Two armed robbers are gunned down in the commission of a crime, and their families want justice? One might argue that justice was served on the streets of Reading, Pa., but that is not how the relatives of the slain suspects see it.
Let’s back up and revisit the facts of the case.
On Nov. 4, two masked men armed with guns burst into Krick’s Korner, a convenience store, and ordered the clerk to hand over the contents of the cash register. He complied and the two headed for the door, where they encountered a “concerned citizen,” who had been an eyewitness to the robbery.
According to Allentown station WTMZ, the citizen, whose name has not been released, was also “carrying.” He and the suspects exchanged shots, but only the Samaritan’s found their target. Both suspects died on the spot. An accomplice, identified as Alexander Garcia-Bialek, 21, was picked up at his home by police, who are calling him the would-be getaway driver.
It’s not fair. [William] had no right to lose his life over something that man could have called the police for. He took the law into his own hands and walked away scot-free.
In point of fact, the citizen shooter, who some are calling a hero, did call 911 while the robbery was in progress. Police and prosecutors explained to the woman that, even if the shooter hadn’t phoned police, he acted within the law. But Virginia Medina insists that charges be brought.
Peter Ratel, Medina’s cousin, is also dissatisfied. He told reporters:
How about if people just start running around here, policing the city on their own? How much worse is it going to get?
He added that his cousin was “no big hard criminal” but, rather, a family-man who loved his young daughter. He also expressed his objection to characterizations of William Medina and 18-year-old Robert De Carr, the other robber killed in the shootout, as “thugs.”
When Reading Police arrived on the scene after the shooting, they were not sure at first what had transpired. They found the two suspects lying dead in the street and the private citizen still on the scene and admitting to having pulled the trigger. But the investigation that followed promptly cleared the citizen shooter.
District Attorney John Adams told reporters:
The majority of this whole incident was captured on video footage. We were able to review that video footage, and we also benefited from the fact that there were a number of witnesses.
Adding that the private citizen demanded that the thieves stop and wait for police, Adams further remarked:
[The man] needed to defend himself because if he would not have used force, he himself may have suffered the wrath of those two gun-toting robbers.
For the average citizen, if they did not possess a gun, making observations would be helpful, but be careful when confronting someone who has a gun. You have to be careful in these situations because no one wants to see anyone else get hurt.
Apart from being exempt from criminal charges, the shooter is immune against a wrongful death suit by the families because of the Castle Doctrine, which permits an affirmative defense of justifiable homicide.
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