9.22.2013

Revisiting the death of Yoshihiro Hattori

Is anyone else familiar with this case? I don't recall hearing about it before a commenter brought it up at the Bar:
This story reminds me of a case that happened in Louisiana where a Japanese exchange student, Yoshihiro Hattori, was gunned down by a white man, when the door was opened ON PURPOSE and he entered the house, assuming that he was about to enter for a Halloween party he and the white boy who was part of his host family were planning to attend. This happened in 1992.

Two months into his stay in the United States, he received an invitation, along with Webb Haymaker, his homestay brother, to a Halloween party. Upon their arrival, the boys mistook the house owned by Rodney Peairs, the shooter, for the house where the party was actually held to the similarity of the address and the Halloween decorations on the outside of the house. When the boys approached the house, they rang the doorbell. In the interview, the white boy said that the white woman whose house he approached opened the door, but she was not scared of him even though she did not know who he was and he was dressed as mummy. She got scared when she saw the figure of the Japanese boy coming from around the house. She told the police she did not know what his race was but that she noticed that he was "darker colored".


The white woman slammed the door shut, according to the white kid. She told her husband "Rodney, get your gun!" as she thought someone was outside trying to get in. The husband proceeded to get his weapon. As the boys were walking to their car, Rodney reopened the carport door and pointed is revolver at the boys. He pointed his gun at Yoshihiro and yelled "Freeze!" Yoshihiro could not speak fluent English, so when he approached Rodney, he said that they were there for the party but Rodney shot him in the chest. Yoshihiro later died in the ambulance. Although the white family was sorry for the death, Rodney was not sorry for owning a gun.

During the police investigation, she said that when she saw Yoshihiro, she thought that he was Mexican. (Notice that when the white boy was in the white woman's face, only separated with a screen door, she was not scared.) But when she saw a non-white male from a distance, she was frightened and told her husband to retrieve his weapon.

Rodney Peairs was acquitted after a 7-day trial. In a civil trial, however, the court found Peairs liable to Hattori's parents for $650,000 in damages. The lawyers for Hattori's parents argued that the Peairses had behaved unreasonably: Bonnie Peairs overreacted to the presence of two teens outside her house; the Peairses behaved unreasonably by not communicating with each other to convey what exactly the threat was; they had not taken the best path to safety—remaining inside the house and calling police; they had erred in taking offensive action rather than defensive action; and Rodney Peairs had used his firearm too quickly, without assessing the situation, using a warning shot, or shooting to wound. Furthermore, the much larger Peairs could likely very easily have subdued the short, slightly built teen. Contrary to Peairs' claim that Hattori was moving strangely and quickly towards him, forensic evidence demonstrates that Hattori was moving slowly, or not at all, and his arms were away from his body, indicating he was no threat. Overall, a far greater show of force was used than was appropriate.

When it comes to shit like this, ain't nothing changed but the weather.

11 comments:

  1. Toni Morrison made a brief mention of this case in her recent essay about Trayvon Martin. Not only should have Rodney Peairs been charged with manslaughter, but his wife should have been charged as an accessory.
    FYI They divorced in 1997.

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    1. I wonder if he had to pay child support and/or alimony on top of the $650,000 she already cost him.

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  2. I was too young when this happened but I've known about this for a few years. Our nation is filled with a lot of violent white people killing people of color. Pretty sure Japan keeps this in mind along with the US military presence that impacts the lives of Japanese women and Okinawans in particular.

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  3. I was in my 2nd year of college back home in New Orleans when I heard about this case.....Sad to say when we found out the race of all involved and where in Louisiana (Baton Rouge) it happen none were too shocked....Outside of New Orleans it is business as usual in Louisiana and the "New South".

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    1. the "New South" - I actually chuckled aloud when I read that.

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  4. I have never heard of this case and it saddens me. This irrational fear of the unfamiliar that can drive people to act violently. I was very young when this happened so it was nothing I was told about or heard my parents discuss. I can't believe that the couple felt "sorry" for the incident yet blatantly lied to officers about being "threatened". I'm so tired of the 2nd amendment rights argument when it is so commonly taken out of context. We are not at war and short on soldiers so it does not apply. Incidents like this one and many more show just why gun control needs to become more strict. But sadly I am also not surprised. Racist are idiots with little self control. but I can't believe that he received an acquittal. Justice fail all around even with the civil trial decision. Money won't bring their child back.

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    1. I'm so tired of the 2nd amendment rights argument when it is so commonly taken out of context.

      AMEN.

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  5. I remembered looking at this story ,just saying what racist excuse the couple had in killing Hattori, being mad and feeling downright embarrassed as an American. I came across a Japanese girl who was mad and thought that the U.S. lied about it being a great melting pot.She thought that I would be mad at her for saying it.Oh no ,quite contrare.I just told her to proceed because its wasn't a lie.

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    1. .She thought that I would be mad at her for saying it.Oh no ,quite contrare.I just told her to proceed because its wasn't a lie.

      LOL - I know, right? I think American POC experience this a lot, where non-American POC put the US on blast and then expect us to get upset.

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  6. I did not exist at the time, so never heard of it unfortunately.
    So sad, he was 16, the age I am now :(

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  7. I'm Japanese. I remember this case and thank you for trying to recall.

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