A retired Texas firefighter who shot and killed an elementary school teacher following a dispute over loud music two years ago, claims the killing was justified because he was ‘standing my ground’ and reasonably feared for his life.
To prove his innocence to the jury, Raul Rodriguez and his attorney presented a 20-minute, low-quality video he took on the night of the shooting where P.E. teacher Kelly Danaher was fatally wounded.
The tragic incident occurred in May of 2010, outside of Danaher’s home near Houston. Rodriguez showed up at Danaher’s house because the music was “too loud.” Rodriguez, a concealed carry permit holder, brought along a firearm, a flashlight, a video recorder and a cell phone.
After telling Danaher and his friends to turn down the volume, the situation began to escalate; partygoers started yelling at Rodriguez.
“You need to stop right there,” Rodriguez says in the video. “Don’t come any closer please. I’m telling you, I’m telling you, stop, I said stop right now or I will shoot you! … I fear for my life. I told you to stop, my life’s in danger, you got weapons on you, stay away from me.”
Rodriguez, standing in Danaher’s driveway, was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher as the argument heated up. Suddenly, one of the men says, “When I go in that house and come back, don’t think I won’t be equal to you, baby.”
Rodriquez bristles and tells the dispatcher, “I’m talking to you, and I mean, I’m scared to death here. It’s about to get out of hand, sir. Please help me, now. I’m standing my ground here.”
Moments later, the video ends after a shot is fired. In total, three men were shot in the incident. Danaher, Houston firefighter Ricky Johnson and Marshall Stetson. The latter two survived their wounds.
Does Rodriquez have a valid claim of self-defense?
“This is a difficult defense to mount,” legal analyst Dana Cole told ABC News. “He had no injury, he brought a gun to a noise complaint, and it appeared he was escalating it by baiting the party-goers.”
Others see it differently.
“He told them to get back,” Jim Pruett, the owner of Jim Pruett Guns and Ammo, told local affiliate KHOU. “One of the first things you’re taught to say is I’m armed and my life is in danger. I promise you I will use my firearm to defend myself. He did all of those things.”
In the end though, the jury will have to decide whether Rodriquez is guilty of murder. The trail is ongoing and is expected to continue till end of next week. Rodriquez may take the stand at some point.
Here’s the latest update from KHOU: