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Lawful killings

A British court today has ruled that Darren Taylor, a burglar who was stabbed to death with his own knife by homeowner John Lambert, was lawfully killed.

Taylor and his accomplice, Ian Reed, both high on drugs and drink, burst into the Lambert’s home and held a knife to the throat of Mrs Lambert, demanding £5,000 from the couple. In the ensuing melee, John Lambert managed to kill Taylor and drive off Reed.

When the police finally arrived, they arrested Mr Lambert for murder, although all charges were later dropped against him whilst the surviving criminal, Ian Reed, was sentenced to eight years in prison for robbery.

It would be nice if there was a presumption of innocence when the cops show up and see situations such as these. After all, when the cops shoot a man dead for no good reason at all, it is just taken as a given that it was lawfully done. In John Lambert’s case, his rights were ultimately upheld but it is hard to escape the feeling that there is one rule for agents of the state and another for its subjects.

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5 comments to Lawful killings

  • Mark Holland

    You’ve got to wonder in a situation like that that it might be better to just dump the body far away, wash up the blood and pretend that nothing ever happened.

  • Kevin

    Bad idea. Even here in pro-self-defense Utah, where the homeowner is specifically exempted by state law from both criminal AND civil liability for lawful self-defense in his home, such actions would destroy one’s claim to innocence. And, at the very least, earn a conviction for evidence tampering.

    Better, as the saying goes, to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

    Hopefully, this ruling will open the floodgates and begin the process of re-establishing the right to self-defense in Britain. Every journey begins with a small step….


  • Russ Lemley


    I understand your gall that the police would arrest someone for the high crime of self defense. However, may I quarrel a bit about two things in your post?

    1. While there may be tendency for the state and its subjects to have separate rules, that is not always the case. It really depends on how accountable agents of the state are to its citizens. For example, the four LA cops that beat Rodney King were charged both at the local and federal levels (although an argument can be made that the federal charges were politically motivated). Police in Dallas, Texas (I think) and Racine, Wisconsin are on hot seats right now for arresting folks on questionable grounds. However, I agree that if the state feels no heat from the public, it won’t feel compelled to answer to it.
    2. I also understand your concern about presumption of innocence, but I think you may be oversimplifying things. I am not a cop, but I have to think that it has to be one of the most difficult jobs around. Imagine going into a volatile situation, surveying it, and making decisions quickly that could end up either saving or ending someone’s life. In short, they need to make quick decisions on incomplete information. As a result, they will make mistakes, sometimes terrible ones. It’s the police department’s responsibility to make sure that the cops are trained to make good decisions, and to not hire or get rid of the ones that can’t. But, back to your point, if that agency doesn’t feel accountable to the public, there is the real and large risk that the police chief just won’t care.

  • Russ Lemley

    Sorry, it was Houston, not Dallas. Here’s the latest.


  • myron

    Where I live in Texas, when there is a police shooting, the officer, invariably is charged with murder: and his name must be cleared so that the charges are dropped. Much is made of these police shootings in the press. And since the attacks of Sept. eleventh, the position of the police is seen in a more favorable light by many. The situation does not give the police officer(s) the benefit of the doubt: there is procedure for the officers of the law to be held accountable.