Road Rage and Handguns


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Vern Smalley
October 25, 2006, 12:35 PM
Vern Smalley replies to fraudulent stories.

I found this forum just a few days ago when I was web surfing, and was surprised to find that a fraudulent story about me was posted by DevilDog on July 20, 2004. The story was about how I allegedly had road rage and intentionally killed a teenager with my handgun. I’d like to tell you what actually happened because there are lessons in it for all of us. If you are going to travel with a firearm readily accessible in your car or with you on your motorcycle or pack it concealed, you would be wise to be aware of these lessons.

The following is an actual, real-life story. There is no fiction here. You will not be able to confirm it by going back to read news media coverage because everything published was fabricated, concocted and invented by liars who make their wages by writing stories that people want to hear about. People who lived in Colorado Springs (or Colorado, for that matter) were saturated with disinformation courtesy of the news media, hearsay and rumors, You can go back to my trial transcripts that are recorded at the El Paso County Courthouse in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but unfortunately they charge for access. Or you can read the following and take it for what it’s worth.

On the morning of April 21, 1993 in Colorado Springs, I encountered a teenager who was racing his two buddies to breakfast, each in their own car. Carmine Tagliere III was 17 years old, had been banned from two Colorado Springs shopping malls for fist fighting, had been suspended from high school for fist fighting, had a police record for threatening another boy with a pistol, had a reputation at his high school as a bully, had a community reputation for violence, and was then trying to force my car off the road because I was in his way. I was a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and retired chief scientist in long-range space system planning. I had an extensive array of top-level security clearances through the Department of Defense as well as with a highly-classified office. I had been on an Air Force pistol and rifle team, and was a life-time hunter. I had absolutely no criminal record.
After his trying to force my car off the road and into a thirty-foot-deep rock-walled canyon where I could have been killed, I regained the lead on the highway. Thinking about how he tried to kill me by forcing my car off the road, I decided to talk to him, not knowing who he was. I pointed to the side of the road, stopped my car, rolled down my window and prepared to bawl him out. When he exited his car, he ran toward mine with fists clenched. I remained seated in my car, with my seat belt on. I immediately got out my loaded .357-Magnum revolver (a SS Ruger Security-Six) which I kept legally concealed in my glove compartment, placed it in my lap and prepared to use it if I saw any sign of a weapon on him. I saw none.
Tagliere was 100% out of control with rage. He shook as he screamed profanities at me through clenched teeth, spitting through his teeth. I saw I needed to get out of there fast, and looked away as I restarted my car. He stepped forward and, according to the testimonies of two eye witnesses who were passing in a nearby truck, struck me in my left temple four or five times, walked away from my car a few steps, then returned and, putting the upper half of his body inside my car, started hitting again. I was hit a total of five or six times in my left temple, according to their account. His first blow to my left temple was a knock-out blow that broke my glasses. One of the eye witnesses saw my head recoiling from the blows as he did his best to kill me. A photograph later released by his parents showed him as a wrestler in high school, wearing a leather head guard, so I am quite positive he knew the dangers of hitting someone in their temple. There is no doubt he did his best to kill me twice that day.
Unfortunately for him, his first set of blows knocked me over so I was leaning onto the passenger seat, and my revolver, which was still in my lap, was aimed at my open car window. When he came back and stuck his upper body into my car window, he struck me once again in my brain. This time he caused what was technically known as an “interlimb-interaction,” and the theory is that entire right side of my body involuntarily convulsed. I was unconscious, but my right hand fired my revolver double action. Actually, I have no knowledge of what happened, but this is what we think happened.
The bullet did not “blow his heart away,” as falsely claimed by the news media. The bullet hit him about 4" above and to the left of his heart, blew away his subclavian artery, broke two ribs and punctured the upper lobe of his left lung. He bled directly from the artery into his lung. He withdrew from my car window, ran about 50 feet from my car and collapsed, blowing out blood all the way.
One of his buddies, his best friend, invented innumerable “incorrect” statements of what happened, and since he claimed to be an eye witness of the whole event, I was immediately charged with Second Degree Murder without further investigation. Actually, the NAACP was partly responsible for that, but that is another story. All of what the best friend said was shown to be untruthful. Contrary to his allegation, it was also proven in court by the police that he changed the crime scene to mitigate the circumstances. Fortunately, honest people saw Tagliere try to kill me and they testified as such.
After a very short deliberation of a few hours, I was acquitted of Second Degree Murder and Negligent Homicide in a criminal trial that attracted national media attention in December, 1993. My jury called my attorney to the deliberation room after the trial and told him that all twelve would have done what I did. It was a deadly situation, and I behaved the best I knew how.
Throughout this experience, the news media reporters invented, concocted and fabricated one fraudulent story after another, all with the prompting of three men who had interest in providing disinformation. There was not one single newspaper account that wasn’t prejudiced against me. Since the shooting happened in a military town and I was a retired officer, I was fair game for their fraudulent reporting. The accounts I saw on TV were so totally skewed and erroneous, I couldn’t even recognize they were talking about me except when my name was occasionally mentioned. Based on their lies, I was the topic of two national TV reports and at least one book that I know of. No doubt I was the topic of discussion with gun packers everywhere, with numerous “uninformed citizens” voicing their outrage of my alleged behavior in the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper. That, of course, increased circulation and made the publisher richer — at my expense.
Following my acquittal of all charges, it was my turn. I wrote a letter to the Gazette publisher acquainting him with facts that were part of court record and how they differed with what was printed. Within one week the editorial page editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette Newspaper, Dan Griswold, published his notice of departing, and two weeks after that he was gone. The two reporters that caused most of the problem, Kathryn Sosbe and Marcus Montoya, departed soon thereafter, I hope in response to my letters to them and their fellow reporters.
The chief prosecutor in the DA’s office was Bill Aspinwall, a fellow who was successful in prosecuting over 20 cases, and who routinely pulled dirty tricks in and out of the courtroom. Aspinwall liked seeing his photo in the newspaper and being quoted by reporters, so he was quite free with his condemnations. Since I was acquitted of all charges, my letter to the Grievance Committee of the Colorado Supreme Court could not be interpreted as sour grapes and ignored. When they notified Aspinwall that they were considering investigating him, the DA told him that he would be fired if they did investigate. They did so and Bill Aspinwall moved immediately to private practice, thanks to yours truly. The era of disinformation to the news media courtesy of Bill Aspinwall was over (fair comment).
I was also instrumental in getting the life membership of Colorado chairman of the NAACP, James Tucker, revoked. He got booted because the NAACP threatened a race riot in Colorado Springs if I wasn’t charged with Second Degree Murder, as was one of their black brothers about 13 months earlier.
The shooting incident attracted national attention based on the distorted views of reporters who got to see their creations on the front pages and above the fold line. Three reporters working for U.S. News and World Report picked up the distortions and wrote an article titled “Road Rage.” I wrote a stinging letter to the editor and he published a letter written by my daughter the following September with his regrets for the error (my letter was too insulting to be shared with the public). You can read the article by Googling “Vern Smalley.” You might note that the article was written by a lowlife named Warren Cohen (fair comment) who was fired by U.S. News, and is published on his own website in retaliation for my getting him fired.
About the time of my incident, a 15-year old was convicted for murdering his two abusive parents, following which I was found innocent. This upset Mary Ellen Johnson so much, she wrote a book titled “The Murder of Jacob” which is still for sale on the internet. The paragraph posted on this forum by DevilDog came from her book. It’s all a bunch of invented garbage, but after living in Colorado Springs for 17 years and being married to a psychologist, I am firmly convinced that Mary Ellen Johnson is ill (fair comment) with the same malady that affects many Colorado Springs residents. It’s a cultural thing wherein people look for ways to degrade others to make themselves look good. By pushing others down, you are artificially elevated and feel better about yourself. If you want to read more about this, look at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). I now live in Montana and the culture here is far different.
You might think that if the news media should invent garbage about you in your shooting incident, all you have to do is sue them. Wrong thinking. The news media is not responsible for presenting facts as you and I would know them. They present “impressions.” I went to two Colorado Springs lawyers to file suit against the liars in the news media, and each lawyer wanted one million dollars up front. They both said that was how much money it would take to win a law suit and prove that the “impressions” were malicious. Unless you have that kind of money (I didn’t) all you can do is suck it up.
Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned is that you might think at the time that you are doing the right thing in using your handgun, as I did. But things can go to hell in an instant, and you can’t set back the clock. Don’t expect people to understand what actually happened. Nearly all people believe what some scumbag reporter writes, and you are completely at their mercy.
Do not fantasize about pulling out your weapon and blowing away the bad guy unless your life is in immediate danger. If there is time and the situation warrants, point your gun at the dirtbag and yell “Back off or I will kill you!” or something like that. If it goes that far, you had better have solid proof that your life was in danger, and no, your word is not good enough. If it winds up with your word being against his in court, you will probably be charged with Malicious Assault With a Weapon, or something similar.
If you are able to do so, use your weapon as a club and strike your assailant on his head. Do it hard and try to knock some sense into him. Remember that once you pull the trigger, it’s a whole new world, one that you will not be able to control. You can comfort yourself that you are still alive, but you want to be sure that you aren’t behind bars. You’ll need plenty of evidence that you did the right thing. I was lucky, and six eye-witnesses stepped forward and saw Tagliere try to kill me those two times. You might not need six witnesses but you will definitely need solid proof that will stand up in court.
Whatever you do, stay at the scene and surrender yourself and your weapon as soon as the police arrive. You should expect to be handcuffed and taken to a police station for questioning. I was read my Miranda Rights and I waived them. I told the police everything I could remember, in spite of my mild closed head injury. As a result, I had a wonderful relationship with the police and sheriff’s department that continues to this day. I had their fullest support, including their keeping me separate from the criminals being detained (I never spent one second behind bars) and defending me in court. Of course, lawyers tell you to not say anything unless they are present. I didn’t believe it then and I don’t now. As a result, my lawyer used the fact that I disclosed everything to the police as evidence that I was a good person.

