing away from the cops at the time.

    Families have all too often called 911 when a mentally ill person is acting aberrantly, not realizing a police response, not a medical one, is usually the first to arrive, and they arrive with a gun as their primary tool to protect themselves and others. The ill person, who has already reached a level of behavior concerning enough to warrant a call, immediately becomes a suspect, and a violent resolution too often becomes inevitable.

    Budget cutbacks have gutted public safety agencies’ ability to staff and train adequately to prepare for and respond to these confrontations. Medical privacy laws can prevent families from obtaining information they themselves need to handle their sibling, or parent, or child. And getting a family member treatment, especially for people with minimal insurance, can be a nightmare.

    Then there are the “suicide by cop” events, where someone tries to force the police to shoot.

    It is all so frustrating and heartbreaking. I hope that more info will come out about this to make it seem less infuriating, but I don’t expect from your discussion that it is likely to.

    Edit: Because of my limited Internet access where I am today, I could not access the video, so my response is based on the HEM explanation of what happened. That is why I discussed various possibilities.

  • justanotherfan said:

    DA Steve Howe has a professional relationship with the police that he needs to maintain. They testify for the prosecution regularly. He needs the support of the department. Its very difficult for him to be neutral on something like that.

    Disgusting but understandable.

  • @BShark

    Unfortunately, no one wants to talk about any actual reforms on this. The BLM movement tried to start the conversation, but there has been a lot of push back. Colin Kaepernick tried to raise awareness. People had a fit about that. People said that the method and the message weren’t right. That may be true, but that hasn’t changed police practices, and that means people are still dying. Sometimes it’s Michael Brown, and as a society we can shrug that off because he had done something bad just a few minutes before (although the officer was unaware of that when he encountered him). But sometimes, its a suicidal kid in the suburbs that is in some mental distress. When can we have the conversation about some actual reforms, both to policing, and to the way we investigate use of force?

    I don’t know how much people have been following the news, but here in Kansas (assuming most of us live in Kansas) the police don’t actually have to ever release the body camera and dash camera footage to the public. A new law working its way through the legislature to require police departments to release that footage to family in a timely manner (currently, that is not required by law).

    Policing is a difficult job. However, many departments do not regularly drug test their officers - testing is only done at the start of employment, and then after a use of force. Officers are not required to undergo regular psychological evaluations to screen for things like alcohol abuse and depression. While some argue that this level of scrutiny would be unfair, that would actually help police officers, as the rates of alcoholism (as high as one quarter to one third of officers, far and away higher than the population at large), depression (as much as 4 times higher than population at large) and suicide (50% higher than the general population in some studies - the FOP insists the rate is lower, but have omitted some deaths that are still under investigation) among police are much higher than the population at large. Similar to military, we build these individuals up as heroes, but we fail as a society to provide the resources necessary to ensure their good health, particularly when it comes to mental health.

    If Bill Self said that he was exempt from criticism because he “made that decision based on what he knew in the moment” or if a player excused a turnover by saying “the game happens fast” or it was a “split second decision” we would be appalled. This is just basketball that we discuss on this board each day. It enhances the discussion to scrutinize and criticize. I am sure that behind the scenes, Coach Self, the staff and players do the same. And again, this is just basketball. By refusing to engage in scrutiny of police behavior (much as we do here on this board with our favorite college basketball team) the opportunity for improved practices is lost.

    Part of the accountability of officers is to see a situation like this and re-examine the training that the officer received. Why did he put himself at risk by running immediately towards the vehicle rather than attempting to block the vehicle in the driveway with his car? Even if the finding is that the officer did not do anything illegal, that doesn’t mean he could not have done things better. Asking why isn’t an indictment. It’s an opportunity for growth. Why didn’t the officer approach more cautiously? Did the officer know for certain who was in the vehicle as he was approaching? Did the officer evaluate if there were other civilians around or in the houses before he discharged his weapon?

