March 16, 2000
A recent court case involving the death of a criminal has once again brought the absurdity of some court cases to light. It involves one of at least two robbers who, in 1997, attempted to rob a bank in California and in the process got involved in an hour long running gunfight with the police. During this time the robbers used fully automatic weapons in their effort to escape. In the end, both were killed. This court case, filed by the relatives of one of the deceased, revolves around what police officers did or did not do when they cornered and shot the last suspect.

For those of you who do not remember this event, and many won't, a brief highlight is in order. On February 28, 1997, at least two armed, masked men entered a bank in the Los Angeles area and attempted to rob it. They demanded and were given several bags full of money.

As they were leaving the building police officers arrived on scene and orderd them to drop their weapons and put their hands in the air. Instead of complying both suspects opened firewith their automatic weapons. All this was caught on tape by a news helicopter which had arrived to cover this story.

The police returned fire but the rounds from their pistols bounced off the suspects because each was wearing body armor as well as other protection. Essentially they were invulnerable to the normal ammunition that police use. With this knowledge in mind the suspects opened fire at will, shooting hundreds of rounds of ammunition indiscriminately towards the police and anyone else whom they saw move, including news reporters and private citizens. At least one citizen was hit by this fire.

The police, realzing they were outgunned, began to pull back slightly and called for reinforcements with heavier weapons. The police also went to local gun dealers and asked if they could borrow larger caliber weapons and ammunition in their frenzied attempt to stop these two robbers.

For whatever reason one of the suspects took off in the getaway car which carried the money and the other weapons which were stored in the trunk. The other suspect began walking through the local neighborhood, trying to hide from the police. This person was eventually shot in the head by a police sharpshooter though I have also heard that he intentionally shot himself in the head at about the same time.

The second suspect continued his slow drive through another neighborhood and when his car broke down (I think the wheels had been shot out), he commandered a private citizens pickup truck which happened to be on the street, threw out the driver of the truck and began transferring the weapons and money from his car to the truck.

It was at this point that police began to arrive at this location and opened fire on the suspect, hitting him several times in various parts of the body (don't ask me how but they did). He responded by opening fire with one of the automatic weapons, spraying bullets in the direction of the police vehicles blocking the street behind which the police were crouching for protection.

The suspect, as seen in the news footage, began to slump behind the bumper of the vehicle and stopped firing. He lay there, the gun still in his hand, until police moved in, removed the weapon from his vicinity and handcuffed him. The police stood over him and checked to make sure that no one else was in the vehicle or in the area.

It is at this point that the relatives of the robber say that the police intentionally delayed calling for an ambulance and let the him bleed to death. The police claim that they believed there was at least one other suspect in the area and were afraid of calling in emergency vehicles until they were sure the area was secured.

Am I wrong in thinking so what? So what if the guy bled to death. He tried to kill police officers and anyone else he saw. The only one he didn't shoot at was the driver of the pickup truck he stole and that was because the driver got out when a gun was pointed at him.

I have never understood how someone, who has either attempted to commit a crime or has actually committed a crime, has any recourse if they get injured or in this case, killed. I've often hoped that sometime someone would try to rob me and in the process get severely injured and then try to sue me for damages. I would have one question for them: If you had not attempted to commit a crime, would you have been injured? The only answer to that question is of course no. Thus, they are the ones who brought about the cause of their injuries.

The same applies here. This man, along with his accomplice, shot hundreds, if not over a thousand, rounds of ammunition at anyone that moved. This while trying to take money from a bank. Money which belonged to other people. To now claim that the police are somehow responsible for the death of that person when they were only doing their duty is insane.

In this particular instance the police were completely justified in their use of deadly force. They had the right to use every means at their disposal to stop these vagabonds. The fact that they took the prudent precaution of making sure the area was secure before calling in emergency vehicles in no way should subject them a lawsuit. They were doing what was required and were doing it in the manner proscribed by procedure.

Besides, it wasn't just two robbers they were worried about. Remember in the beginning of this article how I said at least two robbers attempted to rob the bank? I say that because a review of the surveilance videos from the bank shows that there were two different people in the bank at the same time wearing different clothes. One of the sets of clothes did not match the suspect who drove the getaway car. Further, witnesses at the scene said they saw three different people.

Since the witnesses would have relayed this information to the police at the time of the incident, the police would have had a reasonable belief that a third gunman was in the area. This knowledge would have made the police wary of declaring the area safe. The fact that it took them nearly an hour is only because they had to do a search of the area to insure that possible third suspect wasn't waiting to ambush them when they called in other vehicles.

This kind of stupidity needs to be addressed. It should be axiomatic that if a person is injured during the commission of a crime they cannot then sue the person or institution responsible for their injury. You were committing a crime. Why would you think that you should be able to recover damages? If you hadn't attempted to commit the crime, you wouldn't have been injured. Commit the crime, do the time. Do the crime, pay the price.