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View Full Version : Game Warden Cleared in Turkey Hunter Shooting


simonkenton
July 2, 2009, 06:30 PM
myfox8.com
A wildlife officer who shot and killed a hunter on the first day of turkey season in Wilkes County acted reasonably and appropriately and will not face criminal prosecution, the county District Attorney's office said Thursday.

Clyde Coffey, 76, died April 11 when Wildlife Resource Commission officer Mark Minton shot him the chest behind Coffey's cabin in the McGrady community. Minton was a 12-year veteran of the commission.

After an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation, the Wilkes County DA office determined MInton acted reasonably and appropriately to the perceived use or imminent use of deadly physical force by Coffey. As a result, the office will not criminally prosecute Minton.

According to the DA, Minton was investigating potential hunting violations in the Cane Creek Rd. area of Wilkes County when he encountered Coffey on the first day of the turkey hunting season. According to the SBI report, Minton discovered someone was potentially baiting turkeys on Coffey's property and went there to determine if anyone was illegally hunting turkey over this baited area.

Minton initially encountered Larry Dean Helton, Coffey's son-in-law, in a tree stand at one location of Coffey's property. According to statements from Minton, he then proceeded down the mountain on foot to a second tree stand where Coffey was hunting.

Minton said he identified himself as a game warden, but had difficulty getting Coffey's attention. Eventually, Coffey stood up and demanded Minton leave his property.

The officer said Coffey continued to disobey commands, causing Minton to radio for assistance to other officers who were several miles away. Before they arrived, Coffey came down from the tree stand with his gun in his hand, despite Minton's request for him to leave the weapon in the tree stand.

According to Minton, Coffey advanced toward the officer with his weapon in a "low ready" position and pointed it directly at the officer. Minton retreated up the hill, with Coffey following.

When Minton thought Coffey was going to shoot, he drew his commission-issued weapon and fired one round, hitting the hunter in the chest. Minton then radioed for help and attempted CPR on Coffey.

In the course of the investigation, SBI agents found turkey bait on the property that was consistent with bait found at Coffey's home. Agents also determined Coffey suffered from hearing loss and was acting out of character.

simonkenton
July 2, 2009, 06:33 PM
Original story:

http://www.myfox8.com/wghp-hunter-ki...,4986126.story

April 12, 2009
MCGRADY, N.C. - A wildlife official said a veteran game warden acted in self defense when he shot and killed a hunter on the hunter's property Saturday, the first day of turkey season.

Wildlife Resources officers told FOX8 News officer Mark Minton shot Clyde Coffey around 7:30 a.m. on Coffey's property north of North Wilkesboro. Minton is a 12-year veteran of the force.

Friends and family described Clyde Coffey, 76, as a "teddy bear of man." His daughter, Debbie Robbins, said Coffey often came to his house on Cane Creek Church Rd. to hunt on the hill behind his property. Saturday's hunting trip was with Coffey's son-in-law and two grandchildren.

"Officer Minton, a 12-year-veteran of the Law Enforcement Division of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was on patrol on the opening day of the 2009 spring wild turkey season in North Carolina. An armed confrontation with a hunter resulted in Officer Minton firing a shot, apparently in self-defense, which led to the death of the alleged assailant," Penny Miller said in a release from Wildlife Resources Commission.

The investigation of the shooting is being conducted by the State Bureau of Investigation, in accordance with prescribed procedures. Officer Minton is currently on paid administrative leave.

Robbins said her father was hard of hearing and she's afraid that may have caused a miscommunication between him and the officer.

Copyright © 2009, WGHP-TV

roklok
July 2, 2009, 08:59 PM
Thanks for the update.

Brian Pfleuger
July 2, 2009, 09:07 PM
I feel bad for that officer.:(

JustKev55
July 3, 2009, 06:48 AM
Being hard of hearing and not understanding the officer is no excuse for pointing a firearm at him. I feel for the warden, I would presume that he feels terrible at taking a life.

flyguyskt
July 6, 2009, 12:06 PM
the warden...how bout feeling bad for the guy hunting on HIS private property and is now dead!

