Of COURSE They Shot Him: He Brought a Baseball Bat to a Gunfight

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Most people would think that three large men supposedly trained to deal with emergencies could find some way other than gunplay to deal with the “threat” posed by a 62-year-old man armed with a baseball bat. The lethal police shooting of Peoria, Arizona resident Richard Allen Dodds last night (January 25) suggests otherwise.

Dodds, described by neighbors as a kind, quiet man, got embroiled in an intense argument with his wife over finances. A family member handicapped by common — and increasingly fatal — misconceptions about how to handle an emergency dialed 911 in the tragically misplaced confidence that the police would help.

After three officers stormed into the home, Dodds reportedly confronted them with a baseball bat. The sequence of events that followed isn’t clear, and most likely never will be. Dodds refused to obey “commands” issued by the officers and reportedly “charged” the cops. One of them shot him with a Taser. At some point the other officers, who “feared for their lives” despite outnumbering the senior citizen, opened fire, killing him.

Here’s an interesting question: What would likely happen if three ordinary citizens shot and killed a sexagenarian who threatened them with a baseball bat? Would the police — who tend to suffer a loss of bladder control anytime an unarmed Mundane “threatens” them in some way — shrug their shoulders and let the matter drop? Would the local prosecutor accept the self-defense claim without protest?

Two recent cases underscore the fact that the use of disproportionate lethal force is considered the special privilege of the punitive caste.

Last December, 25-year-old Adam Johnson shot and wounded two men during an altercation in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.When police arrived at the scene, Johnson told them: “I felt threatened and I didn’t feel that there was any other way out of it.”

Had Johnson been a member of the Brotherhood in Blue, that claim would have been considered self-ratifying. Because he was a mere Mundane, Johnson was arrested and charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery. Those charges were later dismissed.

However, since Johnson is a private business owner rather than a gun-toting Samurai, he spent his own money and time (some of it behind bars) dealing with the legal aftermath of the shooting, rather than being given a paid vacation (aka “administrative leave”).

Dennis F. Cherry a 63-year-old resident of Akron, Ohio, faces criminal charges for the supposed offense of using an AR-15 to repel two burglars. When Anibal Cordero and Jenna Zsebhazy broke into his home, Cherry confronted them with his gun. He was able to detain Zsebhazy, but Cordero fled in his car. Cherry unloaded fifteen rounds into the vehicle.

Cordero and Zsebhazy were both apprehended and charged with felonious attempted burglary. Cherry was arrested and charged with two felonies — first degree “reckless endangerment” and second-degree “menacing” — and a misdemeanor charge of second-degree “menacing.”

Had Cherry been a rented thug in a state-issued costume, rather than a senior citizen defending his property, the would-be burglars would be facing numerous other charges, including resisting arrest, criminal evasion, and most likely some variety of assault. Instead, Cherry — like many unfortunate residents of socialist Great Britain — finds himself facing prosecution for defending his home and life against criminal aggression.

(In my original post I mistakenly referred to Mr. Cherry’s firearm as a “shotgun.” My thanks to LRC reader Matthew C. Kaney for catching the error.)

3:26 pm on January 26, 2010