We have two very big take aways from the Agents of SHIELD episode T.A.H.I.T.I.:
1) Skye did not have an Advanced Health Directive;
2) Agents Coulson, Ward, Fitz & Garrett murdered two men without any legal justification in order to save Skye.
Medical experiments cannot be performed on someone without informed consent (See, Playing Doctor on Agents of SHIELD, which addressed the experiments on Coulson).
Skye was incapacitated from her soon-to-be-fatal gunshot wounds from Quin. Agent Coulson took it upon himself to ignore orders to transfer Quin and chase down the drug GH325 used to bring himself back from the dead.
These actions could make Coulson the Boss of the Year for his willingness to save a teammate, but whether he had any legal right to order such extra-ordinary medical treatment is questionable, unless Skye had given Coulson the power of attorney to make such medical decisions.
The Good Guys Committed Murder
The two men guarding T.A.H.I.T.I., GH325 and the other wonder drugs in the mad scientist treatment lab were killed without any legal justification. First off, SHIELD forced their way onto the property with force, which is a trespass with the intent to use lethal force. This would have justified the guards to protect themselves with lethal force from SHIELD.
The SHIELD Agents could argue the “necessary defense,” in that they had to break into the lab, and kill those who were defending themselves and the base, in order to save Skye, who had vital knowledge about Deathlok. This argument would fail.
The necessity defense may be asserted “only by a defendant who was confronted with . . . a crisis which did not permit a selection from among several solutions, some of which did not involve criminal acts.” United States v. Holmes, 311 Fed. Appx. 156, 164 (10th Cir. Kan. 2009). The necessity defense has a three part test:
(1) There is no legal alternative to violating the law;
(2) The harm to be prevented is imminent; and
(3) A direct, causal relationship is reasonably anticipated to exist between defendant’s action and the avoidance of harm.
Holmes, at *164 citing United States v. Benally, 233 F. App’x 864, 868 (10th Cir. 2007).
The Agents were trying to keep Skye from dying, which could be classified as either imminent or near-imminent. This would meet the second element of the rule.
The Agents might be able to argue breaking into the secret lab was done out of necessity, but that cannot be an excuse for killing the guards. Moreover, the Agents have no right to argue self-defense, because they caused the actual danger by attacking in the first place. You cannot break into property with weapons drawn and claim those on the property were the aggressors for defending themselves. Moreover, why is Skye’s life worth killing two unknown guards who were simply doing their duty?
The situation might have been different if the Agents were armed with “night-night guns,” but they were not. There is no nice way to say it: Coulson, Ward, Garrett & Fitz killed the two guards without justification.