Sunday, January 16, 2011

Negligent Death? Nonsense!

It turns out that the widow of a 31-yr-old Albany CSD schoolteacher is suing a Buffalo-area home owner for the negligent death of her husband last March. The lawsuit accuses David D'Amico of the "willful, intentional, malicious" slaying of Park, and acting "without just cause [or] provocation." After an investigation of the incident, criminal charges were not pressed against the homeowner, D’Amico.

In case you don’t know the details of this story, they are as follows. D'Amico shot the 31-year-old Park early March 28. The two men did not know each other. D'Amico told police that he shot Park after Park illegally entered D'Amico's home on Millbrook Court and refused to leave despite D'Amico's warnings that he was armed and would shoot. Park, who was intoxicated, according to prosecutors, had gone into D'Amico's home after leaving a party next door. Although no criminal charges were filed, attorneys for the Park family allege under civil law that D'Amico was negligent and acted wrongfully by killing Park. Police never determined why Park left the party, why he went into the D'Amico home or why he never heeded D'Amico's request to leave the home, Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III said. Police determined that Park entered the D'Amico home through an unlocked rear door. The D'Amicos had gone to bed at about 10 p.m. thinking the door was locked. Authorities said D'Amico had dialed 911 and was waiting for police to arrive when the shooting occurred. From the top of a stairway leading to his bedroom, he fired at Park at the bottom of the stairs. D'Amico was fearful because Park -- despite loud, repeated warnings -- walked "all the way through the house and kept advancing toward the stairway." D'Amico shot Park because he feared that Park was about to walk up the stairs and try to harm D'Amico and his wife, Julie. Police said a blood test determined that Park's blood-alcohol content was 0.18, more than twice the level needed to charge a motorist in this state with driving while intoxicated.

I can only imagine the pain involved with losing your spouse at such an early age, in such a bizarre, unexplainable way. For that I feel for this young widow. But to have the audacity to haul a homeowner into court for negligence, when her husband entered his house drunk, and refused to leave, is unbelievable. If I snapped awake at 1AM, and a stranger, who was clearly drunk, was stumbling around my house and advancing on my family, and would not respond to my requests to leave or back off, and had no apparent motive, and might’ve been armed, I would’ve done the same thing as this homeowner D’Amico did. Wouldn’t any man? Personally I do not have children, but I do have a home, and my worst nightmare is an intruder, especially an intruder this late at night who’s non-responsive and refusing to leave. The homeowner called 911. What else was he supposed to do? One report claimed that he may have left the back door unlocked, thinking that it was locked when he went to bed. For that I have to question him. I check every door 5 times before I go to bed, so the odds of ever facing this kind of situation are far less. But that's where my burden of blame in regards to this homeowner ends.

Many will likely accuse this young widow of trying to cash-grab through this silly civil suit. I don’t see it like that. I see her as a bit confused, grief-stricken, and being led about by some money-hungry attorneys, and people who have their own interests in mind. I call hers more a case of stupidity and vulnerability than I do of good old greed. Either way she has no case, and this nonsense is going to get laughed out of court, at any level. If this is what she has to do to deal with the death of her husband, God bless her and so be it. And I think the lesson is an obvious one. Life is a valuable thing, and nobody is going to leave the fate of their life, or the lives of their loved ones, in the hands of a total stranger stumbling around his/her house. On the flipside, you can’t get wasted 400 miles from home, in a strange place, then (for whatever reason) enter a total stranger’s house and commence to walk around without paying some kind of price. In this case: the ultimate price.

I am sorry for all involved and am saddened to think about the suffering on all sides, and I’m sure this homeowner will never sleep another comfortable night as long as he lives. When a man’s home is violated and he’s forced to pull the big trigger and play God that is something that will never be let go or forgotten. But does he owe this young widow a single red cent? No way! And I am certain the courts will see it the same.

UPDATE: On 1/17/11, it was reported that the Civil Suit against D'Amico has been dropped by the family of David Park

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Brian Huba

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