Friday, April 03, 2020

People v. Sepulveda (Cal. Ct. App. - April 1, 2020)

On Wednesday, I was critical of a particular gang shooting.  I said I understood why someone would make a gang challenge to an unknown person in disputed territory, but didn't understand why -- when that person (accurately) responded that he wasn't in a gang -- you'd shoot him anyway.  A fact pattern that exists in legions of cases.

Nonetheless, I don't want to seem unduly harsh.  There are cases that I at least understand.  Not that I think are justified.  But that nonetheless at least make rational sense to me.

Like this one.

Here are the facts:

"On August 16, 2014[,] Sepulveda issued a gang challenge during a party to John Medina, who was wearing a hat associated with a rival gang. Sepulveda ordered Medina to take off his hat. Medina refused and punched Sepulveda. Sepulveda pulled out a gun and shot Medina and then shot Medina a second time as he attempted to run away. Medina died from the two gunshot wounds."

(I added the comma, which Justice Perluss omitted.)

Okay.  That's a shooting I understand.

They victim was an actual rival gang member.  The victim punched the defendant.  Does that justify killing him?  Of course not.  But it's not like killing someone totally at random.  This is gang violence I at least understand.

Albeit in a topsy-turvy world.

POSTSCRIPT - I wanted, but forgot, to mention that one reader suggested that the only appropriate response to the gang challenge "Where you from?" that might perhaps avoid a senseless shooting is the response:  "Plastics."  Though I fear that there are insufficiently few gang members who are old enough to remember The Graduate and thus willing to give this response the respect it deserves.