It used to be considered bad form to shoot a man in the back. Today, it’s policy. Well, policy for armed government workers – who uniquely are empowered to shoot people in the back. Here’s an example:
A Nashville, TN man was running away from an armed government worker. The armed government worker was apparently unable to catch up to the fleeing man and so stopped, aimed – and shot him dead.
In the back.
The man was reportedly carrying a gun but not even the armed government worker is claiming that the man pointed it at him or even looked back at him. He was fleeing while armed – and that is enough, apparently, to justify summary execution.
This is interesting on several levels.
First, there is no pretense of “officer safety” – the usual justification given for summary execution. In other words, this ratchets things up. Apparently, trying to get away is sufficient justification for summary execution.
Which brings up the second interesting thing.
If you are not an armed government worker – and even if you have a permit to carry a gun – in most states, you commit a felony if you shoot a person who is trying to get away from you.
Even in “stand your ground” states.
You are only permitted to use deadly force if confronted. And in some states, you also have an obligation to attempt to get away from the threat and may only resort to lethal force if you cannot get away.
The TN armed government worker may have been legally (and even morally) justified in chasing this man, who reportedly was a car theft suspect. But shooting him in the back – capital punishment – just because he was “getting away” is a bit much and sets a scary precedent.
. . .
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