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UPS Hijacking: Did the Cops “Murder” UPS Driver?


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UPS Hijacking: Did the Cops “Murder” UPS Driver?

By Attorney Andrew Branca / December 12, 2019

Based on my Twitter feed, a sizable chunk of the people reading this post will answer that question in the affirmative—to them it’s utterly obvious that the police in Florida yesterday murdered a UPS driver Here’s an example of the kind of tweet I’m talking about, this one posted by someone who normally presents as a rabid Second Amendment supporter:

If that’s what a purported 2A supporter believes, you can only imagine what the cop-hating Progressive left has to say about the UPS hijacking shootout.

First things first—my expertise is use-of-force law, and that’s what I’ll talk about here, as I do everywhere I comment on these kinds of cases. Meaning, I’m speaking only to those moments in which the police are actively engaged in making use-of-force decisions. It’s extremely important to distinguish between use-of-force decision-making on one hand, and what we’ll focus on here, and general public policy issues or police policies independent of use-of-force issues on the other.

Should the police even be engaging in high-speed pursuits, doesn’t that represent a threat to the public? That’s not a use-of-force question, that’s a public policy question, and we won’t address it here. Shouldn’t the police have earlier deployed a spike strip to disable the hijacked UPS van? That’s not a use-of-force question, that’s a police policy question, and we won’t address it here.

Note that I’m not saying that public policy and police policies questions are unimportant—they are very important, and worthy of discussion and debate and informed decision-making. These should be studied, and perhaps doing so would lead to a better outcome in the next similar event. So they’re not bad questions, they are good questions. I’m merely saying that they are NOT use-of-force questions.

In other words, they are NOT relevant to the use-of-force decision-making that the individual officers closing on that hijacked van with the kidnap victim were compelled to engage in. It is those use-of-force decisions that are the focus of today’s show.

Rarely mentioned in any of these tweets and posts so critical of the police conduct in this gunfight is what actually led to this inherently hazardous situation in which two violent, gun-armed felons, armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers, who had already engaged in a gunfight earlier in these events, buried themselves in a crowd of innocent bystanders rather than comply with arrest, threatening the lives of dozens of people as well as the responding officers. Here they are:

That’s Ronnie Jerome Hill on the left and Lamar Alexander on the right. If you’re thinking that they appear to be wearing similar outfits, you’d be right about that—they’re both wearing prison garb, because these are their mugshots.

Wait, how could there be mugshots of a living Hill and Alexander, when they were killed yesterday before they could be arrested?

You’ll be shocked to learn, I’m sure, that this was not Hill and Alexander’s first encounter with the law as a result of engaging in criminally violent behavior. Both are reported to have extensive records of criminal violence.

Hill has (at a minimum) done an 8-month prison sentence for burglary—maybe it was YOUR home he violated?—and Alexander has (at a minimum) done a 10-year sentence for armed robbery (that’s robbery with a deadly weapon and/or threat of deadly force). Both of these fine upstanding members of the community were released from prison in 2017.

As an aside was their release (just 8 months for burglary?) another benefit of “prison reform”? Get ready, folks, we’re about to see a flood of similarly violent criminals released onto our streets in the name of “kindness.” Are you prepared to meet them? Do you have your gun? Do you know the law? As my friends Mike Seeklander and Rich Brown at the American Warrior Society put it: The fight is coming … are you ready?

I sure hope so.

It’s important to note the obvious fact that the fuse on this day of violence was not lit by the police officers who, in the performance of their duties, were chasing down these violent thugs. The fuse was lit by Hill and Alexander when they decided to arm themselves with guns (note that both of these miscreants are prohibited persons for whom gun possession is against the law, another great testament to how effective gun control laws are).

They then decided to take their illegally possessed guns and conduct an illegal (duh) armed robbery of a jewelry store. While these two fine upstanding citizens were engaged in deadly force armed robbery, a—SURPRISE!—gunfight erupted. One of the employees of the jewelry store was injured, and Hill and Alexander violently hijacked a UPS truck and kidnapped the driver to effect their escape.

Note that no police officers were involved in these two violent criminals arming themselves with guns, committing a botched armed robbery, hijacking a UPS truck, kidnapping the driver, and deciding to attempt a high-speed escape rather than submit to lawful arrest.

The police pursued the two violent armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers with their victims, making repeated attempts to stop the UPS truck along crowded roads, without success.

Could the police at this point have simply decided to let the fleeing armed robbers go? I suppose so. And what would have been the lesson to every other armed robber who found their robbery botched and the police closing in? Hijack a vehicle and seize a hostage, and the police will let you go.

Sound like good public policy to you? It sure doesn’t to me.

Ultimately the hijackers buried their stolen UPS truck, along with the kidnapped driver, into a crowd of dozens of vehicles containing innocent bystanders waiting at a traffic light. It was at this point that the gunfight erupted, resulting in the deaths of the violent criminals, the UPS driver, and an innocent bystander.

