Store clerk charged with murder Alleged thief was shot Sunday night http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080819/NEWS/808190366/1001/news Gary Pettus • [email protected] • August 19, 2008 Possible confusion about the 2-year-old "Castle Doctrine" has left one Jackson man dead and another charged in the slaying. Tension between the African-American and Indian communities, said one Jackson City Council member, also may have been a factor in the Sunday night shooting death of James Hawthorne, 36, outside J&S Food Mart on Medgar Evers Boulevard. Store clerk Sarbrinder Pannu, 31, is charged with murder and shooting into an occupied vehicle. He allegedly shot Hawthorne after the man grabbed a case of beer from the store and ran to a black SUV he had parked in front of the store. Hawthorne did not have a weapon when he entered the store, police said. He was inside his vehicle when shot and he lost control, crashing into a gas pump, police said. "He was shot more than once," Jackson Police Department Deputy Chief Gerald Jones said. On Monday, a woman at the store identifying herself as RaJ Pannu, Sarbrinder's wife, said her husband's arrest "is not fair." "They should understand that we work hard seven days a week, and then somebody comes in and robs us. If my husband is charged, crime is going to be more. "This will happen again," she said with tears in her eyes. Hawthorne, Jackson's 45th homicide victim this year, had a criminal history. He was released from prison in January after serving a three-year sentence and two years' probation for attempted vehicle theft in Hinds County. He was sentenced in September 2004. In 1994, he was convicted of armed robbery and aggravated assault and sentenced to three years, with five years' probation. His probation was revoked in 1996, and he eventually was released in May 2000. Since the Castle Doctrine law went into effect in July 2006, Hawthorne is the third Jackson robbery suspect to die as a result of a property owner using deadly force. Several property owners, including at least eight in Jackson, have claimed the new law's protection. Among other things, the Castle Doctrine says a person has "no duty to retreat" if the person believes he is in imminent danger; it protects someone who uses deadly force in self-defense from being sued. "The crux, the meat of the Castle Doctrine is this: You have to fear for your safety," said JPD Chief Malcolm McMillin, who also is Hinds County sheriff. "We're concerned about a misinterpretation of the Castle Doctrine in the application of deadly force to deal with a situation that is not covered under it. "There is no death penalty for shoplifters in the state of Mississippi," he added. "It's a failure to understand the law. If we don't make it clear in people's minds what the law says, this is going to occur again." Kamalbir Singh, a Jackson store owner and member of the Indian Storeowner Association, said, "I don't think they should charge (Pannu) with anything. "(Lawbreakers) will think we can't do anything to them now. "I don't think it's a good idea to kill anyone, but you have the right to protect yourself and your property," he said. "If you call the police when someone is robbing you, by the time arrive, they can't do anything." The shooting also points to "tension between the black community and Indian store owners," Councilman Kenneth Stokes said. "You have some store owners who treat black people in a very disrespectful manner. There are others who show mutual respect. "If we had security guards posted at these stores, we would avoid the problem you have today: one man dead and another charged in a murder," Stokes added. "A lot of these stores wouldn't be there if some in the Indian community didn't care enough to open a store in the black community. "But the store owners complain that police don't respond often enough or quick enough when they call. The police can't baby-sit the convenience stores. Security guards would help stop the shoplifting. ... "You can replace beer, but you can't replace human life." Apparent confusion over the law doesn't stop in Jackson: On Aug. 1, Odell Brown of Tchula called 911 twice to tell police he was going to shoot an alleged intruder. When officers supposedly didn't respond quickly enough, Brown allegedly shot Kevin Cooper, who was hospitalized. Later, Brown was charged by police with aggravated assault and discharging a firearm in the city limits. He was released from the Holmes County Jail on a $50,000 bond after spending four days there. "What really amazes me is that since this law has been passed we haven't had more incidents like that," said Ken Winter, director of the Mississippi Police Chiefs Association. "It may have given people a false sense of empowerment. "When our Legislature was pondering the Castle Doctrine, I was one of the people saying we don't need it - not necessarily speaking as director of the Police Chiefs Association, but from my own experiences as a police officer. "People have a right to protect their property; they've always had that right. To me, it was politicians being politicians. "If you catch a person breaking into your home, you have a right to defend yourself. You had it before the Castle Doctrine. "But what supposedly happened (Sunday night) would be the equivalent of a police officer shooting an individual for stealing beer. "It's a bad thing, a sad thing." ------- "victim" sounds like a real winner, the worlds a better place with out him.