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No Charges Filed Against Man Who Mistook A Cop For a Burglar and Shot Him

Submitted by smorgan on
Anyone who has followed the Cory Maye and Ryan Frederick cases knows how hard it is to convince police and prosecutors that you thought you were being burglarized when you fired on police who charged into your home unexpectedly.

This bizarre story from Alabama puts a new twist on that tragically familiar narrative:

An off-duty Huntsville police officer was shot in the shoulder early Saturday when a friend mistook him for a burglar.

Police Chief Henry Reyes said Tony McElyea, a Strategic Counterdrug Team agent, decided to surprise a good friend and former police academy cadet at his home in the 1300 block of Virginia Boulevard.

McElyea, his girlfriend, and the friend's wife snuck into the home at about 2:30 a.m.

McElyea walked down the hallway and started shouting "Wake up, wake up," at his friend, Reyes said.

The friend, who Reyes said didn't immediately recognize McElyea, grabbed a .38-caliber revolver and shot him.

"It's just one of those things where he got startled and reacted," Reyes said. "It's unfortunate that it happened, but it's fortunate that it's not any worse."

The incident has been ruled an accident, and no charges will be filed against the shooter, whose name was not immediately released. [Huntsville Times]

So apparently, when you take the botched drug raid out of the equation, suddenly it makes perfect sense that someone would use force to defend their home when intruders come bursting in. Of course, in this case there was no warrant and no vague criminal activity for which the homeowner could be accused of attempting to evade capture. So maybe it's a little unfair to compare this to the Maye and Frederick cases.

Still, it's just impossible to ignore the fact that Cory Maye and Ryan Frederick are no more guilty than this man, who wasn't even charged. They made the same fundamental error he made: thinking that their lives were in danger and using force against the intruder. It shouldn’t matter whether or not police had a warrant. The bottom line is that if police behave like burglars, they might be mistaken for burglars. Citizens who make that mistake are not guilty of murdering a cop. They are victims of bad policing brought on by a bad drug policy.

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