He Was Assaulted by Three Teens at Work, But He's Going to Prison for Defending Himself

Gaps in Connecticut's self-defense law lead to 18-month sentence.


Jeffrey Sumpter
Norwalk Police Dept.

This blog post has been updated to reflect additional information about the incident.

Jeffrey Sumpter, 21, was attacked by three juveniles at the Dunkin' Donuts where he worked in Norwalk, Connecticut, last October. On Monday he was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in jail because he decided to defend himself.

Nobody seems to dispute that Sumpter is not the aggressor here, but the victim. Three juveniles entered the bakery and attacked Sumpter. The fight spilled outside and Sumpter, who had a knife, stabbed one of his attackers.

And that's where things went wrong for Sumpter. Connecticut does allow citizens to defend themselves. But its law also includes a "duty to retreat" from attackers if it's feasible to do so. There are several important exceptions—people don't have to retreat from their home or from their place of work. If Sumpter had stayed in his Dunkin' Donuts he could have been covered.

But he went outside, and so according to the letter of the law in Connecticut, what happened was first-degree felony assault. According to the Connecticut Post, Judge John Blawie even said he believed Sumpter's version of the events and that he was defending himself. But the law is the law, the judge says. Off to jail.

As if that's not bad enough, the judge noted that because Sumpter's conviction was for a violent felony, he will receive longer sentences if he's convicted of a crime in the future. That means Connecticut law essentially punishes victims in perpetuity for defending themselves.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh over at the Volokh Conspiracy was curious about the vagueness of the news coverage describing the incident and checked in further. He tells me it turns out that the fight didn't just "spill out" of the shop as the news coverage indicates. The assailants were actually fleeing the scene. Since Sumpter was chasing after them, it is very likely that even without the "duty to retreat" component of Connecticut's law, the stabbing probably would not have been considered self-defense. I take responsibility for not being more curious about the gaps in the news coverage describing the incident.

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  1. “Stop it, both of you!”

    /Neville Chamberlain

  2. The law is an ass.

    1. +1,000,000

  3. Jeffrey Sumpter was guilty of defending himself while black.

    What would have happened if Jeffrey Sumpter had been the son of a white Senator?

    OK, I know, a son of a white Senator would not have been working at a Dunkin’ Donuts, if he’d have been working at all…

    1. Obviously the attackers were either black or Latino.

      Because if they had been white, that would have come up the instant after the incident happened and this would have been one of the biggest national “hate crime” news stories for the last eight or nine months.

      1. Under Eric Holder, definitely. He delighted in placing the prism of race above the law as a means to add to the divide and conquer m.o. of his master. But we don’t seem to have an AG at the moment – just some modern media version of a snipe hunt, while those at home continue to ask “where’s waldo?”.

  4. But he went outside, and so according to the letter of the law in Connecticut, what happened was first-degree felony assault.

    So what you’re saying is that law and order has been maintained.

    1. No, the man had an incompetent attorney. This is clearly a case where the fight began on the property, and thus, there was no duty to retreat after the fight began, which could have endangered himself or others. You never turn your back on someone who is actively fighting you. This isn’t some sport where a ring-out means they lose and you are safe. This judgment is insane.

      1. Correction to the prior statement. The official judgment is that he pursued them after they ran and started a second fight. As we don’t have any publicly released security footage or other evidence, I will have to defer to the court’s judgment on this.

        In any case, the duty to retreat is non-applicable and it does not apply here. I still stand by my statement that, barring him chasing the man down and stabbing him in the back, a good lawyer would have argued that it was a continuous fight and that it was continued self-defense before they renewed their assault.

        1. If he chased them into the parking lot and stabbed them, he committed a felony.

  5. Connecticut is “socially liberal” on self defense.

    1. How liberal are they on galluphilia?

    2. So are a lot of states. Even if these states enacted civilized gun laws, their barbaric self-defense laws would make carrying a gun a very risky proposition. Hard to see how you could ever use a gun outside your home in a duty to retreat state without it buying you a murder charge.

      1. In Oklahoma, a few years back, a pharmacist was charged with murder, I think, or maybe attempted murder, when he shot a fleeting robber in the back.

        Sad to say, but once adrenaline kicks in, reason goes out the window, and that includes remembering where the lines in the sand are.
        Murder. I just looked it up.

        1. No he shot the guy and shot him again as he was laying subdued on the ground.

          1. Wounded robbers can sue you.

            1. And if you kill robbers after they are helpless, their next of kin can sue you. If the NOK convinces the jury you killed the criminal to avoid a lawsuit, they can sue you for everything, and be almost certain to win and collect.

              “Make sure they can’t sue you” is on the same bad level as “If they fall outside, drag them inside.”

            2. That’s why some police departments [still] quietly teach: if you have to fire once, empty the whole clip.

        2. I remember that case. The guy came into rob the pharmacy and the pharmacist shot him and then double tapped him on the floor. The guy was armed. So the initial shoot was totally lawful. They got him for the double tap. I would have never voted to convict. I would not expect a person to stop and risk their life on the hope that the person they just shot doesn’t have another shot left in them.

          1. The pharmacist could have retreated to safety without the second shot. Watch the video it was a really stupid thing to do.

