Police tape

Woman Charged With First-Degree Assault After Protecting Her Friend From Abusive Ex… Not Every DGU Is Clear Cut-And-Dried


ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI — A woman is being charged with first-degree assault after intervening in her friend’s violent assault by an angry ex-boyfriend.  According to police reports and witness testimony, the two women were walking home when a 44-year-old man who is described as the victim’s former boyfriend, grabbed the victim by the throat from behind.  He then loudly demanded money.  The woman who was accompanying the victim tried to get him off of her.  Failing to do that, she went inside her home and contacted police.  She got a pistol and informed the assailant that police were on their way.  He dropped the victim and allegedly advanced towards her.  According to the police report summarized through KMOV, she noted she saw a gun holstered on his hip and opened fire — shooting him in the forearm.

He fled before authorities arrived but was dropped off at a hospital where he was later detained.  For his role in this débâcle, he is being charged with third-degree assault.  The woman who defended the victim and herself is being charged with first-degree assault.

Who knows what truly happened that night and assuredly, there will be all sorts of court cases stemming from this situation.  It seems pretty clear that the assailant had a connection to the victim and was willing to strangle her to get her money and belongings.  Should the woman have waited for police to arrive and watch her friend be strangled to unconsciousness or worse?

This is one of those defensive gun uses (DGU) that defies expectations on so many levels.  Normally, when someone steps in to defend another person from a violent act, that’s usually weighed pretty strongly into how the police react.  In this particular situation, the police definitely decided this warranted a criminal investigation.

It’s just a little reminder that defensive gun use, while warranted, may not always be viewed as such by authorities.  In a lot of the defensive gun use stories we cover, police either don’t file charges or the county prosecutor decides not to pursue it — even for cases where the DGU was bad form.

Perhaps there’s something being left out of this story or maybe the police just didn’t see the reason why one friend should protect another from life-threatening violence.  Hopefully, we’ll update once we figure out which way the gavel lands.

About James England | View all posts by James England

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry…

James England is a Marine Corps veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and has served as a defense contractor in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His daily concealed carry handgun is a Glock 36 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his CZ-75D PCR in an Alien Gear MOD holster.

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  • Cisco

    Assuming that it went down exactly as the article says, I can’t help but wonder why the police filed charges. From what the story says, it sounds like a good shoot.

  • Redline

    Prosecutor running for office?

  • GallifreyFalls

    white women, black male? trying to get some good press?

  • Odoyle

    KMOV article says she is being “investigated” for first degree assault… maybe the story was amended, but “investigated” has a different meaning than “charged” to me..

  • Dr Dave

    It says she “saw a gun in his belt” that doesn’t suggest he was using the gun and in fact during the attack on the GF he hadn’t used it to attempt to rob or assault her. So basically this gal escalated the issue to life or death in her own mind and acted in a offensive manner which might very well cross the line for defensive use of a fire arm. He may have very well had a CCW and had no intention of using it at all. Can’t simply shoot because the guy was carrying he needed to demonstrate he was going to hurt her (not the friend that he already stopped attacking)
    Had she shot him during the attack of the GF it would be an easy call defensive action but since he stopped and then proceeded to walk toward another person is not grounds for LETHAL defense action.
    Personally I wouldn’t have arrested her but we only have as much info as the media is allowing us to have

    • Shooter McGavin NC

      assuming it went down exactly as we read:
      1) he grabbed one woman by the throat and advanced on the other – that shows intent

      2) merely possessing a firearm in that situation means he had ability.

      In my mind, both conditions for DGU are met. some one showing agression to me and having a gun, unholstered or not, is gonna see me draw. Duty to retreat cannot apply since I can’t outrun a bullet.

      • Dr Dave

        Nice analysis
        So basically because he had an exposed gun he is dead (or shot)
        The issue I think the prosecutor is going to say is JUST because he had the gun does that mean that lethal force was indicated
        Spin it a bit. If you didn’t see the gun would you have acted in the same manner?
        Would you have drawn and fired on a guy who didn’t have a gun and who apparently didn’t say anything or do anything violent to YOU
        We weren’t there so this is an interesting project at non-observational oversight but the issue is if you were not definitively in a situation of attack yet saw the same person attack someone else but stop that attack would you attack them FIRST?
        Remember the various doctrines all you to defend yourself but only if you are in NO way the instigator or in an offensive manner
        Dr D

        • bjensen

          As shooter pointed out the man (according to the story) was the initiator of the incident and had:
          1) Grabbed one woman by the throat and advanced on the other – that shows intent
          2) Possessing a firearm in that situation means he had ability.

          Disparity of force very much comes into play..

          Note if she was pointing the gun at him he saw she had a gun and continued to advance on her thinking she wouldn’t shoot and he could take it away from her…he was wrong, and the Prosecutor is over-zealous based on the information here

          (though as noted there is probably more to the story then we’ve heard)

  • Monroe Parsons

    “Investigated 1st degree assault” following “attempted” 1st degree robbery. Not a good idea to close on an armed witness to a class B felony, they may think they are about to be a victim too. This is a high crime area. Realistically, in St. Louis City you are going for a ride in a black and white if you bust a cap on armed robber. The “popo” is going to want to talk to you in a secure location (jail) to get the details of why you thought your life or another’s well being was in danger.

  • John

    I don’t know the laws of this state but I would assume this is a proper place to use a firearm in defense. From my understanding a woman (does not matter if it was her friend or not) saw a man attacking another woman and then the attacker turned toward her aggressively (I’m assuming). In my state self defense with a firearm can be used if you suspect you are in danger of EITHER death or great bodily harm (the law uses other wording but thats the basic). I believe that in this case the defensive shooter believed she could have been greatly harmed.