Friday, October 27, 2006

Judgment Day

So here's a story: One morning this week, Bennie Hall went outside, started his car, and went back inside the house to let it warm up. It's been cold in Ohio, and we had a killing frost one night. No big surprise. I gotta say it wasn't this man's brightest day, because he left the car unlocked. I'm assuming, anyway, because someone walking along saw it running and hopped in it to steal it. Hall shot the thief. He died. For most of the day, Cincinnati PD hadn't identified the thief. Finally late that evening, they figured out it was 14 year old Quavale Finnell. Who had a rap sheet as long as his age, for other car thefts, breaking & entering and various other charges. Then more details start to come out, like the fact that Finnell was about to run over Hall. Let's be honest folks, if someone's stealing your car and you're watching it happen, a lot of us are probably going to do the first reaction, irrational thing and run up like you're going to stop it. Whatever the case, I did hear today from a coworker that Hall had his concealed-carry license.
Story about celebrating Quavale Finnell's birthday.
Local blogger's reaction.
Enquirer story weighing charges against Bennie Hall.
channel 12 interview with Finnell's grandmother.
Fox story on Quavale.
Now, hearing shit from a coworker is what got me so pissed off today. I work with a variety of people from different walks of life, different areas of town, different classes. I mention this because you get people that grew up differently or experienced life differently, and you are going to hear their opinions based on their lives. What I was hearing today was two people discuss their outrage about Finnell's death. They couldn't believe anybody would understand or applaud Hall's actions. One man, let's call him Jeff, was appalled that 700WLW would call Hall a hero for what he did. Specifically because "Not all of the details are out yet." And went on to describe this poor 14 year old dying just before his birthday, and why'd he get shot over a car, why'd Hall 'run in front' of the car, why didn't he just call the cops, etc. So in other words, what he's saying is "Don't judge the story before you get all the details, but I am going to judge the story before the details are out." So I called him out on it. Pisses me off to sit there and listen to people spout illogical arguments. "Well I wouldn't shoot somebody over my car." Right. My ass.

I'm not saying it was right or wrong that Bennie Hall shot the kid. I don't know. I wasn't there. I don't know all the details. If he was in fear for his life, legally he was justified in shooting Quavale Finnell. If he was shooting from the safety of his own home to save his car, well, Ohio law only permits (civilian) use of deadly force if you feel a life is in danger, including your own. I have to be honest and say I don't fault Hall for it. My guess is he probably did what a lot of us would do, and ran out to try and stop the loss of his car. Since the shooting occurred in the middle of the street, it's evident that Finnell had the car in motion. Since Hall is legally allowed to carry his gun, that's probably why he already had it on his body. My point is I'm not judging Hall for what he did. I think this kid got shot because that's what happens when you choose the lifestyle he chose.

What you have here is a clear case of someone breaking the law, and the victim of that crime trying to stop it from happening. People do that. It's pretty instinctual to save yourself, and your belongings. It's a guess, but I'm pretty sure cavemen were hitting each other over the head with bones if another one tried to take his mammoth steak. If you own dogs, one will growl at(sometimes attack) another one that takes its bone. Granted, we're logical beings, capable of thinking about something instead of acting on instinct. But it's pretty fucking easy to sit in a heated office, sipping your cuppa, and hypothesize that if it was you, YOU'D FUCKING DO IT DIFFERENTLY. Pardon my language but shut the fuck up. You can't just sit there and proclaim that you're so much better than this man because you wouldn't do that. I don't believe it for a second. You don't KNOW what you would do in that situation unless you've actually been in that situation. People think they know themselves, but you learn a lot about yourself in the heat of the moment. So all of a sudden you're so equipped to judge this man, since you HAVEN'T been in that situation before? Oh, oh and the other part I loved hearing was "If he had to shoot, why didn't he shoot the tire out?" Quit believing everything you see in the movies. It isn't that easy. Ever.

Am I ranting? Probably. I have to listen to these same two yahoos make judgments on actions the police make. If the situation was altered just slightly, so that it was a cop who shot a juvenile stealing his car (which HAS happened in Cincinnati), you'd have riots on your hands by now. Pisses me off to no end. "Why didn't they shoot the guy in the knee to stop him from running away?" "Why didn't they just let him get away with the car and call the cops?" or "The car is just property, let insurance cover it." "If they let him get away with this, before you know it kids will be shooting each other for shoplifting." *grr*
Later in the day, "Jeff" came back to talk to "Bob" and before I left the room out of frustration, I heard Jeff say something about Hall being a retired marine and he didn't know if Hall was a 'marksman' or not, but if he was...then I left before I blew up.
Are you really going to sit there and say he should have just shot out the tire, or some otherwise bullshit?

As a cop's wife, naturally I have to hear cops in general get bashed. Not that this story is bashing the cops, but I heard a lot of the same arguments that I've heard before when they were aimed at the cops. And you have to be able to see some of the similarities, especially about the gun use.
If you've never shot a gun before, here's a tip. It doesn't work like it does in the movies. There are a handful of people (at most) in the US who can so accurately fire at a quickly moving target that they are willing to take the shot. Nobody has ever purposely shot a criminal's knee out to keep them alive but stop them escaping.
Here's a little tidbit inside a cop's training: They are taught to use their weapons to "Stop the Aggression." They are not taught to kill. They are taught to stop the person from doing whatever it is that they're doing. Usually that's putting another life in danger. And they are taught to aim at central body mass. Why? Bullets travel easily through arms and legs. They hit other people. Cops want to minimize that risk. Central body mass is larger than arms and legs. When the adrenaline is pumping and a cop pulls his weapon, which most of them pray they never have to use it, fine motor coordination goes out the window. It's not the same as standing at a firing range with an immobile paper target, breathing slowly and squeezing the trigger.

