Causality: How far is too far?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by HazelGod, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. HazelGod

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    Phoenix, AZ, police today engaged in a pursuit of a suspect driving a stolen vehicle through the downtown area. He was taken into custody after he abandoned the car and a SWAT team stormed the housed he had holed up inside.

    During the pursuit, two helicopters from rival local news stations covering the events collided in midair and plummeted to the ground, killing all four people inside.

    When questioned about the suspect's culpability in the events, the Phoenix police chief stated,
    "I think he will be held responsible for any of the deaths from this tragedy."

    I'd be interested to hear how y'all feel about such an assertion. Do you agree with the idea that people should be entirely responsible for events in which they are only indirectly or tangentially involved? What sort of standard would you use to distinguish situations where they ought to be held accountable?
     
  2. No_Strings

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    What an accident...

    If the helicopters in question were directly involved in the apprehension of the suspect, then yes, I'd agree with the police chiefs statement.
    As they were belonging to the media, I don't think the criminal should be held accountable at all - his conscious will do that for him.

    Accidents never simply 'happen' and are always caused - I'd put the pilots involvment a hell of a lot higher than the criminal's. :rolleyes:
     
  3. Principessa

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    I am sorry people died; but it sounds like pilot error to me.
     
  4. D_N Flay Table

    D_N Flay Table New Member

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    yeah, I don't feel that he, the driver should have any liability for that.
    that is like saying, if there was a bank robbery, and a reporter was rushing to work to cover it, and died in a car wreck because they were speeding to work, they would be liable.
    don't sit will with djg.
     
  5. Not_Punny

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    Agreed.
     
  6. dong20

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    Morally, certainly. Legally, on what charge?
     
  7. B_Think_Kink

    B_Think_Kink New Member

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    No, I think news reporters are far too nosy. It was their own error that the people got themselves into that situation. It states they were rivals, so there was probably some kind of competition going on to get the best view. I think the suspect was only an accessory to their deaths. Sad but not his fault at all. He didn't ask for them to be up there... he didn't control that they were watching him from the sky, so why would he be responsible. If people were not so concerned with watching the crime in the world things like this wouldn't happen. Hopefully this opens everyones eyes on what bullshit news can bring about.
     
  8. camper joe

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    Human error. I doubt the guy can be charged, but will be interesting to see what they try to charge him with.
     
  9. SpeedoGuy

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    Here in Portland massive media coverage of an armed standoff situation a few years ago actually affected the outcome of the situation. News helicopters swarming overhead broadcast live film of police SWAT teams sneaking up on the sniper's holdout. The sniper was alerted when he turned on his TV and saw the live coverage of the police approaching. Live news coverage overkill made the whole situation worse.
     
  10. RideRocket

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    Regardless of whether it was a police or news helicopter, the suspect is not at fault. Each of those helicopters has at least two people on board. One person, the Pilot in Charge (PIC), is responsible for flying the aircraft and avoiding any possible obstacles or hazards. The other persons responsibilities are manning the camera, tracking the suspect, etc.

    It's called crew coordination - the suspect can't be held responsible for a failure in communication between the pilot and his co-pilot/cameraman/etc.

    I've flown a helicopter or two in my life...
     
  11. Hockeytiger

    Hockeytiger Active Member

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    This is a complicated area.

    Felony murder-If Arizona applies felony murder to the felonies committed, then it may depend on whether Arizona is a proximate cause state in regards to felony murder. Proximate cause states allow defendants to be charged with felony murder when a death occurs as a result of the actions of a third party (not just a fellow defendant) during (and part of) a defendant's commission of a felony. The act that resulted in the death does NOT have to be intended or anticipated. It merely needs to have been "natural and probable". Note that I did not write that the death must have been "natural and probable", only the act that resulted in the death must be. I would argue that media helicopter coverage is a natural and probable result of a high speed chase and thus is foreseeable. Granted, pilot error is an intervening act, but it is still a natural and probable result of his actions. Remember, if he had shot someone but that person died during surgury solely as a result of surgeon negligence, he can still be charged for murder, not just felony murder. Please note that this is very important in that felony murder convictions are considered actual murder convictions and can result in first degree murder type penalties.

    Involuntary manslaughter-If the underlying felony is not listed as part of the Arizona felony murder rule, and the rest of the analysis above holds true (proximate cause state and the act is natural and probable) then he can be charged with involuntary manslaughter.

    Murder-He can be charged with murder if he acted with reckless indifference to an unjustifiably high risk to human life. Frankly, I think the authorities have a decent chance with this even though it is the most difficut to prove. It was the fact that he was engaging in an unjustifiably high risk to human life that drew the attention of the media in the first place. That is why they were filming it. However, the defense would argue that the risk at issue was to fellow motorists, not pilots. But the fact that the pilots showed up, put them in the zone of risk. I remind you of the surgeon negligence issue from above. You can be covicted of murder when the person dies solely as a result of the negligent acts of a third party, if you caused the risk in the first place.