    We expect that Devonte Graham will evaluate the entire floor on a fast break and make the right decision. Shouldn’t we expect an even greater level of evaluation and decision making when we entrust someone with a badge and a gun?

  • @justanotherfan Nice post, but I feel I need to respond to your last paragraph. We as fans are fully capable of evaulating how DG makes a decision, but the consequences are pretty insignificant regardless of what he does because he is only playing a game. One fan’s view is pretty much as good as any other’s, but the total of the entire fanbase response to any DG decision will not have much impact (ignoring fans braying for a coach to be fired).

    The consequences of what a policeman decides are far more severe, literally life and death. That itself means that those decisions must be reviewed, as you suggest, by independent authorities.

    I just want those authorities to be knowledgeable and expert in all aspects of proper law enforcement AND mental health responsiveness, not just gauging how to cowtow to politically influential officeholders or to the emotional sentiments of an outraged citizenry. I shudder about the number of times I have heard outcry by concerned citizens who, decrying the shooting of someone who was unarguably threatening someone with a weapon, insisted that the cop should have aimed to wound. While that attitude prevails, police will not willingly submit to extensive outside scrutiny.

  • @mayjay

    What makes someone an expert? The police argue that only if you have had their training can you be an expert. But what if the problem is the training? What if instead of training the officer to de-escalate, the training encourages that sort of engagement? I’m not arguing that the officer went there specifically to shoot that young man. Far from it. But just saying that you have to have that training to make the right decision only ensures that you are trained to make the same decisions, not the right ones. I’m not saying the officer was wrong, but part of independent evaluation is seeing things from outside the lens in which the person that took the action would view them.

    So let’s look at the video and break it down. As the garage door opens (seen from the view facing west at the 1:39 mark of the embedded video in the article) the officer walks into the driveway. The vehicle is not moving at that moment. I remember when I was younger that my parents told me to never walk or stand in the driveway if the garage door was opening, just in case someone pulled out quickly without looking. Did the officer account for that possibility, that the young man might just be upset and not paying attention as he pulled out of the driveway? Could that have been avoided if the officer simply steps out of the driveway until he can get the young man’s attention? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do think those questions should be asked, if for no other reason that to do things better in the future. We know the officers were aware that the young man was suicidal. Perhaps a more subtle approach would have been safer? Perhaps not. Again, these are questions that should be asked, not definitive answers.

    Did shooting expose others to danger? What happens if the officer shoots and the young man’s foot slams down on the gas, sending the vehicle speeding across the street and into the house across the way? Did the officer have a plan for how to stop the vehicle before it hit the house across the street in that event?

    In most police shootings, the person evaluates only the conduct at the time the shots were fired. As I said in my previous comment, the shooting is justified in the mind of the DA and the police force because the officer feared for his safety as the vehicle was backing towards him and decided the only way to protect himself in that moment was to fire his weapon into the vehicle.

    But my argument is that things could have been done better. Was there a way to approach that situation initially to put that officer in a situation where he didn’t feel that his life was threatened. I suggested above possibly attempting to block the vehicle in the driveway rather than standing in the driveway. Maybe that was not a good option. Maybe it was. But a full evaluation of the situation requires not only evaluating whether firing the shots was justified, but also determining if the officer may have made decisions that exposed himself (or others) to risk when there were better options available. We simply aren’t doing that today.

    Should the officer have waited for backup before engaging? As the article notes, many departments restrict firing into a moving vehicle because shooting (and killing) the driver could result in a driverless vehicle continuing down the road. @mayjay you are 100% correct that the consequences are much more severe than what we are talking about on this board on an every day basis. I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I think the scrutiny should be so much greater, as well. A young man is dead as a result of this. Even if the officers actions were justified, I’m looking at whether things could have been done better so next time there’s a conversation instead of a funeral.

