Thursday, June 28, 2012

Make Your Words Soft and Sweet...

...for someday, you may have to eat them, that's how the line goes, right? Well, there's a dope down in Texas who's learning how the things that we say can come back to bite us in the ass.

Texas man gets 40 year sentence in stand-your-ground case
HOUSTON – A man who claimed Texas' version of a stand-your-ground law allowed him to fatally shoot a neighbor after an argument about a noisy party was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years for murder. Raul Rodriguez, 46, had faced up to life in prison for the 2010 killing of Kelly Danaher.

Rodriguez, a retired Houston-area firefighter, was angry about the noise coming from a birthday party at his neighbor's home. He went over and got into an argument with 36-year-old elementary school teacher Danaher and two other men at the party.
Yeah, see, once you actually go over to the other guy's house, you lose all claim to "Stand your ground". You went to their turf. There would have been no need for you to defend yourself if you had stayed put. Plain and simple. Does having noisy neighbors suck? Hell yes. Should you have to keep your thoughts to yourself? Hell no. Even if he had already been over once to politely ask them to turn the music down, there's no excuse for going back with a gun. None.

I have to wonder if he bought the media's BS. He believed their lie about being able to kill anyone anywhere and simply claim you were in fear for your life - that's exactly what he told the 911 dispatcher, in fact. Except for one little problem:
One neighbor testified that Rodriguez, who had a concealed handgun license, bragged about his guns and told her a person could avoid prosecution in a shooting by telling authorities you were in fear of your life and were standing your ground and defending yourself.
Loose lips sink ships, or in this case your legal defense. You don't go around bragging about how you can avoid going to jail and then do exactly what you brag about doing - especially if you're wrong about the law. It's one thing to be correct about the law - like the law student in this video - but if you have your head up your ass from listening to the media, you take your chances.

Had they come over to his house and started threatening him, it would be a different story. Had he done the right thing - call the police, file a complaint, and they came over later to "settle the score", I don't think there's a jury in the state of Texas that would have voted to convict. But he put himself in danger, not once, but twice - first when he went over to confront the neighbors, twice when he refused to leave their property.

Note to the media: "Stand your ground" is NOT a license to kill. It was never intended, written, nor presented that way. It simply codifies into law that we do not have to run away when threatened with force. It does not give you the legal right to kill someone for any reason. It is not a "get out of jail, free" card. If you are wrong, you will go to jail, period, full stop. If you initiate a confrontation, you don't get to shoot your way out of it and avoid prosecution. Stand your ground does not give 007-like powers to anyone with a concealed carry permit - all it does is shield them from overzealous prosecution should they have to legally defend their lives with deadly force.

Personally, I blame the news media for this case entirely - had they not been so intent on pushing an agenda and presented "Stand Your Ground" correctly, I think it's possible that this shooting might not have happened. Don't misunderstand: Rodriguez is 100% at fault for this tragedy; however his actions were almost certainly influenced by the lies, half-truths, and obfuscations about SYG presented in the mainstream media. It's entirely possible he would have shot his neighbor anyways, of course - but at least there'd be no question about his legal standing.

It's a sad story all around - one family grieves a murdered family member, another loses a father and husband. That the media would make this into something it's not is macabre - but certainly not unexpected. They'll present this as a reason for ending "Stand your ground", claiming that it gives people like Rodriguez an "excuse to kill"; when the reality is that they helped create the atmosphere that led to this tragedy in their hurry to misrepresent the facts to push their agenda.

Knowledge is power, folks. Knowing the laws of your area as they pertain to carrying arms and self-defense is your best defense against winding up like Mr. Rodriquez - when it comes to the law, don't assume anything. Granted, it also helps if you don't go looking for trouble and you don't shoot your mouth off before hand - side note: anyone that has ever joked about a "throwaway gun", I'm looking squarely at YOU right now. You'd better pray that no one ever breaks into your house.

Not only do you own every bullet fired out of your gun, you also own every word spilled out of your piehole.

That is all.

UPDATE: Robb and I are on the same page with this story...


ASM826 said...

Stellar observations.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

My biggest pet peeve about this whole ordeal has been everyone saying he shouldn't have gone over there in the first place, and even more so the ones who say that he especially shouldn't have been armed when he did. Wrong, wrong, WRONG!

