Long Island Man Arrested for Firing Gun Into Ground To Scare Off Alleged Gang Members

There is an interesting case out of Uniondale, New York where a homeowner was arrested for firing a weapon into the grass to scare off what he described as a mob of gang members. George Grier had a lawful AK-47 and confronted what he described were gang members who were threatening him and his family.

Grier confronted five men who he said taunted him to use the gun and were soon joined by a large group of as many as two dozen gang members. He proceeded to fire the warning shots into the grass. The police use ShotSpotter technology that tracks down gunshots and arrested him for a D felony reckless endangerment.

Grier admits that he never saw anyone pull out a gun.

Today, I will be covering in class “the castle doctrine” in torts on when a homeowner can used lethal force in defense of his home. Long Island has previously been the focus of such cases. This is fascinating since 20 gang members could be viewed as producing a reasonable fear in Grier. Just yesterday we discussed the case of Courvoisier v. Raymond, 23 Colo. 113 (1896), where a man chased a group out of his home only to fire when a man approached him outside his home from the stone-throwing mob. It turned out to be a deputy sheriff but the court found that Courvoisier could rely on reasonable mistaken self-defense.

In this case, the alleged mob was likely on Grier’s property and within the curtilage of the home. Assuming the castle doctrine or “make my day laws” do not apply, there remains the question of whether (without the appearance of a gun in the crowd) Grier was acting reasonably in firing the warning shots into the ground. Moreover, the elements of the crime include some relatively high required showings by the prosecution.

I believe the following is the relevant state provision:

§ 120.25 Reckless endangerment in the first degree.
A person is guilty of reckless endangerment in the first degree when,
under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he
recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to
another person.
Reckless endangerment in the first degree is a class D felony.

He will likely argue that firing a gun into your lawn is not an act of “reckless endangerment” that “evinc[es] a depraced indifference to human life” Moreover, he can challenge the notion that such an act created “a grave risk of death.”
Source: CBS

Jonathan Turley

34 thoughts on “Long Island Man Arrested for Firing Gun Into Ground To Scare Off Alleged Gang Members

  1. Mespo you read my mind – Gran Torino – but remember how it ends

    At least you have the right to bear arms, in UK even owning a walking stick can get you in trouble with Mr Law

  2. Jason, good catch. I knew that at one time, but went into brain lock when I wrote that comment. A friend of mine, who is both a lawyer and psychiatrist, has three full auto weapons, two Thompsons and an M-16 and he told me–at great length–what he had to go through to be able to buy and keep them.

    Where I went off track is that the same guy and I discussed forming a small corporation to buy, sell and do some gunsmithing (a hobby of mine) for full auto weapons, which of course required a Class 3 FFL. We never followed through when we found out what the insurance premiums would be.

  3. Sam D. 1, September 8, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    “What the hell are we thinking allowing regular folks to possess AK-47s?”

    You don’t actually know what an AK-47 is, do you? Or why it’s relevant to preface it with “lawful.” If you did, you wouldn’t be writing hystrically about weapons of mass destruction.

    Let me ask you this: would you feel more comfortable if it had been a hunting rifle in this story? If you answered yes, continuations, you don’t know anything about firearms, which is fine, except for the fact you’re writing about them like as if you did.

    ———————————————

    Quite simply, it’s nuts to have hunting rifles in “urbanized areas” (towns, suburbs and cities) for exactly this reason. Isn’t it smarter to store hunting rifles out where they are used, in farmhouses and at gun clubs, than to take them into a home in a neighborhood? In the “defending the home from an intruder” fanta.., er, I mean scenario, isn’t it a terrible idea to end up struggling over either an AK or a hunting rifle, where an accidentally fired round can go through several walls and a floor and hit your own kid in his/her bed?

    My point is that since the current Supreme Court has taken a black Sharpie and crossed out the “well regulated militia” part of the 2nd Amendment, and created the new “individual” right to “bear arms,” we need to take a closer look at where we draw the line between what’s reasonable for the general public to possess and what’s not. I’ll put it a different way: I think that a hunting rifle that can hold 20 to 30 rounds and can be easily modified to go from semi-auto to full auto is over the line.

    And no, I’m no gun expert. Growing up in and living in Chicago, I’ve seen more scars from bullet holes in friends who were caught in crossfire, dead bodies and bullet holes in my own home than I’ve seen AK-47s in person. I’m more knowledgeable about what guns do to human bodies than the intricacies of muzzle velocities.

  4. tomdarch-

    “Isn’t it smarter to store hunting rifles out where they are used, in farmhouses and at gun clubs, than to take them into a home in a neighborhood?”

    So if I live in a city but hunt or shoot for recreation, I should have to own rural property or be a member of a club to store my guns?

    “In the “defending the home from an intruder” fanta.., er,”

    This is insulting as well as ignorant. I can give you a link to a website that aggregates news stories of normal people defending themselves successfully with firearms every day. You might think of it as a fantasy, but it’s reality for a hell of a lot of people.

    “I mean scenario, isn’t it a terrible idea to end up struggling over either an AK or a hunting rifle, where an accidentally fired round can go through several walls and a floor and hit your own kid in his/her bed?”

    I can provide thousands of real incidents but you’ve come up with a very specific and rare scenario that apparently should cancel them out. And this is supposed to justify banning or greatly regulating an entire class of weapons that is rarely used in crime.

    “we need to take a closer look at where we draw the line between what’s reasonable for the general public to possess and what’s not. I’ll put it a different way: I think that a hunting rifle that can hold 20 to 30 rounds and can be easily modified to go from semi-auto to full auto is over the line.”

