19-year-old Brian Solis’ was one of a group of 15 teens that attacked a home in east Houston with paintball guns. Their objective: bring the teenager inside the house outside to fight, police say. After the house was hit with several of the missiles, which typically explode with red paint upon contact, the homeowner and father of the boy fired back, but with a real gun.
This is Texas, after all. If the boys were surprised, they hadn’t been paying attention.
Solis was hit, and killed. Solis’ family told reporters that they don’t understand why he’s dead. The oldest of six kids was full of life, and had plenty still to live, they say
Well, not to be unkind, but it’s pretty clear to me why he’s dead: he took part in an attack on a home that had a gun owner inside at the time. That’s why.
An investigation is ongoing, and it is not at all certain that the shooter, whose name has not yet been released, will face charges. I find that interesting: it seems like a case of excessive force, and manslaughter, could be made pretty easily. On the other hand, aspects of the incident are reminiscent in some ways of the Ossian Sweet case, Clarence Darrow’s finest moment, when he achieved an acquittal for eleven African Americans whose house in suburban was about to be besieged, or so they thought, by a mob of angry whites carrying rocks, clubs and torches. One of the people inside the house opened fire, killing someone in the crowd, and all eleven African Americans were tried for murder. I’ve written about the case, here.
The law in every jurisdiction would certainly permit a prosecution, so the decision whether to charge comes down to practicality and ethics. Would a jury convict the shooter, if he says that his home was under attack, his son was in danger, and he was in fear of his own safety? A lot depends on facts not yet known or disclosed. What was being said by the attackers? Did the target’s father issue a warning before firing? A group of fifteen sounds scary to me, especially having just watched the 2011 remake of “Straw Dogs,” in which a group of Mississippians in a backwater town lay siege to the home of a couple trying to protect a mentally disabled man who has just accidentally killed the leader of the group’s cheerleader daughter, Lenny-style. [Cultural literacy reference!]
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to begin this Tuesday is this: