The Aftermath: Down But Not Out

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.

Down But Not Out

WYFF Channel 4 News reported that when a man appeared at a woman’s door one morning asking for jumper cables, the Taylors, South Carolina, homeowner told him she couldn’t help. The man left but returned a few minutes later. Forcing his way into her home, the assailant grabbed the woman’s neck and threw her to the ground. Whatever evil intention he planned was cut short when the homeowner pulled a pistol and pointed it at the intruder. He ran for his life, leaving her doorbell camera with a good look at his face. Police were notified.

In Review

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Did the homeowner respond appropriately, or would you have done something different?

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not a judgement but if I had a ring monitor I would not have opened the door I would have retreated and called the police upon the return of this individual. If the door was kicked in at the same time I identified them as a possible threat and was unable to retreat if a stronger person grabbed me I would attempt to inflict enough pain to distract them and retreated to a safe room and called authorities. if that was not possible I would never turn my back to run and loose sight of the threat I would have shoot the intruder and not just displayed a weapon. the distance can be closed so quickly that if you don’t shoot immediately the gun will likely be taken from you and used to do you harm.

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In Virginia, I’ve been “told” by friends and random range neighbors that its illegal to shoot an intruder in the back if he is fleeing your private property. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

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Someone breaks in to my house and surprises me (I either can’t retreat or other loved ones are elsewhere in the house)? They will likely be shot dead. No warning, no discussion, not taking any chances, period. If anyone is is my house illegally, my assumption is that they are armed and intend to do me and my loved ones harm. Any other thinking is to risk your life…not happening on my watch!

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Limited info but if she was still on the ground, escape to a secure room might have been difficult.
Even if there had been a burglar alarm, it might not have been on since she was home. Some have a panic button but probably not in that room.
She handled it correctly in not shooting him. Not so correct in answering the door.

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I’m in Illinois. Here , the use of lethal force is justified to stop a “forcible” felony. Breaking into the home, and assaulting someone would be grounds for the use of force. I would have retreated, to a room, or put something between us to have the opportunity to draw my gun. If he was still coming, I would shoot. If he stopped, and/or turned and ran, I’d call 911.

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I never open my door unless, 1.) I I.D. the caller visually either via the peephole in the door, or by checking my RING device; or 2.) Audible I.D., e.g., “Hey, M., it’s [someone whose voice I recognize].”
I’m not a Good Samaritan these days—no jumper cables—although I will call 911 for anyone who asks!
If the door comes crashing open, I’ll try to hide or shelter. Our victim made the wrong decision by opening her door to a stranger.
By the time it was too late, she no longer had the option of evading her attacker. In my state, if you can see the backs of your erstwhile assailant’s head, you can’t use deadly force.
I have owned firearms for 50 years, have a CCW permit, and have (proudly) never unsnapped my holster except to put holes in paper or non-human vermin!

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I never answer the door without my EDC. I chk the ring video 1st and use its voice capability to interact with the person if I don’t know them…

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Thats a tough question to answer, its one of those “Split second decisions “ that (in my mind) could have went another way “if it was me scenario “ if i was already forced to draw my weapon on an advancing presumed attacker in my home it could have very easily been a “pull the trigger “ moment, however i can also see myself doing as she did not firing the weapon as well, so as i stated in the beginning tough question… BUT would not any of the three options that was available would not have been correct? Option 1: retreat to a room with a locked door to call 911. Option 2 what she did pulled the weapon but did not fire. Option 3 fired the weapon to prevent serious physical bodily harm or death ( In Accordance with that state’s law being in a dwelling).
In the end i think any of the 3 options would have been Appropriate.

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In her position, I would have moved somewhere away from the door but in sight of it, and called 911 to report a suspicious person at my door. Then, since I’m armed at home as well as out on the go, I would wait until either LE arrived, or until the guy came back. If LE arrived first, they would deal with him outside, or he’d be long gone. If LE didn’t arrive first, the moment he chose to break down the door, he’d be DRT (dead right there). I agree with Mark185 that distances can be closed so quickly you can lose the opportunity to fire if you don’t take it at the first moment the law allows. I’m not giving him any chance to hurt me or anyone else in my home. :neutral_face:

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If the intruder left immediately, I would likely have let him go. If he hesitated a split second, I would have shot him somewhere in the “lights off zone” to stop him. I would not shoot a person if he was fleeing and unarmed as this would be clearly (to me) illegal. As far as I know, only an officer of the law can shoot a fleeing felon.

