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HEAD SHOTS This article was sent by James Yeager. Below is the story of a man who was shot in the face with an M-4 Rifle (caliber .223) by the F.B.I. The story is about a mistaken identity and a wrongful shooting that a lawsuit has been filed over. Those things are not why I am sending this out. The reason I am sending this out is because of who is filing the lawsuit... ....it is not his mom. ....it is not his sister. ....it is not his father. ....it is the guy who was shot in the face... ....with a RIFLE. The Baltimore Sun 11/14/2003 Judge lets suit against FBI agent proceed Pasadena man was shot in the face; Case of mistaken identity; Victim, ex-girlfriend asking for $10 million By Allison Klein Sun Staff November 14, 2003 A federal judge in Baltimore ruled yesterday that a $10 million excessive-force claim can go forward against an FBI agent who shot an unarmed Pasadena man in the face after mistaking him for a bank robber. It was a key hurdle in the closely watched case involving Special Agent Christopher R. Braga, who shot Joseph C. Schultz with an M-4 rifle during a botched arrest March 1, last year. In a 24-page opinion, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz ruled there was not enough evidence to dismiss Schultz's claim. Braga, in requesting dismissal of the suit, contended that he had immunity because he is a federal agent. "I am not prepared to say without development of a complete factual record...that a law enforcement officer has qualified immunity to shoot an innocent person...who is attempting to comply with the officer's direction even if his hands may have momentarily gone out of the officer's view," Motz wrote. Schultz, now 21, was shot after agents searching for a bank robber mistakenly stopped the car being driven by Kristen M. "Krissy" Harkum, then his girlfriend. Braga told Schultz to unlock his door and get out of the car. As Schultz tried to comply with the order, he was shot. Schultz's lawyer, Arnold M. Weiner, said the opinion to not throw the case out for immunity is telling. "Motz's ruling was critical to the case because in these types of cases, the defense is almost always based in claims of immunity," Weiner said. Braga said in his request to dismiss the case, which he filed in May, that he fired when Schultz appeared to reach for his waist, as if to pull out a weapon. Motz ruled that because Schultz and Harkum did not try to run from the agents - and were complying with their orders - he would allow the case to go forward. Harkum, now 17, was not wounded in the shooting but is also a plaintiff in the $10 million lawsuit. She seeks compensation for "severe emotional injury." In his opinion, Motz also dealt with other claims in Schultz's suit, dismissing some. He threw out a claim against Braga that the agent should not have stopped Schultz's car. 'Substantial victory' Braga's lawyer, Andrew C. White, called Motz's ruling a partial victory for his client. "It is not a complete victory for Agent Braga, but it is a very substantial victory," White said. The lawsuits also name as defendants two of Braga's supervisors, agents Henry F. Hanburger and Lawrence S. Brosnan. Motz tossed out all claims against Brosnan. His lawyer, John Bourgeois, said the judge ruled appropriately. "The plaintiff's theory was completely incoherent," Bourgeois said. Motz also threw out a claim against Hanburger that he was negligent in the way he supervised the search and seizure of Schultz's car. One claim remains. One claim against Hanburger, that he is liable for ordering the agents to stop the car, remains. The lawsuit filed by Schultz and Harkum alleges that the agents disregarded bureau arrest policies and then played down the potentially deadly results. On the day of the shooting, FBI agents were told by a tipster to look for Michael J. Blottenberger, who was suspected of driving the getaway vehicle, a red Honda Civic, in the robbery of a Pasadena bank branch. The agents expected Blottenberger to be at a 7-Eleven convenience store, riding in a red car and wearing a white baseball cap. Schultz and Harkum said in their lawsuit that the agents wrongly zeroed in on their vehicle after Schultz, wearing a white cap, emerged from the store and got into Harkum's red Pontiac Grand Am. Schultz suffered several injuries to his head and underwent reconstructive surgery. According to his suit, he suffers from "severe emotional and psychological injuries."
