We all remember the tragic Trayvon Martin case, and the wider issue of America’s “Stand Your Ground” laws.
There are at least two sides to every story, and the unfortunate reality of “Stand Your Ground” cases is that the shooter, all too often, is never prosecuted as the other individual is deceased and stripped of his or her ability to tell their side of the story.
Such was the case of Joe Horn of Pasadena, Texas, who left the safety of his house against the expressed instructions of a 9-11 dispatcher and shot 2 unarmed men in the back and killed them as they were leaving a neighbor’s home after successfully robbing it on November 14, 2007. He was subsequently cleared of any wrong-doing by a Harris County grand jury on June 30th of 2008.
So one might reasonably why this is news nearly halfway through 2012. Two reasons immediately come to mind: firstly, over half of the states in America have some version of “Stand Your Ground” laws on the books while several other states are considering such measures due in large part to the efforts of the NRA and national conservative groups such as ALEC.
Secondly, unlike with the Trayvon Martin case, there is a full audio tape of the entire incident and there is a video recording of the initial police interview of Joe Horn as well, leaving no doubt as to where culpability lies.
[both are attached below]
The problem in the Joe Horn case is not the specific circumstances of the case, rather it is the nature and end result of the clearly deficient Castle Doctrine and the greater problems associated with the newer Stand Your Ground statutes.
The most damning portion of the audio recording is presented below:
Joe Horn: “I’ve got a shotgun; do you want me to stop them?”
Pasadena emergency operator: “Nope. Don’t do that. Ain’t no property worth shooting somebody over, O.K.?”
Joe Horn: “But hurry up, man. Catch these guys will you? Cause, I ain’t going to let them go.”
[Mr. Horn then said he would get his shotgun.]
Pasadena emergency operator: “No, no.”
Joe Horn: “I can’t take a chance of getting killed over this, O.K.? I’m going to shoot.”
[The operator told him not to go out with a gun because officers would be arriving.]
Joe Horn: “O.K. But I have a right to protect myself too, sir. The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it.”
Pasadena emergency operator: “You’re going to get yourself shot.”
Joe Horn: “You want to make a bet? I’m going to kill them.”
“Well here it goes, buddy. You hear the shotgun clicking and I’m going.”
Joe Horn: “Move, you’re dead.”
There were two quick gunshots, then a third.
“I had no choice,” Mr. Horn said when he got back on the line with the dispatcher. “They came in the front yard with me, man.”
The 9-1-1 call ended about 80 seconds after the shots were fired, when officers arrived on the scene.