            1. If you are armed, you have to know when you have to stop in self defense. While police and juries will excuse an “and stay down” kick from an angry defender, they will not do so with additional stabs or shots.

        3. The pharmacist was convicted, rightly so, of murder. Three young men/boys came into rob him I believe. There were IIRC two female customers. The customers fled to a back room, the pharmacist opened fire hitting one. The two others fled, the pharmacist went into the back room for a moment then went back to the front of the store. The hit intruder was on the floor on the other side of a counter. The pharmacist walked from out behind the counter over to the downed robber and fired additional shots, at this point killing him.

          First shots? Defense. Going back to give the downed assailant what for… murder.

    3. As are the fake libertarians of Reason magazine.

      1. I know right? When has Reason ever published an article critical of someone going to prison for defending themselves?

        1. They were hot to convict that “white Hispanic” gunman down in Fla.

        2. They were hot to convict that “white Hispanic” gunman down in Fla.

          1. This. Like all leftards, their oh-so-principled position seems to be that white guys should go to prison, and the sacred minorities should get off.

        3. Of course this man should not go to prison for defending himself just like nobody should, but what a stark contrast to all the George Zimmerman coverage we got around here.

          1. Then you should have no trouble at all linking to several articles from Reason’s archive where the authors argue that Zimmerman is guilty and should go to prison.

            1. Surely he’s referring to Jacob Sullum’s March 2012 post about how arresting George Zimmerman would be unfair punishment in the absence of a grand jury determination:

              The problem is that arresting and prosecuting someone is in itself a kind of punishment and therefore to be avoided without some substantial reason to suspect he has committed a crime. The idea behind laws like this is that people who use force in self-defense should not have to worry about being prosecuted, even if they are ultimately acquitted. And if probable cause is the standard for all other arrests, why is that burden unreasonable in this case?

              That is not to say Zimmerman should not be arrested. The Seminole County grand jury looking into the shooting may well conclude he should (which, of course, is not the same thing as determining that he is guilty). But if so, it’s not clear the problem was an excessively restrictive law, as opposed to an insufficiently thorough police investigation or a questionable interpretation of the evidence.

              Or this one from April about how “Zimmerman’s actions were at least reckless, since he needlessly created the circumstances that led to Martin’s death, but it remains unclear whether they were criminal.”

            2. Zimmerman’s case actually turned on a similar issue, when does the attacked become the attacker. In Florida, an attacker can only claim self defense in a situation where his attack has been stopped, he has no ability to retreat, and he is currently being met with deadly force (note, this cannot be claimed if the attacker had committed a felony). The jury believed that his situation, where Martin was pinning him down and furiously beating him, applied. However, if the case had been reversed, Martin had every reason to continue the assault, as Zimmerman was still armed and (given the tragic results) dangerous. As the initial stalking was considered simple assault (a misdemeanor) instead of a felony, he could still claim this defense.

              Both Zimmerman and Martin were legally acting in self defense due to legal loopholes. It’s ridiculous, but legal.

              1. What’s ridiculous is that people still credit the claim that Zimmerman was “stalking” Martin. This was a prosecution claim that got rejected. I think it’s a consequence of the news coverage, which just assumed that everything negative said about Zimmerman was true, even after he was acquitted.

                And Florida is a “stand your ground” state; Ability to retreat is irrelevant if you’re in a place you’re entitled to be, and were attacked. This due to a statute the state legislature passed in 2005 to overturn several state Supreme court rulings which had rendered Florida a “duty to retreat” state.

                IIRC, Florida actually had traditionally been a stand your ground state, and the Florida supreme court had falsely ruled the contrary in the 90’s, changing the state to “duty to retreat”.

                By the way, calling the defender the “attacker” makes your comment pretty confusing.

                1. The essential problem is that Zimmerman started the confrontation while armed. There should be a law that says that if you decide to be packing heat, you need to do everything reasonably possible to avoid confrontation. Certainly being a self-appointed neighborhood asshole and bothering folks minding their own business is not avoiding confrontation. There was not such a law, so Zimmerman walked.

                  This current law is big loophole if someone wants to whack someone else. All the whacker would need to do is to go up to the whackee and call him an asshole, and then let the whackee throw the first punch, and then retaliate with the gun.

                  1. Threat of force is considered to be assault under Florida law. Zimmerman’s actions clearly fall under threat of force.

                    Given that Martin was facing an armed opponent who was (in his view) following him with intent to do him harm, deceit and tactics were his only options as a stand-up defense is suicide against an armed opponent.

                    We judge self defense under a person’s perception, filtered by the “reasonable person” criteria. Given the communications, Martin was in fear of his life. Given the results, there is no decent argument that this fear was reasonable.

              2. Reading your comment again, I see it’s even worse: You think Zimmerman was the initial attacker. Which is just flat out absurd.

                1. The prosecution’s own witnesses did a fine job of proving that Martin got out of Zimmerman’s sight and to the back yard of his house, and then doubled back to take Zimmerman by surprise, slam him to the ground, and beat his head into the concrete.

