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View Full Version : Ok to shoot if attacker isn't facing you?


blockfort
07-19-2012, 7:36 AM
I just saw the video of the 71 year old guy who shot two armed robbers in Florida. Most of his shots were made when the attackers were not directly facing him. The robber closest to him turned away and that's when the old man fired his weapon. His life wasn't threatened at the moment he shot, but the armed robbers could have turned and fired at anyone at any moment. Is it legally "ok" to shoot someone in the side or back and claim self defense?

http://youtu.be/KFW3bwXIcWc

JackRydden224
07-19-2012, 7:39 AM
I just saw the video of the 71 year old guy who shot two armed robbers in Florida. Most of his shots were made when the attackers were not directly facing him. The robber closest to him turned away and that's when the old man fired his weapon. His life wasn't threatened at the moment he shot, but the armed robbers could have turned and fired at anyone at any moment. Is it legally "ok" to shoot someone in the side or back and claim self defense?



From what ADA Jack McCoy told me it is okay to shoot under that circumstances to prevent harm to the 3rd party. In that case everyone else besides the old man and the robbers are 3rd party and it is reasonable to think that all 3rd party members' lives are in danger.

OleCuss
07-19-2012, 7:43 AM
Yes, you can shoot them in the back or side on occasion.

You have a situation where people are being threatened with deadly force. It needn't necessarily be the shooter him/herself who is being threatened in order to justify the use of deadly force.

But there has to be a realistic threat involved.

So if the perps are threatening you, turn their back to you in order to threaten another - take your shot at stopping them.

But if they have turned to leave and appear to no longer constitute a threat to anyone, hold your fire.

Don't ever shoot anyone because you can justify doing so. You only shoot to stop the perp from hurting someone. If it appears they are not going to cause serious harm, hold your fire.

SilverTauron
07-19-2012, 7:44 AM
Its very situational. The DA in Florida could have pursued charges against the old man for shooting the perps in the back,but he declined to do so . That doesn't mean we won't be facing a manslaughter rap if we do the same thing.

Note that intentionally shooting when the bad guy is fleeing is a different situation than firing on a felon in mid attack who spins around from the gunshots or realizes far too late he made a mistake.

In that situation by the time you realize he's turned around and cease shooting you'll have put several bullets into his back out of cognitive delay. The Medical Examiner reports the bad guy has several holes in his back, the prosecutor makes some phone calls, and you get to have an expensive session in court proving that you didn't murder the perp. Mas Ayoob has several articles detailing the latter situation.

VictorFranko
07-19-2012, 7:59 AM
Years ago, my friend, who was a private detective and apartment building manager, heard his teenage son scream out in front of their building.
Dan came running out to find his son stabbed with a screwdriver, and the perp running away.
Dan drew and shot the perp in the back, killing him.
Dan was sentenced to 15 to life.
Found a link to the incident from 1996!
Link (http://articles.latimes.com/1996-09-21/local/me-45994_1_jury-convicts-man)

Big Ben
07-19-2012, 8:00 AM
Another factor to consider is, where is the perp running to? Is he fleeing the location, or is he running for cover to return fire?

blockfort
07-19-2012, 8:02 AM
Thanks. I am now designing an IDPA course around the incident...

Aldemar
07-19-2012, 8:07 AM
If a bad guy is shooting at a 3rd party and has his back to you, I would think you would justified in shooting him before he has a chance to turn around and threaten you.

That said, I live in the City of Los Angeles. Chances of my getting a LTC are zero so assuming I was carrying it would be illegally. What would happen to a individual in that situation? Not good I would imagine.

AK all day
07-19-2012, 8:32 AM
What if you have already Been directly fired at? Can you assume that when they turn their back to run, they are not seeking cover/reload possibly like someone else had said? I think I will take my chances in court than take a chance with my life.

lawaia
07-19-2012, 8:33 AM
There is no simple answer. The circumstances will dictate justification.

