Home > Focus on Japan 2003 > Hattori Revisited

Hattori Revisited

June 30th, 2003
I wanted to touch on this story as a tangent to the greater current issue of press unreliability and the distortion of truth. It came up in a conversation I was having today having to do with how the view of our world is skewed through the reportage of the mass media. In "Bowling for Columbine," Michael Moore pointed out how U.S. television overplayed images of black criminals and underplayed white ones. A current version of that in Japan is the kind of crimes committed by members of the U.S. armed forces based here, and how they are amplified in the press--things like a pizza delivery guy getting pelted by a toy plastic pellet gun wielded by someone on an Okinawan base--hardly news, but it gets national coverage because the perp was from a U.S. base. What might have been the definitive example for Japan-U.S. media distortion, however, was the case of Yoshi Hattori, the young Japanese exchange student shot to death by Rodney Peairs. When it occurred, I was a student at San Francisco State University, and wanting to get the straight details on the case, I accessed the college's LexisNexis account, and found court transcripts and other records which told a much different story than I'd heard popularly--and which put the incident in a completely different light than how it was represented in the press. When I ask people to recall how young Hattori got shot, the general recollection was that Hattori went to the wrong address, was met by an aggressive, paranoid homeowner who raised a gun and yelled "freeze"; that Hattori thought he said, "please," and walked towards him, and then he got shot. That is the general story that was released in the media, and if you do a search on the story on the web, you will find that even today, the story persists. But it is far from the truth. Vital facts were left out; the story was abbreviated, and was not told from all perspectives. Here's what I was able to piece together so many years ago from the materials I found. First off, you should be made aware of two important facts that contribute to a completely new understanding of the case, facts which make the incident and some of its indirect causes far more clear. The greater of these two revelations was that Hattori wore contact lenses, but not on that night: he had lost one lens, and so went without. In other words, his eyesight was impaired. One would think this a fact of great importance to the case, but the press did not touch on it at all. The second fact was the friendly, almost puppylike nature of Hattori himself: when he saw his friends, he had a tendency to run up to them in greeting. This comes into play later as well. You should also know that Peairs' neighborhood was a high-crime area; that police response time was around 30 minutes (indeed, the ambulance that came for Hattori took that long to arrive). This contributes to Peairs' state of mind about whether he should handle the matter himself, or wait for law enforcement to arrive. Here's what occurred that night, October 17, 1992. Hattori and Haymaker, on their way to a Halloween party, unknowingly arrived at the wrong address (two numbers in the address had been transposed). They walked up to the house and knocked (rang?) at the front door. Mrs. Peairs did not answer immediately because she was putting the kids to bed. She wondered who was at the door that late in the evening, in that neighborhood, with no visitors expected. By the time she got to the front door, no one was there. Hattori and Haymaker, wondering why their friends did not answer, had decided to try the carport door. Now, a carport is like an open garage, and the door for it is not as "public" as the front door. In terms of personal space and perception, the carport door is somewhat more of an "inside" door, a door strangers do not come to. It is similar to a stranger coming to your side or back door at night--it makes you feel a little insecure. The two boys thought it was OK because they believed it was a friend's house. But when Mrs. Peairs, just having opened the front door to no one, heard the knocking at the carport door, it was far more worrying to her. She went to the carport door to see who it was. However, by the time she got there, the boys, again wondering at the delay, had moved away from the door. When she opened the door, Hattori reacted as he did when he greeted new friends: he ran to the door to greet them. From the perspective of Mrs. Peairs, however, this was an entirely different event. She opened a private door to her home, saw two young men--one dressed as a bloody accident victim, the other as a disco star--and suddenly one of them ran at her. Her understanding of context--night in a high crime area, nobody expected, putting the kids to bed, strange youths who ditched the front door and came to an inside door--this made Hattori's playful greeting run appear frightening. So she freaked out. She slammed the door, ran to her husband, and told him strange young men were at the carport door, and one ran at her, so get the gun! It is important in understanding what Rodney Peairs did to know that Peairs did not answer the door originally, had not seen what had happened, and did not lay eyes on either boy until he stepped out into the carport with his gun. He entered the situation knowing only what his wife had told him: that strange youths had come to the carport door and one had rushed at her. This left no room for doubt in his mind; he could not possibly know it was a friendly exchange student. Rather, his understanding of the local context along with his wife's frantic explanation and plea gave him only one clear understanding: young punks outside were threatening his family. Angry and perhaps afraid, he got his gun and went to the carport door. And here was the critical error, the one that, more than anything else, caused the tragedy to occur--at least the only knowing error: Peairs went out into the carport. What he should have done was to make sure no one had come inside, locked all the doors and windows, called for the police, and waited inside with his gun, using it only if someone tried to enter. Going out and confronting thugs may be in accord with the macho code, but it is tactically unsound and generally unwise. So Peairs stepped out, expecting that he was dealing with some kind of criminal element in his carport. By this time, Haymaker and Hattori had moved out beyond the parked cars in the carport; Haymaker was trying to explain to Hattori his suspicion that they were at the wrong house; Hattori still hadn't gotten the idea somehow. Then they heard Peairs call out to them, and say "Freeze!" Peairs raised the gun in plain sight. Here's where the missing contact lenses came into play. Most people wonder, even if he didn't understand "freeze," why Hattori didn't see the gun. The missing contacts were why. He couldn't see. To Hattori, a friend had walked out, and Hattori rushed to greet him. But in Peairs' context, a clear warning had been given, and a gun had been displayed in plain sight. And yet, one of the young thugs he perceived in his driveway started to run right at him, holding some dark metallic object (it was a camera) in his hand. To Peairs, it could not have been more clear at the time. He fired his gun, and Hattori soon died. Knowing the whole story makes a difference. With all of these facts stated, the Peairs' actions are far more understandable. There was still a tragic error and the fault was Mr. Peairs', but one can see now that Peairs was not the violent, paranoid gun nut he was made out to be in the press. Context and perspective are crucial for a clear view. The public, especially in Japan, was outraged when Peairs was cleared of wrongdoing in criminal court; if one knew the true story, one would not be surprised at all. Although Peairs made the error of stepping outside and was ultimately responsible for Hattori's death, what he did was within the law, especially under Louisiana's "shoot the burglar" statute. Returning to the thesis of this entry, the distortion by the press was obviously a factual one, but also there was the element of degree: the Hattori story remained in the press for years, and for the first 18 months, Japanese papers ran stories on it several times every week. But, like the stories about U.S. military personnel in Okinawa, the story was run way out of proportion to its actual importance. One day's second-page layout in the Daily Yomiuri exemplified the imbalance in ironic splendor. I saw it fully a year and two months after the Hattori incident, with Yoshi stories still running regularly. There was a 6-inch article on the continuing Hattori saga, about a planned film project called "The Boy Who Loved America"--talk about your bitterly ironic titles. But right next to it was a 2-inch piece about a death that had occurred just the day before. Somewhere in the Kansai region, a hunter had accidentally shot and killed a 62-year-old woman who was in the hills looking for wild vegetables to use during the New Year's holidays. The story, though fresh, ran just for that one day, and only got those two inches. Reading these two articles together, it occurred to me that the Kansai story was in many ways identical to the Hattori story. A man, legally owning a gun and using it for legally allowed purposes (hunting, defending one's home), mistakes an innocent, on a holiday outing, for an acceptable target, shoots and kills them. The Kansai killing took place in a country where guns are as rare as gun deaths--and yet the incident barely made a ripple in the press. But the Hattori case, already more than a year old, demanded a story three times the length of the new story. This is not what one could call "balanced reporting." But then, this is my contention: that the media does not balance, despite their claims to do so. They print what sells. They cater to stereotypes, reinforcing them. Don't trust what you read. Don't trust that you're hearing all the pertinent facts or perspectives. Don't trust that anything is presented in proportion. So how do we get the big picture? We don't, and that's what is important to realize: in this information age, we expect that it is possible to get all the facts, but it never is. When you regard an issue, keep in mind that you do not and will never know the whole story. Most people forget this and believe their conviction to be a virtue.
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  1. Angelica Anazco
    November 22nd, 2003 at 05:45 | #1

    I think that you’re defending the Peairs a little too much, it is obvious that you are completely bias to the issue. Its funny how you didn’t mention that it was on halloween night! I mean who the hell runs out on halloween with a gun because someone “ran up to my wife” please! thats is so ridiculous! Its halloween people wear costumes and scare people, it donesn’t give you the incentive to run out with a gun and shot someone. Besides, his life wasn’t in danger and it’s an exaggeration to say that he thought it was.

  2. Luis
    November 22nd, 2003 at 09:26 | #2

    Actually, it was not Halloween. Hattori and Haymaker were on their way to a Halloween party, yes–but the date was October 17. It is a good point about the Halloween season, though, I did not mention that; I will make an edit and add that point–though I did mention the costumes and made a reference to holiday seasons in general at the end. It was simply an oversight, not a deliberate omission.

    As for the fact that people are scared–you’ll note that (a) Hattori and Haymaker were not kids, but fully-grown, (b) it was a high-crime area, and (c) they came to what amounted to an inside door to the house. Mrs. Peairs certainly may have over-reacted, but it is not as if she had no reason to do so, with one of these young men rushing up at her. All Rodney Peairs knew was that his wife came to him in that state and said something about two young men that had her scared silly–he hadn’t been there to see the specifics.

    Furthermore, in the testimony I read, there was never any mention of anyone seeing it as a Halloween prank, nor any questioning to that effect, either.

    Also, I did not say that “his life was in danger”; please do not put words in my mouth. I said that he likely felt that the two young men were “threatening his family.” And if there were two intruders at an inside door who had badly frightened his wife in a high-crime neighborhood at a late hour of the night, then he had a very good reason to believe his family was being threatened.

    Please keep in mind that I am not pro-gun–far from it, I am a strong proponent of strict gun control, have been for years, and have debated the issue on discussion groups since the early days of the online services. So I am not kindly disposed to people who use guns irresponsibly, and I do blame Peairs for what happened that night.

    You should also note, however, that the Peairs were not exactly belligerent about the matter; they were endlessly remorseful, and wound up losing their house in the civil settlement.

  3. Chris Shaeffer
    November 28th, 2003 at 10:49 | #3

    Hi, I’m Chris. I’m entering for exchange to Japan through the AFS program. I’m attempting to be chosen for the Yoshi Hattori scholarship.

    I was rummaging around the internet, and found this article. I had no idea it had been like that… Simple miscommunication can cause such tragedies.

    What do you think of exchange programs like AFS? Do you think they will somehow help bridge these kinds of misunderstandings in the future?

  4. Luis
    November 28th, 2003 at 12:54 | #4

    Chris:

    Honestly speaking, I really never was aware of AFS, except perhaps peripherally; I had to look them up to find out who they were. I work at an American college in Tokyo, so I do not really deal with any of their people or programs–sorry. Anyone else know them, and have anything to contribute?

  5. angie
    March 14th, 2004 at 11:51 | #5

    people should not print things that is not the truth, you the people do not know the truth, you were not there when it happen, so how can you judge rodney peairs, put your self in his position, one day the truth will come out, and a book will be written about the truth. so there you go japanese.I back rodney peairs up all the way, i think he made the right decision to do what he did.

  6. Dan
    March 23rd, 2004 at 15:41 | #6

    Hello,

    I just found your web site — great pictures! More of Hiromi please.

    I tried to piece together the Hattori case facts, like the author has done for us. I have to support his conclusions. I was really shocked when I saw a picture of where the incident took place. At the REAR door of the house! This wasn’t in any of the Japanese newspapers at the time.

    Yes a tradgedy, but the courts were right to dismiss the case.

    Dan

  7. TheWorldIsGay
    June 7th, 2004 at 10:45 | #7

    According to the Chicago Tribune, the last word Hattori said was, “Excuse me, is this…?” BANG BANG BANG BANG!!

    You try to put yourself in Peairs’ position, but why don’t you try to put yourself in Hattori’s position? You knock on someone’s door and you’ve got a wrong house and then the homeowner comes out, and when you were about to say, “Excuse me, is this so and so’s house….?” and then you find yourself dying on a foreign land. That’s FUCKED UP.

    Well, I mean if that happened in Japan,(American exchange student shot to death by a mistaken Japanese) Japanese would of acquitted the Japanese murderer too. Why? BECAUSE WE ARE JAPANESE AND WE THINK JAPANESE AINT GUILTY OF KILLING AN AMERICAN COWBOI! And now oh yeha WE ARE AMERICANS AND WE THINK AMERICAN AINT GUILTY OF KILLING A SUSHI GOOK! Well of course this must have influenced the judge UnConSciouSlY!

    #WHITE AMERICA#

  8. Luis
    June 7th, 2004 at 13:04 | #8

    If that’s what the Chicago Tribune said, then the Chicago Tribune is wrong. The story as you see above is very well-researched, and much is based upon court transcripts during the Peairs’ trial. Your account of walking up to a house and saying “Excuse me, but…” and then getting shot is completely and wildly inaccurate. Read the post–it appears you did not even do that.

  9. Luis
    June 9th, 2004 at 00:12 | #9

    I did read the post. But I still don’t understand why he would run into a stranger.
    Again, you don’t seem to have read the post, where I stated quite clearly, “The second fact was the friendly, almost puppylike nature of Hattori himself: when he saw his friends, he had a tendency to run up to them in greeting. … To Hattori, a friend had walked out, and Hattori rushed to greet him.” What part of that is not clear?He was missing only one contact lens. I wear contact lenses too, but even with one of em missing ppl usually can tell if a person is someone they know.You wear only one contact lens sometimes? You must have a very mild prescription. I don’t wear contacts, but I do wear glasses, and if one lens gets knocked out, it bugs the hell out of me; better to wear none at all–which–again, as I noted in the article which you claim to have read, Hattori did. Meaning his vision was impaired–and you have no idea how much it was impaired–could easily have been serious enough to keep him from recognizing someone until it was too late.

