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Friends of man shot and killed in Woodbine looking for justice

State's Attorney: shooter acted out of self defense
Posted at 6:05 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 18:07:44-04

WOODBINE, Md (WMAR) — Family and friends of 46-year-old Gary Espinoza are calling for justice after the Howard County State's Attorney announced the shooter will not be charged with his death.

"It was disappointment and it is moving into disbelief now that I have watched the video several times," said Espinoza's friend Jennifer Ford.

Doorbell video captured the 13-minute encounter that cost him his life. Four critical minutes were released Tuesday with Howard County State's Attorney Rich Gibson's decision not to charge the man who delivered the fatal shot. He said under the laws of self-defense, homeowner Charles Dorsey was justified to shoot Espinoza once he breached the front door.

But his family and friends do not believe justice was delivered.

"The video shows how unreasonable the action of the homeowner was," said Ford. "I just would like to see accountability for the loss of life of Gary and all of those who loved him. It is something that cannot be returned. It’s forever gone."

MORE: Howard County State's Attorney announced that there will be no charges in Woodbine shooting

Ford lives in Woodbine directly behind the Dorsey's and next to home where Gary was staying at with his wife that weekend in July. She's known him a few years after attending parties at her neighbors house, their mutual friend.

Saturday, July 21st, she was at their pool party with him all day. Espinoza was at her home late that night before he walked to the Dorsey's by mistake, at 1 a.m.

"They have the same black fence and a pool so it's our thought that he was disoriented," said Ford.

Video shows him approach with only shorts on, smiling and dancing, repeatedly ringing the doorbell. He ID's himself and follows Dorsey's orders to go to the driveway. But he comes back, much more aggravated about the prank he thinks his friends are pulling on him. Dorsey continues telling him to leave and he does. Dorsey's wife calls 911 for the second time to tell him the man left their front porch. Then, Charles Dorsey unlocks the door's deadbolt because he thinks police are close by and Espinoza is gone. But he comes back, jostling the door handle, which fails. The door opens and Dorsey shoots him once in the shoulder, puncturing his lung. An autopsy showed he had a BAC two to three times the legal limit.

"His behavior seemed to indicate a desire to harm the people not letting him in the house. Again, it is our belief based upon a totality of circumstances, that Mr. Espinoza didn't not literally mean the words he was saying at the door. But it is equally clear that there was no way for the Dorsey family to know that Mr. Espinoza did not intend exactly what he was stating," said Gibson. "Once the door was breached, once the victim, Mr. Espinoza, opened the door forcibly and entered the home, Mr. Dorsey was justified in the use of deadly force in that moment at that time."

"I do wonder why there isn’t more talking on the part of Charles. 'Who are you? What are you doing here? What do you want?'," said Ford

Along with questioning why Dorsey wasn't trying to get more information from Espinoza, she questions why he unlocked the deadbolt.

"If he perceives a threat to be outside the door, there is no reason to open the deadbolt," said Ford.

As part of the investigation, detectives were able to recreate the moment the locked door failed and deemed there was a defect in the Dorsey's handle. Ford said she has known for year that her front door handle is also faulty so they just use a deadbolt. Still she also questions the accountability on the part of the door lock manufacturer.

"A door should lock without a dead bolt. Gary did not put that much pressure on the door," said Ford.

She hopes this will underscore why it's important to offer or require crisis management training for gun owners.

"I’m a school teacher. We train kids 15 times or so a year how to respond in a crisis situation. We do this because if you don’t you just react out of fear and panic," said Ford.

In a statement, Charles Dorsey's attorney said, "The Dorseys appreciate the hard work and diligence of the Howard County Police Department in their handling of this investigation. They also appreciate the thoughtful determination of Mr. Gibson’s Office. However, they are mindful that this was a tragic situation, and their thoughts and prayers are extended to Mr. Espinoza’s family and friends."