Justified in Shooting Greedo First, He Was

Justified in Shooting Greedo First, He Was

On the eve of the official release of the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” we wanted to share a topic from a long time ago, inspired by a blog not too far away …

In 2012, Joshua Gilliland, a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery and co-creator of The Legal Geeks, cleverly blogged about whether Han Solo was justified in shooting and killing Greedo, a Rodian bounty hunter, in the lively Mos Eisley Cantina. In the 1977 version of “Star Wars,” Han Solo shot first, with this dialogue leading up to it:

Han Solo: Over my dead body!

Greedo: That’s the idea … I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.

Han Solo: Yeah, I’ll bet you have.

[Han kills Greedo, leaves, tossing a coin to the bartender]

Han Solo: Sorry about the mess.

In the 1997 rerelease, a controversial change was made: This time, Greedo fired his blaster first, missing, and then Han Solo fires the kill shot. (Per Wikipedia, this scene was altered twice more, further angering diehard Star Wars fans.)

According to Gilliland, the issue under common law is whether Han reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent and unlawful use of deadly force by Greedo. Identifying the first issue of deadly force, he states:

Under the Model Penal Code, the issue is whether Han believed deadly force was immediately necessary to protect himself against 1) Death (in the event Greedo fired first); 2) Serious bodily injury (a blaster wound likely do serious injury if not fatal) or 3) Kidnapping (Greedo arguably could have intended to take Han to Jabba the Hut.)

Gilliland then identifies the second and third issues: whether Han was required to “retreat” from Greedo and whether Han had a “reasonable belief” about Greedo’s threat.

With the facts applied to the Model Penal Code and Common Law, Gilliland believes 1. Han was justified in shooting first and killing Greedo; 2. Han couldn’t have retreated given his seated position; and 3. Han had a reasonable belief that his life was in danger.

What do you think: justified or not justified?  Use the Force and respond below.



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