Silverback
07-19-2012, 8:36 AM
[QUOTE=blockfort;8958771] Is it legally "ok" to shoot someone in the side or back and claim self defense?

In California? What does legal have to do with anything?

Dark Paladin
07-19-2012, 9:02 AM
If a bad guy is shooting at a 3rd party and has his back to you, I would think you would justified in shooting him before he has a chance to turn around and threaten you.

That said, I live in the City of Los Angeles. Chances of my getting a LTC are zero so assuming I was carrying it would be illegally. What would happen to a individual in that situation? Not good I would imagine.

If you have a restraining order on file, you can theoretically conceal carry*:

http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/25600.html

(a) A violation of Section 25400 is justifiable when a
person who possesses a firearm reasonably believes that person is in
grave danger because of circumstances forming the basis of a current
restraining order issued by a court against another person who has
been found to pose a threat to the life or safety of the person who
possesses the firearm. This section may not apply when the
circumstances involve a mutual restraining order issued pursuant to
Division 10 (commencing with Section 6200) of the Family Code absent
a factual finding of a specific threat to the person's life or
safety. It is not the intent of the Legislature to limit, restrict,
or narrow the application of current statutory or judicial authority
to apply this or other justifications to a defendant charged with
violating Section 25400 or committing another similar offense.
(b) Upon trial for violating Section 25400, the trier of fact
shall determine whether the defendant was acting out of a reasonable
belief that the defendant was in grave danger.

*Subject to DA and judge's interpretation. IANAL, YMMV.

ap3572001
07-19-2012, 9:31 AM
I just saw the video of the 71 year old guy who shot two armed robbers in Florida. Most of his shots were made when the attackers were not directly facing him. The robber closest to him turned away and that's when the old man fired his weapon. His life wasn't threatened at the moment he shot, but the armed robbers could have turned and fired at anyone at any moment. Is it legally "ok" to shoot someone in the side or back and claim self defense?

http://youtu.be/KFW3bwXIcWc

Every shooting is different. there no simple answer to Your question.

From working as an LEO for almost 20 years now, I can tell You that self defense is not pistol duel or a boxing match.

I have never heard of a legal obligation that a person who is protecting their life or life of their loved ones MUST face the attacker(s).

There are many questions.

How many attackers are there? What type of weapons they have? What have they ALREADY done? Who are they? What will likely happen if You do not take that shot? And many more.....

SGTKane
07-19-2012, 11:19 AM
As has been said, its very situational and very state/DA specific. Its up to you, you have to decide, and I recommend pre-deciding because in a firefight you shouldn't be taking the time to think, how you are going to react. Know the risks. You could go to jail for murder. Or you could go free. You could face civil suits. Or not.

Much of it is dependent upon the prosecutor. Most states allow their prosecutors great deal of discretion, on how they proceed. That means in a state like CA (or NYC for that matter) you should shoot a career criminal who has been convicted multiple times but never done any serious jail time (pleads to lesser charges at the prosecutors discretion)and you'd end up doing 15 to life (again at the prosecutors discretion).

jamesob
07-19-2012, 1:40 PM
who says the threat is over once they turn their back? if you pull your weapon while their facing you, whats going to happen? if you see a window to pull your weapon and shoot while their not looking, you better take it.

ap3572001
07-19-2012, 2:30 PM
As I said before , its tough one without a specific situation.

Here is an extreme example to make a point.

Lets say Your home is invaded by THREE men who are all armed. Bad situation.

And one of them ALREADY shot one person.

You are the ONLY one armed in the house. All You have is Your 38 revolver that You can get to.

In this case You do anything You can to save Your life and lifes of others.

I mean ANYTHING .

If You are near someone who to Your knowlege ALREADY and VERY recently ( like few min or sec ago) shot/killed someone, and that same person is now looking to do harm to You, You can do whatever You can to end the encounter.