FOLLOWUP TO THE RIFLE IN THE FACE ARTICLE Many of you have replied with an indignant "Who the hell does the FBI think they are shooting people in the face and asking for immunity!" after having read my last e-mail Many of you don't know how fucked up it is to be a Cop. I didn't send the article out to start a "Police bashing" but I just wanted to touch base on one issue: Cops sometimes get bad information. Immunity? It is called the "color of law" and it is not a bad thing. Essentially if an officer, any officer, is acting on good faith and is doing his job lawfully he is offered some immunity from civil rights lawsuits. Example 1: A couple is divorcing. She is pissed off at him and hides drugs in his car. She calls the cops and he goes to jail. A year later she comes forward and admits she planted the dope and lied. The Cop that acted on the tip won't be sued and jailed for sending the wrong guy to jail because he was acting under "color of law". Example 2: A Cop is getting a divorce because his wife is screwing around on him. The Cop finds the guy and pulls him over to start a confrontation. They begin to fight and the guy pulls a gun and the cop shoots him. The Cop is NOT immune because he wasn't acting on behalf of the department. What the court will examine in this case is; Did the agent act under the color of the law? Was the information he was acting on correct and HE screwed it up or did the person GIVING the info screw it up. Certainly there is the issue of why he actually shot. We haven't heard the FBI side of that. Did the Agent have a negligent discharge? Quite possible, isn't it? Did the guy make some movement that made the agent feel this "armed bank robber" (remember: What did the Agent PERCIEVE as reality?) was going to kill him? It is never cut and dry. Oh yeah, did you guys catch the part of the rifleshot to the FACE?
AND YET ANOTHER FOLLOWUP (This came from a friend of Yeager's) Am providing this simply because your email (about the M-4 headshot) made me think of it for the first time in decades. I was an EMT with the volunteer fire department in the southeast in 1980. One night, we were called to a real bad part of the back woods. All we knew was that it was a gunshot. I was crew chief that night. The local PD went with us since they were closer to the scene than the sheriff. When we arrived, the PD went in first at low ready and then cleared us to enter. I was the first in for my crew. This was a house trailer. The sofa faced away from the front door and toward the TV, which we could see over the couch as we entered. I could also see that a man was sitting on the floor in front of the couch with his back to us. He was leaning back against the bottom of the couch. There was blood everywhere, and I could see that his thumb had been "avulsed", (it was hanging on by just a little meat). There was blood everywhere, and I remember thinking, "How did this guy bleed this much from a thumb wound?" Also, the TV was on, and it seemed to be making strange sounds, and I wondered if it's speaker was blown. I found the answer to both questions when I got around to the front of the patient where we could see his face. It was pretty obvious what happened. The patient's trailer-mate had shot him with a .38 snub. The patient apparently saw it coming, and he threw up his hands out toward the shooter just when the round was fired. The round went through his thumb, and then caught him square in the face. I don't know the distance, but the longest shot in the trailer would have only been around 15 feet. Am assuming it was shorter range than that. In addition to the thumb wound, the patient had a hole in his face. When I saw hole, I do not mean a "bullet hole", but a crater. His face and underlying structure, beginning above his right eyebrow, traveling in an ark down the side of his face to his lower jaw, and then on around his nose, and back up to the eyebrow was, for lack of a better word, gone. That explained the blood. As for the TV, the strange sounds were not coming from the speaker, but from the patient! The guy was not only alive, he was awake and trying to talk to us! Problem was, he no upper jaw or pallate to talk with. In short, what we saw looked like a bowl of raw chicken liver with a tongue moving up down in, and the resultant gurgling sounds emanating from, it. All we could do was put a big telfa pad over it, and then point a nasal canula into the hole to blow in oxygen, and haul buns to the hospital, which we immediately did. Later at the ER, nurses showed us his X-Rays. It was astounding. The round must have been a lead soft point; it must have gone to pieces when it hit the guy's thumb. The x-ray showed that part of the skull was missing, as we already knew, but it also showed slivers of lead between his skull and skin all the way around his head! It looked like his entire head was surrounded with flechettes flat against the skull bone. I later learned the poor fellow lost his left eye too due to it having been penetrated by some of these slivers. I understand they rebuilt him as best they could with bone from his ribs, but they could only do so much. Yeager's comment: It sounds as if the .38 in this story did more damage than the .223 in the earlier one. A human body can sustain a tremendous amount of damage and still be "in the fight". You need to understand this if you are wounded, and you need to understand it about wounding perpetrators. A single gunshot is seldom enough to stop someone who is determined, or someone who just wants to live.
Robert V. Robinson "Robbie" My Experience and Training