Law School – 1L

Law & Order, aka Crimlaw

Today’s criminal law assignment* covers 1st degree murder.

This case reads like a profane Law & Order scene: The defendant was caught driving a stolen car. He ran from the police into an apartment where three girls (14, 13, 9 years old) were doing homework, then:
Officer Lunning entered the open door of the apartment holding his gun in front of him and told appellant “Police, you are under arrest.”

Appellant asked, “For what?”

When appellant refused to cooperate with being handcuffed, the officer said, “Do you want me to blow your m—– f—— head off?”

Appellant stood up. As the officer reached for his hand to put on the handcuffs, appellant said, “You are not going to put those things on me.”

Appellant grabbed the officer in a bear hug around the waist. Eventually the two men fell over a table. The officer’s gun, which had been pointed downwards as he had tried to handcuff appellant, dropped onto the floor.

The two men scuffled, rolling over each other, until appellant had the officer in a position where he could not move: appellant had his knee in the officer’s chest and, with his hands, held down the officer’s hands. At this point, according to two of the girls, the officer told appellant, “It wasn’t worth it.”

Then, with the officer still flat on his back, appellant reached out and grabbed the loose gun. He proceeded to hold the gun to the officer’s chest. The officer now repeated, “It wasn’t worth it.”

One of the girls then ran back to the back of the apartment, a distance of approximately twenty feet. She was inside the bathroom when, within seconds, she heard a shot. Another girl ran from the apartment, approximately sixteen feet, and heard a shot while outside. She next saw appellant coming down the steps as he was leaving the apartment complex holding the gun in his hand. The officer followed shortly, holding his chest and eventually fell to the ground.

Watson v. United States, 501 A.2d 791 (D.C. 1985)

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