GTA ‘door-checking’ case prosecutor; “The blame lies entirely with Nathan Hartley”
On reading the report that Nathan Hartley, an 18-year-old from Maryland in the United States had been sentenced to seven years in prison for an act we’d never heard of before – ‘door-checking’ – what sparked our interest was the insistence that this activity is an integral part of Grand Theft Auto.
But rather than tow the sensationalist line, we asked the prosecutor in this case, John Mark McDonald, what really happened and why GTA was even brought into this courtroom, since we don’t remember seeing this activity in the game at all.
Door-checking is a new term for us and after reading Twitter feeds, blog sites and news portals, it appears that this the first time anyone has heard of it before.
According to the news stories available on the subject, door-checking is the act of “intentionally hitting pedestrians by smacking them with open car doors”.
Of course, we’re struggling to see where this activity or game mechanic fits into the GTA universe. We don’t remember seeing a ‘door-checking’ level, or any statistics/trophies that reward you for such a task. In fact, as any player will know, hitting pedestrians with a car usually attracts the attention of the police, the game’s penalty system.
We asked Mr. McDonald why GTA was introduced into the case.
“The suggestion came through the Defendant. I have never seen Grand Theft Auto, and had never heard of ‘door-checking’ until this case. It was a defense he set forth in attempting to waive his case back to the juvenile court. The State did not introduce the game into the prosecution of this case. It added nothing. My comments on the game were to rebut his reasoning for doing what he did.” – John Mark McDonald
So, and as expected, it was Bailey that brought GTA to the case in an attempt to somehow explain his terrible life-choice. Once again, video games (and specifically the GTA franchise) are used as an excuse for anti-social and dangerous behaviour whereas, in fact, it is simply Hartley’s nasty and vindictive behaviour that is to blame.
And Mr. McDonald, the prosecutor in this case, is quick to agree.
“I did not suggest that the game was to blame for his conduct, and would not. The blame lies entirely with Nathan Hartley. I stated as much in court. As I indicated, I have never even seen the game and I was not passing any judgment on the game. I was simply arguing why I felt his justification was not valid.” – John Mark McDonald
Hartley committed a heinous act. Witnesses say Hartley was driving about 30 miles per hour when he steered his car toward two teenage brothers and slammed into them. The front of the car hit the younger boy who was on a bike, and the open driver’s side door hit the older boy.
He deserves his seven year sentence for such a horrible crime, but video games don’t – as usual – deserve to take the blame. And it would appear the man at the heart of prosecuting this case agrees.