On the other hand , if You find someone in Your back yard (You are armed) and when they see You they are trying to run away. LET THEM RUN AWAY.3

TurboChrisB
07-19-2012, 2:49 PM
Looks like he "lucked out". Probably got out 3 or 4 years ago.....

http://articles.latimes.com/1996-11-21/news/mn-1400_1_judge-sentenced-reduces




Years ago, my friend, who was a private detective and apartment building manager, heard his teenage son scream out in front of their building.
Dan came running out to find his son stabbed with a screwdriver, and the perp running away.
Dan drew and shot the perp in the back, killing him.
Dan was sentenced to 15 to life.
Found a link to the incident from 1996!
Link (http://articles.latimes.com/1996-09-21/local/me-45994_1_jury-convicts-man)

VictorFranko
07-19-2012, 3:58 PM
Looks like he "lucked out". Probably got out 3 or 4 years ago.....

http://articles.latimes.com/1996-11-21/news/mn-1400_1_judge-sentenced-reduces

You're right, I think he only did six years of his original sentence, but passed away two years after getting out.
I never saw Dan after he got out, but he did call me. Dan was a rather short, small guy, he had a rough time in prison.

POLICESTATE
07-19-2012, 4:02 PM
Looks like he "lucked out". Probably got out 3 or 4 years ago.....

http://articles.latimes.com/1996-11-21/news/mn-1400_1_judge-sentenced-reduces

Too bad he got a sympathetic jury with NO backbone:

"Many jurors were crying in the jury box and said they would have liked to present a different verdict in this case if they could," the judge said, but they were limited by Smith's reliance on an argument of self-defense.

If I'm on a jury and I think the guy is not guilty, that's my vote, period. I don't really care if his defense sucked.

5thgen4runner
07-19-2012, 4:58 PM
Where is that video of the Guy running from leo blind firing over his shoulder, before leo stop the threat?

five.five-six
07-19-2012, 5:03 PM
In such a case, one would be well advised to ST*U and let his attorney do the talking.

CaliforniaLiberal
07-19-2012, 5:18 PM
I just saw the video of the 71 year old guy who shot two armed robbers in Florida. Most of his shots were made when the attackers were not directly facing him. The robber closest to him turned away and that's when the old man fired his weapon. His life wasn't threatened at the moment he shot, but the armed robbers could have turned and fired at anyone at any moment. Is it legally "ok" to shoot someone in the side or back and claim self defense?

http://youtu.be/KFW3bwXIcWc


There is no sure and simple answer to your question. Legally "OK" is not spelled out in perfect detail in the law. Also past court cases help define the law more precisely and you have to do research in a law library or (better) hire a lawyer to figure all that out.

Different prosecutors, different judges and juries will come to different conclusions. Legal questions are not cut and dried. You generally don't get simple, clear, yes or no answers.

My simple answer to your question is: It is OK to shoot someone to stop a present and genuine threat to life or of grave bodily injury. If someone is running away they are no longer a threat.

highender
07-19-2012, 5:59 PM
what he said above.... ^^^

when someone is about to harm you or your family,,,, then you can shoot and try to defend yourself or others. However, as soon as the bad guy drops, turns and stops being a threat, then you must stop the use of deadly force.

Here in California, you cannot run after an assailant/ bad guy / rapist/ thief/ murderer, and shoot him after the crimiinal act. You can only try to stop him right before ( when you see imminent danger and bodily harm coming right away), during, , but NOT after the threat or act terminated.

He can even be injured after your first shots, dropped on the floor and is no longer threatening you or your loved ones.... and at this moment, you cannot go up to him and fire and kill that SOB.

California gives us a very limited window to act . Really idiotic in my opinion.

I also hear that if you decide to shoot, make sure you hit and finish him off, less the evil guy makes up some excuse to be inside your home and sues you...

