Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Was Shooting Tire Really Self-Defense?

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Was Shooting Tire Really Self-Defense?

Article excerpt

Bounty hunter Nathan Rockwell tells me that on advice of his attorney, he can't talk about how he shot out a fugitive's van tire last week, even though he would like to discuss it.

Good legal advice, I imagine. But I'm sorely disappointed. I'd love to hear his exciting tale, especially the part how he was on foot and used a handgun to shoot out a van's tire -- in self- defense.

Sounds amazing.

People usually get charged with a serious crime after shooting at an occupied vehicle. But not if it is done in self-defense as a bad guy tries to run them over with a van, of course.

Except, that pretty much never, ever happens, because it is very nearly impossible to do.

Think of it: A guy you hope to apprehend, driving a van, charges at you and puts you in fear for your life, and so, you protect yourself by shooting at his tire.

Not by running or diving out of the way. Not even by shooting desperately at the windshield. No. Instead, while in fear for your life, you take cool and successful aim ... at a tire.

Fantastic. Rockwell clearly has ice water in his veins and all the action-hero stuff of B-movie fame. There should be TV show called "The Rockwell Files."

Or, then again, just maybe he is a more ordinary human, and kind of forgot, in all the excitement, that he actually shot that tire from a safer spot well off to the side of the van while just trying to stop the driver, and the financial bounty, from getting away.

That could happen just because Rockwell is a determined bounty hunter, or maybe after he had indeed evaded a dangerously moving van and, in the seconds afterward -- while still pumped up about it -- lost all good judgment and fired at the tire to keep the man from getting away.

That would still have been worth some bragging points at the next bounty hunter convention down at the pool hall. But there would be a problem: It isn't self-defense if you shoot to stop a guy from getting away, no matter that you are mad at him or how much money you might lose if he escapes. …

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