We’re still in the “fog of war” period of this event, of course, so there are many details we don’t know. Many are asking, “Well, who fired first? Was it the police? Or the hijackers? If it was the police, couldn’t they simply have been patient and waited the hijackers out?

From a legal perspective, none of those questions are really very important, and therefore neither are the answers to those questions.

The only relevant legal question relevant to whether the police use of deadly force during those moments when the UPS truck was stuck amongst those cars is this:

Did the officers who fired reasonably perceive that the hijackers presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to innocents? If the answer is yes, the police use of deadly force against the hijackers is justified.

And that’s true even if that police use of force incidentally endangers innocents, as well. Why? Because the alternative would require the police to almost never fire a shot to stop an imminent deadly force threat. Virtually every shot fired by police in any circumstance involves a speculative danger to innocent bystanders. Bullets miss. Bullets over-penetrate. Bullets ricochet. Shooting guns in a populated space is always dangerous to innocent people.

Could the officers have simply sat back and waited to see how things developed? Well, perhaps. But then what’s the lesson to every other hijacker? Make sure you bury yourself in a crowd of innocent bystanders so that you’ll have a better negotiating position with police.

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... Continued ...

Could the officers have simply sat back and waited to see how things developed? Well, perhaps. But then what’s the lesson to every other hijacker? Make sure you bury yourself in a crowd of innocent bystanders so that you’ll have a better negotiating position with police.

Sound like good public policy to you? It sure doesn’t to me.

Further, what if the hijackers, once stopped in traffic, simply began firing shots at the police or directly at the bystanders? In that event, a deadly threat to bystanders already existed, independent of any police shots fired. Are the police to simply sit back and wait until the bad guys shoot all the cops and bystanders they have ammo for, before moving in to make an arrest?

Does that sound like good public policy to you? It sure doesn’t to me.

What if the hijackers, who you’ll recall have already been in an exchange of gunfire earlier in the day, so we know they’re ready and able to fire shots at innocents, decided to flee on foot into the public crowded with innocent bystanders, dispersing themselves among those bystanders, rather than remaining isolated within the UPS vehicle itself? Is that a better scenario for public safety? I think not.

What if the hijackers had decamped the UPS truck and jumped on a city bus with 50 passengers on board? A better scenario for public safety? No.

In truth, it hardly matters whether the hijackers or the police fired first. The hijackers by their conduct created a situation that was a deadly force powder keg. The hijackers are primed to shoot police and innocent bystanders. The police are primed to fire in return. It would be a miracle of a gunfight did not erupt under the circumstances created by the hijackers.

And it would be totally expected that if any of the dozens of police officers facing a pair of deadly force armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers fired a shot—whether that shot was itself justified or not—it would trigger a wave of sympathetic gunfire from the other officers present, who would reasonable infer from the first gunshot that the gunfight was on.

In that moment, when the UPS truck seized by violent armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers who have already engaged in an earlier gunfight has been embedded among dozens of innocent bystanders effectively trapped in their vehicles within striking distance of those violent felons, there was only one realistic path by which the day would not end in a violent gunfight and the deaths of both the criminal instigators and innocents—if the criminals had chosen to accept their inevitable arrest, dropped their guns, released their hostage, and surrendered.

That was a decision only the criminals could make. Surrender, or continue to present an imminent deadly force threat to the UPS driver, the innocent bystanders, and the police, thereby compelling the use of deadly defensive force against them.

The criminals chose the latter, and they chose poorly.

We’ll be hearing a lot of talk about prospective changes to police use-of-force policy (“cops should just back off in that situation!” and arguments about what the cops could have done earlier to prevent the need to engage in a gunfight (“they should have deployed a spike strip during the chase!”), and some of those may be good ideas. Or not.

But none of them has any relevance to the use-of-force decision that had to be made by each of the twenty-plus officers surrounding that hijacked UPS truck buried amongst dozens of innocent bystanders at that moment. They didn’t have the opportunity to engage in a public policy debate, or to change what other officers might or might not have done earlier in the day.

Rather, they were faced with the situation in hand—two violent armed felons, already engaged in a botched robbery and gunfight earlier in the day, holding a UPS driver as a kidnap victim they were holding by threat of violent death, buried amongst dozens of innocent bystanders to whom the criminals were an imminent deadly force threat, not to mention the deadly force threat the non-compliant violent criminals presented to the officers that society had sworn and badged precisely to pursue and arrest these types of violent bad actors.

Indeed, hypothetically speaking, even if Officer Bob knew for a FACT that the first shot fired was by Officer Joe, and that Officer Joe fired negligently if that shot leads to the bad guys firing at innocents, the gunfight is ON, whatever the immediately triggering event and the use of deadly defensive force is justified to stop the unlawful and imminent deadly force threat presented by the armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers. Officer Joe’s negligence is a matter to be dealt with later. The immediate imperative is to act in defense of innocent life.

