Apparently a West Virginia lawyer was charged with being an accessory after-the-fact in relation to a New Year’s Eve shooting in Charleston, which is a felony. This was reported by WCHS, as well as the Charleston Gazette. Allegedly, after his friend shot a guy after an argument over ordering a pizza, the lawyer took the guy’s cell phone and instructed him to run. And then he was allegedly uncooperative with police when they asked him the identity of the shooter.
It was reported that all of this can be viewed on surveillance footage:
“Conrad is in trouble, because police said he can clearly be seen on surveillance video taking Underwood’s cell phone, which is considered evidence, from the scene and telling the suspect to run.”
So my initial thought is, how can you view what someone is saying on surveillance footage? You can’t. We pretty much know the footage does not contain audio – since that in itself would constitute felony illegal wiretapping in West Virginia, since it would be capturing conversations for which no party has consented.
The police are the first to complain about surveillance footage when they are accused of misconduct, noting that you can’t tell everything from the video. Well you certainly cannot tell what someone is saying to another. How does a video prove that the lawyer was instructing the shooter to flee? And if you can view the cell phone being handed to the lawyer, how can you tell that the lawyer asked for it. And if a cell phone is handed to you in such a situation, does that make you a felon? What if you are a lawyer potentially representing the individual. Can you preserve evidence yourself? Are you compelled to turn over your own evidence to police at their demand? The West Virginia Rules of Criminal Procedure don’t provide for that. In fact, a criminal defendant is not compelled to provide discovery to the prosecution until and unless he or she requests discovery from the State.
As with any of the decaying “cities” in this country where you have arrogant and hypocritical leadership, the City of Charleston was quick to jump into attention-whore mode and to engage in their first attempts at poisoning the jury pool:
“It’s really surprising that someone in a position of authority, and all that he is responsible for, to participate in this criminal conduct,” Lt. Steve Cooper, with Charleston police said.
. . .
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he plans to file an ethics complaint with the state bar, against Conrad.
What ever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? Is it ethical for a police officer, or mayor, to go onto TV and tell the public that an individual who has been charged, and who is presumed innocent, has committed criminal conduct? Or that the individual has abused a position of authority? Or that the person is unethical?
I’m not passing judgment on the lawyer’s actions one way or the other since I don’t know all of the facts. After all, isn’t that what police say when one of their own are accused of misconduct? Well, it’s under investigation and we don’t know all of the facts. So what if he did take the guy’s cell phone and told him to run? What negative consequences did that have? Who is a victim to the lawyer’s alleged crime? None and nobody.
There was an article yesterday in the Charleston Gazette about a gun owner in Logan, WV who stopped a home invasion in progress at his neighbor’s home.
He shot one of the burglars, and held the other at gunpoint until police arrived. This brings up a common topic of interest to people – especially in West Virginia, which has one of the largest percentages of gun owners per capita (we are no. 5 I believe).
When can you legally shoot someone in a home invasion scenario?
In the end, it comes down to whether or not you reasonably believe that you, or someone else (anyone else – it doesn’t have to be a family member) is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm. People tend to get obsessed with the “castle doctrine.” Just understand that to mean, that if you are in your home, you have no legal obligation to run out the back door, if given the opportunity. It all comes down to whether you believe you, or someone else, is going to be killed or seriously hurt if you don’t take action.
There is no guarantee that, even if you do believe you’re about to be killed, and you fire your weapon, that the shooting will be deemed justified. Your fear must have been reasonable – based on something that your peers would likely also consider as significant enough to cause them fear as well.
Everyone should think about these types of things ahead of time. You should draw a mental line in the sand regarding when you shoot, and when you do not shoot. What is enough? What if someone in a ski mask is lurking outside your house? What if someone in a ski mask is outside your house with a gun in their hand? What if someone is burglarizing your vehicle in your driveway? What if someone is burglarizing your neighbor’s home? Or car?
There is not necessarily a right answer for these types of scenarios. But you should never pull the trigger unless you really do fear for a life. It’s not that they don’t deserve a dirt nap. If it were up to me, all thieves entering your property at night should be executed. But unfortunately it’s not.
Many people in West Virginia do believe that if someone is breaking into their car at night, that they can run outside and shoot them. Unfortunately, here we are not allowed to use deadly force in order to protect property. For this reason, electric companies are not supposed to keep lines active for the sole purpose of deterring trespassers. Now if the car burglar approaches you, or if he has a weapon and has the imminent ability to use it against you – that is different.
