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IL Man Aimed Shotgun at Crop-Duster: Faces Assault Charges

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 09, 2011 10:23 AM

Aiming a shotgun at a crop-duster is apparently a crime in Tremont, Illinois where prosecutors have charged 66-year-old Kenneth Phillips with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct.

Phillips claims the small plane was "dive bombing" near a family gathering at his home on July 21, and that he was merely trying to protect his guests.

With a shotgun. From a small plane spraying chemicals.

Though he never actually shot the gun, and the pilot was left unharmed, if the above facts are true, Kenneth Phillips technically did commit aggravated assault under Illinois law.

Assault occurs when a person "engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of" imminent bodily harm. The crime is elevated when the defendant wields a deadly weapon, such as a firearm.

The pilot likely felt that Phillips was going to shoot and possibly cause a crash, as he called the police after his gun-to-crop-duster encounter. And it's not entirely unreasonable for him to have felt that way given the bizarre circumstances.

But, as odd and irrational as it sounds, while Phillips appears to have committed assault, he may actually have a valid argument of self-defense. He would need to convince a judge or a jury that pointing a gun at the crop-duster was a reasonable way to protect himself and his family from potential harm.

Whether Kenneth Phillips will attempt this argument has yet to be seen. While he has been charged, the Pekin Times reports that he has yet to plea, and is expected in court later this month.

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