Texas Man Cleared Of Wrongdoing In Killing One Car Thief And Wounding Another

280px-2010_Toyota_4Runner_SR5_--_11-23-2009There is an interesting case out of San Antonio where a car owner shot and killed one alleged car thief and wounded another outside of a home of a friend. What is interesting is that response of the police that, since he was defending property, he was in the right.

The 25-year-old man heard the men breaking into his Toyota 4Runner around 1:30 a.m. and went outside with a gun. He told police that he thought they had a gun and fired after confronting them.

One of the men drove off after being shot but crashed a block away.

Notably, the account below reports “[o]fficers said the shooter is not expected to face any charges since he was protecting his property.”

This is an interesting –though not unexpected — position. The common law does not allow the use of force calculated to cause serious bodily injury or death in protection of property. In famous cases like Bird v. Holbrook, 4 Bing. 628, 130 Eng. Rep. 911 (1825), courts have ruled that “[n]o man can do indirectly that which he is forbidden to do directly.” Not only are such devices viewed as immoral (because human life is more valuable than property), but dangerous because such devices cannot tell the difference between friend and foe. The case however also has been cited for the long-standing rule that no property is viewed as more valuable than a human life. That does not mean you cannot take steps to protect your property and a case of protection of property can become protection of self (with the right to use higher levels of force) when the suspect resists or attacks.

Of course, Texas has a “Castle Doctrine” law (sometimes called a “Make My Day” law) that allows homeowners to use lethal force to property their homes. Some states also have “Make My Day Better” laws extending that privilege to cars or businesses. This does not appear to be defense of the home though I have seen a case where a court ruled that a shooting at the end of a long country driveway was part of the curtilage of the home.

A recent study showed an increase in shootings with the Castle Doctrine laws.

Source: Kens5

24 thoughts on “Texas Man Cleared Of Wrongdoing In Killing One Car Thief And Wounding Another

  1. Assault weapon and other gun sales are going through the roof. If the government can determine to kill a suspected terrorist why can’t “we the people” since government is of, by and for them?

    Why don’t we all prey pray and Pop a cap for Jesus for heaven sake.

  2. I’m usually against guns…. but in this case the shooter was in the right, if the same thing happened to me, and I had a gun, I’d shoot too.

  3. “An illustration of the spiritual emptiness of materialism.” (Gene)

    An excellent philosophy upon which to base one’s life.

  4. Gene H:

    then why is self-defense ok? Many people believe in materialism and many more believe in deterministic materialism. They are quite in vogue with many progressives.

  5. It is perfectly legal to do this under Texas law as the Horn case illustrated. He shot and killed two burglars who were absonding with his neighbors property. The Castle doctrine did NOT apply in this case or the Horn case. The law cited also refers to infernal devices which is another case entirely.

    The only persons who think that material things are worth their lives are the crooks. Don’t steal in Texas because you put your life at risk. It simply shows the reason for having this law because without it, crooks know that they have little chance of being caught and punished. Reward bad behavior, and you only get more bad behavior. Make the crooks realize that they can DIE robbing and stealing, they will have to adjust their criminal behavior accordingly.

  6. “Make the crooks realize that they can DIE robbing and stealing, they will have to adjust their criminal behavior accordingly.”

    Give everybody guns.
    No need to pay for as many police to be available.
    No need to pay for courts or prisons.
    Fiscal cliff avoided.
    Just shoot them.

    Like the old days in the Wild West, when there was not much crime.
    Like in Afghanistan

    There might be mistakes made, but that would just be collateral damage. Regrettable, but there ya go.
    One has to see the bigger picture.

  7. Sling – my kid woke up one morning in Afghanistan to the sounds of two neighbors trying to settle some minor dispute – they were firing RPG’s at each other.

    How long before that is happening in Texas & what part of “a well regulated militia” is that?

  8. Bron,

    Interesting question. Self-defense is not the equivalent of defense of property. Firstly, as a philosophical proposition, any form of determinism is simply at odds with what science tells us in the form of quantum mechanics. The universe only appears to us as deterministic when it is in fact probabilistic at the fundamental sub-atomic level. Secondly, materialism is a form of bad logic. Most people know Descartes is famous for saying “I think therefore I am.” This is compatible with the concept of numerical identity. Secondly, what many don’t realize is he made the argument that while he is certain he is René Descartes, Descartes’ body and its existence can be doubted (i.e. he is not certain his body exists, only his mind). This not only is consistent with the evidence presented by quantum mechanics, it is consistent with Leibniz’s Law (if x has some property that y lacks, then x is not identical to y). When combined, this makes what is known as Descartes Argument from Doubt which goes as follows:

    Descartes has an existence than cannot be doubted by Descartes.
    Descartes body has an existence than can be doubted by Descartes.
    If (1) and (2), then Descartes is not identical to Descartes’ body.
    Therefore, Descartes is not identical to Descartes’ body.
    If Descartes is not identical to Descartes’ body, then materialism is false.
    Therefore, materialism is false.

