January 12, 2007

The Wild, Wild West of... Ohio?

The dateline is Indian Hill, and he's acting like a one-man posse, so close enough:

An Iraq war veteran who drew national attention when he ran for Congress criticizing the president chased three men who had crashed into a fence outside his home, then guarded them with an assault rifle until police arrived, according to police reports.


According to a police report, officers were called to Hackett's home on Nov. 19 after a car crashed into a fence and sped away. The officers arrived to find three men lying face down near their car and Hackett with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder.

"He said he had done this about 200 times in Iraq, but this time there was not a translation problem," the police report said.

Hackett told police later that he was carrying a civilian model of an AR-15 and that one round was in the chamber but the safety was on. He said he never aimed the weapon at the men or put his finger on the trigger.

The driver of the car was charged with failure to maintain reasonable control, driving under suspension and carrying a concealed weapon, a pair of brass knuckles.

Admittedly, I'm a couple of days late to this, but how is it that the cops show up to find three guys face-down on the ground in front of a guy that chased them down and then displayed an AR-15, and the guy with the rifle doesn't get arrested?

Even when smothered with lawyerly talk, this seems like a fairly cut-and-dried case of brandishing a weapon, if not assault with a deadly weapon, depending on what the victims/defendents here have to say about the matter. You simply cannot go chase down someone and use a weapon to get them to comply to your demands.

While I am not a lawyer, I have heard of similar circumstances where people "compelled" other people to remain on the scene until the cops arrived with the use of a firearm, and when the cops arrived, they charged the person with the firearm for several crimes, including with something akin to kidnapping or unlawful detainment.

I thank Hackett for his service to our nation in Iraq, but Paul--can I call you Paul?--You are no longer in Iraq.

You simply can't chase someone down for a property crime with a weapon. That is a crime. Potentially, it is more than one crime. I'm rather disappointed he wasn't charged on the scene, but at least a grand jury is investigating.

Somehow, I doubt that the (generally gun-hating) netroots would be nearly as accommodating as they seem to be in this case, if any other former soldier decided to use his weapon to enforce the law once he was back home.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 12, 2007 04:50 PM | TrackBack

Admittedly, I'm a couple of days late to this, but how is it that the cops show up to find three guys face-down on the ground in front of a guy that chased them down and then displayed an AR-15, and the guy with the rifle doesn't get arrested?

The Golden Rule applies. Indian Hill is an extremely high class suburb of Cincinnati. Property values there were measured in seven or eight digits, thirty years ago. Marge Schott, onetime owner of the Cincinnati Reds, lived there. Carl Lindner, owner of around half a dozen regional or national companies, lives there. Senior executives at Procter & Gamble live there. I'm somewhat surprised a military veteran would have the money to live there. He must have money in the family somewhere.

Oh wait, I see from the Inkwaster, er Enquirer, story that he's a lawyer. That Explains.

Posted by: wolfwalker at January 12, 2007 05:24 PM

Apparently he didn't "brandish" the weapon - he simply had it slung.

And it's no crime to carry a full view, which that would be.

Posted by: Jeff Shultz at January 12, 2007 06:07 PM

He caught criminals. In a perfectly humane and apparently effective way. Why on earth would you want to *prosecute* him?

Posted by: Dawnfire82 at January 12, 2007 06:42 PM

I'm with Dawnfire82 - why would you want him prosecuted? He potentially saved peoples' lives by stopping these people. If criminals know citizens will apprehend them, perhaps crime will not be as rampant. What the hell, the criminals all have weapons and use them, why can't citizens use them to protect their property and lives? I am curious, though, as to why he was not brought in and then released.

Posted by: Cheryl at January 12, 2007 07:01 PM

He was basically bluffing and they fell for it.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at January 12, 2007 07:11 PM

Well, its a good thing the guys in the car weren't illegal immigrants and Hackett wasn't one of those crazy Minutemen.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at January 12, 2007 09:20 PM

I had a friend that was arrested for assault and battery for hitting a burglar with a baseball bat in the butt as he chased the guy from his house. The police stated that since the guy had left the house, the use of a weapon was excessive force. He had to plea bargain and got a fine and probation.

I may not agree with the law, but it is the law. In Hartford two weeks ago a man was arrested because someone saw him holding an assault rifle in his apartment window, 3 or 4 floors above the street. He didn't point it at anybody and there was no round in the chamber. But someone saw it and he was arrested.

What makes this guy special? Because he's a lawyer and politically connected? Gee.....

Think of it this way. What if it was a stripper in Durham who held 3 white men at bay using an assault weapon for running into her car? Do you think she would be arrested?

Posted by: Specter at January 12, 2007 09:22 PM

I don't know that she would be, Specter. As a society, we love these stories--how many movies, books and TV shows feature the vicarious titillation of vigilante justice.