I always have and always will have a problem with law enforcement trespass!

its my land get off and stay off!

Big Ugly Tall Texan
July 6, 2009, 12:12 PM
I don't know about other states, but in Texas, even on private property, you have to obey state game laws.

Also, in Texas, a game warden is the only LEO who can go on private property or enter a home without a search warrant.

The law is the law and anyone who points a gun at a peace officer can expect rough treatment.

rantingredneck
July 6, 2009, 12:13 PM
the warden...how bout feeling bad for the guy illegally baiting turkeys on HIS private property and is now dead because he pointed a shotgun at a wildlife enforcement officer!

Fixed that for ya.........;)

:rolleyes:

hogdogs
July 6, 2009, 12:19 PM
I always have and always will have a problem with law enforcement trespass!

its my land get off and stay off!
Here in Florida, the GW don't need a warrant to enter YOUR land or even YOUR HOME to check your freezers, barns, garages or other buildings for game violations. Thus they are often sent to homes where the police don't have the needed reasonable suspicion to pull a warrant. He goes in and if he sees anything... GAME ON!
Brent

flyguyskt
July 6, 2009, 12:29 PM
MY statement didnt need fixing.

IF i pay TAXES on MY property...they should not be allowed to set foot on it!

i am not saying the land owner was not breaking the law. but i do NOT like the fact the need no warrant.

where do we draw the line with allowing OUR(joke) government to tread on us!

what if they told you...YOU cant own a hunting rifle because hey it our new LAW? would YOU turn in all your guns?

ZeroJunk
July 6, 2009, 12:35 PM
The officer had been dealing with armed hunters for 12 years. It is unlikely that he was not in fear for his own life.

If one feels it is wrong to have wildlife officers enforcing state laws on private land then change the laws and don't hire them to do it.

flyguyskt
July 6, 2009, 02:03 PM
hard to change laws but i do try...unfortunately most people dont see the law enforcement agents as a threat.

i was set up once in a hunting scenario...short of it is that someone else wanted to gain access to the property i had been hunting for YEARS...so they found all of my treestands and put apples and deer attractants around them and called the game warden. he did not even ask if i had baited the area just wrote me a ticket which i fought and beat...BUT it still caused me to lose the hunting area because they drug the owner of the property to court as well. guess who got sole access to hunt it after that...yep the very same warden that busted me...hmmmmm

i understand there needs to be rules but i think at some point(hopefully before it is too late) the citizens of this great country need to take it back from the government politicians.

im sure the warden felt threatened but when they feel comfortable trespassing i have an issue. just because they have a badge doesnt mean they should have more right than you and I.

oh by the way the warden was fired about 6 months later...seems his boss found out about some unethical behavior...

bejay
July 7, 2009, 02:45 AM
is anyone surprised that he will not face prosecution the dead hunter will never be able to tell his side.
you would think that the game warden would have better things to do that to go on private land to try to write a ticket to a land owner who was hunting in season even if the area was baited its likely going to be a small fine at best.
every game warden ive ran into wanted to see my rifle or shotgun cant say ive ever had one say leave it in the treestand.

simonkenton
July 7, 2009, 05:30 AM
If Game Wardens were not allowed easy access to private land, there wouldn't be any game for the rest of us to hunt, because trash people would take deer and turkeys over bait, and shoot them at night, and use other illegal tricks to take all the game they wanted.

PT111
July 7, 2009, 05:36 AM
every game warden ive ran into wanted to see my rifle or shotgun cant say ive ever had one say leave it in the treestand.

But did you ever threaten one from the treestand. That was the key here as to why he wanted it left in the stand. Last season I went to check out MY property and found some deer hunters running dogs on it and the neighboring property. I set up waiting for a deer to run out on MY property when I heard them start yelling that one was coming my way. As I sat there one of the hunters drove up right between me and where the deer was coming out. He looked at me and wanted to know what I was doing there interfering whith THEIR hunt.

