Commentary

Official: Facing a Rifle During Road-Rage Incident, Man Won't Be Charged After Taking Quick Action in Self-Defense

Our Second Amendment right to bear arms allows us to protect ourselves from unexpected threats, such as ones that might be found  in a road-rage incident.

On Oct. 9, Joshua G. Taylor, 43, of Cincinnati shot 41-year-old John Patrick Abell, believed to be from Cincinnati, after Abell approached him with a rifle on the side of Interstate 75 in northern Kentucky, officials said, according to the River City News.

Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders said the two men had been driving and had stopped after a collision involving both of their vehicles near Fort Wright when Taylor called the Kenton County Emergency Communications Center at 1:22 p.m. to report the incident.

The collision was fairly minor, resulting in Abell’s SUV spinning out upon colliding with Taylor’s car as both approached the on-ramp, leaving Abell’s SUV “in the gore between the interstate and the on-ramp,” according to a commonwealth’s attorney news release.

Taylor was giving dispatchers details about the collision — which he reported had occurred as a result of “road rage” — when he said he noticed Abell, rifle in hand, approaching his vehicle.

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Sanders’ office said on Oct. 12 that the 911 call then recorded a verbal confrontation between the two drivers before gunshots were heard.

On the recording, Taylor told the dispatcher he fired shots from his own gun and that they struck the other man.

Investigators believe four shots were fired from Taylor’s Taurus 9mm handgun while Abell’s rifle — a Tikka 30-06 — was determined to be unloaded with a trigger lock in place.

After shots were fired, Taylor began to administer first aid to Abell, an action recorded by dispatchers.

Do you believe that Taylor was justified in using force in this instance?

Abell was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead from multiple gunshot wounds, Sanders said.

Taylor will not be charged, as his use of deadly force has been ruled lawful and justified, Sanders said.

“Kentucky law states an individual is justified in the use of physical force upon another when the individual believes such force is necessary to protect against the use of unlawful force by another person,” he said.

“The investigation by Fort Wright and Kenton County police departments conclusively found the shooter was reasonably in fear for his own life and responded lawfully,” Sanders continued.

Even though Abell’s rifle was unloaded, Sanders said Taylor being unaware of that rendered him justified to respond as if the rifle had been loaded and ready to fire.

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“There was no way for Mr. Taylor to know the rifle being stuck in his face was inoperable,” Sanders said, “so that does not make his reaction unreasonable or unlawful. In fact, anyone who has a gun pointed at him should always assume the gun is loaded.”

If Abell’s rifle had been loaded, and if Taylor hadn’t prepared to protect himself from spontaneous danger and relied solely on law enforcement, Taylor probably wouldn’t be alive today.

Both men were in lawful possession of their firearms and neither had a criminal history.

Investigators said they found empty liquor containers in Abell’s vehicle. According to Sanders, witnesses suspected Abell was impaired based on how he was driving before the collision.

The autopsy and toxicology reports on Abell were pending.

It is unfortunate that such a minor traffic incident resulted in the loss of life.

You never know how others will respond in anger — especially on the road — which is why we need to take seriously our constitutional right to protect ourselves and do everything we can to protect that right.

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Joey Pietro is an Arizona native who has spent nearly a decade as a local educator. He holds a bachelor's in English from American Public University.
Joey Pietro was an Arizona native who has spent nearly a decade as a local educator. He holds a bachelor's in English from American Public University.




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