Bronx Postal Worker Charged With Murder After Chasing Down Burglar And Killing Him With Pipe

One of the areas that I teach in torts is the use and limits of the privilege of self-defense and defense of property. We recently discussed in Illinois case involving the use of a spring gun in a case of defending property. Now in New York, postal worker Troy George has been charged with murder, manslaughter and weapons possession after he chased down an alleged burglar and killed him with a pipe.

As we previously discussed, the common law has long barred the use of lethal force to protect property. Moreover, even when defending oneself or others, you do not have to retreat but you cannot retaliate. That often means that a pursuit will be viewed as outside of the privilege.

In this case, George, 54, confronted someone who he said was prowling around his backyard. The man fled and George gave chase with a pipe. The evidence against George includes a neighbor who reported that his wife yelled “Oh my husband. He’s getting ready to kill him. He’s getting ready to kill him.”

The charges reject the notion of a “hot pursuit” in a case of self-defense or defense of property. Many states now have “Castle doctrine” laws, which allows citizens to use lethal force in defense of their homes. I have been a critic of Castle Doctrine laws, which have produced second-generation laws extending the privilege to the work place, cars, and other locations. Called “Make My Day” laws in some states, we now have “Make My Day Better” laws allowing people to use lethal force in defense of other property like cars as well as laws like “Stand Your Ground” involved in the Zimmerman case and other cases in Florida.

New York’s self-defense provisions includes a type of Castle Doctrine is more qualified and includes a duty of a citizen to retreat if possible. However, if the encounter occurs within the home, lethal force may be used so long as the resident did not instigate the conflict. The relevant section states:

2. A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person under circumstances specified in subdivision one unless:

(a) The actor reasonably believes that such other person is using or about to use deadly physical force. Even in such case, however, the actor may not use deadly physical force if he or she knows that with complete personal safety, to oneself and others he or she may avoid the necessity of so doing by retreating; except that the actor is under no duty to retreat if he or she is: (i) in his or her dwelling and not the initial aggressor; or (ii) a police officer or peace officer or a person assisting a police officer or a peace officer at the latter`s direction, acting pursuant to section 35.30; or

(b) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible criminal sexual act or robbery; or

(c) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing or attempting to commit a burglary, and the circumstances are such that the use of deadly physical force is authorized by subdivision three of section 35.20.

67 thoughts on “Bronx Postal Worker Charged With Murder After Chasing Down Burglar And Killing Him With Pipe”

  1. No brainer. It wasn’t a burglary. The lead stated he was in the back yard. Burglary is a commission of a crime AFTER entering a (laundry list of structures).. I suspect the story was hastily written and didn’t include all the facts.

  2. Responsibility?

    We don’t need no stinking responsibility!!!
    _________________________________

    If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

    Communists (i.e. liberalizes, progressives, socialists, democrats) have made the conscious decision to abolish law enforcement.
    ____________________________________________________________________________________________________

    “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    – Karl Marx

  3. OMG! People are actually defending Trayvon “Thug” Martin! Unbelievable! What was that Omar Khayam said,

    “Of all the words muttered on an inhalant, the stupidest are these, Trayvon wasn’t an assailant. . .

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. “Frank Taaffe says he now believes Zimmerman should have been found guilty in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.” (article, below)

      Former friend, supporter of George Zimmerman has change of heart

      By News 13 Florida Seminole County

      PUBLISHED May 10, 2014 @2:23 AM

      https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2014/5/9/former_friend_suppor.static.static.static

      A man who once called George Zimmerman a friend, speaking out in support of him before and during his lengthy trial, now says he’s had a change of heart.

      George Zimmerman’s former neighbor and fellow neighborhood watch volunteer says he wants to clear his conscience.

      Frank Taaffe says he now believes Zimmerman should have been found guilty in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

      He was once one of George Zimmerman’s most outspoken advocates, but now former neighborhood watch volunteer, Frank Taaffe says his opinion about Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict has changed.