I hope the above helps all packers.

Vern Smalley

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WayneConrad
October 25, 2006, 12:48 PM
A search finds that this post (http://thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=1129032&postcount=56) by DevilDog is probably the one Vern found.

DevilDog did not link to the source for the article. A google search found this (http://www.ekklesia.com/abuse/colospgs.htm), which contains a word-for-word match of what DevilDog quoted, so it could be the original source.

bluecowdawg
October 25, 2006, 12:54 PM
After his trying to force my car off the road and into a thirty-foot-deep rock-walled canyon where I could have been killed, I regained the lead on the highway. Thinking about how he tried to kill me by forcing my car off the road, I decided to talk to him, not knowing who he was. I pointed to the side of the road, stopped my car, rolled down my window and prepared to bawl him out.

IMHO this is the point in time where things went wrong,you had a choice and maybe you made the wrong one.I drive a truck for a living and also have a permit to carry a concealed handgun,I get cut off,every day by other drivers sometimes accidentally and sometimes on purpose.I never ask them to stop so I can "talk to them " about their actions,instead if there is no accident or harm caused physically to me or my vehicle I " FORGET IT and DRIVE ON" if you cant remember that then remember "FIDO".Just my 2 cents

TexasRifleman
October 25, 2006, 01:03 PM
After his trying to force my car off the road and into a thirty-foot-deep rock-walled canyon where I could have been killed, I regained the lead on the highway. Thinking about how he tried to kill me by forcing my car off the road, I decided to talk to him, not knowing who he was. I pointed to the side of the road, stopped my car, rolled down my window and prepared to bawl him out.

What was the purpose of this?
No phone to call the cops?
What did you think you were gonna get, an apology?

Carmine Tagliere III was 17 years old, had been banned from two Colorado Springs shopping malls for fist fighting, had been suspended from high school for fist fighting, had a police record for threatening another boy with a pistol, had a reputation at his high school as a bully, had a community reputation for violence, and was then trying to force my car off the road because I was in his way.

None of which matters because you didn't know any of this BEFORE the encounter. Intel learned AFTER an encounter is not useful to justifying self defense.

A photograph later released by his parents showed him as a wrestler in high school, wearing a leather head guard, so I am quite positive he knew the dangers of hitting someone in their temple. There is no doubt he did his best to kill me twice that day.