1. It’s always going to be more difficult to justify a shooting where the person shot was “unarmed”. I knife, gun, or even a stick could count as a weapon. It is never a good idea to provide your own weapon after the shooting. The facts are what they are. Never try to change them.
2. It’s always going to be more difficult to justify a shooting where the person shot was shot in the back. This would indicate that the person was walking, or running, away from you. That causes a problem because at that point it’s hard to argue that your fear was reasonable when the threat was leaving. It’s also hard to argue that the threat was imminent. But, if the person shot was in your house, it’s probably going to be a good shoot, because the threat was still in your home. Generally when we shoot someone, our natural tendency is to keep shooting. So there have been cases where the first shot was in the front of the person’s body, and several more shots went into the guy’s back as he turned to run away. Good shoot, but bullets in the back are always going to make things more difficult.
3. In your home, it’s game on. Like I said, draw a line in the sand. If someone maliciously invades your home, you generally can eliminate the threat with extreme prejudice. But it still has to be reasonable. You wouldn’t want to shoot a drunk neighbor who wandered in the wrong house – or a family member sneaking back in from a night of partying. For this reason, always have a good home defense light. You have to know your target – and what’s behind it.
It’s outside the home, where most of the grey areas live. So be very careful venturing outside your castle with a gun in the dark of night. Know where your line in the sand is.
As for the shooting in the article, the 800 pound gorilla is the fact that was left out of the story. Did the shooter believe that the neighbors were in the home at the time he saw the attempted home invasion? If so, good shoot. If not, he may have a more difficult time due to the fact that we are not allowed to use deadly force in order to protect (only) property.
4. Lastly, all gun owners who anticipate ever having to use their firearms in self defense should get some formal training, such as in a defensive handgun class. A basic concealed weapons class does not qualify as training. This is me at a handgun class a couple of weeks ago. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s part of our obligation as citizens under the 2nd Amendment.
The Fourth Circuit issued a decision bolstering our 2nd Amendment rights. The case is styled USA v. Nathaniel Black, out of the Western District of North Carolina. Essentially, a guy who was a convicted felon was open carrying a firearm. He was then seized by police, who were subsequently able to determine that he was not allowed to possess a firearm. But, was it an unconstitutional seizure since they didn’t know before they seized the guy that he was committing a crime by possessing a firearm?
The 4th Circuit held that it was unconstitutional to seize the man merely because they observed him with a holstered handgun, since they had no reason to believe that he was legally barred from possessing firearms, or that he was engaging in any other illegal activity. The importance of this decision is that it protects our 2nd Amendment rights. If it is legal for us to openly carry a handgun, then law enforcement is unable to seize us in order to determine our criminal record, harass us, etc. The case has all the goodies when it comes to search and seizure case law in the Fourth Circuit (WV, VA, NC, MD).
This video is great. It shows the anti-gun and ignorant Bray Cary, with the State Journal, absolutely owned by Keith Morgan, of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League. Bravo!
The State Journal’s website offered this promo for the segment:
DECISION MAKERS: Bray Cary takes on the gun rights debate
On this week’s edition of The State Journal’s Decision Makers, host Bray Cary takes on the need for semi-automatic weapons with Keith Morgan with the West Virginia Citizens Defense League.
Thank you Mr. Cary for taking on our “need” for semi-automatic weapons. I hope you learned something in your embarrassing display of ignorance and arrogance. While you’re at it, are there other constitutional rights you feel that we don’t need? Do we really need the First Amendment with people like you on television?
Two more thoughts of the day: 1) Without video proof, police misconduct didn’t occur; 2) Sex offender registration mania is out of control
It blows my mind that this is on video, but it is. A scumball cop in Ohio abused his authority and violated the civil rights of an innocent citizen. He basically threatened to execute the guy, etc. Of course the poor guy is then prosecuted for “failure to notify” that he had a concealed weapon permit and was carrying. I heard through the grapevine that in the criminal prosecution which ensued (of the victim of course – not the cop) the prosecutor offered to dismiss the charges if the victim/defendant signed a release of liability foreclosing any possibility of a lawsuit over civil rights violations. If this is true (and I have no proof that it is), the prosecutor should be prosecuted for attempting to cover up a crime. I just found this statement from the police chief in that jurisdiction:
I want to assure our citizens that the behavior, as demonstrated in this video, is wholly unacceptable and in complete contradiction to the professional standards we demand of our officers. As such, appropriate steps were placed in motion as dictated by our standards, policies and contractual obligations. Those steps included: The officer immediately being relieved of all duty. The incident has been referred to the Internal Affairs Bureau for what will be a complete and thorough investigation. As bad as the video indicates our officer’s actions were, there is a due process procedure to follow. That process is designed in the best interest of both our employees and the citizens at large. That process will be followed in this case as in all others. Anyone shown to be in violation of our rules and regulations will be help appropriately responsible as dictated by all the facts. ~Chief Dean McKimm
The 800 pound gorilla in the room is this: if the video did not exist, nobody would believe the victim. And it blows my mind that the video was recovered. By the way, if you watch the video, take note of the illegal search of the backseat of the car which happens almost immediately after the stop. This sort of garbage happens all the time. After the fact the cops will claim to have received consent to search the vehicle. There was no consent, and there was no probable cause to search.
