Fish Out of Water

Offense:  Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon (x 4)

The Allegation:  It was a dark December evening, and four postal carriers were working overtime to get mail delivered during the Christmas season.  They had stopped along a rural road to redistribute the remaining mail between them, when the resident of a nearby home walked toward them shouting in an angry voice.  One postal carrier exchanged words with the man, but he suddenly began firing a shotgun at them, and the postal workers fled for their lives.  Police responded and arrested the homeowner.  The local police knew the postal workers, whose story was accepted at face value, so no comprehensive investigation was done.  The overzealous District Attorney was determined to prosecute the man.

Our Client:  This man had moved to Texas from New York City with his wife and three young children one year prior to this incident.  His strong accent made him an easy target for some unfriendly ridicule, and he had been the subject of several racist/hate crimes.  Vulgar graffiti and racial slurs were painted on his mailbox, and bullets were fired into his barn and garage, all of which he reported to police.  No suspects were ever identified, but these incidents created an atmosphere of fear and apprehension for our client and his family.

His Version of the Story:  That evening, our client was in his home with his wife and children when four vehicles pulled up to the front of his fenced property, headlights all pointing toward his house.  Fearing more vandalism or worse, he grabbed a shotgun and walked outside.  He hailed the people clustered at his gate approximately 40 yards away, but there was no response.  He was nervous, but raised his voice louder, telling them to get away from his property.  One of them shouted back at him, “Relax, we’re sorting your mail!”  With the combined circumstances of having his mailbox vandalized in the past, it being dark outside, the number of people at his gate, and none of the cars having any kind of postal carrier markings or lights, he reasonably feared the group’s intent.  He fired several warning shots into the ground to his left.  This had the immediate desired effect, and the suspects fled.   

Our Findings:  Through detailed witness interviews, we determined that none of the postal workers saw the muzzle flash of the shotgun being fired.  There were no impacts on them or their vehicles, nor on the house or property across the street.  We demonstrated our client’s proficiency with a shotgun, and that even firing from the hip at 40 yards, he would have likely struck several people and/or vehicles if he had been shooting at them.  Pictures of the ejected shotgun shells meant that our client had fired from behind a large cedar tree, which he had used to shield himself from view.  The position of the shells proved that he was pointing the shotgun to his left, as he had claimed.  This case went to trial, where a jury of his peers found him “Not Guilty” of all charges. 


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Partner & Sr. Investigator

Billy Meeks, a Founding Partner at Blackfish, is a U. S. Army veteran and has over forty years of law enforcement and private investigation experience. In addition to his expansive work on everything from capital crimes to federal RICO operations, he has also cultivated an incredible network of experts and legal resources.