A reasonable man is described as a person with common sense, with a good mental capacity that is stable, and it is arguable whether Oscar Pistorius is a reasonable man. A reasonable person, with common sense, will shoot to kill an intruder in order to save a life. In a moment of danger, there would be no time for a warning shot to be fired or an attempt to find an alternative method to stop the sudden sense of impending danger. A warning shot would result in one less bullet to use if there were several attackers endangering a life.
In this modern-day and age, an intruder does not give any indication of when there will be an attack. Invasions and attacks frequently happen without any forewarning. Pistorius was placed in a precarious situation when he thought an intruder had entered the premises and the commonsense of a reasonable man led to a fatal shooting.
Oscar Pistorius should have ensured the safety of Reeva Steenkamp primarily, and this was not the first reaction Pistorius took when he thought an intruder had entered the premises. During the court proceedings, he never said he was trying to protect Reeva, nor did he say that he shouted or whispered to her and then fired shots through the bathroom door. The ruling judge did not mention this fact but did say Pistorius was delinquent, which is not the same thing. As a gun owner, Pistorius shot with the intent to kill, whether or not he knew exactly whom he was shooting. The judge mentioned, the ‘reasonable man’ during the trial but did this refer to Pistorius? The accused should have foreseen that someone was behind the door and taken reasonable steps not to kill the person behind the door.
Did Pistorius know Reeva was behind the door? If so then he is guilty of murder. If he did not know Reeva was behind the door, did Pistorius foresee that firing four shots at close range into a confined area would kill an intruder? If so then he is similarly guilty unless he acted in self-defense. Only Pretorius knows the answers to these questions.
After the fateful shooting, Pistorius knew his freedom would depend on what the court believed. The court had to take into account that he might have a strong incentive to omit the truth and determine whether to believe him. The court could not rely on Pistorius only and stated that he was an evasive, argumentative witness who lied. The judge accepted the version of Pistorius not knowing that Reeva was behind the door, as his account of the story had remained consistent since the fateful shooting. The judge said, “It was highly improbable the accused would have made this up so quickly.”
It would only take a matter of moments for Pistorius to realize he would face a life imprisonment if he said he knew Reeva was in the bathroom and the only story to tell was that he did not know she was behind the door. After the fateful shooting, it was ensured that his version was mentioned throughout the trial.
The court dismissed the circumstantial evidence that indicated his version as highly unlikely. How did Pistorius not know she was not in the bed, when he grabbed the gun from the bedroom, and why did she not respond to his screams? Why was Reeva fully dressed holding onto a cell phone behind the bathroom door? Once the circumstantial evidence was dismissed, the court relied on the Pistorius story of not knowing Reeva was behind the bathroom door.
Pistorius loved guns and was no stranger to the dangers of these weapons. All of his life he was involved with guns and frequented gun ranges to practice shooting. It is ludicrous to say Pistorius did not know or understand the danger of a gun. The question of whether Pistorius anticipated that his firing four shots might have killed the intruder was based on the argument of “should have known.” It is absurd, “should have known” means “he did know” based on the facts that Pistorius was well aware of the dangers.
After the killing of Reeva, the reaction of Pistorius was the realization of the tragic actions and consequences that would follow. Pistorius appeared to be praying, crying, and devastated to have accidentally killed Reeva. Would Pistorius not have had the same reaction if he shot Reeva in the heat of the moment on realizing the consequences that would follow? Was Pistorius crying for Reeva or himself? The court accepted the accuracy of Pistorius’ reactions after the shooting. The question remains however: Is Oscar Pistorius a reasonable man?
Opinion by Laura Oneale