Homeowner Merritt Landry shot a 14-year-old teenager in New Orleans, leaving community members and legal officials to piece together whether the police were justified in charging Landry with attempted second-degree murder.
According to reports, the teen was inside the Landry family’s fenced property at 2 a.m. Landry spotted the teen and moved closer, at which point the teen allegedly “move[d], as if to reach for something,” so the homeowner opened fire from 30 feet away. The bullet struck teenager Marshall Coulter in the head, which did not kill him but has majorly affected the teen’s motor controls. Coulter’s family has said the teen can move the right side of his body some, but not the left.
An unidentified witness has given a testimony to police that allegedly conflicts with Landry’s story, though the police have not disclosed how the stories differ. The witness did claim that Coulter did not pose an “imminent threat” to Landry.
"[Marshall] would steal — he was a professional thief, sure," said Marshall’s brother, David Coulter, to reporters. "But he would never pick up a gun, not in a million years. He was too scared to aim a gun at the grass, let alone aim it at a person. No way. Before he'll ever pick up a gun, he'll be your friend first. He's still a little boy. Who pulls a trigger on a 14 year old? What if it was your little brother or your sister? How would you feel?”
Based on the teen’s history of theft, Landry’s defense team might be able to convince jurors that Coulter was up to no good. The big question, however, is if Landry was in danger. The Coulter family argues that the teen would have never used a gun, but it is not as though Landry could have possibly known that at the time of the incident.
"Unfortunately, I feel bad about it because I hope it doesn't turn out to be another Florida deal," said one of Landry’s neighbors, Charles Hazouri, to reporters. "I'm a permit holder and a gun owner myself. You've got to stand up for your family."
Do you think Landry should have pulled the trigger? Is the state justified in pursuing charges against Landry?