Could Oceanside Murder Have Been Prevented?

Misaalefua.jpg There is a very interesting legal story developing in Oceanside. Early on Christmas morning, 44-year-old Jimmy Misaalefua was gunned down in the cul-d-sac where he lived by his neighbor Robert Pulley. According to news accounts, Misaalefua was beloved in his community, a former Marine and college football player, who was an active volunteer in the Oceanside community. He left behind a wife and two children, a seven-year-old daughter and a six-year-old son, whose birthday was celebrated a week before his father’s death. A real tragedy.

The events leading up to Misaalefua death raise all kinds of legal questions about police conduct, and whether this tragedy could have been avoided.

According the North County Times, shortly before the shooting, fire fighters had been called to Pulley’s house in response to a 911 call where it had been reported that Pulley and assaulted his 20-year-old son. Apparently Pulley was acting belligerent, and it took several fire fighters to restrain him, which prompted a call to the Oceanside Police Department. When police officers arrived, they determined that this was nothing more than a domestic dispute, and no arrests were made. Police drove away at 2:40 a.m.

At 2:43 a.m. – only three minutes later – 911 was called that shots had been fired near the house and police returned to find Misaalefua dead or dying in the street.

It’s easy to second-guess the decisions made by police officers, especially when such a tragedy results, and they should usually be given the benefit of the doubt. This was, after all Christmas and there was probably some desire not to arrest a family man in home on Christmas. But some of the information coming out about Pully is very disturbing.

It was reported that Pulley owned eight guns, four of them registered to him. The murder weapon was a semi-automatic handgun (it’s not clear if that one was registered). In 2004 he was arrested and convicted of drinking and being in possession of a firearm. While that incident was six years ago (and reduced to a misdemeanor), just last month he engaged in an hours-long standoff with Oceanside police after he threatened to harm himself and his wife with a gun. It’s unclear how that matter was resolved, but despite the serious nature of the standoff it appears that Pulley was not arrested. With that background, and the presumed knowledge by the authorities that Pulley owned several guns, serious questions must be asked as to how he was allowed to keep guns in his house.

This story is now just unfolding. Pulley was charged yesterday with murder and other charges, and the Misaalefuas’ are trying to understand how this tragedy could have possibly occurred, and on Christmas of all days. One thing is for certain, there will be serious public questions raised about how a man with Pulley’s past, and his known possession of firearms, was allowed to keep guns in his home.

Source: North County Times

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