Law of Self Defense: FedEx Driver Not Charged in Fatal Punch of Man Who Hurled Racial Slurs at Him

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion | 12/5/2018 | Andrew Branca
gabriella250 (Posted by) Level 3
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I came across this brief news article about a confrontation between a black FedEx driver, Timothy Warren, and an angry man who repeatedly shouted racial epithets at him. The driver killed the man.

Prosecutors have decided against bring charges against the driver, despite the death of the victim. Based on the facts as reported, that appears to be the legally correct decision.

Purposes - Facts - Conflict - Case - Study

More specifically for our purposes, the facts of the conflict as reported appear to be a case study in the element of proportionality. Indeed the driver’s conduct appears to check all the required elements of a justified use of defensive force: Innocence, Imminence, Proportionality, Avoidance, and Reasonableness.

The conflict appears to have begun when the victim started shouting racial epithets at the black FedEx driver. As anyone who has taken my instruction knows, I advocate not getting into fights you don’t need to get into. I would discourage folks from getting into fights over insults.

FedEx - Driver - Aggression - Victim - Driver

That said, when the FedEx driver responded to the verbal aggression of the victim, the driver limited himself to a verbal response. Thus, his response was proportional. All good, as far as self-defense law is concerned: Driver is the non-aggressor (Innocence, check), the verbal aggression is actually taking place (Imminence, check), his response is proportional (Proportionality, check), Oregon is a stand-your-ground state (Avoidance, doesn’t apply), and there’s nothing particularly unreasonable about a black person returning verbal heat to someone throwing racial insults (Reasonableness).

The confrontation escalated from verbal to physical, but the physical aggressor was once again the victim. He threw a punch at the FedEx driver, who responded with his own punch to the Victim’s face.

Driver - Aggressor - Innocence - Check - Attack

Again, the driver was not the physical aggressor (Innocence, check), physical attack was actually taking place (Imminence, check), driver’s non-deadly...
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