EMS 1.COM December 22, 2020 – “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six.”
It’s a little piece of bluster often quoted in gun rights forums, catchy and eminently quotable, which I suppose is the point of such trite slogans. Rational and nuanced positions don’t fit on T-shirts or bumper stickers and aren’t easily made into memes.
Real-life, though, is always messier. When the legal bills – even for a justified defensive shooting – start at $50,000 and go up from there, presuming you are no-billed by the grand jury and don’t face a civil suit from the family of the man you killed, being judged by twelve isn’t a very attractive proposition, either.
A medic in Pine Bluff, AR is about to learn that painful lesson. According to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette:
“The paramedics told officers they were rendering aid in the back of the ambulance to a 20-year-old woman complaining of knee pain, when her boyfriend, Kevin Curl Jr., walked up to them ‘aggressively,’ police said.
Spriggs told police Curl refused to back up, and pushed him and asked what he was going to do about it, police said. Spriggs punched Curl, who then pulled out a gun and shot both paramedics approximately three times each in the chest, pelvic and abdomen areas, according to the news release.
Spriggs returned fire, striking Curl, police said. When officers arrived they found Curl dead on the kitchen floor of a residence at the address with at least one gunshot wound in his chest, police said.”
I’m not going to judge John Spriggs, Sr. or his partner, Joshua Godfrey. I wasn’t there. On the surface, it looks like Spriggs lawfully defended the life of himself and his partner, and I hope that turns out to be the case and that an Arkansas grand jury refuses to indict if the case comes before one. I wish both medics a speedy recovery and a swift resolution to what must be nightmare material. But much of the context of the incident is lost in media reports, and we likely won’t know the whole story unless we sit on that grand jury or follow a trial if there is one.
But that’s not going to stop people from opining and speculating, and there’s fuel there for both sides of the argument. Firearms rights advocates will say it proves their point, and gun control advocates will focus only on the bad optics of someone dying at the hand of a paramedic. Neither side is likely to be swayed by the truth.
We don’t know if the encounter could have been de-escalated without gunplay. We don’t know if retreat was an option for either medic. We don’t know what “approached aggressively” really means.
What we do know, from the news story, is that Kevin Curl, Jr. pulled out a handgun and shot two paramedics multiple times, and one of the medics shot back, more accurately.
I suspect that someone who would shove the paramedics helping his girlfriend, and then shoot them, is no stranger to violence. Most people like that don’t respond well to de-escalation; they see it as a weakness. They only understand the language of violence, and Spriggs spoke it more eloquently on December 17.
THE NUANCE OF ON-DUTY CARRY – Back in 2012, when a number of states were considering laws to allow EMS to carry on-duty, I predicted what was to happen if Virginia passed such a law: a whole bunch of nothing. All that would happen is that EMS professionals who already have concealed handgun permits – already among the most law-abiding demographics in our society – would now be empowered to carry them in one more setting. I predicted that none of the dire “blood in the streets” predictions would come to pass.
Well, we just had our first widely-reported EMS shooting, and it wasn’t an armed paramedic losing retention of his weapon in a scuffle, and it wasn’t some Ricky Rescue cop wannabe shooting a combative hypoglycemic patient. It looks like a classic case of self-defense. [full article]