Twenty-six year-old Deante Smith allegedly showed up to confront the Pastor of the City of God Church in Detroit on Sunday. Smith was a former semi-pro football player for the Michigan Lightning, and judging from his picture, wasn’t exactly a small man. Nevertheless, Smith decided to stack the deck in this confrontation by bringing along a brick . . .
The thirty-seven year-old pastor identified by Fox2Detroit as Keon Allison doesn’t appear to be anywhere nearly as well-built as his alleged assailant, and so he also did a bit of deck-stacking with a GLOCK. When Smith confronted Allison in the vestibule of the church, the pastor drew his pistol and shot his tormentor, terminating the assault, and along the way, Smith’s life. Smith was pronounced dead on arrival at Botsford Hospital.
Police are still investigating the incident, however, after questioning Pastor Allison at police headquarters, no arrests were made, and the pastor was released. Police stated that Smith had had “a history of threatening the pastor and others in the congregation.”
“The suspect entered the church, he allegedly had a brick in his hand and was threatening the pastor,” said Asst. Detroit Police Chief Steve Dolunt. “We’ve had a previous incident, at least one, and the pastor filed a police report.”
Reports are circulating, based in part on statements made by his family members and posts he had made to his Facebook account (which, as of this point, is still publicly visible,) that Smith was upset at Allison because he suspected that the pastor was having an affair with his estranged wife, and may have been the father of the child his wife was carrying.
Detrese Abbot, Smith’s cousin, said her family is devastated.
“It’s unbelievable,” Abbot told the Free Press. “They’re painting him to be a monster, but he wasn’t. They knew each other very well. This is not just a strange man that walked in looking to harm someone. … We’re just trying to figure this whole thing out….”
Abbot said Smith had been a member of the church for the past four years and had been close to the pastor before their friendship soured.
“The pastor took him under his wing, he was his mentor,” she said. “He was someone my cousin looked up to as a father figure…. So much happened that led up to this. I just don’t understand none of this….They had a relationship and bond that couldn’t be broken. For this to end like this and for them to paint him as a crazy and deranged person, he didn’t want this to come to this.”
Indeed, if one looks at Smith’s Facebook page, while one is left with the impression that he wasn’t exactly going to be reading Thucydides in the original Greek anytime soon, the posts are largely banal, with an occasional religious reference until around September, when he indicates he is getting divorced. At that point, his posts become more ALL CAPS and make less sense, along the lines of this:
It should probably go without saying that regardless of Smith’s state of mind or motives, the fact that your estranged wife may have been impregnated by her adulterous lover is not, actually, a justifiable reason to attack someone in the eyes of the law.
This incident is also a reminder of the very real fact that the use of deadly force against a purportedly unarmed attacker (or one armed “merely” with a bludgeoning instrument, such as a brick,) can be justified. Even the idea of an “unarmed” professional (or semi-pro) football player attacking an average middle-aged man of Pastor Allison’s size and weight might present a situation where the disparity of physical force might creates very real threat of death or grievous bodily injury to the victim that would certain justify his use of deadly force to stop the attack from the physically superior assailant. I think Massad Ayoob did a decent job of explaining it here:
DISPARITY OF FORCE is the legal principle which recognizes that even without a…weapon, a violent attacker may have such a physical advantage over the intended victim that if the assault is allowed to continue, the totality of the circumstances indicate that the victim is likely to be killed or crippled. This authorizes the victim to use an actual deadly weapon in self-defense. That situation would exist if the attacker was significantly larger and/or stronger than the victim. It would exist if the attacker had complete freedom of movement and leverage, and the victim did not, a situation known as “position of advantage….”
The police investigation into this incident is still ongoing, so we should assume that the facts are not completely known just yet. Still, if everything so far reported is true, it sounds as though Smith brought a deadly weapon in the form of a brick, added to what is likely to be a significant disparity of force between the ex-football player and the pastor, and–regardless of whether his suspicions about the relationship between his estranged wife and the pastor were correct–it is likely that Smith arrived at the Church with a freight train full of anger. I were a betting man, I wouldn’t be putting down any money on the notion that the pastor is going to see any jail time. Unless some other evidence comes out, this sounds like the proverbial “good shoot”.
At least, as far as man’s law goes, that is. It sounds as though the pastor might have to answer a few other questions as far as God’s law is concerned.
DISCLAIMER: The above is an opinion piece; it is not legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship in any sense. If you need legal advice in any matter, you are strongly urged to hire and consult your own counsel. This post is entirely my own, and does not represent the positions, opinions, or strategies of my firm or clients.