  • @justanotherfan Exactly right. Fearing for one’s safety does not justify murder by a person who is hired and trained to handle just those situations. A complete idiot could just point and fire. A trained officer should be required to think like you or I would think, even without training.

    What is so ridiculous here is that he shot the kid, THEN he stepped out of the way of the vehicle. Right? How hard is this? The kid is on his own property, backing out of his driveway, and the officer who can easily just step out of the way, shoots him and THEN steps out of the way. After shooting him, the vehicle spins, obviously because he killed the kid, and the officers weight until it is in a benign position, and then unload more shots.

    This is murder. Period.

    As an aside, why aren’t we blaming the gun?

  • @HighEliteMajor

    I am not going to take sides other than to say that calling it murder is a huge stretch as it implies premeditation that I don’t believe was present in this case. Perhaps involuntary manslaughter, but…Outrageous Police Murder? I think not.

    As I understand there were two mediators that were on the way and the police office in question was on its way to notify the family when the situation developed rather quickly. There is no evidence to date that the first couple of bullets killed him and that the reverse U-turn happened by happenstance after he was dead. One could convincingly argue that it was on purpose and the second salvo is what actually put an end to the event. We really do not know what happened with any degree of certainty and we don’t know either how threatened the officer felt. The DA attorney obviously believes the officer acted properly. Officers involved in what is referred as “suicide by cop” often suffer from PTSD for a long time afterwards through no fault of their own…

    I know several police officer including one that not too long ago quit her position with the Blue Springs Police Department. The stress of the job is overwhelming and the last thing police officers want to do is discharge their weapons; it is a very traumatic situation particularly when someone is injured or killed. I know TV shows tend to romanticize the job but in real life it is nothing like it.

    You should request to do a ride along with your local police Department on a weekend night and you will get a new appreciation for what police officers have to put up. I have said many time before that the last job I would want to have is that of Police Officer.

  • @HighEliteMajor In many places police officers do not carry weapons. It could very easily be argued that the unwarranted use of force you see is purely because the officer has that choice. Remove the gun, remove the death of the kid. Without a weapon, the officer would be forced to think primarily about deescalation but since he has a gun, he knows he has the most power in the situation meaning if things escalate, he would likely survive. To be clear, my brother is a police officer and I fear for his life every time I think about him going to work at 8:00 in the evening. But he chose a dangerous job because he wants to help people and be a positive force in the world. Does that means he should die, or have no means of protecting himself? I don’t think so. But I’d rather he had more training on interacting with trauma victims than driving fast and jumping through windows.

    I would argue we need to review the entire “if someone fears for their life they have the right to kill another person” law we currently adhere to. I get that it’s the law and so in many of these cases, charges cannot be brought. Be we intentionally have a system to change laws to best benefit the society. When we consider the massive increase in guns being carried on a regular basis by citizens currently being presented as the solution to crime and violence, the potential for more and more of these situations is going to increase dramatically. It will ALWAYS be IMPOSSIBLE to judge the fear of another person. So trying to determine if someone feared for his/her life before they killed someone is an impossible task and will always be at best a guess. We’ve seen this legal defense play out for both citizens and officers of all colors and creeds and someone is left mourning the loss of a loved one while nothing changes.

    However, even a change in the law won’t PREVENT such incidents because punishment does not change behavior and is only ever a reaction. In order to prevent tragedies like these the proactive solution is always training, training, training. It takes time, commitment to change, an open mind, and money. I see very little of any of those things in current agents and policies involved.

  • @benshawks08 For the rest of us, if we shoot an unarmed person, it is usually brought up in the context of a defense after charges are brought. And most laws (excluding stand your ground laws that are getting interpreted or extended more broadly) require that the defense be based not only on an actual fear but that the fear be reasonable and that the amount of force used is justified.

    The standards for cops are different because they are usually responding to some type of threatening situation. More importantly, the investigations start from a presumption of “good shoot” and the overwhelming majority don’t get explored by 12 jurors weighing all the evidence.