    As for recognizing a friend wihtout your contacts, Hattori did not first identify the person–he was past the last car in the carport, and not in direct view of whomever came out the door. He just heard someone yell, believed it was a friend, and started running. There was no time for him–while running, in a dimly lit carport, without contacts, to identify the person he was running toward. What, do you think he saw a strange man with a gun and decided to run up to him?Can “running to someone” be changed to saying “excuse me is this…?”That is exactly my point–that the media distorted this so much, depending on second- or third-hand reports instead of actually looking things up.

    By the way, can you supply a reference or better yet a link to the article you read? That would also help explain it. Was the writer a serious, competent journalist, or a pundit loose with their facts? Was it a serious investigative report? Was it focused on the Hattori incident, or did it just report it as a side fact? These can also affect how serious a reporter is in getting their facts straight. All I can tell you–again, as I made clear in the post you tell me you read–that I garnered these facts from court records and other official documents. I’m talking about testimony, in pareticular from Webb Haymaker….one of the answers above said it was around halloween and u said it was october 17th, but the thing is the peairs had halloween decorations on their house.. so it doesnt seem like the peairs werent totally unware of the halloween [cut off?]The comment you refer to reasoned, “Its funny how you didn’t mention that it was on halloween night! I mean who the hell runs out on halloween with a gun because someone ‘ran up to my wife’ please! thats is so ridiculous!” Clearly, the commenter thought that it being Halloween night made a prack possible; noting it was the 17th–two full weeks before Halloween–makes it clear that a Halloween prank was not likely.

  10. TheWorldIsGay
    June 8th, 2004 at 21:33 | #10

    I did read the post.
    But I still don’t understand why he would run into a stranger. He was missing only one contact lens. I wear contact lenses too, but even with one of em missing ppl usually can tell if a person is someone they know. Just rushing to a person he doesnt know doesnt make sense. and why would the chicago tribune make up a story that hattori said excuse me is this… even if the media exaggerates stuff. Can “running to someone” be changed to saying “excuse me is this…?” and one of the answers above said it was around halloween and u said it was october 17th, but the thing is the peairs had halloween decorations on their house.. so it doesnt seem like the peairs werent totally unware of the halloween

  11. J.G.
    October 13th, 2004 at 23:43 | #11

    I have lived in Japan for about 25 years. I remember the incident of which you write.

    Interesting. Your reasoning sounds sober and unbiased to me. The sad fact of the matter is that this was a tragedy for all those involved. As you suggest, Peairs made a dumb mistake. Those inclined to view working class white Southerners in the dimmest light possible will cheerfully concur that Peairs was dumb. It takes compassion to recognize the man’s action was a result of bad judgement and not malicious intent. He will be forever remorseful for what he did; he was no bloodthirsty killer.

    And, of course, many Japanese will remember this tragedy for a long, long time. Some Japanese also remember Sagawa Issei who cannibalized his Dutch girlfriend when studying at the Sorbonne back in 1981. Unlike Peairs, Sagawa was deemed unfit to stand trial and spent a few years in a mental hospital, although his influential and wealthy father managed to find a way to get him safely home to Japan. Sagawa has personally profited from his heinous crime by writing books for which there is a hefty demand.

    I think that pretty much proves that the media are very selective about what is ‘shocking.’ Gun crime in the U.S. is nothing new. The Sagawa phenomenon is far more horrific, but you can sell more newspapers and air time to advertisers with a great feel-good/feel-bad tragedy like that which took place in Baton Rouge. The deliberate cannibalization of a white woman by a Japanese man v. the accidental shooting of a young Japanese man by a white Southerner in the United States. It’s the latter that gets blood boiling on these shores.

    Therefore, I think it is perfectly reasonable to dismiss much of the bad news about the West reported here in general. News is a commodity like anywhere else. Inconvenient or unpleasant impurities like the Sagawa story are soon swept aside to make way for those events that promote and floodlight the image of Japan as victim.

  12. Luis
    October 13th, 2004 at 23:48 | #12

    Wow. I had not known about Sagawa Issei. I guess not many Japanese talk about him too much, you have to have been there or have special exposure to the story (like I’m getting now, thanks). ’81 was a few years before I came here, so the story was blown over by then, I suppose.

  13. hannah
    November 12th, 2004 at 02:29 | #13

    i understand your motivation to bring balance between media rush and reality … nevertheless, what mostly impresses me is that americans take pride in coming to other countries to spread american civilization about, such as in the current war on iraq, but they find it OKAY to have a “shoot the burglar” statute standing healthy and strong in one of their states … taking justice into one’s own hands is a practice long fought … peairs could have said “freeze” a second time, or even tried a simple stop as a second resort, for what i understand, even on your carefully researched version of the incident, is that the guy shouted “freeze” and shot the gun … you mention the 16 years old fully grown adult (i am the mother of a 16 years old and let me tell you he is tall and grown but he doesn’t look like a grown up at all! anyone, specially a parent, can tell a 16 year old from an adult) … you mentioned “By this time, Haymaker and Hattori had moved out beyond the parked cars in the carport,” which leads me to imagine that there was a good length between hattori and peairs, being that the case, if peairs is not a paranoid freak who believes he has the right to shoot animals and people who enter his property before inquiring their motives beyond reasonable doubt, what is he then? did he not have enough time to shout “stop” in a second attempt to solve that dilema ? had he not had a gun and the desire to use it deliberately, do you not think he would have used his senses to defend himself and his family?

    i appreciate your criticism regarding the media parafernalia … it is worldwide … nevertheless, media blow or not, a child was brutally killed by a man who believes he can “shoot the burglar.” in my view, this tragedy is not about peairs innocense, neither it is about hattori’s intransigence nor his irresponsibility in not wearing his contacts or knowing enough of a language … in my opinion this tragedy is about a culture who believes it has PERMISSION to rule and deliberate …

    along with gun control we americans are also in need of PRIDE and PREJUDICE control as well …

    thanks for your listening

  14. mima4
    January 7th, 2005 at 23:33 | #14

    ur…wow.I didnt know about any of this stuff until I came across your website. I would just like to say that I can understand peoples anger when something happens in a different country that is linked to yours and how it can be linked to prejudice. I feel shocked if someone is hurt by someone else in general no matter where they come from. I also agree on the whole media issue. Here in Britain there are many examples of this i.e “young woman is murdered in house by ex lover” gets about five sentences and the rest of the page is about “Big Brother” and a giant picture of a young woman with her breasts out. truly this is a tragic thing.

  15. Chris
    February 24th, 2005 at 09:30 | #15

    Hey, I’m back. What a long year. I still view this tragedy the same as before I left. Sad fact of the matter is that we don’t know what it was like then and there, and there is no way to know who was at fault. Thing is, we shouldn’t be looking for faults. Nobody needs to be punished for this. Peairs was raised in a culture where it IS ok to “shoot the burglar”. It’s the culture that needs revision, I think.

  16. Hesiod
    April 7th, 2005 at 05:51 | #16

    Here are some facts you left out:

    1. The shooter is a milita wingnut, as determined by the massive amount of wingnut literature seized from his home.

    http://www.uncp.edu/home/vanderhoof/m-trial/germanv/list.html

    2. The lady of the hosue called the POLICE, who were on their WAY to the residence, when her husband went outside and SHOT Hattori.

    Here’s a transcript of the 9/11 call and dispatcher.

    http://www.uncp.edu/home/vanderhoof/m-trial/germanv/radio.html

  17. Luis
    April 7th, 2005 at 10:38 | #17

    Um… hate to tell you this, but those links are to a mock trial, concerning one “Rod Peas,” not “Rodney Peairs,” in North Carolina, not Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on October 17, 2002, not October 17, 1992.

    You got suckered by an educational re-creation (for a Criminal Justice course at a college) which has been significantly altered from reality. While some of the points reviewed in the mock trial are accurate, some are made up of whole cloth, probably for the purpose of making the trial more clear-cut.

    Neither of the pages you linked to has any substance or reality. Peairs did not have truckloads of militia material in his house, nor have I seen any non-fictional evidence that (a) the police were called, or (b) they were anywhere near arriving even if they had been called.

    Sorry, if you want to discuss the case, find a source which is not intentionally fictional.

  18. Matt
    May 4th, 2005 at 13:31 | #18

    You all need a reality check. Look into a book by the founder of criminal profiling, retired FBI agent Robert Ressler, entitled “I Have Lived In the Monster.” I just finished his chapter on this case, and did an internet search on the subject. I found this blog.

    He and another FBI agent did extensive research into the case on behalf of the victims family for the civil trial. His reputation within the bureau is impecable, and any suggestion that he is biased is not supported by his long career, many court cases and resulting convictions. He has dedicated his life to investigating criminal activity, and there is no reason to believe he would sell himself out after a long and distinguished career. Here are the facts as they state them after more extensive investigation that was conducted by the prosecution for the criminal case.

    1) Louisiana recognizes a firearm as “a dangerous instrumentality, requiring the person controlling it to use it with a duty of extraordinary care.” According to Louisiana state law, if a person intentionally shoots anohter, that person is guilty of a battery and, unless the shooting is justified on some grounds, isliable for damages. Moreover, if the defendant believes the shooting was justified, he or she must prove it.

    2) The Peairs couple contradicted themselves many times over between interviews with police, depositions and finally the trials. Vast contradictions, such as never shooting the gun in the last two years to shooting it more than 200 times, etc.

    3) Bonnie Peairs overreacted to the presence of Hattori. She projected this onto her husband by requesting he get his gun. She was never able to say what it was about the victim that scared her. Many strangers had been to that same home before. They had all been met calmly and often helped with car trouble,etc, often late at night. Bonnie Peairs later said she initially thought the victims friend, dressed in bandages for the halloween party, might have been in an accident. She states in court that she opened the door initially thinking the friend needed help. She apparently wasn’t afraid of strangers. It wasn’t the victims dark skin. Bonnie had previously helped a black man late at night who had run out of gas.

    4) The Peairs couple never discussed the need for a gun. They had six laying around the house. There was no behavior displayed by the victim, described by either of them, that would suggest the presence of a weapon or a threat. Rodney Peairs had a 12 guage at the ready, which would have been more visible and more deterring to a threatening intruder, but instead chose a revolver, which he had to retrieve from the closet. The gun was already loaded, so time to consider appropriate alternatives was lost.

    5) If they believed they were in danger they reasonably should have remained inside their locked home and waited for the police. Instead they went outside and confronted the situation they were so terrified of. In fact, Bonnie Peairs stated she had always thought she would go to the back bedroom with the kids and call the police if there were an intruder. She did take her kids there, but never called the police and left the children alone to confront the victim with her husband. They had an opportunity to avoid the threat altogether, but instead chose to escalate the situation by confronting it.

    6) Things were further escalated by Rodney Peairs cocking his gun, without a safety, and keeping his finger on the trigger. This reduced the amount of pressure required to fire the gun from 20 lbs to about 4. Had he left the gun decocked, he could still have fired it, but would have had more time to consider the necessity of his actions.

    7) The Peairs couple claim the victim was moving toward them when Rodney Peairs fired. That he was moving rapidly and in an unrelenting manner, and that this mvoement forced Peairs to react quickly. Multiple descriptions of the incident however describe the victim’s demeanor as smiling and laughing, with his hand extended away from his body. The victim was found on his back, inconsistent with someone moving toward the shooter. His momentum would have carried him forward and facedown. Peairs claims his 44 would have blown the victim backward, that it could knock down a deer. But industry manuals state the impact is less than 1/20 the speed of a man when walking and perhaps 1/100 the speed of a man running. It concludes that these bullets do not have knockdown power in the sense that they can change the direction of someone’s movement from forward to backward.
    8) Peairs could have fired a warning shot, or shot the victim in an extremity. Peairs was well versed in the use of guns, and knew what would result with the aim he took. He had previously instructed his wife to shoot at center mass to stop an intruder. He also had other options. He was 6’2″ and weighed 180 lbs. The victim was 5’6″ and weighed 130 lbs. Peairs had previously dealt with violent encounters with broken beer bottles, knives, etc. successfully. Peairs also had a history with guns, shooting a dog that had wandered onto his property, and threatening his wifes ex-husband.

    Peairs chose to respond to this non-threatening event with an unjustified level of force. Peairs chose to communicate in a manner not designed to resolve the conflict, but to enflame it. All he really ordered the victim to do was freeze. When he didn’t, Peairs shot him. He declined overpowering the much smaller victim, and didn’t even attempt it. Peairs could have used a non-lethal weapon in his garage, but didn’t consider it. And finally, lethal force is only justifiable when there is an immediate or imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.

    Their conclusion was that the victim was moving toward the Peairs couple more slowly than they have alleged, that he was not acting aggressively, and taht he posed no threat to the couple. The use of deadly force was unreasonable and unjustified. For those of you who say no civilian can be expected to think all of this through in a short time span, I say you are right. That is why the police are in constant training on this stuff. And they still make mistakes. But if you want to own a gun, and plan to use it in self defense, you are held to the same standard as the police. Ignorance of procedure is not a defense. If you want to carry a gun, you have to know more about how to handle conflict than how to pull the trigger. This is why we have “professional” conflict resolvers, those guys with the badges. I like guns by the way. Guys like Rodney Peairs piss me off because they make guys like me look stupid for owning one. Responsible, safe gun owners have more trouble than they should because of nuts like Peairs. And I won’t join the NRA because they fail to denounce guys like this. It’s like a union that won’t rat out a worker getting high on the job. He’s putting everyone in danger, but no one will get his ass fired for the good of everyone else.

  19. Luis
    May 4th, 2005 at 23:58 | #19

    [Ressler's] reputation within the bureau is impecable, and any suggestion that he is biased is not supported by his long career, many court cases and resulting convictions.