How did the GW know that the fellow in the treestad was the owner of the property. If it had been a trespasser the land owner would have thanked him instead of trying to shoot him.

rantingredneck
July 7, 2009, 08:57 AM
i was set up once in a hunting scenario...short of it is that someone else wanted to gain access to the property i had been hunting for YEARS...so they found all of my treestands and put apples and deer attractants around them and called the game warden. he did not even ask if i had baited the area just wrote me a ticket which i fought and beat...BUT it still caused me to lose the hunting area because they drug the owner of the property to court as well. guess who got sole access to hunt it after that...yep the very same warden that busted me...hmmmmm

So one bad apple tarnishes the whole bunch in your view huh? So conversely because one "hunter" illegally baits for turkeys the game wardens should be OK in seeing all turkey hunters in that same light? {shoe meet other foot}

Bottom line, the hunter in this case had no business pointing the business end of his shotgun at anyone. Even if you or I or anyone else was in the game warden's shoes, tresspassing does not give the landowner the right to use deadly force to evict the tresspasser from his property. Not that this was trespassing in the legal sense anyway as the game warden has statutory authority to enter and investigate.

The hunter threatened a man's life with a shotgun. He paid for it with his. Simple as that. Sad and tragic, but simple.

bejay
July 7, 2009, 02:37 PM
If Game Wardens were not allowed easy access to private land, there wouldn't be any game for the rest of us to hunt, because White Trash would take deer and turkeys over bait, and shoot them at night, and use other illegal tricks to take all the game they wanted.
thats true plenty of this continues to go on anytime of the day and any day of the year no season for them or no tags to buy, but this just hapenned to happen on opening day I guess?

Mike Irwin
July 7, 2009, 02:44 PM
"If one feels it is wrong to have wildlife officers enforcing state laws on private land then change the laws and don't hire them to do it."

Actually, the easiest way to deal with the situation is to not break the law in the first place.



"even if the area was baited its likely going to be a small fine at best."

I don't know about the Carolinas, but IIRC at one time in Pennsylvania shooting over bait was a significant fine with the possibility of jail time and forfeiture of the hunting accoutrements up to the property on which the violation was taking place.

Same with poaching.

Brian Pfleuger
July 7, 2009, 02:50 PM
you would think that the game warden would have better things to do that to go on private land to try to write a ticket to a land owner who was hunting in season even if the area was baited its likely going to be a small fine at best.

You'd think the land owner would rather pay a small fine than chase a game warden with a shotgun and get himself killed....

eastbank
July 7, 2009, 04:34 PM
well we will never know if the land owner even pointed his shotgun at the warden, the warden took care of that small fact. but we know the warden pointed his gun at the land owner, any warden parking on my land with out my permission will get his car loaded with souppy cow s#it as i will start spreadding right where he parked. eastbank. ps i hope the familey sues for wrongfull death.

ZeroJunk
July 7, 2009, 04:55 PM
What laws are you protected from because you are breaking them on your own property?

rantingredneck
July 7, 2009, 05:02 PM
well we will never know if the land owner even pointed his shotgun at the warden, the warden took care of that small fact. but we know the warden pointed his gun at the land owner, any warden parking on my land with out my permission will get his car loaded with souppy cow s#it as i will start spreadding right where he parked. eastbank. ps i hope the familey sues for wrongfull death.

Hope you never have to kill someone in self-defense. We'll never know if you really were in fear for your life since your "assailant" is now dead. Hope you have a good lawyer when the family sues you for wrongful death...........

{other foot, meet Mr. Shoe}

Pbearperry
July 7, 2009, 05:06 PM
Let me get this straight.Game warden suspects violations so he goes alone ,not on public land but on private property.He then finds owner in a tree on his own property and gets in a ******* contest with the land owner.
It the Game Warden had evidence of crimes being committed,he should have received a court order to make an arrest or make a search,plus had backup.If I was a relative of the deceased,I would get a good attorney.In my opinion,the game warden was on a fishing expedition on someones private property without just cause,and now a man is dead because of it.
This is still America,Law enforcement cannot enter private property with out good reason such as a breach of the peace or a violation in view of the officer.Game wardens pull this crap in pretty much all of the country.I guess they don't teach the Bill of Rights in the Game Warden Academy.
If I ever did this crap when I was a cop,I would have been fired.