      “What I know of George and his tendencies and also my opinion is that he racially profiled Trayvon Martin that night because if that had been a white kid on a cell phone, walking through our neighborhood, he wouldn’t have stayed on him the way he did and that’s a fact and I believe that in my heart,” said Taaffe.

      1. So what if he did “racially profile” Trayvon? Trayvon attacked him. And yes, if it had been a white kid maybe nobody would have thought anything. Again, so what? BECAUSE, the frigging profile was right! Trayvon was a thug, and he proved by attacking Zimmerman.

        Good riddance to bad rubbish IMHO!

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

    2. Cripes, Zimmerman fan boys again? He should be in Raiford on manslaughter.

      Only in the minds of people whose judgment is useless. He had a valid self-defense claim, which is why he was acquitted. See Jerilyn Merritt on the case. She said in nearly four decades of practicing criminal defense law, she had seldom encountered a prosecutor as unscrupulous as Bernardo de la Rionda. But all of his trickery availed him nothing, because his witnesses stank.

      Zimmerman is an everyman attacked by someone who is on the Democratic Party mascot list. Hence partisan Democrats fancy he was getting what was coming to him. Another example of why partisan Democrats simply do not belong in positions where they exercise discretion over normal people.

      1. Zimmerman created an incident – including arming himself and then stalking someone – which resulted in a minor – guilty of nothing – dead. For much of the evidence we only have Zimmerman’s self serving word

        He should be in Raiford on manslaughter.

        1. Zimmerman created an incident –

          He did nothing of the kind, nor did he ‘stalk’ Martin. You either know nothing or are lying. Zimmerman’s precise acts have been described in this thread, and they do not amount to ‘creating an incident’ or ‘stalking’.

          You and Peter Hill persist in demonstrating the thesis that contemporary liberal discourse is valueless.

        2. wrong, there was ample physical evidence that trayvon was banging his skull into the conrete when he dropped the hammer on him

          zimmerman’s lucky he was able to draw on him at all, with trayvon in “the mount” as they say in MMA

          TIA said the other evidence which supported his claim of self defense, which was accepted by the jury

          i also find it funny that somehow this gets blamed on white racism, when zimmerman was not white

          https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7be5aa/george-zimmerman-is-not-white

  4. Now in New York, postal worker Troy George…54, confronted someone who he said was prowling around his backyard. The man fled and George gave chase with a pipe.

    What was the point of including his profession in this story?

  5. If this goes to trial, I’d like to be the jury foreman. During the trial I’d wink at him and give him theO’k sign.

  6. Prof. Turley, you wrote, in part, “. . .postal worker Troy George has been charged with murder, manslaughter and weapons possession after he chased down an alleged burglar and killed him with a pipe.” I’m not a lawyer, so I’m wondering how a person can be charged with both murder AND manslaughter for killing one person.

    Wouldn’t that be double jeopardy?

  7. Can the defender take steps involving just-necessary-force to assure that the perpetrator has to face the justice system? A lower standard of permissible force is escape freedom for the perp – right to escape accountability? That doesn’t square with our legal system. Many perps will decide to escalate violence in order to escape (even instinctually), and the defender must be allowed to counter with escalation. Remember, Jonathan, the citizen is not only defending him/herself and property but also defending our system of justice and its power to levy accountability for wrongdoing.

    I think that’s perhaps where we disagree. Does the law give the criminal the right to escape?

    Is there an acceptable level of vigilantism where the only goal is to make a citizen’s arrest and apprehend a suspect caught-in-the-act so that the accused can be brought before the bar of justice? My understanding is that a citizen’s arrest is the right of every citizen to make.

    What’s at issue is how that right develops if the perp resists a citizen’s arrest by fleeing? Does the citizen have a right to exercise minimal force or threat of force in order to make a citizen’s arrest?

