Kansas Supreme Court reverses security guard’s conviction for aggravated assault www.privateofficer.com
Kansas Feb 20 2012 The Kansas Supreme Court today reversed a conviction of reckless aggravated battery in a case where a Kansas City, Kan., bank security guard shot a customer that the guard mistakenly thought was about to rob the bank.
The court, in a 5-2 decision, ruled the evidence did not support reckless conduct because the guard testified he intended to shoot the victim at the time, based on his belief that the victim was armed and dangerous.
Dissenting was Justice Marla J. Luckert, who was joined by Justice Eric S. Rosen.
The security guard shot a 60-year-old man who walked into a Kansas City, Kan., bank on June 26, 2006, intending to cash a check, according to court documents. The man was wearing a black stocking cap and sunglasses. He walked with a cane because he had arthritis and an injured knee. He rode an escalator up to the second floor of the building, where the bank was located.
The security guard noticed him as he reached the top of the escalator, focusing on the stocking cap and sunglasses. The security guard thought the object in the man’s hand was a pistol, then later thought it was a shotgun, according to court documents.
The security guard, according to court documents, jumped out of his chair, drew his pistol and ordered the man to drop his gun.
The man with the cane testified in court that he thought the guard saw something else, did not think he was talking to him, and that he wanted to clear out of the way of whatever was going on. As he got off the elevator he used his cane, putting his weight on it, and turned to look at the guard. The guard testified that he thought the man was trying to bring a gun to bear on him, and fired the shot at “center mass,” according to court documents.
The bullet struck the man with the cane beneath his armpit and lodged in the back of his rib cage, and also punctured his lungs, causing them to collapse. The man fell down the escalator, according to court documents, then the escalator carried him back up to the second floor and “chewed into the side of his body,” the court documents stated.
The charge filed against the security guard was reckless aggravated battery. The guard’s attorneys argued for dismissal because it was an intentional shooting.
The Court of Appeals decision in 2009 had affirmed this case in part and dismissed in part.
The security guard argued in his appeal that the trial evidence was insufficient to support his conviction because the state failed to show that he acted recklessly in intentionally shooting the victim.
Today the Supreme Court opinion stated it reversed the conviction of the security guard, “concluding the evidence established that [he] intentionally shot a gun at the center mass of the victim; thus, he intended the conduct of shooting and the result of causing injury. We reject the State’s argument that this intent was mitigated because [the defendant] mistook the facts and acted under the mistaken and unreasonable belief that he needed to defend himself or others; these facts do not change the intentional nature of [his] action to shoot and disable the victim.”
The Supreme Court concluded that the security guard acted intentionally, and so the charge of being reckless could not apply.
Justice Luckert’s dissenting opinion stated that “other evidence suggests that [the guard] was not paying attention to what was happening around him and reacted hurriedly without assessing the situation. From this evidence a reasonable jury could conclude [the guard] did not intentionally cause great bodily harm to [the bank customer]. Rather, the jury could conclude that the [guard's] conduct in firing the gun was as reckless as his assessment of the situation. Yet, the majority accepts [the guard's] self-serving statement as unassailable.”
The case is online at http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/SupCt/2012/20120217/99487.pdf.