Patterico's Pontifications


Is This Self-Defense?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:40 pm

Even putting the self-defense issues aside for a moment, this is a mess:

The widow of a Lubbock father who died in a fatal shooting in South Lubbock earlier this month is seeking custody of her step-children to keep them away from the shooter, who is also in a relationship with their mother.

Jennifer Read, through her attorney, Matthew Harris, also released video of the shooting that she recorded.

No charges or arrests have been made yet in the Nov. 5 shooting death of 54-year-old Chad Read at a home in the 2100 block of 90th Street.

Meanwhile, investigators have turned over their files to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, who is handling any potential prosecution in the case after the Lubbock County District Attorney Sunshine Stanek recused her office from the case, citing that the suspect in the shooting was related to a local elected official who could be called as a witness.

Background details are available here. The local elected official is a judge who is the ex-wife of the shooter, Kyle Carruth, who is the boyfriend of Christina Read, the ex-wife of the decedent, Chad Read. Standing outside taking video is Jennifer Read, the wife (at the time of the shooting; now widow) of Chad Read, the decedent. Got that? It’s OK if you have to read it a few times to process it.

So Chad Read showed up at the home of his ex-wife Christina Read to pick up his son (their son) at a court-ordered time. The son was not available.

During the argument, Christina could be heard saying the child was not home and that she was going to fetch him. She also said that she didn’t abide by the court ordered deadline because she wanted to see their son.

“I don’t care if you wanted to see him or not,” Chad Read said. “I get him at 3:15 p.m. If you want to see him, you see him up until 3:15. You keep trying to keep my son from me.”

Chad Read started yelling about how he was going to subpoena everyone in creation, including Judge Anne-Marie Carruth. Kyle Carruth told Chad Read to leave the property; he did not. Then Kyle Carruth emerged with a rifle.

This video shows the shooting from two angles.

As Kyle Carruth emerges with the rifle, he says: “I’m glad this is on video. I’m very glad. Leave!” Instead of leaving, Chad Read gets in Kyle Carruth’s face, and yells: “Good. You’d better fucking use it, motherfucker!” Kyle Carruth responds: “I will.” Chad Read continues: “‘Cause goddammit, I’ll fucking take it from you and use it on you!”

(I will digress for a moment to say that I have read a lot of police reports of a lot of shootings. One of the most common things said by a shooting victim right before he is shot to death is some variant of the phrase: “If you’re going to shoot, shoot!” In the annals of Famous Last Words, that is a very common set of Last Words.)

Chad Read, in Kyle Carruth’s face, demands: “Where’s my son?” Kyle Carruth responds: “I don’t have your son.” Chad Read looks down at the rifle and moves his left hand towards it as if he is about to grab it. As he is doing so, Kyl Carruth says: “Get out of my face, you” as he backs up a step and fires a shot at Chad Read’s feet. Chad Read says “think that fuckin’ scares me, bitch?” and grabs both Carruth and the weapon. Chad Read sort of pulls/pushes Kyle Carruth off the porch and Kyle Carruth steps back a couple of steps away from the house. Chad Read says again: “Think that fuckin'” — which are the last words he ever utters, as Kyle Carruth then drops Chad Read to the ground with two shots.

Everyone seems eerily calm as Chad Read lies there dead or dying. Jennifer Read says: “Call 911! I have it on video, Kyle. You did it, not him.” Kyle Carruth says: “I told all of y’all to leave.” Jennifer Read says: “We came to get his son.” Kyle Carruth response: “He’s not here. This is my place of employment. [sic] None of y’all should be here. None of y’all should be here. I asked you to leave. I did everything. I did not want to do any of this.”

The usual rules around self-defense require that one use deadly force only in response to deadly force. It will be up to prosecutors, and (if charges are filed) jurors to decide whether Chad Read’s action in trying to grab the rifle constitutes a threat of deadly force.

I remember discussing the “deadly force in response to deadly force” concept in torts class in law school. In one of the few times I ever spoke up in our larger section, I challenged the professor, who said that if you draw your weapon and someone continues to advance on you, you can’t fire at him because he has not yet threatened you with deadly force. It was my contention that continuing to advance on someone who has produced a weapon signals an intent to wrestle the weapon away and use it on the person holding the firearm. Here, Chad Read didn’t just advance on Kyle Carruth; Chad Read actually grabbed for the weapon. But that was after Kyle Carruth had already fired at Chad Read’s feet. But that was after Chad Read had threatened to take the rifle from Kyle Carruth and use it on him.

Messy. Just like the whole situation. Jennifer Read has now filed a petition to get custody of the children from Christina Read:

Through an attorney, Jennifer Read filed a petition alleging that Christina Read has endangered the well-being of two children by allowing them to be in the presence of Kyle Carruth.

“The children are aware that Kyle Carruth shot and killed their father in front of their mother, step-brother, and myself,” Read’s affidavit states. “Christina’s decision to allow either of these children to be in Kyle Carruth’s presence has caused, and continues to cause, significant impairment of their emotional well-being. The oldest child has expressed to me that he blames his mother for the shooting, and that he will run away from home if he sees Kyle there again.”

I can see a prosecutor or jury concluding that this was self-defense. But I can see a jury deciding otherwise, too. Ultimately, I think Chad Read’s threat to take the rifle and use it on Kyle Carruth is likely what will decide the case in Kyle Carruth’s favor. But you never know.

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