    1. I am glad you posted your thoughts, which shall remain here for at least as long as your miserable life. If/when you commit murder like the subject of this article, your prior intent is evidence to assist in your conviction.

      I’m sure you’re a fan of medieval hanging of children for stealing bread.

      1. and yet when it comes to hand gun deaths we find children are those up to 20 years 364 days of age. In medieval days children of 8 to 12 served on naval ships and in the army. I’m sure though you are one of the left who favored keeping the draft in force but did not approve of equal rights and approved sexism in operating a military conscription system.

  8. Sooo, a postal worker goes postal! But you know, this was a good thing. If more burglars got kilt, there would be less burglars.I do not believe we should care much about what happens to criminals in this case.

    BUT, if you really do care about what happens to the criminal class, a much better area of concern is what happens in prison and jails. We presume they will be raped, and care not. We presume they will be shivved, and care not.

    So, IMHO, spare the Humble Homeowner, and get mad instead at how the incarcerated are treated. That is something preventable.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Squeeky, you’re comment here is so twisted a reasonable person would be hard-pressed to determine ‘what’ the message is. It appears to be a ‘What About’ lacking any logic. Though rarely are ‘What Abouts’ based on any logic.

      1. Peter – the problem is that you are not a reasonable person and therefore are having trouble deciphering Squeeky’s quiet reasonable message.

        1. Paul tell us, with a straight face, what you think Squeeky’s ‘reasonable message’ could be. I’m interested in hearing this.

        2. Thank you PaulCS!!! Hill does not want to understand because that would upset his Victimology Gene. I bet he was even aghast when Dirty Harry shot the punk in the football field, and then ground his boot into the wound. But, Real Americans get it!

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

        1. Indeed, Anon. Squeaky is one of those deplorables who loves to see how racist she can get before her comments are deleted.

  9. as well as laws like “Stand Your Ground” involved in the Zimmerman case and other cases in Florida.

    To whom are you subcontracting the writing of this column? A ‘Stand your ground’ defense was not used by Zimmerman. He was on his back getting pummeled by Martin at the time he pulled out his gun and shot him. His counsel made a straightforward self-defense claim on his behalf.

    As always, law professors and others in the bar are second-guessing the decisions of normal people faced with unusual circumstances which require decisive action. And, as usual, lawyers are claiming that their preferences must be imposed on the rest of us.

    1. “He was on his back getting pummeled by Martin. ” That was the killer’s claim. Unfortunately, the Trayvon wasn’t alive to tell his side of it.

      1. “He was on his back getting pummeled by Martin. ” That was the killer’s claim. Unfortunately, the Trayvon wasn’t alive to tell his side of it.

        The following was in evidence:

        1. Photographs taken at the scene by a neighbor showing Zimmerman’s head covered in blood. Later photographs at the police station showed the wounds on the back of his head.

        2. Eyewitness testimony from a neighbor 30 feet away. He stated Martin was straddling Zimmerman practicing MMA ‘ground and pound’ moves.

        3. The coroner’s autopsy, which provided estimates of the distance between the gun muzzle and Martin’s chest, as well as the angle of entry.

        4. Audio recordings of the 911 calls made by neighbors, wherein Zimmerman can be heard yelping in the background.

        What more has to be in evidence before you’re willing to acknowledge it?

      2. It wasn’t necessary for Trayvon to testify. The beating of Zimmerman by Trayvon was witnessed by a neighbor who came out to see why someone was screaming while he was being beaten. The neighbor’s statement was to the effect that Trayvon was beating Zimmerman in a mixed martial arts style. When the medical person who first treated Zimmerman for his injuries and was called FOR the prosecution was asked by the defense attorney “if George Zimmerman had not stopped what was causing the injuries to his head could he have been killed?” the answer was ‘Yes’. Also, Zimmerman’s injuries were consistent with the eyewitness testimony.

        The state’s case was so poor that when I watched their witnesses testify I almost thought that the defense was putting on its case.

