The Stoughton District Court will hear charges of Threats and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon against Frederick Baker of Raynham because another man told the police that Baker "pulled out" a pistol during an argument at a gas station. According to the PatriotLedger.com, Baker and the alleged victim were at a Mobil station in Stoughton at approximately 7:00 a.m. yestaerday when an argument started over the use of the pumps.
After their interaction, Baker drove away, but the alleged victim called the police and said that Baker pulled a small black handgun and threatened to blow his head off. The Canton Police stopped Baker on Route 138 and found him to be in possession of a .25 caliber Beretta, and a license to carry it. Baker explained that "he felt threatened." But, according to one officer, "the bottom line is the situation didn't warrant the level of force that he escalated to."
A license to carry a firearm comes with great responsibility and should inspire significant restraint. But these cases are never open and shut. If the reason for the licensed gun is personal safety, what good is it if you are not allowed to prepare for defensive use. The triviality of the argument that created the dangerous situation is irrelevant. The real question with regard to self-defense is whether, at the time the firearm was drawn, the person drawing it was in imminent fear of injury and believed he had no other recourse.
There are many other questions that need to be answered. What did the alleged victim say to Baker? Since it was an argument, we may assume that words were exchanged. Was there a threat towards Baker? Would there actually have been a physical altercation if not for the showing of the gun? Did the gun, in fact, diffuse a dangerous situation? Did the alleged victim have access to a weapon or appear to have such access? Was the alleged victim significantly larger than Baker. Was the alleged victim alone or did he have others with him?
Apparently Baker never aimed the weapon since the article twice says he just "pulled" it. To be convicted of Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in this circumstance, there must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Baker intended to put the victim in fear of an imminent battery and that Baker engaged in some conduct which the victim reasonably perceived as imminently threatening.
So, we know that the victim claims to have seen the gun, and that the victim probably said that he was in fear. But was the victim really in fear and if so was that fear reasonable? I suppose that one important issue in this regard is whether Baker actually said that he would blow the victim's head off. The men had been in an argument. In arguments, like fights, both sides want to win. Perhaps the victim felt as if he had lost and was determined to have the last word by bringing the police into it and saying what was necessary.
Surely Baker's defense will address these issues and more. Aside from the criminal penalties, Baker's license to carry hangs in the balance.