From John Rose
This letter is in support of the family of Joe LaMasters. When I first read about the shooting of LaMasters in Kansas, and that the Sumner County attorney had decided within one day of his death that there would be no charges filed, my gut reaction was that it was an awfully quick decision, given that two of the three people present were involved in shooting somebody, and the third person would not be able to give his side of the story.
I am not in any way implying that the shooting was not justified, but at the very least, Joe's family deserves more answers than they have been given. If a law enforcement officer had done the shooting, there would have been more of an inquiry than that performed by the Sumner County attorney, and it probably would have been public record.
I think that this case, and the Trevon Martin case in Florida, are perfect illustrations of why we don't need a "stand your ground" law in the state of Iowa. From the accounts of both that I have read in the newspapers, it appears as though armed citizens had decided that they would play the part of law enforcement, with tragic consequences in both cases. Iowa law currently says that an armed citizen has a duty to retreat, unless they determine that their life or limb is in imminent danger. As for my part, as a gun owner, I would only defend my own home with deadly force if there was a clear threat to my life. A person's life is not worth a stolen T.V. set, and people don't deserve to die just because they have had a drug conviction.
Although I don't know what Kansas law says in this regard, I find it at least raises questions as to why an unarmed man would attempt to harm two men armed with loaded shotguns, unless he was under the influence of drugs. Was a toxicology test performed which stated that? If an official inquest reached the conclusion that LaMasters was a legitimate threat to the two men, and/or he was under the influence, then I think that people would be more likely to accept that conclusion, which is why I think that there should be more information regarding the Sumner County attorney's decision.
I would close by saying that I find it unfortunate that our own local newspaper has to rely on a newspaper from Kansas to report on these events a full month after the death of a local man. It seems to me that in a case with more questions than answers, that the Creston News Advertiser would have exhibited more curiosity.