Patterico's Pontifications


Road Rage Shooting (Updated)

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 2:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Here’s another Houston-area shooting that is a tragedy for the people involved but presents interesting self-defense questions:

“[Missouri City police Capt. John] Bailey said that at 1:53 a.m., officers responded to a shooting call in the 4100 block of Starboard Shores in the Brightwater subdivision.

Around that time, the police department received another phone call from [Vancent] Nguyen, who had dialed 911 and said he had just shot a man who had come up to his vehicle and started punching him, Bailey said.

He was advised to stop his vehicle so officers could locate him and he complied.

Officers found Nguyen in the 4100 block of Eastshore Drive where he was detained. Other officers found [Roberto] Jaimungal lying in the street in the 4100 block of Starboard Shores bleeding profusely. He died at the scene.

Bailey said a preliminary investigation showed that the two men became involved in some type of traffic incident moments earlier and the end result of the altercation was the shooting.”

Nyugen was charged with murdering Jaimugal.

The comments at the link are also interesting.


UPDATED — Local TV station KHOU has more details that explain why Nyugen was charged with murder:

“Two strangers who lived blocks from each other in Missouri City had a brief encounter Sunday that ended with one of them dead.

Roberto Jaimungal, 31, had been to the grocery store when he crossed paths with Vanson Nguyen, who was headed home from church.

Police believe Jaimungal screeched to a stop behind Nguyen at a red light on Lexington and Brightwater, just missing him. Both men drove away.

Jaimungal’s fiance, Lauren Johnson, said Jaimungal was unloading groceries in the upscale Lakes of Brightwater subdivision when Nguyen pulled up.

“He asked, ‘Why did you follow us?’” Johnson said. “As soon as he said that, I heard gunshots.”

38 Responses to “Road Rage Shooting (Updated)”

  1. Generally, the principle is that you’re not allowed to use lethal force to defend yourself against an attacker using non-lethal force. Depending on state law, the fact (if established by evidence) that he was attacked first and was trying to defend himself would probably have some impact on how the judge handled sentencing (and might encourage a bit of jury nullification if they viewed the victim as unsympathetic), but Mr. Nguyen is in big trouble.

    M. Scott Eiland (c552ec)

  2. I’m not sure what law applies, Scott, but Texas may allow the use of deadly force without retreat while defending yourself in your vehicle.

    DRJ (09fa6c)

  3. “GUNS ARE BAD!!11!!eleventy!!!”

    unhinged moonbat (fb8750)

  4. DRJ

    Do you remember the case where just after the law was passed in the 90’s a lawyer did the same thing?

    I cant recall exactly what happened but I think this guy wasnt even punched

    EricPWJohnson (dd52ff)

  5. It’s like you’re not allowed to kill nobody ever.

    happyfeet (71f55e)

  6. DRJ, don’t you have to prove it’s immediately necessary to use deadly force?

    How can it be immediately necessary to use deadly force against an unarmed man when you’re in a steel car? There are obviously times when you could be justified, but he’s going to have to have a really good explanation to the jury for why this was necessary.

    One of the commenters said this was the victim’s home, too. So did the shooter follow the victim to his home, shoot him, and then claim self defense? I have no idea. It’s easy to get the impression that 2 am at night in Houston, with a dumb altercation that is avoided by driving away = too much alcohol.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  7. If you stay in your vehicle and the perp tries to get at you inside it, you can shoot him.

    nk (db4a41)

  8. NK

    Cops in that town are not too educated

    EricPWJohnson (dd52ff)

  9. The listed case is what I recall as the first incident after Texas passed the concealed carry law. A similar road rage incident in Dallas where one motorist attacked another motorist who was seated in a car. The first motorist started punching the seated motorist,who subsequently shot the attacker. The DA took the case to a grand jury, which declined to sustain the charges. “No Billed” is the term. So _IF_ this is the case, and the facts sustain the circumstances, the chances are the charged party will be no billed and the case dropped. But, as the commenters at the link say, oft times the first story reported is not all the facts. Having lived briefly in Missouri City Texas myself… I think I’d take my chances in Dallas.

    Joec (7d5823)

  10. An armed society is a society where random strangers don’t walk up to people’s cars and punch them in the face.

    JHE (9284aa)

  11. On first reading, fleeing = not good, but calling 911 to report might be an acceptable excuse (you saw a mob running out of the house and didn’t want to continue the fight?)

