Should Mini-Mart Clerk Who Shot Beer Thief Be Charged With a Crime?

lafonte.jpg
Yavapai County Sheriff's Office
Scott LaFonte tried to steal a 12-pack of beer -- so a mini-mart clerk shot him.
Scott LaFonte, 35, tried to steal beer and cigarettes from a Prescott mini-mart Wednesday night. It didn't quite go according to plan -- not only didn't he get the beer, but the clerk at the store shot him several times.

Read the whole story here.

We reached out to the clerk, Michael Lewis, over Facebook to tell him he's a hero get his side of the story. He didn't immediately get back to us.

Prescott Lieutenant Andy Reinhardt tells New Times the investigation is still in the early stages, and detectives are currently trying to determine whether the shooting was in self defense. He says Lewis could potentially face charges.

Lewis followed LaFonte out of the store before shooting him -- so it's not like his life was in immediate danger. However, LaFonte had a knife -- and this is Arizona, the "Colt Single-Action Army Revolver State."

We want to know what you think: should Lewis be charged with a crime?

Cast your vote below.



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35 comments
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Ddfgf

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Tuchico
Tuchico

He needs to die in the electric chair for shooting that poor man. 

anonymous
anonymous

Poor man????? He is a criminal who threatened a innocent human being with a weapon for beer and cigerettes... he is a loathesome and vile stain on society. You have your priorities all messed up. If anything, if your thinking prevailed in society and the justice and law enforcement systems it would be a free license for criminals to takke all the free merch they wanted from a store or your home and if they harm you when they try to escape you would be charged with a crime. If it takes a bullet to keep a criminal from exiting the scene of a crime and quite possibly never being caught than so be it, it is the best route to keeping myself, my loved ones, and society as a whole safe.I just can't believe some of the morons that post on this forum, they throw common sense, personal responsibility, the concept of instinctual reaction, the deterent factor, and the safety of society out the window for what??? To give criminals or their families a legal basis to sue the victim. Absolutely insane and unbelievably has happened in the USA.

anonymous
anonymous

That should be "...and if you harm them when they try to escape..."

Saltydog
Saltydog

If it weren't for the action the result would not have been the same. Don't steal, don't get shot..

Mistalee
Mistalee

"We reached out to the clerk, Michael Lewis, over Facebook to tell him he's a hero get his side of the story."

Really, James? If a guy with a pistol gunning down a guy with a knife is "heroic" in your eyes, you have pretty low standards. Now if the clerk was wielding a knife and took out an assailant armed with a pistol, THAT I'd call ballsy.

anonymous
anonymous

I will also say that the clerks action would be more heroic than mistalee letting the criminal get away and possibly harming someone in the future since he is pumped with the prospect that he can get away with it... it sure appears that mistalee's approach would be cowardly when risking prosecution to save someone else possibly being hurt is actually more honorable.

anonymous
anonymous

It is ballsy to confront any criminal with a weapon even if you have a gun because if the criminal is better versed with a knife than you are with a gun than you are taking your life into your hands. My martial arts teacher taught us how to remove a gun from a shooters hands before it went off, I doubt I would risk doing it in real life but have witnessed it accomplished by well trained professionals with blanks (which at such close quarters could still be fatal.)

Mistalee
Mistalee

If your martial arts teacher was worth a cup of cold spit he also taught you that the first line of defense when somebody pulls a pistol and demands your wallet is to reach slowly into your pocket and hand him your wallet, because whatever is in your wallet is not worth dying for. It's also not worth killing for. Now grow the fuck up.

anonymous
anonymous

Part of my point that I apparently did not make clear is that a gun can be removed from someone even when it is pointed directly at your head so it was still ballsy of the clerk to pull it on a knife wielding criminal. Also convenient how you completely avoid my point that you don't know how experienced the criminal is with a kife or gun so the clerk pulling one is a risky venture anyway you look at.

anonymous
anonymous

Depends on the situation. You make the mistake that every situation is the same where some situations afford one offensive opportunities and others do not. These days it is not unusual for criminals not to want to leave witnesses even for the smallest crimes, so you never know when your life is on the line. My martial arts trainer trains navy seals and is a counter terrorist expert and urban defense specialist and taught the best defense is a good offense and after surviving two detours in libya I imagine he knows much more than your self righteous know it all ass.

