Court responses to gun violence are exacerbating what is a national problem. In the most recent example, a man from Georgia shot and killed someone for pulling into the wrong driveway. Philip Sailors accepted a plea deal that reduced his murder charge to involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor, and received only probation and a $500 fine.
Rodrigo Diaz, the 22-year-old victim of the shooting, was trying to pick up a friend to go ice skating in January of 2013, when his GPS system took him, as well as three others that were in his car, to the wrong house. Sailors assumed the car idling in his driveway signified a home invasion, so he went outside and fired a round into the air.
That’s when Diaz and his friends tried to leave — until Sailors fired a round through the window, striking Diaz in the head and killing him. The other three in the car were high school students. Sailors held them at gunpoint until the police arrived.
He never spoke to them or asked why they were there. He shot first, and asked questions later. Initially, he was charged with malice murder. The parents of the victim also sued him for negligence, seeking $140,000, as well as recognition that their son didn’t do anything wrong.
In fact, the parents seem to be pleased that Sailors won’t be going to prison, according to WSB-TV:
After the hearing, Diaz’s father, Rodrigo Diaz Senior, told Kavanaugh that Sailors could have received a stronger punishment, but he believed that would only end up destroying two families.
His eldest son, David, agreed.
‘There is no point for him to be in lifetime in prison. What we get from that? Nothing,’ said David Diaz.
While I am glad for the family that they have some sense of closure from this, it ignores the larger role such incidents play. If you shoot someone who hasn’t presented you with any force because of fear and paranoia, you should serve a prison term. Why? Because it sends a deterring message to would-be shooters — be sure of what’s happening before you pull the trigger. Don’t shoot first and ask questions later.
Unfortunately, stand your ground laws and gun culture would disagree.
Image via www.wsbtv.com