Self Defense — or Murder?

Pharmacist Who Shot Man Robbing Store Charged With Murder

OKLAHOMA CITY** — An Oklahoma City pharmacist who shot and killed a 16-year-old would-be robber was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder.**
Jerome Ersland, 57, was being held without bail in the Oklahoma County Jail…
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,522461,00.html

If the robber was already down and no longer a threat? The guy was wrong to go back and shoot the robber again and should be prosecuted.

I believe he had every right to defend himself. If that meant shooting the robber in the head, well too bad for the robber. BUT…to go back and shoot the guy several more times when he was helpless on the floor…that’s murder.

Absolutely.

Self-defense is one thing. Making oneself judge, jury and executioner is something else entirely.

From what I understand about this case, this guy went way too far. The robber did not pose a further threat. If I were on the jury, I would say murder.

From the article:

{Snip}

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said in an afternoon news conference that Ersland was justified in shooting Antwun Parker once in the head on May 19. But Prater said Ersland went too far when he shot Parker five more times in the abdomen while Parker lay unconscious on the floor.

{Snip}

At an afternoon news conference, Prater showed a security video in which two men burst into the pharmacy and one is shot.

Ersland is seen chasing the second man outside before returning, walking past Parker to get a second gun then going back to Parker and opening fire.

The charge alleges Ersland shot Parker while he was incapacitated and lying on his back. Ersland’s account of the incident doesn’t match the video or the evidence collected at the scene, according to an affidavit written by Oklahoma City Police Detective David Jacobson.

Jacobson said the suspect who ran away from the pharmacy was armed, but no gun was found near Parker.

“Ersland shows no concern for his safety as he walks by Parker, and turns his back to Parker as he walks behind the pharmacy counter,” Jacobson said. “Ersland is then seen to put the pistol he is carrying on the counter, and retrieve a second pistol from a drawer.”

Ersland used this pistol to shoot Parker on the ground, the detective said.

He said an autopsy determined that Parker had been shot in the head, but was still alive when he was shot in the stomach area and died from those injuries.

If that’s true, it’s a classic case of murder. It isn’t even “only” manslaughter. It’s both a horrible crime and a mortal sin. There is no excuse – none – for shooting an unconscious, unarmed man.

The first shot was self defense. Whether those following can be considered murder depends on whether the guy was really just unconscious, or already dead. If the guy was shot in the head, he was probably dead already. If he was already dead, the pharmacist should possibly be charged with something, but certainly not murder. I’m sure as more details come out about the first shot to the head, the conclusion will be quite clear.

According to the prosecutor:

He [the prosecutor] said an autopsy determined that Parker had been shot in the head, but was still alive when he was shot in the stomach area and died from those injuries.

So, unless he screwed up reporting the autopsy’s results, it was murder.

If the autopsy reveals the bullet to the kid was the killing shot, then would this not be dropped to a minor charge? Desecrating a body perhaps?

Would you expect the prosecutor to say something else? There’s a good reason why lawyers make great politicians - lying is their native language.

Of course, you could be right, but I’m personally reserving judgment until the facts are clearly known, and not just second hand from an interested party.

Should read “HEAD.”

EDIT: Nevermind, I missed the part about the autopsy. :blush:

Wow. Slander an entire profession, why don’t ya?

Yes, I would expect the prosecutor to say something else if the something else were different. Prosecutors have an ethical obligation to seek justice, not (necessarily) to seek convictions. If the autopsy said the first bullet to the head killed the robber, he should say – and I believe he would have said – that the killing was self-defense. Since he says that the autopsy showed that the five bullets to the abdomen are what killed the robber, I expect him to say that it was murder (given the circumstances as reported), not self-defense.

He’s making claims about autopsy reports and security-camera videos. He’ll have to produce them in court if he goes forward with the case; but he only has to go forward with the case because he says they back it up. If the autopsy report and security-camera videos exonerated the defendant, why make himself look like an idiot? He’d just not bring any charges. Prosecutors make such reports all the time: this guy is guilty of murder based on the evidence; that guy is innocent based on the evidence; the other guy isn’t being charged yet, pending further investigation.

Yeah, pretty much.

Yes, I would expect the prosecutor to say something else if the something else were different. Prosecutors have an ethical obligation to seek justice, not (necessarily) to seek convictions.

Do you have lots of unicorns and fairies in this world you live in? This is idealistic nonsense. Of course that’s what a lawyer should do, but unfortunately, we live in the real world.

If the autopsy said the first bullet to the head killed the robber, he should say – and I believe he would have said – that the killing was self-defense. Since he says that the autopsy showed that the five bullets to the abdomen are what killed the robber, I expect him to say that it was murder (given the circumstances as reported), not self-defense.

He’s making claims about autopsy reports and security-camera videos. He’ll have to produce them in court if he goes forward with the case; but he only has to go forward with the case because he says they back it up. If the autopsy report and security-camera videos exonerated the defendant, why make himself look like an idiot? He’d just not bring any charges. Prosecutors make such reports all the time: this guy is guilty of murder based on the evidence; that guy is innocent based on the evidence; the other guy isn’t being charged yet, pending further investigation.

I saw the video from the security camera. It’s available online. You can’t see the perp, and you can only see part of the pharmacist.

Haven’t spent a lot of time around attorneys, have you?

From a legal standpoint, then it depends on the state laws. In Florida, there is a “Stand Your Ground” law that allows citizens to use deadly force in a public place to defend themselves if they believe they are in danger of death or great bodily harm – without trying to run away first. Previous laws required one to do everything possible to escape from harm and then, shoot if necessary.

It really depends on OK’s laws. However, where was the weapon? One guy ran and the only reason the other robber didn’t is because he was dying on the floor. It sounds as if this guy had been repeatedly robbed, perhaps by the same guys. However, morally it sounds like murder. The kid was still breathing, so he kept shooting to finish him off. How threatened was the pharmacist at that point?

On the other hand, if he has been robbed on a regular basis, and these robberies have involved weapons, he may have been in fear for his life. Personally, it doesn’t sound like it since we walked by the ‘perp’ before shooting him several more times.

This is a sad statement of affairs in our country and the insufficiency of our judicial system, but this guy’s conviction/exoneration will be highly dependent upon the racial make up of the jury.

No, the pharmacist would have to have known for certain the man was dead. Seems far-fetched to shoot a dead man, but anything could be possible.

We still don’t know enough from the autopsy. They say the perp was unconscious. How do they know? If the headshot was not life threatening to begin with, like a glance or indirect hit, maybe the perp was conscious, but on the floor trying to reach for a cell phone to call for help and the pharmacist thought he was going for a gun. We just don’t know.

What needs to be determined is what was the shooters state of mind when he re-engaged the robber? I just pray the Good Lord gives me a level head if I ever have to defend myself or my family with deadly force.

The guy who did the shooting will be on O’Reilly Factor tonight.

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