In Casa Grande, Arizona, a man claiming self-defense might have got overzealous in confronting someone leaving a convenience store. A man was walking out of the store and asked 21-year-old Jerome Denmark if he had some drugs. Allegedly, Denmark told the man, “He wasn’t into that kind of stuff.”
Denmark told detectives, “Something didn’t feel right,” and thought the man appeared to be on drugs. Denmark told the guy he has family members who used drugs, and he wanted to help.
Denmark’s gun was in his lap as he drove over to the man’s vehicle and yelled that he shouldn’t ask strangers for drugs because he might have been an undercover cop. Denmark then told the guy to back away as he approached his truck.
Then the man became angry and punched Denmark in the face. Denmark fired one shot in self-defense, but he didn’t think he hit the guy because someone from the car said, “Go. Just go!” so he drove off. Denmark later told the Police his conscience got the best of him, and he returned to the scene. Regardless of what Denmark thought, he should not have left unless he felt his life was in danger.
When officers arrived, they spotted a man by the building holding a shirt, and he was trying to stop the bleeding caused by the gunshot wound. The bullet entered the side of his face and exited under his right ear. Police got the surveillance footage from the store’s cameras, but the clerk said he was cleaning the restrooms and did not see it happen. Officers said they could smell alcohol and found a half-empty bottle of whiskey in his center console.
A 13-year-old playing a video game in the front passenger seat claimed he did not hear the conversation. Detectives said the passenger’s headrest had a bullet hole, and the driver’s side window was shattered. The scenario doesn’t seem plausible because only a single shot was fired, and the kid probably would be in the way of the damaged locations.
There are inconsistencies in their stories, but it sounds like Denmark was most likely the aggressor and not acting in self-defense. There was no reason to approach the other man, and he could have driven away as the guy walked up.
Even if Denmark had a reason to be there, he showed terrible judgment, allowing the man to get closer since he had time to retreat. They arrested Denmark on suspicion of aggravated assault, endangerment, and unlawful discharge of a firearm.
Denmark was probably out looking for trouble and found it. I have an issue with these guys playing stupid games when a kid is in the vehicle. From the few available details, they could have charged both men for their reckless actions. Two grown men getting into it is one thing, but putting a child’s life in jeopardy takes both their actions to a higher degree of criminal culpability. They should share the responsibility for their confrontation, and I am surprised they both didn’t end up arrested.