DA Must Examine Lakeover Shooting | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

DA Must Examine Lakeover Shooting

Without the baby face, sugary snacks and legal minor status, Quardious Thomas makes for a less sympathetic poster child for gun reform than Florida's Trayvon Martin. Unlike Martin, who had every right to be where he was the night George Zimmerman decided to pursue him, Thomas, 20, was inside a car that did not belong to him while the owner and everyone else in the Lakeover subdivision was fast asleep.

Sometime after 6 a.m., just before the sun rose July 12, the owner of the car in which Thomas sat shattered the still of the morning with five gunshots fired into the vehicle.

We will never know Thomas' side of the story. It's unclear how many of those bullets hit Thomas. He died later at the hospital. Jackson police officials have declined to pursue charges against the homeowner. It is not illegal to discharge a firearm in the city of Jackson, even in a residential neighborhood. What's more, according to Jackson police officials, the shooting was justified under Mississippi's Castle Doctrine. Under the doctrine, homicide is justifiable if done to resist "any attempt unlawfully to kill such person or to commit any felony upon him." The protection applies to homes, businesses, workplaces and occupied vehicles. In those scenarios, a citizen has no "duty to retreat" before using deadly force.

It's plausible that the shooting of Quardious Thomas was justifiable. It's plausible that, as the homeowner told police, Thomas made a move that, on a dark morning, could have been interpreted as reaching for a gun of his own (police did not recover a weapon from Thomas' body). We do not question the veracity of the homeowner's statement to the police, but we are concerned about the thoroughness of JPD's investigation. How thorough could it have been if, as Horton told us, the decision to not pursue charges was made at the scene by a patrol officer and affirmed by that officer's supervisor?

As far as JPD is concerned, the matter is closed. But JPD is not the only law enforcement agency that can review homicides. Robert Shuler Smith, Hinds County's elected district attorney, recently joined in a lawsuit to block implementation of Mississippi's new open-carry statute that he and other law-enforcement officials say introduces a new wrinkle of uncertainty to crime fighting. Smith's reasoning in opposing the open-carry law was that, in his view, the law is constitutionally vague. In fact, Smith acknowledged the Castle Doctrine's "gray areas" to this publication in 2010 and wondered if the Legislature should not address some of the doctrine's inherent subjectiveness.

Now is the time for the district attorney to flesh out those gray areas. Smith should do what JPD has declined to do: perform a rigorous investigation into the facts of the case and move quickly to make his findings public.

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Comments

Rodramon 6 years, 10 months ago

With all due respect this is not a Travon situation. This young man clearly was violating the homeowner's rights and a reasonable person in that situation would have felt threatened. You may disagree with the Castle law, however it is the law, and the homeowner acted within the parameters of the law. The length of an investigation does not determine the quality of the investigation. There was no evidence that the homeowner had any malice or acted negligently. On the other hand the evidence suggested the deceased was caught redhanded committing a crime and may have even attempted to rob the sheriff;;;; give me a break...you guys wonder why Jacksonians are fleeing to Gluckstadt like roaches...it is because the perpetrators rights are more important than the victims rights....that one percent sale tax may well need to be five percent, at the rate our tax base is declining because of crime more revenue will be needed to offset the loss of income to the city's coffers.

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donnaladd 6 years, 10 months ago

Blockquote

Actually, it is not clear whether the homeowner acted within the parameters of the law. He may well have, but there was no real investigation, and there are open questions that need to be answered. The whole point here is that the police and DA should, must pursue a real investigation. All of y'all chiming in that it was the right thing to do actually have no idea what actually happened and whether it was right, and if there was no threat of bodily harm, you're going to have a hard time convincing non-gun-zealots that it was "right."

I don't know anybody who has moved to Gluckstadt. What fun that would be up there.

And the suburbs have problems as well; why are you turning this into an anti-Jackson rant? Oh, right.

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tsmith 6 years, 10 months ago

"All of y'all chiming in that it was the right thing to do actually have no idea what actually happened and whether it was right"

Nor do you, but from the evidence the police do and dismissed the case.

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donnaladd 6 years, 10 months ago

As for a "Trayvon situation," it actually has some disturbing parallels. First, we don't know for certain what the young man was really doing because there was no real investigation to find out. And the Zimmerman defenders swore up and down that Martin was (a) looking to steal something and/or (b) trying to hurt Zimmerman. If you look at it logically, at least Trayvon actually engaged with Zimmerman (I would argue in self-defense, but still). Here we don't have non-conflicting evidence that Thomas did anything to threaten the homeowner -- who came looking for him (as Zimmerman did).

Now, I'm not saying the homeowner is a Zimmerman by any means. But the case needs a real investigation. He went outside looking for him, so he clearly wasn't fearful for his life. Then he riddled the unarmed Thomas with bullets.

So there are suddenly important parallels. Oh, and there is that other little detail that Thomas was guilty of nothing, in the United States, until a jury finds him guilty. He was killed before proved guilty.

It would be different if he was breaking into the home and threatening the family. He wasn't. Call the police. Or shoot him in the leg if you must. But fire six bullets into him? That deserves a real investigation.

It. Must. Happen. The public interest demands it.

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