Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's Not the Same

Protesters are trying to equate the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida with the shooting death of Bo Morrison in Slinger this month.  Nice try, but the two cases are in no way the same.  Whereas Martin was killed while traveling along a public walkway--and was followed by someone who thought he was "suspicious"--Morrison was killed while committing a crime. 

Actually, Morrison was committing several crimes before and at the time of his death.  First, he had consumed alcohol as a minor durnig a noisy underage drinking party.  Then he was fleeing police by running away from the party.  And finally, he had broken into a house--and was trying to conceal his location in that building.  When discovered by the homeowner, Morrison moved toward the man with an arm raised in the air--and was shot.  We can argue the merits of the "Castle Doctrine" that is now the law of the land in Wisconsin--but homeowners who feel threatened by intruders now have the right to use deadly force against those criminals.

And don't try to downplay the "threat" level involved in the Morrison case.  The homeowner involved in the shooting is the person who called the cops to complain about the party at which Morrison had been drinking.  Anyone who calls 9-1-1 to report a crime always has that fear in the back of their mind that by "getting involved" they will become a target for retribution by those arrested.  I've been in that same situation myself.

While living in Marinette, I was awakened early one morning by the screams for help from a woman--and what sounded like a body hitting the wall again and again--coming from the apartment across the hall from mine.  I called 9-1-1--and buzzed in the officers--who arrested the woman's boyfriend for domestic abuse and felony battery.  As soon as the squad cars finally pulled out of the parking lot I started thinking "What if this guy finds out I'm the one who called the cops on him?"  He lived just a few feet away from me--and obviously, he has violent tendencies.  (In reviewing the arrest report the next day, I also found out that the cops removed a couple of guns from the apartment as well).

So how was that homeowner supposed to feel after hearing someone moving around inside his house shortly after he "got involved"?  Was he supposed to go downstairs without his gun?  Should he have engaged Morrison in a conversation after finding him hiding in his house?  "Hey man, what's going on?"  "Just hiding from the cops, dude."  "Oh, OK, I'll just go back to bed.  Make sure you lock up when you leave."  And should the homeowner have just allowed Morrison to continue toward him in the dark--unsure if Morrison was also armed?

While it would be absurd to suggest that Trayvon Martin shouldn't have been walking through a neighborhood with a hooded sweatshirt on if he didn't want to get shot--I don't think it's that unrealistic for Bo Morrison to not expect to be shot while illegally breaking into someone else's house.

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