The Aftermath: Judge Doesn’t Waffle on Stand Your Ground

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.

Judge Doesn’t Waffle on Stand Your Ground

At an Enterprise, Alabama Waffle House, one customer knocked a veteran with PTSD to the floor, the Southeast Sun reported. Management asked the attacker to leave. When the veteran rose, he asked the clerk to call the police. He then went outside and told his attacker that the police were on the way. The attacker said he had a gun and appeared to reach into his truck. He came at the victim, slamming the veteran’s head against the wall. The veteran then drew his lawfully carried firearm and shot the attacker in the leg. The state charged the veteran with aggravated assault. The judge dismissed the case.

In Review

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What did the person in this incident do right? What would you have done differently?

Please remember we can only use lethal force when there is imminent, unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm. While we realize our self-defense shots may kill, our intent is always to stop the threat.

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I wonder how many people get prosecuted instead for similar actions? I’m glad the veteran with PTSD was saved from prosecution. PTSD sucks but it doesn’t make us dangerous killers.

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“Shot the attacker in the leg”. Meaning to the DA, the defender did not really fear for his life. I bet you this is what led to charges.

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“Shot the attacker in the leg” in this case it the most probable firearm response. In very close distance you won’t shoot in center mass.
This Veteran made everything correctly. I don’t see anything I’d have done differently. Perhaps staying inside would be an option… but knocking innocent person down cannot be unpunished. :angry:

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Perhaps. Not following your quarry. The thing is, simply stepping outside to see what a bad guy is about to do should not be used by the DA against the victim. The only thing that is wrong in this story is the DA.

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The issue is following the attacker. Yes it sucks feeling like someone got the best of us. However if you have a weapon on you understand that every encounter now has a weapon involved wether you draw it or not it’s there. And is the encounter worth a life? OUR intentions don’t matter because we don’t know how the other party will respond. Maybe we just want to talk, maybe they want to escalate. Take the few seconds to pocket the pride and ego to think is this worth the road it could potentially go down. 99% of the time its NO and in this case it is absolutely a NO.

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What’s wrong with stepping outside and inform attacker that Police is on the way.
He did nothing to be an agresor.

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I would ask what good does that do? It’s over let the police handle it.

Now if the attacker comes back in the restaurant that changes everything but in my opinion nothing good.comes from going outside

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I agree. There is no reason to go outside after the attacker.

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That takes training and extreme discipline. Obviously veteran overcame PTSD and the training kicked in!
Personally I don’t follow trouble out the door, if it came back through the door, that might be considered provocative.

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Absolutely, we can’t control people’s actions only our reactions. If he came back in I would immediately assume it’s to finish what he had started and would take the steps necessary to see tomorrow

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As we have seen… nothing.
But perhaps he wanted also check the car, or where the attacker went… anything what could help ELOs…
I still doesn’t see reason why he would be charged with anything by stepping out IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE. He did nothing wrong.
If someone is looking for any provoking behaviour he can find it anywhere…even your smiling face can be provoking.

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I don’t agree with the charges either. But I think he got lucky the judge dropped the case. Him going outside opened the door for the other party to have a self defense claim.

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The threat was deemed reasonably over once the attacker left. One could argue by following the attacker outside the veteran became the aggressor and the attacker then became the victim. In most cases, it’s not about how it started but how it ended.

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If he had remained inside, the police arrive, and everything is fine.

He did not follow the attacker out to escalate or continue any physical altercation, he only told the attacker the police was on the way… many do that.

But, aside from everything else that was done correctly, stepping outside was a mistake… but NOT one to lead to a prosecution…

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Not really. There is no ‘self defense’ even possible just by telling someone the police have been called and are on the way.

Stepping outside though might be a mistake… he followed the attacker outside… but many do that, either to leave or get a license plate number… it should NOT have led to any charges… according to the story, he was not aggressive and simply stated the police was on the way. Nothing in the story suggested he was aggressive in any way… so either the story is not complete… or he did not do anything aggressive and was attacked again.

The only thing I can think…is the DA is an idiot… and he considered simply stepping outside to say the police was on the way was the cause of being attacked…

But, as with most of these… there are gaps in the story.

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The gaps seem to be were most of the debate happens.

Rereading our comments it seems we agree on the whole going outside decision just worded differently.

I was just bringing up the fact that him going outside opened a can of worms that he got lucky didn’t lead to charges. I understand he wasn’t aggressive in the scenario given but in my opinion it was an unnecessary risk for very little reward that ultimately lead to having to fire his weapon. He doesn’t go outside that doesn’t happen. His intent no matter how harmless are not known and I also agree with you that this is where the gaps create debate. I am assuming the attacker felt aggression because he did mention he had a gun. Again alot of assuming to come to this so I know there are holes.

If anything it shows just how thin that line between good and bad decisions really is.

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If the police were called, why go outside? What is the advantage vs what could go wrong? Why not let the police deal with the trouble maker, that is what they do. Now, if the guy went back inside the place, different story. I am not putting the guy with PTSD down, and can’t say how I would act, but it seems him going outside escalated the situation from assault to gunfire.

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If the Police were called, there was still no warranty the attacker would be caught. Within few minutes he’s gone, nobody saw anything, case closed… Veteran beaten down. :face_with_raised_eyebrow: It is not fair.

He DID NOT escalated the situation. He also did not deescalated it. But it is not a crime. Whatever reason was that he stepped out, he was still a victim at the moment he informed about Police being called and at the moment he was slammed against the wall. Perhaps it wasn’t wise… but we are humans, not machines…
It ended up with gunfight ONLY because of the attacker.

And how quick an anti-gun prosecutor… or one simply looking to pad their conviction record for political purposes … can go after a law abiding citizen… and suddenly you find yourself in deep crap…

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