                  And not even the idiots who presented those witnesses tried to blame Zimmerman for “stalking” Martin (meaning looking at him), nor for getting out of his car when the police dispatcher kept asking if he could see where Martin had gone.

                2. He was the initial confrontationist, and I’m sure that he threatened Martin in some way.

            3. I still have people who think the prosecution deliberately tanked the Zimmerman case at trial, because it was “obvious” to them from the news that this was murder, and there’s no other way to explain the amazing lack of evidence that the prosecution presented once the trial actually commenced.

          2. the stark coverage came from the left, mostly because he looked white. But the bigger point is the reason there is no coverage. It isn’t because he is black, it is because he is black, AND actually completely innocent. “we have no time for the pain of the innocent”

    4. In California you can defend your self until the attacker retreats. Of course I would make the argument that the attacker was not retreating but only regrouping for more attacks.

      1. A good lawyer could probably have made that argument.

    5. Which, in practice, means “We have to let you defend yourself in some theoretical cases, because if we didn’t you would vote us out so fast our heads would spin. But we don’t have to like it, we don’t have to make it possible in any practical sense, and we’d frankly rather would just gave up and let your attackers kill you.’

  6. Duty to retreat is an outrageous rule that exists in a good number of states. I think there is a good case to be made that it is inconsistent with substantive due process. These laws say that even though you are minding your own business and are somewhere you have a lawful right to be, you must run if possible if someone attacks you. The guy has a right to self-defense. He also has a right to be where he was. So, how can the law now impose a duty to run because someone attacks him? It is absurd.

    1. better would be “duty to kill one’s attacker” so that there’s only one version of events afterward.

      1. I am okay with that. If you attack someone, you really can’t complain if they kill you. Since I never plan to attack someone, I am fine with that rule.

        1. But whoever doesn’t like you. and wishes to kill you, will be sure to keep a switchblade to give you, postmortem.

          I can see where this went wrong, and also the law is absurd.
          On the one hand, in the heat of the fight, the defender carried forward as the attacker realized the advantage was no longer with him. He should have been given leeway in the matter, as the action was too rapid to make a sober reassessment of the situation.
          On the other hand, tell me the name of ONE country that has ever won a purely defensive war. A war that stopped at the borders of their own country and didn’t pursue the enemy into his. An attacker who retreats is just tomorrows attacker, carrying a more potent weapon or better protection from whatever you fended him off with.

          1. WW1. The Germans surrendered while occupying part of France.

            1. The Germans surrendered when their army disintegrated and parts of the Allied armies were headed towards Germany at a rapid pace.

          2. If someone wants me dead and is willing to take the chance of just shooting me, there isn’t much I can do about it. His action will beat any reaction I have.

    2. you must run if possible if someone attacks you

      Technically, the law doesn’t make any mention regarding the possibility or plausibility of fleeing as this case kinda indicates (and this is the case with lots of the duty to retreat laws).

      3:1 are decent odds to prevent someone from fleeing (assuming 3 to be factual) and I’m completely unaware of the condition of Sumpter’s legs, knees, and ankles relative to his attackers at the time the fight started and I’m pretty sure the law didn’t/doesn’t care.

      1. I saw in a movie one time that 3 or more on one always the use of deadly force in self defense. But that’s probably just in movies about Texas.

        1. In Mobile, AL, killing one them gets you a free ride on a plane with Danny Trejo, Steve Buscemi, Dave Chappelle, John Malkovich, and Ving Rhames.

      2. His knees were good enough to run after them.

        Nobody said that he had to run away. When he chose to run after them, he became an assailant. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

        1. His knees were good enough to run after them.

          Again, neither article makes this completely clear. More cogent to my point, duty to retreat doesn’t account for the feasibility or reasonability of a retreat. If he chased them on to the neighboring property and stabbed one, I agree with you. With the facts as given, there’s no indication that he wasn’t on his employer’s property when the stabbing occurred and, last I checked, as a higher legal precept we presumed he was innocent.

          1. After being assaulted inside the coffee shop, Sumpter ran outside and stabbed one of the men.

            That makes the facts clear, that he was inside the restaurant, he ran out, and then stabbed someone.

            1. That makes the facts clear, that he was inside the restaurant, he ran out, and then stabbed someone.

              Are you saying this in the context of these are the presumed facts reported or in the context of libertarian property rights, personal responsibility, and self-reliance can go suck a bag of dicks?

              Because three guys who just assaulted you at your place of employment waiting for you outside is a tactic as old as the hills and still, technically, on your/your employer’s property.

    3. Every sane person has a “Duty to retreat” from Connecticut.

  7. Remember how “stand your ground” laws were adopted by white racists who had it in for black people?

      1. Killing in self defense is a homicide but it is neither illegal nor immoral.

        1. More people dying is bad. May be worth it if crime were reduced, but it doesn’t seem to be.

          Even after accounting for justifiable homicides, murders spike.

          1. “More people dying is bad”

            Not violent criminals it isn’t.

            “May be worth it if crime were reduced, but it doesn’t seem to be”

            Your previous post said inconclusive, which you also said, so your conclusion on this is premature.

            “murders spike”

            Correlation not causation.