Personally, I feel that it's a crap shoot whether someone in this guy's situation would be charged.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at January 12, 2007 10:07 PM

Hackett appears (I'm not legal eagle) to have possibly violated 2903.21. Aggravated menacing.

(A) No person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause serious physical harm to the person or property of the other person, the other person's unborn, or a member of the other person's immediate family.

Running up to a group of kids with an assualt rifle on your person and yelling that them to get on the effing ground would seem to meet that standard to my layman's eye.

He might also face

2905.03. Unlawful restraint.

(A) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly restrain another of his liberty.

Or perhaps more severely:

2905.02. Abduction.

(A) No person, without privilege to do so, shall knowingly do any of the following:

(1) By force or threat, remove another from the place where the other person is found;

(2) By force or threat, restrain the liberty of another person, under circumstances which create a risk of physical harm to the victim, or place the other person in fear;

He has no legal authority whatsoever to affect an arrest, and to the best of my knowledge, he does not have legal grounds to affect a citizen's arrest. By using a firearm to aid in what appears to be an unlawful restraint or perhaps what is technically an abduction, he may have committed a host of misdeameanors, and perhaps a minor felony or two.

This incident ended peacefully, but had anyone been harmed--either from Hackett's weapon or in flight because of fear of Hackett's weapon--he would be in what I think Chief Justice Waren once called "deep doo-doo."

I've had the desire to chase folks with firearms before (haven't we all?), but there are laws against this sort of thing... many laws against this sort of thing, and I did just a quick search here that took just a few minutes, based upon Hackett's side of the story, which we know is only one side of the story. there could be other elements and potential crimes we are completely unaware of.

I'm not trying to attack Hackett as a person, having little real interest in him one way or the other, but it is not safe nor legal to have civilians with AR-15s thinking they can be the synergy of Rambo and Barney Fife.

If Hackett wants to arrest people, let him join the police.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at January 12, 2007 10:38 PM

CY, Maurice Hinchey tried to slip a loaded handgun through airport security some years ago and NOTHING happened to him.

Nothing is going to happen to this guy.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at January 13, 2007 01:56 AM

he might have been charged with "Menacing"
that's when you use a weapon to get others to comply with your instructions.

Posted by: FireFireFire at January 13, 2007 08:12 AM

CY, you obviously don't live in TX. And with your attitude, TX is just as happy. What these gentlemen did was hit and run. They should have been arrested, by any law abiding citizen. The fact that any adverse consequences might result is why being a criminal has become a realistic profession in this country.

Kidnapping, by definition, involves concealing the abductee from lawful authority. He didn't. I promise you that if I (and lots of my neighbors) were on the jury, he wouldn't get convicted or successfully sued.

Posted by: SDN at January 13, 2007 12:31 PM

Yankee, I'd suggest to you that we don't have NEARLY enough "facts in hand" to be passing absentee judgements re: criminality on the part of Hackett. The police did not file charges and considered the matter closed, and the grand jury review referral (from which the story apparently leaked) has not resulted in any indictment. The account provided is sketchy and lacking in the relevant crucial details needed to make such statements, to say the least, and without those details assigning criminality to the actions is a straight rhetoric game.

He did not, by any report I've seen, actually aim a gun at anyone, "brandish" the weapon in a threatening manner, or make threats of force. There is no report that he verbally threatened the criminals, nor did anything but request them to lie on the ground and await police. Legal open possession of a legal weapon may certainly encourage people to comply with such requests, but does not even remotely constitute "assault." If it did, every armed LEO in the nation would be committing "assault with a deadly weapon" every time they asked you for your driver's license. Not to mention a security guard detaining a shoplifter....

I don't care for Hackett's politics, and I think his actions may certainly have been less-than-sensible given the sketchy details available, but I know of no law in Ohio that prohibits him from making requests of people involved in crimes, nor that bars him from the unconcealed possession of a legal firearm. We don't even know from the article if he was on public or private property at the time.

Posted by: Tully at January 13, 2007 03:38 PM

Really all this seems to show that if you disagree with Bush than you gotta be guilty of something

Posted by: John Ryan at January 13, 2007 04:21 PM

200 times in Iraq? C'mon!

Posted by: vinman at January 13, 2007 09:49 PM


This may be the first time I agree with you. The fact is that I think the guy should be allowed to protect his property and to effect a "citizen's arrest." What I was actually pointing out was that if it had been a regular person, they would have been arrested and have to face charges.

Posted by: Specter at January 13, 2007 09:58 PM

Not to depress the Hackett flacks with, ohh I dunno, the law or anything but you're not allowed to kill anybody for stealing your car stereo. Or even threatening their lives. It would be nice. But alas, illegal.

See the Supreme Court's well established laws on the use of deadly force.

