Attorney: Man acted in self-defense in fatal driveway shooting - New York News

Attorney: Man acted in self-defense in fatal driveway shooting

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Police have charged Phillip Sailors (pictured on the left) in the shooting death of 23-year-old Rodrigo Diaz. Police have charged Phillip Sailors (pictured on the left) in the shooting death of 23-year-old Rodrigo Diaz.
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -

An attorney for a 69-year-old man accused of gunning down a young man in his driveway says his client was acting in self-defense.

Authorities have charged Phillip Sailors in the shooting death of 22-year-old Rodrigo Diaz on Saturday night.

Mike Puglise, Phillip Sailors' attorney, says the elderly man thought a car full of young people in his Lilburn driveway were about to hurt him and his wife.   

"He and his family are very grief-stricken and their heart goes out to the family of the deceased," said Puglise.

The attorney said that Sailors, a school bus driver and Army veteran, fired his .22 caliber pistol out of fear for his life. Puglise says his client grabbed his gun when he heard loud, unusual noises outside his home on Hillcrest Road. Then, the attorney says, Sailors saw two people running near his back door.

"He went out and he confronted the individuals, who at this time were running for their car, got into the vehicle. He saw two individuals -- I understand there were four people total – but two were running back to the vehicle.  At that time he did fire a warning shot. Mr. Sailors saw the vehicle coming towards him and at that time the fatal shot was fired," said Puglise.

Sailors' second shot hit Diaz in the head. Two of Diaz's friends who were inside the car say the group simply pulled in the wrong driveway. They said that Sailors showed no mercy.

Sailor's attorney says his client is a Christian missionary who has dedicated his life to community service and was only trying to protect his house and family when the terrible accident happened.

"What his thought process was, was that he and his wife were fixing to be victims of an assault. So, it's easy to sit here and look at this 3 to 4 days later and say, ‘well, this is what we see now,'" said Puglise. "I see that where Mr. Sailors could easily ascertain that this was self-defense and he needed to use deadly force to defend his life."

Puglise said that Sailors asked his wife to dial 911 just as he walked out of the house – before any shots were fired. The attorney said that is evidence that Sailors feared for his life.

Sailors is being held at Gwinnett County Jail without bond.

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