What Would John Wayne Do?

Andrew Branca is an attorney who holds himself out as an expert in self defense cases. He provides an analysis of the Ashli Babbitt shooting and concludes that the so called police officer was justified in his actions. I find his analysis useful in several respects. My take away is that when confronted with balless prosecutors and a talented defense attorney almost any illegitimate act can seem reasonable. His analysis serves to illustrate how a “good” shooting, meaning legal, is still a “bad” shooting.


Watch the sleigh of hand. First, he frames the facts in terms most favorable to the officer. He couches them in what purports to be a neutral detached manner. For instance: any prior history of the officer is irrelevant, according to Branca. The officer left his gun behind in the rest room. This should have no bearing on his decision making process. I disagree, it may undermine his competency and demonstrates to his inability to make sound decisions.

The officer states that he was unaware of the presence of other officers. This gives credence to his belief that firing on Babbitt was immediately necessary. What did the investigation show? A well documented physiological reaction to stress in shooting situations is “tunnel vision.” This happens when the shooter focuses exclusively on the target. That does not negate the facts actually present. The presence of other officers on hand and in a position to stop Babbitt would negate the need for the shooter to act. In fact, could be considered reckless, if other officers were within the field of fire.

Diagram the scene out. I don’t care what he says he saw. What would a “reasonable man” in his situation have seen? The shooter has a vested interest in claiming he didn’t see any other officers.

Cops, Didn’t see any, I was by myself.

Branca argues that the thundering hoard could have gained entry, beat him up, took his gun and then rained death and destruction on everybody within striking distance. The reality does not reflect Branca’s reconstruction. The doorway was barricaded and locked. An upper window was broken giving access to the secure area. However, the mob would have to line up and attempt entry one at a time. The situation that the shooter faced was reminiscent of a children’s game, Whack a Mole. This is a game mastered by a three-year-old, in this photo, but beyond the ability of a Capitol Police Lieutenant.

I’m old. I grew up on westerns. I guess the scene where the Sheriff faces down the lynch mob and states, “Ya’ll will have to come over me. I’ll take some of you with me. Who wants to be first?” I guess counting paperclips and directing tourists to the nearest rest room, doesn’t prepare a Capitol Police officer for such a role.

Guess it applies to employees also