          2. No, more people dying can be good, depending on who’s doing the dying. If it’s violent criminals doing it, I’m all in favor of more people dying.

            And if they don’t think the crime is worth dying over, maybe they shouldn’t commit it.

  8. How can you ever know that it is practical to retreat? It’s easier to hit someone in the back than the front.

    1. I’m curious how he would carry out his duty to safely retreat with three “youths” attacking him. Not that he should have to even if he could.

    2. And how is retreating ever safe? Retreating involves turning your back on someone. Also, once the attack starts, how would you retreat even if you wanted to?

      The rule is utterly idiotic. It expects the victim of an attack to risk their safety for the safety of their attacker.

      1. Ever heard of backpedaling?

        1. Yes. It happens all the time in these threads.
          Or are you referring in the physical world, because I have two words to counter that with.
          Trip. Hazard.

          1. I didn’t say it’s 100 percent effective just possible.

            1. In a fight? Getting chased by 3 guys?

              Yes, technically possible. But try to be realistic.

              1. John said “someone” not 3 guys.

                1. Sorry, thought we were talking about this specific case.

                  Not that only one guy changes anything at all.

                2. And, having read John’s post again, there’s no reason not to think John was talking about this case.

                  1. Except the fact he says someone and not 3 guys.

                    1. If you turn your back on any one of, or even all 3 of, the attackers, you have turned your back on someone.

      2. Just call this type of law… Thug Empowerment Zones. The law suffered under here is clearly an attractive hazard, and a danger to public safety. With enough public perception aligned with that, we can maybe start talking about campaign cash lawmakers receive from gangs and get things in proper focus.

    3. After being assaulted inside the coffee shop, Sumpter ran outside and stabbed one of the men.

      There’s a line between running away and chasing after someone. When they were outside and he was inside, he was not defending himself.

      1. This seems to be a very critical point that everyone is missing. Defense can become offense at which point it becomes unjustifiable violence and many don’t seem to understand that. Being attacked does not grant you a license to attack back, but to defend, even with deadly force.

        You can retreat if you choose, or you can be a wall. If someone runs into the wall, it can hurt, but the wall never chases you back.

        1. If someone runs into the wall, it can hurt, but the wall never chases you back.

          Further than the property line. Three guys standing in the parking lot menacing you or your employees through the window are plenty of reason to defend yourself. Sure, calling the cops may be the more correct and/or prudent solution but we already know they were inside the store assaulting someone.

          That’s the key detail missing here, IMO. The fight started in the Dunkin’ Donuts and when the police show up one guy is bleeding from a stab wound at the adjacent strip mall’s parking lot. It would be great if the police documented that there was no evidence of altercation outside the DD and that the stabbing apparently took place in the adjacent parking lot, but reporters gonna reporter, whatcha gonna do?

          1. The judge ruled that, even taking his story as fact, he was still guilty of a crime.

            1. Judges never get it wrong. No cases are ever overturned.

              1. Judges never get it wrong. No cases are ever overturned.

                Some judges hold it as duty to fuck over personal freedoms and liberties at virtually all costs.

            2. The judge ruled that, even taking his story as fact, he was still guilty of a crime.

              The judge didn’t rule, the accused plead out. The judge’s ruling basically said, “I believe your story think you’re innocent but you plead guilty, I can’t find your defense incompetent, and I have to sentence you as such.”

      2. That is a fair point. If this guy chased after someone who was fleeing the scene, then he is now the aggressor. And he would be wrong even in a state that didn’t have a duty to retreat.

        1. At what point does one stop being an aggressor?

          1. When one stops attacking.

            1. that’s awfully convienient. So initiation of force carries with it no responsibility for doing so beyond the second you stop being aggressive. Are we trying to make sure the attacker can come back tomorrow with as much strength and knowledge that there is no consequences for him.

          2. At what point does one stop being an aggressor?

            When a jury thinks the video says they stopped, or they plead to it. Otherwise, innocent until proven.

      3. did he run after them or did the fight continue while moving outside. it would make sense of a victim to move a fight to open territory where the victim could then flee. A person can not flee an attack while inside a store.

    4. It’s easier to hit someone in the back than the front.

      Not to mention that, since forever, the MO to ‘get someone’ has been to get (at least) 4-5 guys, send two around to cover the rear exit, then send two in the front door and keep one guy as a back up or look out. It can be done with fewer guys, but the precise number isn’t exactly the point. The duty to retreat assumes a very narrow scenario where your attackers are exceedingly dumb and single-minded and is based on the premise that many-to-all homicides or whatever are ancillary to property crimes like B&E.

    1. It says he pleaded guilty, apparently as part of a plea bargain.

      1. He shouldn’t have done that.

      2. He had previously pled guilty to a charge before this happened. He was on probation.

        1. As I said below, if I was too credulous of the headline in the local press (“18 months for not retreating”), then I apologize to the fine justice system of Connecticut for my unfair criticism.

        2. I was mistaken.

          Plea: Guilty.

          Article terrible.

      3. he needed a better lawyer unless there was obvious footage of him attacking his attacker which I’m personally okay with.

