Armed Homeowner Protects Family From Group of Detroit Thugs – Is There a Chance the Homeowner Could Face Charges?
With a getaway driver waiting in the car, two men broke into the home. They were quickly confronted by the family, with at least the homeowner in question armed with a gun.
Detroit Police Sgt. Michael Woody said there were “shots fired in the home before the two suspects busted through the front door,” according to WDIV-TV. The suspects then fired shots at the homeowner from outside, causing the individual to return fire.
One of the shots hit the getaway driver, a wound that would prove to be fatal. Two of the suspects were able to get away, but the wounded driver crashed into a nearby home and injured a 29-year-old woman. She was later treated for minor injuries.
Those of you familiar with the Castle Doctrine and its legal ramifications will immediately see the potential problem here. The suspects were fleeing.
For argument’s sake, BearingArms.com lays out the “worst-case scenario”:
• criminal charges for pursuing the suspects and shooting of the getaway car driver.
• civil charges from the family of the getaway car driver.
• civil charges from the homeowner of the house that was hit by the getaway car.
• civil charges by the person inside the home hit by the getaway car for injuries that were a result of the shots that killed the getaway driver.
The BearingArms.com article concludes with this sentence: Learn from this homeowner’s mistake, and never make the mistake of turning a defensive gun use into a pursuit.
The homeowner armed himself to confront to armed home invaders. The article is murky on the details, but "shots were fired" inside the house. Homeowner fired? Invaders fired? Who fired first? Regardless, the homeowner was well within his rights to arm himself against armed home invaders and to shoot at them (even shoot first).
The bad guys ran out and the homeowner pursued them (to make sure they left, they didn't return, and no one else was going to reinforce them?). The bad guys fired back at him. Where was he at that moment? In his doorway, on his front steps, in his front yard, in the street? The homeowner then returned their fire. Tactically, the homeowner put himself in more danger by leaving the relative safety of his home but legally he didn't do anything wrong, especially if he wanted to be able to see how and in which direction the home invaders escaped in order to give that information to the police.
A civil lawsuit is a possibility at any time, no matter how obvious and legal the self-defense shooting was. Criminally, the bad guys are responsible for the death of their getaway driver and the damage to private property because they wilfully committed a violent felony to which the homeowner responded legally and justifiably.
This happened in Detroit where people are under seige and fed up with criminal violence. My guess would be that the homeowner doesn't face criminal charges, and if he does he won't be convicted by a Detroit jury. However, he may be in for some steep legal fees and a separate civil lawsuit by the criminals and their families. Oh, the outrage!
Here's a case you may be familiar with (from 2009 Oklahoma City) in which the victim in an attempted robbery fires shots at the robbers in his pharmacy (hitting one of the two), then pursues the second robber out of the store firing more shots at him while he fled. As it turns out, the pharmacist was not charged with those shots at the fleeing suspect who was not shooting back, though he could've been and probably would've been if he wasn't charged with murder for what he did after he returned to his store. When the pharmacist left the relative safety of his store and began firing at the fleeing suspect he became the aggressor. It was no longer self-defense. Additionally, he left his employee and his store unguarded with the first, wounded robber inside the store. What if the wounded robber recovered, got to his feet, pulled a weapon and shot the employee or ambushed the pharmacist when he returned? What if a third robber entered the store and shot the employee or the pharmacist? It would have been infinitely wiser for the pharmacist to lock the door after the second robber fled, call 9-1-1, and stand by to make sure the first wounded robber didn't get up and reengage him in violence. (It makes no legal difference that the robber the pharmacist shot did not have a gun. His partner had a gun and together they posed a lethal threat to the pharmacist and his employee. Tactically, it makes more sense to shoot first the assailant who is the greatest threat – the one with the gun – but in the heat of the moment fine distinctions like that may be hard to execute flawlessly.)
After the ill-advised pursuit and shots at the fleeing robber, the pharmacist reenters the store with his now empty first gun. He walks by the wounded robber laying on the floor, gets a second gun, and shoots the unconscious robber 5 more times while he lies helpless on the floor. For those extra five shots at someone who was no longer a threat, the pharmacist was charged with and convicted of murder.
By the way, the second robber who ran from the store and a third accomplice were also charged and convicted in the death of the first robber who the pharmacist shot and killed. The prosecutor handled the whole thing perfectly, especially in charging the two surviving robbers in the murder of their partner: they set in motion a violent crime in which their accomplice was killed. They are responsible for that death. If the pharmacist had accidentally hit and killed a customer in the store, the surviving robbers would have been guilty of that death too.
There are worse things that can happen if you pursue an armed felon besides facing criminal charges or a civil lawsuit.