I'm not judging Bennie Hall for shooting Quavale Finnell. I don't feel equipped to. I'm not God. I do feel confident in saying Quavale Finnell was headed down a dangerous path in life. If you click on some of those links above, you'll be looking at his mugshots from previous offenses. He would have turned 15 yesterday. He was on house arrest for a prior b&e. He shouldn't have tried to steal someone's car. It's unfortunate that this happened, but I can't necessarily fault Bennie Hall for what he did. He was trying to protect his property. And Bennie Hall still has to face a grand jury and defend what he did. Hopefully they will be comprised of his peers. They will decide if he'll be charged.


Axinar said...

Yes ... a Springfield Twp. cop once told me that the standard for a police officer is to use the minimum amount of force neccessary to arrest. For a civilian that standard is the minimum amount of force neccessary to "escape".

Yep ... we don't know all the details on this one yet. However, it's beginning to look like no one's life was immediately being threatened.

That being the case, were I on the jury, I would have a VERY difficult time convicting this man of anything other than leaving a running car out in that neighborhood in the first place.

Obviously the system is WICKED broken and it's a crying shame that both the family failed in keeping this kid off the streets and the system in general failed in keeping him locked up until such time as he was straightened out.

There is such a concept as jury nullification and I certianly hope if this does go to trial that Bennie Hall's jury takes advantage of it.

I also think we ought to start seriously considering asking our state legislators to change Ohio's law to more closely match Kentucky's where it is perfectly legal to "stand your ground".

Anonymous said...

Citizens should have the right to protect their property. It's the thief's fault for putting himself in harms way by making the choice to steal! DON"T STEAL STUPID!!

quidni said...

No Bill.

On Finnell being "just a kid" - how was Mr. Hall supposed to know beforehand? Did he "look like" a kid? What does a kid look like? I've been mistaken for my son's girlfriend before. And I have a nephew who's had a mustache since he was 14. Then again, try seeing a face clearly through a semi-frosted, moving window.

Now, I can't see leaving a car running and unlocked, while unattended. At the very least, use a second key for the door. But, even so, theft is theft. And trying to run someone over is attempted murder, and allows for self-defense. I see no fault with how Mr. Hall reacted, given the circumstances.

Sign me as a Texan who would probably have reacted the same way.

Cathy said...

Yes Amy, you were ranting but it was a pretty good rant...:)

Some good points are...He couldn't have known the kid was only 14 years old. I guess I want to know why this 14 yo was out stealing cars. Also, How do we know the kid was trying to run the guy down rather than the guy running in front of the car trying to get him to stop?..I would think to a jury that would be a big question. I would want that proved to me..Are there witnesses that can testify? If not, he better have a good lawyer who can reinact that to satisfy a jury. Because my first thought was, why would the kid have been trying to run him down, when he was actually trying to get away from him. There is a big difference between someone running you down and you putting yourself in the position of being run over.

Car theft is a given. He did it, no way around that but I also have to say this ..That guy was a dumbass to leave his car running and unlocked! Most likely he knew right away that would give him problems with his ins. They don't usually cover auto theft if you have your car running, keys in it and have left it unlocked...He knew that! So knowing that it becomes real important for him to stop the theft, even if it means running the guy and car down the street.

I'm not saying you are wrong, I'm just saying there are problems with this story. Personally, if someone is taking something of mine I want to have the right to do whatever it takes to get it back. But...This isn't as clean cut as it may seem.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out..I'm just not very sympathetic to this guy...

Rebekah said...

I have been wathcing this in the news and I agree. People will always second guess the actions of someone else and give opinions on stuff they have no idea about. People are crying about this 14 yr old. Well, where were they when he was commiting his crimes? They didn't seem to care about him then. I could really get started on this but I will end it here.

FroneAmy said...

It's definitely not a clean-cut story. On the one hand, i don't care if the kid was 14. He wasn't a 'kid'. He'd been living in the real world for quite some time, and even the Hamilton County coroner said there were 7 or 8 other children living in his house, so there was no room for him. That doesn't make theft right, but the only thing that made him a 'kid' was his age. 13 previous charges is a heck of an accomplishment.

At the same time, if I knew someone who told me "I left my car running and someone stole it." I'd have a hard time feeling sorry for him. Yeah, it sucks your car was stolen, but you could have had a hand in preventing that.

I just can't feel sorry for the kid. I guess what pissed me off the most is the striking similarities between this story and every story in Cincinnati that someone died at the hands of the police. Despite the person's bad upbringing, and current state of being, all these assholes will jump to their defense, and martyr them.
Quavale Finnell grew up in foster home(s), had a long rap sheet. Was currently on house arrest and left anyway. Everybody's right, where *were* his parents? Why wasn't he being raised? Now all you hear is how good a kid he was, and let's go celebrate his birthday that he couldn't because of some 'asshole' who maliciously shot a young kid in cold blood. (Not my real opinion)
Nathaniel Jones: can't remember how long his rap sheet was, but he was high as a kite on PCP and attacking people (including the cops) at a local White Castle, when the cops had to physically restrain him and use force (batons) to get cuffs on him. Due to his medical state of TONS of drugs and an enlarged heart, he died in custody. Became a martyr.
The list goes on, and it just pisses me off. Hence the rant.

Having said all that, I have to agree with Axinar on this...the more the details come out, the more it seems that Mr Hall shot Finnell from the side of the car, not the front. Seems a little harder to argue he was about to be run over. My theory is that he was pissed about his car getting stolen and reacted. Maybe he overreacted. I would understand a fine, or maybe revocation of his CCL. But I would also (given current details) have a hard time charging Mr. Hall. Like "Quidni" said, "No Bill."