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Can stealing a cops gun = attempted murder?

Juris_Naturalis
Posts: 273
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11/30/2014 12:16:03 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Not necessarily Ferguson related, but I want to know what other people think of this.

Can stealing a cops gun be considered attempted murder? From both the view of the cop and surrounding civilians.
ford_prefect
Posts: 4,138
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11/30/2014 12:20:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/30/2014 12:16:03 PM, Juris_Naturalis wrote:
Not necessarily Ferguson related, but I want to know what other people think of this.

Can stealing a cops gun be considered attempted murder? From both the view of the cop and surrounding civilians.

I think it depends on the circumstances. If the cop left his gun lying around somewhere, and you steal it when he isn't looking, then run off? That's not attempted murder. If you are wrestling with him and you grab the gun out of his holster and point it at him? Yeah probably counts as attempted murder.

Note that I don't know whether or not this is what actually happened in the case of Michael Brown. These are hypothetical scenarios here
bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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11/30/2014 12:24:09 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/30/2014 12:16:03 PM, Juris_Naturalis wrote:
Not necessarily Ferguson related, but I want to know what other people think of this.

Can stealing a cops gun be considered attempted murder? From both the view of the cop and surrounding civilians.

I think it rather depends on the circumstances...and I don't think you really mean "attempted murder" in the legal sense.

If you're wondering whether it would reasonably be seen as life-threatening, it depends. For example, DURING a scuffle for the gun, I think it would obviously seem life-threatening; there'd be a presumption that, since they're in a physical altercation, the attempt to grab the gun is part of that altercation, thus, is an attempt to get the upperhand, which would indicate a willingness to use said gun.

But let's say a pickpocket steals the gun and runs away--that's not life-threatening, that's just theft.

So it's very situation dependent.

(And it's worth noting that in the Ferguson incident, the fatal shots weren't during a scuffle for the gun by any testimony. The struggle may have occurred while the officer was still in his car. That scuffle ended.)
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bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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11/30/2014 12:26:54 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/30/2014 12:20:41 PM, ford_prefect wrote:
At 11/30/2014 12:16:03 PM, Juris_Naturalis wrote:
Not necessarily Ferguson related, but I want to know what other people think of this.

Can stealing a cops gun be considered attempted murder? From both the view of the cop and surrounding civilians.

I think it depends on the circumstances. If the cop left his gun lying around somewhere, and you steal it when he isn't looking, then run off? That's not attempted murder. If you are wrestling with him and you grab the gun out of his holster and point it at him? Yeah probably counts as attempted murder.

Note that I don't know whether or not this is what actually happened in the case of Michael Brown. These are hypothetical scenarios here

Apparently we were typing much the same thing at much the same time.
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ford_prefect
Posts: 4,138
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11/30/2014 12:29:07 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/30/2014 12:26:54 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 11/30/2014 12:20:41 PM, ford_prefect wrote:
At 11/30/2014 12:16:03 PM, Juris_Naturalis wrote:
Not necessarily Ferguson related, but I want to know what other people think of this.

Can stealing a cops gun be considered attempted murder? From both the view of the cop and surrounding civilians.

I think it depends on the circumstances. If the cop left his gun lying around somewhere, and you steal it when he isn't looking, then run off? That's not attempted murder. If you are wrestling with him and you grab the gun out of his holster and point it at him? Yeah probably counts as attempted murder.

Note that I don't know whether or not this is what actually happened in the case of Michael Brown. These are hypothetical scenarios here

Apparently we were typing much the same thing at much the same time.

Indeed. Great minds, and all that
Juris_Naturalis
Posts: 273
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11/30/2014 1:24:43 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/30/2014 12:24:09 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 11/30/2014 12:16:03 PM, Juris_Naturalis wrote:
Not necessarily Ferguson related, but I want to know what other people think of this.

Can stealing a cops gun be considered attempted murder? From both the view of the cop and surrounding civilians.

I think it rather depends on the circumstances...and I don't think you really mean "attempted murder" in the legal sense.

If you're wondering whether it would reasonably be seen as life-threatening, it depends. For example, DURING a scuffle for the gun, I think it would obviously seem life-threatening; there'd be a presumption that, since they're in a physical altercation, the attempt to grab the gun is part of that altercation, thus, is an attempt to get the upperhand, which would indicate a willingness to use said gun.

But let's say a pickpocket steals the gun and runs away--that's not life-threatening, that's just theft.

So it's very situation dependent.

(And it's worth noting that in the Ferguson incident, the fatal shots weren't during a scuffle for the gun by any testimony. The struggle may have occurred while the officer was still in his car. That scuffle ended.)

I actually am suggesting attempted murder in the legal sense, and in your response to theft, all I have to say is this, Why else would someone steal a gun, other than to kill someone with said gun, which can't be traced back to them?
Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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11/30/2014 1:28:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
The act of stealing the gun alone would not be attempted murder in any circumstance I can think of.

