Well, duh. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened last week in northwestern Georgia, where a 72 year-old, with Alzheimer’s, Deanne Westbrook, wandered into a stranger’s yard three miles from home. He twice tried to open the door, around 4am, then wandered out into the yard. Instead of waiting for the cops, Joe Hendrix shot and killed Westbrook while still in his yard.
This latest example of the militarization of our front yards has two interesting dynamics. First, it’s white-on-white, so on the surface, there’s no racial issue. That variable is controlled for.
Second, the attitude of both the deceased’s neighbor, and his own widow, is interesting, almost as though this death is an acceptable cost of arming ourselves, and using deadly force.
Chris Brown, 50, who lives down the street from the Westbrooks, supports Stand Your Ground laws. He is well-armed and not afraid to pull out a gun if someone broke into his home or tried to steal his truck.
“But if he’s out in my yard and I’ve done called the cops, I’m waiting for the cops,” he said. “What that guy did wasn’t Stand Your Ground.”
Obviously, yes. The 72 year old man was in the yard, and Hendrix’s fiancee was on the phone to the police. There was no ground to be stood, I’d guess. But what if he was banging on the front door?
Mr. Westbrook’s widow herself is not sure that Mr. Hendrix should be charged.
“I don’t know what his mind-set was, and I don’t know enough about the law to know,” Mrs. Westbrook said. “But that’s all over now. His life is already taken. He took the life of a real gentle man, and it’s a crying shame.”
Who cares what his mind set was? He shot a man in his yard. Not on his doorstep, not in his house, the victim was unarmed, 72 years old, not posing any sort of threat, and had no bloody clue where in hell he was.
How have we, as a society, come to a place where this shooting could so much as be considered permissible?
Of course, one thing to take away from this is never, ever knock on a stranger’s door in the United States, for any reason. Unless it’s Halloween I guess.