Same thing, intel learned after the encounter. Only what you KNEW AT THE TIME matters.

Fortunately, honest people saw Tagliere try to kill me and they testified as such.
After a very short deliberation of a few hours, I was acquitted of Second Degree Murder and Negligent Homicide in a criminal trial that attracted national media attention in December, 1993.

You're very lucky. You could have prevented this entire thing however by avoiding rather than confronting, and if there is a lesson here I believe that's it.

I hope the above helps all packers.

Certainly, and thanks for posting. All of these kinds of things allows us to build plans in our minds ahead of time.

And please take no personal offense at my comments, it's pretty easy to armchair quarterback something from that long ago.

Socrates
October 25, 2006, 01:06 PM
Mr. Smalley:
Thank you, and God Bless. Sometimes, it's hard to remember who's really guilty in this world of liberal spin.

Glad you are alive, and, you handled the incident well.

I'm amazed you were not incarcerated on a second degree murder charge.
What was bail set at?

Thanks

KenRocks
October 25, 2006, 01:08 PM
I agree with everything TexasSigMan said. There was no reason any reasonable person wouldnt have simply called the police and let them handle his reckless driving.

Pulling over to "talk" and doing so with a pistol in your lap only begs for trouble. It said you up in a position where you were nearly obligated to use your weapon for fear of losing it to your attacker, a situation that could have been easily avoided. For a "contraction" to set off your handgun, your finger had to have already been in the trigger guard. For it to have been on the trigger in the first place, you intended to shoot him. The fact that an "involuntary muscle contraction" did it before you could is irrelevant.

I am glad that you were acquitted if the situation is truly as you explained it. The lack of credible sources makes discussion essentially irrelevant, however.

Vern Smalley
October 25, 2006, 01:09 PM
You are absolutely right. I made a mistake, and it's easy for anyone to make a mistake, right?

I thought that posting my mistakes would benefit others.

No, cell phone were uncommon in 1993, and I had no way to telephone anyone.

Vern Smalley

Zundfolge
October 25, 2006, 01:10 PM
Things must be very different today in The Springs ... I moved here in 2002 (from Wichita Kansas ... what you describe sounds more like Wichita than here ... for one thing are there even enough black people here for a decent riot? Plus if it happened today I see most of the populace and the Gazette backing you 100%).

In addition, the media nationally has changed enough that I think your experience would be different today.

At any rate, its an interesting study in self defense, the law and the media. Thanks for posting it.

KenRocks
October 25, 2006, 01:19 PM
I appreciate your honesty and ability to allow your actions to be a learning experience for all of us.

Im sure it was a hard thing to do, and I respect that you did it.

Technosavant
October 25, 2006, 01:40 PM
Vern, thanks for your honesty. I appreciate your insight as to post-shooting behavior; as you might discover on this board, it is a constant issue.

Glad to hear your life wasn't ruined beyond repair.

c_yeager
October 25, 2006, 02:49 PM
So you have an altercation with a driver on the road, you then deliberatly catch up with him instruct him to pull over, with the full intention of creating a further confrontation, when that confrontation inevitably happens and you find yourself over your head, you kill him. Your lucky I wasnt on your jury.

Mannlicher
October 25, 2006, 03:45 PM
So you have an altercation with a driver on the road, you then deliberatly catch up with him instruct him to pull over, with the full intention of creating a further confrontation, when that confrontation inevitably happens and you find yourself over your head, you kill him. Your lucky I wasnt on your jury.

One of the really interesting things about this forum, is the number of vituperative, mean spirited and oh so righteous responders.
Vern, good for you. I think you made the best of a bad situation, and for the life of me, I can't find any sympathy for the young hoodlum involved.

Thefabulousfink
October 25, 2006, 04:25 PM
c_yeager,

When I was younger and stupid (19) I passed/cut off a trucker on a windy road. About 1 mile later that trucker caught up to me at a road construction sight and told me off (rightly so). Everything that trucker said to me was true, but it still made me angry at the time. I'll agree that stopping and telling some one off is a BAD IDEA because you have no idea how that person will react.


However:
Telling some one off does not justify them to assualt you, and it does not rob you of the right to defend your life.


Was it a bad idea in verns case? Yes, but claiming that it changes self defense to murder make me want to :barf:

Adam Selene
October 25, 2006, 04:39 PM
I think chasing someone down for anything but a road hazard is looking for trouble.
Else what do you expect from the Agenda based Media

TexasRifleman
October 25, 2006, 04:47 PM
Telling some one off does not justify them to assualt you, and it does not rob you of the right to defend your life.

I would not count on that 100 percent of the time.

It might very well rob you of just that right if you are the least bit aggressive.
Having the gun out already to just "tell the kid off" was risky, and I'm honestly shocked that the jury returned a not-guilty. Not because I think he's guilty or not, since none of us heard what the jury heard, but it's not a good tale to use as an example.

This is a dangerous case and you'd be crazy to assume you would get off just because it happened once in 1993.

ezypikns
October 25, 2006, 05:00 PM
and no crticism of this gentleman. He did what he knew was right at the time and luckily the jury agreed with him.

Please heed his words. Carrying a firearm shouldn't make you feel cool or powerful. The decision you've made is a sobering one. You should be doing it for only one reason. To possibly save your own life or those you love.

jfanzen
October 25, 2006, 05:02 PM
good deal thanks for sharing.. my thoughts are that you should of just ignored it... no matter how mad you were.. but things happen... thanks for sharing....

knuckles
October 25, 2006, 05:02 PM
You are absolutely right. I made a mistake, and it's easy for anyone to make a mistake, right?

I thought that posting my mistakes would benefit others.

I think that pretty much somes this whole post up. I don't think that Monday morning quaterbacking is what Vern meant here. I think he was saying that despite the mistakes he made, he wanted to set the record straight right or wrong for others to, hopefully, learn from.

Mornard
October 25, 2006, 05:41 PM
Sounds like the "inter-limb" reaction took a mad-dog piece of crap out that would have gone on to bigger and worse events otherwise. Whether Vern's actions were right or wrong in your eyes, that was the overall benefit.

