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Stand Your Ground: The Case of Yoshi Hattori

Updated on April 5, 2012

Yoshi Hattori

Death by exchange: Yoshi Hattori
Death by exchange: Yoshi Hattori
Yoshi Hattori
Yoshi Hattori

Hattori was gunned down going to a Halloween party

The high-profile case of Trayvon Martin has focused attention on the states that have Stand Your Ground type laws. These laws allow ordinary citizens to use deadly force if they think that they are in IMMINENT danger. Martin was headed back to his house when self-appointed neighborhood watch Captain George Zimmerman followed, confronted and eventually shot the 17-year-old. Though this is a tragedy and has caused anger across the country, another case is just as egregious and should have us howling to repeal these laws.

Yoshi Hattori was the middle child of Japanese parents who was accepted as an exchange student in Baton Rouge, LA. He received a scholarship and was in the country about two months when he and his host brother were invited to a Halloween party to honor Japanese exchange students.

Yoshi dressed in a tuxedo as John Travolta in Saturday Night Live. He and his host brother, Webb Haymaker, drove to the party. When they arrived at the quiet neighborhood, they mistook the home of Rodney Peairs for the address where the party was being held. They knocked on the door, but no one answered. They started heading back to their car, when Peairs came out with a gun. He yelled, “Freeze,” but Yoshi, who was still learning English, turned and kept walking toward him. Peairs fired one shot into Yoshi’s heart, killing him instantly. Yoshi was 16.

Peairs did not call for help and stayed in his house for 40 minutes until police arrived. He then claimed that he thought that Yoshi and Haymaker were robbers and shot Yoshi because he kept advancing towards him. He was not arrested at the time, but pressure from the Governor of Louisiana and the Japanese Consul caused officials to indict him. However, Peairs was acquitted in state court. This was in 1992.

The case horrified people in Japan and caused an international outcry, but nothing changed. Now, we sit on a tinderbox of emotions and anger that I have not seen since the infamous Rodney King beating trial. These laws give ordinary citizens a right to kill based on their own fears and the courts seemed hand-tied to do anything about it.

Yoshi did not deserve to die and neither did Trayvon Martin. We need to work to repeal all stand your ground laws and leave policing our streets in the hands of the professionals.

Justice for Yoshi and Trayvon.

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    • profile image

      Don 

      6 years ago

      He was a 16 year old 130 Ib unarmed kid. No masks and no intent to rob. They rang the door bell and then headed back to the car. Why not just let them leave? There was no need to even go outside. And if you must fire your weapon then why not a warning shot? There's no need for the violence

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Anthony Johnson 

      6 years ago from Peoria, Arizona

      Again, this incident is horrible and unfortunate. I will not site the many times that the person that would not stop at "Don't Move!" was actually a robber who actually attacked the victim. It is terrible that either person died, but the law does not need to change.

      If a burglar falls on a knife while trying to slip into my house I don't want to be sued by the scum and forced to pay out damages.

      I don't want to go to jail for life because I defended my son from an attacking person who overpowered me and though unarmed the only way I could repel him is with a gun.

      I love my right to bear arms. I want to keep it as an option even though I don't have a gun.

      I would hate to lose on of my kids in a mistaken act of defense, but I would hate more to lose one because I had nothing to defend them with.

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