If my life is threatened in any possible way and there is the smallest chance I can die it is definitely worth killing a criminal to stay alive. You are such a unrealistc idiot that really does not know how criminals think, operate and justify what they do and unrealistically believe that always rolling over and giving up with no fight is always the best way to go to save yourself from harm.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

Still not enough information for us amateurs to determine if Lewis should be charged with a crime. The lieutenant said the investigation is still in the early stages, meaning they also don't have all the information needed to determine self-defense or probable cause for arrest.

Gerry_C
Gerry_C

I can't make such a conclusion without sufficient information to know what happened.

vinceclortho1
vinceclortho1

Folks, remember this is Yavapai County.  While he may be technically guilty, no jury in this county would EVER convict him.

bigriggs
bigriggs

The only thing he is guilty of is not finishing the job.

Steve Calabrese
Steve Calabrese

There's not enough information to draw a conclusion.

The clerk would be perfectly within his rights to follow the dirtbag into the parking lot, while armed, and effect a citizen's arrest.

The shooting, however would not be justified - unless the suspect turned on the clerk and advanced with the knife in hand.   Or if the suspect made a threatening move towards someone else in the parking lot.   The article is unclear about what happened once the drama moved to the parking lot, and that's all the difference.

Goodjob
Goodjob

Maybe in a civilized society, but this is Arizona.how much more does the screw times have to say they hate Arizona, they should close shop and move to liberal ville kalaphornia

Goodjob
Goodjob

Nice shooting, criminals suck who know what else the thief has done.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Who knows what YOU have done. Should you be shot?

anonymous
anonymous

Talk about a logically fallacious rebutal to a posters statement. This is the same arguement that scientologists use against their detractors. If it is not known what someone has done than there is no reason to shoot them, but in this case it is known that the criminal utilized a knife as a threat in the commission of a theft therefore since he potentially put the victims life at risk he deserves whatever reaction he ellicits from the victim who is reacting most likely through instinct and not any well thought out actions since it all takes place within seconds. Mistalee mistamark on this completely. Why are you such an apologist and find it neccessary to criminalize the actions of victims who react within seconds of a threat as there is no time to even contemplate if your reaction is right or wrong in others eyes?

yourproductsucks
yourproductsucks

I don't know. What happened when the two met back up in the parking lot? Was the armed robber running away?  Did he turn and advance on the clerk with the knife?  Were there other suspects assisting the armed robber in the parking lot?  Did either make any utterances prior to the shots being fired?  

Too many questions and not enough information to make an informed decision to your poll.  This seems to be the trend with these polls, however.  Lets watch and see all the ignorant rants abound by your readership.

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

I don't get it. Your first paragraph and first sentence of the second paragraph are good, and meaningful. Why did you feel the need to make remarks about the other readers on this blog?

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

So much for "Ignorant Rant" no. 1.

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

Actually, YPS has a point but if this wasn't a case of actual self defense, then he needs to be charged. Even in this hillbilly heaven, stealing beer is not a death penalty offense,

Bobby
Bobby

P.S. the only political propanda where illgal aliens are concerned, comes from the left and the open borders groups, that claim it is perfectly fine. No, it isn't, on so many levels.  

Bobby
Bobby

Uh, now to point out your logical fallacy. It's called being willfully unconcerned about U.S. laws and the rights of other people, like the victims of robberies. Oh, but I realize to you there was only one victim here, the beer theif. As for I.D. theft and your attempt to grade it along some scale of the severity it causes to victims as opposed to other crimes, all I can say is I hope you get some personal experience on the matter of having your I.D. stolen. Experience tends to alter judgements people often make so non-chalantly.

anonymous
anonymous

Another, like mistalee, who likes to rely on logical fallacy to prop up their point. I excuse the victim because it wasn't a situation he chose to be involved in much like I excuse the children of illegal aliens because it wasn't a situation they chose to be involved in, as well it isn't the choice of illegal alliens to not be born in this country. The hysterical and non realistic platforms of many of those that decry the illegal immigrant problem fail to take these sort of facts into consideration and want to get the illegals out at all costs often because they erroneously blame the illegal aliens for many problems that are going on with unemployment and healthcare. Illegal immigration policies that are in place need to be reformed and it needs to be done realistically not as uninformed reaction often based on political propaganda.