    A nice endorsement, but (a) Ressler’s rep is not exactly impeccable–for example, he believed in psychic predictions, endorsing a particular psychic and having her speak at the FBI Academy; and (b) he takes the role of prosecutor, aiming to convict–that’s his job, and he does it as you describe below. But that includes leaving out exculpatory evidence and emphasizing any and all evidence that could lead to a conviction. That’s what he does. So claiming lack of bias is not exactly correct.

    1) Louisiana recognizes a firearm as “a dangerous instrumentality, requiring the person controlling it to use it with a duty of extraordinary care.” According to Louisiana state law, if a person intentionally shoots anohter, that person is guilty of a battery and, unless the shooting is justified on some grounds, is liable for damages.

    You do not address how this interacts with the “Shoot the Burglar” statute. As for liabilities, this may have played a part in the Peairs losing the civil suit, and their home in the process.

    2) The Peairs couple contradicted themselves many times over between interviews with police, depositions and finally the trials. Vast contradictions, such as never shooting the gun in the last two years to shooting it more than 200 times, etc.

    Without knowing what other contradictions were made, it is difficult to judge the relevance of this point. People lie, but they lie for different reasons; a lie does not always indicate guilt. Also, contradictions do not always arise from an intent to lie; sometimes the question is vague or the the answer changes dependent on the context. It certainly doesn’t make them look good, but without a detailed analysis, one cannot use this point to prove anything. It is the kind of thing a prosecutor brings up to make someone look bad to sway a jury, but it is not an honest review of facts to determine the exact truth of a situation.

    3) Bonnie Peairs overreacted to the presence of Hattori. She projected this onto her husband by requesting he get his gun. She was never able to say what it was about the victim that scared her.

    Interesting that Hattori’s habit of running up to a friend–and, on that night, to Mrs. Peairs–is not covered in this source; it was made clear in the court documents I found on Lexis-Nexis years ago. There is also the point about the carport door being an interior door as opposed to an exterior one. Tell me, if two strangers appeared at a side or back door to your house–one which you consider a more private door–at night, in a high-crime area, unexpectedly, dressed bizarrely (it was two weeks before Halloween), and one of the asked where the party was while the other suddenly ran at you–you wouldn’t be a bit freaked by that? I agree that Bonnie Peairs overreacted, but not by as much as you make it sound.

    Many strangers had been to that same home before. They had all been met calmly and often helped with car trouble,etc, often late at night.

    At the front door, dressed normally, speaking in an understandable way, and not rushing at her, yes? And what is with that “often” part? What, every week or so a stranger stopped at their door late at night? That sounds bizarre–I’d love to hear the evidence supporting that one. But again, this point is one made by a prosecutor, making it sound like Bonnie Peairs was used to dealing with the same situation that happened on the night of the shooting, which is untrue, and leaves out elements that made all the difference between the Hattori case and other situations. This is clearly highly prejudicial and misleading.

    4) The Peairs couple never discussed the need for a gun.

    So? What’s the relevance?

    Rodney Peairs had a 12 guage at the ready, which would have been more visible and more deterring to a threatening intruder, but instead chose a revolver, which he had to retrieve from the closet. The gun was already loaded, so time to consider appropriate alternatives was lost.

    Where was the shotgun? How far was the closet? What does “at the ready” mean–it was sitting there right in front of him? This is quite vague, allowing it to sound convincing while leaving out details which could otherwise be considered.

    When you think your home and family are in immediate danger, it is likely that you are not in a state to consider how your gun looks to an intruder. And to suggest that when his family was threatened he should have taken the slower route to “consider appropriate alternatives” is pretty ridiculous. Quick, your mother has just been hit by a car–do you take immediate action, or pause to “consider appropriate alternatives”? Of course Peairs should have done something else, namely stayed inside, but you cannot suggest that it is not understandable that he grabbed a gun and went to meet the threat. In those situations, we do not always think as clearly as we would like.

    Furthermore, Ressler seems to contradict himself here–he berates Peairs for both taking extra time to go to a closet and for not taking extra time to have to load the gun. Which is it? And is Ressler really suggesting the Peairs intentionally went for the smaller gun so as to make the situation worse? He suggests a bad motive, but does not explain it. Once again, this testimony is not made for reason, it is made to incriminate, to make someone look as guilty as possible–which, again, is Ressler’s full-time job, and a built-in bias.

    5) If they believed they were in danger they reasonably should have remained inside their locked home and waited for the police.

    Agreed. I noted this as being Peairs’ main error.

    In fact, Bonnie Peairs stated she had always thought she would go to the back bedroom with the kids and call the police if there were an intruder. She did take her kids there, but never called the police and left the children alone to confront the victim with her husband.

    I do not recall any recounting that Bonnie Peairs was outside in the carport at that time. Interesting, but nonetheless irrelevant to the case. As for calling the police, you fail to note that the police response time for that neighborhood was 30-40 minutes. With her husband outside confronting the strangers, would the police have arrived in time for anything?

    And, once again, the reason to include this information seems less about relevance, less about how Hattori was killed, and more about bringing in evidence solely to provide a negative image of the Peairs’, as if in a criminal case.

    6) Things were further escalated by Rodney Peairs cocking his gun, without a safety, and keeping his finger on the trigger. This reduced the amount of pressure required to fire the gun from 20 lbs to about 4. Had he left the gun decocked, he could still have fired it, but would have had more time to consider the necessity of his actions.

    Again, you’re in a panic situation. You don’t consider pounds of pressure on the trigger, you’re in a self-preservation mode. And again, Peairs at some point should have stopped and thought to simply lock the doors and windows and waited inside for the police, but suggesting that getting a gun from a more difficult location or not cocking the gun as means to slow himself down in order to do this is very strange indeed. Just say he should have thought to stay indoors; lacking that, talking about intentionally slowing himself down makes little sense, as in such situations it is standard intent to act quickly and decisively.

    7) The Peairs couple claim the victim was moving toward them when Rodney Peairs fired. … Multiple descriptions of the incident however describe the victim’s demeanor as smiling and laughing, with his hand extended away from his body.

    Does it make it any less threatening if the person you perceive as a threatening criminal is laughing as he runs at you?

    The victim was found on his back, inconsistent with someone moving toward the shooter.

    Inconsistent, perhaps, but far from impossible.

    His momentum would have carried him forward and facedown.

    This is far from certain. Any number of scenarios could have had him fall back, from legs buckling and sliding forward on his back, to maintaining bodily control long enough to arrest forward motion, then falling backward, or any number of other possibilities.

    8.) Peairs could have fired a warning shot, or shot the victim in an extremity.

    Again, the assumption is that Peairs wasn’t panicked, but that he was a man of steel carefully considering every fraction of a second of action and contemplating on alternatives. Let’s be real here.

    Peairs had previously dealt with violent encounters with broken beer bottles, knives, etc. successfully.

    You can’t use Peairs’ reactions in other violent situations as a guide here for the very clear reason that this was not a violent situation, as everyone points out. Therefore, Hattori’s actions would not be consistent with that of a person in that situation, therefore you can’t compare what Hattori did with what others did. While Peairs had handled violent encounters successfully before (which should speak to his favor), the people he encountered probably reacted in predictable ways–i.e., you point a gun and shout a warning, they don’t rush at you.

    Peairs’ mindset was to act as if it were a violent person, because that is what he had been led to believe. If Hattori had acted in the way a real intruder would have acted, then Peairs probably would not have shot him, because a real intruder would be looking out for a homeowner with a gun. When Hattori ran at him, he was probably thinking, “What the hell is this guy doing? Is he crazy?”

    Here’s the key point: Peairs shot him because of a misunderstanding; in the context of handling a violent situation, Peairs did what was reasonable. Think about it: you are confronting a dangerous armed criminal; you show a gun, clearly visible, and shout a warning. The criminal rushes you, and will reach you in a second or so if you don’t act. What do you do? As I mentioned in the post, it’s all about context.

    From the points I’ve made above, it seems all but clear that Ressler is indeed taking on a prosecutorial role, rather than trying to look at the case from a completely objective view. There is information here that he should have introduced but did not, and many points of questionable relevance which were included for emphasis, for a shotgun-approach style of making it seem like more evidence is against the accused. In effect, listening to him alone is like hearing only the prosecutor’s closing statement, not the defense’s.

    I agree wholeheartedly that Peairs should’ve stayed indoors–that being central to my post. But I also make the point, which I think still stands up well, that while everything else was a tragic mistake, it was understandable when seen in light of the full story.

  20. Matt
    May 4th, 2005 at 16:51 | #20

    Well said, but I don’t agree with you at all. I intentionally left out what Ressler does best, which is to look into the Why behind the How. I left it out because I don’t believe they are necessary to explain why the shooting was unjustifiable. It was his belief, based on looking at past acts and the specifics of this situation, that Peairs was an aggressive gun nut with an attitude. His placement of weapons, stashed about his home, his past use of them to intimidate other people, his behavior that night all add up to one terrible incident. It was preventable, but not if an aggressive man looking for a fight has a 44 loaded in his closet. It was his belief from looking at hundreds of cases that a man like this owns a weapon like this, arguably of lesser value in home defense, because of the personna it creates for him.

    I assume you are an attorney, from the way you stage your arguments, and they may be well and good in a courtroom. But get rid of all the twisted arguments and consider whether or not we should believe Robert Ressler or a man who stashes six loaded guns in his house, has three little kids running around, who threatens people with them on multiple occasions, who responds to a strange man at this door with one word and a gunshot. I believe we have a problem in this country with too many people making sport out of trying to see how far they can go in defending the indefesible.

    With regard to shoot the burglar statutes, look around. People who shoot other people who have not entered their home are prosecuted. Quite often they are when they shoot someone inside their home as well. You don’t have the right to defend your property with deadly force. And ethically you have the responsibility to know what the hell is going on before you start plugging people. If you brandish the weapon you better have a good reason. In this case, we know Peairs didn’t have a good reason. Which leaves us with why it happened. If you strip away all the coffee house crap you are left with the sad reality that Peairs had no business brandishing a weapon under the given circumstances. His wife told him to get the gun. And he shoots a man? He doesn’t ask her what the hell happened. He doesn’t lock the door and call the police? A man who goes outside and confronts someone who allegedly fightened his wife that much is looking for a confrontation. He is looking for a fight. If he had been interested in defending his family he would have gone out the back door or barricaded himself in an interior room. In stead he opens the only separation between his children and this “dangerous perpetrator” and engages him. And you justify this by saying we don’t know what we would do under similar circumstances?

    “Tell me, if two strangers appeared at a side or back door to your house–one which you consider a more private door–at night, in a high-crime area, unexpectedly, dressed bizarrely (it was two weeks before Halloween), and one of the asked where the party was while the other suddenly ran at you–you wouldn’t be a bit freaked by that? I agree that Bonnie Peairs overreacted, but not by as much as you make it sound.”

    -of course I would be freaked by that. I will keep your justifications in mind the next time I feel like unloading my 12 gauge on a stranger. I am trying to think of any circumstance under which I would point my gun at a stranger in a weird outfit that close to halloween, asking me if he has the right house, when I haven’t bothered to ask my wife what she was upset about. My wife says go get my gun. I see a funny looking guy. He is moving toward me, while another guy asks if this is the party. I blow him away, and then shoot my wife for being so goddamned stupid. All the while thinking to myself that while someone might ask for directions, it might also be a great ploy to get into my house in a halloween disguise. I mean, that is brilliant. There is the element of danger though, in that this burglar is easier to identify in his john travolta jump suit. But then, there are probably lots of asian guys dressed like that committing violent crimes.

    There isn’t one thing about this that says a violent crime is about to be committed. Maybe in his strange deluded world there was, but that isn’t justification for killing someone. I love the arguement that we take the furthest extreme of human behavior, set that up as the litmus test for what is acceptable, and go on from there.

    “The Peairs couple never discussed the need for a gun.
    So? What’s the relevance?”

    -the relevance is that my wife tells me to go get the gun, doesn’t say anything in detail about why, but there is a man in the driveway. I go to the door, tell him to freeze, and then kill him. I have to know what world you live in where you can justify that series of events without wanting to know when he asked him wife why a gun was needed. Maybe you hear that all the time in Louisiana, but I believe I might ask my wife what the hell was going on before I shot a man.

    “he berates Peairs for both taking extra time to go to a closet and for not taking extra time to have to load the gun. Which is it? ”

    -Ressler believed it was fishy that he goes out of his way to get a 44 in his closet when a 12 gauge was more at hand, and that had the weapon been unloaded and not ready for a confrontation Peaires would have had an opportunity to think through what he was doing. He wasn’t addressing the location of the gun in the context of how fast things progessed, but in the context of what was going through his mind with regard to the weapon he selected. He addresses the loaded gun because it was ready to go and didn’t require thought. He picks his gun, grabs it and is outside shooting. Do you leave loaded guns around your house. Around here we just lock our doors.

    “this testimony is not made for reason, it is made to incriminate, to make someone look as guilty as possible–which, again, is Ressler’s full-time job”

    -and the job of the defense attorney is not to present logic, truth or evidence. Attorneys and politicians are equally hated by the public because they take a series of events, twist them around, argue them backwards, confuse the issues and get OJ off the hook. Everyone knows he is guilty as hell, but he gets off because no one can see straight by the end of the trial/election. All sides are guilty of it. I’m sure you would be quick to point out that this reality doesn’t necessarily mean all defense argurments are worthless. Same applies to Ressler and prosecutors.

    “I do not recall any recounting that Bonnie Peairs was outside in the carport at that time. Interesting, but nonetheless irrelevant to the case”

    - how is this irrelevant? it suggests she was more interested in the confrontation than in her children’s security. If she were really that frightened would she reasonably leave her children to fend for themselves? It suggests their actions were less defensive and more confrontational. Most people would be pissing in the corner, stashing their kids under the bed. Not out seeing how hubby is handling the asian dude in the disco outfit.

