Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.”     Adlai E. Stevenson

July 23, 2009

Harold Fish is Free!

by tarran

On the Liberty Papers, much of what we write is negative; decrying the steady movement towards tyranny and totalitarianism that is the trajectory of the U.S.. Occasionally, we get to report some good news.Harold Fish has been released from jail.

His case is an important one; the state of Arizona charged him with murder for defending himself with too powerful a weapon; while hiking in the backwoods, Mr Fish was charged by a group of aggressive dogs (who were, quite reasonably, unleashed) . Fish had a 10mm Kimber Pistol with hollow point ammunition. He fired a warning shot into the ground to scare them off as they closed to within a few feet of him. At this point, he was attacked by the dog owner who screamed that he was going to kill Mr Fish and charged swinging his fists. Mr Fish fired three rounds at the last moment before the man got within punching distance and mortally wounded his attacker. he then spent agonizing minutes trying to get medical help for the man.

The police investigating the case thought it a clear case of self defense. The lawyers working for the state of Arizona disagreed, claiming that the size and type of rounds he was carrying indicated that Mr Fisher had set out on his hike with murder on his mind.

Through this argument, and by convincing the judge to keep exculpatory evidence out of the trial, the attorneys were able to successfully convict Mr Fish of murder, although within 24 hours at least one horrified juror contacted the defense attorney claiming that the excluded evidence would have resulted in a different verdict.

This case is important in that people have a right to defend themselves. Certainly, the courts have long held that police have not obligation to defend us. The act of walking outside the patrol area of the police does not mean that we have agreed to allow people to murder or assault us.

Luckily, the appelate court agreed that Mr Fish had been convicted unfairly, and thanks to recent changes in Arizona law clarifying the rules governing self defense, there is little chance that his retrial will result in a conviction.

Harold Fish lost three years of his life to prison. He is nearly $500,000 in debt at a time of his life where he has little prospect of paying it off (Donate here to his defense fund). All because a stranger attacked him, he defended himself, and a prosecutor didn’t like the size of his gun.

In a just world, the prosecutor would have to make Mr Fish whoole for all the money and time he lost on this frivolous prosecution. Unfortunately, we do not live in a just world.

At least Mr. Fish gets to have dinner with his wife again…

Hat Tip: Massad Ayoub of Backwoods Home Magazine.

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6 Comments

  1. I probably would have been in worse shape than him. I probably would have shot the dog, and not fired a warning – which would have looked bad later to the jury. Gun nut AND animal hater.

    I guess the scary lesson to be learned from the idiot prosecutor is that since I have the ability to load much less effective .38 standard pressure (non +P), instead of .357 magnum which is what my weapon is designed for, or even 38+P, my chances of not being accused of overkill by the damn prosecution are better, if I do so. Which is just flat-out stupid. Because then I am possibly FORCED to fire 3-4 times to stop the attacker, instead of just once (which is all you need with .357 mag) –which they can then STILL use to make you look bad – “he just kept on firing.”

    Lose lose, either way.

    And NOT sticking with hollow point is never recommended for self defense – because any innocent bystanders are at risk with a round-nose versus hollow point. A hollow point goes in and usually stays put – versus round nose exiting out the attacker and it just keeps on going – through walls, doors, etc.

    That Arizona AG need to be thrown out of office.

    Comment by southernjames — July 23, 2009 @ 10:38 am
  2. Great points James! Have you ever noticed that its the anti-gun people who know almost nothing about firearms other than “they kill”?

    Comment by Stephen Littau — July 23, 2009 @ 10:44 am
  3. I too would have shot the dog(s). After that, the owner may have been shot as well, but I would have only shot him once to stop his charge – in the shoulder or the leg. I used to carry a .357 and used .38 for practice. I now carry a Glock 27 .40 loaded with hollow points for self defense. It is very concealable and has respectable stopping power especially with hollow point rounds. It is also extremely accurate for it’s size.

    We now have a stand your ground law here in Florida. This means if you are threatened in a place you are lawfully allowed to be, you do not have to retreat, but may stand your ground using whatever force necessary (debatable).

