July 13, 2012

"Given that a firework is basically a bomb, Stephenson has been charged with attempted second degree murder of a law enforcement officer."

"This is a very serious offense, especially so given that the intended victims were cops. [Khasim] Stephenson could face life imprisonment for the fireworks attack even though he didn't injure anyone."

31 comments:

Chip S. said...

Hoist with his own petard.

traditionalguy said...

Forget it Jake. It's Florida.

AZDCbadger said...

silly overcharging. He'll get 30 days for disorderly conduct.

T J Sawyer said...

Isn't the Internet a wonderful place? Google "Khashim Stephenson", click "Images" and you get fascinating stories from 2007, 2009, etc.

I especially liked the one that starts "A man who has been in and out of jail 47 times..."

I think he might not be getting out soon this time.

Cedarford said...

The "Heroes of Law Enforcement" do have a tendency to overcharge whenever a perp really ticks them off or it involves in their mind, an attack on a brother in blue...a set of extra special charges.

I don't condone the jerk that shot the bottlerockets at them. He likely meant to startle, scare, even hurt them. But its the equivalent of punching someone or throwing a rock at someone --

vs. firing two high power rifle rounds at them which miss.

The first is simple assault, even if there was a risk however slight, of inflicting death. And if death or serious injury occurs, of course the INTENT becomes less significant and charging is based on harm done with motive a factor possibly in sentencing...

But there is no doubt with a rifle and bullets, lethal force was the objective and attempted murder charges are appropriate.

Marshal said...

"silly overcharging"

From the article..."Of note, the July 4th arrests also included two of Stephenson's friends who allegedly threatened to shoot the witness who helped lead police to Stephenson."

Or maybe more to the story.

Sigivald said...

I'm not thinking a "depraved mind" is obvious in his actions, which is required for Second Degree Murder in the Florida statutes, nor the level of danger that seems implied by the wording.

(As Cedarford says, if the level of "imminently dangerous" involved is so low that a roman candle projectile counts as attempted murder, then so should a punch - but then why bother with all those laws against assault and battery?)

Nor is it obvious that a "flaming green firework" (s roman candle, I'm guessing) is legally a "bomb", since it's not an explosive device.

These charges don't seem plausible on the given evidence.

(Assault? Very likely! Some sort of variant of "reckless endangerment" or whatnot? Certainly! Second degree attempted murder? Very unlikely.)

Pogo said...

Don't tug on Darwin's cape, don't spit into the wind.

bagoh20 said...

This means you can legally buy and detonate bombs at parties - attempt mass murder as often as you want in many states.

Maybe we need some other form of communication - this words method is not working out too well.

But if we do adopt a new method, we have to keep the lawyers away from it. They're just like the homeless with public bathrooms. They got in there made a mess and now nobody can use it.

Nathan Alexander said...

Alcohol is basically a poison. Offering someone a drink can now get you charged with attempted second degree murder.

bagoh20 said...

"Given that a firework is basically a bomb." No, it's clearly a farm animal. Now, what were you saying?

MadisonMan said...

Even perpetual perpetrators can be overcharged. Throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

edutcher said...

Not attempted murder, but those guys could have been badly maimed.

However many serious assault charges there are in FL, throw the book at him.

Freeman Hunt said...

A bomb? What kind of fireworks are we talking about?

traditionalguy said...

Does this mean that a prosecutor's overcharging when the proof beyond a reasonable doubt from as yet un presentedevidence is a tactic that all good prosecutors have used since God began overcharging and ended up flooding the earth in the days of Noah?

That has been my experience. But the commentariat here told me that all over charging was a crime in itself when Florida last charged someone whose story telling they believed in.

TMink said...

There are bombd, then there are bombs.

But what kind of idiot shoots bottle rockets at people armed with 9 mms?

That guy!

Trey

leslyn said...

So--for example, if someone intentionally sets off an incendiary device in a house attempting to kill, but no one is home --it's just disorderly conduct?

"those guys could have been badly maimed,"--which is often the result when someone physically fails to kill someone.

"These charges don't seem plausible on the given evidence." It's unusual, yes. But just because a device was used that we usually think of in more harmless terms doesn't mean it's a harmless device.

I hope this doesn't again erupt into pure speculation that pretends it's evidence, but that's probably a vain hope.

Seven Machos said...

Sounds like a law school exam question and the professor is trying to get at, among things, state of mind.

If he has a clean record, this guy will serve 60 days and pay a fine that will be painful for him.

Carnifex said...

the old school kpd had a way of dealing with this sort of thing. If you effed up, but let yourself be arrested, everything was fine. If you effed up, and assaulted a police officer you might as well buy a bodybag, you weren't coming home.

yeap. saved a lot of trial expenses back in the day.

Hah, I remember several years ago, the cops had this black guy in custody, hands cuffed behind his back. the story goes he pulled a pocket knife out and started threatening people.

So picture this scene. he's cuffed behind his back, holding a 4 inch knife, in a room full of cops.

He was disarmed after being shot 9 times if memory serves. oh, he died too.

prairie wind said...

Maybe we need some other form of communication - this words method is not working out too well.

