WALKER COUNTY, Ga – In another example of “stand your ground” law gone wrong, a 72 year-old man suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s disease who had wandered away from his home was shot four times and killed early Wednesday after ringing the doorbell and turning a doorknob at a home in Georgia.
This is the second reported case this month of someone being killed after approaching a home in the middle of the night. On November 2, 19 year-old Renisha Mcbride was shot and killed in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.
The man, Ronald Westbrook, of Walker County, who had one or two dogs with him, apparently wandered three miles away from a home he shared with his wife, who did not know he was gone until contacted by police. Suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s, Westbrook was wearing only a light jacket and straw hat in sub-freezing temperatures.
He was killed about 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning by Joe Hendrix, 34, who, apparently thinking it was an intruder, went outside with a .40 caliber handgun to investigate, as his fiancée was on the phone with police. They had just moved into the home, at the end of a cul-de-sac, a few weeks ago.
Hendrix claimed Westbrook approached him, ignoring several commands to stop, and that he fired four times, killing Westbrook with a shot to the chest. Reports are that Westbrook had been diagnosed with dementia two years ago and was mute due to the Alzheimer’s.
Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, who was personally acquainted with Westbrook through church services, said the victim was likely lost and confused. He also said that, though he thinks Hendrix should not have gone outside the house, it doesn’t appear he violated any laws.
Hendrix has not been charged as an investigation of the shooting continues. Georgia has a stand your ground law – the “no duty to retreat” – which may justify the shooting. The district attorney must decide whether the case fits the criteria for stand your ground.
“We reserve our options and rights to file charges once the investigation is complete, if we feel like Georgia law warrants charges being filed,” Wilson told the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition recently filed a lawsuit against Georgia challenging the state’s stand your ground law.
- When Stand Your Ground Went International (endstandyourground.wordpress.com)
- Can Renisha Mcbride Killer Claim Stand Your Ground Defense? (endstandyourground.wordpress.com)
- Killed For Knocking At The Door (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Georgia man shoots, kills roving Alzheimer’s patient (savannahnow.com)
- Justice Denied: Bystander Killed, Man Freed By Stand Your Ground (endstandyourground.wordpress.com)
- Don’t get Alzheimer’s in America. They shoot you for it. (wellthisiswhatithink.wordpress.com)
- Ga. man shoots, kills wandering Alzheimer’s patient; police say charges possible (chronicle.augusta.com)