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Sun Dec 2, 2012, 04:38 PM

Stand your ground / shoot first

cross posted from penigma

Earlier this year I wrote about this incident in Utah, in the broader context of the Trayvon Martin shooting, which seems applicable after the recent controversial shooting in Florida.

One of the aspect that makes this worth reviewing is that this incident removes any element of incipient or overt racial animus. With that removed we can instead revisit the aspect of stand your ground that encourages opponents to call these shootings 'shoot first', leaving the issue of vigilante justice for consideration. Further it underlies the concern that while there is at least a superficial screening in some states regarding gun carry, in states like Florida that has been demonstrably lax.....which becomes an issue when Florida presumes to issue permits for people who reside entirely in other states than the issuing state. Further, there has been a problem with the incidence of criminal gun use in all states at a higher rate than for non-offending gun carriers with those who are criminals who have successfully petitioned to have their gun rights restored.

If we have people who are not solidly law abiding, which is the case, then stand your ground shootings become more problematic and less defensible. There is an assumption that people shooting someone doing something threatening, dangerous or illegal is themselves a law abiding person. I don't think anyone intended the last person standing in a shootout between two drug dealers, both involved in an illegal transaction gone bad, to be protected just because they can claim the other person shot first (which may or may not be true) where only one side of the story is available. However, there is, imho, too many other incidents where both the parties involved, and the action in which they are involved is highly questionable as legal.

A perfect example of two people, both acting in a manner which appears to be vigilante, claimed the defense of stand your ground. As it turned out, neither party was law abiding and the activity in which they were engaged was highly questionable as well, if not outright illegal.

Here is my original post from March 2012, along with the follow up post on the shootings and participants, also from March 2012.

Vigilante Shoots Vigilante: Utah Incident and Stand Your Ground Law

A 2009 shooting in Utah demonstrates the problems with Shoot First laws, as drafted and promoted by ALEC and conservative Republican legislators that expands the ability to shoot upon belief of threat off the premises of one's own property. This was exactly the kind of incident that law enforcement, prosecutors and opponents of the Minnesota Shoot First law described, and which the ALEC legislators and their associates disregarded. It exemplifies why opponents call these Shoot First, because the questions are only asked and answered after someone has either been shot or shot at.
This incident points up a number of the problems with Shoot First laws, including vigilanteism, the lack of authority or official recognition for some of these self-appointed neighborhood watches that operate contrary to the directions of police, and the failure of the shooters to identify themselves, as well as their lack of authority to act to demand others explain themselves and their actions to them.
One of the aspects of the Trayvon Martin shooting that has intrigued me, but has received relatively little attention in the media storm of attention so far, is the claim by Zimmerman and his neighbor and fellow self-appointed co-captain of their neighborhood watch is the claim that previous crime was committed by black teens. So far, there is no evidence that I can find that supports that claim, and the Sanford PD does not support that claim when queried by local media. The mistaken assumptions of self-appointed vigilante civilians on patrol figure significantly in this Utah shooting, and in the Treyvan Martin shooting.
So far as I can tell at this point, in the Trayvon Martin shooting and in this Utah shooting there were in each neighborhood watch ONLY the two self-appointed captains, but not a larger group of people from the neighborhood. On that basis I challenge whether two guys, in either instance, legitimately constitutes all by themselves a valid group that really is representing a neighborhood.
In both cases, the individual doing the shooting does not appear to have identified themselves as acting on behalf of a group. In both cases, the local police do not appear to have given either pair of men official recognition, and in both cases the local police specifically direct such watch members not to engage people, and not to carry guns while patrolling.
In both cases, people who knew the shooters - and the victims - describe them as nice people. In both instances there is a misguided effort to make a location safe where the vigilantes each overreached any right or authority they had, and the vigilantes end up making the areas LESS safe, one putting a kid in the morgue, and one putting a man in the hospital. I would argue further, that both of these situations with a distraught shooter were cases where there was no authority for the vigilantes to challenge anyone, where no person who they followed, criminal or not, had any obligation to answer their interrogations, to stop or to change what they were doing. Vigilantes mistakenly think they can act as if they were police. They have no training, they have no authority, they have no accountability - for example, they are under no obligation to identify themselves (and don't). We do not allow cops to act like this, and we should not allow these deluded if well-meaning citizens to do so. They are clearly dangerous - to innocent people, and to each other.
Both sides in the incident were involved in protection shootings involving what they believed was an incident of self-defence. In Utah, this resulted in one man arrested, and another in the hospital. Had the same event occurred under the authority of the Shoot First law as it exists in Florida and a number of other 'red'/ conservative lax gun regulation states, no arrest or prosecution would have occurred. The shooting of a man who was not a criminal and who was not committing a crime would have been completely legal under the expanded territory provision. This is what is wrong with extending the Castle doctrine to public places, to any place outside one's own actual home or 'Castle'. The second amendment under the Heller decision ONLY recognizes a right to a firearm in one's home; to go beyond that as the Shoot First / Stand Your Ground laws do clearly is not a second amendment right, and just as clearly these laws resulted in a pattern of abuses, the same abuses that law enforcement and prosecutors predicted.
Here is a local news account of the incident from KSL TV and Radio in Utah (the original story has video and a link to the audio of the 911 call after the shooting):
Bluffdale man shot while on neighborhood watch