    “suggesting that getting a gun from a more difficult location or not cocking the gun as means to slow himself down in order to do this is very strange indeed. Just say he should have thought to stay indoors; lacking that, talking about intentionally slowing himself down makes little sense, as in such situations it is standard intent to act quickly and decisively”

    -I never suggested he should store his gun in a location hard to get to, although it should be safe. And it shouldn’t be loaded, not with kids in the house. But he went out of his way to get a gun.

    -Have you ever cocked a revolver? There is nothing subtle about it. The gun can be fired either way, but takes more force if not cocked. It is less likely to go off inadvertently. If he is being defensive, and trying to ascertain what is going on, as a responsible person would do, he would preserve as much of the safety of the weapon as possible while being able to defend himself. Cocking the weapon takes that safety away before he knows what the circumstances are. It again suggests he was being confrontational, not defensive.

    “Does it make it any less threatening if the person you perceive as a threatening criminal is laughing as he runs at you?”

    - I don’t know. The next time a short asian man in a disco outfit is running through my garage I will cut him down and send you a message about how I felt at the time. Sorry but that doesn’t scream violent felon to me. A laughing, not-running but walking disco dressed asian – I’m not thinking sadomasochistic felon. Under the circumstances they may not have know what was going on, and my have been frightened, which is only more evidence that Peaires had no business pulling the gun out, much less the trigger. I have never been a victim, but I also can’t recall the last time I read about the mad laughing burglar.

    “Again, the assumption is that Peairs wasn’t panicked, but that he was a man of steel carefully considering every fraction of a second of action and contemplating on alternatives. Let’s be real here”

    -wrong again. I don’t assume Peaires was calm. I assume he was panicked, which is why he had no business pointing a gun at anyone. He had no business endangering his family by stashing guns around his house in preparation for some massive assault on his home. I believe he was aggressive and looking for a confrontation. He panicked and fired. And he is responsible for his actions. HE was in control of whether or not it progessed to that point. He had the gun, he is responsible.

    “You can’t use Peairs’ reactions in other violent situations as a guide here for the very clear reason that this was not a violent situation”

    -so what are we arguing about? It was’t a violent situation, so what business did Peaires have bringing a gun into it?

    “While Peairs had handled violent encounters successfully before (which should speak to his favor), the people he encountered probably reacted in predictable ways–i.e., you point a gun and shout a warning, they don’t rush at you.”

    -Actually, it goes against his favor. It is a pattern of getting into confrontations. I can honestly say no one has ever been angry enough with me to come after me with a knife or broken bottle. I don’t even know anyone who has had that experience. He gets into fights. There is always another side, but rarely is someone involved in a knife fight an innocent bystander, especially after having multiple encounters. He is a confrontational guy. Nothing wrong with that until you blow away some gut going to a halloween party.

    “Here’s the key point: Peairs shot him because of a misunderstanding; in the context of handling a violent situation, Peairs did what was reasonable. Think about it: you are confronting a dangerous armed criminal; you show a gun, clearly visible, and shout a warning. The criminal rushes you, and will reach you in a second or so if you don’t act. What do you do? As I mentioned in the post, it’s all about context.”

    -the misunderstanding was between him and his wife. He never bothered to find out from her what was going on. He may have been assuming the worst but because he is the one considering taking a human life, the burden of ascertaining the facts falls on him. Sorry, but you don’t shoot first and ask questions later; unless you are prepared to pay the consequences for you actions in the event you are dead wrong. “In the context of handling a violent situation” – what violence? “You are confronting a dangerous armed criminal” – are you cracked? My wife says there is a guy in the garage, go get your gun and I am justified in assuming he is a dangerous armed criminal contrary to everthing I see when I get outside? So I blow away the Jehovah’s Witness whose fliers blew into my garage because he wanted to collect them before ringing the doorbell. And seeing me coming he approached me with his hand extended and didn’t stop when I told him to freeze because in all the embarrasment of having to explain what he’s doing by me car his mind is racing, but only for a moment because I put a round through his sternum?

    Luis, you are great at confusing a simple situation, and making people forget that we have to take responsibility for our behaviors and actions in this life. We have ethical and moral dilema’s everyday. And while running some kid down on his bike while you’re busy on your cell phone may not be technically illegal because that new law doesn’t go into effect for another four weeks, it sure doesn’t pass the smell test. And neither does the situation with Peaires. Circular agurments don’t get past the fact that nothing was happening to Peaires, and he has the responsibility of verifying all of that before he pulls the trigger.

  21. Luis
    May 5th, 2005 at 02:59 | #21

    I assume you are an attorney, from the way you stage your arguments, and they may be well and good in a courtroom.

    I am a college professor, and I teach writing, which includes argumentation. That means that I am informed as to the selective use of information and the prejudicial way that selective information can very effectively sway beliefs. I am also aware that any situation has many perspectives, and that a real understanding may only be achieved by unflinchingly looking at all the relevant information in all available contexts. One example: His placement of weapons, stashed about his home, … How am I to regard this? Your description is unsupported by specifics and very judgmental in tone. You use the word “stashed,” for example, and not “stored,” “kept,” or other less loaded terms. It gives the impression of irresponsibility, the intent to hide, and even possibly haste. But you do not support this with evidence, such as by pointing to specific examples. The only location of a weapon you have mentioned was in a closet, where a weapon could conceivably be stored safely and responsibly, depending on the circumstances. Without evidence to support the claim, any assumption is only that–an assumption, prejudicial, and without merit. And even if you take information from this book, you yourself have no way of knowing how it was presented by the author.

    One problem I have is that I have not read this person’s book (and frankly, after your presentation of the information, I have little incentive to order via international shipping such a book for the privilege of reading that one chapter), so unless you quote specifics, I cannot even begin to address them.

    His wife told him to get the gun. And he shoots a man?

    You are distorting the timeline and leaving out events. He did not shoot Hattori simply on the strength of his wife telling him to get his gun. And you do not know the relationship between him and his wife; he may have trusted her implicitly to the point that if she told him there were men threatening her, he believed her. But that did not completely provoke the shooting. Hattori’s rush at him provoked it immediately; all else was contributory.

    He doesn’t ask her what the hell happened.

    Hmm. I know that she told him there were men outside and that he should get his gun. But how do we know that this is all? I would like to get back to those court records and look over the testimony again.

    But let’s assume that that was all she said, and he asked no further. Excellent point. He should have. But then, what if he had? She would have told him that strange men came to an inside door and one rushed at her in a manner she saw as threatening. Would he have been able to get enough information (while maybe dangerous people are coming into the house, right now) to make him believe anything differently? Would he have divined that it was a harmless exchange student? He was dependent on his wife to introduce him to the situation; considering her state, he would likely not gotten any less alarming an explanation from her.

    He doesn’t lock the door and call the police?

    We went over this.

    And you justify this by saying we don’t know what we would do under similar circumstances?

    Show me where I state that the entirety of his actions were justified. You can’t because I never claimed that. I made it crystal clear that what he did was understandable, not justified. In fact, I made a specific point to explain that Peairs was at fault, and explained why. Don’t attempt to put words in my mouth.

    -of course I would be freaked by that. I will keep your justifications in mind the next time I feel like unloading my 12 gauge on a stranger. I am trying to think of any circumstance under which I would point my gun at a stranger in a weird outfit that close to halloween, asking me if he has the right house, when I haven’t bothered to ask my wife what she was upset about. … He is moving toward me, while another guy asks if this is the party.

    This demonstrates that, even after reading Ressler and my own post (presumably), you still do not understand the timeline of events or the context of the situation. Neither Hattori nor Haymaker asked the Peairs if they had the right house, and Haymaker asked “Where’s the party?” to Bonnie Peairs, not Rodney. The situation as you present it is highly at odds with the established line of events.

    I blow him away, and then shoot my wife for being so goddamned stupid. All the while thinking to myself that while someone might ask for directions, it might also be a great ploy to get into my house in a halloween disguise. I mean, that is brilliant. There is the element of danger though, in that this burglar is easier to identify in his john travolta jump suit. But then, there are probably lots of asian guys dressed like that committing violent crimes.

    Now you’re delving into the ludicrous. I see no reason to respond to such a wildly exaggerated and unreasonable statement, nor will I address, without good reason, any other such bizarrely insulting passages.

    The Peairs couple never discussed the need for a gun.

    So? What’s the relevance?”

    -the relevance is that my wife tells me to go get the gun, doesn’t say anything in detail about why, but there is a man in the driveway. I go to the door, tell him to freeze, and then kill him. I have to know what world you live in where you can justify that series of events without wanting to know when he asked him wife why a gun was needed.

    Ah. My misunderstanding. I had misread your statement to mean that they had never discussed the need to own a gun; you intended the meaning to be that Peairs never asked her why the gun was necessary at that moment. The word that threw me was “discussed,” which is poorly used here. In an emergency situation of family safety where a gun is called for, I doubt anyone “discusses” anything, ergo I believed you meant a discussion at the time of purchasing the weapon. So, to respond to your intended argument:

    Again assuming that there was no more detailed “discussion,” the statement “get your gun” is loaded with information. If that is all that she said and no further, the statement still had a good deal of meaning. She’s his wife, and he probably trusted her to give him the correct impression, which in this case would have been, there are dangerous men outside and in order to protect us, it is necessary that you have your weapon ready as they may intend to harm us. Tell me, when you believe that your family is in immediate danger, that people with intent to harm you and your loved ones for all you know may be coming in the door, do you trust what they tell you and act, or stop to quiz them on specifics?

    “he berates Peairs for both taking extra time to go to a closet and for not taking extra time to have to load the gun. Which is it? ”

    -Ressler believed it was fishy that he goes out of his way to get a 44 in his closet when a 12 gauge was more at hand, and that had the weapon been unloaded and not ready for a confrontation Peaires would have had an opportunity to think through what he was doing.

    My original question is still unanswered here. Both situations–going to a less accessible location and taking the time to load a gun–take extra time. Ressler says Peairs should have taken extra time, and it was poor judgment to move so quickly. But he also assails Peairs for moving quickly. These contradict. Nor is it reasonable to frame the “he should have thought for a moment” argument in the context of loading a gun; it is doubtful the act of putting bullets in a gun would have put him in a reflective mood. Ressler should have simply said that Peairs should have thought before picking up the gun or going outside with it, some reasonable “trigger moment” for contemplation. But instead he attempts to tie it to an irrelevant action, which supports my theory that Ressler is simply trying to pile on whatever he can find as arguments against Peairs. At the very least he (or you, if you have not represented Ressler correctly) is making his argument poorly.

    As for the contemplation before acting, I agree wholeheartedly, and again, that was the point I made in the first place.

    “this testimony is not made for reason, it is made to incriminate, to make someone look as guilty as possible–which, again, is Ressler’s full-time job”

    -and the job of the defense attorney is not to present logic, truth or evidence.

    So? I’m not a defense attorney. If I were, I’d be a bad one, because I hold Peairs at fault. Instead, I am trying to look at the available information without bias. You present solid evidence or argument, and I’ll agree with you. Maybe you didn’t read my post carefully enough, or you just don’t get the point of this post. My purpose here is not to defend Peairs, but simply to try to understand the course and nature of events. What’s yours?

    I’m sure you would be quick to point out that this reality doesn’t necessarily mean all defense argurments are worthless. Same applies to Ressler and prosecutors.

    Absolutely. I’m sure that Peairs’ attorneys tried to make him out as a saint who did nothing wrong and everything right. Again, I hold Peairs to be at fault. I simply am trying to disillusion people from the impression that a clearly innocent, harmless and unthreatening foreign exchange student walked up to a door, said “I’m here to attend a Halloween party, is this the right house?” and got blown away by some nutjob. From the information I gathered from the documents I found, I believe I have provided that context.

    “I do not recall any recounting that Bonnie Peairs was outside in the carport at that time. Interesting, but nonetheless irrelevant to the case”

    - how is this irrelevant? it suggests she was more interested in the confrontation than in her children’s security.

    (a) Not true–she still stood between the strangers and her children; her location was not contradictory to that of a protective parent, and (b) her presence would have had nothing to do with the actions of her husband at that point in time. What relevance does her level of protectiveness have to do with how Rodney reacted to a stranger rushing at him? And do you really believe that she didn’t care for her children because she went to see what was happening instead of cowering with them in a corner?

    The next time a short asian man in a disco outfit is running through my garage…

    I usually don’t give such asinine comments a response, but this and other statements you make point out yet more unawareness of the situation as it happened. The carport was not an open space. It was a wide enough for one car and walking space, and two cars were there, end to end. When Peairs came out, the two boys were behind the last car in the darkness outside the carport; all that Peairs saw were two dark forms behind the cars, and then Hattori suddenly ran at him.

    One of your errors is to join the decision to come outside and the decision to shoot; these were two separate considerations. When he decided to go outside, he almost certainly did not expect someone to rush at him like that despite pointing a gun and warning; more likely, he expected the intruders to leave under threat. When he decided to shoot, the decision to go outside was in the past. He did not make both at the same time nor in any way in concert with each other; they are separate events.

    And in the context of the latter event, what Peairs did was understandable. If you find yourself confronting a person you believe is potentially violent, show a gun and state a clear warning, and that person rushes you, what do you do? You don’t contemplate, you don’t think “he’s a short [which is unsupported, by the way; we don't know Hattori's height] Asian guy and therefore harmless”; instead, you assume the worst and fire. The reason he was responsible is that his prior, unreasonable decisions led him to that point and put him in that situation. That’s negligent homicide, and probably if not for the “shoot-the-burglar statute,” Peairs probably would have been convicted on that charge, and reasonably so. But at that moment, he had reason to pull the trigger, and having to apply more force to pull the trigger wouldn’t have made a whit of difference.

    “You can’t use Peairs’ reactions in other violent situations as a guide here for the very clear reason that this was not a violent situation”

    -so what are we arguing about? It was’t a violent situation, so what business did Peaires have bringing a gun into it?

