January 18, 2008

• Self Defense Shooting and the Aftermath

Posted in From The Blog-O-Sphere, Legal at 4:44 am by Rid

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hat Tip: Law Dog

Meditations on aftermat

If you spend any time at all on the various gun forums of the World Wide Web sooner or later the conversation will come around to “What to do after a shoot”.

The advice given by anonymous figures riding the electron waves of the Internet can be … amusing. At best. At worst, some of the advice given will guarantee that the shooter will be hip-deep in legal trouble for the next lifetime.

I will tell you right up front that any comments made by your Humble Scribe are worth exactly what you paid for them.

First off — and I cannot stress this enough — anyone who carries, or owns, a gun or a knife needs to know a lawyer.

First thing tomorrow — or as early as possible — find yourself a lawyer who is familiar with self-defense cases and the weapons laws of your state.

Now, folks. Not at 0-dark-thirty with a critter bleeding out on your carpet and red-and-blue lightbars screaming down the road.

Ask the regulars at your gun range/club who they’d recommend. Use your NRA, GOA, JPFO, KABA, LEAA, or SAF membership services and find out if they can point you at an attorney in your area.

Once you have the name of an attorney, go talk to him (or her). It usually doesn’t cost much — or anything — to introduce yourself, sit in his office and talk about What May Come.

If you like him (or her), get a couple of his cards and put one in your wallet and another under the bedroom phone where you can find them after the bodies quit bouncing.

If you should find it necessary to help a critter into his next incarnation, hopefully you or a family member will have called 911 prior to the Grand Finale — so to speak — and the whole fandango will be recorded. However, if (for whatever reason) it was not possible to call 911 prior to the critter starting his trip to room temperature — please call 911 as soon as possible.

You will note that I don’t have any advice to give as to what you should tell 911 when you call them. Seems like everyone on the Internet has (legal) advice as to what you should tell the 911 operator, how you should say it, how many words to use and how many seconds to spend saying it.

In my experience, when your ears are ringing, the smell of powder and blood and various human secretions are clogging your nose, adrenaline is rampaging up-and-down your spine and a man — critter or not — that you just killed spent his last moments in this life in your presence begging God for another chance, or calling for his mother, or crying in denial and disbelief as he died …

… you are not going to be thinking of what your anonymous Internet buddy told you to say. You’re not even going to remember grabbing the phone, and if you are conscious of your conversation with the 911 people you have my admiration.

So. You have called 911. The very next thing you should do is pull out that lawyer’s card and call him (or her).

I don’t care how justifiable the killing was. I don’t care if you’re in Deepinahearta, Texas and the deceased is laying in the middle of your living room floor with an axe in one hand and a detailed murder list in the other.

Call your lawyer.

Like it or not, guns — and self-defense itself — are political. And District Attorneys are political animals. Trust me, you don’t want to be caught without a lawyer if Mike Nifong’s evil twin Skippy decides to make his political bones with your case.

You have called 911 and you have called your lawyer. Now — probably sooner rather than later — the scene is going to be crawling with cops.

Whatever you do, please, please, please do not greet the police while holding a pistol in your hand. Or a knife, bludgeon, broken bottle, chainsaw or whatever else you used to shove your critter in front of his Eternal Maker.

You, standing over a dead man, with a weapon in your paw when the cops show up is a recipe for an unpleasantness. Trust me on this one.

Again, there are thousands of folks on the Internet, each one with advice on what to do with your pistol, knife, or whathaveyou.

And — again — if you have the presence of mind to do something complicated with your gun, I salute you. But I doubt it.

Just remember not to have the weapon in your hand, on your body or with-in arms reach when you get face-to-face with the police. The officers are going to take custody of whatever you used to chlorinate the gene pool, and when they do — tell them where it is, but, please God, don’t go grab it yourself to give to them.

Last, but certainly not least, if there is any subject in which every-single-body on the Internet has advice for, it’s what to tell the cops about your shooting.

Folks, what you should or should not tell the cops is based completely upon the unique circumstances of your personal incident.

I can tell you that it’s never a Bad Thing to not make a statement to the police before your lawyer is present, but let’s talk Real Life here:

You have just ended the life of some mother’s child. You may have stared into the eyes of this person as the life drained out of them. You may have listened to the death rattle as they took their last breath. You may have heard this person’s last words, or you may have simply watched them kick until they were still.

Whichever, you have just breached the most sacred of Man’s taboos. You have done something that cannot be taken back, and you have done the single most powerful, awful thing one human being may do to another.

In addition, you’re going to be so jazzed on adrenaline that your teeth will hurt. Endorphins will mask any pain — and failing to find pain, they will be tweaking your inhibitions in 23 different directions. Your mind will have played tricks on you — sounds will have gone squirrelly; time will have done wierd things.

And worst of all, you probably won’t remember entire sequences of what just happened. Self-doubt is going to jump on your back like an 800-pound gorilla with cold feet and clammy hands.