        The judge leaned in favor of the prosecution, in my opinion, and she banned evidence from Trayvon’s cellphone that he was part of a fight club in which people enjoyed slugging it out. He was not the child that the media pretended.

    2. Tabby, Zimmerman claimed Martin jumped him (which is quite possibly true). But at that point Zimmerman had been following Martin through the subdivision.

      Had Martin lived he might have testified that he believed Zimmerman was a stalker of some kind. For the record, Zimmerman wasn’t a Police Officer nor a Security Guard. Zimmerman actually had no official standing to stop or question people he considered suspicious.

      That lack of standing was the primary issue in Zimmerman’s case. Even the lowest-paid Security Guards have official uniforms and the authority to ask people if they belong on the premises. But Zimmerman didn’t even meet that threshold.

      1. i questioned some baggy pants wearing candy seller in my neighborhood the other day and asked them if they had a door to door vendor’s license. he lied and said “our pastor has it” actually the kid was obviously underage so technically he didn’t need a license. i just wanted to hear him lie. there was a bunch of them canvassing the whole area.

        I didn’t “stop” him, just asked a question. he kept on walking whilst fibbing to me. we both carried on with our days peacefully.

        nor did I make any other fuss over it, I figure, at least they are selling real candy bars, unlike the phonies from the Philippines or wherever, calling all the old folks with fraudulent pitches for medical supplies.

      2. Again, the evidence that Martin attacked Zimmerman is irrefutable and delineated above.

        Had Martin lived he might have testified that he believed Zimmerman was a stalker of some kind. For the record, Zimmerman wasn’t a Police Officer nor a Security Guard. Zimmerman actually had no official standing to stop or question people he considered suspicious.

        1. Zimmerman never stopped and questioned him.

        2. He called a non-emergency dispatcher to report someone behaving suspiciously, which any one of us has a right to do. In the course of that conversation, Martin abruptly ran down an alley a propos of nothing in particular. (Very peculiar thing to do if you were just returning home). Z

        3. Zimmerman got out of his truck to try to keep Martin in eyeshot but couldn’t see him. He was walking from one street to another on a paved walkway while talking to the non-emergency dispatcher and reported to the dispatcher that he could not see Martin.

        4. The two concluded the call and Zimmerman was loitering about at one end of this alley waiting for the police when Martin appeared and attacked him. We know precisely where that was because Zimmerman dropped his keys which were later photographed by crime scene technicians.

        5. Note, when he ran down the alley, he could have readily arrived at the back door of the townhouse where he was staying in < 15 seconds. Zimmerman couldn't see him and had no clue where he was. If his only object was getting home, he could have gone inside right them.

        6. In lieu of going back home, he quite deliberately walked 75 yards down the alley to confront Zimmerman.

        7. Martin was spooked by Zimmerman for a reason. And it's not because of how Zimmerman was behaving.

        If you don't know anything about it, don't comment.

        1. Tabby, I believe the Dispatcher is on record as telling Zimmerman to leave it alone. Again, Zimmerman didn’t have the legal standing to function as either a Policeman or Security Guard.

          Martin could have argued credibly that he thought Zimmerman was a nutcase. Zimmerman might have looked as suspicious to Martin as Martin looked to him. And again, that became the main sticking point in this case.

          One should also note that Zimmerman has been arrested on unrelated charges since this incident. Zimmerman has generally lived a somewhat troubled life and is known as an ‘under-achiever’.

          1. Tabby, I believe the Dispatcher is on record as telling Zimmerman to leave it alone.

            What the dispatcher said was ‘we don’t need you to do that’. What Zimmerman actually did was to get out of his truck and walk around his own neighborhood. The conversation with the dispatcher went on for a couple of minutes more. (BTW, the dispatcher is a dispatcher, not a sworn police officer).

            Again, Zimmerman didn’t have the legal standing to function as either a Policeman or Security Guard.

            Since he never attempted to do that, your complaint is irrelevant.