    You do not understand. I was not saying that Peairs didn’t think it was a violent situation, I was saying that it was in fact not a violent situation although Peairs thought it was. Thus the misunderstanding. He was working under one set of assumptions, Hattori under another. This is what leads to miscommunication. Under Hattori’s perspective (friends at a party), rushing up to the person was fully appropriate and would not be responded to with violence. Under Peairs’ perspective (young thugs threatening his family, him pointing a gun in clear sight and shouting a clear warning), someone rushing up to him is a clear communication of not only intent to harm, but for someone who is so dangerous they will not even stop at gunpoint. Being Asian or dressed in a John Travolta costume in that context is immensely irrelevant; he was told that these people were threatening his family, and one of them, with a dark metallic object in one hand, ignored a clear warning, disregarded the threat of a firearm, and rushed at him inexplicably. Race or costume would have zero effect on one’s considerations at such a moment.”

    While Peairs had handled violent encounters successfully before (which should speak to his favor), the people he encountered probably reacted in predictable ways–i.e., you point a gun and shout a warning, they don’t rush at you.”

    -Actually, it goes against his favor. It is a pattern of getting into confrontations.

    It shows a pattern of resolving them without violence. Demonstrate, with evidence, that he was the one who provoked any or all of the confrontations. Do you know the details of each? Had we the detailed information, we could discuss it, but we do not, so there are only presumptions being made here. Again, good for a prosecutor, but we are neither prosecuting or defending, rather simply trying to understand objectively.

    -the misunderstanding was between him and his wife. He never bothered to find out from her what was going on. He may have been assuming the worst but because he is the one considering taking a human life, the burden of ascertaining the facts falls on him.

    That presumes that he intended to kill. There is no evidence of this. It is most likely that he intended to use the gun to frighten the intruders away. Would that call for detailed discussion while it is possible intruders could be entering the house? What would he have asked? “What were they wearing? How tall were they? Describe exactly how the man rushed at you.” You presume that “discussion” between him and his wife at this point would have brought out key details that would have assured him that the men outside were of no threat. How can you see this happening? See my statement above as to this point.

    “In the context of handling a violent situation” – what violence?

    The violent situations you described him as having had, and the one he believed it had become once one of the strangers rushed up to him. Again, his perspective, which is relevant in terms of what actions he took.

    “You are confronting a dangerous armed criminal” – are you cracked? My wife says there is a guy in the garage, go get your gun and I am justified in assuming he is a dangerous armed criminal contrary to everthing I see when I get outside?

    His wife told him there were threatening men outside. That begins the impression. He goes outside, points a gun and shouts a warning–and despite that, one of them holding an object he believes to be a gun rushes up to him. What other impression did you expect him to have? “Oh, this guy rushing up to me with what seems to be a gun is dressed as an Asian John Travolta; therefore, in a split-second decision, I will conclude he is a friendly kid and let him rush into my arms.” Of course not. in that context, anyone would assume armed criminal with violent intent; and anyone bold enough to rush when when you’re pointing a gun at them is decidedly dangerous. You have no way of knowing that this is an innocent exchange student who can’t understand English and who lost his contact lens.

    I am doing nothing but expressing context and perception. Peairs’ perception was constructed by the most important elements of what he saw.

    Luis, you are great at confusing a simple situation, and making people forget that we have to take responsibility for our behaviors and actions in this life.

    And you still seem not to have noticed that I blame Peairs for the incident, that I hold him responsible. That does not mean that I will ignore all other aspects and make him out to be a monster of some sort, unless there is specific evidence that tells me so. To do otherwise would be irresponsible.

    But you are correct, the situation in terms of Peairs’ culpability is relatively simple (though the confluence of all events was anything but). In the moment when he decided to go out and confront, he made his grievous error and is responsible for all the repercussions of that error. And in the moment where he found himself standing with a gun and a stranger came rushing at him, he was still responsible and still in error–but at that frozen moment in time, he did what was understandable. Not justifiable, but understandable.

    In case you missed the point, one of the reasons I wrote this post was to clear up misunderstanding. Most people still believe (as you have insinuated several times) that all that happened here was that a friendly boy rang a doorbell, asked an innocent question, and got blasted away by some deranged, violent freak. That’s not what happened.

    You do a greater disservice to the situation by believing facts that are not in evidence and assuming things that you don’t have the right to assume. And this make things all the more dangerous, believing that the situation is so black-and-white, because in reality, things don’t happen that way, and if you think they do, you’re asking for trouble if you find yourself in a situation with similar elements. I’m glad that you are fully responsible and prepared and will never make such mistakes, but not everyone can be like you–and blaming it on being a gun nut with violent tendencies ignores the fact that even the most reasonable people can make such errors.

    And the danger of making assumptions to fit our impressions, without looking at all the facts in an objective and non-judgmental fashion, is that we tend to convict in the court of public opinion far too easily. We live in a country where someone is innocent until proven guilty–except we rarely actually live up to those principles.

  22. Matt
    May 9th, 2005 at 08:12 | #22

    Luis,

    that is a reasonable response. I will concede that considering the outside events alone, anybody could decide they needed to shoot. Which, of course, is why he never should have placed himself in that difficult position to begin with. 90% of preventing difficult situations for ourselves, is avoiding those precipitating circumstances in the first place. I do disagree with your comment about the average joe making reasonable mistakes. There is no such thing as a reasonable mistake in this kind of circumstance. Someone died. You are either prepared or you are not. If you are not you have no business entering the fray at all. I have no problem with someone defending themselves against an intruder, or if attacked outside their home with no opportunity to get inside. And I would have no expectation of their being overly prepared. But there is a large difference between that and engaging that person you perceive as a threat.

    An analogy is from my profession. If an ER physician determines a patient requires a particular surgery, and has the ability to stabilize the patient until the surgeon arrives, but instead elects to head into the OR himself, he is held to the same standard of care as the surgeon. If, once inside the patient, things get over their head they have no excuses. They had the opportunity to wait but elected not to. If the patient dies they can’t explain it away by saying anyone could have made that mistake. Had no surgeon been available, then they would be justified because anything they could do would be better than nothing at all. That is the comparison I am making here.

    In addition, I don’t believe I misread your intent when you previously stated that while Peairs should have stayed inside, his actions were not only justifiable but understandable. Now you seem to sat that you hold him accountable. I don’t want to get picky, and I’m not trying to be a prick, but it seems like you are riding both sides of the fence here. Which is it? Is he justified, or was he wrong. While the circmstances are certainly cloudy, I concede, there is still only one answer to that question. I believe there is no way around the fact that he made one fatal error by going outside. That fact overshadows all others. He had an opportunity to defuse the situation, and he chose to enflame it. When he got outside things are murky, but the fact of the matter is that he didn’t have to go outside. He elected to. I have considered that you are possibly acting as a devil’s advocate to promote debate, in the manner of your collegiate profession. If this is the case, I believe you have the responsibility of divulging that fact. Or possibly it is the nature of the subject you teach and how it operates. It just seems that you are on all sides of this, depending on circumstances.

    From my personal perspective, I seek out dissenting opinions and engage those individuals in debate. I see it as the only way to look for holes in my beliefs or to validate them. And in all honesty, over the years I have changed my position on abortion, the death penalty, gays in the military, and a few other big ones. I just felt my previous position didn’t hold water and after years of searching out the information I felt I was wrong. However, I have to know that the person I am debating with truly hold that other opinion. It is of lower value if they are only playing devils advocate because they don’t necessarily truly hold that opinion. They frequently don’t have the passion to get the message across.

  23. Luis
    May 9th, 2005 at 18:44 | #23

    I do disagree with your comment about the average joe making reasonable mistakes. There is no such thing as a reasonable mistake in this kind of circumstance.

    I never said “reasonable mistakes.” I did say, “even the most reasonable people can make such errors” (not “average people” making “reasonable errors”); I also said in a previous comment, “in the context of handling a violent situation, Peairs did what was reasonable” (but not an “average” person, nor was I referring to his decision to go outside). So I have no idea what you’re responding to; you have to be more specific. I did say that what Peairs did was understandable, but not reasonable or justified; in fact, I believe that I emphasized that.

    Everything else in your first paragraph I agree with, as stated in previous posts; his decision to go outside was unreasonable and unjustified, and that led to the tragedy.

    In addition, I don’t believe I misread your intent when you previously stated that while Peairs should have stayed inside, his actions were not only justifiable but understandable.

    You persist in claiming that I said somewhere that his actions were “justifiable,” when I have consistently stated the reverse, with emphasis. Why?

    To repeat what I said in a prior comment: Show me where I state that the entirety of his actions were justified. You can’t because I never claimed that. I made it crystal clear that what he did was understandable, not justified. In fact, I made a specific point to explain that Peairs was at fault, and explained why. Don’t attempt to put words in my mouth.

    * * * * *

    From my personal perspective, I seek out dissenting opinions and engage those individuals in debate. I see it as the only way to look for holes in my beliefs or to validate them.

    Indeed. Same here, I believe that’s a must. I’ve participated in a number of forums where there are people who very much disagree with me, and it only serves to enlighten you to facts you would not have known, and consider the issue from perspectives you might not otherwise have considered. Not necessarily because others point them out, but also, and more commonly, by forcing you to do research and explain your own position in detail and defend that.

  24. Anonymous
    May 9th, 2005 at 19:04 | #24

    With regard to Ressler, you can read the appropriate chapter from his book quite easily. I’m sure it is in your college library.

    I’m pretty sure it’s not. In fact, now I am sure, I just checked the online catalog. Not there. We have a very small library, being a branch campus.

    And since his retirement he has worked for both the prosecution AND the defense…

    As may be, but in your representation, either he was clearly playing the prosecution side, or you gave only data that showed that side. Does he say anything that could be read as defensible for Peairs? Was his character purely negative?

    -Ressler does address [Hattori's habit of running up to a friend], unfortunately I was unable to plaigerise more of his work that late at night. Read his account of the habit this young man had of running up to people. It is not different from your own. But I didn’t miss it either.

    Well, I would be interested in reading it, but again, I do not have access to it. (A note: quoting specific parts is covered under fair use statutes, and since you give a source, it is not plagiarism–in case you weren’t kidding there.) It does not, of course, lay blame at Hattori’s feet, but it does make the situation more clear as to why he would run up to a man holding a gun.

    Tell me, did Ressler mention the contact lens?

    It was not unusual or unheard of for someone to stop and ask for assitance of some kind, “often” car trouble.

    But in the context of the story, you make it seem that Ressler is establishing that it was commonplace for such things to happen, therefore Bonnie Peairs shouldn’t have freaked out. However, that would only apply in situations that were qualitatively similar to the night of Hattori’s shooting. Ressler was likely a bit dishonest here, using the vague statements “Many strangers” and “often late at night.” Well, how many? “Often late at night” seems to imply once every few weeks or months, and that’s only for the “late night” strangers. This sounds bizarre to me, despite what you say. I can only assume that Ressler is playing with vagueness here, implying something happens commonly, but able to backtrack and say something like, “well, once a year is ‘often’ in my book.”

    And once more, the main point I made is unchallenged: even if they did have multiple strangers visiting “late at night,” it does not show that these strangers acted in any way whatsoever similar to Hattori and Haymaker. Obviously Bonnie Peairs did not freak out because of late-night visitors, nor because of strangers–she would have been frightened to answer the door at all were that to case. Thus Ressler’s point about this is a red herring, intended to make her look culpable while not addressing the real reason she freaked: the strangers appeared to ditch the front door, came to a private interior door, were dressed strangely, and one of the strangers rushed at her. None of these are addressed by the evidence in question, and all can be understood as something that would alarm a housewife.

    “His placement of weapons, stashed about his home, …” … He described Peairs a certain way because that is the read he got on how and why this happened.

    Fine. But that’s not objective, unless supported by evidence. I’ll accept it as subjective, but that doesn’t qualify Ressler’s statement and word usage as unbiased.

    The only reason we have to believe he is objective is that he has an awful lot to lose if he isn’t.

    He also has a lot to gain; being objective is rarely a way to get on the bestseller’s list. And I would greatly doubt that by taking a side and arguing a perspective he would lose his reputation. Ressler endorses a psychic lady and had her lecture about her powers at the FBI, and yet he still has his reputation; taking a prosecutorial slant in order to make a book interesting concerning a person most people vilify anyway could hardly cause him to lose his reputation or salability. So I’m not in the least convinced on that point.

    He doesn’t prosecute people, attorneys do.

    When you’re hired as an expert witness and presented to the court by one side or another, you are expected to represent the side you are representing; in other words, you present the best evidence to support the side that hires you, and leave it to the opposing attorney to drag whatever contradictory information that may not support your side. Ressler in the book could very well be giving one side’s case, and lacking the cross-examination by defense. I believe I have forwarded enough evidence to safely suggest this is the case.

    -again, Ressler deals with mindset, and states Peairs went out of his way to get the 44, which fit into a behavior pattern of fantasizing about confrontation. He believes Peairs was aggressive, seeking out a specific gun instead of the one which Ressler suggests the evidence indicates was closer at hand.

    I’m still unconvinced by the vagueness of “close at hand,” and have problems with suggesting that going after someone with a shotgun could not be considered “confrontational.” Not to mention that there could have been a plethora of other reasons he may have gone for the other gun. Shotguns do not target a small area; knowing he would be going to a carport where there was little space, maybe he simply decided that a handgun would be more appropriate. Profilers may be good, but they are not mind readers.

    Does Ressler say if Peairs was ever asked about his choice, and what his reply was if he was?

    Had he not been predisposed to this behavior he likely would have had the gun unloaded, like most people do.

    Do most people live in a high-crime area? And do most people who live in high-crime areas leave guns unloaded?

    He suggests only that had the gun been unloaded, the time required to load it may have given Peairs pause to reconsider the events unfolding all to quickly before him. He doesn’t really suggest that the time required to load would have given Peaires some “awakening” in his thoughts. But that having it pre-loaded suggests he was ready for a confrontation. Most people are not “that” ready. Most aggressive individuals he investigates are.

