Never mind: California prosecutors decide man was acting in self-defense 15 months after charging him with murder

Never mind: California prosecutors decide man was acting in self-defense 15 months after charging him with murder
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Emmanuel Gardner-Craft was facing years behind bars if he was convicted of murdering a man in what looks like a drug deal gone bad, but fifteen months after his initial arrest authorities in Alameda County, California have now concluded that Gardner-Craft was acting in self-defense.


Gardner-Craft could still have been sent to prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm, but under terms of a plea deal reached with prosecutors the 22-year-old will spend just two years on probation for the unlawful gun possession.

Gardner-Craft was charged last year with murdering 38-year-old Ricky Bustos on Dec. 24, 2021, based on an eyewitness who said that he and Bustos were drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana on the 1400 block of Lakeshore Avenue when Gardner-Craft aggressively tried to sell them cannabis and then started a fight.

But prosecutors now say video shows Bustos acting was the aggressor, and that a revolver was found next to his bullet-riddled body. A memo by Deputy District Attorney Margaret Roe says Bustos “pulled out revolver and appears to attempt to fire the revolver at Defendant Gardner-Craft,” and that Gardner-Craft then pulled out his own gun and shot Bustos multiple times.

A technician tested Bustos’ revolver and found that the firing pin had struck three different rounds, but for some reason the gun failed to fire, the memo says.

“These findings, coupled with the video evidence of the shooting, would not allow the People to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Defendant Gardner-Craft was not acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Victim Bustos,” Roe wrote.

Gardner-Craft isn’t exactly a poster child for the right to keep and bear arms, but it’s worth highlighting for a couple of reasons. First, of course, is the decision by Alameda County authorities to drop the murder charges based on the evidence; a somewhat surprising turn of events but a welcome development if the facts don’t fit a criminal case for homicide.


Also worth noting, however, is the two-year probationary sentence agreed to by prosecutors for Gardner-Craft’s illegal gun possession. At the same time Democrats from Joe Biden on down are arguing that only “law-abiding citizens” possess the right to keep and bear arms (and even then in only limited circumstances), prosecutors in the state with the most restrictive gun laws in the nation are giving a pass to a prohibited person who managed to violate a host of California’s current restrictions and prohibitions.

I’ll be honest; I don’t really have a problem with Gardner-Craft getting probation for possessing a firearm as a prohibited person. My issue is the fact that while progressive prosecutors are actively working to keep felons out of prison for unlawfully owning a gun, their legislative counterparts are actively working to turn as many gun owners as possible into felons for exercising their right to keep and bear arms. If Gardner-Craft shouldn’t be returned to prison for his crime, why should anybody be sent to prison for possessing a 20-round magazine or bringing ammunition lawfully purchased in Arizona into the state of California?

We all know the answer: the vast majority of those progressive Democrats are far more interested in stopping legal gun ownership than illegal gun use, so guys like Gardner-Craft get a pass while the responsible citizens of Alameda County have to deal with nonsense like this, as detailed by Second Amendment attorneys Chuck Michel and Kostas Moros:


Alameda used to say on its website that “having a CCW license is a privilege, not an entitlement, and the Courts have ruled that a California CCW license is not guaranteed to all persons under the 2nd Amendment of the United States.” Our lawyers sent newly-elected Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez a letter with a draft lawsuit back in January, telling her that the case would be filed if a number of changes weren’t made. The Alameda Sheriff complied and agreed to provide monthly permit-issuance statistics, and also agreed to eliminate a plethora of unconstitutional requirements including:

    1. requiring applicants to furnish photographs of their firearm storage;
    2. inquiring about home security and cameras;
    3. asking for the number and storage location of the applicant’s firearms;
    4. asking for information about the people who live in the applicant’s home and the layout of that home;
    5. requiring proof of income;
    6. asking where an applicant intends to carry; and
    7. limiting CCW permits to a single firearm provided the applicant qualifies for each firearm.

Since then, dozens of permits have been issued to regular citizens in Alameda, including several CRPA members. CRPA continues to monitor and seek change on other issues in Alameda, such as an onerous psychological exam as well as long processing times.

Guys like Gardner-Craft can completely disregard the cornucopia of conditions to lawfully carry a firearm and get off with a slap on the wrist if they’re caught, while those who want to follow the law are subject to a litany of ridiculous mandates and lengthy wait times before they might receive permission to exercise a fundamental and constitutionally-protected right. That doesn’t sound “reasonable” or “commonsense” to me, but it’s apparently just fine for the anti-2A authoritarians.


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