Wednesday, January 28, 2015

CA: Thomas Greer as example; Do not Talk to Reporters after a Shooting

Thomas Greer gained fame in July of this year by making some imprudent statements to reporters.   He had shot one of a pair of burglars that had assaulted him in his home.   He said that the woman that he killed, Andrea Miller, had told him that she was pregnant as a ruse to gain advantage and prevent him from shooting her.   Greer is 80 years old, and had his collar bone broken in the assault.  From the
‘Thomas Greer is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury,’ according to the report signed by Deputy District Attorney Janet Moore.

‘Greer exercised his legal and legitimate right of self-defense when he shot and killed Andrea Miller.’

The investigation makes it seem likely that Greer was "tough talking" to reporters, rather than clearly stating the facts of what happened.  His previous statement: 
'The lady didn't run as fast as the man so I shot her in the back twice. She's dead.. but he got away. She says "don't shoot me, I'm pregnant, I'm gonna have a baby" and I shot her anyway.
The statement did not hold up against forensic analysis.  Mr. Greer fired three shots, two of which struck Miller, once in the left side of the chest, and once in the right knee.  Neither shot is in the back, as stated by Greer.  The shooting happened inside of Greer's home, not outside, as was implied by early reporting. After being shot, Miller fled the home and collapsed in the alley outside.

Presumably, Greer told prosecutors a different version of events, one that was consistent with the physical evidence, probably on the advice of counsel.  

The incident serves as an example of why it is a bad idea to talk to the media after a self defense shooting.  While you have no legal obligation to tell the media the truth, you will be tried in the court of public opinion.  Greer was widely accused of being a cold blooded murderer because of the ill considered statements that he made.  He would have been better served by refusing comment.

I have to give the prosecutor, Janet Moore, credit for thoroughly investigating this case and making the right decision.  It would have been politically correct to take the old white guy's braggadocio at face value and prosecuted him to the full extent of the law. 

It would not have served justice, it would have been a waste of taxpayers money, but it would have been politically correct.

Gus Adams, who has been implicated as Miller's accomplice, is being charged with her murder, under the felony murder rule.   Most states have a version of the rule.   Its essence is that if you are involved in a crime where someone is killed, where the death would not have happened if the crime were not attempted or committed, you can be charged as the person responsible for the death.  From
A Rule of Law that holds that if a killing occurs during the commission or attempted commission of a felony (a major crime), the person or persons responsible for the felony can be charged with murder.
Generally an intent to kill is not necessary for felony-murder. The rule becomes operative when there is a killing during or a death soon after the felony, and there is some causal connection between the felony and the killing.
 While Mr. Greer was finally found to have been justified in his actions, it could have cost him far more than it did.  His case serves as a strong example to others not to talk to the media.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Link to Gun Watch

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