Gail Gerlach is being charged with first degree manslaughter in the shooting and killing of Brendon Kaluza-Graham as Kaluza-Graham drove away stealing Gerlach's Chevy Suburban. One shot through a dirty, tinted back window, called "one in a thousand" by Spokane County Prosecutor Steve Tucker, was all it took. And Gerlach appears to have regretted it immediately.
Here are the relevant portions of the Revised Code of Washington:
Murder in the second degree.
(1) A person is guilty of murder in the second degree when:
(a) With intent to cause the death of another person but without premeditation, he or she causes the death of such person or of a third person;
Manslaughter in the first degree.
(1) A person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when:
(a) He or she recklessly causes the death of another person;
It's a close call.
But what concerns me most is at least one police officer or attorney in the meeting where they decided on manslaughter thought there shouldn't be any charges at all. Whether you're a marksman or a lucky shot, using a firearm to take a life requires strong justification. After all, what is the purpose of shooting at anything if not to hit it?
From the comments on the many Spokesman Review articles, the fact that Kaluza-Graham was a car thief makes it easier for some people to justify his death, which is itself disturbing. Callousness towards taking a life makes lesser offensive behavior more acceptable.
It's all part of a civil society, something we have to work hard for if we want to have it.