  • @mayjay Thanks for the distinction. I was a little careless with my use of the word defense. It’s used as a legal defense for citizens and PR defense for cops. I also live in a stand your ground state so that influences my thinking heavily. I just wish people could engage in nuanced discussion on these issues (which does seem to be happening here).

    Guns are a problem, the solution will not and cannot be easy.

    Use of force by police is a problem, the solution will not and cannot be easy.

    Access to mental health care is a problem, the solution will not and cannot be easy.

    It’s absolutely horrific how often we see these three problems come together with tragic outcomes and result in things pretty much staying the same.

  • @benshawks08 Very succinctly and eloquently put.

  • @justanotherfan @benshawks08 @mayjay @JayHawkFanToo – all good points.

    @JayHawkFanToo First, I waited to reply because it was more fun to be focused on KU BB for a bit.

    I certainly do understand and appreciate the job police have. I do. And I think it is also a mistake to use that as the fall back argument, the “but we just don’t understand” thing.

    Next, I’m not really that concerned in a situation like this as to what was going on in the police officer’s mind. We see the video. He acted irrationally. He fired when he did not need to. He fired when no rational person would have fired. The best evidence is how he, with ease, stepped out of the way of the vehicle after he fired. There was no self-defense.

    So, if I have a dispute with my neighbor, and he and I have argued. He goes into his house and I am standing on the side of his driveway. His garage door goes up, I step in the path of his vehicle and he begins to back out. I then yell “Stop”, “Stop” … and he doesn’t. I then pull my gun and shoot him. I then fire multiple times after the initial shots. Right. This is murder. Outrageous.

    But here is the point of my response. You are assuming murder requires premeditation. It does not. Second degree murder seems to fit the bill here.

    21-5403. Murder in the second degree. (a) Murder in the second degree is the killing of a human being committed:

    (1) Intentionally; or

    (2) unintentionally but recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.

  • @JayHawkFanToo

    I would also observe that police are only charged in extremely rare circumstances, and are convicted far less frequently than society at large. Even when police are dismissed from the department for improper behavior (whether criminally charged or not), that dismissal generally cannot be brought up if/when they apply for another job.

    There was a study back in the 1990’s of the largest police departments in the U.S. (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, maybe one or two others). In that study, they discovered that most officers (over 60% if I remember correctly) had no disciplinary complaints. That’s excellent. Even more impressive, of the remaining 40%, most of those officers had fewer than three public or disciplinary complaints. The majority of the complaints focused on a very small minority of officers (often 15% or less of the overall department).

    Basically, the lion’s share of complaints boiled down to a few “bad apples” within the department. However, when proposing reforms such as training or removal of these officers, the departments themselves blocked many of those proposals. One of my largest critiques of police departments is that they do not want to be held accountable by the public they are sworn to protect and serve.

    @benshawks08 and @mayjay make the excellent point that the police are given a much larger amount of latitude, as an officer stating that they “feared for their life” is enough to make that fear rational, while if a regular citizen made that same statement, it would be judged against whether or not that fear was rationally based. It has gotten to the point that police officers are trained to say that they were in fear for their life in any situation where they discharge their weapon. Those five words (“I feared for my life”) remove liability from both the officer and the department. We simply don’t question whether that fear was rational or reasonable.

    Remember the Philando Castile killing by Jeronimo Yanez in Minnesota? Castile had a conceal carry permit. In conceal carry trainings, they tell you that if you are stopped by the police, you should inform the police that you are permitted to carry. That was something that law enforcement requested so that officers would be aware of the presence of a weapon. Castile did that. Yanez panicked and shot him with his girlfriend in the passengers seat, and his four year old daughter in the back seat. Almost immediately after Castile informs Yanez that he has a gun, Yanez pulls out his own gun and kills Castile. Yanez was acquitted because jurors determined he acted “as any other officer would have.”

