May 29, 2013
With the trial of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin coming up, we are sure to be hearing a lot of disparaging things said about "stand your ground" laws. They will be decried as open hunting seasons for white men to shoot black youth, a danger to police, etc., etc.
A recent incident in my hometown of Albuquerque, N. Mex., illustrates why these laws are needed. Ramon Sedillo and a juvenile accomplice decided to rob the Full Spectrum Smoke Shop. Clad in hoodies, face masks and sunglasses and carrying guns, they burst in with the intention of getting cash. Instead, store clerk Matthew Beasley opened up with his own gun, killing Sedillo and injuring the juvenile. Neither Beasley nor any bystanders were injured.
Now, most SGN readers would happily present Beasley the key to the city, but Sedillo's widow lawyered up in the person of attorney Amavalise Jaramillo. I'm tempted to make a joke here about a lawyer who loves luggage, but I'll rise above that. Jaramillo not only doesn't think Beasley should be honored, she's suing him for Sedillo's death.
While Jaramillo generously admits some fault on the robber's part, she assigns most of the blame to Beasley. "He (Sedillo) does bear some fault, but it's like a pie. You divide out the fault accordingly, and Mr. Beasley could have done something different," Jaramillo said.
Surveillance video, Jaramillo said, shows Beasley watching Sedillo and his accomplice getting ready to commit the crime. The former prosecutor added the clerk should have called police or left the store instead of "ambushing" Sedillo and his young confederate.
"He had no basis to believe that his life was in danger," Jaramillo said. "Most robberies end with an attempt to get money. They really don't kill the clerks."
Well, thanks a bunch for that advice. And what if the robbery doesn't end with an attempt to get money? Plenty of robberies end with innocent people being herded into a back room and shot execution-style. Guess if that had happened, it'd have just been hard cheese for Beasley and any customers in the store.
Most gun owners regard crime as an act of war against society. When you declare war on everyone else, you shouldn't be surprised if everyone else declares war back. For most people who read SGN, there's no better outcome to a crime than for a criminal to be taken off the street, permanently. Those whose sympathies are more for the criminal than for the rest of us are free to disagree.
Stand your ground laws help cut off the lucrative (for the plaintiffÃs bar, at any rate) practice of suing for wrongful death, hoping to get a nice settlement from an insurance company. I don't doubt that Jaramillo is planning exactly that, and that's why New Mexico and many other states need stand your ground laws.