    That it was in front of the victim’s house also on first glance is not good, but perhaps the accused’s house is further down the street and around the corner, so it would be natural for him to be there?

    More, much more, information is needed. Bruises on the accused? Scratches on the victim from the accused’s car window? Fingerprints on the car, gun, either person?

    htom (412a17)

  12. I’m guessing that Mr. Nguyen never learned to allow himself to be hit. 😉

    nk (db4a41)

  13. More info needed, of course. I don’t think it’s an absolute rule, either. If he’s indicted, he’ll have to prove himself innocent, rather than the normal way around. He’ll have to show, if I’m right about the law, that he had an immediate necessity to defend himself. That doesn’t mean he has to flee his car or home if there’s any way to evade the ‘assailant’ who I’m not even sure attacked anyone or tried to get into anyone’s car.

    I guess there are two issues for me. If Nguyen was being assaulted or even battered, and if that’s enough, when he’s in a car and can just hit the gas and leave, to warrant shooting some unarmed man at his home.

    Personally, I do not think it’s immediately necessary to kill someone if you can drive away… it’s not like if they are in your castle and you have a right to keep them out.

    I’ve never been to Missouri City… and I guess I’m not missing out.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  14. Dustin:

    That’s the thing. If you’re in a car you can put the car in drive (or reverse) much easier than reaching into the glove box or console dash, pull out a gun and shoot the person who is trying to come in through the window/door.

    Now, if your right arm is restrained or you can’t reach the gears or pedals and your gun is in the door or under the seat, that would be a different story.

    Newtons.Bit (5f16df)

  15. Any bumperstickers involved?

    GeneralMalaise (24d3e0)

  16. There are reasons why Texas law allows concealed carry in your car.

    nk (db4a41)

  17. “There are reasons why Texas law allows concealed carry in your car.

    Comment by nk ”

    True. And there’s a reason why Texas law makes it a murder to shoot someone you have no immediately great reason to shoot.

    I have no idea if that’s the case. I’m trying to fill in the blanks of the event to make it work one way or the other. Seems like it’s possible the man was defending himself from someone trying to pull him out of a car when he stopped at their house. But he is in a pickle, because I think he has to actually demonstrate that to a jury.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  18. Actually, Texas law makes it easy to shoot someone who puts his hands on another person or another person’s property.

    nk (db4a41)

  19. It appears that both parties learned that actions have consequences.

    AD - RtR/OS! (2f7dee)

  20. Interestingly, Arizona just went to an Alaska style permit-optional law on concealed carry. It no longer requires a permit to carry concealed weapons in Arizona with some minor exceptions where a permit allows carry ( mainly restaurants that serve alcohol ).

    SPQR (26be8b)

  21. there are a number of good reasons that come to mind why one can’t just “you can put the car in drive (or reverse) much easier than” reaching for a gun when someone is out to hurt you.

    there may be cars stopped in whatever direction you may wish to travel, who likely won’t move, no matter how you try to get their cooperation. the car that blocks you may belong to the assailant or an ally of theirs. there may be cross vehicular traffic or pedestrians, a raised bridge or a train, your vehicle may be stalled, out of fuel, have a flat, or some other mechanical defect, or be stuck in a hole, mud, snow etc and even be high centered.

    leaving the immediate location is also a potentially good idea. i can think of many places here in Los Angeles where, if i had to use deadly force, i would *NOT* wait around for LAPD, etc, to get around to responding. rather i would move to the nearest safe locale, such as a large parking lot at a shopping center, where i could observe my approaches, then notify law enforcement of my location, and, for my own safety, get on the ground in the felony prone at the first sign of law enforcement, with the now clearly unloaded weapon in plain sight in the vehicle.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  22. I found more on this story at a local TV station’s website and updated the post.

    DRJ (09fa6c)

  23. #13 Dustin:

    it’s not like if they are in your castle and you have a right to keep them out.

    Florida’s Justifiable Use Of Force statute specifically calls out an occupied vehicle as a place of refuge (where you don’t have a duty to retreat) in 776.013:

    (a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; …

    I guess the assumption was that were going to be incidents where the lawful occupant of the vehicle would be unable to retreat, even using the vehicle. Of course, in determining whether to use deadly force in a justifiable manner, it’s good to keep in mind that a vehicle is usually a much deadlier weapon than a firearm.

