Okay, Nobody Likes a Burglar, but this is a Bit Much...

A couple of days ago, a Chicago cop was charging down Lake Shore Drive in response to a burglary call, when his squad car skidded on ice and he lost control. He crashed through a light pole and into a tree and was killed.

So, now Jody Weiss, Chicago’s boss cop, has announced that if these burglars are caught, they will be charged with murder.

Excuse me, what??!!

Okay, so your average burglar is probably not an upstanding citizen. But still, I would hesitate to sentence someone to life in prison because he jimmied open a door and snatched a DVD player. Suppose it was some drunken sixteen-year-old on a dare? A life sentence? Really?

Suppose while I’m pulled over for speeding, the cop gets a paper cut while writing out my ticket. Can I be charged with assaulting an officer?

It’s very sad that a policeman is dead. But calling a slick ice car accident murder is ridiculous in the extreme.

There’s a law in Colorado that states that if someone dies in the commission of a serious crime, the criminal will be charged with felony murder. Hold up a convenience store, and the clerk is so frightened by the event he/she has a heart attack and dies? Felony murder.

The Lisl Auman case was a pretty famous example of it.

OP: Are you familiar with / What are your feelings on the felony murder rule?

On preview: SCOOPED!

Weis has very little say in how they are charged. That’s up to the felony review unit at the State’s Attorney’s office.

While I also imagine that they’re going for the felony murder rule, I think it’s kind of a stretch here to say that the officer’s death was caused by the burglary. And by publicizing that they’re going to go for a murder charge, they’ve probably made it a lot less likely that anyone with information is going to actually come forward with it: It’s one thing to tell the police that you think your roommate stole an Xbox, but quite another to get your roommate locked up for life over it.

My first!

<does celebratory end-zone dance>

Jody Weiss should be fired for dragging down the good name of flaming fucking morons. This falls on the heals of getting a vote of no confidence from the rank and file officers.

Anyone who lost control of a car on ice would be cited for failure to maintain control and driving too fast under poor weather conditions. Since this occurred during official police business maybe Weiss should be charged with involuntary manslaughter for improper training of police officers.

Hey, did the guy who did the burglary call the cops? Don’t think so! I bet he did everything in his power to ensure the cops were not called. If anyone should be charged with murder it should be the dude who called the police, let that be a lesson.

Seriously, if this is a valid application of the law, then the law is crap.

I shouldn’t have read this, I won’t be able to do any work today. That’s why I hate the police, and everyone should too.

Something similar happened a few years ago…well it’s a bit different, but still along the sames lines.
Two guys attempt to rob a check cashing place, the guard shoots and kills one of them. the guard doesn’t get in any trouble, but the other guy is charged with the murder.


I guess I’m all alone on this one. Makes perfect sense to me. If I’m breaking the law and somebody dies as a result of trying to stop me from braking the law then I have a big chunk of the responsibility associated with their death.

If you don’t want to run the risk of being charged with murder don’t break the law.

Would a burglary even be eligible under the felony murder law? Usually it has to be a violent or potentially violent crime, like robbery.

Lisl Auman was originally charged with burglary, among other things (even though she was removing her own things from her former residence).

Here’s a link to a story about the actual case in Chicago.

From that article:

Yeah, I don’t think that will pass the foreseeability test, either. If an officer wrecks and dies during pursuit or hits a blind pedestrian in a crosswalk, that’s a foreseeable result of evasion, but I think answering a call a mile away is probably going to be sufficiently attenuated from the felony. I can sympathyize with wanting to charge him - they’ve got an officer, colleague and friend dead that wouldn’t otherwise be had the individual not committed a felony, but I don’t think they’re going to be able to make a felony murder charge stick.

The burglary one seems a bit out there. But Lisl Auman doesn’t seem all so outrageous to me. She didn’t shoot the guy herself, but she was an accomplice to the guy who did.

That sure makes the job of a police officer easier. Someone robs a bank just shoot everything that moves.

It doesn’t have to be caused by the burglary to be felony murder. Recently in AZ a woman who was evading police was charged with felony murder because one police car chasing her slammed into another police car, killing one of the occupants.

No murder charge will be brought. Prosecutors decided they didn’t have evidence to meet that burden of proof.

Previous thread on felony murder: Causing deaths in the commission of a crime.

It’s been essentially abolished in Canada, by a ruling of the Supreme Court that there must be at least a foreseeability that the crime would cause a person’s death.

It appears to have been abolished in England by statute.