    By logical extension, the proposition that your property is you is false. However this is ultimately dependent upon how one feels about the mind/body division. Are we as sentient beings more than just the sum of our parts? Does the soul exist? I again return to science and the scientific method to find an answer and it is again found in quantum mechanics. I’m going to assume you are familiar with the two-slit experiment regarding particles and waves built on the work of Max Born and Werner Heisenberg. This experiment, among others, tell us that unobserved particles exist only as “waves of probability”. Particles, that which we perceive to make up the material world, are statistical predictions and nothing but a likely outcome until observed. They have no real existence; only when the mind sets the scaffolding in place, can they be thought of as having duration or a position in space and this is reflected in both Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and Erwin Schrödinger’s work on wave mechanics that produces his famous “cat” thought experiment. Such experiments make it increasingly clear that knowledge in the experimenter’s mind is sufficient to convert possibility to reality. Now we come to an observation made by Bob’s favorite guy, Immanuel Kant: everything we experience are nothing but representations in our mind. Space and time are simply a framework which the mind uses for putting it all together or as Carl Sagan summarized, “The brain does much more than just recollect. It intercompares, it synthesizes, it analyses. It generates abstractions. The simplest thought like the concept of the number one has an elaborate logical underpinning. The brain has its own language for testing the structure and consistency of the world.” Scientists are only beginning dimly to recognize that the implications of these rules, logics and experiments are illustrative of what makes existence itself possible. The result is that quantum mechanics not only defies our classical intuition, but suggest that a part of the mind – the soul for lack of a better term – is immortal and exists outside of space and time. A subjective way of knowing and understanding the objective outcomes of the matrix of probability that makes up all of what we perceive as reality.

    Reality, dear Bron, is a state of mind.

    Also, I don’t know many if any self-identifying progressives that buy into deterministic materialism. Maybe one or the other, but usually not both. In either case, such a belief is contrary to both logic and evidence.

  9. Gene H:

    Determinism and materialism are the “intellectual” rage today. I am guessing if you attended college after about 1980, you were given a big dose of it. Since the large majority of academics are liberal/progressives, I am not sure how you can make that statement.

    I am not condemning d & m, I just dont agree with it. And Descartes mind is dependent on his body. Now I may be wrong and I certainly hope I am but when the body dies, its lights out for the mind.

    Perception is automatic; we have no control over that unless we purposefully shut off our senses. So what we perceive is actually reality. Now we may actively modify that reality so that we go against what our senses are telling us but our senses are our contact with the external world.
    Of which we are a part.

  10. I’m confused why the shooter is in the clear: (1) the car and shooting were sufficiently close and connected enough to the home so that the castle doctrine applies? (2) the shooter mentions he thought the burglars had a gun so it’s a case of self-defense? (3) Texas law allows the use of lethal force in defense of property? (4) it’s Texas, and even if Texas doesn’t have a law allowing the use of lethal force in defense of property, the police, DA, judge, and/or jury don’t this the shooter was wrong (morally, not legally, speaking) and thus won’t prosecute and/or convict him? I’m leaning toward 4 being the real explanation, but 2 being the official explanation.

  11. Bron,

    Dependency is not the same thing as equivalence. A plant is dependent upon water and sunlight but it is not water and sunlight. The conscious subjectivity that is the mind is dependent upon the body for sensory input, but is it sufficient in itself? Who knows. I’m just saying quantum mechanics suggests that it just might be. We’ll all find out one way or another. What I find particularly intriguing is that if so, it would explain the idea of reincarnation which itself comports with the conservation of energy and the conservation of information. I like the idea that we as conscious beings are the universe trying to make sense of itself. It has a pleasing circularity. And circles have a certain “magic” to them. Consider the number pi. Within pi is everything that ever is and ever was. It’s a non-repeating infinite number. Inside it is your birthday, your daughter’s birthday, your weight, your social security number, your address, your spatial location, every decision you’ve ever made or will make, every number that has ever existed or will exist, every parameter of reality reduced to its mathematical representation.

