The shooting death of Chad Read at the hands of his ex wife’s boyfriend, Kyle Carruth, last year was captured on video from a couple of angles and provoked much discussion. As we noted at the time, the details weren’t quite as clear-cut as some wanted to believe and it was difficult to predict whether a prosecutor would consider the shooting justified or not.
Here’s what we do know, and what the outcome is so far.
On November 5, 2021, Chad Read and his wife, Jennifer, went to pick up Read’s son for court-ordered custody time. Later we’d find out Read’s ex-wife had a history of withholding the son and a habit of jerking him around. On the day in question, the son was, again, not present. And because the incident was recorded by Jennifer Read, we have a general idea of the minutes surrounding Chad Read’s death.
Read became agitated when informed his son wasn’t even there. According to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal, the moment he found out his son wasn’t present went something like this . . .
During the argument, Christina could be heard saying the child was not home and that she was going to fetch him. She also said that she didn’t abide by the court ordered deadline because she wanted to see their son.
“I don’t care if you wanted to see him or not,” Chad Read said. “I get him at 3:15 p.m. If you want to see him, you see him up until 3:15. You keep trying to keep my son from me.”
An argument followed, Carruth retrieved a rifle from the house and shot Read, killing him.
The cell phone video can be seen here . . .
Warning: This video is graphic and uncensored.
This is the Nov. 5 shooting of Chad Read by Kyle Carruth, estranged husband of state judge Ann-Marie Carruth.
No charges have been filed.
— Ryan Chandler (@RyanChandler98) November 24, 2021
This version includes video from another angle, taken from inside the house.
**Graphic video** of Lubbock Texas shooting.
The husband of a judge in Lubbock, Kyle Carruth, killed a man named Chad Read in front of Chad’s 11 year old son. pic.twitter.com/5DCmdyJ9oM
— Michelle ❦ (@MichelleWhitzel) November 27, 2021
Complicating the situation was the fact that Carruth was married to a district court judge at the time (she divorced him after the shooting). The case was presented to a grand jury and was found to be a case of self-defense.
Lubbock County District Attorney’s Office had excused itself from the investigation because of Carruth’s relationship with the judge, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Investigators turned their findings over to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, which handled all prosecutions related to the case.
‘The presentation of the case included several eyewitnesses, family of Chad Read, and additional evidence that was not previously released to the public,’ Paxton announced.
‘After several days of thorough inspection of the evidence, the Special Grand Jury concluded their investigation into the matter and deliberated on whether the evidence supported the filing of criminal charges against Kyle Carruth.
‘The Special Grand Jury voted…to not indict for any criminal charges against Kyle Carruth.’
Here’s the TL:DR on the shooting: both men behaved badly and Carruth escalated the situation with the firearm. Carruth had the time and desire to walk back inside to get the rifle, then return and continue fighting with Read.
Read pulled a card that’s never wise, basically asking, “What are you going to do, shoot me?” After firing a shot that struck the ground at Read’s feet, Carruth was out of arm’s reach when he fired the shot that killed Read.
The case was handled by the Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, because of the ties between Kyle Carruth and the Lubbock law enforcement community. A grand jury has now ruled the shooting was a case of self-defense.
A few things to know about Kyle Carruth:
- Carruth was married to district court judge Anne-Marie Carruth
- Carruth separated from his wife in July 2021 and filed for divorce September 2021
- After the shooting, Anne-Marie Carruth submitted new court filings related to Kyle Carruth’s involvement in said shooting
- The divorce between the Carruths was finalized soon after the shooting
- According to Jennifer Read, Chad Read’s widow, “Christina Read and Kyle Carruth have been engaged in an ongoing affair, despite Kyle Carruth being married. On October 30, 2021, Chad Read informed Christina Read that he had evidence of her affair with Kyle Carruth and that he was going to go public with it.”
- Texas Governor Greg Abbott appointed Anne-Marie Carruth to the 72nd Judicial District Court in Crosby and Lubbock Counties in January 2021, a term that ends at the close of 2022 after she lost her re-election bid.
Now that the criminal liability aspect of the case has been decided, Read’s widow says she’s going to file a wrongful death suit against Carruth.
Jennifer Read will launch a $50 million wrongful death lawsuit in a civil court now the criminal investigation has finished.
‘Apparently in Texas it’s okay to bring a gun out to a verbal altercation and murder the ex. The ‘special’ grand jury was just for show,’ she wrote on Facebook.
This where things shift into the op-ed area in this post. This case sets a dangerous precedent, and not just in the state of Texas. Was this a messy, convoluted series of events? Yes. Did the two men both behave badly? Absolutely. Does that mean Carruth was justified? No. As the story makes clear, there was additional evidence presented to the grand jury that wasn’t public so it’s not possible to form a fully informed opinion.
That said the decision not to criminally charge Carruth could have seriously negative repercussions. There are a lot of states in the country, including Texas, where simply being the mother gives you an advantage is custody disputes. Some judges are certainly better than others, but by and large, you’ll find a lot of heavily biased rulings in family court situations.
Let’s take a step back from the Carruth case and consider how high-conflict custody situations tend to go. When one or both parties are prone to drama and conflict, the situation becomes messy and contentious. Even when one side tries to keep it together through parallel parenting and only communicating with the ex about the child, the high-conflict party can keep the insanity going. Losing your cool at some point isn’t advised, but it happens.
As gun owners, we have an added layer of responsibility (and potential liability) for our behavior. You have an inherent right to bear arms, but also a responsibility not to be an idiot.
As John Farnam says, we shouldn’t be going to stupid places with stupid people and doing stupid things. In some custody cases, that could even look like doing all child handovers in a police station parking lot, or having a competent adult other than yourself do them so you don’t become the high-conflict ex.
You might not want to hear it, but it’s your responsibility to avoid risky scenarios and de-escalate. Sometimes de-escalation looks like not attending the exchange yourself.
What could this decision in the Carruth case mean for gun owners? Well, Texas has its own particular Stand Your Ground laws. Those laws undoubtedly came into play in the grand jury’s decision. From a purely self-defense perspective, it’s easy to look at the videos and say, that doesn’t appear to have been a justified shooting. In a court of law and a jury deliberation room, things are seen through a different lens. The people doing the examining are very rarely experts in self-defense and use of force. There are pros and cons to that.
Most gun owners aren’t likely to be impacted by the choice not to charge Carruth. In my opinion, based on personal experience, the biggest risk here is for dads. It’s possible someone’s violence-prone ex will look at this case and feel empowered against the bio dad in their situation. In fact, if you examine the full-length video, the bio mom — Read’s ex — seems totally unsurprised by the outburst, even as though she perhaps expected it. Why, we’ll never know, and guessing is ill-advised.
How safe are the interests of bio dads in Texas (and other heavily pro-mom states)? Not very much, in or out of court. If you learn one thing from the Carruth-Read incident, let it be to follow Farnam’s rule of three stupid things.
I’ll say it again: do not go to stupid places with stupid people and do stupid things. Be a responsible, well-trained, level-headed gun owner. Be the unnaturally chill one in any situation you find yourself. Learn to de-escalate. After all, you are no good to your kids if you’re dead or in prison.
Be careful. Be safe. And don’t be stupid.