So Much for a “Free Pass”

We talked about it here. Now they have a conviction.

A retired Houston-area firefighter faces up to life in prison after a jury convicted him of murder for gunning down his unarmed neighbor during a dispute over a noisy house party.

Raul Rodriguez, 47, argued he was within his rights under Texas’ version of a stand-your-ground law when he killed Kelly Danaher in 2010. The trial’s punishment phase, which will include further testimony, was scheduled to begin Thursday.

From JUST the information in the video, it looked like a STUPID, but a clean shoot. (Just from the video, when the drunks got belligerent, it would have been a good move to head home and lock the door, and only engage if directly attacked)

But I made a speculation about this:

Johnson said Rodriguez lured and provoked Danaher and two other men to come out onto the street and threatened them by brandishing his gun. Rodriguez did have a concealed handgun license. She said Danaher and the two other men were unarmed and that Rodriguez’s life was never in any danger. Danaher’s widow had told jurors her husband was not a confrontational person.

Now I can’t agree with the last part. Again the drunks were openly breaking the law, threatening, and DID assault Rodriguez. The only thing on trial was Rodriguez shooting Danaher. From the video Rodriguez is acting calm, and apparently standing in the road. The thing that unsettled me was all that talk of Rodriguez’s gun by the other men. Rodriguez never mentions it in the video, but one of the drunks states that he’s going to get a shotgun because Rodriguez “Flashed a gun”, and Mr. Danaher is asking Rodriguez if there is a gun in his pocket shortly before being shot.

That’s a pretty big red flag right there. Texas isn’t an open carry state, so legally the drunks shouldn’t know if Rodriguez had a gun or not…unless he was brandishing it for effect, which is a crime.

This was an ugly case, and I think I’ll stand with the Jury on this one.

BTW the media was quick to call the Martin/Zimmerman case “motivated by race”, and even throwing around the odd modifier “White Hispanic” when it turned out Zimmerman’s pedigree is Jew/Hispanic/Black mix. Obviously if there is ANY consistency with the media race MUST be a factor when we’re talking Rodriguez/Danaher, right?

And again, so much for a “Free Pass” or “License to Murder”. And it must be noted that Texas has some of the most liberal deadly force laws in the country, and still this guy is looking at life in prison!

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8 Responses to So Much for a “Free Pass”

  1. I was going to post about this case. I think that confronting the neighbor for loud music etc is fine, but once the guy said he was going to get “something” and the firefighter knew that trouble was a brewing he should have hightailed it out of there. Of course he can stand his ground, but now he is in jail.

    Few things are black and white and as we have seen even legal justifiable shootings get all wonky when an agenda is in place, but…

    • Weerd Beard says:

      I also think the murder conviction went down because he wasn’t being quiet about being armed. However he brandished, its no different than the guy saying “I’m going into the house to get a shotgun”. Technically its WORSE, because the guy who admits to keeping his scatter gun inside doesn’t have opportunity to use it until he goes inside. The dude pointing out he has a gun in a confrontation is a DIRECT threat.

      I was in a situation where a friend had to tell her ex that he was violating his restraining order with an unscheduled visit to his kids. He’s made threats and been violent in the past, so I asked her if she wouldn’t mind me tagging along. She didn’t ask if I was armed or not, so I didn’t supply that information. Further the LAST thing I want to do is shoot somebody…let alone somebody who I know well, so I arranged the meeting so that he never saw me. I was near enough to hear everything and jump in if needed, but far enough that my presence was never known.

      I knew that if he saw her coming with “muscle”, it might escalate things, so I removed that from the equation.

      And as I said on the first post, even if he’s 100% in the right, does killing somebody, then going to jail and facing charges sound like a good time to you? Even if its one of those ultra-clean shoots where the cops just do their paperwork and arrange for the body to be hauled off, that’s a lot more drama and trauma than I’m in the market for, and I’d rather avoid it.

  2. Bill Baldwin says:

    From the video, it was hard to tell what prompted the shooting. I suspect that perhaps he was rushed from the side, however, I also believe he provoked the situation. If his house was close to enough for the music to be a problem, he could have stayed on his own property to record the nuisance without putting himself in the situation to have to defend himself. I also don’t believe he had a video recorder to record the nuisance, I believe he had a recorder in the event he had to defend himself, to show that he was within the law. Of course, if that were the case, his plan backfired.