    That’s the problem with that standard. It assumes that officers have the right to shoot in any circumstance, regardless of the reasonableness of the perceived threat. In the aftermath, in addition to saying that he thought Castile was going for his gun, Yanez further slandered the man he killed by saying that he thought he was an armed robbery suspect and that he smelled marijuana from the vehicle (the other officers on the scene did not mention a marijuana scent).

    Is that truly how we want our police officers to operate? To accuse the victim of looking like a criminal after being shot? To claim they smelled drugs, or saw drugs? To plant evidence and falsify reports? All of these things have happened in the aftermath of recent police shootings, and the only reason we know about this behavior is because the reports did not match the video.

    As I stated at the beginning, most officers are not the issue. Most officers go about their business and never do anything to even merit a complaint. But that small group of bad apples is allowed to hide within the department, protected by the good, professional and courteous officers that surround them. That should not be.

    Now, I am not saying the officer involved here is a bad officer. I honestly don’t know. But it should be investigated. He shouldn’t get a pass simply because other officers are good officers.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    Like I said, we do not have all the facts and I am not taking one side or the other because, in my opinion, we do not have enough information to conclusively and beyond any reasonable doubt, which is the criteria for a criminal conviction, determine one way or another.

    Perhaps this definition fits the incident better:

    Involuntary Manslaughter

    Involuntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another human being without intent. The absence of the intent element is the essential difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Also in most states, involuntary manslaughter does not result from a heat of passion but from an improper use of reasonable care or skill while in the commission of a lawful act or while in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony.


    My post was in relation to this incident and this incident only and you have widened it to include larger societal and politically/ideologically charged issues and I choose not to engage in a political discussion in this forum. I probably posted too much in the NCAA/FBI thread but at least it was sports/KU related; this discussion is not.

  • @justanotherfan “Is that truly how we want our police officers to operate? To accuse the victim of looking like a criminal after being shot? To claim they smelled drugs, or saw drugs? To plant evidence and falsify reports?”

    Replace “police officers” with “basketball coach” and suddenly we are talking about Dave Bliss. He at least got fired and a 10 year show-cause; most police get zilch.

    I am actually very conflicted after watching the video. It is not as simple as a cop going to stand behind a stationary vehicle and then not moving and shooting instead. This all happened in just a few seconds. I think the cop was startled when the car started coming out, and when the car did a 180 it was accelerating up the hill toward him. I think he probably had a genuine fear for his life.

    On the other hand, he did not look for a solution other than shooting. There is still a cop mentality of shooting to solve virtually any problem. That may be appropriate when entering a scene with a known violent offender but not when you are sent to help someone in distress.

    This case seems similar to “Well, when I tried to talk him off the ledge, he reached into his pocket so I shot him.”

    As I said, I think he feared for his life but he should have been able to avoid that danger. As to a criminal intent, the standard in second degree is either criminal intent or recklessness equivalent to an intent. Here, not the first. As to the second, they appear to have been viewing the act of shooting (no mens rea if he feared for his life when he pulled the trigger) but not all the circumstances of whether he should have been in such great fear. (Edit: JHF2 has good points on manslaughter posted while I drafted this.)

    Put another way, shooting was the most drastic solution to his perceived danger. But it was probably one of several available to him. He chose to treat the suicidal kid the same as he would have responded to a violent criminal suspect. That is where he was tragically wrong.

    Prosecutors tend to give police the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, we should be grateful for that because we want cops who act in good faith to feel trusted by those of us who rely on them. Too often, bad cops get protections they don’t deserve when the investigation looks to clear a shooting rather than find out what went wrong.

    And that is the danger of not pressing any charges or saying “good shoot” when we know it wasn’t–other cops will have no incentive to not escalate their responses in these largely avoidable situations.