            Martin could have argued credibly that he thought Zimmerman was a nutcase.

            Credible only to idiots. What Zimmerman actually did, Peter, is pull his car over to the side of the curb and call the non-emergency dispatcher. At a later point, he got out of his car and walked from one street to another on a walkway which ran between them perpendicular to an alley. Then he stood around waiting for the police to arrive. Exactly what did he do that would have justified Martin walking 75 yards up the alley to attack him?

            Zimmerman might have looked as suspicious to Martin as Martin looked to him. And again, that became the main sticking point in this case.

            Again, only to stupid people. Zimmerman wasn’t suspicious. He was anxiety provoking to Martin, not to anyone else out in the neighborhood that night, including the kid who happened by walking his dog.

            One should also note that Zimmerman has been arrested on unrelated charges since this incident. Zimmerman has generally lived a somewhat troubled life and is known as an ‘under-achiever’.

            Zimmerman had a perfectly ordinary job working for an insurance agency, Peter. The only things for which he’s ever been arrested are on the order of disorderly conduct or affray. He’s also been the subject of vicious harassment since he was acquitted, including an attempt to kill him.

            Everybody has to be patient with you. You might ask yourself how you arrived at that state.

            1. Tabby, you’re in denial. Zimmerman was functioning as a Security Guard and tailing Martin throughout the complex. That would have been okay had Martin not known he was being tailed. But apparently Zimmerman made his presence too well known which inspired Martin to ‘mess with him’.

              I think this is a case where ‘both’ parties were immature young men. But Zimmerman was older and carrying a loaded gun.

              Had Zimmerman been driving a ‘Security Patrol’ vehicle and wearing a Security uniform, he would have been on solid legal ground. But Zimmerman’s unofficial standing muddied the whole case. And that’s the problem with so-called vigilantes; their unofficial capacity makes them problematic as investigators.

              1. was i a vigilante for questioning the urban youth who was illegally selling candy door to door in my neighborhood the other day?

                no

                was a i pretending to be a security guard?

                no

                did i get in trouble?

                no

                why?

                because I just drove away and let the kid carry on with his illegal candy sales. the neighbors: they’re not paying me for policing them and heck if I’m gonna end up like geo zimmerman

                geo zimmerman: the guy who protected the neighborhood and caught a boatload of grief for his good deeds

                young guys: don’t be a hero. consider instead tending to you own garden, and, perhaps let the trayvons go prey on the bleeding hearts who welcome them in the first place?

                1. The kid selling candy wasn’t committing a public order offense, even if he lied to you and had run afoul of Indiana’s license raj.

                  Martin resurfaced out of the blue and attacked Zimmerman. Because he felt like it. Zimmerman wasn’t to blame for being out of doors in his own suburban gated community, any more than was the kid walking his dog that time of night.

                2. perhaps let the trayvons go prey on the bleeding hearts who welcome them in the first place?

                  What is that supposed to mean? Martin was a guest of a homeowner in the complex. All of the adults responsible for him nestled somewhere near the nexus of the middle and working class – that’s his mother, his father, his paternal side uncle and the uncle’s wife, his stepmother, his father’s mistress. A school administrator, a long-haul truck driver, a retired army sergeant, &c. No obvious bleeding hearts, just ordinary adults with messy lives and an exasperating kid they had trouble controlling. (The first thing Tracy Martin did when he realized his son was missing was call juvenile hall).

              2. Tabby, you’re in denial. Zimmerman was functioning as a Security Guard and tailing Martin throughout the complex. That would have been okay had Martin not known he was being tailed. But apparently Zimmerman made his presence too well known which inspired Martin to ‘mess with him’.

                No, I know what happened and you’re pretending you know something. Zimmerman called the non-emergency dispatcher (which he had every right to do), got out of his truck (which he had every right to do), walked along a walkway (which he had every right to do), and waited there (which he had every right to do). He lost sight of Martin when he was still in his vehicle, and did not see him again until Martin walked 75 yards up the alley, appeared, and attacked him without provocation.