But if we do adopt a new method, we have to keep the lawyers away from it. They're just like the homeless with public bathrooms. They got in there made a mess and now nobody can use it.


Just came from the lawyer's office. I'd say you have a point.

prairie wind said...

So, following the discussion above, if a punch can also be considered attempted second degree murder, I'd say Zimmerman's defense can rest easy.

Ken said...

leslyn,

if someone intentionally sets off an incendiary device in a house attempting to kill

So your claim is that these people were trying to kill the cops? I know you're stupid, but are you really that stupid?

Sklar Hast said...

Of course he's charged with attempted murder. Causing a police officer displeasure in any way at all is liable to get you jailed. It's their special pleasure to lord it over everyone in this way. If you act a fool like this guy with fireworks you're just asking for it. The disturbing thing is that you're liable to get it whether you act a fool or not. A recent news item described a man charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest after officers injured their hands hitting him in the face. The corny old joke, he assaulted my fist with his face, is no longer a joke. From bottom to top the justice system is screwed. We're living in gulag America and it's just getting started.

Pogo said...

Bottle rockets are bombs.

Penalties are taxes.

"When Thucydides wishes to express his sense of the internal chaos brought upon the cities of
Greece by the civil wars that arose during the time of the Peloponnesian War, he tells us,
among other things, that words themselves lost their meaning. The Greek terms for bravery
and cowardice and trust and loyalty and manliness and weakness and moderation, the key
terms of value in that world, changed their accepted significance and their role in thought
and life. What before would have been called something like idiotic recklessness, for
example, was now called stouthearted loyalty to friends; what would have been praised as
prudent foresight was now condemned as cowardice.
"

Freedom is slavery.

YoungHegelian said...

I guess I should be in the pokey now for sure considering that when we were kids my brother & I used to get two other friends and take two canoes out on the Tennessee River and shoot bottle rockets at each other.

Do know how difficult it is to hit ANYTHING with a bottle rocket? Even the broad side of a canoe?

Bruce Hayden said...

Does this mean that a prosecutor's overcharging when the proof beyond a reasonable doubt from as yet un presented evidence is a tactic that all good prosecutors have used since God began overcharging and ended up flooding the earth in the days of Noah?

I think that the charges need to pass the laugh test, which these do not. And, when they don't, when no one can reasonably believed that there was probable cause that the charged party is guilty of all the elements of the offense, then the cops and/or prosecutors are the ones breaking the law.

Did the cops here have probable cause to believe that the alleged perp had committed the alleged offense? I think highly unlikely. Were they in danger? Maybe. Of death? Highly unlikely?

leslyn said...

Ken said,

"So your claim is that these people were trying to kill the cops? I know you're stupid, but are you really that stupid?"

I--stupidly--don't know what their intent was. The guy had conflicting stories. His accomplices apparently threatened to kill the witness. That's called circumstantial evidence. That's all it is.

I--stupidly--posited this hypothesis: if someone intentionally sets off an incendiary device.... Stupidly, I thought anyone reading it would recognize the word "intentionally" as meaning that an act was meant to kill. Stupidly, I believed that the opposite, where intent to kill was absent, would mean to such a reader that the person WASN'T TRYING TO KILL anyone.

And so I posited some possibilities to consider.

Stupidly, I didn't anticipate you.

But I did anticipate that people would jump to assumptions, such as how the whole case can somehow be proven from the limits of this story.

Don't Throw Things Dammit! said...

I'd like to see an end to anyone throwing ANYTHING at anyone as a political act of whatever (unless it's love and kisses and all good wishes). Don't give someone a good reason to shoot you and claim innocence because you weren't throwing anything (technically) lethal at the object of your disdain.

I'm sure glitter could scratch a cornea up like a motherfucker given half a chance.

Synova said...

It's possible that someone's feeling disrespected and the charges are overblown because of that.

I sympathize with the police, though, because if it was me, I wouldn't be feeling disrespected, I'd be furious that someone created a situation where I very well might have shot and killed another human being before realizing the extent of the threat.

Not funny. Not a joke. Not any more than the SWATings we've heard about. Pointing a plastic pistol at an armed person, police or not!, is a good way to get killed, and shooting fireworks? Seriously?

But the other weird stuff makes me wonder what else was going on. The guy was 37, didn't it say? Wow. Teenagers or college students trying to kill themselves by police officer is one thing. How does someone live to 37 without more sense? And if it wasn't the stoopid, then what could it have been but an attack, even if a really weird one.

And threats to kill witnesses?

Bizarre.

Synova said...

"I think that the charges need to pass the laugh test, which these do not."

Yes, it's high comedy, but that doesn't mean that the guy didn't think it would work.

Criminals aren't always the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Just saying.

leslyn said...

Synova, you make some very good points. This incident may have been odd, but it wasn't funny.

Bruce Hayden,
" when no one can reasonably believed that there was probable cause that the charged party is guilty of all the elements of the offense, then the cops and/or prosecutors are the ones breaking the law."

I suspect you know that the police may arrest on probable cause of AN offense, and that normally the prosecutor's office makes the charging determination when a charge is so serious.

I hope we won't assume that we know everything about this case from the limits of this story.