Of Memphis’s 55 homicides this year, 10 of them were justified, according to the law. No one was charged. No one will go to jail, says the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Last year, the number of justifiable homicides jumped to 32, nearly triple the total from 2006. A death is ruled a justifiable homicide if someone is protecting themselves or someone else from harm. The prosecutor has to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing was in self-defense. “You can’t kill someone for trying to steal your car,” said chief prosecutor Bill Gibbons, whose office this month charged Christopher Simmons, 21, with voluntary manslaughter. Simmons shot and killed Kendrick Danielle Watkins, also 21, on March 31 after Simmons found Watkins breaking into his car.
If Simmons had been in his car at the time of the break-in, it would be a different story. Last year, state lawmakers made deadly force legal if you’re being carjacked, Gibbons said. “There’s a presumption, like a home break-in, that your life is in danger,” Gibbons said. “Not your property, your life.”