    Thankfully no one on the ground died (from my understanding). It would be interesting to see if he could be charged for their deaths as well.

    To get to the OP question, I think that as a matter of public policy, authorities need to crack down hard on such reckless behavior by criminals. I am in all favor of giving someone an automatic 20 years for engaging in high speed chases such as these, no matter what the underlying crime, irregardless of deaths. All the state would need to prove is that the defendant engaged in reckless behavior while evading arrest. However, would that only encourage more reckless behavior? I don't know.

    I don't mind taking an expanding view of causation rules in such cases. As long as proximate causation can be shown, then I'm OK with it. It is when completely unforeseeable acts intervene that I have difficulty with it. For example, if during that chase he ran someone (victim X) off the road and at that very moment, a piece of debris from the space shuttle fell on that very spot killing victim X, I'd have a tough time believing that he should be punished for that.
     
  12. findfirefox

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    Those Helicopters had a system for coverage it seems the three or four news stations that were using helis. had develeped a flight plan so no one crashed.

    Also I've always said that Portland Media (Local News) has been overly agressive, especialy FOX12 Oregon.
     
  13. findfirefox

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    On the note of the crash, I will go as far as too say if the pilot that caused this had survived he should be charged with Wreckless Flying (or whatever they may call it) If someone is doing something stupid, it is not reasonable to follow up with more stupid acts.

    EDIT- Another thing, if we are going to blame this guy because if he didn't run the media would have not hae shown up thus not have crashed I think we should also go after the people who watch this because if people were watching the media would not have gone out.
     
  14. Pumblechook

    Pumblechook New Member

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    No individual likes the "mass media." All know that we lie, cheat, and steal, consciously to make money personally... to support our own agenda.

    Two helicopters crashing and killing is totally senseless.

    Irony: Over the last 10 years or so, lowlife car thiefs have been made bigger heroes than any actors on TV sitcom/dramas featured at the same time that they are. It is the media that has created this. They jump at the chance to have a one hour ratings jump, and bigger advertising dollars in their pockets, for some idiot driving a car poorly and recklessly, just because they stole it and it isn't their car. Every week I can tune in to some L.A. cop chase of a car driving circles in a 4 way intersection on its rims.. just ripping both the car and the road apart. Wow, cool, 10 years in jail for it. $1 billion in helicopter money for it. 4 people died. Like we care...
     
  15. findfirefox

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    No, the people who tune in created this, the people like to watch it so the media will supply.
     
  16. Pumblechook

    Pumblechook New Member

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    Haha, so we get in to the old debate...."does popular "____" create fans or do fans create popular "___"

    I've always recognized that the catalyst is the conglomerate behind it all itself. They tell us what is "cool" and we buy into it. Then by the multitude buying into it, they learn what is "cool." Then they sell it back to us. Genious plan really - if you're all about making money.
     
  17. findfirefox

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    You may be right in some aspects but there I feel that the Media pays close attention to what we watch, if we don't watch it, it gets redone, if we still don't watch it, it goes away. With TV the viewers have the power over whats on, and it seems to me that the world is still watching.
     
  18. Pumblechook

    Pumblechook New Member

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    Feeling personally responsible for pulling this topic way... off-topic... I'd just like the reel it back by saying that it is completely ridiculous that the law enforcement blamed a person who stole a car on two news helicopters crashing into each other....

    that is phantasmal and preposterous.

    If you point a loaded firearm at a person's head and pull the trigger and blow a bullet through that person's head and kill them --- pretty clear you killed them.

    If you play hop-scotch, and under the butterfly effect, created an energy wave that in 10,000 billion years caused a meteor to crash into the Earth and kill all life (except those thermal vent creatures on the bottom of the ocean), clealry you cannot be connected to that -- for billions of things have caused small alterations in the energy waves that came to and from earth.
     
  19. MASSIVEPKGO_CHUCK

    MASSIVEPKGO_CHUCK Well-Known Member

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    The driver wasn't piloting the choppers-period. If he was & jumped out before they collided, then he would be responsible for their deaths.
     
  20. Rikter8

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    I say good for the guy that gave them a good chase.
    It prooves how shitty and clumsy police forces are.
    Of Course the police chief is going to place blame where it doesnt belong, as his department "can do no wrong".

    If the police can't stop the driver, then they need to STOP pursuing and putting other peoples lives in danger.
    There is no reason why they can't take the plate and run it, and follow up, OR follow at a safe distance, OR track the vehicle with a hellicopter WITHOUT media coverage.

    The more they pursuit, the faster the speeds will go, the more lives they place in danger.

    A cop in my old home town did the exact same thing. He continued to chase a car through downtown (25mph close quarters) if I remember right, in excess of 70mph, and collided with a pedestrian vehicle, killing the driver.

    As for the media hellicopters, that's pretty pathetic in my opinion, and the news stations should be at fault 100%.
    Anybody remember the Diana crash?
     
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