When criminals choose to invade a home or public place, and then brandish a deadly firearm at innocent human beings, they deserve any harm that comes to them. The victim of such an assault should have full latitude and authority to do whatever it takes to alleviate the situation and restore security and safety. If that means killing one or more of the intruders, that’s tough, brother.
But that’s not the case in Oklahoma City where a retired, disabled Army Colonel and war hero with no criminal background has been convicted of First Degree Murder in the killing of a teen who tried to rob the pharmacy he worked in.
On May 19, 2009, two masked thugs entered the store, one of whom possessed a firearm, began terrorizing everyone and shooting in the direction of the three employees, wounding the pharmacist, Jerome Ersland, age 59. As the two other employees ran for cover, Ersland retrieved a pistol of his own and fired at one of the kids, striking him in the head. Subject number #2 scurried out the door and disappeared. Meanwhile, Ersland retrieved another firearm and returned to the injured Subject # 1on the floor, and finished him off with five more shots.
The person who should have stood trial for First Degree Murder was Subject #2, who was responsible for his crime partner’s demise. The police investigator on the scene allegedly told Ersland he was a hero. But he spoke too soon. Eight days later, allegedly at the behest of the NAACP, Ersland was charged with First Degree Murder. The celebrated trial was held, and Ersland was recently convicted and will likely be sentenced to life in prison.
What impacted the decisions to prosecute was Ersland being white and the dead kid being black. Any other racial formula of the parties, the NAACP would not have entered the picture. Every newspaper account of the incident mentioned Ersland as being white, and the deceased as being black, as though that mattered. If both were white, or both were black, race would never have been an issue.
According to prosecutors, once the second kid was down on the floor, Ersland’s continued shooting episode was no longer necessary. Perhaps that’s true. But how many people, including the judge, lawyers, and jury members, have ever felt the sudden terror of being at the other end of a gun being fired at you, and your life, and the lives of other innocent people, are thrust at death’s door. How many judges, lawyers and jurors have ever walked in those shoes when, in an instant, your life is turned upside down while your mind and heart is in utter chaos. Nobody can judge that kind of fear and emotion, not from the comfort of an arm chair. The judge in this case barred testimony from other robbery victims about the unnerving stress they had endured in similar situations.
Sometimes we just get too technical, and too politically correct.
Shame on the Oklahoma City prosecutors for knuckling under to political pressure based on racial grounds. They seem to have enjoyed a sense of victory for sending a harmless, law-abiding, taxpaying, American patriot into prison for the rest of his life, for doing the right thing.
Even if Ersland was technically wrong, the dire extenuating circumstances should have weighed heavily in favor of lesser charges. But that wasn’t the case. Go for the jugular, pacify those special interest groups.
There is now a groundswell of support for the governor of Oklahoma to issue an instant pardon in this matter. Letters of such support would be in order, if people feel injustice has been served. Oklahoma state senator, Ralph Shortey, has expressed his disdain for the outcome of this case, stating, “I’m going to spend the rest of my career…trying to right this wrong.”
I’m one ex-homicide detective who is appalled that this can happen in America, where the bad guys are made into victims, and the victims are made into bad guys.