    You’re saying two different things here: that the time to load the gun would give him pause to reflect, and that the fact his gun was stored loaded suggests that he was aggressive and wanted a confrontation. The second may be so, but it’s not in answer to my point. The first thing you say is the same as was stated before, and does not explain why the longer trip to the closet would not also have given him time to pause and reflect. It still contradicts.

    We can’t say who started them, or who ended them, but we can say that it is awfully strange for the same man to get into multiple armed conflicts.

    First, he did live in a high-crime area. But second, and this applies to most of what you quote Ressler as saying, Ressler deals in generalities here, but proves nothing. He seems to be saying, doing this may suggest that, this action could mean this other thing, people like this often are like that. People “often” visit their house late (but leaves out the critical details about what was alarming about Hattori). Peairs was in “violent encounters” (but how many, and who was responsible for how many of them?). All of it circumstantial evidence, assuming much and explaining little. Maybe Ressler is far more detailed in his book, but if he’s as vague and unsupported as you represent him here, then I would give him an “A” for impact, but a “D” for support.

    Which begs the question here – what type of credit does Peaires have?

    And that’s the real question here. Think about it–if I wanted to make you out to be an irresponsible person and I was able to take all the worst of your history and habits and use them to characterize your actions on the worst night of your life, do you think that I might be able to make you look a lot worse than you really are?

    Did Ressler give a well-rounded look at Peairs’ character, mentioning his strengths, moral acts, his better side? Or does he suggest Peairs does not have a better side? If I can get ahold of the Ressler book, I will indeed give it a read–but I have the feeling that Ressler did not in actuality give a completely objective and well-rounded look at the entirety of Rodney Peairs’ life and character.

  25. Matt
    May 9th, 2005 at 16:05 | #25

    I am not attempting to put words in your mouth, it is detrimental to the debate. And while I sound like a smart ass, I use a lot of rhetoric and humor when I debate with friends, etc. In a blog that context is lost, so please excuse me if I sometimes sound unprofessional. In a one on one interaction it tends to keep the conversation going when it would otherwise end in an uncomfortable silence. I looked up the entries since I started reading and have them below.

    “Peairs did what was reasonable…..it was understandable when seen in light of the full story…..I made it crystal clear that what he did was understandable, not justified”

    -with all of the entries and copying/pasting of quotes I believed I had read you felt the entirety of his actions were understandable AND justified. Apparently you stated understandable, not justified.

    With regard to Ressler, you can read the appropriate chapter from his book quite easily. I’m sure it is in your college library. And since his retirement he has worked for both the prosecution AND the defense, most notably with the Jeffrey Dahmer case. He evaluated Dahmer for the defense and concluded he belonged in a mental institution not a prison. He has been derided by his former colleagues for the assistance he has provided to both sides. He states that his belief is his opinion should be formed without regard to one side or the other, and used for whomever it is most appropriate. Sometimes that is even for the defense.

    With regard to previous details:

    “Bonnie Peairs overreacted to the presence of Hattori. She projected this onto her husband by requesting he get his gun. She was never able to say what it was about the victim that scared her.
    Interesting that Hattori’s habit of running up to a friend–and, on that night, to Mrs. Peairs–is not covered in this source; it was made clear in the court documents I found on Lexis-Nexis years ago”

    -Ressler does address this, unfortunately I was unable to plaigerise more of his work that late at night. Read his account of the habit this young man had of running up to people. It is not different from your own. But I didn’t miss it either.

    “Many strangers had been to that same home before. They had all been met calmly and often helped with car trouble,etc, often late at night.
    At the front door, dressed normally, speaking in an understandable way, and not rushing at her, yes? And what is with that “often” part? What, every week or so a stranger stopped at their door late at night? That sounds bizarre–I’d love to hear the evidence supporting that one. ”

    -”often” doesn’t describe frequency, but type of problem. It was not unusual or unheard of for someone to stop and ask for assitance of some kind, “often” car trouble. In the context of what we are used to, I have NEVER had someone stop at my home and ask for help of ANY kind. One occurance would be strange, but having it happen multiple times would be entirely different. Someone at my door late at night would be bizarre beyond description. However, not so bizarre I suspect if she can describe multiple, and recent, visits.

    “His placement of weapons, stashed about his home, …
    How am I to regard this? Your description is unsupported by specifics and very judgmental in tone. You use the word “stashed,” for example, and not “stored,” “kept,” or other less loaded terms. It gives the impression of irresponsibility, the intent to hide, and even possibly haste. But you do not support this with evidence, such as by pointing to specific examples. ”

    -It is judgemental in tone because that is the word Ressler used to describe the situation. You are correct, any number of words can be used to describe the situation. Ressler’s responsibility was to determine the mindset of the people involved, for the Hattori family, not the DA’s office. His job is not the exact science and DNA of modern investigating. His job is to look at the broad picture and look for patterns that match hundreds of other crimes. His job is to look at the psyche of the people involved and try to figure out what they were thinking. While looking for a suspect this serves, very well, to narrow the suspect list. But it is never used as the sole reason to prosecute someone. After the suspect is caught profiling is used, if not previously involved, to determine the mindset of everyone. It is used to try and determine if someone was mentally competent at the moment of the crime, if the crime scene evidence matches the suspect arrested and their personality traits, if there is another partner in crime at large, if the crime was spontaneous or planned, etc. You would have to read his stuff to understand what he is after. He described Peairs a certain way because that is the read he got on how and why this happened.

    The only reason we have to believe he is objective is that he has an awful lot to lose if he isn’t. As well as the fact that, however pessimistic we might get, there are righteous prosecutors/defenders/politicians/investigators out there. Just because he worked for the FBI doesn’t mean his work is now tainted, or was then. He doesn’t prosecute people, attorneys do. He describes in detail his disdain for another case in Great Britian where profiling took a public beating because it was used inappropriately. I don’t believe he would be willing to risk the future or credibility of profiling so he could snare a victory for the DA. His profile is what it is, helpful to the DA or not.

    He doesn’t ask her what the hell happened.
    Hmm. I know that she told him there were men outside and that he should get his gun. But how do we know that this is all? I would like to get back to those court records and look over the testimony again.

    “But let’s assume that that was all she said, and he asked no further. Excellent point. He should have. But then, what if he had? She would have told him that strange men came to an inside door and one rushed at her in a manner she saw as threatening. Would he have been able to get enough information (while maybe dangerous people are coming into the house, right now) to make him believe anything differently? ”

    -this is a fair point. You previously suggested that he may have trusted his wife implicitly, trusting her and not needing to get more detail. But with what is at stake I believe he HAS to get more information. Either from her or on his own. Hindsight bias is always 20/20, I admit, but you can’t pull the trigger without knowing more. I believe a cop would be in a heap of trouble if they responded in this same manner, relying on a fellow officer telling them to shoot. They are police, and are trained while the homeowner is not, but once again you have the same responsiblity as the officer.

    “he berates Peairs for both taking extra time to go to a closet and for not taking extra time to have to load the gun. Which is it? ”
    -Ressler believed it was fishy that he goes out of his way to get a 44 in his closet when a 12 gauge was more at hand, and that had the weapon been unloaded and not ready for a confrontation Peaires would have had an opportunity to think through what he was doing.
    My original question is still unanswered here. Both situations–going to a less accessible location and taking the time to load a gun–take extra time.”

    -again, Ressler deals with mindset, and states Peairs went out of his way to get the 44, which fit into a behavior pattern of fantasizing about confrontation. He believes Peairs was aggressive, seeking out a specific gun instead of the one which Ressler suggests the evidence indicates was closer at hand. With regard to having it loaded, it also suggests Peairs was ready for action. Had he not been predisposed to this behavior he likely would have had the gun unloaded, like most people do. It suggests more about his mindset and why he might have responded the way he did, than anything about the timeline. He suggests only that had the gun been unloaded, the time required to load it may have given Peairs pause to reconsider the events unfolding all to quickly before him. He doesn’t really suggest that the time required to load would have given Peaires some “awakening” in his thoughts. But that having it pre-loaded suggests he was ready for a confrontation. Most people are not “that” ready. Most aggressive individuals he investigates are.

    “If you find yourself confronting a person you believe is potentially violent, show a gun and state a clear warning, and that person rushes you, what do you do? You don’t contemplate, you don’t think “he’s a short [which is unsupported, by the way; we don't know Hattori's height] Asian guy and therefore harmless”; instead, you assume the worst and fire. The reason he was responsible is that his prior, unreasonable decisions led him to that point and put him in that situation”

    -we do know Hattori’s height. Ressler covers that and a lot of specifics in his book. And the additional reasons he is responsible relate to the alternative options available to deal with a stranger in your garage, assuming it was appropriate to go outside in the first place. In Minnesota you are required to take a personal protection course before getting a conceal/carry permit. It should be required for anyone buying a handgun. It covers what you need to know about dealing with these situations. That having been said, failure of a state legislature to require training doesn’t absolve a gun owner of knowing how to handle a situation in which they will use one. You are held to the same standard.

    “While Peairs had handled violent encounters successfully before (which should speak to his favor), the people he encountered probably reacted in predictable ways–i.e., you point a gun and shout a warning, they don’t rush at you.”
    -Actually, it goes against his favor. It is a pattern of getting into confrontations.
    It shows a pattern of resolving them without violence. Demonstrate, with evidence, that he was the one who provoked any or all of the confrontations. Do you know the details of each? Had we the detailed information, we could discuss it, but we do not, so there are only presumptions being made here.”

    -You are correct that we can only speculate here, but you never address the nature of a man who gets in multiple fights with knives or broken bottles. It doesn’t show a pattern of resolving them without violence. It was violent to begin with. Resolving them without violence would be ending it before it starts. We can’t say who started them, or who ended them, but we can say that it is awfully strange for the same man to get into multiple armed conflicts. And we can also say that it would be unusual for someone to be attacked in this manner without there being two sides to the story. I’m not convicting the guy here, but I also believe his patterns of behavior are germaine to his mindset when this incident occured. How he behaved during the rest of his life can explain a lot about why he acted the way he did that night. And his mindset when this occured has a lot to do with how much latitude the general public extends him. How much latitude I personally offer depends on his nature as a human being, was he violent/aggressive or passive? Was he looking for trouble or trying to avoid it?

    When I have someone fail to pay a large bill I look for patterns. I run a credit check. If they have a history of bad debt I offer very little latitude. If they have a good credit history I offer more, and ask them why they’re late in payment. Those with bad credit, bankruptcy, etc. have a history of inappropriate debt management and possibly intentional lack of payment. Those with a good history usually have a reasonable explanation.

    Which begs the question here – what type of credit does Peaires have? Is his history negative and suspect, or positive and deserving of the benefit of doubt. Do his actions support one opinion or the other. We will never know, and to answer these questions we have to speculate. This speculation may be uncomfortable for you, and I understand that, but it IS appropriate to truly try and understand what happened. After all, you can’t count on a true representation of the facts form anyone involved. They all have too much at stake. But perhaps we can compare behavior patterns and end results to past events and come close to knowing what was running through his mind. I don’t see how analyzing what he MAY have been thinking should be so problematic that we don’t do it. We aren’t on a jury here. We aren’t creating law. We are trying to understand how someone was killed. A big part of that is Peaires psyche, which we can’t count on him to share with us. So we have to look at relevant parts of his life. Between you, me, the DA and defense, and Ressler I believe Ressler has the most relevant experience. And I don’t jump to the conclusion that he is biased any more than you jump to the conclusion Peaires is a homicidal maniac.

  26. Anonymous
    May 10th, 2005 at 01:17 | #26

    “People “often” visit their house late (but leaves out the critical details about what was alarming about Hattori). ”

    -actually, it’s Mrs. Peairs who is unable to tell us what was frightening about Hattori. You repeatedly bring up Hattori’s behavior, which I admit would be unsettling. However, Bonnie Peairs could not state what specifically set her off about him. Unless you have court transcripts, which I undertand you have read, indicating she testified it was his running up to her that frightened her, then you are assuming this behavior was the cause for her concern.

    “if I wanted to make you out to be an irresponsible person and I was able to take all the worst of your history and habits and use them to characterize your actions on the worst night of your life, do you think that I might be able to make you look a lot worse than you really are?”

    -of course you could. It is easy to make someone look like the devil or a saint. As you have stated, it is all about context. In many cases Ressler does an independent evaluation of the case, for the side that contacts him, and they use his profile or interpretation of events without his appearance in court. It would be easy for him to slant one way or the other, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it has happened. In some cases he describes detailing things with the intent of drawing out a suspect. Since his retirement, however, he indicates several times his displeasure with someone misusing his profiles for a purpose he doesn’t agree with; in particular a department trying to solve a crime. And of course he could be trying to sell a book, but then again his profile is now a matter of public record, or should be, as it was used by the Hattori family in the civil trial. Maybe it isn’t considered public if not entered into the record. I would be interested in finding out.

    Anyway, I see “expert” testimony all the time; people who only testify for the defense or prosecution. And the fact that they have a predisposition for one side or the other doesn’t mean their testimony is slanted. A colleague of mine won’t testify for the sueing party in a malpractice suit; unless the extenuating circumstances of the defendent lead him to believe their license should be pulled. At the same time, however, he won’t be a witness for the defendent unless he feels they have been wrongly sued. He stays out of cases where he would have to bias his report or testimony to work on the case.

  27. xian
    June 26th, 2005 at 18:12 | #27

    Hello,
    I read your account and your interpretation of the story. I was just curious as to how you believe this fits in with the history of inconsistency in the justice systems in how white victims and victims of color are treated. I mean I see your arguments, but if the situations had been reversed and Hattori had made the same mistakes and shot the Pearis couple, he would have been executed as quickly as they could get through the appeals process. (Of course, Hattori would never have been remotely interested in doing such a thing).