It is a tragedy that the UPS driver and an innocent bystander died as a result of the violent decisions of these armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers. But it WAS the decisions of those armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers that led to this gunfight.

THEY chose to illegally arm themselves with guns. THEY chose to engage in an armed robbery. THEY chose to engage in an earlier gunfight. THEY chose to hijack a UPS truck by force of arms and kidnap the driver by threat of murder. THEY chose to lead the police, who were merely performing their duty, in a high-speed chase, wildly endangering everyone in the vicinity. THEY chose to bury their vehicle amongst dozens of innocent bystanders. THEY chose to decline repeated demands to disarm and surrender.

Had the armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers made any alternative decision on any of those points, they and the innocents killed with them would still be alive.

That’s on the armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers.

The police, in contrast, merely performed the duty to which they had been assigned—the pursuit and arrest of bad actors engaged in imminent deadly force violence against innocents.

Did the cops “murder” the UPS driver? No. Even if it turns out that the bullet that killed the driver was fired by a police officer, the police still do not bear responsibility for the death. The police use of force was justified in response to the imminent deadly force threat presented by Hill and Alexander, and those shots fired by police were fired with good and justified intent.

That’s not to say the UPS driver wasn’t murdered. He certainly was. Just not by the police, who were acting justly. Rather, the UPS driver was murdered by the armed robbers/hijackers/kidnappers Hill and Alexander, who created the imperative for the police to fire those rounds at them. And that’s true even if the driver was killed by a police round. It is the bad actors who bear the criminal liability for the harm caused by the use-of-defensive force they necessitated.

Naturally, none of this reality of the genuine cop-haters. Haters gonna hate. I expect we’ll soon see vigils in “honor” of Hill and Alexander, with both violent predators presented as “black victims of racist police violence,” all over the internet in short order. Well, it’s a free country, and nothing I can write will ever change the minds of people who would hold such a hateful and warped perspective of reality.

I can hope, however, that posts like this will inform the perspective of others who may find to their displeasure that they’ve stepped into one of these cop-haters rants about this event, and otherwise might be uncertain what to make of it.

Hopefully, you’ll now be able to recognize it for what it is.

In closing, remember folks:

You carry a gun so you’re hard to kill.
Know the law so you’re hard to convict.

Stay safe!


Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

Link --> https://lawofselfdefense.com/ups-hijacking-did-the-cops-murder-ups-driver/
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This didn't fit in the first posts of above article.

Here they are:

That’s Ronnie Jerome Hill on the left and Lamar Alexander on the right. If you’re thinking that they appear to be wearing similar outfits, you’d be right about that—they’re both wearing prison garb, because these are their mugshots.
Better to be convicted by 12 than carried by 6.

I went to pick up a pistol at the Federal Express terminal will-call and I watched a truck roll in and another out, every minute on the minute, as I waited for my driver who was stuck in traffic.

For a freaking hour!

There was a shooting in front of a porno shop write an underpass between the railroad overpass and the freeway bypass.

In other words it was a total fustercluck and I had to wait a long time.

But my point is that this business is ripe for hijackings. I'm certain that they must track every truck on GPS nowdays.
Didn't a FedEx driver just thwart a carjacking in NJ recently?

As to if the cops shot the UPS driver, I would wait until the investigation is done. I don't like to think that he (or the bystander) were shot by police but it is entirely possible... :(
Didn't a FedEx driver just thwart a carjacking in NJ recently?

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I had not heard anything about it.

Gunfight ends with robbery suspect fatally shot by FedEx driver who fought back, police say
By Ray Sanchez, CNN
Updated 6:12 PM ET, Wed December 18, 2019
(CNN)The armed robber probably wasn't expecting a fight -- much less to get fatally shot by his victim.

But police say that's what happened in a northeast Philadelphia neighborhood Tuesday evening, CNN affiliate KYW reported. The suspect confronted a FedEx driver who had just dropped off a package.
The driver later told police the suspect robbed him at gunpoint and shot him once in the abdomen, the station reported.
But the FedEx driver also was armed, CNN affiliate WPVI reported.

And he shot back.
The FedEx worker then drove himself to a grocery store and told police what happened, WPVI reported.
Police later came upon a 27-year-old man with gunshot wounds they believe was the robber, the station reported. Items from the robbery were found on the suspect, police said.
Police found the man in a driveway with multiple gunshot wounds to the chest, back and torso, KYW reported. He died later at a hospital.
KYW reported that some stolen items were also found in a car near the driveway.
FedEx and the driver are cooperating with investigators, police said.
"The safety of our team members and service providers is a top priority," FedEX said in a statement, according to WPVI.
WPVI said FedEx had not responded to questions about its gun policy for workers.
The FedEx driver was taken to a hospital and was in a stable condition, KYW reported.

Video at --> https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/18/us/philadelphia-fedex-delivery-robbery-shooting-trnd/index.html