        1. You mean he needed a lawyer who could give him their undivided attention, rather than a tiny slice between the carjacking defendant and the domestic violence defendant.
          Okay, I’m assuming he had to go with the public defender here. He worked at Dunkin’ Donuts.

          1. I had a public defender once, he didn’t know anything and even the judge chastised him for not knowing the charges had been reduced from evading to a simple, not using a turn signal. In reality I had used the turn signal but I wasn’t going to argue the point at that time

  9. Juries are supposed to see through this shit. I pity a society where no one out of twelve jurors had the character to stand up and say “no”.

    P.S. Who cares what the judge says? Fuck the elitists.

    1. This is a guilty plea. No jury and judges rarely examine the merits of a plea deal.

      1. No it wasn’t. He was convicted.

        I’m not sure what was more misleading, the initial article or the Reason writeup. They sure didn’t clear up the facts!

    2. P.S. Who cares what the judge says? Fuck the elitists.

      The judge was actually expressing sympathy and arguably chastising his defense. Still a bit, ‘rules are rules’ elitist but not entirely ‘get this subhuman animal out of my sight’.

  10. The irony here is that Reason has been doing it’s level best to undermine the concept of lawful self- defense by seeking to eliminate the “fear for life” rationale when it is used by cops.

    If a cop can’t shoot someone because he reasonably feared for his life, then there’s no way a private citizen with a concealed carry permit could use that defense, either.

    1. That is an interesting point. In an ideal world, I would argue that since cops are better trained and are paid to risk their lives, they should be held to a higher standard than a private person. But the truth is that people are never going to agree to that. So, cops will always be held to a lower standard. So, in effect, the higher the standard for cops, the higher the standard for private citizens. it sucks, but that is how it works and I don’t see how you can change it.

      1. Agree this is odd…but I think its the way it is not because “people are never going to accept that” so much as the review process for police shootings often seems corrupt. I think there is plenty of popular outrage over unjust police shootings. Seems like the review process is at issue.

        Also, police training in general seems pretty f-ed up, at least according to someone I know who went through it. First, police aren’t uniformly “well trained”, and a sizeable minority (small majority ?) are marginally competent with their firearms at best, doing just enough to qualify every year.

        Plus, at least with my n=1 sample, there was an attitude during training of “us versus them” militancy…strangely in-congruent with said firearms incompetence.

        1. The process for review is terrible. And police can’t seem to understand that if the public doesn’t trust the process for review, they are never going to trust the results of that even in cases where the cop was in the right. Ferguson is a great example of that. The cop was right to shoot the guy. But trust in the police in the community was so low that the public didn’t believe the findings. And that is entirely the fault of the police.

          1. No he wasn’t. See my comment below.

            1. Yes he was. It was totally justified.

              1. If you think an armed cop facing an unarmed person walking towards them outside is justification for killing them you’re a copsucker.

                1. Its not just John who thinks that: The Obama DOJ came to that same conclusion: it was a Good Shoot.

                  And “unarmed” persons kill/injure/maim other persons every day. The standard for self-defense has never been based on whether or not someone has a weapon. Nor should it be.

                  1. Actually the DOJ finding was that Wilson did not violate Brown’s civil rights. The Feds don’t make determinations concerning state murder cases.
                    Again the fear has to be REASONABLE. They were outside. Wilson was not cornered, had not seen a weapon, was armed and had called for backup. If Brown was walking towards him he could have moved back, dodged or even just run away. There was absolutley no reason he had to stand his ground and kill Brown. As I have shown Wilson also lied on the stand about how fast Brown was moving which implies a guilty conscience.

      2. Cops have backup and body armor.

    2. Except cops are getting off for shooting people when their fear is clearly unreasonable. Like when some guy crawling in the floor reaches to pull up his shorts and is shot 5 times with an AR15.

      1. Or like Michael Brown, who had his hands up and was begging the cop to not shoot him…oh, wait.

        Reason nevertheless ran with that narrative because cops suck, or something. And they still claim details of the event are “fuzzy”.

        Wilson had full legal justification to shoot Brown. And Reason refused to stand up for him.

        1. No he didn’t. From where Brown turned back towards Wilson he made it 22 feet. The audio of the shooting shows it took 3.5 seconds. That means Brown was moving at 4 mph not charging “full speed” as Wilson testilied. This was after Wilson had chased Brown 175 feet and while he was outside with plenty of room to maneuver and had not seen Brown with a weapon because he had none. Wilson could have just retreated.

        2. . . . .if the public doesn’t trust the process for review, they are never going to trust the results of that even in cases where the cop was in the right.

          The outcry after the Brown shooting is completely due to cops abuse of their trusted position. Reason didn’t stand up for him *while their was insufficient evidence available to the public* to tell if the shoot was good or not. Reason (and others – like me) didn’t reflexively give the cop the benefit of the doubt because its become blatantly obvious that cops will abuse that benefit.

          1. Oh, and there’s still no evidence that the Brown shooting was legit.

            1. Riiight.

              Other than the FBI/DOJ investigation, the Grand Jury findings, the local PD’s investigation, and three separate independent autopsies, there’s absolutely zero evidence to support the the idea the shooting was justified.

              1. The evidence, the distance Brown moved towards Wilson and the time the shooting took, proves he was not charging “full speed” as Wilson testilied.

                1. Doesn’t matter if it was full speed. He was still moving towards the guy holding the gun. Either the guy with the gun shoots at some point when that’s happening, or eventually he reaches the guy, and it’s a wrestling match.

                  The guy with the gun is not obligated to agree to a wrestling match.

                2. Clearly someone doesn’t understand the concept of acceleration.

                  Please, go outside, mark off your 22 feet (which is your first mistake, btw*), and then time how long it takes you to travel that distance from a standstill. Also, make sure to include a graph of your relative speed by time. Then, adjust for differences in your size/athleticism versus Brown’s size/athleticism (6’4″, 292lbs, not very athletic).

                  *Brown was found with his feet 22 feet away from the blood and he wasn’t shot while standing still, which means he was running for farther than 22 feet. I’d also wager that his “full speed” was not very fast, and was easily hit within 22 feet and/or 3.5 seconds.

      2. or merely exits his own car with his wallet in hand

    3. The real irony is conflating crime victims with agents of the state who carry a variety of weapons and are trained in disarmament and deescalation but who nonetheless empty a magazine into someone who is running away from them because they ‘feared for their lives.’

      No wait, that’s not ironic, it’s retarded.

      1. If you undermine the “fear for life” defense for the cops, then you undermine it for everyone.

        A prosecutor who ignores fact and circumstance in a police shooting in order to play to the mob will not hesitate to do the same to a private citizen.

        1. Except that the “feared for life” defense when used by cops is usually boilerplate bullshit.

          Cops don’t have rights. They have powers. The burden of proof should be on them.

          Little people have rights. The burden of proof should be on the state.

        2. Except prosecutors do that already with private citizens. Cops are supposed to be trained and are supposed to recognize the difference between a threat and a non-threat. Treating them like private citizens, most of whom don’t have their training, is just an excuse for incompetence or worse on the part of the police department.

    4. 1. They are undermining not the ‘fear of life’ rationale but the immediate and massive deference a LEO gets when using that defense.

      2. A fear of life, on its own, is not enough to justify a homocide. Its never been. Except for LEO’s.

      1. Check your state’s self-defense laws; you will find the phrase “reasonable fear or belief of imminent death or severe bodily injury”, or something similar to it, somewhere in the text of the statute.

        The key question in every self-defense investigation is whether or not the fear of the person who defended himself was reasonable. But the reasonable fear of the potential victim is the basis of self-defense law in most jurisdictions.

    5. The irony here is that Reason has been doing it’s level best to undermine the concept of lawful self- defense by seeking to eliminate the “fear for life” rationale when it is used by cops.

      I agree there are cases where Reason goes too far, but a good portion of the cases, the officers are the three assailants in this story and Sumpter winds up dead. Moreover, Reason more overtly opposes the system that facilitates them carte blanche.

      There are situations where Reason has come down against officers who were duly retreating from suspects and defending themselves from armed individuals shouting ‘shoot me!’ at them. While I agree that non-violent and non-lethal options would be ideal in these scenarios, I do understand that officers are called to do dangerous things and can’t always be called upon to do those things beyond the bounds of a relatively normal or even exceptional human.

      1. Reason’s coverage of the Michael Brown shooting, the subsequent investigation, and the rioting and looting that occurred afterwards, was reprehensible.

        Rioting and looting are not “libertarian values”.

        1. I don’t disagree with this.

          Other parts of Reason and/or other cases it has been flatly/openly stated that the problem isn’t always/necessarily with any given officer, as much as the misuse of tactics and the larger union-DA framework. That, for example, “fear for life” is used as a Reason to kill completely confined domestic animals.

    6. My problem with the “I was scared” doctrine is that:

      1. cops are trained that it’s ok to kill people who scare them
      2. Cops are trained to be scared of everything.

      That’s a problem no matter what the civilian policy is.

  11. And that’s where things went wrong for Sumpter.

    I’m gonna have to say things started heading downhill when, or maybe a bit before, the three assailants walked into his Dunkin’ Donuts.

    1. And maybe you start examining the life choices that lead to an ambush at the Dunkin’ Donuts.

  12. The letter of the law is an ass.

  13. Yeah if the attackers run off and you chase them down and stab them it’s not self defense.

    1. Hmmm…it’s possible that the headline in the linked article – “18 months for not retreating” – was misleading, in which case I apologize to the Connecticut justice system for being too credulous of the local press.

    2. The judge agreed with Sumpter that he WAS defending himself. However, in Connecticut, he can’t legally defend himself if there is a chance that he could run away instead.

      Seems to me that sensible people have a “duty to retreat” from places like Connecticut.

      1. No the judge agreed to his version of the event which includes him chasing after the attackers and illegally stabbing one.

        1. You seem irrationally attached to a particularly stupid position.

          1. The position that if your attackers break off and you chase them and stab them you’re guilty of a crime? It seems YOUR position is the stupid one.

  14. This really has nothing to do with “duty to retreat”. Pennsylvania has a stand your ground law, but Sumpter still would have gotten arrested. One of the things they stressed when I took a self-defense course was that you can’t pursue an attacker once THEY begin to retreat because at that point it stops being self-defense and turns into you being the attacker. Following the attacker out of the building where the attack occurred to continue the fight is pretty much the textbook example of that.

