Self Defense or Revenge?

Man Faces Prison for Shooting Carjackers 
A Houston man is facing a pretty severe penalty for defending his property, after shooting and killing one carjacker and wounding another.

He’ll probably be ok under Texas law, but this was clearly not self defense. Since they had the drop on him, he did the smart thing and let them have what they demanded. Now, if he’d been openly armed, they probably would never have approached him, of course. But that’s a separate issue. He may have had no chance to access his gun during the confrontation, though many do… and succeed. He’s the only one who knows what the actual threat was at the time.

Fail on several other counts, however. He let his situational awareness lapse, for a big one. Houston is a big place, and I have no idea what the reputation of that particular area might be, but it’s probably not all that wise to go out alone, in the evening, and not have someone to watch your back.

Shooting up your own car doesn’t really seem like a good idea anyway. I’m assuming he was insured for the loss. Since the criminals already had everything else… what was the point? Revenge alone accounts for it, not self defense.

Now, whether or not he should face any particular penalty for this, I won’t be the judge. He needs to answer to his own community and family for it.

Do you think this was self defense? What would you do?

Deadly Force Aftermath: A Conversation With Dr. Alexis Artwohl

20130130-074252.jpgAlexis Artwohl, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized behavioral science consultant to law enforcement as a trainer, researcher, and author. During her 16 years as a private practice clinical and police psychologist, she provided consultation and training to multiple agencies throughout the Pacific Northwest, as well as traumatic incident debriefings and psychotherapy to numerous public safety personnel and their family members. Dr. Artwohl is co-author of the book DEADLY FORCE ENCOUNTERS and other publications.

It was my great pleasure to talk with Dr. Artwohl recently about the lessons armed citizens can learn from her research and how they can better prepare themselves for the emotional and legal aftermath of a lethal force encounter.

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IANAL: Talking to Law Enforcement After a Shooting

The conventional wisdom on the Internet says that, if you ever have to use lethal force to defend yourself, the best response to the police is to say nothing. “Tell them, ‘I refuse to answer any questions without my lawyer present’ and then shut up,” the Internet tells us. Or, sometimes people advise us to say “I was in fear for my life” and then shut up. But is this really the best course of action after a shooting?

The “shut your mouth and say nothing” advice is driven primarily by the belief that (a) you might say something in the heat of emotion that could later be misconstrued as incriminating, and (b) that the police are looking for a reason to arrest you. The first is very likely true; the second not necessarily so.

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IANAL: Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy, and “Good Shoots”

First of all, let me clear something up: The acronym in the title of this post stands for “I Am Not a Lawyer”, which is true. Please don’t construe anything I write here as legal advice. Although I am trained as a paralegal, that isn’t the same thing as being a lawyer, and since the laws of every jurisdiction vary, it’s up to you to check what I have to say with a lawyer who’s licensed to practice law in your state.

With that said, this is the first of what I hope will be an occasional series about aspects of the law as it relates to self-defense. I know, I know, “I’d rather be judged by twelve than carried by six” and all that, you may be saying. But really, if you survive your tangle with violence but end up incarcerated and/or in bankruptcy court to satisfy a civil judgment, it’s a bit of a hollow victory, no? Saving your life is good, but so is not bringing financial ruin down upon your family.

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On Self Defense and the Cost of Victories

Like half of America and probably nearly all of the shooting world, I’m watching the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case with no small amount of interest. Whatever your take on the story, and whomever you believe is guilty or innocent of what, this much is fairly clearly true: Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman had an encounter on an unseasonably cold and rainy right, Trayvon is dead, and life for George and his family will never be the same.

That’s the honest truth, because really there are two possibilities for George Zimmerman: An acquittal and the struggle to return to daily life in a country where a substantial percentage of the population is ready to crucify him, or a guilty verdict and a prison term, followed by the struggle to return to…well, you get the idea.

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