From Memory Alpha:

Rushing to a Jefferies tube, Picard sees a crewman begging for help as Borg technology starts to take over his body and, believing he is saving him from a worse fate, shoots him dead before escaping into a hatch.

The crew member, although infected by Borg nanoprobes and losing control of his body is not yet under control of the Borg, therefore still human. Would the Federation/Starfleet consider it a crime that Picard killed him while he was still human?


What got me thinking about this was a Boston Legal episode where a death-row guard is accused of murdering a prisoner undergoing a botched execution. The prisoner is convulsing from the drugs that are supposed to sedate and kill him, so the guard shoots him once through the head to put him out of his misery. Did he act humanely? Yes. Was it legal? Well...

What if the crew member had been shot in the stomach and would die agonisingly over the course of two hours? Would Picard be justified in killing him then? As the audience we can somewhat see Picard's position and agree that he thought he was acting humanely, but Picard was also rescued from the Borg and had his humanity restored, so he of all people should know that the situation was not hopeless. I think in the ST:TNG era euthanasia isn't acceptable either. I remember an episode where Worf wanted to commit suicide after it looked like he'd be paralysed for life and there was much discussion about it.

So I'd like something more than just "Picard's a good guy who went through some really heavy stuff and we all like him". If he was tried in Boston Legal they'd get him off under temporary insanity... Also how would the letter to his family from his captain look? "Sorry about your son. I had to kill him because he was turning into a Borg. Jean-Luc Picard, Captain, Enterprise"

  • Please specify whether you are asking about LEGAL ramifications or MORAL implications. You appear to be asking if Picard could be found legally guilty of murder in a Federation court, yet some of the question implies you are talking morally.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 14:39
  • @Omegacron Yes, I'm asking legally. Similar to the Boston Legal episode, he thought he was acting morally, but might not have considered the legality of his actions. Could Picard have been arrested/charged with murder/appeared before court for his actions even though we, the audience, agree with them?
    – CJ Dennis
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 3:21

1 Answer 1



Of everyone in Starfleet, Picard knew first-hand what that crewman was going through / had in store. Even though the crewman was still human at the time of his death, we must remember that:

  1. Picard was literally saving him from a fate worse than death.

  2. Picard was depriving the Borg of another drone, and by doing this, was quite possibly saving additional lives.

These are all good things. Starfleet wouldn't punish him.


It's very clear throughout FC that Picard's personal hatred for the Borg is impacting his command decisions:

So an especially dickish prosecutor could probably argue that he was emotionally compromised. But ultimately Sterfleet just wouldn't punish him.

  • 1
    In the words of Jayne,"You shoot me if they take me.... Well don't me first"
    – user001
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 13:06
  • 5
    I can't argue against this answer enough to justify an actual "answer" and overall I think you are probably right (hence my upvote) - however, it is worth nothing the inconsistency and irony that the statement that he was saving the person by killing them came from a man who was actually saved and recovered from Borg assimilation (without getting a phaser in the gut)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 14:22
  • 1
    @NKCampbell your logic and rational thought processes have no place here! :D
    – Ingu Shama
    Commented Feb 17, 2016 at 15:58
  • 2
    @NKCampbell It's definitely a bit twisted, but i still think Picard's decision is justified by point (2). If the crewman had been assimilated in isolation, he probably could have been recovered, but attempting to do so when the Borg are rapidly taking over the ship is terribly impractical. Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 1:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.