Sunday, May 31, 2009

Castle Law?

The AP reports:

Confronted by two holdup men, pharmacist Jerome Ersland pulled a gun, shot one of them in the head and chased the other away. Then, in a scene recorded by the drugstore's security camera, he went behind the counter, got another gun, and pumped five more bullets into the wounded teenager as he lay on the floor.

Now Ersland has been charged with first-degree murder in a case that has stirred a furious debate over vigilante justice and self-defense and turned the pharmacist into something of a folk hero.

Ersland, 57, is free on $100,000 bail, courtesy of an anonymous donor. He has won praise from the pharmacy's owner, received an outpouring of cards, letters and checks from supporters, and become the darling of conservative talk radio.

"His adrenaline was going. You're just thinking of survival," said John Paul Hernandez, 60, a retired Defense Department employee who grew up in the neighborhood. "All it was is defending your employee, business and livelihood. If I was in that position and that was me, I probably would have done the same thing."

District Attorney David Prater said Ersland was justified in shooting 16-year-old Antwun Parker once in the head, but not in firing the additional shots into his belly. The prosecutor said the teenager was unconscious, unarmed, lying on his back and posing no threat when Ersland fired what the medical examiner said were the fatal shots.

The video of the incident is here. Warning: it's graphic.

While the adrenaline argument does seem to hold water, so does the fact that you're not supposed to shoot wounded, unarmed, unconscious people until they're dead. Your right to defend yourself is just that -- your right to defend yourself. You can stop someone who is a harm to you and yours, but once they're disarmed, you have no right to hurt them let alone kill them like that.

How in the world has this man become a conservative cause celebre? I think it just shows how messed up the right has become in this country.

Even if you hold to the adrenaline argument, you should still see it as a tragedy -- not turn the man and his act into a hero.