MosesMosley
July 7, 2009, 05:12 PM
and that is because cops need warrants, GW do not.....

hogdogs
July 7, 2009, 05:40 PM
If I am legally allowed to do as I please on my land regarding game laws than I should be able to grow pot and cook meth so long as I don't sell it thus evading income taxes?

Sorry folks I know we need fully encompassed game laws to include privately owned lands but I feel that if they can't see it from the easement than it should require a warrant as it is "out of sight" unlike the front yard. And what about these shooting houses on the edge of last year's corn crop and peanut fields? I think we should either be allowed to bait or not allowed to hunt over a field... that ol' goose and gander thing....
Brent

Pbearperry
July 7, 2009, 05:49 PM
Mr. Hotdogs I am not saying you have the right to do whatever you want to do including growing pot.However keeping that in mind,if the daycomes that cops are allowed to enter private property or buildings without just cause,just to snoop around,then all is lost.That smacks of 1930's Germany.
If that Game warden after approaching the owner of the property left without getting a shouting match,the land owner would still be alive.If the GW believed the landowner was breaking the law,he could have summonsed him to court,or left and obtained the proper court papers along with backup.
If in fact game wardens are allowed to wander onto private property without due cause,then the laws need to be changed.I just don't like cops anywhere going on a fishing expedition to make an arrest.There are plenty of cases to be made the right way.

PT111
July 7, 2009, 06:40 PM
You have to remember that "Game Laws" are different as the property owner does not own or control the "Game" as they are free reign animals. Turkeys, Deer, Beaars etc. are not limited to a certain person's property thus "game Laws" and Game Wardens fall under a different category and different laws than other LEO.

Now if you fence in your property such as many hunting preserves then you are allowed to do many different things than if you just have property. For instance the limits on hunts are waived along with baiting and other normal laws. You are in effect creating a zoo for people to hunt in.

I have read on here several times about dogs being allowed to cross property lines but but the owner of the property where the dog is cannot shoot or harm the dog. This is not a kingdom where the king owns all the animals in the forrest. The "wild" animals, whether they are Turkey or Deer are considered the people's property and even the landowner must follow the laws of the people. If you want to claim the animals on your land as soley your own and do with them as you please then you have to restrict their movement and not allow them to leave your land or others to enter it. As long as you let "Game" freely roam your land you also have to let the Game Warden roam it.

davlandrum
July 7, 2009, 06:53 PM
Can we all just agree there were plenty of bad decisions on both sides and plenty of tragedy on both sides.

hogdogs
July 7, 2009, 06:56 PM
PT, Even if bought and fenced, in many if not most states, native breeds fall under game laws.
In Florida I think it is illegal for me to own white tail deer in an enclosure for me to go out and harvest them for food year around... same with wild turkey of the native sub species.
Brent

ZeroJunk
July 7, 2009, 06:56 PM
Can we all just agree there were plenty of bad decisions on both sides and plenty of tragedy on both sides.


Yes. Don't point a gun at a law enforcement officer.

Brian Pfleuger
July 7, 2009, 07:19 PM
Can we all just agree there were plenty of bad decisions on both sides and plenty of tragedy on both sides.

Absolutely not! I see no problems on the part of the warden. He was doing his job. Some half crazy old man pointed a gun at him and he did what he had to do. To bad for the old man, I have NO sympathy. If he wasn't fit to handle a firearm, ie dementia or any other reason, someone should have stopped him. Here's a tip for anyone else considering the same action.... Pointing a gun at law enforcement is likely to get you killed. Do so at your own risk!

Recall the video of the old man exiting his truck and emptying a rifle into the officer during a traffic stop for nothing more than a seat belt violation?

Pointing a gun at a cop should get you DEAD.

When guns are involved you get no second chance.

