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GARY PETTUS • GPETTUS@CLARIONLEDGER.COM • AUGUST 19, 2008
Possible confusion about the 2-year-old "Castle Doctrine" has left one Jackson man dead and another charged in the slaying. Tension between the African-American and Indian communities, said one Jackson City Council member, also may have been a factor in the Sunday night shooting death of James Hawthorne, 36, outside J&S Food Mart on Medgar Evers Boulevard. Store clerk Sarbrinder Pannu, 31, is charged with murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle. He allegedly shot Hawthorne after the man grabbed a case of beer from the store and ran to a black SUV he had parked in front of the store. Hawthorne did not have a weapon when he entered the store, police said. He was inside his vehicle when shot and he lost control, crashing into a gas pump, police said. "He was shot more than once," Jackson Police Department Deputy Chief Gerald Jones said. On Monday, a woman at the store identifying herself as RaJ Pannu, Sarbrinder's wife, said her husband's arrest "is not fair." "They should understand that we work hard seven days a week, and then somebody comes in and robs us. If my husband is charged, crime is going to be more. "This will happen again," she said with tears in her eyes. Hawthorne, Jackson's 45th homicide victim this year, had a criminal history. He was released from prison in January after serving a three-year sentence and two years' probation for attempted vehicle theft in Hinds County. He was sentenced in September 2004. In 1994, he was convicted of armed robbery and aggravated assault and sentenced to three years, with five years' probation. His probation was revoked in 1996, and he eventually was released in May 2000. Since the Castle Doctrine law went into effect in July 2006, Hawthorne is the third Jackson robbery suspect to die as a result of a property owner using deadly force. Several property owners, including at least eight in Jackson, have claimed the new law's protection. Among other things, the Castle Doctrine says a person has "no duty to retreat" if the person believes he is in imminent danger; it protects someone who uses deadly force in self-defense from being sued. "The crux, the meat of the Castle Doctrine is this: You have to fear for your safety," said JPD Chief Malcolm McMillin, who also is Hinds County sheriff. "We're concerned about a misinterpretation of the Castle Doctrine in the application of deadly force to deal with a situation that is not covered under it. "There is no death penalty for shoplifters in the state of Mississippi," he added. "It's a failure to understand the law. If we don't make it clear in people's minds what the law says, this is going to occur again." Kamalbir Singh, a Jackson storeowner and member of the Indian Storeowner Association, said, "I don't think they should charge (Pannu) with anything. "(Lawbreakers) will think we can't do anything to them now. "I don't think it's a good idea to kill anyone, but you have the right to protect yourself and your property," he said. "If you call the police when someone is robbing you, by the time arrive, they can't do anything." The shooting also points to "tension between the black community and Indian store owners," Councilman Kenneth Stokes said. "You have some store owners who treat black people in a very disrespectful manner. There are others who show mutual respect.
but you can't replace human life.." Stokes added.. but from my own experiences as a police officer. "It may have given people a false sense of empowerment. Odell Brown of Tchula called 911 twice to tell police he was going to shoot an alleged intruder. "It's a bad thing." . you have a right to defend yourself. He was released from the Holmes County Jail on a $50. The police can't baby-sit the convenience stores. "When our Legislature was pondering the Castle Doctrine. "You can replace beer. it was politicians being politicians. a sad thing. When officers supposedly didn't respond quickly enough. they've always had that right. .not necessarily speaking as director of the Police Chiefs Association. who was hospitalized." Apparent confusion over the law doesn't stop in Jackson: On Aug. "A lot of these stores wouldn't be there if some in the Indian community didn't care enough to open a store in the black community. "What really amazes me is that since this law has been passed we haven't had more incidents like that. Brown allegedly shot Kevin Cooper. director of the Mississippi Police Chiefs Association."If we had security guards posted at these stores. "If you catch a person breaking into your home. I was one of the people saying we don't need it . You had it before the Castle Doctrine. we would avoid the problem you have today: one man dead and another charged in a murder. Brown was charged by police with aggravated assault and discharging a firearm in the city limits. "People have a right to protect their property. "But what supposedly happened (Sunday night) would be the equivalent of a police officer shooting an individual for stealing beer. 1. "But the store owners complain that police don't respond often enough or quick enough when they call.000 bond after spending four days there. Security guards would help stop the shoplifting. To me. Later." said Ken Winter.
. occupied vehicle. (f) When committed in the lawful defense of one's own person or any other human being. whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent. business. (3) A person who uses defensive force shall be presumed to have reasonably feared imminent death or great bodily harm. business. or against a vehicle which he was occupying. place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or is the lawful resident or owner of the dwelling. in any place of business. including any attached porch. if the person against whom the defensive force was used. a dwelling. occupied vehicle. vehicle. including a tent. was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering. place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or if that person had unlawfully removed or was attempting to unlawfully remove another against the other person's will from that dwelling. business. ******* (2)(c) As used in subsections (1)(e) and (3) of this section. business. in any place of employment or in the immediate premises thereof in which such person shall be. or upon or in any dwelling. procurement or omission of another shall be justifiable in the following cases: ******* (e) When committed by any person in resisting any attempt unlawfully to kill such person or to commit any felony upon him. or the commission of a felony upon him or another or upon his dwelling. that is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night. where there shall be reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury.Miss. vehicle. or had unlawfully and forcibly entered. (g) When necessarily committed in attempting by lawful ways and means to apprehend any person for any felony committed. Code Ann. (4) A person who is not the initial aggressor and is not engaged in unlawful activity shall have no duty to retreat before using deadly force under subsection (1)(e) or (f) of this section if the person is in a place where the person has a right to be. § 97-3-15. in any occupied vehicle. or against his business or place of employment or the immediate premises of such business or place of employment. "dwelling" means a building or conveyance of any kind that has a roof over it. and no finder of fact shall be permitted to consider the person's failure to retreat as evidence that the person's use of force was unnecessary. This presumption shall not apply if the person against whom defensive force was used has a right to be in or is a lawful resident or owner of the dwelling. excessive or unreasonable. place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or if the person who uses defensive force is engaged in unlawful activity or if the person is a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his official duties. Justifiable homicide (1) The killing of a human being by the act. and there shall be imminent danger of such design being accomplished. mobile or immobile. place of employment or the immediate premises thereof and the person who used defensive force knew or had reason to believe that the forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.