Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Road Rage and Handguns

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Vern Smalley, Oct 25, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Vern Smalley

    Vern Smalley Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Bozeman, Montana
    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
     
  2. WayneConrad

    WayneConrad Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2005
    Messages:
    2,128
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    A search finds that this post by DevilDog is probably the one Vern found.

    DevilDog did not link to the source for the article. A google search found this, which contains a word-for-word match of what DevilDog quoted, so it could be the original source.
     
  3. bluecowdawg

    bluecowdawg Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2003
    Messages:
    226
    Location:
    east texas
    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
     
  4. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Messages:
    18,302
    Location:
    Ft. Worth
    What was the purpose of this?
    No phone to call the cops?
    What did you think you were gonna get, an apology?

    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.

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

    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.

    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.
     
  5. Socrates

    Socrates Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2006
    Messages:
    262
    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
     
  6. KenRocks

    KenRocks Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2006
    Messages:
    144
    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.
     
  7. Vern Smalley

    Vern Smalley Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2006
    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Bozeman, Montana
    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
     
  8. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    10,755
    Location:
    Colorado Springs
    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.
     
  9. KenRocks

    KenRocks Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2006
    Messages:
    144
    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.
     
  10. Technosavant

    Technosavant Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2005
    Messages:
    2,011
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    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.
     
  11. c_yeager

    c_yeager Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2003
    Messages:
    5,479
    Location:
    Seattle
    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.
     
  12. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    3,430
    Location:
    North Central Florida and Miami Florida
    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.
     
  13. Thefabulousfink

    Thefabulousfink Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2005
    Messages:
    1,506
    Location:
    Spokane, WA
    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:
     
  14. Adam Selene

    Adam Selene Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2006
    Messages:
    38
    Location:
    near any vocoder
    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
     
  15. TexasRifleman

    TexasRifleman Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2003
    Messages:
    18,302
    Location:
    Ft. Worth
    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.
     
  16. ezypikns

    ezypikns Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2004
    Messages:
    1,336
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    There should be no second guessing....

    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.
     
  17. jfanzen

    jfanzen Member

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2006
    Messages:
    96
    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....
     
  18. knuckles

    knuckles Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    288
    Location:
    Central, FL
    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.
     
  19. Mornard

    Mornard Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2003
    Messages:
    200
    Location:
    Twin Cities, MN
    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.
     
  20. R-Tex12

    R-Tex12 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    309
    Location:
    Texas
    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
     
  21. kevin davis

    kevin davis Member

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2006
    Messages:
    107
    Location:
    texas
    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.
     
  22. c_yeager

    c_yeager Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2003
    Messages:
    5,479
    Location:
    Seattle
    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).

     
  23. Flintlock Tom

    Flintlock Tom Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Messages:
    180
    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    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.
     
  24. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Messages:
    23,648
    Location:
    Los Anchorage
    Thanks for setting that straight. Perhaps the most important lesson here is to never trust the mainstream media.
     
  25. romma

    romma Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2005
    Messages:
    3,208
    Location:
    Southeastern,CT
    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.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page