After learning as many of the facts of the case as I could back in November, I came to the conclusion that a no-bill from the grand jury concerning Joe Horn was the only result that would make sense under current law. Justice being what it is these days, it took 6 months to get here.
As with most things, the proof is in what his neighbors are saying, and they are pretty supportive. Of course, that might have more to do with the more recent killings in the area, rather than a specific desire to vindicate Joe Horn.
The broader picture was always my perspective. In order to protect against home invasion, it’s important that a property owner be confident that they will not be prosecuted if they use lethal force against intruders. Even to the point of shooting home invaders who simply walk across your property after breaking into somebody else’s house.
Horn, in his interview with the Houston Chronicle said;
“I would never advocate anyone doing what I did”
Yes. I would not bother calling 911 next time. Not if you are determined to use lethal force. Clearly that evidence can be used against you. In hindsight, it’s regrettable that the undercover police officer did not inform the 911 operator that he had arrived on the scene until after Horn had already exited the house to confront the burglars. Had Horn been assured that there were police on the scene, I’m quite certain he would have stayed in the house, and the two men would be serving time in prison instead of being dead today. But that’s not how it worked out, and reality is a bitch when it comes to 20/20 hindsight.
I called in to the Jeff Ward show myself (Dirty Harry was a cop, Jeff. Just FYI) when the subject of the no-bill came up Monday. Here’s the clip. (editor’s note: I’ll try to find that audio again. It got lost in the shuffle when the site moved. FWIW, there is no archive for most radio programming that I’ve ever discovered. This is a serious oversight. We are losing precious detailed information about the state of human thought in this age at a staggering rate. Our descendents will look back on this time and curse us for our blindness to the need to preserve records.)
I’ll freely admit to being wrong (or at least unable to verify the facts) concerning the neighbors and permission to protect their property. If I was away on vacation, I’d appreciate someone like Joe keeping an eye on the place.
A 911 operator is not an officer of the law. You are not required to follow their instructions (remember the strip search calls?) Nor do we want to be.
Mr. Horn was not informed of the officer’s presence in the area until after he had already fired the shots and was requesting assistance. The police are not required to protect you or your property; “protect and serve” is written on the vehicles, but they have no duty to protect you personally. Look it up. This is why the DC gun ban was overturned last week; the individual is ultimately responsible for protecting his or herself.
Finally, addressing the audio clip, Ed baited me several times trying to get me to go “Dirty Harry” and say killing someone over a property dispute is OK. His final scenario (the one before they cut me off. No hard feelings, it’s entertainment) was “what if you were a security guard patrolling the property of a convenience store, and happened across two men stealing beer and Cheetos from the store after it was closed.” I think it’s safe to say that shooting someone in that scenario isn’t problematic. It’s dark and you don’t know if the men are armed. You are armed, and they are criminals who have just destroyed property and are making off with their ill-gotten gains. I daresay that exact scenario has happened within the last 24 hours somewhere in the country. At most the last month.
One of the neighbors in Pasadena said it best. Hang up the phone. There wouldn’t have been a problem in that case.