So the Houston taqueria shooter has foolishly contacted Houston Homicide, exactly as I hoped and prayed he wouldn’t, rather than heading across the border into Mexico and laying low for awhile as he should’ve done. The case has been referred to a grand jury for further investigation. Legal Eagle Andrew Branca, whose email list I’ve been a subscriber to for a good while now, deep-dives into Texas self-defense law and the facts as we know them from the vid, and comes up with the likely outcome.
SPOILER alert: it isn’t pretty.
Although the shooter initially fled the scene, along with all the other customers, he has now reportedly retained legal counsel and is cooperating with the authorities investigating this event. It is reported that the case will be presented to a grand jury for consideration. The shooter has not been arrested, and as a result the authorities are allowing him to remain anonymous.
The question now, of course, is whether the shooter’s use of deadly defensive force to stop Washington’s armed robbery was justified on the legal merits.
The answer? Yes, maybe, and almost certainly not.
Confused yet? Let’s clarify.
BASICS OF LEGAL JUSTIFICATION FOR USE OF DEADLY FORCE UNDER TEXAS LAW
Shooting someone dead is, of course, normally a crime. Under Texas law, and the law of every other state, however, the use of deadly force upon another might be legally justified, and not a crime, if it meets the conditions for deadly force defense of persons—meaning either defense of self or defense of others.
Additionally, and unique to the Lone Star state, the use of deadly force upon another might be legally justified even in defense of mere personal property—again, if the required legal conditions have been met.
Importantly, the legal conditions for justification must be met for each individual use of deadly force in the encounter—meaning, in this case, for each round fired by the shooter–and that’s where we arrive at the “yes, maybe, and almost certainly not” nature of whether this shooting is lawful.
The bottom line, of the nine rounds fired by the shooter at Washington, the first four were almost certainly legally justified, the second four may be legally justified, and the ninth and final shot almost certainly was not justified, based upon the only evidence currently available to us, which is the surveillance video of the encounter.
For purposes of this commentary and legal analysis, I’ll be addressing the shooter’s use of force as three distinct use of force events, each needing their own legal justification in order to be lawful.
Use-of-Force #1: The first four shots fired, roughly from the start of the video to 0:10 seconds.
Use-of-Force #2: The second four shots fired, roughly from 0:10 to 0:14 seconds in the video.
Use-of-Force #3: The ninth and final shot fired at about 0:16 seconds in the video.
The verdict? Based on Branca’s meticulous legal analysis, that ninth shot will probably doom RS in court, and I concur with utmost regret. But Branca being a modest sort (“But I’m just a small-town criminal defense attorney…”), he proffers a small caveat:
So, given the apparent lack of legal justification for that ninth and final shot, potentially an unjustified unlawful killing, does that mean the shooter in this case will be indicted, prosecuted, and convicted?
The answer is: Who knows?
What I’ve shared above is a legal analysis of this shooting, and it’s one I have great confidence in the legal merit of that analysis.
Questions about indictment, prosecution, and conviction, however, have considerations beyond legal merit.
A prosecutor’s office will typically be asking two distinct questions in evaluating how to handle such a case.
First: What can we do, based on legal merit.
Second: What do we want to do, based on political considerations.
It’s not at all uncommon for prosecutors to use their discretion to give a break to an otherwise law-abiding armed citizen who may have been a bit sloppy in their use-of-force from a technical legal perspective.
The danger, of course, is the use of that discretion is far outside the defender’s own control–he’s now put his fate, potentially the rest of his life, in the hands of other people.
Perhaps they’ll use their discretion in a way favorable to the defender…but perhaps they won’t.
Political considerations are bound to loom particularly large here, given the rioting, burning, and all the usual trimmings amongst Houston’s large Feral Dindu population which giving RS any kind of “break” will almost certainly touch off in its wake.
Bottom line: thanks to an incomprehensible, disastrous decision to come forward and place his fate on the dysfunctional, out-of-balance scales of “justice,” RS will wind up spending the rest of his natural life behind bars for the heinous crime of defending himself against a vicious thug. In a post-Constitutional Amerika v2.0 bereft of law; any semblance of fairness or propriety; interracial comity; and any sense of the overriding urgency of maintaining civic order, only a blind fool would ever do such a thing. RS’s apparent faith in the badly-broken Amerikan “justice” system to do right by him might be touching, but in the end, said misplaced faith will be his undoing. I hate it, really I do, but he’s well and truly fucked at this point.
Update! As it turns out, and to the surprise of exactly no one, Evil Perp had already claimed the life of one innocent victim in the course of yet another of his habitual crime sprees.
Court documents also confirmed that Washington was released on parole in 2021 for a conviction of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, for which he had been sentenced to 15 years behind bars. Washington had been convicted in 2015 in connection to the murder of 52-year-old Hamid Waraich, the owner of a Boost Mobile cell phone store, who was fatally shot in the back during a robbery. He was paroled in 2021 after serving six years. One of the victim’s sons, Sean Waraich, called Washington ‘an evil criminal that took joy from harassing and robbing innocent families.’ He called the taqueria vigilante a ‘true hero,’ and said he ‘did the right thing in stopping the robber and protecting the community from a dangerous perpetrator.’
Aman Waraich, another son of Hamid, said: ‘If the guy who stopped Eric was around 10 years ago, maybe I’d still have my dad.’
Precisely so, tragically so. The simple truth of this young man’s plaintive, heartbroken words will resonate for years to come, in stark condemnation of a warped and upended system of revolving-door “justice” that would even dream of prosecuting Righteous Shooter. Washington was (sub)human detritus—garbage, nothing more nor less. RS is “guilty” only of taking out the fucking trash, a bit of housekeeping which was long overdue.
The REAL crime here is that EP was freed to walk the streets robbing, assaulting, and killing, instead of being behind bars where he should have been, and belonged. When might we expect to see that referred to a grand jury, I wonder?