R-Tex12
October 25, 2006, 05:45 PM
I appreciate your having taken the time and trouble to post the actual chain of events, Mr. Smalley. There are several points you made that I find most valuable.

Please don't be discouraged by the "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" - I'm sure you've already beaten yourself up over details that none of us have any idea about.

Thanks again. You've provided greatly beneficial information for many of us.

Rick

kevin davis
October 25, 2006, 05:58 PM
Thank you for the interesting post, vern. I am sorry for your trials and through a different type of experience know just how much false information can get around after a bad experience, along with rumors and fabrications and then people trying to exploit it all. Hindsight is the clearest of lenses but also an impossible standard. This guy was a murder waiting to happen to some other poor bystander.
Too many people are afraid to correct wrongful and dangerous behaviour from toughs and bullies and as a result, it continues and often escalates. The second he entered your car window, he became in immediate danger and the shooting was justified. For him to yell and curse outside, fine. To attack you is completely wrong. Was it a mistake to pull him over? Yes and no. He needed to hear what was said, whether he wanted it or not, whether he liked it or not. Yes, becauses look at all the trouble that came. I think you have saved someone else's life down the road. This story reminds me of the West Texas bully who stole from, threatened, shot at and trashed the citizens and local justice system. Eventually he was shot by multiple guns in town and no one saw a thing. Some people just need killing because the system (police, courts) does not and cannot work. Thank you.

c_yeager
October 26, 2006, 03:33 PM
However:
Telling some one off does not justify them to assualt you, and it does not rob you of the right to defend your life.



Certainly, but if you deliberatly pick a fight with someone while carrying a weapon, with the full intention of using that weapon when you fight you picked starts, then its murder. You deliberatly created a situation in which there is a strong likelyhood that you would be killing another person, and you created that situation for no reason other than to punish someone for your perception of their actions.

For the record here is the thread that was refferenced in the start of this thread, I have no idea why a link was not included. Some of the people posting in this thead also posted in that one. I did, and my post then is essentially the same as my post yesterday.

www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=92550

Here is the specifiv post by DevilDog that is being refferenced (its on page 3).

So for anyone who wants to prove how "tough" they are by not letting another motorist push you around... is your life worth it?

Many Colorado residents might remember the name "Vern Smalley". In the early '90s, in morning traffic (iirc), he and a 17 year old boy got in a traffic altercation. They pulled over (accounts differ who initiated the pullover, but in the trial it was accepted that the boy initiated it). The end result was the boy being shot and killed.

From an article I found about it on the internet:

"Vern Smalley, a retired colonel was tried for blowing away a seventeen year old.The two had been engaged in an angry game of bumper tag during morning traffic. After the teenager motioned him over to the side of the road,Smalley, who patrolled the highways like some aging Road Warrior, removed a gun from his glove compartment and rolled down his window. The kid walked up to him. Some witnesses say he punched Smalley. Others say he didn't. Smalley testified that his pistol accidentally discharged into the teenager's chest.Experts countered that the pistol couldn't possibly have accidentally done anything. The youth, Carmine Tagliere, died instantly, along the shoulder of that busy highway. The jury acquitted Vern Smalley..."

What I learned from this - don't pull over. If/when I have children, I will teach them to NOT pull-over. Let it go.

Being "tough" is resisting a criminal who has you cornered. Elevating a traffic situation that you can drive away from is juvenile, imho. I confess though, I have to fight the urge to "get at them" for driving stupid when it happens to me.

Flintlock Tom
October 26, 2006, 04:00 PM
Thanks, Vern, for the valuable reminder that there are two sides to every story. And the reminder that even after the scumbag is buried, he can still screw up your life.

Cosmoline
October 26, 2006, 04:07 PM
Thanks for setting that straight. Perhaps the most important lesson here is to never trust the mainstream media.

romma
October 26, 2006, 04:12 PM
Certainly, but if you deliberatly pick a fight with someone while carrying a weapon, with the full intention of using that weapon when you fight you picked starts, then its murder. I don't believe it is murder... Even though pulling over to the side of the road is asking for trouble, the other party (now deceased) escalated to the point where self-defense was needed. There is should be certain level of culpability... not sure how much though.

googol
October 26, 2006, 04:32 PM
Quote:
"Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned is that you might think at the time that you are doing the right thing in using your handgun, as I did. But things can go to hell in an instant, and you can’t set back the clock. Don’t expect people to understand what actually happened. Nearly all people believe what some scumbag reporter writes, and you are completely at their mercy."

That quote may be a simple case of poor wording, or it could be a revealing admission that you weren't unconscious at all when you pulled that trigger. It seems obvious that you deliberately went into an inherently dangerous situation--a face-to-face confrontation with a reckless driver--with a loaded gun in your hand. The situation got out of hand, as you halfway hoped, and you got to kill a teenage punk. Good for you. You gave the jury a bull defense called “interlimb-interaction," which allowed them to acquit you (no doubt with much winking and nudging). Good for you.

That was 13 years ago. Don't you think you ought to move on? You got away with murder. Isn't that good enough for you?

David W. Gay
October 26, 2006, 04:49 PM
It seems obvious that you deliberately went into an inherently dangerous situation--a face-to-face confrontation with a reckless driver--with a loaded gun in your hand.

Actually, as I read it, he DID NOT go into the situation with a loaded gun in hand. He indicated that he did not retrieve his weapon until AFTER the other driver ran towards his car with clinched fists.

You got away with murder.

He did? I thought the jury found him NOT guilty...

antsi
October 26, 2006, 04:58 PM
Wow, there sure is a spectrum of opinions reflected in these responses.

My takes:

1) Chasing down an aggressive/inappropriate driver is a bad, bad decision. VS voluntarily and unnecessarily entered into a situation that was very likely to escalate into violence.

2) In his follow up post, VS was man enough to admit his poor judgement. We certainly can learn from your mistakes VS; thanks for posting.

3) "Got away with murder" is way over the top. "Got away with killing someone in a violent confrontation that could have and should have been avoided" is probably a more accurate description. In an unfavorable political climate, it is perfectly possible that VS could have been convicted of murder, but if his description of the events is accurate I don't think that would have been the correct verdict.