    I once had an altercation with a hysterical woman in a parking lot who attempted to block my vehicle in and then opened the drivers door twice while screaming obscenities. I chose to leave the scene, resulting in some minor damage to my vehicle. Later, when giving a statement to the police, a female officer advised me that under the new (at that time) stand your ground law, I would have been justified in shooting her. I was surprised at that, and still feel that would have been excessive.

    I am glad Harold Fish is free for now and I hope he stays that way. From what I read, there wasn’t enough evidence to prove murder. IMO, the person being attacked deserves every benefit of the doubt. He should also be made whole with regard to his legal fees. Unfortunately, the time lost with his children and family can never be replaced.

    BTW, sjames, did your permit arrive yet?

    Comment by John222 — July 23, 2009 @ 11:32 am
  4. Stephan – I used to be totally ignorant about firearms too. I’m 50, and until 8 months ago, the only thing I had ever fired was a Daisy BB rifle when I was a kid. Times, they are a changin – and I’m still a neophyte, but I’m learning as I go.

    John – it FINALLY arrived last week. I’m a revolver guy, (my gun described above is a S&W 686, 4 inch barrel – a real beast and really fun to shoot, but too darn big and heavy to carry)…so I went right out and purchased a S&W 442 – little black five shot. Only shoots 38 which is fine with me, because I think the kick from .357 on a little revolver like that would take my hand right off. I ordered a DeSantis pocket holster which is due to arrive tomorrow (my online supplier of choice for all this kind of stuff is Cabelas.com – they do a nice job). I’ll be carrying, front right pocket, starting tomorrow.

    John, no matter what that cop said, I think you did the absolute 100% right thing, with respect to that crazy woman. The guys who taught my concealed class really emphazised that to try to stay out of trouble afterwards, you really need to think you’re about a second away from getting killed or seriously injured (e.g., stabbed) before drawing and shooting. It is like the last last last resort, sort of thing. Our instructer really put the fear of God into us, with that.

    Since you can’t draw and threaten…..I wonder if it is permissible (or advisible) if that type of circumstance ever arises again, to pull out your wallet instead and very calmly say, “let me show you my concealed weapons permit. Please leave and do not force me to defend myself.” Or something similar. Just a thought – and perhaps a dumb idea, but it popped into my head.

    Very good point about just attempting a single shot, to perhaps the guy’s leg. I would like to think that is what I would do also – but in the heat of the moment, and with my adrenalin (and fear) at a high level, I can’t for certain say what I would do.

    It does seem odd that it took three shots of 10mm for Fish to drop that guy. Either he was panicked and just kept squeezing, or his first couple of shots were not too accurate and grazed the shoulder or something.

    Comment by southernjames — July 23, 2009 @ 12:28 pm
  5. In addition to shooting as a last resort, my instructor really stressed the concealed part of the permit. It is supposed to be concealed at all times, not even a hint that there might be a weapon. This means you are also not supposed to disclose that you are armed except to a police officer and only if they ask.

    I feel like I did the right thing by removing myself from the vicinity. My wife and three children were also in the vehicle and I was concerned for their safety as well as the lesson they would learn from this. I was sort of stunned that she actually came over and opened my door. All I said to her was “Can you move so I can get out?” She was having an altercation with someone else and was not in her vehicle, and this redirected her wrath toward me.

    In the end the incident was reported as a simple accident with no citation and the crazy lady filed a claim against my insurance company which they paid over my objections. I was also sent a check in the mail for the estimated damage to my vehicle.

    Comment by John222 — July 23, 2009 @ 5:46 pm
  6. Stories like this really show the improper brain functioning of liberals. “He didn’t have to use such a big gun!” Well, how big of a gun DID he have to use? And of course there is the other dumb liberal statement “He didn’t have to shoot him that many times!” Well, how many times did he have to shoot him?

    Forgotten Liberty!

    Comment by ForgottenLiberty — July 26, 2009 @ 3:57 pm

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