Can Donny Gill claim he acted in self-defense for freezing the Moroccan innkeeper and HYDRA agents? While fear of brainwashing and threats of force would justify self-defense, Gill committed multiple acts of unjustified murder on Agents of SHIELD.
Self-defense requires that a person, “where from the nature of the attack, the assailed person believes, on reasonable grounds, that he is in imminent danger of losing his life or of receiving great bodily harm from his assailant, he is not bound to retreat, but may stand his ground, and, if necessary for his own protection, may take the life of his adversary.” People v. Zuckerman, 56 Cal. App. 2d 366, 374 (Cal. App.1942).
In the opening scenes of Agents of SHIELD, Gill is confronted by the innkeeper who serves him a drink, followed by two HYDRA Agents. The innkeeper made a passing comment that tipped off Gill to possible danger from HYDRA or SHIELD. After which, Gill froze the innkeeper.
The HYDRA Agent that confronted Gill was seated and apparently did not have a weapon drawn or pointed at Gill. The second HYDRA Agent also did not have a weapon drawn. However, Gill almost immediately froze the first HYDRA Agent where he sat at the table. While exiting the area, Gill knocked over the frozen innkeeper, shattering the frozen body.
It is difficult to find the lethal use of force was valid against the innkeeper, because there was no evidence the innkeeper was in anyway a threat to Gill. No weapon was drawn, nor other signs of threatening Gill.
The same can be said for the HYDRA Agent.
The best argument Gill could make was that the brainwashing he experienced was so horrible, he feared for his life to be taken back to such torture. Looking at the CIA brainwashing projects, the Agency funded research in project MKULTRA “to counter perceived Soviet and Chinese advances in brainwashing and interrogation techniques.” The program lasted from the 1953 through the 1960s that included biological and chemical materials in altering human behavior, plus the highly horrific administration of LSD to unknowing test subjects. CIA v. Sims, 471 U.S. 159, 162-163, footnotes 1 and 2 (U.S.1985) [The FOIA case was brought by my Constitution Law professor at McGeorge, University of the Pacific]. These sort of experiments are now illegal and the prospect of enduring “treatments” more horrible MKULTRA might sway a jury.
Could a jury find that Gill’s brainwashing was so tortuous that a hybrid self-defense and insanity defense could justify his actions (a form of a battered-spouse syndrome due to his torture)? Perhaps, especially given HYDRA’s standing order to kill those who do not join them.
However, the “I Did Not Want to Be Brainwashed by Evil Immortal Nazis” Defense would have trouble with Gill boarding the HYDRA cargo ship to go on a killing spree.
Gill would have an effective insanity defense after his brainwashing was “triggered.” A jury could find that Gill was incapable of knowing or understanding the nature and quality of his act or was incapable of knowing or understanding that his act was morally or legally wrong. 2-3400 CALCRIM 3450. However, his actions prior to having his brainwashing being triggered would be extremely difficult to justify the legal use of force.