    When I was a JAGC attorney in the Army, a grizzled old infantry E-8 (master sergeant) came to speak to our group of freshly minted attorneys to explain something about life in the non-desk army. He was a 38 year veteran, having served in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. He said that the rules of waging war had gotten so complicated thanks to all the treaties and the Code of Military Justice that he was glad he was retiring because if he had to go to war again, he was going to drag a JAG atty with him where ever he went in combat.

    We don’t want cops to be frozen by fear that anything they do will be immediately under suspicion, but we certainly don’t want them to think that every problem should be distilled to shoot/don’t shoot without review.

    Again, I am glad I am not a cop. I have had close friends who were. How they stayed sane? no clue.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I don’t doubt that it could fit under manslaughter. You said it was not “murder”, referencing premeditation. Just demonstrating that you don’t need premeditation for “murder.” And further, what occurred, clearly fits as chargeable under the second degree murder definition.

    And you can always say that we don’t know all the facts.

    Here’s a fact that would change my mind – the officers learned that the young man had a gun and was intent on leaving and shooting at the police or others.

    The poor kid was just backing out of his own garage, and had not even left his own property.

    Somehow, I think any of these mitigating “facts” would have been at least alluded to. I’m quite sure this officer and the police department will have to answer for this in a civil lawsuit.

    I had a car backing out toward me at the grocery store last week. I was tempted to fire into the vehicle because I was scared. But I thought better of it and moved out of the way.

    But I’m also interested and believe that a federal prosecutor could be consider criminal charges. This officer needs to be in prison. He’s a coward.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    It is possible that the family could prevail in a civil suit since the level of proof is considerably lower.

    I seriously doubt the Feds or even the State would want to be involved in what appears to be a local issue with no federal or state only laws broken or a hate crime involved.

  • JayHawkFanToo said:

    Perhaps this definition fits the incident better:

    Involuntary Manslaughter

    Involuntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another human being without intent. The absence of the intent element is the essential difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Also in most states, involuntary manslaughter does not result from a heat of passion but from an improper use of reasonable care or skill while in the commission of a lawful act or while in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony.

    I guess I’m confused. Isn’t shooting a gun at someone "intent to kill’? Maybe if someone argued the officer was trying to shoot him in the arm or leg in order to stop the vehicle or even fire warning shots to get the driver’s attention. However, everything I know about police training (which isn’t a whole lot, but isn’t nothing) says officers aim center mass when shooting a person as this is the best way to make sure you hit the person and bring them down. It’s just not realistic to expect someone to be precise enough in most situations (especially involving a moving vehicle) to aim to injure rather than kill.

    To me if you are shooting someone center mass (or even at the head considering the driver would be sitting and that would be about the same level) that is intent to kill.

    This is not meant to be argumentative about the situation but instead about the specifics of the law. I genuinely do not understand how this situation could be Involuntary Manslaughter.

  • @benshawks08 Good thoughts. Your logic is right on, but voluntary manslaughter is a scenario where, as an example, you walk in and your wife is in bed with another guy … you shoot him. It is a killing in the “heat of passion”. That would be part of the evidence. But another portion is related to making a bad decision on the use of deadly force. That would be a fit here (along with 2nd degree murder). The officer (or person seeking manslaughter) would probably have to testify to get a manslaughter conviction. To explain it.

    Involuntary manslaughter could be a no-go as there would be no evidence that he didn’t “shoot to kill.” In fact, I would anticipate a police expert who would say their protocol is to shoot to kill.

    I should have specified my reference generically to “manslaughter.”

    Here is VOLUNTARY manslaughter, which seems to fit better than involuntary, under section (2) -

    21-5404. Voluntary manslaughter. (a) Voluntary manslaughter is knowingly killing a human being committed:

    (1) Upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion; or

    (2) upon an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified use of deadly force under K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 21-5222, 21-5223 or 21-5225, and amendments thereto.

