Q&A Friday #102: The Jerome Ersland Case

Question: “Have you been paying any attention to Jerome Ersland case here in Oklahoma, and if so, do you have any thoughts about whether his actions crossed the line into murder or not?” — President_Friedman

Answer: For those who are unfamiliar with it, here’s a succinct wrap-up of the Jerome Ersland case,

Ersland, of Chickasha, says he was defending himself and two other employees at the pharmacy when two masked robbers burst into the store.

Ersland felled Parker with a gunshot to the head, then chased the other robber outside, according to surveillance video released by Oklahoma County prosecutors. He retrieved another gun from a locked drawer after re-entering the store and shot Parker five more times. Prosecutors contend there was no reason to shoot the teen again because he was unarmed and incapacitated.

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District Attorney David Prater also filed a felony murder charge last week against three suspects allegedly involved in the robbery. Two are in custody. One is being sought.

This is a case where the law and morality don’t perfectly match-up. Legally, Ersland should have just hid until the police got there.

However, I’m of the opinion that if you try to rob a store or a house, you’re pretty much begging to be shot, so as general rule, I think the victim should be given the benefit of the doubt and then some. If I were a DA, just about the only time I would ever prosecute someone in a case like this would be if they tied the burglar up in their basement, Pulp Fiction style, and broke out a “Gimp.”

Keeping that in mind, in this case, when Ersland reentered his store, the criminal appeared to be incapacitated. Yet and still, the criminal could have awakened, pulled a gun out of his waistband, and shot Ersland. Now, that’s not the standard we might make a policeman adhere to, but Ersland isn’t a cop.

Moreover, let me add something you’re not allowed to say in a court of law: killing that robber made sure he wouldn’t be back again after the revolving door justice system let him go — and to be perfectly honest, I’m not sorry to see another criminal dead.

At this point, all I can say is that I hope the jurors do the right thing, say to hell with the letter of the law, and let Ersland skate. I also think the voters should send District Attorney David Prater a message about where his sympathies should be in a case like this by turning him out of office when he comes up for reelection.

Update #1: From the comments section,

“I don’t have a problem with Ersland killing these guys where they stand when there were posing a threat.

But once they are not deadly anymore, you don’t have a right to implement your own justice.” — D-Vega

Put simply, here’s how I see it: If someone breaks into your house or business and the police aren’t on the spot to protect you and cart them off to jail, you’re safe when the criminal’s dead. If the law has a problem with that, then “The law is an ass.”

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