    Also, I was wondering how you regarded the Chai Vang killings in Wisconsin, since it was a very similar situation except that the hunters he killed were verbally threatening him (with racial slurs added) and had guns before he executed excessive deadly force.

  28. BlogD
    June 26th, 2005 at 19:45 | #28

    Xian:

    That’s a good question. The answer is, I don’t know, especially in terms of Asian-Americans being the ones who kill, as opposed to being the victims. It’s pretty clear that the American justice system is heavily biased towards white people, against minorities, especially African-Americans.

    However, the argument I make here has nothing to do with race; I firmly believe that Peairs would have acted the same way were it Haymaker who rushed him instead of Hattori. It is not even clear that Peairs even noticed that Hattori was Asian; his wife did not apparently tell him so, and he probably did not see Hattori long enough or clearly enough to (a) make a determination about his race or (b) react to it.

    Had Rodney Peairs been Japanese-American, and the victim white, would the verdict have been the same? I would hope there would be no difference, but I am not that familiar with the Louisiana courts or the jurors within it.

    As for Chai Vang, it doesn’t look good for him. Reports say that he admitted firing at hunters who were running away (four were shot in the back), and some who were unarmed, on the pretext that they might be running to get guns and come back for him. There is dispute about who fired first.

    If a white person did what he did, I would strongly doubt he’d get off. The confrontation might not have happened in the first place were he white, with the racist name-calling and the chips on everyone’s shoulders in Vang’s case.

    But whatever the cause, it seems pretty clear that what Vang did went too far (that he claims he was “defend[ing] myself and my race” doesn’t help much). It was clear that he felt threatened before being fired upon, and the likelihood that racist slurs were slung at him as he said is very high. But even taking Vang’s story completely at face value, there is a point where self-defense ends and a shooting spree begins.

    Also, I would very strongly dispute your conclusion that it was similar to the Hattori case. In fact, I would say that they are extraordinarily different. The Vang case had a strong racial element in the confrontation; the Hattori case did not. In the Vang case, there was a protracted argument; not so with Hattori. With Vang, the shooter was the unknowing tresspasser; the shooter continued firing after the initial danger was concluded; the shooter fired upon targets he knew to be fleeing, possibly unarmed. None of these apply to Hattori. The venue, the weapons, the reasons for killings, almost everything is different, except there being an Asian male on one side and a white male on the other. That’s a bit too tenuous a connection.

    Think about it. What if Peairs had been the one who trespassed on the property of an Asian-American. He gets into an argument with them. Racial slurs are slung at him. He claims that someone else fired at him first (though the other side says not), and not only does he kill the person he says fired at him, he continues shooting until six are dead or dying, including unarmed members of the group fleeing the scene.

    You think he’d get off? Frankly, I don’t think he would. The system is biased, but I don’t think it’s biased by quite that much. But, as I said, I’m not too familiar with it.

  29. l=w
    August 14th, 2005 at 04:42 | #29

    It’s fascinating to read the back-and-forth debate between the proponents of the two positions (Peairs is culpable/Peairs is not culpable), which are satisfying in their own way. However, they don’t address one of the salent issues of the case: Why does the Japanese press present the case in this inflammatory manner and are they in some way justified in doing so?

    To look at this, all the state-side legalese and descriptions of what a .44 does to a human body is less important than the division of foreign cultures. And, I have to say, the division between white suburbia and the rest of America plays a part, as well.

    The issue for Japan (if I may be somewhat reductive) is not whether the shooting was legally justified. The trotting out of Lexis documents and what is held there suggests the guy was acquitted and the reasons why, but how often do court documents work in – to put it awkwardly – the ‘court of public opinion’? There often is so little that is said in court that is germaine to a situation. What this case really demonstrates in many people’s minds is the propensity of American life to leap into violence when there are many other options still at hand. (Of course the Iraq invasion is case writ large.) The Japanese don’t care how far Hattori was standing from the carpark or if he was dressed as a disco dancer, and they don’t care whether that soldier on the base was shooting at the pizza delivery guy with a play gun. They’re terrified of a culture given quickly to violence. Obviously much of that is perception, borne from many violent exported movies and television shows and so on, but it only takes a few moments like these to ‘prove’ the tendency.

    Because there is, in the ‘civilized’ end, not the ‘legal’ end, no real justification for this man shooting the Japanese student. There were many, many avenues for him to take before this happened. And such a gun! Was that really necessary? The fact is, this blessed homeowner went straight to prairie justice and executed some poor kid. It’s all parcell of a beleagured white, cracker suburban population that feels it’s increasingly under seige from forces of shadow and color. Peairs, to me, clearly must have been enraged by something before he grabbed that gun and started shooting. Few people go from 0-60 that fast unless there’s some anger in the blood. I don’t know if he was fighting with the wife or pissed off at work or what, but he clearly wasn’t using his best faculties when he popped off like that. The court in Louisiana, which enjoyed giving lynching a pass for so long, perhaps didn’t see much cause for justice here, but I think the Japanese are on the right track: this is indefensible.

    In your arguments, you’re putting far too much weight on the ‘high crime area’ canard. What a great American designation. I live in a ‘high crime area’ and therefore I should shoot at will. What a crock. I wonder if you’ve ever lived, much less have been in, a ‘high crime area.’ (And let me tell you, a 30-minute ambulance time, while bad, is awfully good compared to the really bad parts of the country.) That’s an unfair ad hominem attack, but still germaine. A pervasive and unholy fear of the unknown rides this country, the dark deeds that happen in ‘high crime areas.’

    First, the behavior of the two party-goers in no way suggests this was a high crime area. People who go to those areas – and I’m guessing Haymaker knows enough about America, if Hattori doesn’t – knows your behavior must be altered in those areas. You make certain you’re knocking on the right door, you’re not loud and obnoxious and drawing attention to yourself, and so on. My guess is this is a lower class working neighborhood, older houses, mixed, and because it was lower rent, these two kids’ friends could afford to live there. (Another question: were they only a house away from the party? Why didn’t Mrs. Peairs, even if she didn’t know there was a party going on at this time, but knowing there were some kids that age living nearby, guess their intent? And it only being a couple weeks before Halloween, how in the world did they not guess people were wearing costumes? It’s not like a visit to the supermarket or the doctor’s office wouldn’t remind anybody what holiday was coming up.)

    A little personal experience. I live in ‘a high crime area,’ in Harlem, albeit in a better couple streets in a neighborhood that is less bad than people assume. The propensity for white people (viz. your Michael Moore example) to jump to conclusions about areas and situations, is stunning. They figure you’ll get killed the second you enter a bad neighborhood, there’s no way you’ll survive. Some hood will get assigned to you and the second you somehow escape his clutches, he’ll send out antennae warnings and others in the area will come to take you down. It’s preposterous, but it’s real, it’s tangible, it’s there. In ‘high crime areas’ you protect yourself and don’t get yourself in situations where trouble can happen. If Peairs had a brain he’d go back inside. He didn’t have a brain and someone died because of it.

    The fact of the matter, this Japanese guy didn’t die for no reason: he died because stupid, vacuous, inherently violent people like Peairs live in a world of demons. They believe in frontier justice and being manly, and it’s little wonder this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often. I fear it will, with the increase of concealed weapons laws and some terrifying legislation Jeb Bush is mulling over concerning culpability. The Japanese press, if alarmist, understand this implicitly: America is violent, irrational, and protects its own from acts of irrational violence. It doesn’t feel the necessity to educate or iron out the wrinkles of deep-seated hatred and violence, but instead plays upon them, sells to them. How many guns have been manufactured and sold in this country in the last fifty years? I’m sure it’s an astounding amount. And it’s not all for hunting. It’s for people ensconcing themselves further and further from society in gated communities and the gated communities of their minds. Everyone is after them and people will pay.

  30. Greg Shenaut
    August 14th, 2005 at 07:26 | #30

    I think this site makes a valuable contribution. I have to tell you, though, that even after reading all of the mitigating circumstances, I do not understand why Peairs fired his pistol so quickly. Even under the circumstances as you describe them, a couple more “Freezes” or a shot into the air would have been absolutely necessary. In fact, it is so incomprehensible to me that the only way I can make sense out of it has to do with the difference in trigger pressure you described: if Peairs was used to firing the pistol without cocking it, or if he simply panicked, he could have applied too much pressure, causing the gun to go off “accidently” (not that that would have been a defense–if you point a gun at at someone you are fully responsible if it goes off, even by accident).

    That’s what it comes down to for me: either too much trigger pressure or cold-blooded murder. I sincerely don’t understand any other reason why he would have fired.

    The reason I think the site is valuable has more to do with its debunking of a racial motive for the crime and its demonstration of how false rumors can spread both in the media and in the popular mind.

    Greg Shenaut

  31. BlogD
    August 15th, 2005 at 00:18 | #31

    l=w:

    In your arguments, you’re putting far too much weight on the ‘high crime area’ canard. What a great American designation. I live in a ‘high crime area’ and therefore I should shoot at will.

    You’re taking the comment out of context. The high crime rate area is one out of many elements combined. If you live in a high crime area, you cannot possibly argue that this does not raise suspicions more than in a safe area. For you to say that I am presenting it as an excuse to blow people away is ludicrous, and I’ll thank you not to put words in my mouth. If you live in such an area AND you know the police will not come before it’s too late AND it’s late at night AND you do not expect any legitimate visitors AND strange men are coming to an inside door AND scaring the hell out of your wife… it’s a context. Please read more carefully before jumping to such conclusions.

    First, the behavior of the two party-goers in no way suggests this was a high crime area.

    You’ve lost me. When did I say that the behavior of Hattori and Haymaker suggested that the area was a high-crime area? I know the nature of the neighborhood because it was in the court records.

    I won’t respond to anything else in your comment, l=w; I think it’d be best for you to read the post more carefully, and if you still have something to say, say it after understanding better. Thanks.

    Greg:

    I think this site makes a valuable contribution. I have to tell you, though, that even after reading all of the mitigating circumstances, I do not understand why Peairs fired his pistol so quickly. Even under the circumstances as you describe them, a couple more “Freezes” or a shot into the air would have been absolutely necessary.

    From my understanding of the events, Hattori had already traversed at least half the distance (about two car lengths) and was running. Test the time it takes you to run two car lengths, then imagine you’re scared sh*tless and some armed thug (by your perception, for all you know) is running at you. You have already given a double warning: you’ve shown the gun and you’ve shouted a warning. Peairs probably shot then for four reasons: (1) he had already given warning, (2) there was no time, (3) he was likely surprised, not expecting someone in that situation to rush him, and (4) he was likely scared and/or nervous.

    Nor have I stated anywhere here that Peairs was wise, collected, or smart. He had already made a huge error in coming out at all. Such people tend to compound errors, not to reverse themselves and wise up suddenly–especially when you’re holding a gun and feeling powerful.

  32. BlogD
    September 7th, 2005 at 09:35 | #32

    In the postings Luis, you seem less unbiased and much more defensive. In addition, you don’t really address the biased news after your initial comments.

    This is because I was not pontificating in the comments, I was rather responding to comments left by others. Read the comments I was responding to, and you will see that they did not, for the most part, focus on the point of the entry–including this one by you, which also does not address the biased news (should I not answer it, or rather ignore your point and turn it back to the biased news coverage?). Instead, most comments attacked Peairs in a manner that exceeded what a reasonable reading of the facts would allow. If I responded with bias, it was a bias for the facts as I know them. In some cases, I simply take the devil’s advocate position. Is any of this wrong?

    My main question for you however regards Louisiana’s shoot the burglar law, which has been expanded to also allow for shoot the carjacker law. The statute states that deadly force is permissible if it is reasonable, on the part of the owner, to believe that the deadly force is necessary to prevent unlawful entry or to impel an intruder to leave. … You may make the argument that by being still on the property the first part of the statute applies, but I would argue, beforehand, that because Mrs. Peairs did not (this is according to your account) make any comments to them regarding trespassing or tell them they had to leave, the two had a reasonable expectation to continue to be on the property.

    This is in itself assuming a great deal, in particular that the two had the right to be on the property in the first place. In retrospect, we knew they were innocent; Neither of the Peairses knew this. Additionally, I would think that Mrs. Peairs’ screaming and slamming the door would probably serve as sufficient communication that they were unwelcome. And finally, since Rodney Peairs’ actions are what are in question, his perception and intent were key. As far as he knew, these were thugs who were threatening his family. They had come to an inside door which was not reasonable for strangers to come to, and they had not left his property. As far as verbal warning, Peairs didn’t have much chance to say anything else other than “Freeze” (though reportedly there was more that Haymaker couldn’t make out); Hattori rushed at him immediately after. Had the two boys, in fact, frozen, then Peairs could have had the chance to tell them they were unwelcome and get the hell out–up to that point, there was no shooting involved, remember.

    It was only when Hattori rushed Peairs that he fired, and I believe this is a key point considering what you are saying. First, it could be construed that Hattori’s movement toward Peairs despite his warning and display of a weapon was “necessary to prevent unlawful entry.” Do you not think so? Second, what happened might not even be seen as a shoot-the-burglar action, but merely self-defense. But I believe that Hattori running toward Peairs despite the warning is enough to satisfy the particular statute to which you refer. Is it not?