There's no question this guy was stupid, but the stupidity wasn't going over to the neighbor's house to ask them to keep it down, nor was it in being armed in doing so (he was outside of his own house, wasn't he?). It was in his being aggressive about it, in responding to their verbal aggression, and then threatening people.

Had he simply gone over and politely asked them to keep it down, and then left and called the cops when they became verbally aggressive, or if he had been attacked while trying to leave, then armed or not this would be an entirely different story (or no story at all).

RobertB said...

I agree with you except for the part that you blame the media for this happening. Everything else is spot on, but that one part is asinine. There's only one person responsible for this guy being a dumbass, and that person's going to jail, as he should.

eiaftinfo said...

Taking this a step farther - here in Iowa our legislature failed to pass a SYG law. We are bound by an obligation to retreat - even in your own home. You must make an effort to evade an attacker or an intruder.

Way to many folks simply do not take the time to actually learn the laws of their states, or those of the state they are going to visit.

Good Post!

Jay G said...


Precisely. I may not have made my point clear enough, but your words are spot-on.

Going over to the neighbor's house, in and of itself, is not an action with which I disagree. It's his aggression and refusal to back down while on the neighbor's property that I have a problem with.

You come over to my house and start yelling at me and threatening me, things are going to go very poorly for you. Rodriquez is damn lucky that he didn't get a hail of 00 buckshot when he flashed that gun.

I agree completely - had he gone over to the house to ask them to turn it down and gotten attacked, that would be a different story entirely, and I'd contribute to his legal defense fund for the appeal. Every report I've read has him deliberately confronting the neighbor to the point of harassmant - something tells me that no matter how quiet the neighbor had gotten he wouldn't have been happy.

Add to that his mis-informed boasts about Stand Your Ground, and personally, I think he went over there with the specific purpose of murdering his neighbor. I think he deliberately provoked the neighbor into "attacking" him specifically so he could shoot him, claiming defense. That's my wild-assed guess, mind you, but it appears the TX court saw something similar...

Jay G said...


I believe I stated that Rodriquez was 100% at fault; my point about the media was that they helped contribute to this by pushing falsehoods about the "Stand your ground" law.

The way the media tells it, you can walk up to someone you don't like, claim they threatened you, shoot them dead, and there's not a thing the legal system can do to you. I think the media-colored perception of Stand Your Ground gave Rodriquez the incorrect assumption that he could shoot his neighbor for any perceived provocation.

The media is not responsible for the killing; that lies squarely with Rodriquez. But they certainly helped create the climate in which it occurred - listen to Rodriquez's own words to 911. I believe he honestly thought he could avoid prosecution as long as he claimed he was standing his ground.

Armed Texan said...

"Rodriguez's reference to standing his ground is similar to the claim made by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who is citing Florida's stand-your-ground law in his defense in the fatal February shooting of an unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin."

Is this true? I've never heard Zimmerman's lawyer claim he was justified under stand-your-ground. Why would you need to cite stand-your-ground when someone is straddling you and beating your head into the ground as Zimmerman claimed happened?

Ed said...

It is difficult to claim "Stand Your Ground" when you were no longer standing acted you acted to defend yourself from further harm that carried the realistic risk of serious permanent damage or death. There was no MMA referee present at the match to halt the attack by Martin when there was no apparent effective defense by Zimmerman. Zimmerman appears to have "tapped out" the best way he knew how.

Also, keep Rodriquez in mind for other situations when someone asks why the police were called instead of going over to talk to the neighbor first. That is a courtesy that should not be extended to the discourteous. Besides, the police like to keep busy as it justifies their pay.

Ed said...

Bad editing on my part. That should read "were no longer standing and you acted to defend yourself".

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

"That is a courtesy that should not be extended to the discourteous."

Perhaps, but that assumes they're actually being discourteous, rather than simply not realizing how well the sound of whatever they're doing carries - I've often been surprised at how well sound carries from certain parts of my neighborhood, for example. I would hope my neighbors would do me the courtesy of letting me know that I'm disturbing them before they call the cops, and - barring any specific signs of danger - I hope I would do the same for them.