Janique Walker knows the cost of a split second.
Her younger brother, 17-year-old Charles Macklin, was killed while trying to steal a Jeep from a Chicago fire lieutenant on the West Side last August. The lieutenant had left the Jeep running, and Macklin jumped behind the wheel.
The lieutenant ran in front of the Jeep and shouted, “Get out,” according to a police report. When Macklin began pulling away, the lieutenant drew his gun and fired through the open driver’s side window, hitting the teen in the chest.
Macklin’s last words were, “Sorry, bro,” according to the police report. The teen died on the pavement. He did not have a gun on him.
That’s a sad situation. But Janique Walker seems to believe that her no-good brother was done wrong:
Walker, 20, has organized protests, started a Facebook page and launched a hashtag on Twitter. She says she hasn’t given up hope of getting justice for her brother.
She believes her brother was found guilty by one man with a gun. Walker said her brother should be alive to stand before a judge and take responsibility for his actions.
“When has it ever become legal to shoot someone because they’re pulling off in your car?” she asked. “Even if (Macklin) did that, if he did steal the car. You’ve got insurance — let him go to jail. I would’ve rather had to get a call to go bail him out of jail than to get a phone call that he’s dead.”
“When has it ever become legal to shoot someone because they’re pulling off in your car?” Oh boy. Janique Walker is something else, isn’t she?
Here are a crazy set of ideas:
- Don’t steal cars
- If you are stealing a car, and the owner of the car pulls a gun on you and tells you to stop, then stop.
- If your brother gets shot dead stealing another man’s car and not stopping when that man points a gun and tells him to stop, you need to reflect on whether or not your no-good brother deserved what he got.
The problem here is not the gun owner. You know that, right?
UPDATE: Exactly no one in the comments section agrees with me. I don’t expect they will after I explain where I’m coming from either. But I’m going to do that.
From my reading of the story, the firefighter was a Darwin Award candidate himself for leaving his car running. What we don’t know is if he was on a call. In any case, he was stupid. But when he saw what was happening, he stood in front of the car and told the thief to get out. The thief apparently tried to run over him, which is what prompted him to shoot.
He did not have to shoot. He did. A thief died. It would have been better for all had the thief been caught and forced to stand trial. But honestly, I don’t care that this happened to the thief.
A couple of decades ago, I had a car stolen from me while I was at work. The thieves got into the car and cracked the useless lock I had on the steering wheel. I didn’t know what had happened until I came out to the parking lot, and it was gone. Cops recovered it a few days later, abandoned in a slum. They told me that based on evidence left behind in the car, it was a bunch of teenagers out for a joyride.
I was lucky. I had an insurance policy that rented a replacement for me while cops searched for my car, and the body shop fixed it (it was pretty banged up). And the insurance paid for the $7,000 in repairs. Those joyriders, they didn’t know anything about the owner of the car. For all they knew, its owner was someone for whom that car was a lifeline to a job (mine was for me), and the owner did not have anything more than basic liability insurance, meaning that their night of fun could have left the owner without a car, and without the money to fix the car he or she needed to get to work to feed his or her family. None of that mattered to them. They took an honest person’s property — and you know well that an automobile is a lot more important to someone’s daily life in our society than a mobile phone or a wallet — and used it to have fun. They left it trashed and banged up on the side of the road.
I hope that I wouldn’t have shot these guys if I had had a gun, and saw them stealing my car — but only because I wouldn’t have wanted to go to jail. I have no sympathy for criminals like that. It would have been better had the Chicago fire lieutenant not shot and killed that thief. But I don’t really care that he did. My sympathies lie with ordinary working people who are preyed on by criminals like Charles Macklin.
UPDATE.2: Reader MH posted the original report about the shooting. It states pretty clearly why the fire lieutenant wasn’t charged. Emphasis mine:
An off-duty Chicago Fire Department lieutenant shot and killed a 17-year-old boy who tried to run him over after stealing his car Monday morning in the North Austin neighborhood, police and fire officials said.
Police said, around 9:30 a.m., a 45-year-old man left his vehicle running in the 1400 block of North Lock, and a 17-year-old boy got into the car. When the man tried to stop him, the teen tried to run the man over, and the man shot him in the chest.