He was backing out of the driveway

Another occasion for feeling ashamed of the United States. Such occasions are all too abundant.

In Georgia in January 2013 a guy called Rodrigo Diaz, age 23, went to pick up a friend to go rollerskating. He was using his car’s GPS and he accidentally turned into the driveway across the street from his friend’s house. The guy who lived in that house, the wrong house, came outside and shot him through the head.

The shooter plead guilty to a misdemeanor.

Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh was in the courtroom as Philip Sailors plead to the misdemeanor charge for the January 2013 shooting in Lilburn.

Channel 2 Action News broke the news Friday about the plea deal which reduced a murder charge to the misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter and spared the homeowner any jail time.

People Kavanaugh spoke with were surprised that Sailors made no statement and offered no apology to the victim’s family during the hearing.

Diaz’s family are ok with the sentence.

After the hearing, Diaz’s father, Rodrigo Diaz Senior. told Kavanaugh that Sailors could have received a stronger punishment, but he believed that would only end up destroying two families.

His eldest son, David, agreed.

“There is no point for him to be in lifetime in prison. What we get from that? Nothing,” said David Diaz.

During the hearing, Diaz addressed the court saying he still had two questions. He asked why Sailors used a bullet which he claims is particularly lethal.

“I understand that it is a bullet designed to kill, that it explodes the moment it penetrates,” Diaz said through a translator.

He also said it was his son’s dream that his little sister come to the United States. He asked the court if any doors could now be opened for that to happen.

Diaz got no response to either question.

Guns. Gun culture. Stand your ground. Shoot first then find out who your victim is. Your driveway is the same as your bedroom. When in doubt, shoot.


  1. komarov says

    I am in awe. 500 dollars and 12 months probation for shooting a human being. And from the articles I can’t see anything remotely threatening about the victim. Wasn’t there an issue recently being discussed about how life without parole sentences are being handed for relatively minor transgressions? Or was that a different United States? (I’m not saying this guy should get a sentence like that, this is just amazement he got away with what he did get)

    I guess this means can’t turn around if you missed your exit, another thing on the List Things Not To Do In The US. I admire the family of the victim though, in a sad way. In their position, which I have difficulty imagining at all, I would be anything but ‘ok’ with this. Their response seems incredibly mature and measured, which is the attitude the shooter should have had in the first place.

    Fivehundred dollars. The gun probably cost more than that.

  2. A Masked Avenger says

    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.

  3. Blanche Quizno says

    Wow. I had no idea that deliberately shooting a stranger dead was the same manner of crime as jaywalking. Huh.

    @3 A Masked Avenger: Well said, sir/madam.

  4. gshelley says

    Most people also don’t wait by the door, gun in hand, in case a strange car happens to come into the driveway. Was he doing that? or was the car there for several minutes while Sailors went and fetched his gun then cmae out shooting

  5. Blanche Quizno says

    @5 It appears that he looked out the window at the car, then came out the door shooting. I imagine the car would have been in the driveway long enough for someone to be checking the GPS and looking around for landmarks or street signs, to figure out where they were supposed to be, since there wasn’t it.

    It is no crime – and no obvious threat – to idle a car in a stranger’s driveway for a few minutes – people do that sort of thing all the time.

  6. Blanche Quizno says

    What would the law enforcement reaction have been if the homeowner had been African-American, I wonder?

  7. komarov says

    I second Blanche: well said, Masked Avenger.

    I was wondering about the plea deal as well but I know next to nothing about the US legal system, so when a plea deal comes up I’m can only think of Hollywood tropes involving drug dealers. Not the best starting point so I let it be.
    As for the explosive rounds, it didn’t occur to me that these might be actual factual explosive rounds. I just assumed it was a hinky writing or an odd translation and meant one of those awful anti-personnel rounds that fragment inside to body to maximise damage and minimise the odds of successful removal. While I’m sure I wouldn’t want either kind of ammunition sold to average citiziens, the idea of explosive rounds being available (even illegaly) just seems too insane. A heavily armed society is a dystopian society…

  8. A Masked Avenger says

    I have no idea, of course, but it’s not uncommon for gun owners to have a holstered firearm on their persons pretty much all the time. It varies by type of owner, reason for carrying, and region, but my first guess would be that Sailors puts on a holster when he puts on his pants. Wallet, watch, cellphone, car keys, and gun.

  9. Blanche Quizno says

    When I lived in St. Thomas (US VI), there was a case where a tourist, a young man, who was swimming with friends in the ocean, became exhausted and managed to paddle over to a nearby private dock. He was clinging to the dock when the owner, an elderly white man, came out with a gun and said, “Get away from my dock or I’ll shoot you.” The young man tried to swim away, but drowned.

    The old white guy was acquitted.

  10. Nogbert says

    I had been thinking of visiting the US in 2017 for the total eclipse. Indeed the plan was to go to the same spot in 2024 for the extraordinarily unusual opportunity of witnessing two total eclipses of the sun from the same location.

    I strongly suspect I will never step foot in the US, it’s too damn dangerous. Which is a pity really. There are quite a few decent Americans around, it’s a shame you’re such a small minority, judging from recent election results.

  11. RJW says

    If Diaz had starting weeding the garden, he probably would have survived.

    The question is–how many Americans would regard the result of the case fair and just?

  12. smrnda says

    This is why I am FINE with banning all firearm ownership.

    Responsible gun owners, come up with a plan for controlling these loons and I might be okay with you having your toys. Or like, get out and protest when a formerly responsible law abiding gun owner blasts some unarmed person doing nothing threatening.

  13. gshelley says

    That is so alien to me as a non gun owner, that it didn’t even occur. Shame the journalist wasn’t curious enough to ask. I’d really like to know what happened here, because as others have said (and been promoted to an actual article), the story just doesn’t make any sense.

  14. John Horstman says

    Simultaneously heartbreaking and enraging. Having demonstrated that he cannot be trusted to have guns, Sailors should at the very least be banned from even being in sight of a gun, and probably should be prevented frim interacting with the general public (I’m pretty sure we have a massive system for that).


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