IT WAS just after midnight. Brian Westberry and a woman friend sat frozen in his bedroom, hoping the persistent pounding on the front door of his Northeast Philly home would stop. It didn’t.
Westberry, 24, slipped his licensed .38-caliber revolver into his pants pocket and crept downstairs to open the door.
There stood Gregory Cujdik, 32, who demanded to see “Jen,” his girlfriend. Westberry told him “Jen” didn’t want to see him, and repeatedly ordered Cujdik to leave. When Cujdik refused, Westberry threatened to call police.
” ‘Do it. My family are cops,’ ” Cujdik said, according to Westberry.
What Westberry didn’t know at that early-morning hour of Palm Sunday, April 5, was that Cujdik’s father, Louis, is a retired police veteran and that his two brothers, Jeffrey and Richard, are narcotics officers.
Before Westberry could finish dialing 9-1-1 on his cell phone, Cujdik stepped through the doorway and punched him in the throat, Westberry said.
That’s when Westberry pulled out his gun and Cujdik fled, Westberry told the Daily News.
Before we get into the crux of my argument, I think that Westberry made a critical mistake of confronting Cujdik. he would have been wise to just call the police, and let the police deal with him. Even if the police didn’t charge him, they would at least get him away from the house.Â There’s no good reason to create a situation where deadly force might come into play if that situation doesn’t need to be created. If he breaks down the door, that’s another ball game.
But Westberry was brought up on a host of charges, which were, as the Daily News reports, “felony aggravated assault, possession of an instrument of crime, terroristic threats, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.” Several of these are bogus, but technically, there is a legal argument that could be made that Westberry wasn’t justified in drawing his firearm. In order to defend against drawing a gun on fists, you’re going to have a claim a force disparity. If you’re an 80 year old woman, and the guy attacking you is a 21 year old man, that’s not going to be difficult. It’s much harder when the situation is two healthy young males.
But yet if a person stepped through my door and punched me in the throat, I have to admit if a gun was all I had in reach, I probably would have shot the guy, which would have left prosecutors open to charging me under PA law. In this case, theyÂ ended up doing the right thing and dropping the charges, but I have to wonder how much of that was knowledge they’d not find a jury that would have convicted Westberry. Castle Doctrine would give homeowners more leeway in defending their homes. I think Westberry exercised poor judgement in answering the door, but he was still the victim. He shouldn’t be victimized twice, one by a criminal, and twice by an overzealous legal system.