Officials rule car thief shooting self-defense; D.C. gun banners cry foul

Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Deters announced Friday that charges would not be filed against an Ohio concealed handgun licenseholder who shot and killed a car thief in Kennedy Heights late last month.

From the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office:

    Around 6 a.m., Bennie Hall, Jr., 61, went outside to warm up his car before leaving for work and then went back into his house. Mr. Hall noticed someone driving his car towards the end of the street. He grabbed his gun, went outside and waived his arms in an attempt to stop the car. Hall, with the car headed directly towards him, shot into the car killing the driver.

The Cincinnati Enquirer provides more details on the events of that day.

The Prosecutor's office states that forensic evidence confirms that at the time of the first shot, the car was moving directly towards Mr. Hall. This is consistent with the statements of Mr. Hall and a witness.

“It is a tragedy that this 14-year-old boy lost his life during this incident. Mr. Hall has a right to protect himself with deadly force if his life is in danger or he is in danger of great bodily harm", Prosecutor Deters said. "Based on the totality of the evidence and circumstances, he was doing just that.”

Evidence and circumstances are apparently of no concern to gun ban extremists from Washington D.C., who are blaming Ohio's concealed carry law for the criminal's death, rather than the criminal himself.

While history from other states has proven that the potential for meeting an armed citizen acts as a deterrent to would-be attackers, the Cincinnati Post is quoting some who say a recent spate of do-it-yourself crime prevention in Hamilton County - and the prosecutor's decision not to charge those involved - could be sending the wrong message.

From the story:

    Taking the law into your own hands to stave off crime is not what society should be teaching its children, said Peter Hamm, communications director at the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Tanya Batte, training program manager at the Center for Peace Education in Mount Auburn continued by telling the Post that "it's not productive to just say that I have a right to shoot. We can't say that because our kids are listening to what we say and what we do. Our whole society sends the wrong message about violence and how to resolve conflict."

Again, from the story:

    Gun control advocates were quick to question whether a 14-year-old boy's life was more important than a car that was likely only worth a few hundred dollars. Deters said he prefers citizens call police in instances like this, but Hall "has a right to recover his property."

    But Hamm noted that even most police officers are reluctant to shoot a fleeing felon.

    "It is not my opinion that we should start shooting teenagers that are committing felonies," Hamm said.

    Deters said Finnell took a chance, and lost.

    "It's a sad case here. I mean, a 14-year-old lost his life here," he said. "But he engaged in conduct that put his life in jeopardy and Mr. Hall had a right to defend himself."

    Finnell had been arrested 14 times, Deters said, and the fact that he had been out all night and was homeless were "interesting factors" but did not affect his decision on whether to charge Hall.

    Hall had no record and decided to get a concealed carry permit because of rising violence in his neighborhood and because his grandson had been a shooting victim in the same area, Deters said.

    "I understand, as any normal person would have, (Hall) has great regret about a 14-year-old losing his life," Deters said.

    Bob Newman, a civil rights attorney downtown, said he thought Ohio's concealed carry permit system was "a license to kill. It's a license to kill unnecessarily."

But Deters told the Post he doesn't think Hall's gun permit contributed to what happened.

"You know, Florida had had concealed carry well before Ohio and the horror stories that were supposed to happen involving gun fights on the expressway never happened," Deters said. "This man could have been killed by this 14-year-old. He wasn't. It was a shame that the 14-year-old died in this incident. I feel badly for his family, but he was embarking in behavior that ultimately led to his death."

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