Silence Is Golden

When the police and prosecutors talk with you in relation to allegations of criminal activity, you have the right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer to keep you from saying something stupid or even just inadvertent that can end up putting you in jail.  

And it doesn’t even have to be anything you say to the cops. 

A few  years ago, during the “Black LIves Matter” protest at Minneapolis’ Fourth Precinct, a fellow with a carry permit, Alan Scarsella,  shot and wounded someone from a group of protesters that was chasing him.   His fear of immediate death and great bodily harm was real; he attempted to retreat, running a whole block before firing back; he used the force needed to end the threat (the chase stopped cold when he fired).  

But on the way to the protest, he and his idiot friends made some videos, including some statements (which may or may not have been quotes) that the county prosecutor managed to get before the jury as racist provocations that, in the end, negated Scarsella’s attempt to prove that he wasn’t the aggressor in the jury’s eyes.  He got convicted and sentenced to seven years.  

So if you’re a good guy or gal with a gun who, heaven forfend, winds up shooting someone in self-defense, everything you say can and will be used against you – even things you say long before the episode in question, unrelated to the shooting.  

I thought about that when the media started covering this story – a Saint Paul homeowner shot a suspected car thief. 

And what picture did the Strib, and then every single gun-grabber group, run with?

Photo via the Strib’s Sharon Prather.

From the Strib, with emphasis added:

A 36-year-old man with a gun was with the suspect when police arrived, and he identified himself to officers as the homeowner, police said. He cooperated with the investigation and was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of aggravated assault.
The Star Tribune typically does not name suspects who have not been charged.
Police found the man who had been shot in the side yard of the house after hearing gunfire, said Sgt. Mike Ernster.
A sign in the window of the house read, “No trespassing. Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again!” The sign punctuates the message with drawings of bullet holes.

The guy – guys, really – are innocent until proven guilty. And Berg’s 18th Law is still in full effect.

But will the police and county attorney – who both cordially detest the law-abiding gun owner and dislike the notion of the Good Guy With A Gun, use this sign as evidence to logroll a jury, if necessary, into believing that the homeowner, whatever the actual situation, was looking for a chance to use his right to keep and bear arms on someone who “had it coming”?


Why embroider it?

If you are a gun owner who is concerned about self-defense, it is imperative that you stop writing on social media, putting stickers on your car, or posting your house with signs talking about what you intend to do to alleged criminals with your firearms.

It’s the same thing I wrote back when I did own guns. I’d never buy another, of course. Guns terrify me.

12 thoughts on “Silence Is Golden

  1. While I’ve always chuckled at signs like this guy posted, I’ve always told people that it’s a terrible idea to actually post one, especially outside your home. I’m sure County Attorney John Choi would happily make it Exhibit B, right behind the bloody photo of the home invader.

    My other favorites are;

    Don’t worry about the dog
    Beware of the Owner

    We don’t dial 911

    This house is protected by the Good Lord and a gun. Come in uninvited and you’ll meet both.

  2. Hoo boy… Scarsella explained as mere 2A guy exercising self defense rights is quite something. Similarly, presentation of this homeowner guy’s sign ain’t logrolling to make the case he’s one of these gunny misanthropes… it’s evidence.

    Course I completely agree about Merg’s sensibility re the hokey signs and bumper stickers. I own say 30 guns, have an FFL, and am a relative 2A absolutist.

  3. I saw trouble coming right away. Unless the runaway car thief actually entered the guy’s home looking for a place to hide, the home/gun owner didn’t have a threat of serious harm or death, and wasn’t in defense of another person at risk of the same. That may not be every dot and comma in the law, but that’s the gist. Now the guy’s insurance company is going to make the car thief rich.

    As Joel taught us, using your gun in almost any circumstance is going to ruin your life; you do it when the alternative is the real possibility of losing your life.

  4. Scarsella explained as mere 2A guy exercising self defense rights is quite something

    He’s not a poster child I’d select – he did pretty much everything wrong, from going someplace to antagonize people to bragging about his motives online, to leaving the scene and having the police come and find him.

    But even loathsome and stupid people have rights.

    And you look at the facts of the Fourth Precinct shooting, and it’s hard to avoid realizing that of the four boxes you have to check for self-defense under MN law, he got three of ’em. His fear of death or great bodily harm was reasonable. He used to force needed to end the threat. And he may have exercised his duty to retreat with more aplomb than anyone in history.

    But those videos allowed the prosecutor to label him as the aggressor. A good defense attorney might have gotten them thrown out, but the public defender wasn’t up to the task. And as Night Writer points out above, not putting himself in the situation in the first place woulda been eminently reasonable.

    I wrote a little more about the subject here a few years back.

  5. Merg – at the point the Scarcella case only meets 3 of 4 conditions for justified use of deadly self defense, it fails for a boolean evaluation of whether the prosecution was logrolling anyone. And thus I would say, has 0 utility as an anecdote for potential prosecutorial logrolling of self defense cases. So…. don’t use it as an anecdote for prosecutorial logrolling of self defense cases, don’t use it as an example of bias for prosecutorial over-zealousness in prosecuting righteous self defense cases.

    I do agree that gun owners / users should be very, very cognizant of anti-gun prosecutorial instincts when one comes into contact with the law over even mundane matters, but I am also struck that there is no great example of prosecutorial overzealousness to charge righteous self defense in the years of carry law in MN. Freeman was almost complimentary of the guy who shot the mugger in parking lot at KMart in S Minneapolis, and Ramsey County did not give put the investigatory screws to the guy show shot Broadbent when he did that.

  6. I didn’t say (or didn’t think I said) that the Scarsella case was prosecutorial logrolling or bias. The prosecutor outlawyered the public defender. I AM saying that from all indications, Scarsella met three of the four criteria without problem. Proving to a jury that someone is the aggressor isn’t a Boolean function; it wasn’t 0 or 1, but rather apparently a matter of a prosecutor convincing a jury that a .2 was a .8.

    I’ve complimented Freeman’s behavior in a couple of notable self-defense cases.

    As to the Broadbent shooting, from what I know, Ramco did all the investigating they needed to determine that the evidence, including witnesses, told ’em they were dealing with self-defense and didn’t need to go to trial, even against significant political pressure to charge the shooter.

  7. Shoot him with a camera at least, no? I can see taking some level of action out of kindness to one’s neighbor, but I sure hope it would end before something lethal, or even seriously injurious.

  8. Why would you shoot a guy for stealing someone else’s car?

    You would not. And the law in MN would likely not be amused if that were all it was.

    For the shooter’s sake, I’m going to hope there was more to it than that.

  9. If you shoot someone in a leftist shithole, the best thing you can do is call a press conference and declare you’re coming out, and wish to live your life as a gay man.

    Smart people will create a fake Faceberg page and festoon it with lots of likes for degenerate crap and lots of lefty likes, keeping it in reserve.

  10. homeowner and car thief were both black, so that’s a little off narrative…

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