When a group of guys say that they want to go on a hunt for Bigfoot, there are a host of concerns that come to mind about heading off with weapons to shoot at a mythical creature. None of those concerns appear to have stopped men in Oklahoma this week. Indeed, police say that Omar Pineda, 25, (left) may have thought he had Sasquatch at least when he heard “barking” behind him and fired. He bagged his friend with a shot to the back. Then it gets really weird.
Pineda was arrested and charged with reckless conduct with a firearm and obstruction. However, the police then arrested his father-in-law, Perry Don James, 53, who they found out had thrown Pineda’s gun into a pond on the property. James was arrested and booked on suspicion of a felon in possession of a firearm and destruction of evidence. Then they arrested Pineda’s wife, Lacey Jane Pineda, 22, who was charged with obstruction for telling police that someone else shot at her husband and his friend. That pretty much clears out the Pineda house.
Next to hunting Bigfoot, the idea that they could hide the facts of the shooting seemed rather fanciful with the victim in the hospital and able to talk.
We have often discussed hunting torts and the concept of “Buck Fever” or in this case Big Foot fever. For a prior column, click here.
The injury is a clear case of negligence. All hunting regulations state that a hunter should have visual contact before shooting at an animal. We have previously discussed such hunting accidents (here and here and here and here and here) and “buck fever” cases. Reckless driving is often charged as a crime, but not reckless hunting. Since I have often questioned criminal negligence and criminal recklessness prosecutions, I tend to view these cases as matters for tort liability. However, there is a lack of consistency in how recklessness cases are handled in hunting versus non-hunting cases.
While there is no indication that Simmons will be less than sympathetic and sue, it would make for an intriguing case. Would Simmons’ leaving the campsite be viewed as contributory or comparative negligence. Hunting communities often expect a certain wherewithal from citizens. Consider Maine hunter Donald Rogerson. Mistaking a 37-year-old housewife for a white-tailed deer, Rogerson shot and killed her. Locals insisted that the victim (who had recently moved from Iowa) was to blame because she was wearing white mittens during deer season. And a Bangor, Maine, jury cleared him of manslaughter.
In this case, the negligence of firing without a clear sighting of the animal is magnified that, in all of the accounts of Big Foot, no one has suggested that he barks.
As for Bigfoot, he has to be enjoying this immensely.