Travis Lee
October 26, 2006, 05:04 PM
This incident was 13 years ago.

Everything I read indicates that he was vilified in the press, lied about, had his day in court, and was acquitted.

Didn't this incident begin with Tagliere trying to run smalley off the road, into a canyon? I defy anybody here to survive that and not be angry.

I think VS learned from the experience the factor of his own actions in that incident. He mis estimated the response of the punk who attacked him. Did he "provoke" him? That is arguable.

Did he provoke a LETHAL assault which he HAD to respond to? It doesn't look like it. The teenage punk had a history, and if he hadn't attacked VS on that day, he would have run into someone else who gave him what he was looking for. I won't waste tears on him.

Even if he had been convicted of second degree murder, VS would certainly have been released by now.

Are we going to learn from example or just badger Vern Smalley for the rest of his life?

He didn't post here out of the blue, he was responding to lies and distortions about the incident presently being circulated .... or are we saying he has no business even DARING to present his side of it?

It seems his tone was cautionary, rather than self aggrandizing.

The air must be sweet up on that high horse where so many of you sit in judgement.

--Travis--

iiibdsiil
October 26, 2006, 05:16 PM
Sounds like the kid deserved a good shooting.

Mr. Smalley, I really appreciate you coming forward with this. It makes me sick how the media will distort information that much. The insite is incredible, and I wish others would tell their story, as we would all gain from it.

gbran
October 26, 2006, 06:32 PM
Mr. Smalley,

I too would not have stopped, but given that you did, I have no problems with your actions save one. I understand you may not have intentionally shot him, but why didn't you shoot him much earlier? I don't think I would have taken a beating as long as you did before I shot him.

Zundfolge
October 26, 2006, 06:33 PM
One thing I've learned from this thread is that The High Road is a little lower than it used to be :(

Delta608
October 26, 2006, 07:28 PM
TROLL ALERT

jondar
October 26, 2006, 08:06 PM
Vern - I may have this mixed up with another event, but didn't the father of the deceased, in a TV interview, say that he believed that his son was the type that would attack someone over nothing and believed that you acted in the only way you could to protect yourself? Correct me if I'm wrong.

kadet
April 26, 2007, 09:42 PM
Mr. Smalley -
I want you to know that there is another side to this whole incident. Carmine! The life of an amazing soul was taken that day. When you took the life of Carmine, I was a 17 year-old senior at Air Academy High School that cared a great deal for Carmine. I have so many great memories of Carmine (double dating to Freshman homecoming, being locker neighbors, hanging out at football games, and so much more.)
My friend was taken from me, my senior year and the rest of my life was forever changed. Nor was I alone in this - the entire Kadet community was harmed and changed due to your actions.
You decided to be judge, jury and executioner right there on I-25. You claim to be such an upstanding citizen and Retired Air Force, blah,blah,blah - that does not make you untouchable or a better person that any of us. In fact, all of this ramble about your credentials and yada, yada, make me sense that you have an issue with ego.
Teenagers are not always the most responsible and yes, they do irresponsible things. However, you are the adult. You should have taken "the high road" and gotten on with your day. Also, there is no rock canyon on that stretch of I-25 so please don't be over dramatic or make the danger you were in to be more than it is.
As you stated, you were in your car. Drive away! You chose to have Carmine pull over and interact with you. When Carmine reacted in a way that you did not choose, expect, or know how to handle, you should have put it in drive and left the situation. But no, you chose how to handle the situation and to do so with deadly force.
Carmine was a 17 year old boy who acted as a 17 year old boy would.
Did you ever consider that Carmine has a family and has friends that 14 years later are hurting and will forever miss this incredible soul.
He was kind, thoughtful, caring.
You started the situation and you decided how to finish it as well.
So much for adults displaying appropriate behavior and for "Air Force Men to be upstanding citizens."
Please be assured the Kadet country will never forget!
We love you and miss you Carmine!

ingram
April 26, 2007, 10:14 PM
Kadet, the fact that you knew the victim compromises your judgement. The jury made a decision, they were more qualified to make that call than you, me, or anyone else involved. They had all the facts of the case.

Anyways.... with seeing how many false news stories are put out... I really am getting so skeptical that it's hard to believe anything I read... everyone should keep this in mind. I see a lot of people balking about how the news always gets things wrong, but it is often these same people taking new news stories as fact.

Also, taking the accounts of a friend or family member as gospel should be avoided. Carmine's arrest records and actions speak much differently to your "kind, thoughtful, caring" assessment.

fast eddie
April 26, 2007, 10:29 PM
Carmine was a 17 year old boy who acted as a 17 year old boy would.
Wrong. Carmine was a very dangerous man.

Leanwolf
April 26, 2007, 11:19 PM
KADET - " He [Carmine] was kind, thoughtful, caring."

Yep, you could tell that by his police record, and how he nearly beat a man to death in his uncontrollable rage.

L.W.

ATW525
April 26, 2007, 11:35 PM
The jury made a decision, they were more qualified to make that call than you, me, or anyone else involved. They had all the facts of the case.

+1

This is what it comes down to for me. It sounds like there was poor judgement all around during the incident. However, the jury, armed with the facts of the case, determined it was a justifiable case of self defense.

I will say this, though: 17 or not, if somebody attacks me with repeated blows to the head while I was stuck in a position of significant disadvantage, then I would use deadly force to defend myself. The simple fact of the matter is that if somebody is going to live like a thug, then they darn well better be prepared to die like a thug.

Exposure
April 26, 2007, 11:51 PM
Carmine was a 17 year old boy who acted as a 17 year old boy would.

I was a 17 year old boy once myself. Leaning into peoples car windows and smashing them in the face is not something I ever did, or even thought of doing.

Carmine brought his fists to a gunfight, maybe he should have left his attitude at home and not assaulted a stranger.

Valkman
April 27, 2007, 12:43 AM
You decided to be judge, jury and executioner right there on I-25.

If he didn't it sounds like your friend would be a murderer and Mr. Smalley would be dead. Carmine wouldn't have got shot if he wasn't acting like a thug. Makes me wonder about his "friends".