And you will want someone — anyone — to understand that you were forced to do this terrible act. You will want someone — anyone — to know, to understand, that you had no choice in breaking the ancient taboo against killing.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the average self-defense shooting, it’s not getting the shooter to talk to us that’s hard — it’s getting him to shut up that’s difficult.

I can tell you to assert your right to have an attorney present during any interview with the police, but in the last 13 years of police work, I’ve never seen a justified Average Joe self-defense shooter who was capable of doing so.

Again, you may be different. I salute you if you are, but — again — I wouldn’t bet anything important that you won’t be like everyone else I’ve seen in that position.

So — my advice to you is to sit down with your attorney before the Fit Hits The Shan and discuss what your attorney wants you to do in that situation. Find out what your attorney wants you to tell the police, and try to stick with that.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself unable to stop talking, though. Prepare for it, and you will probably be able to limit any damage done.

LawDog

18 Comments »

  1. Kellene said,

    All I can say is “Dude! I love your blogs!” We’re linking to you on our site, Women of Caliber (dot com) and our blog. Keep it up and THANKS!

  2. Rob said,

    I found what you wrote to be helpful, but incomplete of what I am looking for. I recently opened a gunsmithing shop and inside of two weeks, was broken into. Luckly we were closed at the time and I fear what might happen if the case arrises where we are held up while we are open. Basicly what I was wondering is what happens after the police arrive? What would be their next steps, what would be mine? I hope the situitation never arrives, but if it does I am just tring to prepare myself.

    Thank you for your time.

    Rob

  3. nic said,

    that was good info….it really helps…..

  4. Richard said,

    That’s all well and good in the USA, but what about here in Canada? I remember a case a while ago here where someone was kidnapped, forced to empty out their bank account at a local atm, and then taken back to their home to be killed… the victim was able to get a kitchen knife and defend himself against the attacker and get away.. but in this case the victim was convicted of assault and sent to jail. This is not an extreme case… this kind of thing happens all the time. It’s almost like we are prohibited from defending ourselves.

    What should we do? I wouldn’t know whether to call the police or not. On one hand, you know you are innocent.. you know that you were forced into this position… but you also know that you will most likely go to jail for the next 10 years for what you did. I hope I never have to make that call.

  5. Eddie Patin said,

    How can you convince the police to leave your gun with you–not confiscate it for evidence? Not leave you defenseless in case the critter had buddies that might come back?

    And how do you get it back if you can’t manage to keep it?

    • Anonymous said,

      Thats why you have multiple guns. At least two for home defense and at least two for self defense (outside the home as in concealed carry). And btw, train as best and as frequently as you can with those weapons. With all of that adrenaline your fine motor skill will decrease dramatically which means your aim will get worse. Red dot lasers are great for aiming or a shotgun will do nicely for the home.

      Also, your lawyer will see to it that you get your firearm back after they are done using it as evidence for the case. But make sure he stays on the PD about it. Often guns are destroyed in anti gun states

  6. DEERSLYR said,

    The wording in this article is Epic.

  7. Mark said,

    The police will confiscate the weapon used, no matter what. And you might get it back once the investigation and everything is done, only and only if they clear you as manslaugther-justified self-defense. They will no bill you and release any evidence back to the owner or next of kin, but do not (DO NOT) COUNT ON EVER RECEIVING ANY WEAPON BACK FROM ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY FOR ANY REASON OTHER THAN YOU ARE ACTIVE MILITARY.

  8. SDC said,

    What about non-leathal self defense? Tasers are great products for non-lethal options.

    • Bryan said,

      You cannot legally use ANY weapon unless you are at fear for your life. If you are at fear for your life then chances for survival go up with the lethality of the weapon. The main point of a less lethal weapon is that you could use it before the point where your life was in danger, avoiding the more dangerous point. But the way our laws work you CANNOT do that. Even with less lethal weapons, you cannot use or even draw them until your life is in imminent danger.

  9. Alfred williams said,

    My name is Alfred Williams I’m new to this so please keep me informed!

  10. Nm767 said,

    You will not convince a cop to leave your weapon. It will be collected as evidence. And in past experience I know we have even gone as far as collecting every weapon in the house. Every situation is different.

  11. Peter Ezetta said,

    Sorry to reply to a post that’s almost a year old, but Eddie, I hate to say it bud, but you’re not keeping the gun. Whether you get it back or not is up to the department once the case is closed (I wouldn’t count on it). And as far as friend’s coming back, you won’t have to worry about that either, because justifiable homicide is for a judge to decide, not the police. You stand a darn good chance of cooling your heels in lockup… at least until you’ve been interviewed, evidence has been collected, and the prosecutor has decided not to press charges for homicide. If they do decide to press charges, you’ll either be sitting, or post bail… Either way, if charges are pressed, you’ll have to make your case to a jury of your peers.

