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5 Factors Many Police Look At After A Defensive Gun Shooting

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Because we’ve written extensively on self-defense related news and especially events involving gun owners and concealed carriers, we here at Concealed Nation have some unique insight into how police appear to react to a defensive gun shooting.

In this article, we’re going to cite prior articles and examples as a means to show how a set of circumstances and actions can influence the judgement of police after a defensive shooting has taken place.

DISCLAIMER: This article and the situations and scenarios it brings up are not to be interpreted as legal advice. If you are in a self-defense situation, you need to use your own best judgement — and seek the advice of a professional attorney as soon as the event has passed.

#5.) Distance From The Home

Castle Doctrine isn’t explicitly written into the laws of each and every state but the inherent right to defend one’s own life in one own’s domicile is acknowledged.

Police arriving to the scene of a defensive shooting in the home and see a thug down are going to have an easy time deriving the necessity of the incident. It doesn’t matter who you are — defending yourself in your home against an unknown assailant is a big deal.

Things get murkier the farther the gun owner wanders from his home to address the threat.

In this one self-defense shooting — that was ruled justified — the gun owner had to shoot his neighbor out in his front lawn. While evidence clearly acquitted him of any wrongdoing, it still resulted in a lengthy investigation by police.

These scenarios also seem to extend to carjackings. While a car isn’t a home, it is considered a person’s property. Just like a home, the distance from a person’s car seems to play a role in how police examine the case.

When a carjacker attempts to take your property by force, you’re (in most state’s, in most cases) justified in using force to defend yourself. This played out clearly when a fugitive from the law attempted to carjack a couple in their car.

The second you step outside your home to address a potential threat, police are going to examine closely to determine if the shooting was justified. When the attacker is inside your home, that case is pretty open and shut… Until…

#4.) Relationship to the Gun Owner

If a complete and total stranger breaks into a gun owner’s home and gets shot as a result, police will likely quickly determine that the stranger was in a place he shouldn’t be, exhibited a threat to the homeowner or occupant, and move along with processing paperwork.

This is likely the most cut-and-dry relationship scenario.

Things get complicated when the gun owner is related or has an ongoing personal relationship with the person who was shot. Now police look more closely at motive of both the intruder as well as the gun owner.

The more complex and muddied the water, the more information will likely be needed by officers to determine the lawfulness of the defensive shooting.

For instance, in a situation where a father was forced to shoot his own son — police have to examine why, for instance, the son may have felt the need to attack his father with a knife. It could be for a wide array of reasons — ongoing drug problems, unresolved emotional issues, etc. But that is something any good law enforcement officer investigating the scene of a shooting will look into.

#3.) Shooting Incident Sequence of Events

A deadly threat is a threat that a person believes, if unaddressed, could result in serious bodily harm or death to himself or his family.

When a carjacking victim came face-to-face with a teenager pointing a gun at him, he pulled his concealed handgun and shot the carjacker in the face.

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Police look at the events that lead up to the shooting.

In this case, the break-out goes as follows:

  • Bad guy violently takes property from victim.
  • Bad guy points gun at victim.
  • Bad guy got shot when victim pulled his gun in his own defense.

While police will still conduct a very thorough investigation, you can see from the outset that the situation is very clear. The concealed carrier clearly had no choice but to defend himself after the situation escalated to a point of deadly threat against himself.

In some states, the concealed carrier may have even been allowed to open fire sooner if the carjacker displayed a firearm while stealing his property. This is a state-level doctrine and police will closely look at the series of events to determine if any laws were violated in the course of a defensive shooting.

When we deal with situations where the concealed carrier or gun owner gets into an altercation with another person and that person attempts to flee and the gun owner decides to use deadly force against him — that’s when police quickly see that the use of deadly force was not warranted.

The sequence of events (roughly):

  • Bad guys surround a concealed carrier and his woman.
  • Altercation breaks out.
  • Concealed carrier draws gun to defend himself.
  • Thugs flee.
  • Concealed carrier shoots a fleeing thug in the leg.

See how it went from justified to not justified? It’s pretty easy — especially when high tensions and risk are involved.

#2.) Place of Business

As a business owner or employee, you’re stuck in a certain place at a certain time. Especially when that means dealing with the public, there’s the opportunity for a bad guy to arrive and attempt to violently rob you.

In many of these cases where we see an employee use his own gun to defend himself from one or more bad guys, the police are quick to conclude the employee was justified in defending himself.

This extends to delivery drivers, as well. Delivery drivers have to take orders to odd places and sometimes those places house bad guys who lie in wait to ambush the driver for his property.

When that delivery driver is forced to defend himself on someone else’s property, police examine the events that forced that driver to use his gun. If it’s concluded he used his gun to defend himself because bad guys ambushed him, that makes the policeman’s job a whole lot easier.

#1.) In Defense Of Law Enforcement

Police officers are not immune to violence. They can be ambushed by bad guys just like anyone else. When a concealed carrier or gun owner comes to the rescue of a police officer, the police are going to look extremely favorably on that.

As concealed carriers, we know it’s always important to carry our permits on us as verification. But in the extremely unlikely chance you end up not having it on you but successfully stop an officer from being further injured, it’s highly doubtful the issue of whether or not your permit was on you will be a central issue.  Defending an officer from violent assault may just be one of the very few times in any person’s life that if he doesn’t have a permit on him, the police probably won’t hold that against him.

I wouldn’t go through life depending upon that, though. Keep your permit on you at all times.

There’s quite a few more factors involved in any formal investigation conducted by police after a shooting incident occurred. Generally speaking, each officer is going to apply the principles he’s learned in the academy with his own real-world knowledge to make a determination on whether or not the gun owner committed any crime.

Even if the police conclude that a shooting may not be completely justified, it is up to the courts and a battle of lawyers to determine the truth. Police are simply the enforcers of the law. Their interpretation is subject to question in the courtroom.

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About G. Halek | View all posts by G. Halek

GH 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…

GH 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 26 in a Lenwood Holsters Specter IWB or his Sig Sauer SP2022 in a Dara Holsters Appendix IWB holster.

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