    As far as the instance in Missouri City goes, he (Nguyen) “was headed home from church” and he detoured from that route to murder somebody? Something doesn’t add up.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  24. Well, you take the fiancee’s story at face value, and things look bad for the shooter. According to her, the shooter followed them home after the traffic incident. But remember, Nguyen was initially ahead of the couple at a stoplight when Roberto almost slams into Nguyen’s car. They argue, then continue on their way home. But they live right near each other and, if Nguyen is still in front, he thinks Roberto is following him. . He’s afraid to go home because he doesn’t want Roberto to know where he lives, so he stops his car- coincidentally right near Roberto’s home. Roberto now thinks Nguyen is looking for trouble. He approaches the car, words are exchanged, Roberto starts swinging and Nguyen blasts him.

    jimboster (fe0b27)

  25. I’m not a lawyer, but I have taken Texas’s CCL permit class and a similar hypothetical was posited during training. I think the following excerpt from the Texas Penal code may have something to do with Mr Nguyen’s murder charge:

    Sec. 9.31. SELF-DEFENSE. (a) Except as provided in Subsection (b), a person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force…(snip)

    (b) The use of force against another is not justified:
    (1) in response to verbal provocation alone
    (2) to resist an arrest or search that the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, or by a person acting in a peace officer’s presence and at his direction, even though the arrest or search is unlawful, unless the resistance is justified under Subsection (c);
    3) if the actor consented to the exact force used or attempted by the other;
    4) if the actor provoked the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force, unless:

    (A) the actor abandons the encounter, or clearly communicates to the other his intent to do so reasonably believing he cannot safely abandon the encounter; and

    (B) the other nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful force against the actor; or
    (5) if the actor sought an explanation from or discussion with the other person concerning the actor’s differences with the other person while the actor was:
    (A) carrying a weapon in violation of Section 46.02; or

    (B) possessing or transporting a weapon in violation of Section 46.05. (End Quote)

    It’s not clear if Nguyen has a permit, and assuming he was indeed beaten, he didn’t shoot to stop the assault, he went and found the guy afterward. He “sought an explanation from or discussion with the other person concerning the actor’s differences with the other person,” and even a CCL might not be enough to justify his actions.

    I’m not claiming any expertise, I’m just saying that even if Nguyen was beaten, it sounds like he has a problem and he needs good legal help.

    Papa Rod (7d1147)

  26. jimboster,
    Unless you have another source of information your speculation includes a lot that is counter to what has been claimed in the coverage.

    Where did anyone say they argued at the light?

    If Nguyen was ahead, how did he pull up outside the other man’s house as he was unloading groceries from his parked car?

    How could Nguyen not realize the victim lived there if he was parked and unloading groceries?

    The only one with reason to believe he was followed was the victim. The only claim that the victim was “swinging” was from the shooter. As he stopped in front of the other victim’s house I think he is in trouble unless he has damage to support his claim of being punched. And he should be. I have seen nothing from police to indicate if such damage was evident or not. Have you?

    Machinist (9780ec)

  27. Thanks, Papa. I think it’s an interesting law.

    EW1, I realize that the protection includes your car, but I think it ought to only be under certain circumstances. I don’t think I want to insist on a duty to retreat with your car so much as I want to insist that you don’t drive to someone’s home and continue a dispute and then shoot them when the victim is goaded into a fight. In other words, a castle doctrine shouldn’t give you the right to move your castle to your enemies and escalate conflicts with them that you can use your special legal haven to terminate (I realize you aren’t saying otherwise).

    nk mentioned that Texas makes it easy to defend yourself if you’re attacked or someone messes with your property. Granted. It sounds a lot like Nguyen kept the confrontation going until the time he thought he was cleared to shoot. That’s not justifiable.

    The shooter has a defense, as nk puts it, an easy one under other circumstances, that he has to prove. And since I have to look at this case through the media filter, I have this image in my head of a man unloading groceries being shot in his driveway. There’s no way that’s morally OK. If the law permits it we need to fix the law. Really, when you have a road rage moment and then go to someone’s home and start a verbal confrontation with them, you’re the invader.

    This is 2 am, too. What kind of jackass follows someone to their home at 2 am because of a driving error? I don’t know for sure about the facts, but it’s hard to imagine a circumstance that makes this a lawful self defense.