    This, in essence, is why it was recommended above, that first and foremost, you get yourself a lawyer.

    Peter

  12. David said,

    The long and the short of it is: DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE!

    If you must notify 911, do so very tersely; e.g.: ‘There been an attempted robbery at my home.’ ‘The thief has been shot.’ ‘You need to send officers and an ambulance. I am the homeowner.’ ‘This is what I look like, blah, blah, blah.’ ‘The thief appears to be unconscious.’ ‘Neither he nor I will not be armed when the officers arrive.’ ‘Please be sure to tell them what I look like and how I’m dressed – OK.’ ‘I’m not prepared to say anything more at this time.’

    Be prepared to keep your big mouth shut. If the cops praise you, SHUT UP! If the cops are polite, SHUT UP! If you want to stay on the, ‘good side’ of the police, SHUT UP! If you want to appear to be a, ‘regular guy’ to the responding officers, SHUT UP!

    The only words that should come out of your mouth are, ‘Thank you, officer.’ ‘Of course I’m willing to talk about tonight’s events; but, not before I retain legal council.’ ‘I’m sorry, officer; but I have nothing to say at this time.’

    If the police respond with something like, ‘I guess we’re going to have to take you to jail.’ Respond with any honest comment about your physical health. For me that would be, ‘Officer, that decision is up to you; but, I want you to know that I have a serious heart condition and need to take medicine 3 times a day.’ ‘If you’re going to take me to jail would you, please, be sure to bring my heart medications along with us.’

    One of the key questions you should NEVER answer during an initial investigation is, ‘Are you the one who shot him?’ Why? Because this is the very first piece of information a prosecutor needs in order to begin an indictment. If you refuse to say either way, then, everything has to be separately established; and it becomes extra difficult for the state to proceed against you on any grounds, whatsoever.

    KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTH SHUT!

    Don’t try to justify yourself. Don’t try to be a nice guy. Don’t try to cooperate. Don’t be too polite; remember, it’s your home that’s been invaded. Don’t fall for excessive praise. Don’t fall for the, ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine. Don’t cave into the threat of jail. (Going to jail, and staying there are two entirely different things.)

    KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTH SHUT!

    Me? I don’t have a particular lawyer in mind; but, I do know exactly who to call in order to very quickly locate a competent criminal defense attorney.

  13. David said,

    The long and the short of it is: DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE!

    If you must notify 911, do so very tersely; e.g.: ‘There been an attempted robbery at my home.’ ‘The thief has been shot.’ ‘You need to send officers and an ambulance. I am the homeowner.’ ‘This is what I look like, blah, blah, blah.’ ‘The thief appears to be unconscious.’ ‘Neither he nor I will not be armed when the officers arrive.’ ‘Please be sure to tell them what I look like and how I’m dressed – OK.’ ‘I’m not prepared to say anything more at this time.’

    Be prepared to keep your big mouth shut. If the cops praise you, SHUT UP! If the cops are polite, SHUT UP! If you want to stay on the, ‘good side’ of the police, SHUT UP! If you want to appear to be a, ‘regular guy’ to the responding officers, SHUT UP!

    The only words that should come out of your mouth are, ‘Thank you, officer.’ ‘Of course I’m willing to talk about tonight’s events; but, not before I retain legal council.’ ‘I’m sorry, officer; but I have nothing to say at this time.’

    If the police respond with something like, ‘I guess we’re going to have to take you to jail.’ Respond with any honest comment about your physical health. For me that would be, ‘Officer, that decision is up to you; but, I want you to know that I have a serious heart condition and need to take medicine 3 times a day.’ ‘If you’re going to take me to jail would you, please, be sure to bring my heart medications along with us.’

    One of the key questions you should NEVER answer during an initial investigation is, ‘Are you the one who shot him?’ Why? Because this is the very first piece of information a prosecutor needs in order to begin an indictment. If you refuse to say either way, then, everything has to be separately established; and it becomes extra difficult for the state to proceed against you on any grounds, whatsoever.

    KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTH SHUT!

    Don’t try to justify yourself. Don’t try to be a nice guy. Don’t try to cooperate. Don’t be too polite; remember, it’s your home that’s been invaded. Don’t fall for excessive praise. Don’t fall for the, ‘good cop/bad cop’ routine. Don’t cave into the threat of jail. (Going to jail, and staying there are two entirely different things.)

    KEEP YOUR BIG MOUTH SHUT!

    Me? I don’t have a particular lawyer in mind; but, I do know exactly who to call in order to very quickly locate a competent criminal defense attorney.

  14. [...] take another’s life and just “ride off into the sunset.” The emotional and legal problems that follow even the most well-justified of self-defense killings are well [...]

  15. Anonymous said,

    In a self defense shooting it is justified if the intruder threatened the homeowner

  16. […] The second position has Massad Ayoob, the Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network and other well-respected and experienced […]


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