“From what I can see, he performed a public service in taking out this fella. The fella asked for what he got and he got it.”
Those are the words of David Heckler, the District Attorney of Bucks County, PA, referring to the shooting and killing of a robbery suspect by the owner of a local pharmacy.
I guess DAs have to project a tough-on-crime image, which is OK, but there’s no need to be callous. I think it would be nice in such situations to show a little bit of compassion as well.
Someone’s life was just taken, and this DA is calling it a “public service”.
Public service is a service which is provided by government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing provision of services. The term is associated with a social consensus (usually expressed through democratic elections) that certain services should be available to all, regardless of income.
The Wikipedia article then goes on to list a variety of items that are included under public services:
- Emergency services
- Environmental protection
- Fire service
- Gas and oil
- Health care
- Law enforcement
- Postal service
- Public broadcasting
- Public library
- Public security
- Public transportation
- Public housing
- Public schools
- Social services
- Town planning
- Waste management
- Water supply network
That’s a pretty extensive list, and I see no mention of the killing of another person by a private citizen as a “public service”.
Heckler also commented that “There is no thought that we would prosecute the shooter in this case. He was entirely justified in his conduct, and frankly should be commended,” Heckler said.
Once again, I think the DA’s words cross the line. Why did he have to add the last part to his comment; wasn’t it enough to simply say that the pharmacist won’t be prosecuted because the shooting was “justifiable”? I don’t think that someone who takes the life of another person wants to be commended for it, but would prefer that it never happened.
But it’s too late for that, and there are a number of lives affected as a result.
Police found several zip ties on the robbery suspect, and assumed that his plan was to tie up anyone in the store and then steal whatever he could get (presumably drugs). I know it’s hard to do what-ifs, but what if the pharmacist had let it play out that way. There would have been one less person killed as a result, and in the case of the pharmacist, one less person scarred for life. According to one report, the owner was “scared to death” following the killing.
And in a strange twist (although I guess it’s the law), the getaway driver (who apparently did not know the robbery suspect since he has still not been identified) has been charged with homicide because he allegedly had a role in the crime that led to his co-conspirator’s death.
But like I said, it’s too late for what-ifs, and at least three lives are changed forever.
But it shouldn’t be too late to react like a human when discussing such a case.
The DA could have said something like, “This was an unfortunate incident, and we express our sympathies to the friends and family of all those affected by it, including the suspects and the pharmacist.”
I don’t see the need for tough talk in such a situation, especially when the DA was not involved in the incident at all.
For some reason, the song “Try a Little Tenderness” came into my mind while I was reading this story. Here are some of the lyrics to this classic song:
Try a little tenderness
That’s all you gotta do
It’s not just sentimental
… But the soft words, they are spoke so gentle
It makes it easier
Easier to bear
You won’t regret it
Would it have be so hard for the DA to show a little tenderness in this situation? It could make everything easier to bear, and in the long run, I don’t think anyone ever regrets showing a little kindness.