Self-defense is just that: defense. The concept is a non-issue. Enter Jerome Ersland, the Oklahoma City pharmacist who shot Antwun Parker in the head during a botched robbery attempt and, after chasing the second robber out of the pharmacy, returned, retrieved a second gun, then shot the unconscious Parker five more times. [Click here for more.] Ersland was accused of first-degree murder of Parker. And the jury verdict is . . .

Guilty. From NewsOK.com:

Jurors chose life in prison as punishment.

Two female co-workers at Reliable Discount Pharmacy told jurors Ersland was a hero who saved their lives on May 19, 2009. But prosecutors called him an executioner who shot a wounded, unarmed robber five more times after the robber fell to the floor unconscious and was no longer a threat.

Based on the verdict, it’s safe to assume that the court established that Parker was not dead as a result of the first shot to the head. Of course a head-shot brings with it a substantially higher chance of being fatal, if not instantly. But we also know that head-shots are not always fatal, as proven by Representative Giffords, who survived a head-shot at the hands of Jared Lee Loughner.

The Model Penal Code justifies force in self-protection when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force (like armed robbery) and is not required to retreat from his place of work. Usually states have their own take on the Model Penal Code as defined in their individual statutes, but typically work about the same. As for Ersland’s first shot, it was surely justifiable.

For murder, the Model Penal Code defines it as when someone causes the death of another human being purposely or knowingly.

In a way, Ersland’s situation is pretty straight-forward; he defended himself and others against an immediate threat of death or serious bodily harm. But once Parker was down and unconscious, and the other perp was gone, the pharmacy was all quiet. Parker was no longer an immediate threat and when Ersland turned his back on Parker, retrieved another gun, then shot Parker five more times (regardless of whether Parker was dead or alive at the time).

Ersland at least showed purpose to cause the death of Parker by his conduct. Conduct that was distinctlydifferent from defending against the robbers’ felonious attempted robbery.

Prosecutors told jurors in closing arguments Thursday that the evidence proves Parker never moved again after a shot to the head knocked him to the pharmacy floor. They said Ersland’s own actions prove he didn’t consider the wounded robber a threat when he shot him again

“Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, an execution,” District Attorney David Prater said.

During the closing arguments, Prater played for jurors again the security camera recordings of the shooting. He stopped it at points, telling jurors the pharmacist turned his back to the downed robber to get a second gun to shoot the robber again.

“It’s a human trait. You don’t turn your back on something you’re afraid of,” Prater said.

No one would want to be sent to prison for murder after using justified force to neutralize a threat. The Ersland case goes to show that anything more than defense only will land you in the Big House.

Don’t let emotions get in the way of making decisions about when, or when not to pull the trigger. If the situation requires, neutralize the threat and that’s all. Remember to be cognizant of immediacy. Don’t turn your back on what could again become a threat, but don’t be an executioner either, as Ersland was found to be.

Recommended For You

17 Responses to Self-Defense Tip: Don’t Murder

  1. I’m not a legal expert, but I am surprised at the charge of first degree murder. I would have thought prosecutors would have charged him with 2nd degree murder. I have a difficult time believing that his actions were truly premeditated, given the adrenaline that was running through him. I guess his post shooting conduct and conflicting statements to authorities and the press must have done him in.

    • Between chasing the robber out, coming back into the store, grabbing the another gun, walking over to the downed robber, and pulling the trigger I think Mr. Ersland had some time to think about what he was doing, adrenaline or not. 1st degree seems appropriate.

    • I agree with Todd. The kind of action that took place during those few minutes could easily diminish one’s capacity to think clearly. 2nd degree murder would have worked for me and about a ten year sentence.

      • Typically what constitutes 2nd degree murder is manslaughter, or when the murder is done recklessly or when under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance for which there is reasonable explanation or excuse. Here, it would be arguable, but that argument apparently didn’t fly.

      • If he’d fired all the shots one after another, one might argue that it wasn’t premeditated. But to shoot someone, and then go back for another gun and shoot them more, that’s plenty of meditation. If he grabbed the second gun *as the guy was assaulting him*, that’d be another thing as well. Once the immediate threat is no longer present, anything else is vengeance. Doesn’t take a fool to figure that out.

  2. Wow Mikeb a rational answer, refreshing to read. Either way sounds like he had a bad lawyer. It seems like a decent lawyer could have gotten that reduced significantly. Either way, what a bastard to shoot a non threat that was completely incapacitated.

