Coroner’s Inquest Jury Decrees Shooting Death of Christopher Hymel was Legally Justified
Michael Gordon was just saying goodbye to some ladies he’s known since childhood when Christopher Hymel attacked him for no reason. That’s Gordon’s version of the story, as reported by the Missoulian. Hymel didn’t testify, because he’s dead. From the link:
The inquest began Monday morning with testimony from several of Hymel’s friends who were present during the shooting. The friends claim Gordon enticed Hymel to his truck after insulting Hymel’s girlfriend, Megan Navarro, and friend Chira Graham.
Gordon and Hymel exchanged punches through the driver’s-side window.
Missoula Police Det. Mitch Lang showed a surveillance video of the parking lot that showed Gordon and Hymel exiting the club and the fight that ensued.
In the video, Gordon left first and climbed into his truck, which he apparently started by remote. Several minutes later, Hymel and his group of four friends exited the club and walked past the truck.
The truck’s lights turned on and in audio footage played for the jury later, it’s clear Gordon revved his engine when the girls walked past.
According to the testimony of the four friends, Gordon was calling out to the girls vulgarly through his driver’s-side window. However, they couldn’t remember exactly what he said to them.
According to Gordon’s testimony, he opened his window to say goodbye to the girls, who he had known since childhood and the next thing he knew Hymel attacked him.
“I didn’t do anything. I didn’t say anything,” he said, during his emotional testimony. “I was attacked out of nowhere.”
Four people testify Gordon was calling out to the women vulgarly. Audio of the incident catches an engine being revved. Gordon maintains he was just saying adios to childhood friends. Just speaking from personal experience, I don’t associate the revving of a truck outside a strip club in the middle of the night with a cordial see you later coming from the operator of the gas pedal. But that’s just me.
The article goes on to describe what can be discerned from the video footage:
The video shows Hymel and Gordon fighting through the truck window, but it’s not clear to what extent Gordon was fighting back. At one point during the fight, the truck started shaking and pieces of the window’s rain shield shattered.
According to Gordon’s testimony, he was being brutally beat by Hymel and grabbed his gun from the center console while he was leaned over the center, protecting himself from the blows.
Hymel’s friend, Steven Ellingson, attempted to break up the fight, and grabbed Hymel from behind, ripping his shirt.
Hymel stepped back to remove his shirt, while Gordon opened car door and fired a shot at Hymel. The bullet pierced his lung and fatally ripped through his aorta.
In the heat of the moment, Gordon didn’t consider driving away, he said and he couldn’t roll up his window because he was using that arm to protect himself from Hymel’s punches, Gordon said.
So Michael Gordon had a loaded gun in his center console ready to go. Is that even legal? And what about alcohol? Did anyone on scene even bother to get a blood sample to determine if alcohol was a factor? Gordon was supposedly cooperative with law enforcement, right? WTF?
As an impressionable new gun owner, this case is forming my sense of what I can and can’t do with my handguns. What I’m learning is that I can travel around with a loaded gun in my car and if some sort of physical altercation ensues, I can grab my gun “in the heat of the moment”, open my car door, gun in hand, exit my car, aim my handgun, and shoot the person who attacked me.
And this is legally justified?
What kind of weight does a jury decision from a coroner’s inquest carry? Is this case all wrapped up now? Did the Missoula County attorney’s office get the desired outcome with this punt?
Inquiring minds would like to know.