If you missed last week’s article, I urge you to go back and read it, as it will provide necessary context for today’s installment. Let’s pick up where we left off, shall we?
You chose direct action. The bad guy is down. You shot him. He needed shooting. You’ve done well. You saved lives. Your actions were justifiable, reasonable, and courageous. Police sirens are approaching. “Phew! Help is on the way!” you think to yourself. They’re coming to bring you a medal for valor, right? Well, as Lee Corso would say, “not so fast, my friend.” When the cops arrive, you find yourself handcuffed in the back seat of a police cruiser. What now? You’re the good guy, and you’re about to go to jail – that’s what.
If the cops are not already there, you need to call them yourself, even if everyone else in the store has already dialed 911. I could write an entire article on how your conversation with dispatch should go, but for now, just know that if you’re able, you should call 911, and DO NOT describe yourself as “the shooter.” That term carries a very negative connotation, and it’s not what you want the cops thinking when they arrive. As good people with guns, we will have an urge to tell 911 operators and cops everything because we genuinely want to help. Resist that. Now isn’t the time. Here’s what the cops need to know at the scene:
- What the bad guy did that prompted your action. Example: “He pointed his gun at the clerk and threatened to kill her.”
- If you’re able, point out witnesses and/or items of evidence.
- You want to file charges on the bad guy for the bad thing(s) he did, whether you think he’s still alive or not.
After this, tell the cops you don’t want to make any further statements or answer any questions until you’ve consulted a lawyer. Then shut your doggone mouth. This will prove more difficult than you think. Be polite but don’t be friendly. Your demeanor is crucial at this juncture. Best case scenario, there is sufficient evidence to prove you acted righteously and you’re home by the next day. Worst case, you’re off to jail with a murder charge pending.
While under the drug-like influence of the adrenaline that’s coursing through your body, you might ask yourself, “why am I cuffed and stuffed?” Because you just shot someone, genius. “But I’m the good guy. I’m a hero!”
Frankly, if you shoot someone, even under the most noble of circumstances, you should still expect arrest or, at the very least, lawful detention. The cops have an investigation to conduct, and at this point, all they know is there’s a dead guy on the floor and you’re the one who killed him. Buckle up, hero. You have a very long journey ahead of you.
You should be fully prepared for a legal battle long before a gun battle ever erupts. Before ever leaving the house strapped, you should have some form of concealed carry insurance that provides you legal representation, or, at the very least, know which attorney you’re going to call for such a time as this.
Your attorney is the ONLY person you should talk to about the shooting – not your spouse, not your pastor, and certainly not the detectives. When choosing a lawyer, choose one that has experience trying self-defense cases and has a reputation of defending innocent people as opposed to one who has made a living by setting guilty people free.
My friend Ben often tells our students, “You’ll have to prove yourself innocent.” To readers who have trained in the past, think of the instructor you hired. Is he or she someone you’d want testifying on your behalf if you’re on trial for murder? Did that instructor condense your entire class into two hours and pencil whip your certificate? To readers planning to train in the future, consider the fact that any instructor you hire will play a vital role between class being dismissed and court being adjourned.
The emotional and psychological damage that can befall someone who has killed another, even in self-defense, can last a lifetime. The problems arising from this aspect of a deadly force encounter cannot be understated. You should familiarize yourself with the realities of PTSD and how to combat its effects.
I’ll end with this caveat. This article doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of its topic. What you need is training – training that’s realistic, relevant, and recent. Going to a range and shooting a static target does little, if anything, to prepare you for reality. Remember, the secondary goal of training is to learn how to survive violence. The primary goal of training is to learn how to avoid violence in the first place. You’re gambling with your life and your freedom by betting on state-mandated, minimum training requirements to vindicate you in a court of law. Believing your concealed carry class is sufficient could cost you everything. “Good enough” is never good enough when the stakes are death or imprisonment.
Avoid what you can. Defeat what you can’t.
Please submit your questions to Ryan via email at Ryan@9and1tactical.com
(Ryan Barnette is not a licensed attorney and no information provided in “Slicing the Pie” or any other publication authored by Ryan Barnette should be construed, in any way, as official, legal advice.)
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