  3. I too would consider this 2nd degree instead of 1st. It simply takes more time than that to work adrenaline out of the system. I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets reduced on appeal. But in any case, it was definitely not self defense.

  4. This will be appealed, and likely Ersland will get reduced time. 1st Degree is a prosecutor’s overreach. But, Ersland should not have chased the 2nd crook, and definitely should not have overly perforated the first once he was down.

    The first gun must’ve been a 9mm, a .380 or even smaller. Lesson: carry enough gun.

  5. Did anyone prove that he was dead after the first shot? So the next 5 would make it a much lower crime. I haven’t seen anything that proves when he died. I do not agree with the outcome and think if they wont just say thank you. then he should do the least time possible. Such as defacing a corps.

  6. Common-law principles apply. Chasing the second robber in an attempt to apprehend him/kill him if he started attacking again was completely justifiable, but walking back and shooting that Parker guy was overkill. Keep your gun on him and wait for the Wardens of the God-Empire to arrive instead. Tough luck.

  7. Did anyone prove that he was dead after the first shot? So the next 5 would make it a much lower crime. I haven’t seen anything that proves when he died

    exactly!…….the “first shot” was legally justifiable….if he killed him with that…..then…..the other five(5) shots are irrelevant and should not be taken into consideration…..his defence attorney “slipped up”….should have hired an independent pathologist to refute the state’s pathologist or, @ the very least, raise “reasonable doubt”…..

    also: if the perp’ was still alive, how could Mr Ersland have known?…..did he check his pulse…..breathing…..pupil dilation….other “vital signs”?….check the nature of the head wound?….confirm he was dead or alive…. ?……did he know he was totally incapicitated?……and then shoot/”execute” him?

    c’mon!…..for all he knew…..the “head wound” might have been a mere graze….and the psycho was gunna “come good” in a minute or so and continue on his merry way?!?…..”turning his back” on the perp’ means absolutely nothing and cannot be measured against “normal behaviour” unless Mr Ersland quite specifically told the investigating officers what was going through his mind @ the time….but….i’m assuming that he was sensible and maintained his “right to silence”!

    this verdict must be appealed!….it sets a some-what dangerous precedent in the lawful use of fire-arms for self-defence!

  8. Jimbo, it was overkill and not self defense. Mr Ersland did not maintain his right to silence and his story keep changing. RF has a whole collection of post on this event. The key, self defense and STFU until you have talked to your lawyer. The only thing you have to tell the cops is your name, weapon status and that you want a lawyer. The 5th amendment is there for a reason.

    Has for precedent, no! What sink Mr Ersland where his action. On that note he would have also had a different outcome if not for the video surveillance, it would have been his word and the words of the others. The DA would have must likely call it self-defense since they would have had no way to tell. Yet, in this case, they have the video and his actions on tape. Lesson, always assume there is a video, nanny camera, webcam or surveillance/stop light camera. Then self defense and STFU.

  9. heigh HO!…..Todd…..yeh…yr right….i just had a look @ this “thread” ….. actually….i was a bit un-easy in my mind after the abv “post” that Mr Ersland had, indeed, “spilled his guts” as they say here in 0zz…. but….that particular “thread” had disappeared down the ol’ “memory hole”…..

    DAMN!…that was stoopid…..ALWAYS remember “the five words”……i have nothing to say!…or…..@ the very least….he could have given the briefest possible account to the cop and simply said i’m too upset to say any-thing more! …. looks like he did every-thing but “a video-taped re-enactment” (absolutely DEADLY! for a jury!)…..and…..he may have even done that!…..he didn’t have to say “stuff all” any-way(s)….his employees were prepared to back him to the hilt!

    as for the video-cameras….yeh….could be damaging…but…depends…..unless they’re “crystal clear”/High Res/multi-mega-pixel colour….they might not be a problem….i’v seen some pretty cruddy footage from “CCTV surveillance” cams in me day…..so grainy and dodgy that you couldn’t really make out any-thing of significance!

    that said….i still think it might be worth-while appealing…….particulary with respect to an independent pathologist………..

  10. Y’all are ignoring the context. Two robbers were denied their goal of robbing a store, and one of them was killed. Those are good things. Twits always try to second guess anyone who violates the implicit rule of ” give up” when confronted by violence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *