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Settlement for Fleeing Suspect

December 28, 1993

I am disgusted with the editorial about so-called justice ("Justice Gets a Good Mugging," Dec. 5). What you call justice is atavistic vengeance. In all civilized states the only legal justification for the use of deadly force is the imminence of grievous bodily harm or death to yourself or another person you are defending. That is not only the law, it is the only moral justification of the use of deadly force. In some states, New York among them, there is an additional requirement that the defending person "retreat to the utmost" before the use of deadly force.

It is no justification that the shooter was a police officer. Police are not (nor may they be constitutionally) a special class of citizen. Many jurisdictions (and this ex-cop) hold police officers to higher standards than civilians since they are trained. The New York cop was further out of bounds than were the Rodney King four--he tried to kill a non-resisting suspect.

I find it hypocritical of you to advocate "summary" justice on the part of police while decrying any act of self-defense by a civilian as "vigilante justice." No matter what the circumstances, a civil society cannot allow cops to be the executors of justice.

R. L. WEIS

Agoura Hills

I find it very ironic that your editorial staff would defend the rights of police officers to shoot fleeing, unarmed suspects in the back while simultaneously arguing to deny law-abiding citizens the ability to protect themselves with privately owned firearms.

CHRIS TISONE

Orange

I do think our society and judicial system are leaning backward to protect the rights of criminals--why not stand straight to protect and serve everyone. When one leans too far back, the field of vision is usually clouded.

DON C. OKA

North Hollywood

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