  15. This is why jury nullification is important and should be taught in schools.

  16. However if your a cop you can shoot them while they run away and even when the “perp” is laying on the ground dead the cops get to continue shooting

    1. In the Christopher Dorner man-hunt 7 Feb 2013, LAPD opened fire on a truck vaguely resembling the description of Dorner’s vehicle. Inside were two ladies delivering newspapers. About twenty shots were fired. The women survived their wounds.
      story link

  17. Duty to retreat is stupid: let’s make it illegal in violent altercations to do or not do certain things that we’ll debate on their “feasibility” later.

    Gee: that doesn’t sound like egg heads inserting bright ideas into concepts they know nothing about.

    Let’s throw someone in jail for not making the correct “retreat feasibility estimate” while someone is trying to kill them.

    Yeah, that makes the world a better place, really.

  18. Why are so many people not actually READING the article? HE WAS AN ATTACKER AT THE TIME HE STABBED SOMEONE.

    He LEFT the safety of the store to CHASE the attackers. That has literally zero with “duty to retreat” OR “stand your ground” laws.

    He is BOTH victim (they attacked him, true, and during which time he was fine in defending himself) AND attacker (he initiated a second phase of the event by chasing them outside of the store at which point he was the attacker, despite having been a victim of an attack not seconds prior).

    1. Also mentioned in the article is that the judge didn’t agree with your assessment.

      1. No the judge said he believed his version of the event. That includes the fact he chased after his attackers and stab one.

        1. “No the judge said he believed his version of the event. ”

          Which said the fight spilled outside, not that he chased them. You seem to be inferring from the “outside” part that he chased them there, and the evidence all agrees that you are wrong.

          1. Read the last link moron.

      2. Why are so many people not actually READING the article?

        1. “SRVolunteer|7.5.18 @ 11:48AM|#

          I read the article and it said the fight spilled outside, not that he chased them outside. Are you just making that up? What text are you quoting, there?”

          They are. Why aren’t you reading the comments?

    2. I read the article and it said the fight spilled outside, not that he chased them outside. Are you just making that up? What text are you quoting, there?

      1. Never mind. I see the bit where the article Shackford quotes says what you claim.

    3. He is BOTH victim (they attacked him, true, and during which time he was fine in defending himself) AND attacker (he initiated a second phase of the event by chasing them outside of the store at which point he was the attacker, despite having been a victim of an attack not seconds prior).

      This actually can’t be known from either article and, ultimately, may not be knowable from the original scene. If they beat him up and were hanging out in the parking lot taunting and threatening him, it’s quite reasonably still self defense. With the added caveat that he retreated to the DD. But the cops showed up to someone bleeding in the adjacent parking lot and couldn’t figure out and/or the reporter didn’t report where, exactly, the stabbing occurred.

    4. a second phase? Like someone tries to kill you but then the moment he realizes he is the one losing, he shouts,- ok you win phase one, now lets start phase 2, thus transferring all responsibility onto the suddenly non defending person.

      I know why the state wants to defend the guilty and encourage these things to create crisis and gain more power. I don’t see why I have to agree with them. These people attacked him. They chose to do this, they should take the responsibility of violating rights, which include giving up their own. Not completely, but insofar as a person has been put in a difficult situation he didn’t ask for, much of the responsibility for what he does should rest on the original initiator. There should be a relatively high threshold for transfering responsibility onto someone initially attacked.

  19. Remember alwaya…Stand Your Ground is bad and immmoral somehow.

    1. He chased after them which is not SYG.

      1. No, the fight spilled outside, he didn”‘t chase them. No version of the evidence supports you.

  20. Trump focus on just 2 things in the remaining 6.5 years as President:

    1. appoint 1-3 more Supreme Court Justices.

    2. Find every possible bullshit conviction like this and pardon the mo-fo’s.

    1. Trump? 6.5 more? Yea, right

      Keep the MO FO’s where they are.

  21. This is fucking rediculous.

    Why don’t we have a “duty to use non-violence when feasible to do so” for the police?

    Oh wait: that’s right: apparently full-time professionals trained in violent altercation response must be allowed to kill anyone they say scares them. A cop can kill anyone, say “I was scared”, and go home, not a problem to be had.

    But civilians have a “duty to retreat if feasible” or go to jail.


    1. Connecticut is a shithole for its citizens: high taxes, low freedoms. Like California, its a nice place to visit, but don’t live there. Last I checked, they ranked in the top 3 for negative rate of return on taxes [I forget what fraction they “get back” in services/programs/infrastructure]. Citizens there get milked harder than a dairy farm. Don’t let the hedge fund managers mcmansions fool you – its on par with NJ, but just hasn’t been hit with the same ugly stick. I’m saddened, but not surprised.

  22. I’m really curious (as a matter of law) whether the court found that he chased them outside and then stabbed one of them, they chased him outside where he stabbed one of them, or the court found that it didn’t matter.