The officer has a fine record many years long, to question his intent in this incident is asinine.

jughead2
July 7, 2009, 07:35 PM
game warden can come on my property in tenn. but he CANNOT come into my home without a warrant unless he is in hot pursuit of a suspect period. it is in tenn. code in black and white.

eastbank
July 7, 2009, 07:48 PM
rant, if i have to shoot some one in self defence,it sure as hell won,t be on their land in hunting season,looking for a bait pile. their were a lot better ways to handle this incident before it got to the point that killing the old man was the only way out.. the fine for hunting over a bait pile is not death, all the warden had to do is witness the man hunting over or near the bait and sent him a summons(he already knew who the man was). eastbank.

rantingredneck
July 7, 2009, 08:00 PM
And when he goes to witness the baiting and then identifies himself as a game warden and the old man starts chasing him with a shotgun??? Yeah, I'd have shot the old fella too. I'd have felt bad about it, sure (as I'm sure this warden does). But I would have gone home that night.

Regardless of the anti-GW sentiments of a few posters here, the Warden was within the bounds of his duties in confronting someone hunting illegally. Regardless of the property situation. Not to mention that the GW had no way to know that the fellow in the tree was the actual landowner now did he? Had he produced any identification for the GW? Nope, Just a shotgun.

To the point of the matter, if you don't want to get a ticket (even on your own property) don't break the game laws. If you don't want to be shot by a game warden, don't point your gun at him and chase him with it.


It's relatively easy with the 20-20 vision of hindsight to suggest that the game warden back out of the woods and go get a summons issued for the fellow in the tree (who he likely had not yet identified). But how was the game warden to expect the person in the tree to start chasing him with a shotgun and acting irrationally?

To put this in perspective.......(taking the whole game laws/warden issue out of it)

You're hiking in the mountains of NC. You start out on any of the public trails up in that area. You get a little lost and aren't real sure where you are. You come upon a person in a treestand hunting and politely ask him for directions back to the trailhead. He starts yelling at you and pointing a shotgun at you. Do you defend yourself or just pray he doesn't shoot you?



I'd bet the majority of the posters here would defend themselves.

BILLDAVE
July 7, 2009, 08:01 PM
I've know of too many stories of GW getting shot and killed (last year in texas near cotulla comes to mind). This is because they have a different set of laws that in some peoples belief is overstreched power. If I were him I would retire because he now will have a target on him It is a sad story. And I agree with eastbank. I wonder if thier had been some prior incidents between the two? It gives both hunters and GW a bad name.
BILLDAvE

jammin1237
July 7, 2009, 08:24 PM
just because there are laws in the great USA does not mean you can simply erase someone just because you "think" they are disobeying "the laws"... i would not want to be in Mark Minton's(what a piece of crap) shoes at this moment...this poor "land owner" was born in approx 1933, oh my god! a terrorist bastardo gone bad!... lets all get a grip, this GW was on a power trip and needs to pay for being a murderer...

Brian Pfleuger
July 7, 2009, 08:32 PM
this poor "land owner" was born in approx 1933, oh my god! a terrorist bastardo gone bad!... lets all get a grip, this GW was on a power trip and needs to pay for being a murderer...


So, when an old man points a gun at you during the course of your duties you just..... what? what are you supposed to do?

This?....

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f840ab50b2

Yep, copper in that video got what he had comin' too, I suppose. Pickin' on that poor old man for not wearing his seatbelt.:mad::barf::(
Some times people make me ill.

jammin1237
July 7, 2009, 08:45 PM
So, when an old man points a gun at you during the course of your duties you just..... what? what are you supposed to do?

#1 leave...
#2 get proper warrants...
#3 subpoena the supposed defiant
#4 settle it in court, not the self proclaimed battle field

cheers

Art Eatman
July 7, 2009, 08:54 PM
Some folks who spout about what they'd do to a "trespassing" game warden had better look into their state's laws concerning this subject. You can beat your chest and get all puffed up when playing Keyboard Kommando, but odds are that in daylight in the real world and face to face with the law himself, there would be vastly different behavior.

It had better be different: The Graybar Hotel is not the world's choicest vacation spot.

And, by the way, a high fence does not change the law. No, it's not a zoo for hunting. Any "take" outside of the regular rules requires separate permission from the wildlife agency.