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Red State
Red State
21 Oct 2023
Jeff Charles

NextImg: GameStop Worker Shoots Thief Stealing Pokemon Cards: Self-Defense or Manslaughter?

There are plenty of stories about armed citizens stopping criminals by using their firearms that are clear-cut cases of self-defense. But in some cases, these incidents aren’t as black and white as they might seem.

An incident that took place on October 17 at a suburban Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, strip mall presents an interesting case study. A man working at a GameStop store is facing manslaughter charges after he shot a thief to death who was attempting to steal some Pokemon cards.

A retired Marine working as a clerk at a Florida GameStop store has been charged with manslaughter after police said he fatally shot a shoplifter who tried to steal $600 worth of Pokemon trading cards.

Derrick Guerrero, 33, was working a shift at the video game retailer in a suburban Fort Lauderdale strip mall Tuesday night when a shoplifter grabbed five boxes of Pokemon Scarlet & Violet “ultra-premium” cards and ran for the exit, Pembroke Pines police said in a report released Wednesday.

The cards, based on the popular Japanese media franchise, retail for $120 a box.

Guerrero pulled a handgun from his waistband and fired one shot, hitting the shoplifter in the side, police said.

The victim dropped the stolen cards and ran outside to a waiting pickup truck, where his girlfriend called police.

He died three hours later at a hospital.

The victim’s family identified him to NBC 6 as 21-year-old Chadrick Coats.

Law enforcement noted that store security footage showed that Coats did not appear to threaten Guerrero nor brandish any weapons. The shooter’s attorney explained that he had been honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps after a decade of service. He had purchased the firearm for personal protection after being a victim of a robbery at his job in 2022.

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law allows an individual to use deadly force when being threatened with death or great bodily harm. However, the law does not cover using this level of violence to protect property.

Those on Guerrero’s side might argue that while the law does not cover the defense of property, his past experience contributed to his perception that he might be faced with a deadly threat even though Coats had not actually threatened him. They might also argue that the fault lies with Coats for having created the conditions for his death in the first place, by trying to steal someone else’s property.

On the other hand, critics of Guerrero might argue that his actions were disproportionate to the situation with which he was presented. It could be argued that stolen property should not result in the loss of life. In hindsight, Coats’ actions were clearly wrong, but he did not present a threat to Guerrero. Letting law enforcement take care of Coats’ theft might have been the more appropriate course of action, rather than using deadly force to stop him.

In situations like this, it is not always easy to determine what one would do. But for my part, I don’t think I would have used deadly force in this encounter. If the account from law enforcement is accurate, and Coats did not engage in violent or threatening behavior, I would not feel comfortable shooting him – especially not over $100 worth of property. Moreover, knowing what the law protects and does not protect would figure heavily into my decision. Is protecting Pokemon cards worth possibly serving jail time? From where I sit, the answer is: No.