    But juries can pick manslaughter (voluntary or involuntary) based on any reason they want if the instruction is given (the judge determines if it’s instructed as an option). Imagine you, me, and @JayHawkFanToo in the jury room. We’d probably agree to compromise with @JayHawkFanToo so he’d at least get convicted of something.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    You are assuming that I would automatically be in favor of the lower penalty which is not at all correct.

    I would like to think that I would be a fair and conscientious juror that would look at all the facts and evidence presented and then make a decision, not before.

    …or it could go like this during jury selection…

    Prosecutor: Do you think you can be objective and render a fair verdict?

    Me: Absolutely. I do believe in the system of justice and that everybody is presumed innocent until found guilty; however, if the prosecutors feel that he is guilty and are charging him with a crime or crimes, I have to believe he is guilty as sin.

    Prosecutor: He is acceptably to us.

    Defense attorney: Say what? HE IS NOT acceptable to us and ask he be dismissed.

    Judge: Thank you Mr. JayHawkFanToo, you are dismissed.

    And on that note, leaving the jury room and this thread.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Not assuming anything, just giving an example. But that is certainly a way to get out of jury duty.

    Here, there is no evidence so far to suggest this is anything except murder in my world.

    Do you think it is murder from what you’ve seen and from what we know now – just what we have now? Not the endless spectrum of possibilities, but from what we do know?

  • @benshawks08 The intent element necessary for muder is a criminal intent. Acting intentionally is what you are talking about.

    Involuntary manslaughter basically means there was no intent to cause the resulting death. But these things all vary by state.

    Here is an example: You drive too fast down the street, and lose control of your car.

    Several scenarios, from least culpable to most:

    1. Your car had been tampered with since you had performed a comprehensive check on it just yesterday, you had no knowledge of and could not see the tampering, and you could not physically contol the car. No voluntary act + no negligence = no criminal liability.

    2. You lost control of your car because you hit the gas pedal thinking it was the brake, and it killed someobody before you could control it, or you failed to inspect your car or never got around to fixing the relocated brake pedal so it is reasonably foreseeable that your foot will hit the gas. voluntary act + no criminal intent + negigence = depending on the jurisdiction either negligent homicide (the lowest level of homicide) or vehicular homicide

    3. You were driving 120 mph testing your car’s acceleration in an abandoned area you didn’t expect anyone to be, and suddenly the victim stepped out from around a corner right as you went by. recklessness + voluntary act + involuntary result = involuntary manslaughter

    4. You were driving your car, mad at the world because KU was going to wear red last night, and you are late to the game, so you are going 120 mph as you turn from 23rd onto Naismith Drive. You see a group of people who appear to be wearing cattle costumes. You decide to drive up on the sidewalk to scare them. Hitting the curb, you lose control and the car veers toward them, snagging a long horn and causing it to impale 3 others in shish-ka-bab fashion. intentional endangerment + not intended result = involuntary manslaughter (2nd degree murder in many places if coupled with DUI) or voluntary, if the jurisdiction allows an inference of intent to kill or culpable disregard of the consequences from the degree of gross negligence

    5. Change one fact: you intentionally hit the victims = 2nd degree murder or voluntary manslaughter

    6. Change it to intentionally driving 3 miles to a Longhorn alumni rally, where you intentionally ram the victims. premeditation + intent to kill = 1st degree murder

    7. At the Hawk, you get royally drunk because you see Squeaky wearing a “We won the Try Hard Conference title!” tee shirt. After 6 shots of Old Jayhawk, you pick up a Packer Plastics Jayhawk cup you still have from ones you collected at football games in 1976, and shove it into his mouth. You walk away, not caring if he dies. 200 witnesses are carefully watching and security cameras catch it all. He lives.

    = civil case against Squeaky for causing you distress

  • @mayjay And, tomorrow, there will be a final exam, 50 multiple choice questions, and that’s your entire grade.

  • @HighEliteMajor Heck, then you can practice law (and keep practicing until you get it right), sue anyone whenever you feel like it, and provide weighty answers on the Internet like real people!

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