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I would have double tap that dude then called 911

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And yes a citizen can shoot a fleeing felon as this one due to danger to the community teen. v gardner

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First reaction - shoot the guy. It’s my house, he run after my life, so shoot.
However we are trained to make a decision when NOT TO SHOOT. And this story is a perfect example why we don’t shoot if there is no imminent threat.
For me good response from homeowner.

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My understanding is that Tennessee v. Garner applied to law enforcement, not civilians and that the use of deadly force against a fleeing suspect is not justified unless “the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or others.”

My decision on whether or not to shoot will always be based on the presence of an imminent threat. Once the homeowner in this case showed their firearm and the intruder retreated, there was no longer a threat. I think they did the right thing. The used the amount of force necessary to stop the threat.

Mike

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If you’re not a guest in my house. There is no question in my mind I would shoot. And ask questions later. If you would still be able to answer. Then I would call the police. And hope my ring Camera with pick up Would pick up the pictures of you.

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In the moment, those with no law enforcement training, non-military or non martial arts trained individuals have NO IDEA about what to do. I believe many (most) LTC / CHL trained individuals are trained at shooting targets… in a safe, non threatening indoor or outdoor range. When I took the NRA personal defense course, shooting at cardboard, in broad daylight with no physical threat present, the instructors had all of us so cranked up that one individual actually threw his firearm at the cardboard target and somewhere between target 7 and target 9 I wet my pants… there was no threat, but the intensity of the training was designed for maxinum stress. When your back door glass breaks at 3:00AM your voice will leave your throat and hide in a back closet and whatever is in your bladder will now be on the sheets. Fact is, many (most) of us are not thinking that after the sun goes down and we have locked our doors that someone is coming to OUR front door. As a former FFL dealer I would often hear the local “uncle Buck” say, “by gawd I know what I’d do…I’d blast him to he _ _…” but again, in the moment, I do not believe any of us will go from REM sleep (or the comfortable LazyBoy) ready for full on assault.
Prepare like it is up to you, pray like it is up to God. Be vigilent, stay in practice and secure your home with motion sensor lights, cameras, smart doorbells or whatever your budget will afford, but DO NOT live in fear.
patches

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We need more info.
BTW, that is our local area TV station from Greenville, SC.
Did the lady go to the door? Did she open the door, or did the attacker break through? Did she already have the weapon in hand? Maybe she was able to get just free enough and far enough away to have ample time to present the weapon. Apparently he was not holding her down at that point since he APPEARS to have been at a distance where he would turn and run rather than try to get the weapon from his face or rib cage etc. He apparently had the lady down at one point so that she could not flee. He more than likely would have pursued since he had already forcibly entered and attacked.
Given the sketchy details we have, it appears the victim was forced down, managed to struggle free and defend herself by presenting the weapon, and held her fire once the attacker fled. I hope she kept her weapon ready and moved to a safe place while awaiting officers.

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Sorry but if you dont think pc exist during a burglary 1st or 2nd l think other and tenn v garner was a ruling by us supreme court and could be used in civilian appication it only applied to law enforcement at the time due to civil ligation

Each of us have a responsibility to each other in the sense that we arent looking for the fight. But with that being said, the fight must be finished with a few contingency plans in place for situations such as this topic. Yes, she had the right to shoot from the moment he forced entry.

Not everyone is prepared to take a life as some may claim. I know for me personally, I would have gone this route. But since the woman we all are speaking about did not, does not mean she did it all wrong. She may have a different feeling about taking a life when the time allows. She may have flet the situation was ok to let him go. Or she may have a past that keeps her from doing so.

Law abiding citizens are the best. We all want peace and one day each of us will be challenged from time to time. It is equally important that all who carry daily, must train or be trained. We all have that continued responsibility as 2A supporters. We also must put in some form of contigency plans at home if dad is gone or mom is gone or the kids are alone at home (legal age of course) without any adults. Planning the worst is better than being surprised by the worst. Thx

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