Self defense is always a tough thing to determine. Most of the time, only the people directly involved truly know what happen. On top of that, how far can self defense go? If you get into a fist fight and someone stabs you, were they acting in self defense? Technically they would be defending themselves. That's why self defense cases are often so controversial. There is a certain subjectivity that comes with self defense, especially if there are no witnesses to corroborate a story.
This is especially true when the cases are widely publicized. The court of public opinion makes their decision before the official court weighs-in. Often the public decides who is guilty and who is innocent before there is ever a trial. This leads to outrage when the result is not as expected, which in turn breeds distrust in our legal system. Of course, our legal system is not perfect. Plenty of people get sent away for doing nothing and plenty of others literally get away with murder. Unfortunately, that is our only means of justice in this country. Many of these cases were highly publicized, and the results therefore angered the public even more when they were found to be acting on self defense.
15 The Death of Officer James Davies
14 Nancy Seaman, Hatchet Murderer
13 Joe Horn, Castle Law Shooter
12 Basil Parasiris, Dynamic Entry Shooting
11 Rachel Wade, Steak Knife Killer
10 Greyston Garcia, Radio Killing
9 Howard Morgan, 28-Shots Survivor
Former Chicago police officer Howard Morgan was pulled over in 2005 for driving down a one-way street. What happened next was hotly disputed by both parties. Police say that Morgan drew his firearm and fired a shot at police, prompting them to fire back in self defense. Morgan maintained that police began shooting as soon as they saw his gun and that he never fired at the police. One thing was not disputed, though, as Morgan was shot 28 times by police officers, 21 of which were in the back. Morgan survived the shooting and was charged with discharging a firearm and attempted murder. He was found not guilty of the shooting charge in 2007, but there was no verdict on the attempted murder charge. At a later trial, Morgan was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
8 Sean Bell, Bachelor Party Shooting
23-year-old Sean Bell was celebrating his bachelor party one night in 2006, but he would never live to see his wedding day. An undercover officer at the club reported hearing an altercation between Bell, some friends and a third party. He heard one of Bell's companions state that he was going to get his gun, and when the group left police believed that they were going to partake in a drive-by shooting. Bell's car hit an unmarked police van upon exiting, and the officers within fired 50 shots at the car, killing Bell and injuring his friends. There was no weapon in the car.
7 Cordell Jude, Taco Bell Shooter
Cordell Jude was at a Taco Bell drive through one day, when he pulled out and almost struck a pedestrian. The man, Daniel Adkins, was walking his dog at the time, and raised his hands in anger at Jude's negligence. Jude reported to police that he saw Adkins holding a metal pipe in his hand. This was a threat to both Jude and his pregnant girlfriend who was in the car with him. No such pipe was ever found on Adkins, and it is assumed that Jude mistook the leash that Adkins was holding for a metal pipe. Jude shot Adkins and killed him; the latter was later revealed to be suffering from a mental disorder. Jude was charged with second degree murder, but plead self defense in his trial. He was convicted of manslaughter, as the jury decided that his actions did not meet the standard of Arizona's self defense law.
6 Robert Durst, Dismemberment and Drag
5 Kendrec McDade, Unarmed College Student Shot
4 Oscar Grant, Fruitvale Station Murder
3 Walter Scott, Fled Shooting Mistrial
2 The Infamous Trayvon Martin Shooting
1 Infamy Repeats With Michael Brown Shooting
Just two years after the Trayvon Martin case, the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown was one of, if not the most, publicized police shooting in history. The outrage surrounding the case fueled seemingly endless protests in and surrounding Ferguson, Missouri. Police claimed that Brown attacked police in their car and attempted to steal a gun. Witnesses claimed that they saw Brown with his hands up before police shot him to death. Brown was shot at least six times and was unarmed at the time of his death. Officer Darren Wilson, the man who killed Brown, was twice exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing in this case, which lead to further outrage in the community and across the country. Many protests were peaceful, but some erupted into riots, especially after police intervention. The protests that followed Michael Brown's death showed the public how militarized local police forces have become, which has began a dialogue about the necessary tools law enforcement needs in order to keep the peace.
Sources: MSNBC, NYTimes, ABCNews, CBSLocal, CNN
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