Deadly force debate erupts anew after jury acquittal in car theft shooting

Renewed focus on using deadly force to stop property crimes is one result of the Spokane verdict that acquitted a man on manslaughter charges for killing a suspected car thief.

When a Spokane, Wash., jury acquitted a local man of manslaughter charges for the March 2013 shooting death of a man who was trying to seal his SUV, it provided new fuel for a long-burning debate over the use of lethal force to protect property.

Gail Gerlach is a free man today after the 11-woman, one-man  jury deliberated for only a few hours, and then deciding separately that he was justified in his actions, thus setting the stage for state reimbursement of his legal defense bills, which could come to an estimated $300,000.

The family of the dead man, 25-year-old Brendon Kaluza-Graham, was distraught over the verdict, and his grandmother told reporters that her grandson was “a sacrificial lamb.”

The case attracted national attention because it once again raised questions about the appropriateness of using lethal force to prevent what was essentially a property crime. Conservatives and liberals have been engaging in a sometimes bitter debate over taking a life over something that can be replaced, with the flip side of the argument centering on the fact that people get away with crimes that should not have been committed in the first place; i.e., the suspect would still be alive if he hadn’t been in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing.

Gerlach contended that he believed Kaluza-Graham was pointing a weapon in his direction when he fired.

There are already hints of a civil action against Gerlach by the dead man’s family.

For additional details, read Gun Rights Examiner.

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