                I think this is a case where ‘both’ parties were immature young men. But Zimmerman was older and carrying a loaded gun.

                You’re character judgements aren’t worth a pitcher of warm spit. One of them attacked the other, for no god reason.

                Had Zimmerman been driving a ‘Security Patrol’ vehicle and wearing a Security uniform, he would have been on solid legal ground. But Zimmerman’s unofficial standing muddied the whole case. And that’s the problem with so-called vigilantes; their unofficial capacity makes them problematic as investigators.

                You keep pretending this is of legal significance. It is of no significance. Anyone lawfully in that complex could have called the dispatcher and was perfectly at liberty to walk around the common areas.

              3. Show me in the Florida criminal code where a single thing George Zimmerman did justified aggravated battery (the curb was Martin’s weapon, and Zimmerman was in reasonable fear of grievouis bodily harm – his attorney waived SYG because Zimmerman had a prima facie valid claim of self-defense, supported by a prosecution witness).

          2. Who “under-achieved” in the confrontation between Trayvon and Zimmerman? The younger, fitter one, or the older, slower one? Which one’s talking his apparently well-deserved dirt nap?

      3. I believe Zimmerman was on the private property grounds of his PUD, and Trayvon was an unwelcome trespasser with no legal right to be on the PUD property. If I’m correct, and I believe I am, then Zimmerman had every single right to follow anyone he wants to anytime 24/7, and to ask what that person is doing there if that person is not a resident.

        Trayvon can “think” anything he wants including that Zimmerman was a stalker. Unfortunately for Trayvon, his “thoughts” did not give him a right to trespass on private property.

        1. Trayvon Martin was a guest of a homeowner in the complex. He wasn’t trespassing on the complex grounds per se. He did trespass on the property of one Frank Taafe, who owned a townhouse in the complex.

      4. Hill translation: “For Zimmerman’s crime of asking Trayvon a Q, Trayvon rightly bashed Zimmerman’s head into the concrete and attempted to kill him, till Trayvon died of lead poisoning.” There, FIFY!

            1. Still not allowable grounds to initiate an assault with a deadly weapon (the curb he was pounding Zimmerman’s head into).

      5. Hill, Evidently you didn’t watch the trial. Nothing you say is borne out by the testimony; it is part of the pile of fictions pushed by the media. You cannot rely on the media.

        1. Or read anything about the case not filtered through dopey reporters. Maps of the complex, the recordings of the call to the non-emergency dispatcher, and discussions moderated by knowledgeable people like Jerilyn Merritt were all available. Photographs of Zimmerman’s bloody head were all over the internet.

  10. I’m going with a strong-arm robbery in the home coupled with burglary. The homeowner gave chase when he reasonably feared an immediate return by the culprit when he heard him say in a low voice, “I’ll be right back, sucker, to cap your a**.”

    That would be my story.

  11. Except for the weapons possessions charge, I think the state has a good case. Cops can run you down and shot you, but citizens cannot go after you with a length of pipe.

    1. >citizens cannot go after you with a length of pipe.
      Maybe he was trying to make a citizens arrest and the suspect did not let him.

      1. RHS, you might have the core of a reasonable argument. If he was attempting to make a legitimate arrest and the legal arrest was resisted with force the arresting party can legally elevate the level of force needed to subdue the suspect. Any law professor might hem and haw over that argument, but they won’t be on the jury. It could fly.

        1. The sticking point was the arresting citizen went beyond countervailing force necessary to subdue the subject, and killed him. If a citizen doesn’t know how to subdue a fleeing felon without killing him, that’s not a defense against being charged with a homicide.

          The postal worker’s best bet would be to plead to manslaughter, on the grounds that he didn’t intend to murder the fleeing felon. But I’d be rooting for the prosecutor. I don’t want some clown braining me with a lead pipe for walking past his house.

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