    Again I ask, why? Long guns in general account for a tiny percentage of crime weapons, less than 5%. And out of that class, many are shotguns or something other than the dreaded “assault” weapon. Fewer still are hunting rifles. Also, the AR-15 class of weapons is one of if not the most popular type in the country right now. And it makes an excellent home defense weapon. It is light weight, has low recoil (making it easily wielded by people of all sizes and strengths) and it actually over penetrates LESS than many handguns and shotguns (depending on the ammo used). Again, why should it and weapons like it be banned?

    Fully automatic weapons, legal or not, are for statistical purposes a non-issue.

    “And no, I’m no gun expert. Growing up in and living in Chicago, I’ve seen more scars from bullet holes in friends who were caught in crossfire, dead bodies and bullet holes in my own home than I’ve seen AK-47s in person. I’m more knowledgeable about what guns do to human bodies than the intricacies of muzzle velocities.”

    If you are going to take a strong stand on any issue, you should make an effort to know what you are talking about. Any gun can do horrible things to bodies, that is an emotional argument that has nothing to do with going after an entire class of weapons.

  5. My dear tomdarch,

    You have missed some logical points in your argument. For example, bringing rifles into towns or suburbs. Let us stop and think about this for a moment. Most gun owners use the firearm for hunting, far more so than shooting at a range. Also, many firearm owners do not go to a range for target shooting. Given a suitable backstop, such as a dirt embankment, many people plink away at tin cans, paper targets and empty soft drink bottles–all very safely. In many areas around the country, there are no gun clubs or shooting ranges. Also, many clubs and ranges work like public golf courses. You show up, pay your fee, shoot some rounds off and go home. No membership and no ongoing fees.

    Suppose you are a hunter who goes out and bags a deer, some squirrels or a duck or two. What are you going to do with the gun? First of all, it must be disassembled, cleaned, put back together and back into the gun carrying case. Then where are you going to stash it? What farm house? I do not own a farm house. What gun club? In the woods where we are likely to find wild game, there are no gun clubs. I am not going to go looking for a firing range or club that might be over in the next county thirty to fifty miles away while I have meat in the back of my truck that is going to spoil if I do not get the carcass cleaned, cut up and refrigerated. Furthermore, the only gun club anywhere near my home has no storage facility. Why is that, you might ask?

    The reason is simple. No one would use such a storage facility. A decent rifle or shotgun may cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to the the price of a late model used car. I have an attorney friend who has a $15,000 shotgun he uses for competition skeet shooting. Do you think he is going to go off and leave that piece of hand-crafted Swedish hardware at some gun club storage shed? Do you think I am going to leave my antique .50 caliber black powder rifle with just anyone? I don’t think so. I keep it in a locked gun cabinet when at home, which is where it belongs when not in use.

    My friend, I think your concerns are misplaced. Before making an argument, it is best to get your facts and casualty statistics in good working order before engaging in said argument.

  6. “I’m more knowledgeable about what guns do to human bodies than the intricacies of muzzle velocities.”

    You were the one who brought up the supposedly greater killing power of the AK47 vs. other firearms. Yet when given evidence that you were wrong, you’re response is “I don’t care the intricacies of muzzle velocities”, which is reads more like “I don’t care about the intricacies of facts if they contradict my specious argument.”

    It’s quite clear that you have no intellectual honesty and any conversation with you is a waste of time.

  7. I have been reflecting on this comment by tomdarch:

    “I’m more knowledgeable about what guns do to human bodies than the intricacies of muzzle velocities.”

    I daresay I have seen more dead bodies than tomdarch. My family has been in the funeral business for more than a century. The first time I ever saw a dead body in the morgue, it was a hobo that had misjudged his jump onto a freight train. I got quite an anatomy lesson that day. I was five years old.

    I recently worked on a case where a fellow got upset with his wife and the closest thing to hand was his golf clubs. Worked her over pretty good with a five iron. Then there was argument over a pool bet and the weapon of choice was the pool cue. Or the guy who got upset with his father while out on the patio. He picked up a fancy cast iron patio chair and beat his father to death with it. Those are three examples of murders that resulted in more carnage than any gunshot I ever saw, with the exception of the man who put the muzzle of a 12 gauge shotgun under his chin and pulled the trigger. Even then, the patio chair did a bit more damage than the shotgun.

    I do not know why I bothered to write this. The referred commenter seems to be logic-proof.

  8. It is sad the police sided with the criminals. He should have lied and said he saw a gun. Instead he was honest to his own detriment. I can’t see a jury convicting him. I live in PA and a guy saw someone trying to break into his car. He fired warning shots in the air, which is much more dangerous. The cops didn’t do anything. We have a stand you ground law. New York and especially NYC need to allow people to defend themselves and their family.

  9. This is the exact reason why so many knuckle heads are running around doing nothing but disturbing law biding citizens. I’m sure those retards that were in front of his house were starting problems. He shot a warning shot in to ground? Good….they should be thankful it wasn’t one of their heads. I’m so sick and tired of all the BS with gun laws and restrictions brought upon the majority because of stupid actions of the minority. If we had more laws in NY like there are in TX there would be less of ts BS as most people would think twice of doing things such as these, or even worse, shooting up areas where there are gun free zones, like schools. I know it’s off topic but when was the last time some idiot ran into a court room and tried killing people there? or ran into a police station? not going to do it since there are armed people in there…..you fight fire with fire and guns with guns…PERIOD…dam country is raising nothing but a bunch of pu**ies in the last 20 years.

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