Again: don't pursue armed felons, especially if you're UNARMED! However, if you're the police, have at it.
I just received my copy of "The Law of Self Defense:the indispensable guide for the armed citizen" (2nd Ed.) by Andrew Branca. Looks pretty readable for this topic. I bought it both to know the law and somewhat because this guy is a lawyer in my own benighted state of MA, where you probably don't want to be caught dead trying not be killed.
Forgot to post this above, possibly of interest to this thread and has something in common with that book. I'm going tonite to the second class of my local "Citizen's Police Academy", an informational series of weekly 3 hour meetings for 10 weeks by my local PD. It's the first here in a decade and was quickly filled with several dozen of my fellow citizens of all ages and backgrounds, without others who were apparently screened out by a background check LOL. The county sheriff has offered this previously but was too far for me to attend, could be a possibility for you if your town doesn't do this. I won't go into long details but this is a pretty comprehensive tour of station, cruisers, weapons, equipment, and all departments, with Q and A for all and a ride along at the end. There is a new chief, after decades of dismal leadership here, and he is trying to improve police communication and image. You will find out pretty much everything about manpower, equipment, training, philosophy, etc., worth the time IMO. I will close with one thing that got me. Job one, of course, is coming home at the end of the shift but job two..not catching bad guys, not protecting citizens but…LIABILITY. I can't tell you how many times that was mentioned last week. I think this chief has seen a lot of Youtubes and news articles. Well, that could be good for us here.
If I was a commander in a police dept I would think of doing this kind of thing to build understanding and cooperation. We used to do it here. If I was a commander here I would be embarrassed for the law-abiding public to see the shabby condition of our equipment and facilities. Additionally, we are sworn to secrecy with the public regarding the manpower we're able to put on the street at any given time, on pain of suspension or termination! That's how low our numbers have shrunk. This is probably why we don't do this anymore.
There is a lot of misunderstanding in the public about the day to day work of local police officers (too much TV, I'm sure) and the various pressures (often conflicting) under which they work. There is also a lot of misunderstanding in the public about what their rights actually are, and what they're not. Here's an example from California. Police go to a home in CA without a warrant because the wife was once confined to a mental hospital and the couple is on record purchasing guns. They let the police in without a warrant, not realizing they should have and could have refused. Their guns were confiscated (without probable cause) and they were embarrassed and frightened in front of their neighbors. The police didn't have enough probable cause to get a warrant from a judge so they just went fishing for someone who would let them in without one. Talk about resisting the Deep State 🙂
Here's another: I read every week about police arresting citizens for video taping their public actions or forcing them to stop recording or confiscating their phones/cameras. The Supreme Court has ruled that recording police in public is perfectly legal and we are trained that way here. Still, police don't know that in many places and civilians are widely confused too.
Seven weeks down. And after numerous requests (well, okay, a request by my wife to talk about it somewhere else…), I will briefly update about my citizen academy experience since I went on my first, possibly only, ride along last night. I spent two hours in a new cruiser in a semi-crummy part of town with a 15 year veteran and a following two hours with a near retirement guy in an older clunkier car in a ritzier part of town. These were both during the evening shift, as darkness fell. Nothing exciting happened on either shift, a routine traffic stop and a domestic disturbance call. On the former, I learned that you can let a serial miscreant go for a minor vehicle offense to cultivate him as a potential window into the criminal element, I also learned, if you run a random plate ie. the guy in front of you, you will many times find numerous past or present crimes or warrants come on the green screen. That guy you have a fender bender with in the parking lot,,,maybe he's got a warrant out for assault. A large percentage of your fellow citizens have some legal problems. The second thing I learned is that my town, presumably like many, has a pretty significant drug problem, partially coupled with a psychiatric patient problem. The final thing I learned is that an individual officer has considerable latitude and discretion in many areas on how to handle a criminal. This can be good when you have experienced, somewhat thoughtful officers who try to do good by the public. I also learned that I can get uncomfortable sitting unarmed, albeit wearing a minimal bullet resistant vest, when the officer leaves the car for a domestic disturbance or other potentially dangerous call. One of our young attendees witnessed a cop draw down on a drug dealer to force him out of a car. Had someone come out the car shooting on the other side and chosen to throw a few rounds at the unarmed student sitting in the car, that would have been an awkward time, though the young attendee did not think that way. I did not have the nerve to ask the chief to carry a weapon on my ride, nor did I have the nerve to ask the officer the location of the secret button that unlocks the AR-15 and 12 gauge between the seats. Sometimes you play the odds. It has been an interesting experience and I'll write again after the last class.