Thanks for posting this, Vern. We all make mistakes and hopefully we live to not do them again.

poor_richard
April 27, 2007, 01:13 AM
He was kind, thoughtful, caring.
"kind, thoughtful, caring" people don't lean into another person's car while trying to bash their head in. Neither do normal 17 year old man/child's. That sort of behavior is unacceptable in any event.

Vern made a bad judgment call in prompting the punk to pull the thug over, but that doesn't excuse or warrant the reaction it got.

c_yeager
April 27, 2007, 04:57 AM
It is always interesting when old threads get brought back up. Sometimes one reads their old posts and wonders what they heck they were thinking when they made them. This is not one of those times for me. The absolute responsibility of every gun owner is to do everything in their power to never have to use their weapons. Vern deliberately entered a situation for no reason other than his own pride and he killed a man because of it, it shames me that he is counted among decent gun owners.

Mr White
April 27, 2007, 07:16 AM
I partially disagree, C Yeager. Yes, Vern made a bad judgement call in pulling over, I'll give you that. But once he pulled over, he was brutally attacked and took necessary actions to save his own life. I don't believe that Vern pulled over with the intent to kill that thug, but once he realized that his life was in danger, the shooting was justified.

IMO, Carmine got what he deserved. One less lowlife in the world.

sacp81170a
April 27, 2007, 07:52 AM
The standard for me is "what would I have done in this situation?" It makes no difference whether an error in judgement led to that situation or not, the fact is, the wolf was at the door and Mr. Smalley did what he had to to go home. Would it make a difference if the altercation had taken place in a parking lot and the piece of human garbage had just walked up and started punching? Under the immediate circumstances, no. I believe that is what the jury found. Sorry for your pain, Vern. Your lesson is one that should be taken to heart by us all.

Zach S
April 27, 2007, 08:50 AM
"kind, thoughtful, caring" people don't lean into another person's car while trying to bash their head in. Neither do normal 17 year old man/child's. That sort of behavior is unacceptable in any event.

Vern made a bad judgment call in prompting the punk to pull the thug over, but that doesn't excuse or warrant the reaction it got.
I was going to add something to this, but honestly, this post pretty much sums it up.

Colt
April 27, 2007, 09:12 AM
IMO, the fact that Vern stayed in his car was pivotal. If he had gotten out of his car carrying the .357, the jury probably would have made a different decision. By staying in his car, I believe he reclaimed his status as defensive. Poor as his decision may have been to initiate the roadside confrontation, he didn't initiate physical contact with the 17 year-old.

Making a mistake the leads to the necessity of deadly force is something that troubles me, pesonally.

If you tell a bunch of 17 year-olds to stop breaking bottles in a parking lot, have you initiated a physical confrontation? If you tell the jerk at the 7-11 not to cut in line, are you at fault if he comes at you?

Carrying a weapon certainly warrants maintaining a higher level of awareness, but does it require you to avoid all confrontation at any cost?

ojibweindian
April 27, 2007, 10:48 AM
Actions have consequences.

Carmine was a boorish brat, extremely immature, had an explosive temper, and poor impulse control. That combination of personality traits is a death sentence.

If Vern hadn't killed him (justifiably, as far as I'm concerned), someone else certainly would have.

Dorryn
April 27, 2007, 11:00 AM
Zundfolge: One thing I've learned from this thread is that The High Road is a little lower than it used to be

+1.

grampster
April 27, 2007, 11:30 AM
There are many lessons to be learned from this incident. It is up to each of us to take what we can from this unfortunate situation.

It takes two to fulfill road rage. Turn off, turn around, call the police on your cell. Never confront.

Never place yourself in a position of disadvantage.

Giving a lecture to a stranger who has been aggressive is never warranted.

Defusing a situation is much preferred over lighting the fuse.

Much of what Mr. Smalley says about what occurred after the incident should provide much wisdom about how things can spin out of control. It is also noteworthy that just about everyone who publicly decided to portray this incident in the media and for the prosecution lost their jobs. That does not occur if justice has miscarried.

I'm sure if Mr. Smalley had the opportunity to relive this incident, it probably would never had occurred.

We all are human and make bad judgments from time to time. Sometimes those decisions result in bad things happening.

Rather than raking anyone over the coals about this issue, it is better that we take to heart this man's experience.

Thank you for posting this most compelling story, Mr. Smalley.

swingcatt
April 27, 2007, 11:35 AM
Thanks for the post Vern. I am going to print your letter out and pass this out at our next Personal Protection course. Your case is an excellent example of the responsibility that you undertake when you choose to carry a firearm for self defense. It also drives home the fact that those of us who do carry a firearm every day need to, ABOVE ALL ELSE, take the high road every minute of every day.

I am so sorry that one poor decision has cost you so much, however if one person can learn from your mistake, something good has come from this.


Thanks again for the insightfull post. - SC

BigO01
April 27, 2007, 12:18 PM
Thanks for the truth on all of this Vern and I am glad you lived through all of this .

As to the whats , whys and hows of all of this a little thinking on the two peoples ages and generations in which they grew up in and moral standards with which they were raised will answer everyones questions .

Vern obviously grew up in a time where kids listened to and respected their elders . NO doubt he probably did a few stupid things as a kid and had a nearby adult "dress him down" for his behavior and acted appropriately for the times , which was to be ashamed of himself and apologize to the adult for the way in which he acted .

Then we have this punk Carmine who obviously thought he could do whatever he pleased and it didn't matter if he was endangering innocent lives on the road or not . Add this to the fact that he was black and Vern was white so he wasn't about to let "Whitey" push him around and tell him what to do so he had the "right" to beat him to death just because he felt like it .

Kadet your friend was a two bit punk and a hood who had no respect for anyone , himself included and he got what he deserved plain and simple . I hope in the last few moments of his life he came to understand what a worthless POS he was and he died begging , groveling , crying and wetting his pants like the filthy dog he was !

The only lesson from all of this is that morals in modern society are nonexistent and these little punks will kill you or try to at the drop of a hat for no rime or reason other than they feel like it !

Respond appropriately for the present times without hesitation or they will succeed in doing so !

Notch
April 27, 2007, 12:46 PM
Maybe the folks here arguing that what you did was wrong hope that some day their son, daughter or wife ran into this guy... You did GOOD. I am sorry you had to go through what you did, but folks like that boy... They need to be taken care of when they are still young, before they cause years of missery and hurt to everyone they run into.