    The theme the prosecutor will use is ‘this wasn’t necessary’. Nguyen has to prove it was. It’s always a shame when someone abuses their rights. He knew he was looking for trouble and getting his ego involved with his driving by trying to chew strangers out at that hour. Unless he’s got an amazing explanation, I hope he rots in prison for decades.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  28. I’m sure most CHL bearers realize they don’t have a license to escalate situations and then shoot if things get out of control.

    If you’re going to carry a gun around, you need to be more responsible, not less.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  29. Oh, they both posted? So now I look even more repetitive than usual.

    /takes a long bow

    /takes another long bow

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  30. One more important item to keep in mind is that the only witness we have heard from is the victim’s fiance. I have not heard any portrayal of what the shooters version of events is other than the claim to authorities that he shot in response to being punched. His story may be completely different from the fiance’s version. If she is correct in what she is saying than he is in trouble. His story would have to be completely at odds with hers and I would not think she would leave her dying fiance in the street to plant evidence of his car being parked and the groceries being unloaded. The police report of the scene and of the shooter’s condition should be clarifying. We have only heard one side so far.

    Machinist (9780ec)

  31. #27 Dustin:

    In other words, a castle doctrine shouldn’t give you the right to … escalate conflicts … [so] that you can use your special legal haven…

    In reviewing the applicable statutes when I am traveling to a state that I intend to carry in, I have not run into any wording (in a state that has a castle doctrine) that would allow that. (So far as I know, Florida is the only one that refers to an “occupied vehicle.”) But as a rule of thumb, anytime the shooter is the aggressor, you can rule out justifiable use of force anyway.

    And I think the original story at the top of the page is a misprint: 1:53 pm sounds more plausible for people to be returning from grocery shopping or church band practice; not activities one normally associates with nocturnal miscreants.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  32. Of course we don’t know the circumstances of what really happened that night, but its unfortunate that both families have to go through this. I’m quite sure that had Mr. Nguyen not had a gun on him he would not have ended up in this situation, he would’ve found himself at home where he should have been. Is it the guns fault, absolutely NOT. I myself own multiple guns and have had my CHL since 22 years of age. I do not know Mr. Nguyen’s state of mind but I do know that some individuals who carry guns feel a sense of empowerment, they’re a little badder when they have a weapon. Regardless of the outcome individuals should think of their actions prior to making a life or death decision, even if acquitted the legal costs can be staggering! Not to mention the emotional toll put on both families.

    Andre' (de532b)

  33. Vietnamese are mean little b***ers as we found not all that long ago.

    nk (db4a41)

  34. Generally, the principle is that you’re not allowed to use lethal force to defend yourself against an attacker using non-lethal force. Depending on state law, the fact (if established by evidence) that he was attacked first and was trying to defend himself would probably have some impact on how the judge handled sentencing (and might encourage a bit of jury nullification if they viewed the victim as unsympathetic), but Mr. Nguyen is in big trouble.

    A reasonable argument can be made that a punch can be considered lethal force.

    Man Dies After One Punch; Suspect Sought

    Of course, it appears that Nguyen had followed Jaimungal home. That will be used in the case against him.

    Michael Ejercito (6a1582)

  35. Hey Fellas.. and the people who talked non-sense too soon.

    Charges are dropped for Vanson.

    Cliff notes:

    Neighbor has security cams pointing directly to Vanson and the Attacker.

    Vanson was getting beat to a pulp.

    Vanson had enough strength to reach for his pistol and shoot the man while being beaten to a bloody pulp.

    Vanson leaves scene and calls cops immediately.

    Charges dropped and he is being released soon.

    Thanks everyone, bye bye now.

    Brad (e55dd4)

  36. ” Unless he’s got an amazing explanation, I hope he rots in prison for decades.

    Comment by Dustin — 4/19/2010 @ 10:50 pm ”

    Brad, I think that reflects what a lot of people said. If he’s able to prove he needed to defend himself, then that’s great news.

    Is there a reason you can’t post a hyperlink?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  37. Dustin,

    No link as of yet, but at this point he doesn’t have to prove much since the video showed what was needed to get the charges dropped. Despite the fact that he will be a free man soon, it’s still sad that someone died. I’m still happy that the justice system is making the right call with the required evidence.

    Imagine how this would have went down if there was no video tape.

    Brad (e55dd4)

  38. For your information Brad. The cams was on the victim Roberto house. And if he was in so much fear for his life why drive pass the victim house turn around and then stop in his driveway.
    He knew what he was doing.
    Waht goes around comes around.

    Yea Right (29549d)

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