BLUFFDALE -- A late night altercation left one man fighting to survive. The shooting happened Tuesday night in a Bluffdale neighborhood. The victim, authorities say, is a member of the local neighborhood watch; the shooter is a resident of the neighborhood.
Over the past few weeks there have been a number of vehicle burglaries and vandalism to vacant properties in the Bluffdale neighborhood. Tuesday night, 36-year-old David Serbeck and the homeowner's association president decided to patrol the neighborhood to see if they could find anyone involved.
Sometime before 11 p.m., the HOA president and Serbeck, who was driving the vehicle at the time, came across four teenage girls walking down the street near 1570 West and 15500 South (Iron Horse Boulevard).
The two men drove next to the girls, trying to question them about the crimes, thinking they might be involved. Their vehicle matched the description of a car used in the earlier burglaries.
Reginald Campos was arrested for attempted murder by the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.
The girls got into the car and drove away, but SerbeckHOA president followed. Police say they never identified themselves as members of neighborhood watch.
"The SUV does some funny maneuvers with the car, gets behind them, starts following them. This freaks them out because they think the older men are stalking them," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Don Hutson.
The girls became upset and of them called her father, 43-year-old Reginald Campos, and said the men were stalking them.
When the girls arrived home, Campos sent three of the girls inside and he and his daughter went looking for the two men and found them in an SUV a few blocks away.
Lt. Don Hutson said, "They both got out of the vehicle. They were both armed with handguns ... words were exchanged, there was a verbal altercation, and unfortunately Mr. Campos, who is the father of the young lady, fired two rounds, possibly three rounds, at Mr. Serbek."
Authorities say Serbeck was hit with one of the bullets in the left shoulder and it traveled near his spine.
"We received the initial call, and essentially it was a 911 call from a gentleman who said, I've shot somebody, I need the police,'" Hutson said.
"I just had someone chasing my daughter. And when I confronted them, they pulled out a gun and I shot him," Campos tells the 911 dispatcher. "He's down on the ground. He needs an ambulance. He's hurt. He's down."
Serbeck was flown by a helicopter to Intermountain Medical Center in very critical condition.
Neighbors say Campos was just protecting his daughter.
"Reggie is a decent, loving husband; loving neighbor, a good guy, always looking out for, in particular, our little street," said KanaMarie Poulson.
Neighbors close to Campos say they knew nothing about a local neighborhood watch.
Serbek's friends say he'd been patrolling the last few months because of recent burglaries. He has a military background, but mostly a calm demeanor.
"It's going to be very debilitating for the neighborhood to have such an all-star person like that be hurt this way, and his family," said Sheryl Babcock.
The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office arrested Campos for attempted murder. The Sheriff's office says Campos did not have a concealed weapons permit, but Serbeck did.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney will screen the case.
Also from the same news media in Salt Lake Utah, in a related story, another parallel to the Sanford Florida police department's position:
SLCO Sheriff's Office: When on neighborhood watch, leave guns at home
SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies say they have no record the man shot Tuesday night while paroling a Bluffdale neighborhood was part of a neighborhood watch group in the area.
Though neighborhood groups can organize on their own, law enforcement agencies say they don't sponsor the kind of program it appears this neighborhood had.
Bluffdale man shot while on neighborhood watch
A Bluffdale man is in critical condition after being shot while out on neighborhood patrol. The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office says it was because of a big misunderstanding.