High Planes Drifter
April 27, 2007, 04:04 PM
Carmine was a 17 year old boy who acted as a 17 year old boy would.
Did you ever consider that Carmine has a family and has friends that 14 years later are hurting and will forever miss this incredible soul.
He was kind, thoughtful, caring.


Who almost killed another human being by pummeling him about the head.

TamThompson
April 27, 2007, 04:22 PM
Vern, thank you for posting your experience. I, for one, appreciate it greatly as it is very enlightening. May God bless you and keep you, and it's a real shame what you had to go through.

I'm not going to second-guess you because hindsight is always 20-20.

karben17
April 27, 2007, 04:48 PM
Actions have consequences.

Carmine was a boorish brat, extremely immature, had an explosive temper, and poor impulse control. That combination of personality traits is a death sentence.

I agree. 17 years old is old enough to know better. Don't tell me he was "kind, thoughtful, and caring", his actions speak otherwise.

Thank you, Mr. Smalley, for posting about your experiences and lessons learned; it benefits us all.

AlaskaErik
April 27, 2007, 04:56 PM
This happened in 1993. Cell phones were still a novelty for many, so I can understand why no phone call to the police was made. Also, one probably did not expect to be assaulted back then by an out of control teenager. 14 years later we know better than to try and reason with some idiot on the road.

c_yeager
April 30, 2007, 12:03 AM
I partially disagree, C Yeager. Yes, Vern made a bad judgement call in pulling over, I'll give you that.

I know that no one is going to be changing their minds on this one, but I do just want to point out a couple of things. Errors in judgement that result in people getting killed are known as "crimes".

Lets look at an example to think about this.

Lets say that I am a fairly frail person. I have health problems that keep me from being able to withstand a beating, or put up much of a defense against one. I carry a gun. I find a big scary man, who is clearly a person who is quick to aggression. I deliberately antagonize him until he attacks me. The moment that he starts to get the better of me, I draw my weapon and kill him.

To my mind that is murder. I created a situation of my own free will. I knew that I was carrying a weapon, and that I had no other means of defending myself and I deliberately placed myself into a situation in which i would likely have to do so for no reason beyond my own pride.

This whole thing never happens if Vern acts like an adult and keeps his own emotions in check. He didn't, and now someone is dead. Vern being wrong doesn't make the kid right any more than the kid being wrong would make Vern right. It is my belief that both of these people are firmly in the wrong.

Thats pretty much all I have to say about it. Like I said, i know that no one is going to change their minds, so a discussion is fairly pointless. I just wanted to explain my position.

Fetus
September 24, 2008, 01:16 AM
glad your ok .


Just curious ... do you still have the Security Six . ??

M203Sniper
September 24, 2008, 02:11 AM
Thread Necromancy. :cuss:

Mickstix
September 24, 2008, 02:28 AM
Necromancy

It's late and Im much to tired (and lazy) to go find the dictionary, or look it up on the net.. So I'll just ask.. What the heck does Thread "Necromancy" mean?? :D

Treo
September 24, 2008, 02:35 AM
Necromancy is magic involving raising the dead, or in this case resurecting a thread that's pushing 3 years old.

That said, I was in the Springs when this happened and all else aside when this guy says the local media was trying to villify him he's being kind, they went out of their way to crucify him. The news stories all made it sound like he started shooting as soon as the kid approached the car. In Fifteen years this is the first time I ever saw his side of the story anywhere.

Oh yeah IBTL

Treo
September 24, 2008, 02:42 AM
After his trying to force my car off the road and into a thirty-foot-deep rock-walled canyon where I could have been killed, I regained the lead on the highway.

This is the only part of the story that doesn't make sense because it doesn't fit the topography anywhere around where though the incident occured

Almond27
September 24, 2008, 02:50 AM
hmmm

Rubber_Duck
September 24, 2008, 02:53 AM
Nevermind.

Autolycus
September 24, 2008, 02:59 AM
This thread has been resurrected twice!

Please MODS lock it, for the sake of us all.

Defensory
September 24, 2008, 03:37 AM
Posted by Treo:
This is the only part of the story that doesn't make sense because it doesn't fit the topography anywhere around where though the incident occured

Heck, the guy's just an Air Force veteran. He probably doesn't have the vocabulary of a Harvard English professor.

Did you stop to think he might just have used the wrong word, and was actually talking about some sort of drainage gully or something similar, rather than a literal "canyon"?

A jury of his peers found him innocent in a court of law. That's good enough for me.

Treo
September 24, 2008, 09:47 AM
Did you stop to think he might just have used the wrong word, and was actually talking about some sort of drainage gully or something similar, rather than a literal "canyon"

I wasn't trying to imply anything by pointing that out but,since you mentioned it I am forced to ask if he dramatized that what else did he "dramatize"? If you look at kadet's post she noted the same thing. If I remember right this happened on I-25 near the Ft. Carson exit and that area of I-25 is pretty flat.

RobNDenver
September 24, 2008, 09:59 AM
Mr. Smalley,

Thanks for this valuable explanation of what happened to you. There are a number of members who asked why you didn't call the police.

They may not know, or could have forgotten, that your situation took place in 1993. Cell phones were not commonly available, and they have no idea how few and far between pay phones are in the Colorado Mountains.

You do the best you can, with what you have at hand at the time. The fact that you were acquitted says everything to me about how you handled this situation.

I will not second guess you or suggest that you should have done anything differently.

Welcome to The High Road.

Deanimator
September 24, 2008, 10:45 AM
They may not know, or could have forgotten, that your situation took place in 1993. Cell phones were not commonly available, and they have no idea how few and far between pay phones are in the Colorado Mountains.
A lot of people don't stop to consider these things. Back in '83 or '84, a guy tried to run a friend and me off of the interstate in Missouri in the middle of the night. He started slowing down, weaving from side to side so that we couldn't pass him. I pointed a loaded HK93 at him through the windshield, whereupon he discovered the ability to exceed the speed of light. We were on I-44(?), in the middle of NOWHERE. We didn't even know where the nearest town was, nevermind where a phone was or whether he had friends waiting at the next exit. If there WERE cellphones then, I think they were the size of a PRC77.