    As a matter of principle, I approve of him stabbing one or two or all three of the attackers who apparently decided to jump him three-on-one. (I presume he did not pick a fight with the three of them from behind the register) If he were to hunt the two unstabbed ones down at this point and stabs them from ambush, I suppose I would mildly disapprove that action.

    1. According to the article the judge agreed that it was self defense. But because he was outside and didn’t run away, he must go to prison. The law is the law. Obey.

    2. the court didn’t need to make any such finding as this was pursuant to a plea of guilty, so self-defense was never in issue. It could have been argued as a mitigating factor at sentencing, but there are a lot of factors that can constrain what sentence can be imposed.

    3. After being assaulted inside the coffee shop, Sumpter ran outside and stabbed one of the men.

      He ran after them. That shows that he was not in fear for his safety.

      1. No, the fight spilled outside, he didn”‘t chase them. No version of the evidence supports you.

        1. Read the last link retard.

    4. Good answer.

  23. lc1789 approves because the law is the law. Obey.

  24. You do not even have to double check which Party runs that State do you?

    It seems in that State you cannot defend yourself even when there is three to one against yo

    Were this in a Republican controlled State the LIBTARDS would be rioting in the Street and it would be a racial issue.

    YA, and then some how this would be Trump’s Fault.

    This country is probably history… When the LEFT wins next time around they will be coming after the Conservatives just as they are going after Trump…

    They seem to think they are resisting SOMETHING??? and they will be Hell Bent on returning to “We are the people we have been waiting for.” and shove their Alternate Reality on the part of the population that disagrees with them…

    People are going to get hurt because they are so ignorant of History, Economics, Demographics, Business, and any field of study that would enable them to understand how the world REALLY works.

  25. a) He pleaded guilty to the lesser included offense of 3rd degree assault, down from 1st degree assault. Having pleaded guilty, he waived any claim to self-defense as justification for the act. It could however still be argued as a mitigating factor at sentencing.

    b) Unless there are some who are familiar with the sentencing procedures in Connecticut state courts, its hard to say how much leeway the judge had at sentencing, or if there was any agreement as to sentencing in the plea agreement. (Assuming there was a plea agreement.) If there are applicable sentencing guidelines or statutory restrictions, the judge may well have sentenced him to or near to the minimum possible, especially given that it is a violent crime involving a weapon and a minor. Alternative sentencing such as home confinement or probation or a suspended sentence may have been off the table for these reasons, or due to the plea agreement.

    c) Not knowing the factual details of the case, its impossible to determine whether he went beyond self-defense or not. But on the surface it appears that he pursued his attackers, which would negate a self-defense claim in every state even those with ‘stand your ground’ or ‘castle doctrine’ defenses; once the threat is over, hes no longer defending himself, so its not self defense and use of force is no longer justified.

  26. But its law also includes a “duty to retreat” from attackers if it’s feasible to do so.

    Duty to retreat laws are the most immoral fucking travesties in the history of humanity.

    1. The criminal, once engaged in the criminal act shall not be impeded in said act by victims or anyone else, until appropriate law enforcement arrives.

    2. Amen and amen!!!

  27. So, to be clear, if I walk into a store, punch a guy in the face knocking teeth out of his head then shout “I quit my attack!” and walk away. If he hits me, shoots me, or stabs me it’s assault because he “chased me.” Makes total sense in Bizzaro World.

    1. That is exactly right. DEFENSE is not a substitute for punishment. If you stop, as your scenario says, you do not become innocent. You are still liable for damages and restitution or whatever else a just law may dictate. If your victim then punches you after the fact, when you are no longer reasonably posing a threat to him (like… if you leave the building and are simply in the parking lot, unarmed)… then you have both committed crimes against each other, one after the other.

      So many people here seem to want to substitute punishment for defense… they aren’t the same thing.

  28. It’s like when you automatically face the death penalty. You may as well kill all the witnesses. Same here. If you’re going to jail anyway, you may as well kick their asses into a coma.

  29. Insanity

  30. A typical judge – f@$king moron – exercising zero discretion regarding a typically stupid law, and if this was a jury trial, abetted by totally clueless “citizens”.

  31. Hey everybody. So it turns out that “spilled outside” did actually mean that the assailants were running away. I’ve updated the post because Eugene Volokh decided to check in a little further on what happened and communicated back to me.

    I take responsibility for not digging in beyond the news coverage. I just wanted to toss it up on the site and get it some attention while I was awaiting more information about the EU vote that horrible online copyright regulation plan. I should not have rushed it.

    1. Can you provide a link of the update. The link you provided just cover the update. Accuracy matters

    2. Fake News Scott S.

      pedalling media lies

      1. “peddling”

        fuckin’ autocorrect

  32. This adds one more to the stack for me: we need an amendment securing a right to self defense. The second only exists to give governors a tool for broad scale force larger than police can handle.

  33. Re the judge’s comment, “the law is the law” is simply to pat, in other words, it is a cheap cop out. Oh by the way, were any of the attackers charged?

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  35. You should rename the article.
    It says “Man gets arrested for defending himself.”
    It is a picture of a black guy so that will raise eyes as being racist.
    Plus the fight was over and he chased a guy and stabbed him.

  36. So, why does the judge agree he was defending himself?

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