Neighborhood watch is a valuable program, but deputies say weapons have no place in it.

Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Deputy Levi Hughes said, "We recommend you do not. As a matter of fact, we tell you, you should not carry firearms." He continued, "If you have a gun, sometimes people will feel more empowered. Problem is they don't have the training, knowledge or experience to handle a confrontation that would require a gun."
The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office sponsors neighborhood watch groups and offers training for members.
"We come to their homes. We meet with them. We talk to them about the things they need to watch out for, things they need to do to protect themselves," Hughes said.
He says the man who was shot, 36-year-old David Serbek, was not part of a sponsored program. The sheriff's office stopped sponsoring mobile patrol about 10 years ago after a shooting and chase involving mobile patrol members.
The sheriff's office says the situation Tuesday night could have been handled differently by Serbeck and the shooter, 43-year-old Reggie Campos. They say a cell phone, not a gun, is the best weapon.
"This is an example of what's happened before and could happen to you if you take the law into your own hands," Hughes said.
Investigators say Serbeck had a concealed carry permit; Campos did not but legally owned his gun.
Gun lobbyist Clark Aposhian says gun training emphasizes disengagement techniques. He says that's always the first step.
"Your first thought should always be, when faced in an encounter like this, is to disengage. Try to step back try to move away. Even if you have a firearm, you don't always win," Aposhian said. Other law enforcement agencies do sponsor mobile patrol programs. Salt Lake City Police started theirs in 1993 and say it's been very successful. Their policy prohibits any weapons.
If you are interested in learning more about neighborhood watch programs in your area, click on the links below. If your area is not listed, contact your local law enforcement agency for more information:
The outcome of the Utah shooting was not decided until the summer of 2010; had this case gone to court in Florida, under their more expansive Castle Doctrine law, the outcome would have been different, based on similar case decisions in Florida courts, both before and since 2010.

From the same KSL station in Utah, in an op ed piece at the conclusion:
Campos and Serbeck
August 16th, 2010 @ 5:21am

A recent highly-publicized trial offers a sobering reminder to those who choose to carry guns of the responsibility they have to keep their emotions in check when a weapon is at hand.
There they were, two armed men facing each other on a Bluffdale street in July 2009. Only they know exactly what happened that night. In the end, a jury convicted Reginald Campos who was portrayed as a respected family man of attempted murder. He fired a bullet that severed the spine of David Serbeck who was on a neighborhood watch patrol. Campos claimed he did it in self-defense. Serbeck said he didn't provoke what he got.
Our intent is not to rehash details of the trial. Again, only those involved know who said what and how events unfolded. Sadly, one man is headed for prison, while the other will spend his life confined to a wheelchair.
These men were not criminals, but generally respected citizens not unlike thousands of other Utahns who legally own and carry guns.
The story of Campos and Serbeck is cause for contemplation by those who choose to arm themselves. Indeed, each has a responsibility to become properly trained along with having an understanding of the potential consequences of carrying a gun.

States like Florida, and any other states that either have laws like Florida or are considering adding them should learn the lessons of these incidents, in order to stop repeating them. Apparently we do not as yet have a high enough body count from gun toting shooting-eager vigilantes yet to get rid of these shoot first laws. It begs the question, when is it enough, when will the NRA and ALEC instigated legislators decide to stop taking blood money for this kind of legislation and admit it is a failure.