Illegal immigrants that commit crimes in pursuing their staying here like id theft, which is not quite the same as id theft in pursuance of stealing credit or cash, or just being here after their visa expired are not the same as committing the crime of violent theft. Anyone illegal or not should be convicted of any violent crime they commit, which seems pretty cut and dried and simple in my book. Your point and attempt at relating the two situations has failed here.

anonymous
anonymous

I find this sort of reply weak and ridiculous because it is often not a option for many. With all the social conservatives attempting and succeeding at getting their religious morality and prejudices legislated, moralities and prejudices that are not always held by all religions and often not at all by atheists and agnostics, I would love to leave Arizona but it takes money to move and the odds of landing a job in another state right now with unemployment so high is slim. I simply can't leave. Besides why should I have to leave when it is not me that is thinking ridiculously. I would find it difficult to convict any victim for shooting or killing a criminal who physically threatened someone with a weapon, first off because the victim did not choose to be involved in the situation, second because any response would not be something well thought out and largely a gut or instinctual reaction and not what they would necessarily do if they had sufficient time to think and weigh the consequences of their actions, third because not taking any action sends the wrong message to criminals and encourages crime since the odds of getting caught are slim if one escapes, and fourth and by no means the last of what can be thought of, society doesn't benefit from no action being taken and it leaves the community open to the criminal taking further criminal actions that will most likely escalate into taking more risks and possibly harming or killing a innocent citizen. Now if the clerk yelled at the criminal to stop and he did and willingly gave up and the victim proceeded to shoot and kill the criminal then a case for involuntary manslaughter would be appropriate as the victim was most likely over taken by anger and acted out of emotion and no premeditation. For some reason so many that think the victim should be prosecuted seem to have a perception that victims of these sort of crimes where the victim shoots the criminal, think that the victim was waiting for the chance to kill a criminal and though I would have no problem myself doing such, if I had sufficient time to think about it I would not because it would not be worth the hassle of doing so. If the victim shot and injured the victim and it stopped the criminal from escaping then the victim has done a community service by taking a criminal off the streets. Why coddle criminals and give them rights in a situation that they created themselves, it just doesn't make sense. The sort of thinking that supports prosecuting victims also allows criminals to sue their victim which is certainly adding insult to injury. I and the rest of the public have the right to a criminally free society and by allowing criminals to get away from a crime they decided to commit doesn't help society. When the situation is cut and dried because there is most likely video surviellance video of the criminal stealing and brandishing a weapon to further the cause of their criminal action, whatever it takes to capture or prevent the criminal from escaping seems completely reasonable and better for society as a whole. I have yet to read any justifications for convicting a victim of crime in a situation where the criminal is definitely guilty other than that stealing beer and cigarettes doesn't deserve the death penalty which is not an accurate description of what is taking place. It is the reaction of a victim under duress that is made in seconds and not premdeditated. Please tell me what would justify sending me to jail if I shot a criminal to prevent him from escaping from the scene of a criminal act utilizing a dangerous weapon? I am always open to changing my mind if there is a logical reason to do so but I have yet to see it here. As many people have stated there is not enough evidence to say what if any action should be taken against a victim in this situation but even if the victim shot and killed a criminal after he gave up, I don't think it should rise to anything more than involuntary manslaughter simply because it is not a situation the victim chose to be involved in and anything that transpires immediately after the criminal act would not be premeditated and colored by fear and anger. There has to be consequences and obviously just making it a crime to steal isn't stopping criminals from doing so and if they get away the chances of them getting caught are slim and then the victim has to deal with the fear and terror of the situation, ptsd and other psychological fallout esp. When the criminal is still out there. It is not just cigarettes and beer that the criminal stole it is our right that we should be able to feel safe or run a business in this society that is stolen as well and the removal of that demands more than a slap on the wrist.

Bobby
Bobby

Of course it isn't about hillbilly heavan for you. You have to excuse the guy, otherwise, you can't keep excusing illegal aliens like you always do for similar or worse crimes. Right?  

Tommy Collins
Tommy Collins

It wasn't just stealing beer, it was armed robbery. Once it went from shoplifting to use of the weapon as a form of threat of injury or death, it became a felony. As long as the victim is in 'fear' of injury or death he has the right to protect himself with any weapon available and he can use the level of force needed to protect himself, including death. However, we don't have enough information and any opinions here are strictly based on conjecture and incomplete information.

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