The latest evidence that all “stand your ground” laws should be repealed unfolded the day before Thanksgiving in Ooltewah, Georgia leaving the family of a 72-year-old man suffering from Alzheimer’s with nothing to be thankful for as they sat down to have Thanksgiving dinner.
Ronald Westbrook had apparently been wandering for up to four hours with his dog, wearing only a light jacket and straw hat in freezing temperatures. His family only noticed that he was missing at about the time that he was being shot in the chest by 34-year-old Joe Hendrix who went outside with a .40 caliber handgun while his fiancée called 911 to report a possible prowler.
Westbrook had at one time lived nearby and apparently became confused and wandered back to the old neighborhood from his home 3 miles away. He had been approached at about 2:30 a.m. by a sheriff’s deputy at a nearby mailbox when he told the deputy that he lived there and was just checking his mail the deputy left him. An hour-and-a-half later he rang the bell and jiggled the doorknob at the home where Hendrix and his fiancée lived, the only home on the street with an outside light on.
Hendrix said that he gave him several verbal commands to stand still but that he began to walk toward him anyway at which time he fired four shots at him hitting him once in the chest. He was still holding the mail he had collected from the mailbox when he spoke to the deputy earlier.
The sheriff said that while Hendrix had apparently done nothing illegal he should not have left the house and simply waited inside for officers to arrive.
It has not yet been determined if charges will be filed the county attorney is awaiting the findings of the ongoing investigation.
“Stand your ground” laws are increasingly having the unintended consequence of people doing something that they can do legally even though it is not the right thing to do.
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