The same types of rules that prevent police from firing at criminals while driving down the interstate or engaging in high speed chases through residential neighborhoods for minor traffic violations also apply to vigilantes.

Hackett clearly used excessive force for a couple of jackasses who hit his fence. Yea, he didn't "brandish his weapon in a threatening manner". He was chasing them down the street and tapping it on their window in a helpful manner. Like the nutjob he is.

It is nice to see all of the people who like to complain about "the police state" and the PATRIOT Act standing up for Agent Orange speeding down the road with a loaded weapon to threaten a couple of teenagers who are contending that they lost control of their car and hit his fence.

Posted by: smantix at January 14, 2007 11:34 AM

State Law determines the appropriate uses of force.

So Smantix... if I see a r-ape in progress, what should I do? Stand there and call the cops? Politely ask him(or her?) to stop? Or just wander off and let the police deal with it? Seriously.

What about a burglary? Assault? Attempted murder? That's all the authorities' responsibilities I guess. I'll just shut my doors and hope that if one of my neighbors sees someone assaulting me and mine that they'll have the guts to disobey your law and do something about it.

This kind of social conditioning encourages criminal behavior. When I was a kid we were always told 'give the bully what he wants; what's more important to you, your life or your stuff?' and the like. You know what that means? An entire generation of easy targets. Why not be a criminal?

Posted by: Dawnfire82 at January 14, 2007 01:04 PM

CY, I'm impressed. Oddly enough, I think that I may even have more conservative views than you on this one. This is a good conversation topic with a lot of latitude for debate, which everyone seems to be enjoying. Nicely done.

"200 times in Iraq? C'mon!"

If you're part of a team that does raids and sweeps, it's not unrealistic to have 200 similar situations. Maybe not actual chases, but high tension situations where you need to control people.

Posted by: brando at January 14, 2007 01:07 PM

Dawn - the standard is whether you feel your life is in danger. I'd say murder, home invasions, and the sort would definitely qualify. And that's the point, if you can't make a distinction between someone sexually assaulting you and someone jumping the curb and striking your fence - you may want to brush up on the law.

The opinion in Garner vs. Tennessee is a standard many states have. A 15 year old teenager breaks into a house and steals ten dollars. The police show up and see the suspect attempting to jump a fence and shoot him in the back. Excessive Force.

Killing someone for stealing ten dollars is excessive force. Killing (or threatening to kill) someone for crashing into your fence would be no different.

It would be no different if someone hits your car in the parking lot and doesn't leave a note. Can you get their license plate number and sue them? Yes.

Can you weave through traffic while chasing them with a loaded weapon and performing a "citizens arrest"? Well, you can but chances are you will go to jail for it. You are making a bad situation worse.

Hackett will be getting off easy. I'm a big believer in the 2nd Amendment but even if someone broke into your house and you surprised them with a gun - if they take off running and you shoot them in the back then it is likely you would be prosecuted.

Posted by: smantix at January 14, 2007 02:41 PM

smantix, you are going WAY beyond the known information to cast Hackett as committing crimes. You seem to be pulling allegations out of your posterior orifice. Do you have a seat on that grand jury? Were you at the scene? Do you work at the Hamilton County DA's office? No?

You're blatantly making things up to attack Hackett. I don't care for Hackett's politics, but I'm not going to lynch him just because I don't like him and think he was a dumbass to follow the car. Which seems to be your approach. We can wait for the facts, and the grand jury will indict or not indict based on better info than we have available. But if the responding officers did not see fit to arrest, it's unlikely he'll be prosecuted.

Best guess would be that the complaint was forwarded to the grand jury by the lawyers of the arrested offenders, in an attempt to create some technical wiggle room for their clients' benefit, and/or to force charges against Hackett to bolster a civil suit of their own against him.

Posted by: Tully at January 15, 2007 03:52 PM

FWIW, in South Carolina, "brandishing" a weapon can mean simply allowing it to be seen.

smantix: and then drove off. Which doesn't necessarily justify Hackett's actions, but does change the context of the incident.

Posted by: Rick C at January 15, 2007 04:22 PM

That is a very conservative part of the country. The prosecutor is not going to give him a hard time for defending his home, not if the prosecutor wants to be re-elected.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 15, 2007 08:09 PM

This is emphatically not "a very conservative part of the country," or of Ohio. Indian Hill is within a couple of miles of Xavier University, where Jesuit peaceniks decommissioned one of the country's top Olympic rifle teams, and staged a sit-in to keep ROTC students from attending their own military ball. CY's commentary is a modest proposal to give Hackett one dose of what he had up his sleeve for all the rest of us. Won't happen, but it's the thought that counts.

Posted by: comatus at January 15, 2007 10:50 PM

come on down to Florida we can shoot your ass for anything !

Posted by: carolina beach at January 16, 2007 08:59 AM