  33. digitaldoll7
    September 7th, 2005 at 04:24 | #33

    I initially was curious about the case after reading a blurb about it in a textbook. I have found that much of the information, that initially given and added on through discussion really fleshes out the case in general. I do think that the purpose of the summary of the case doesn’t actually serve the stated purpose. In the postings Luis, you seem less unbiased and much more defensive. In addition, you don’t really address the biased news after your initial comments. My main question for you however regards Louisiana’s shoot the burglar law, which has been expanded to also allow for shoot the carjacker law. The statute states that deadly force is permissible if it is reasonable, on the part of the owner, to believe that the deadly force is necessary to prevent unlawful entry or to impel an intruder to leave. Based on the information available, I don’t believe that Peairs’ actions are applicable under that statute. It doesn’t appear that the two, Hattori and Haymaker were attempting to enter the residence. This can be seen by the fact that before Mr. Peairs exited the carport door the two were behind both cars, rather than being by the door still. The second part of the statute does not apply because the two were not inside of the residence. You may make the argument that by being still on the property the first part of the statute applies, but I would argue, beforehand, that because Mrs. Peairs did not (this is according to your account) make any comments to them regarding trespassing or tell them they had to leave, the two had a reasonable expectation to continue to be on the property. This means that Peairs’ actions after exiting his home should have included something to that effect. The absence of any verbal warning save the word freeze I think proves Ressler’s point, that Peairs went looking for the confrontation, or at the very least, expected to find a confrontation.

  34. Anonymous
    October 30th, 2005 at 09:06 | #34

    [the following is addressed to "Matt" from a May 4 comment posting. --Ed.]

    ” You don’t have the right to defend your property with deadly force.”

    I’m not sure of the laws in TX, but here in NM I can, in fact, use deadly force in defense of my property. The law stems from the good ol’ days of cattle rustlers and horse thieves. That said, as a gun owner and a staunch believer in the 2nd amendment and as a man who has been in a few confrontations myself, Peairs was an idiot. My reasoning here is simple: he left the house with the intent to confront the “intruder”. Given that you ignore that, then yes his actions were understandable. However, you cannot gloss over such a detail in a case where A MAN DIED. Had Hattori forced his way into the home, this would be a moot point. Under those circumstances, lack of malicious intent aside, he would still have been an intruder. Yet without forcing his way into the home he had not done anything wrong. To confont him with deadly force is criminally irresponsible. Peairs should have secured himself in his home, armed himself, and waited for the police to arrive. Should the potential intruder actually enter the home, he would have had the upper hand (say it with me, now: “ambush”). No, instead he acted the way you MUST NEVER ACT when you are an armed citizen – like Rambo. That he did not face criminal charges is an affront to genuinely responsible armed citizens everywhere.

  35. Matt
    January 24th, 2006 at 13:11 | #35

    I did say you don’t have the right to defend your property with deadly force. In this context I don’t believe you do. And if someone wants to take your car I’d say let them. You can buy another. It’s not worth taking a life. Now if my kids were inside it would be another story.

    However, at no time did I state his actions were understandable. The entire thrust of my debate was that Pearis had no business going outside to confront Hattori. He should have locked the door, protected his children, and waited for the authorities.

    In retrospect I can offer credit to Luis’ defense of Pearis on the grounds he acted so quickly and didn’t realize what was really an innocent situation. Given the nature of the situation I can see how someone in his position might overreact. However, I believe that would all have been avoided had he made the prudent decision to stay inside, or retreat inside.

    I am not sure if Luis is still following this thread. But while we disagree, he does discuss the situation very well.

  36. chrismix
    June 10th, 2006 at 13:49 | #36

    does anybody kno how to go about applying for this scholarship?

  37. JP
    September 9th, 2006 at 11:09 | #37

    Lots of interesting opinions on the topic. We can all speculate on what Mr. Peairs should have done in the situation, but the fact remains that it was a very unique and unfortunate set of circumstances.

    None of us were there and will most likely never ever find ourselves in a situation even remotely similar to that one. We do not know how we would react if the exact circumstances were ever formed around us. It was only a few fleeting minutes out of the 1440 minutes in a given day. That is how quick this situation happened and impacted many lives. We have the benefit of spending hours upon hours analyzing all the variables within those few minutes and examining the situation and forming an idea of how we would react now that everything is so crystal clear to us.

    But Mr. Peairs did not have that opportunity. He had to make a very quick decision based on extremely strange circumstances and unfortunately he made the wrong one. He felt that he and his family were in danger and reacted to that perceived threat. He has now paid the consequences for his error in assessing the situation and I’m sure his life has been living hell for it. I’m sure that he now looks back at the situation along with all of us and sees multiple things that he could have done differently and wishes that were the case. But it’s too late.

    We all have incidents in our lives where we have made wrong decisions that have lead to bad things happening in our lives. We have all made mistakes, but we can count our blessings if those mistakes didn’t cause the loss of someone else’s life and destroy ours. Mr. Peairs is not a nut because of his wrong decision(s). He is human. I wish God’s blessing upon him and his family.

    If any of you have lived a perfect life where no one else has ever been negatively impacted in any way by your stupid decisions, then you are one of kind. As for the rest of us who make mistakes “often”, give Mr. Peairs a break. He has paid for his mistakes and we’ve all learned a great deal from it and we should be thankful that we will never have to go through what he has experienced.

  38. Anonymous
    September 17th, 2006 at 08:35 | #38

    I like your piece and your defense of it. I agree with what you said, if I understand you correctly. This was not the case of a gun-toting stereotype bent on shooting high school students who accidently wandered onto his property. This was someone who felt his family was in danger, someone who thought he and his loved ones were about to violently attacked, and someone who clearly made the wrong decision, despite trying to make the right one.

    I have to do more of my own research, as you seem to have gotten your information from primary sources, and I cannot argue anything until I have read the same sources. It’s good, however, to see that someone is trying to encourage others to see this case as more than black and white, bad and good.

    I’m a Canadian, so I can’t say whether Rodney Peairs should have been convicted or aquitted, as my knowledge of U.S. law, and of gun control, is limited. (I do agree he was responsible for his actions, as you do.) But I had to comment on your statements that Rodney Peairs lived in a high-crime neighborhood. High-crime neighborhoods, especially neighborhoods that have a high rate of violent crime or property crime (as I believe you’ve indicated is the case?) are not generally wealthy and comfortable. If Rodney Peairs really did live in a neighborhood of high crime, and had personally experienced several violent encounters, it is no wonder that he reacted with more violence than someone outside of that situation would understand.

    Too often people are villified as being personally violent and unstable, instead of understanding that, in such a situation and mindset, maybe many of us would make the same decision. While it doesn’t make him less responsible, it gets closer to the truth.

    Please correct me if I am unaware of any information, or am wrong about the facts.

    And if anyone still finds it completely inconcievable that Rodney Peairs is not a deranged gun-nut, read about Kitty Genovese and ask yourself what you’d do.

  39. Mark
    January 13th, 2007 at 08:45 | #39

    Luis

    I don’t know if you are still checking this entry from three and a half years ago but there are a few other underreported facts that provide some mitigation for Rodney Peairs. One is that his pickup truck with his tools was parked in the carport. As you had noted, this was not a real good neighborhood and he had had his tools stolen before. That is why he went outside his door, although he stayed inside his car port which is kind of an intermediate condition between being inside and outside of his house.

    The other thing is that Yoshi Hattori apparently made a habit of running up and scaring people and then taking a picture of their frightened expression with his camera. I don’t know if that is some Japanese cultural artifact or if it was some private wierdness that the sadly deceased Mr.Hattori had come up with on his own. I have heard that there is some show on Japanese TV where someone comes up to an unsuspecting stranger and shrieks at them while the home audience laughs at the panic stricken reactions of the victim.

    In any event, I agree with your analysis that Mr.Hattori died as a sad result of cultural misunderstanding. While Mr.Peairs did not go to prison, he did lose his house and is still reviled as a result of less than ethical reporting on both sides of the Pacific.

  40. Luis
    January 14th, 2007 at 10:17 | #40

    Mark: I always monitor all activities oin the blog, the software alerts me to every comment.

    About the mitigating circumstances: this is the first time I’ve heard of them. To accept them, I would be very interested to know the source so that I can verify it. Maybe I should go somewhere with access to Lexis-Nexis and look up the court docs, I suppose. But there is so much information floating around out there which cannot be verified, one has to be cautious what one believes and does not.

    The tool box story sounds like it is certainly possible, as the neighborhood was a high-crime slow-police-response area. It would also be a very significant mitigating circumstance for Peairs, if he were looking after his property and not simply seeking a confrontation or going outside for no reason.

    The item about Yoshi is less probable, however, and I doubt it is true. I have heard specifically that Yoshi liked to rush up to friends to greet them, not to frighten and then photograph them. I have the feeling that the rush-up-to-greet story was merged with the fact that Yoshi was holding a camera and the information about Japanese TV shows; someone probably speculated on why he rushed up to people, and then it started getting passed around as fact, or so I suppose. I could be wrong on this one, but I doubt it.

    Again, if you have a source for the info, it would be very helpful.

  41. James
    February 28th, 2007 at 12:42 | #41

    I have just recently read, and completely understand the circumstances. As a Criminal Justice Major in college I sincerely believe Rodney Peairs to be guilty of manslaughter. I am a gun owner of several firearms, and as an owner of firearms Rodney Peairs used his immaturely. Anyone knows you do NOT pull the trigger until you are absolutely aware of the POSSIBLE offenders intentions.
    Every carport I have ever seen is completely open except the front , rear , and the sides. Or did you mean to say GARAGE? And at such a close distance of 5 to 6 feet Peairs could not see that Hattori was holding a camera, not a weapon, and there had to be an outside light present.
    Also, Peairs had the opportunity to call Police and have them come to review the situation. Sorry, the man was looking for a reason to shoot and kill someone as an example. Peairs is absolutely guilty of manslaughter and should be retried and convicted. You NEVER fire a weapon unless you see a weapon or you are looking to commit murder.

  42. Nge Lay
    May 12th, 2007 at 10:21 | #42

    Luis, either you or someone mentioned that Rodney Peairs lost his home due to the civil lawsuit which awarded the boy’s parents $653,000, but I read that his homeowner insurance company paid out $100,000 and the parents ultimately ended up with only about $45-50K after expenses and everything (which they used to start the scholarship foundation Yoshi’s Gift). Just wondering if you can verify that. If that’s true, how can someone get away with taking someone else’s life and didn’t have to pay anything at all (i.e, insurance paid). Where’s the accountability?

    “Understandable” or not, this tragedy could have been avoided, as numerous others have stated, if only Peairs had simply stayed inside, couldn’t it? As for saying he has been reviled and villified, I don’t think that’d be a problem in his town; after all, it’s his peers that decided the killing was justified and acquitted him, didn’t they? People in the courtroom even cheered when the verdict was read. They were probably giving him high-five’s as he walked around the town. So in the end, the ones who paid for this whole thing was Yoshi and his parents who lost a child. How sad is that.

    I wonder if Rodney Peairs is rotting in hell by now.

  43. karl
    October 31st, 2008 at 17:36 | #43

    I stumbled upon this site while googling different years. I googled, what, 1992? And it takes you to wicopidia or something. And then it tells you things that happened during that year. So I read about this exchange student being killed trying to find a halloween party. I clicked and I clicked. And here I am.

    I dont believe the shooters(peirs) were evil, just used really bad judgement. I think he should have done time. If you own guns you use great discretion. But on wikopidia or whatever, it never states that the other kid was in costume as an accident victim. If that is true it might make the “being scared” a little easier to believe.

  44. Anonymous
    June 23rd, 2009 at 02:31 | #44

    Thank you Louis for posting this story. It is sad indeed that this tragic story has, thanks in large part to an agenda driven media, taken on proportions of an urban legend. It is also sad that some posters on this board have made comments that could largely be seen as fostering racist attitudes towards the people of Baton Rouge. The trail was covered extensively by the local press in New Orleans and had many people wondering if the D.A. had suborted perjury or why Haymaker was not charged with perjury. Funny how no one mentions this.

    At the trail Haymaker testified the Hattori was shot while standing on the sidewalk. The defense attrony hire investigators who determined the Hattori was shot at close range. This was prven by gun shot residue on his clothing and blood splatter evidence at the house. Why did the D.A. or police not conduct similar tests ? Or did they and hide the evidence. When the physical evidence contradicted Haymaker’s testimony the case against Peairs was damaged.

    At the trial it was revealed that Hattori was a fan of the Japanese version of “Candid Camera” and the he and Haymaker had a history of approaching people in very unusual manners and taken photo’s of there responses. This explained why Mrs. Peairs was frightened and told her husband to get the gun. It alos explains why Yoshi ran towards Rodney Peairs after he came to the doors with a gun. This prior history of behavior also contradicted Hynaker’s testimony.

    The sad truth is that misguided pranksterism led to the death of Yoshi Hattori. In a school yard running up to you classmates while flalling your arms is not going to get you killed. In a shopping mall, it won’t get you killed either. But in a high crime neighborhood, it can be deadly.

    The truth is that the D.A. presented testimony that was proven to be counter factual and that is why the jury accquited.

  45. Tammy T.
    September 28th, 2012 at 15:10 | #45

    Well, here we are in 2012…and I wonder if everyone feels the same way about all of this, verses now, when there is someone being shot daily in the Baton Rouge area. And…not to mention, crime has also risen dramatically.

    As was said, none of us were there. We don’t know the whole story. If I had been Rodney Peairs, I would have done the same thing to protect my family. Especially now. With that being said…

    I went to school with Rodney. I know how and where he was raised. The way the media tried to show him as a gun crazy owner, willing to shoot at anything, confrontational, hot headed, racist, etc…, was so wrong and not factual. He did what anyone in this situation would have done, especially now!

    I am sorry someone had to lose their life over this…But, so has Rodney. He has paid the price for this many, many, MANY times over. What if this would have happened today? I think many would have sided with Rodney on this. I taught my sons not to act silly or strange when showing up at a house they do not know, BECAUSE of this very incident (my sons are Korean). I don’t appreciate anyone showing up at my house at ANY time of the day because I don’t know their intentions and I could be confronted with the very thing Rodney was. And YES, to protect myself and/or my family, I would shoot to kill. There are too many weirdos and crazies out here in the world. It’s kill or be killed. And I am not going down without a fight! Sorry, but this is my opinion that I am entitled to, just like everyone else. And unless you knew either of them, you really shouldn’t be speculating what happened. Rodney did what anyone else who, felt like his or her family was in danger. End of statement.

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