Gunsmith Dan
07-19-2012, 6:12 PM
To answer it basically:

It all depends on the mind set of the people who will convict you .... could be against the law on the books but if you don't get convicted your actions were, to some extent, justified in the eyes of your peers.

This brave gentleman was all legal up to the point that he chased after them as they retreated. The laws even in a stand your ground state don't justify you chasing and shooting someone unless they are a danger to you or someone else. If these criminals were running away but either shooting at bystanders or turning around (or just pointing the gun behind them and not looking) and shooting it would be justified to shoot them and chase them as well untill they stopped shooting. The position they are facing you has no bearing as long as they are a deadly threat to someone ( and in some states something ).

In this case you had a old guy that got a major adrenaline rush, was not sure if these guys were running and falling down or dropping to the ground to turn around and shoot. In fact if you look at the video one of the guys that falls down actually falls down and starts to turn around from falling.

On top of all that you get the tunnel vision and fear response .... so I would say this guy did very well considering all that happened in the short time it did.

Way to go Gramps!!!!!! :2guns:

ClarenceBoddicker
07-19-2012, 6:21 PM
100% up to the DA, judge & jury.

LEO's can legally shoot fleeing suspects in the back.

Citizens are held to a much higher standard.

YMMV, as there are so many variables that come into play when deciding if a shoot is clean or dirty. Probably the best advice is if you have to ask, don't do it.

zum
07-19-2012, 6:24 PM
so running away with a fire arm in hand no longer makes them a threat, because they are running away?

Kappy
07-19-2012, 6:47 PM
My understanding? I would try my damnedest not to do it.

Now... that being said, I recall a store shooting... I want to say it was a jewelry store? The owner or a patron shot at the robbers. He continued to shoot as they retreated. This was deemed OK because he claimed that he didn't know if they would be returning.

In addition, consider someone who is in your home in the middle of the night? Are you going to wait for them to turn around? I doubt it.

kimber_ss
07-19-2012, 7:14 PM
Firearm in hand and still within the building, without dropping the firearm. I think a reasonable jury would say falls within "in fear for his life", regardless of their facing the LTC holder.

While he did run towards the door, there was no certainty that one or the other wouldn't fire through the door once outside and possibly killing someone inside.(In fear of his life or the life of others.)

Textbook case for LTC, in my view.

VictorFranko
07-19-2012, 7:23 PM
Too bad he got a sympathetic jury with NO backbone:



If I'm on a jury and I think the guy is not guilty, that's my vote, period. I don't really care if his defense sucked.

I can see a jury believing in Dan. He really was just a really nice guy, always smiling and laughing and lifting the spirits of those around him.
Dan and I were toolmakers at the Lockheed Skunk Works and we shared a bench. Every day was an adventure with Dan......

Ctwo
07-19-2012, 7:41 PM
Did anyone actually watch the video?

I think the first few rounds were justified. That last one, as the perps were tripping over themselves running out of the front door, face to the ground, that last shot to the back might be questionable.

The biggest problem there in that situation is the innocent bystanders and people outside the building.

Burla
07-19-2012, 9:15 PM
In this country you can't even shoot the perp if he is smashing your head into the ground and breaking your nose. You are better off using a shotgun and not admitting to anything, as your right to remain silent. Have different ammo in your gun then your ammo drawer.

BTW OP, I had a friend back 25 years ago and he was doing wrong. He took mace and a bat with some other friends (4) to take some weed, stupid high school stuff. The home owners friend ending up shooting two of them, my friend George right through the heart from behind along with 3 other shots. The shooter faced no charges, however the home owner went to jail for a long while because he was growing. It hurt to loose a friend, but he got what he got because of the choices he made. That was a different time, now you are not supposed to hurt criminals, they are people too. As bad as that sounds, look around what is going on these days.

tyrist
07-19-2012, 9:51 PM
There are so many variables that no black and white answer is possible. If are involved in any shooting you better have the ability to rationally explain why you did it.