Update on the Vigilante on Vigilante shooting in Utah
It's funny what you find when you do an update check on a previous story, as I sometimes do. I found this little news story by accident, but it is worth sharing here.
For those of you who are curious, here is the original vigilante on vigilante shooting post I wrote, from earlier this month. It is worth noting that unlike Florida, Utah while too pro-gun in many respects, was sane enough as a state to limit castle doctrine and shoot first laws to a person's home. They still give more permission to shoot people to less regulated, less accountable, less trained civilians than they do to police but at least they restrict it to a person's own property. But this is after all still Utah, which has an interesting history when it comes to gun loving conservative older men and much younger or underage women, not unlike the conservative culture of perversion I wrote about here in Grand Marais, Minnesota. It appears Utah is not so different from rural Minnesota.
This conviction does not justify the man who went to jail for taking his gun and leaving his home to go looking for this self-appointed neighborhood watch captain and then shooting him. It does argue for his belief that this gun violence victim and his buddy weren't following the car full of girls because they were behaving illegally, as they claimed, but rather that he had a fetish for young teenage girls.
That the gun shot victim tried to blame HIS victim for his conduct is characteristic of a certain mentality that blames the victim instead of the legally and morally responsible adult bad guy taking the responsibility for his actions. What the following AP story fails to mention is the gun violence victim now in a wheelchair had LEFT his neighborhood where he claimed he was fulfilling his neighborhood watch duties, to follow aggressively the car full of young teenage girls.

You can read the story here, from the AP:
Utah man paralyzed in neighborhood watch shooting convicted of sex with neighbor girl, 17

SALT LAKE CITY A 39-year-old man paralyzed in a Bluffdale neighborhood watch shooting faces up to 15 years in prison after he was convicted of having sex with a 17-year-old neighbor girl.
A jury found David Serbeck guilty on Thursday of three felony counts of unlawful sex with a minor. Sentencing is May 25.

Serbeck denied the accusations, saying the teen, who is now 22, had a crush on him and wanted to impress her friends.

The alleged victim testified she was 17 when she and Serbeck had sex three times in his Magna home in 2007.
Serbeck denied the accusations, saying the teen, who is now 22, had a crush on him and wanted to impress her friends.
Serbeck was shot and paralyzed in July 2009 by Reginald Campos, who suspected Serbeck of aggressively following his teen daughter in an SUV while patrolling the neighborhood. Campos was sentenced to up to life in prison. ****************** I wonder if Campos and Serbeck will be serving their time in the same prison. That could be awkward.

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Arrow 9 replies Author Time Post
Reply Stand your ground / shoot first (Original post)
Dog Gone at Penigma Dec 2012 OP
sarisataka Dec 2012 #1
Dog Gone at Penigma Dec 2012 #5
gejohnston Dec 2012 #6
Clames Dec 2012 #7
sarisataka Dec 2012 #8
Clames Dec 2012 #2
ProgressiveProfessor Dec 2012 #3
Clames Dec 2012 #4
PavePusher Dec 2012 #9

Response to Dog Gone at Penigma (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 05:25 PM

1. Two points

1) it seems more the message is don't be a self-appointed watch and chase people down
2) none of the articles you posted ever mention SYG. Did either ever actually claim the defense?

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Response to sarisataka (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 06:20 PM

5. Yes. Both.

Each claimed stand your ground defense.

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Response to Dog Gone at Penigma (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 06:45 PM

6. anyone can claim it

because of the misinformation, and disinformation, these people think that claiming it is some magical words that will stop the investigation. We had one in Tampa that was a false confession. Not only was she not defending herself, she wasn't even there.

SYG isn't the problem, since none of those were self defense using SYG or DTR. The problem is ignorance of what SYG actually is and what it isn't. These convictions point that out.

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Response to Dog Gone at Penigma (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 07:44 PM

7. How in the hell is the second story about SYG?


The guy had sex with a minor. Did you even read what you posted?