Secondly, there is a story out today about 14 year old boys being required to register as sex offenders due to a high school prank. It’s time to tell the whining hippy women and the “new-castrati” that enough is enough with this sex offender garbage. Of course it has its place with real sex offenders. But this has gotten out of control. I’m tired of seeing this ruin the lives of good young people. The sex offender laws are too broad. Then once we label good people as “sex offenders”, it ruins their lives. Not only this, but it waters down the real purpose of having registered sex offenders. So what’s the point?
If you were wondering what the law is in West Virginia, it is basically this: if there is any conviction of an individual and the presiding judge makes a finding that the offense was “sexually motivated” in any way, that person then becomes a registered sex offender. It doesn’t have to be an actual sex offense charge.
For concealed weapon carry permit holders in West Virginia, there are two very important items of documentation that you must have on you at all times:
(1) your West Virginia concealed pistol/revolver license, which of course is legally required to be on your person any time you are carrying a concealed weapon; and
(2) your attorney’s business card, in case you get arrested by a law enforcement officer regarding your firearm, or in case, God forbid, you are forced to use your firearm in self defense.
Step one is legally carrying the weapon. Its a whole separate ordeal explaining the situation of having to use deadly force to defend yourself or others to law enforcement and later, the prosecuting attorney. You should leave it to a professional. Have your attorney’s card laminated and keep it in your wallet along with your CCW permit card.
Of course, my business cards already come pre-laminated in a glossy finish and will stand the test of time in your wallet. If you want an attorney who knows guns and the many facets of self defense and gun laws in West Virginia, and who also has a proven track record of successfully defending gun charges, both through obtaining dismissals from judges and prosecutors and from obtaining acquittals from juries, call me and I will send you several of my cards free and with no questions or obligations.
Remember: saying “with all due respect sir, I would like to have my attorney here before I answer questions – I will call him right now” cannot be used against you. Even if they arrest you, your innocence can be sorted out after the fact. Make sure that your attorney gives you some way of contacting him or her after hours if an emergency arises. You have to use your brain.
You may want to say (especially if there is no attorney handy) something to officers, depending on the circumstances, so that they understand that it is a self defense situation. “Officer, this was self defense, I was in fear for my life, I have a concealed carry permit. That is his gun over there lying next to his body. This man over there was a witness”. If an officer is going to support you, he will not push you to answer questions beyond that. If he is not going to support you, then there is no point in talking with him anyways.
ETA from Matt Harvey, Esq.:
“Concealed” means hidden from ordinary observation so as to prevent disclosure or recognition. A deadly weapon is concealed when it is carried on or about the person in such a manner that another person in the ordinary course of events would not be placed on notice that the deadly weapon was being carried. For purposes of concealed handgun licensees, a licensee shall be deemed to be carrying on or about his or her person while in or on a motor vehicle if the firearm is located in a storage area in or on the motor vehicle.
W. Va. Code Ann. § 61-7-2 (West)
- Civil Liability
- Computer Crimes
- Concealed Weapons
- Criminal Records
- Denial of Medical Care
- Domestic Violence
- Excessive Force
- Financial Abuse of Elderly
- Forensic Labs
- Governmental Liability
- Grand Juries
- History Series
- John H. Bryan
- Judicial Misconduct
- Law Office Tech
- Law School
- Media Coverage
- Medical Examiners
- Money Laundering
- motions for change of venue
- Negligent Homicide
- Plea Agreements
- Police Misconduct
- Preliminary Hearings
- Pretrial Hearings
- Right to Speedy Trial
- Searches and Seizures
- Self Defense
- Sex Crimes
- Sex Offender Registration
- State Agencies
- United Bank Lawsuit
- Vehicular Crimes
- West Virginia Concealed Carry Laws
- West Virginia Gun Laws
- White Collar Crime
- Wildlife Violations