Welcome to Aftermath, a portion of our First Line email newsletter where Attorney Anthony L. DeWitt walks you through a real-life self-defense incident and shares his key takeaways.
In Northglenn, Colorado, a young man physically abused his girlfriend in his stepfather’s home.
The stepfather intervened to remove the woman to her parent’s home for her own safety.
Angered by the stepfather’s intervention, the abuser punched the older man, driving him to the
floor and injuring another woman. The fight spilled onto the lawn, where sirens could be heard.
Hearing that his time was up, the abuser announced, “If I’m going to go to jail, I’m going for a
reason. I’m going to kill everyone.” He ripped the screen door off the home, dashing inside to his
bedroom. Believing the abuser had a gun and seeing something black in his hand when the
assailant returned, the stepfather, with his own firearm, shot the man. The district attorney
declined to press charges.
What would you have done differently in this situation? Have you trained in the defense of
Based on the info given, it seems pretty good to me.
It sounds like the older man used reasonable/normal force to justifiably protect the third party woman and only escalated to lethal force when an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death was reasonably perceived.
If the girl needed to be removed from the situation, then the LE should have been contacted first before trying to remove her from the house. This would be de-escalating the situation but if the LEOs do not show up then at least they have already been notified of a domestic disturbance beforehand.
Confronting the stepson who is already unsteady and abusive is only going to continue to be aggressive and escalate the situation to the level that he did. Being the first 911 caller is also a good response especially if there is a posibility of any problems.
I would say call the Police and ask for a healthcare representative to come out to give him help but the last I heard that no one wants the job.
By reading the story, police were already on the way “sirens could be heard”
She was removed from the situation, which started the fight with her dad (BF attacked her dad)
Once BF heard the sirens he made the verbal assault of “I’m gonna kill everybody” then ran back inside to presumably get a weapon. (The story as posted doesn’t verify retrieval of a firearm)
It is reasonable to assume that had dad NOT intervened beyond just calling the police to deescalate that BF may have caused his initial victim further harm or death upon hearing the police approaching.
Had Dad NOT entered the home and removed his daughter, she may well have been killed.
Had Dad NOT been carrying they all may have been killed.
I also interpret that last line “the DA did not press charges against (Dad)” to mean it was determined to be an act of self defense and or defense of others.
My opinion, it was a good shoot.
Dad acted in defense of family initially by retrieving his daughter from a dangerous situation. Dad also got physically assaulted and retaliated.
(Note that dad did so without drawing his weapon until AFTER bf said he was gonna kill everyone and retrieved a weapon)
Only after BF had verbally threatened death and had a weapon (black object) in hand did Dad draw and fire.
I did not see that she had left the previously. I see he did what he could, but I was working towards all possibilities applied to possibly avoid to having to shoot him in self-defense but in some cases, there are no good directions to go to prevent having to take that measure. Sometimes a person is a time bomb waiting to just go off!
I would have called the police on the way to getting the woman to her parents’ home. He should have gotten her there and came back with police. Alway best to remove yourself from the situation if possible. If he would have called the LEO’s on the way of removing himself and her from the situation the sirens would have triggered him after they were gone. If he had time and capability to get her out of there, he could have done the same for himself.
I for one am a hunter warrior, and protector. I am always going to defend myself, my family and friends. I would have called yet still would have removed the GF for her own safety and mine. No telling how long she police would have been before they showed up. This situation was already at a critical juncture from the attack on the defender and GF. Yes lying on the floor dead I always think shut down the lights. Bleeding out is so messy.
Knowing the police were on the way (sirens heard in background) and the stepson in the home, assuming he is getting a weapon, the stepfather should have attempted to move everyone clear of the danger if possible. If time didn’t allow movement of individuals then the stepdad was correct in taking action. Anyone who carries a weapon and is involved in a dramatic situation must explore all options prior to taking a life. Was the nearest neighbor too far away? Was there somewhere that they could have taken flight? Without these answers a lot of questions are unanswered.
The stepfather intervened and was trying to remove the female from harm’s way. That is not creating exigency. The suspect created the exigent circumstance by attacking the girlfriend in stepfather’s home.
He assaulted the stepfather and another female that I can assume to be his own mother.
Stepfather was most likely continuing to defend against the suspect on the front lawn.
Now here’s where more details would be necessary without me having to assume details. Suspect hearing the police coming runs into the house and then exits with something in his hand.
Judging from what just happened it sounds like this was a rural setting because the sirens were heard, but the cops did not arrive until after the shots had been fired. “When seconds count, the police are minutes away” . This means that it was possible that stepdad was armed, but chose to use force when his perceived ability to gain distance and wait for the cavalry to arrive vanished when the suspect reappeared from the house.
Something also tells me that Stepdad was older and might not have been able to sprint away like an action hero carrying 2 damsels with him.
It also appears Stepdad did not go charging into the house after the suspect. If he did follow the suspect inside and shot him then things would have gotten more dicey for him saying self defense.
It appears with physical evidence and statements, the DA saw this was a justified shoot.
Agree with the DA. Ok, so I learned call 911 1st, leave phone open so call is recorded on operator’s end, try de escalation, didn’t work, protect family. Tough situation but sadly, too common. It happens so darn fast. Hate 2nd guessing.
All great points. Let me correct myself. I should have stated from the beginning. I think it’s a good shoot. I took it from the perspective of how I would have handled it differently but came up with an opinion without knowing the information that your post asks and states we don’t have.
Thanks for that!