I've had nitwits tell me I did the wrong thing, but as things stood, we'd have never gotten to the next exit, much less off of the highway, in total terra incognita.

And by the way, serial carjacker, child molestor and killer Alton Coleman was doing his midwest tour at the same time. I can't help but wonder whom we REALLY encountered that night. If WAS him and he'd pushed things just a little farther, at least one person would NOT have been carjacked and murdered here in Ohio.

Norinco982lover
September 24, 2008, 12:29 PM
Thanks for posting. I'm glad you cleared your name:)

Defensory
September 27, 2008, 08:03 PM
Posted by Treo:
I wasn't trying to imply anything by pointing that out but,since you mentioned it I am forced to ask if he dramatized that what else did he "dramatize"? If you look at kadet's post she noted the same thing. If I remember right this happened on I-25 near the Ft. Carson exit and that area of I-25 is pretty flat.

How do you know Vern "dramatized" anything?!

He may have innocently used the WRONG word. As I already pointed out, his vocabulary probably isn't up there with a Harvard English professors'.

He may have said "canyon", when he meant to say "gully" or something similar.

The terrain is pretty flat where I'm at, but there are still LARGE drainage gullies of about the size Vern described, along the interstate. They're there in case of heavy rains, so the interstate doesn't flood.

Vern's story doesn't sound "fishy" to me at all, and a jury of his peers agreed. Justice has been properly served under the American legal system.

Treo
September 27, 2008, 08:52 PM
Wow, this a really big deal to you.

He may have innocently used the WRONG word. As I already pointed out, his vocabulary probably isn't up there with a Harvard English professors'

Niether is mine ( although I am sure Mr. Smalley's education far exceeds mine) And yet I know that no such to topographical feature as Mr. Smalley describes exists on the South End of Colorado Springs ( I live here remember), Nor is there any thing that could be mistaken for a 30 foot deep anything. The closest thing would be the railroad road bed at Fillmore & I-25 ( in 1993 that would have been the extreme North end of town) . or maybe the monument creek bridge just south of Cimmaron street ( Pretty much the middle of town then and now).

Point being Mr. Smalley went a long way on the Interstate before deciding to re engage the kid. He even mentions that he thought about being almost run off the road Thinking about how he tried to kill me by forcing my car off the road, I decided to talk to him,
and then decided to talk to Tagliere Whole thing could have been avoided IMO.

In fact, given that he says " I regained the lead on the hiway" I would bet that the "Cañon" he's talking about was Fillmore & I -25 which means that this thing went from one end of town to the other before the confontation occured. There's another term for "regaining the lead" it's called chasing.

Defensory
September 27, 2008, 09:13 PM
Posted by TREO:
Wow, this a really big deal to you.

If you honestly want to believe that, it's a free country. And you do keep posting in this thread, so the same could be said about you. My previous post was about 8 sentences, not exactly a book on the subject.

I gave my opinion that I don't see anything "fishy" about Mr. Smalley's story.

I'm hard-pressed to believe that the interstates in Colorado don't have large ditches for drainage of rainwater, especially in the cities.

I know large drainage ditches are common in places like Phoenix, where rain can cause flash-flooding on the interstate. In L.A., you have entire drainage canals along parts of the interstate.

Mr. Smalley was found innocent by a jury of his peers, who heard his ENTIRE story in a court of law. Good enough for me. ;)

Treo
September 27, 2008, 10:16 PM
I gave my opinion that I don't see anything "fishy" about Mr. Smalley's story

And I have mine, I do. The biggest "fishy" thing I find is that the incident was ( or could have been)done and over when Taligre cut Mr. Smalley off on the road. Instead, Mr. Smalley chased him down on the hiway ( and if Taligre was "racing W/ his buddies" how fast do you think Mr.Smalley had to go to "regain the lead"?) Pulled him over and got ready to "bawl him out" , and ended up shooting the kid when things went south.

Was Mr. Smalley guilty of murder? That question was settled in a court of law for all time.

Was Mr. Smalley guilty of criminal stupidity?

I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

But here's a question for you if Mr. Smalley had said, right after Taligre blew him off the road, "Man,what an idiot." and gone about his business, would we be having this discussion now?

BruceRDucer
September 27, 2008, 10:48 PM
Hey there Vern Smalley, very happy to have read this post. Your account of the events is enlightening in every way.

I especially agree with what you wrote when you stated:

It’s a cultural thing wherein people look for ways to degrade others to make themselves look good. By pushing others down, you are artificially elevated and feel better about yourself. If you want to read more about this, look at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV).----Vern Smalley

I am personally of the same mind on this issue as are you. Stated plainly, it is convenient for people to treat others, in a manner that they themselves would not like to be treated. [It violates the Golden Rule.]

Pardon me if I missed something, but as I read your first paragraphs, it occurred to me that the behavior of your attacker on the highway might have been consistent with the reactions known to occur with Steroid use? Did anything like that come up? If your assailant was chemically driven, there might not have been any other options to protect yourself, given that you had already been traumatized.

May God bless and keep you after all the difficulties you endured.

:)

cassandrasdaddy
September 27, 2008, 10:51 PM
good point to remember next time some fool play dumb in a car

loosecannon
September 27, 2008, 10:56 PM
First, I support Mr. Smalley, who was acquitted despite being tried in an ultra liberal jurisdiction amid hostile media.

Second, let's examine possible errors in his decision-making and instruct others not to make the same mistakes.

Third, we should all be aware that few of us have $20-40,000 for attorney fees to finance a criminal defense.

Fourth, his choice to waive his miranda rights should not be taken as a universal recommendation. He was lucky that the police were more ethical than the da's office.

Treo
September 27, 2008, 11:23 PM
First, I support Mr. Smalley, who was acquitted despite being tried in an ultra liberal jurisdiction amid hostile media.

Say WHAT !?!? El Paso County is one of the most staunchly conservative counties in Colorado. As for the hostile media, can't argue W/ you there.

Larry Ashcraft
September 27, 2008, 11:29 PM
Do we really need to continue this conversation that started two years ago?

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