A man in Las Vegas was arrested for murder after what was termed a “road rage” incident. The dead man was driving poorly and the shooter honked his horn. Both vehicles stopped. The LVRJ article gives the important details about the killing:
“The [deceased] man killed then got out of his truck and walked over to the other truck. The man inside rolled down his window and opened the door, but the other driver pushed it back closed and raised his hand as if to hit him.”
This whole thing could have been avoided if the deceased had not gotten out of his car and let it go. There is no reason to yell at or fight someone over driving. Second, if someone approaches your car and is pissed off, don’t get out, don’t roll down your window, and don’t get pissed off back and yell at them. People with cool heads tend not to find themselves in these situations. If they want to attack you, let them break the glass. Think about what you’ll do beforehand.
Metro PIO Lt. Dan McGrath said the shooter had the option to leave, which doesn’t matter. Perhaps his phrasing was inelegant. If the shooter was the aggressor in the sense of the law, then he would have to retreat or somehow try to avoid any further violence before shooting. Declining further struggle is not synonymous with retreat, but perhaps that was the term the average member of the public could understand.
No duty to retreat (stand your ground) is part of Nevada’s justifiable homicide law.
“Justifiable homicide is the killing of a human being...in defense of...an occupied motor vehicle...against one who manifestly intends or endeavors to commit a crime of violence, or against any person or persons who manifestly intend and endeavor, in a violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious manner, to enter...occupied motor vehicle, of another for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein.”
The questions that do matter are:
“If a person kills another in self-defense, it must appear that (NRS 200.200):
1. The danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save the person’s own life, or to prevent the person from receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary; and
2. The person killed was the assailant, or that the slayer had really, and in good faith, endeavored to decline any further struggle before the mortal blow was given.”
This law dates from a time when men would start trouble, whoever they were bullying would legitimately draw a gun or knife or fight back, and the troublemaker would kill the other, claiming it was self-defense. Juries would accept the defense and acquit the killer. People got sick of bullies getting off on “created” self-defense grounds, so they passed laws like NRS 200.200.
Number two is especially relevant here. Who was the initial aggressor? Did the killer re-initiate something after things had calmed down? Does a honk make the killer into an aggressor? Questions for a jury, but the public needs more details to judge for itself. A murder charge allows the DA to offer a plea bargain down to manslaughter if the defendant can’t afford a good defense attorney or doesn’t want to take chances with the jury. Given the aspects of the law and McGrath’s verbal hints, it seems like there may have been more of a verbal exchange/escalation by the shooter than he’s letting on.
We’ll find out more details shortly. In the meantime, it’s best not to make a statement to police and to always consult an attorney after a defensive gun use.
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