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Response to Dog Gone at Penigma (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 08:27 PM

8. So it looks like everything is working

shoot the man who may or may not be sleeping with your daughter, claim self defense, get convicted for attempted murder.
So he did not walk because of any SYG. I think that he planned to shoot no matter what law was in effect

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Response to Dog Gone at Penigma (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 05:41 PM

2. So much fail here but I'll start with most glaring...


...and easily researched. Seriously, do you even bother to do even a minimum of research to at least be somewhat credible?

It is worth noting that unlike Florida, Utah while too pro-gun in many respects, was sane enough as a state to limit castle doctrine and shoot first laws to a person's home. They still give more permission to shoot people to less regulated, less accountable, less trained civilians than they do to police but at least they restrict it to a person's own property.

Utah Code:

76-2-402. Force in defense of person -- Forcible felony defined.
(1) (a) A person is justified in threatening or using force against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that force or a threat of force is necessary to defend the person or a third person against another person's imminent use of unlawful force.
(b) A person is justified in using force intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily injury only if the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to the person or a third person as a result of another person's imminent use of unlawful force, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
(2) (a) A person is not justified in using force under the circumstances specified in Subsection (1) if the person:
(i) initially provokes the use of force against the person with the intent to use force as an excuse to inflict bodily harm upon the assailant;
(ii) is attempting to commit, committing, or fleeing after the commission or attempted commission of a felony; or
(iii) was the aggressor or was engaged in a combat by agreement, unless the person withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to the other person his intent to do so and, notwithstanding, the other person continues or threatens to continue the use of unlawful force.
(b) For purposes of Subsection (2)(a)(iii) the following do not, by themselves, constitute "combat by agreement":
(i) voluntarily entering into or remaining in an ongoing relationship; or
(ii) entering or remaining in a place where one has a legal right to be.
(3) A person does not have a duty to retreat from the force or threatened force described in Subsection (1) in a place where that person has lawfully entered or remained, except as provided in Subsection (2)(a)(iii).
(4) (a) For purposes of this section, a forcible felony includes aggravated assault, mayhem, aggravated murder, murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, and aggravated kidnapping, rape, forcible sodomy, rape of a child, object rape, object rape of a child, sexual abuse of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and aggravated sexual assault as defined in Title 76, Chapter 5, Offenses Against the Person, and arson, robbery, and burglary as defined in Title 76, Chapter 6, Offenses Against Property.
(b) Any other felony offense which involves the use of force or violence against a person so as to create a substantial danger of death or serious bodily injury also constitutes a forcible felony.
(c) Burglary of a vehicle, defined in Section 76-6-204, does not constitute a forcible felony except when the vehicle is occupied at the time unlawful entry is made or attempted.
(5) In determining imminence or reasonableness under Subsection (1), the trier of fact may consider, but is not limited to, any of the following factors:
(a) the nature of the danger;
(b) the immediacy of the danger;
(c) the probability that the unlawful force would result in death or serious bodily injury;
(d) the other's prior violent acts or violent propensities; and
(e) any patterns of abuse or violence in the parties' relationship.
Amended by Chapter 324, 2010 General Session
Amended by Chapter 361, 2010 General Session

Emphasis mine, it is obvious that Utah's self-defense laws are not strictly limited to a persons habitation. You should look up 76-2-405, 76-2-406, and 76-2-407 for Utah Codes relating to defense of habitation, defense of person on real property and personal property.

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Response to Clames (Reply #2)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 05:44 PM

3. The OPs credibility is quite low

It starts with their framing and goes down hill from there. Their ignorance is only outweighed by their hubris.

It starts off with "shoot first laws" which do not exist. They then manage facts to fit their agenda.

They are not a poster to take seriously, regardless of topic.

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Response to ProgressiveProfessor (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 05:55 PM

4. I don't think the OP is aware that some of Utah's laws on this subject were initiated...


...by a Democrat. Another fact that is often glossed over where they should be highlighted.

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Response to Dog Gone at Penigma (Original post)

Mon Dec 3, 2012, 01:06 AM

9. Please look up the DU site rules for quoting....


and then learn how to post direct links to your citations.

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