    I do wonder, if there was no SYG law in TX, would the shooter have conducted himself in the same manner and confront his neighbors? In other words, was it the SYG law that embolden him to put himself in that situation?

  3. 45er says:

    If the Castle Doctrine emboldened him, then he did not have any understanding of the law. The law allows you to defend yourself wherever you have a legal right to be. While there is no duty to retreat in Texas with the law, if you have the opportunity to exit a situation safely and do not, then you don’t have the law behind you. There are also escalation and (as Weer’d mentioned) brandishing laws. From what I see here he violated both of those. All of a sudden you aren’t conduction yourself “legally” and it isn’t so black and white. You’re right. This one is ugly, but I can’t support someone actively engaging in a verbal altercation with people when they could be leaving the situation and most especially announcing you are armed or brandishing.

  4. Joel C says:

    Well, Weerd, unlike you I can’t “stand with the jury on this one.” But since all I have is the video, and no desire nor intention to research this further, I do have to give ‘em the benefit of the doubt. All else is foolery and speculation.

    That said…

    Your idea that the murder charge went down because Rodriguez somehow let on that he was armed, either by showing a “holstered weapon” or by drawing it, (I suspect Texas law would define both as Brandishing,) doesn’t completely work for me. I just don’t know that breaking a brandishing law automatically negates one’s right to self defense. I don’t think it should, in every circumstance, but I don’t write or read Texas law.

    I have to disagree with your statement that- “The dude pointing out he has a gun in a confrontation is a DIRECT threat.” No. No he isn’t, not unless he is THREATENING you! One can brandish a weapon to make a threat, or as a deterrent. (One can also, in those regions where open carry is legal, engage in an argument bearing a holstered and loaded pistol on the hip the while, presumably without threatening or endangering anyone at all.) Now, brandishing as a deterrent is actually a counter-threat, and in principle a threat is a threat, but it is the underlying intention which makes the difference. (“I will shoot you” as opposed to “IF you attack, I will shoot!”) I would prefer a law to recognize and honor that distinction, but I do not expect that many do, more’s the shame.

    I think Rodriguez had every right to confront the revelers and ask them to turn down their music. He didn’t have to, and who says it was foolish may say so all day, for they may be right. That’s fine. But foolish or no, it was not unjustified for him to do so, and he did. Given that he confronted a loud and boisterous group of probably intoxicated men, he was not unwise to arm himself against unfortunate twists of fortune, but I agree with all of you, (who would not?) that having thus tweaked the tiger’s tail, he ought to have taken his damn camera and pistol and immediately retreated at least as far as his front door. Were he still too bold, too peeved, or just too knuckle-headed to bar himself behind it, I cannot think but that, had the drunks pursued him that far and attacked, that his legal justification would be at least a bit firmed up.

    In all, I suspect it was a totality of the circumstances which doomed Rodriguez at the end, and I haven’t a clue what all of them were. Is this justice carried out, or a miscarriage of justice? I can’t know with what I know, and I reckon I probably never will.

    Thus endeth my foolery and speculation.

  5. Cargosquid says:

    “But…but….but…he said the magic words! We KNOW that you get off scot free when you say the magic words. We saw it on South Park!”

    by Ima Effin Idgit, CSGV and the Brady Bunch

    • Joel C says:

      Yeah he sure did, didn’t he? I wondered about that. I’m also not clear about who he was talking to. Was he on the phone with someone, or just recording the “right words” for posterity? Meh, doesn’t matter I guess.

      The information from Sebastian, related on the update in the Joan in a Corner post on this blog, sheds some light on the “totality of circumstances” I wondered about last night, so there ya go. (This post seems a better place for these comments though.)

      Thing is, if Rodriguez had been over there with just his camera and a cell phone, no gun, and three guys jumped him, this could easily have been one’a Weerd’s “Gun Death” posts. Bottom line seems to be, Rodriguez went over there with a camera and maybe some half assed intention to maybe shoot someone, possibly? And some dipshit who KNEW he was armed apparently decided to jump him anyway?

      Definitely a case of Stupid People, Stupid Places, and doing Stupid Things.

  6. Pingback: Joan Gets Backed Into a Corner | Weer'd World

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