The attempted murder would be in either:
1. the stealing of the gun with the express purpose of using it, or
2. the firing of the gun after being stolen, which no express purpose existed

Of course, stealing the cop's gun is robbery, which is almost always a felony, so if the cop were shot and died, it would be murder via felony murder.
And, by pointing the gun at the cop, that is aggravated assault in the the least.

So, actually, maybe it could, if the prosecutor could argue that the robbery led to the assault, which was the attempt, assuming something stopped him before he could shoot or clearly change his mind.
I think it would be a very weak case, but one might be able to be made.
My work here is, finally, done.
bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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11/30/2014 1:35:39 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/30/2014 1:24:43 PM, Juris_Naturalis wrote:
At 11/30/2014 12:24:09 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 11/30/2014 12:16:03 PM, Juris_Naturalis wrote:
Not necessarily Ferguson related, but I want to know what other people think of this.

Can stealing a cops gun be considered attempted murder? From both the view of the cop and surrounding civilians.

I think it rather depends on the circumstances...and I don't think you really mean "attempted murder" in the legal sense.

If you're wondering whether it would reasonably be seen as life-threatening, it depends. For example, DURING a scuffle for the gun, I think it would obviously seem life-threatening; there'd be a presumption that, since they're in a physical altercation, the attempt to grab the gun is part of that altercation, thus, is an attempt to get the upperhand, which would indicate a willingness to use said gun.

But let's say a pickpocket steals the gun and runs away--that's not life-threatening, that's just theft.

So it's very situation dependent.

(And it's worth noting that in the Ferguson incident, the fatal shots weren't during a scuffle for the gun by any testimony. The struggle may have occurred while the officer was still in his car. That scuffle ended.)

I actually am suggesting attempted murder in the legal sense,

If you are, then the perspective of the cop and the bystanders is irrelevant. Juries and judges decide the legal sense of "attempted murder", and there are specific criteria to be applied. It wouldn't apply in this sort of thing because of a lack of establishing mens rea and intent to kill.

For attempted murder to apply, usually it has to be that the accused "with intent to commit a specific offense, ... does any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that offense."

There would likely be reasonable doubt as to intent, there, and fights are usually assault unless they can really get to an attempt of murder out of it.

and in your response to theft, all I have to say is this, Why else would someone steal a gun, other than to kill someone with said gun, which can't be traced back to them?

Lots of reasons. A trivial one: To sell it.

Especially if the person is trying to flee with the gun, you can't say "Oh, they had a gun, therefore they wanted to kill someone", or else you're criminalizing all gun owners.

And a lot of states don't require licensing or the recording of anything that would let a gun be traced back to its owner. Background checks do not record the firearm being sold (though the gun store does keep that record) My state is pretty pro-gun. I keep a spent casing around so that I could help with ballistics if any of mine were ever stolen, but otherwise they'd have to have the gun to know it was THAT gun.
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bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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11/30/2014 1:42:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/30/2014 1:28:41 PM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
The act of stealing the gun alone would not be attempted murder in any circumstance I can think of.

The attempted murder would be in either:
1. the stealing of the gun with the express purpose of using it, or
2. the firing of the gun after being stolen, which no express purpose existed

Of course, stealing the cop's gun is robbery, which is almost always a felony, so if the cop were shot and died, it would be murder via felony murder.
And, by pointing the gun at the cop, that is aggravated assault in the the least.

So, actually, maybe it could, if the prosecutor could argue that the robbery led to the assault, which was the attempt, assuming something stopped him before he could shoot or clearly change his mind.
I think it would be a very weak case, but one might be able to be made.

Not to contradict as I largely agree, but one would have to factor in possible self-defense claims, too, though. Not as applicable in an "out-of-the-blue" theft followed by pointing/firing, but in an altercation far more relevant.
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Khaos_Mage
Posts: 23,214
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11/30/2014 3:10:53 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/30/2014 1:42:41 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Not to contradict as I largely agree, but one would have to factor in possible self-defense claims, too, though. Not as applicable in an "out-of-the-blue" theft followed by pointing/firing, but in an altercation far more relevant.

True, self-defense or defense of another, who deserves it (a sticky situation), would still be murder, but excusable murder, or attempts thereof.
I suppose it should be noted, too, that merely disarming the officer is not theft.
My work here is, finally, done.
bladerunner060
Posts: 7,126
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11/30/2014 5:10:12 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 11/30/2014 3:10:53 PM, Khaos_Mage wrote:
At 11/30/2014 1:42:41 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:

Not to contradict as I largely agree, but one would have to factor in possible self-defense claims, too, though. Not as applicable in an "out-of-the-blue" theft followed by pointing/firing, but in an altercation far more relevant.

True, self-defense or defense of another, who deserves it (a sticky situation), would still be murder, but excusable murder, or attempts thereof.
I suppose it should be noted, too, that merely disarming the officer is not theft.

Very true! Though I think it depends on context...if you disarm someone when their gun is holstered, and so on.

The overall point being, and I think you'll agree, that the best answer to the OP is "It depends on a whole lot of factors but probably not".
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