    Also, I’m not sure where you get the idea the intellectuals and progressives are all bound by the same playbook. That’s the fallacy of composition writ large. As far as my experience with academia, I found them to be as varied if not more so in their philosophical choices than the general public. Some are rigid and dogmatic, others are the exact opposite. Some live to repeat, some live to discover. But the same institutions that you say are castles built on deterministic materialism are the same institutions that helped produce the very anti-deterministic materialism answer that I provided above.

    I might add too that automatic does not mean perfect or correct. That table sitting before you is solid to your comprehension, but in reality it is mostly composed of empty space. Just because quantum mechanics is counter-intuitive doesn’t mean it isn’t correct.

    The universe is not only stranger than you (in the generic sense of you) imagine, it is stranger than you can imagine.

  12. Texas used to have a law that made it permissible to utilize deadly force to protect movable property at night. It was an old law used to discourage cattle rustling, but it was never taken off the books. This received national attention about 15 years ago when a repo man was shot and killed reposessing a vehicle at night. The shooter turned himself in, but was never charged because of this law. I am not sure if it has been changed since, but I doubt it.

  13. The article goes off on the defense of property schtick but the shooter says he thought they had a gun. Defense of self. End of story, morning glory. Dont go off on a tangent in Texas. If more car thieves would get shot in the act then they would act less often and fewer cars would get stolen. Dead guy wont steal again.

  14. It was the police statement about “defense of property that is the red herring”, as Dog implies, they were guys intentionally trespassing at night, invading private property and appeared to be armed, a great deal of risk assumption. Nuff said.

  15. this is acceptable only when the person(s) shot are some lowlife (someone with prior arrests or if the police don’t like your parents).

    if the person(s) shot had been related to someone important (mayor, police officer,or city councilmen, business owner etc.. ) then the shooter would be on a fast track to a needle in his arm.

    this is called “texas justice”

  16. In the ’80s and ’90s, hardly a day went by when I didn’t see one of those “Whoever dies with the most toys wins” bumper stickers. Many of those people weren’t kidding. We may argue about the pervasiveness of materialism, but when a society determines that homocide is legitimate when protecting my stuff, materialism has won the argument.

  17. A sad but true comment, Mike A., a lethal symptom of an emptiness those who were not kidding will likely never fill.

    “Head Like A Hole” by Nine Inch Nails

    God money I’ll do anything for you.
    God money just tell me what you want me to.
    God money nail me up against the wall.
    God money don’t want everything he wants it all.

    no you can’t take it
    no you can’t take it
    no you can’t take that away from me
    no you can’t take it
    no you can’t take it
    no you can’t take that away from me

    head like a hole.
    black as your soul.
    I’d rather die than give you control.
    head like a hole.
    black as your soul.
    I’d rather die than give you control.

    bow down before the one you serve.
    you’re going to get what you deserve.
    bow down before the one you serve.
    you’re going to get what you deserve.

    God money’s not looking for the cure.
    God money’s not concerned with the sick amongst the pure.
    God money let’s go dancing on the backs of the bruised.
    God money’s not one to choose






    you know who you are.

  18. Gene H:

    “The conscious subjectivity that is the mind is dependent upon the body for sensory input, but is it sufficient in itself?”

    the mind/consciousness is dependent on the structure of the brain.

    What would happen to a child who had no sensory input from the outside? how would they become human? Look at Helen Keller, had it not been for Anne Sullivan she would have locked away. She was well on her way to becoming a beast if the book can be believed.

  19. A reasonable person who has watched police chasing thieves driving stolen cars will understand that such thieves, when confronted, can seriously to lethally endanger innocent people.

    To not shoot a car thief, when such shooting is feasible, would subject the person who did not shoot the thief to liability for failure to reasonably foresee the chance of the thief starting a high speed police pursuit in which, for want of foreseeing the risk, the non-shooter would be subject to tort liability for failure to prevent (by shooting the thief or thieves) a foreseeable accident in which innocent people are injured, maimed, or killed?

    What, alas, if no reasonable person can ever actually exist, because reasonable persons are purely and exclusively only hypothetical legal fictions?

  20. Bron,

    But she didn’t become a beast regardless of the fact of Sullivan’s intervention. Just because a mind thrives on sensory input does not mean it is not fundamentally human when deprived of that input. It’s just missing something it needs to live up to its full potential. Just like asparagus grows up white deprived of sunlight, a mind can be stunted if deprived of any number of things.

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