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.