Guest post: Nothing in the report makes sense

Originally a comment by A Masked Avenger on He was backing out of the driveway.

That has got to be the shittiest piece of journalism ever: nothing in the report makes sense, and apparently the reporter had not the slightest interest in asking questions, and passing the answers on to us.

First, why were the charges reduced, especially to the point that no jail time was involved? In Georgia, like the rest of the United States, lethal force is not justifiable in self-defense unless you have reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm, and a reasonable belief that deadly force is necessary to prevent same. People pulling into your driveway, or knocking on your door, do not represent reasonable fear, in any jurisdiction in the country, so it’s out of the question that this is a justifiable homicide.

Second, it says, “When Sailors saw the strange car, he came out shooting.” Did the reporter ask what the fuck that was about? When a person sees a strange car, they do not run out firing shots into the air, because they know that the odds are that this is a vacuum cleaner salesperson and not a burglar. I’d expect the reporter at least to comment that the question was asked and not answered, rather than reporting it as matter-of-factly as, “When he saw the strange car, he locked the front door.”

Third, it says, “He fired once into the air. Investigators say the second shot went through the window and struck Diaz in the head.” What the fuck does this mean? Is it saying that he fired a “warning shot” (which is illegal in most of the country, by the way, and in particular discharging a firearm at all is illegal in Gwinnett County within 500′ of a road or structure)? Is it trying to insinuate that the second shot was a “warning shot” as well, as in, “I fired a warning shot into his head”? It “went through the windshield”… by accident? By magic? Why this use of the passive voice? Is this a hint that police decided the fatality was an unfortunate accident because the shot “went through the windshield”?

Fourth, is this strange silence about motive, and why he came out shooting, intentional? The family of the victim, Rodrigo Diaz, spoke “through a translator.” Can we infer that the homeowner knew that a hispanic man was in his driveway, and that’s why he came out shooting? Can we wonder whether that had anything to do with the decision to reduce the charges?

Fifth, “misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter”? A good reporter would comment on this oddity. In Georgia, involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional taking of life while either (a) performing an illegal act that is not a felony, or (b) performing a legal act “in an illegal manner.” It is (b) that is a misdemeanor, punishable by at most one year in prison. This charge means that the prosecutor is saying that Sailors’s actions are legal, but were performed illegally–negligently, basically. And the reporter didn’t find that worth of following up on? Since firing within 500′ of a building or road violates Gwinnett County ordinances, how is this not (a) above? Are they saying that his opening fire was justified, as in self-defense? If so, see the first point above with a side of what the fuck?

And sixth, Diaz said, “I understand that it is a bullet designed to kill, that it explodes the moment it penetrates,” but the reporter made no followup or comment on that. Explosive ammunition of any kind is illegal under Federal law, so if Sailors were using such, he’d be in Federal prison already. It’s most likely that Sailors was using expanding (i.e., hollow-point) bullets, which (a) do not explode, and (b) are not “designed to kill” (more than any other type of bullet). Hollow points are designed to slow the bullet down, so that it doesn’t go right through the person and hit whoever is behind them. That’s why police always carry hollow points. A small point, but pretty glaring that the reporter didn’t bother to address the question.

Apparently reporters’ job is, as Cobert said, to type up what other people say and then publish it uncritically. Too bad; I’d like to know the actual facts of this horrendous situation.


  1. Pliny the in Between says

    “It’s most likely that Sailors was using expanding (i.e., hollow-point) bullets, which (a) do not explode, and (b) are not “designed to kill” (more than any other type of bullet). ”

    Hollow point bullets are designed to be more lethal than regular jacketed rounds (which is why they were banned by the Geneva Convention). By expanding they deliver more of their kinetic energy to the target which leads to greater ‘stopping power’. That’s a big reason police forces use them. They don’t exit the body because all of their energy is expended in the victims body.

    Three things tend to affect lethality: impact trajectory (that which is directly in the bullet path), tissue energy delivery, and missile velocity (which is generally only a factor in projectiles fired from long guns at supersonic velocities). In close confines (urban policing for example) hollow points have the additional benefit of being less likely to exit the victim since the energy is mostly delivered to the tissues.

    I don’t disagree with your other points.

  2. Bodi Thung says

    As is too normal now, the journalist did not folow up or question the reported “facts”.
    Actual explosive projectile ammunition is not available to US civilians. It is possible, but extremely unlikely, that Mr. Sailors acquired such a thing. Almost all handgun ammunition has hollow point bullets which expand on impact. There are bullet designs meant to maximize “stopping power”, these expand in a more controlled way to do more internal damage than the unpredictable hollow point design. Some are designed to pass unexpanded through intermediate obstacles (glass or a door for example) and do their damage only in flesh.
    Such bullets are commonly used by people who have a handgun for home defense. Using them does not indicate unusually murderous intent. Law enforcement organizations also use such bullets.
    Shooting at the head of an innocent driver who has turned into your driver by mistake does, in my opinion, indicate an unusually murderous intent.
    Freeing this killer leaves the justice system in severe disrepute.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    That has got to be the shittiest piece of journalism ever…

    The quality of journalism in greater metropolitan Atlanta matches that of the jurisprudence.

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