Friday, December 14, 2007

When Is Killing Justifiable?

I just caught wind of this story recently, but a black man from Long Island, NY is still in jail for killing a white kid after a "mob" showed up at his home in the middle of the night to confront his son. Of course, this story is full or racial overtones that made it newsworthy enough for the NY Times to make it a feature story (below).

Apparently Arron White, a 19-year-old black kid, was attending an all-White party when he was confronted by guys claiming that he had threatened to rape a white girl via internet chat nine months prior. According to reports, Aaron and the girl had resolved the issue before the confrontation, and the incident had been chalked up to being a misunderstanding. Supposedly, it was concluded that Aaron never threatened the girl.

Even still, he was asked to leave the party because of the commotion being caused by the accusations. He did so without incident.

After leaving the party, Aaron immediately started receiving threatening phone calls from the guys that had confronted him. According to Aaron, after telling him they were on the way to his house to confront him they called him "nigger" and said things such as "I'm going to f*ck you and your mother." ...

To make a long story short, Aaron woke his father up to tell him what was going on, the guys showed up and Aaron's father "accidentally" shot one of the white kids.

To date, the stories have not been corroborated and it remains the word of Aaron's family against the guys that showed up at his home.

For details on the story read the NY Times excerpt below.

Is there ever a time where it is justifiable to kill someone? The kids didn't have guns, but they were on his property. Does showing up at someones home with intentions on having a confrontation give the owner of that property the moral right to kill them? They were threatening his son, but should Aaron's father have left it in the hands of the authorities? Did the kid deserve to be killed?


The shooting occurred around midnight of a Wednesday evening during which Mr. White’s son, Aaron, attended a party at an acquaintance’s home in a nearby town. At the party, where the police said there was a lot of drinking, a group of young men, all white, accused Aaron White of having threatened to rape a girl, also white. The threat was said to have been made by e-mail nine months before.

Though he denied making any threat, Aaron White was asked to leave, and did so. A short time later, according to the police, a group of men led by Mr. Cicciaro decided to pursue him. By cellphone, Mr. Cicciaro told him that he and his friends were coming after him, according to the police.

In the interview, Mr. White said he was awakened by his son “from a dead sleep.” The son told him that Mr. Cicciaro and his friends were pursuing him, and why. He said he thought “they were going to kill him,” Mr. White said, adding that Aaron was “more frightened than I had ever heard my son in his life.”

Mr. White said he grabbed a weapon he kept for protection, a handgun he had inherited from a grandfather, Napoleon White, who brought it with him when he left Oneonta, Ala., in the 1940’s for New York. In an unsolicited aside during the interview, Mr. White said his grandfather had left not long after the Klan killed two brothers, both shopkeepers. (The police described the unregistered gun as “an antique.”)

According to both Mr. White and his son, Mr. Cicciaro and his friends used racial slurs when they arrived at his house. The young men later denied it.

Mr. White said he told the men to leave, and that after “a lot of posturing” they seemed to be ready to go, when suddenly Mr. Cicciaro rushed him and grabbed the muzzle of his gun.

Mr. Cicciaro’s friends gave the police a different account. They said Mr. White pointed the gun in the face of each of them, shouting, “I’ll shoot you.” They said Mr. Cicciaro never grabbed the gun but waved it away when it was pointed in his face.

Mr. White said that when he tried to pull away from Mr. Cicciaro’s grasp, the gun went off accidentally. Mr. Cicciaro’s friends told the police that Mr. White simply pulled the trigger at point-blank range.

It was in the frantic 911 call by one of Mr. Cicciaro’s friends, made from a car carrying the mortally wounded teenager to a nearby hospital, that a police tape captured the type of racial invective the Whites said they had heard throughout the confrontation. The cellphone had been left on, and Mr. Cicciaro’s friends were heard using racial profanities as they spoke among themselves, investigators said.

A Suffolk County grand jury indicted Mr. White on gun charges and a single count of second-degree manslaughter, which is a charge of reckless homicide. The police initially charged him with second-degree murder, the intentional killing of Mr. Cicciaro.

In a separate interview, Daniel Cicciaro Sr., a man of medium height with scarred hands from many years of work in auto repairs, seemed almost in pain as he maintained an air of self-control. With his wife, Joanne, sitting beside him on the porch of their home in Port Jefferson, he said: “I want you to know I have no animosity personally or racially toward the White family. I cannot presume to know what was going through his mind at the time he killed my son. But God have mercy on Mr. White.”

Mr. Cicciaro returned again and again to his son’s lack of racial prejudice and the unlikelihood that race played any role in his pursuit of Aaron White. “If going to this guy’s house to beat up his son was seen as some sort of racial attack, my son was so not-racist that the thought would never even have occurred to him,” he said.

He disputed Mr. White’s claim that the shooting was accidental: “If it was an accident, like he says, why didn’t he call the police immediately? He called his lawyer instead. And why does he come out with a loaded gun in the first place?”

During his interview, Mr. White, a tall, thin bespectacled man with thinning hair, spoke with a similarly painstaking deliberateness. He said he had the gun to “protect my family” and told his wife to call the police, but she told investigators she did not hear him.

After the shooting, Mr. White said, he and his wife did not call 911 because they were “in shock.” Since the killing, “I have not slept at all,” he said. “I never think about anything else.” He said he felt “devastated and remorseful” for killing the teenager. “But I thought these guys, this mob, was coming to hurt my child.”

Asked if he saw them as a white mob, Mr. White pondered for a moment. “I saw them as a group of grown men in my driveway. I was scared to death.”

In describing his background, Mr. White placed himself as the second of eight children, and he referred repeatedly and with deep affection to his grandfather, tearing up when describing the family lore about the Klan killings of his great-uncles.

When pressed, Mr. White said he viewed his grandfather’s world and his as different universes. He rejected any notion that he might have perceived what happened in his driveway through the prism of his grandfather’s losses.

“I did not mean to shoot that young man,” he said. “I grieve for his family. I moved out here with my children just like everyone else, to protect them,” he said. “I have never had problems with white people — if I did, why would I have come out here in the first place?”

Mr. Cicciaro said he was “baffled” by a charge of less than murder against a man who “walked 80 feet down his driveway and told these kids he was going to shoot them, and then pulled the trigger.” He said he was “extremely disappointed” in the criminal justice system.

Mr. White said he understood that disappointment, but added that when he picked up his gun, he only meant to “scare those kids off,” he said.

During the interview, he referred several times to his new home as “my dream house.” He recounted how his wife, Sonia, decorated the house with loving attention. “Stickley, Audi in the dining room; Henredon, Baker living room; Kashan rugs, the works,” he said.

They will be leaving that house as soon as they can, Mr. White said.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable keeping my family here. I know how I would feel if someone hurt my kid,” he said. “There wouldn’t be a rock left to crawl under.”

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