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Aftermath of self-defense shooting

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by 3000fps, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. What is the appropriate response after a self-defense shooting?

    Has anyone here responded to the scene after a SD shoot?

    I'm hearing what to do afterwards in terms of talking to police, lawyer etc. from different people, and all going in all different directions.

    IMO I would call 911, stay on the phone the whole time, and cooperate with the officers on scene. Would you still be arrested?
  2. Sgt127


    Nov 5, 2002
    Call 911. Describe yourself as well as possible, clothing etc. Secure the weapon if you are able, back in a holster, in the car, whatever, just don't be holding it when the cops show up. You have no idea how many calls were made and, how contradictory the info the responding Officers are getting.

    When the Officers arrive, properly identify yourself with picture ID, explain, very briefly, what happened. "My weapon is in my holster (don't reach for it) That man attacked me with a knife, I was in fear of my life, I had to defend myself. I'm really shaken up, may I have a few minutes to gather my thoughts, call my family and an attorney."

    Identify any witness's that were present when it occured.

    Don't babble.

    You may be asked to go to the station for a statement. You may be arrested.

  3. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003
    There are three significant categories of people we deal with: victims, witnesses and suspects. If you're in a shooting, it's pretty clear that you're not a witness. So: victim or suspect? Where do you want to be filed, how do you want to set the tone for everything that follows?

    If you're a victim, act like one. Victims do NOT invoke their right against sefl-incrimination. What they do is everything they can to make sure the bad guy gets caught.

    At the same time, I understand people's fear of arrest and lawsuits. What I recommend is a basic statement. Identify yourself as the victim, including a rough description of the crime. Point out evidence and witnesses before they disappear. Describe the bad guys that got away. Then, politely stop talking. Something along the lines of, "Officer, I know that people get sued by criminals all the time and I don't want that to happen. I'll tell you things in detail as soon as I can talk to my lawyer." That's a whole lot more understandable, especially to a street cop, than someone who invokes or totally refuses.

    Will you still be arrested? It really depends, mostly on circumstances but also on location. I know you're picturing shooting Mumar the Terrorist as he's about to kill a bus load of nuns and orphans, or maybe The Ripper as he's about to cut you. But reality is that you might end up shooting your crazy ex-'s new boy toy right after she came over to pick up her things. Or your cheating business partner who's boinking your wife on the side. NO ONE has a private life so unsullied that he can't end up is some real grey situations. But if you're a taxpayer defending yourself from an honest-to-goodness street crime (which is not the samething as a payment dispute over teener of meth), the odds are heavily on your side.
  4. Mayhem like Me

    Mayhem like Me Semper Paratus

    Mar 13, 2001
    Not a chance
    I cannot add anything to Sam's post , I can tell you that I have investigated a few self defense shootings of civilians and officers and Each time I was given a basic statement such as Sam describes, I had an off duty cop from another agency that shot a burglar in his kitchen armed with a large pry bar "all he was missing was the burglar mask".
    He was the only one that really kept talking, he seemed to be less phased by it than the others. I finally had his supervisor come get him and told his supervisor to have him contact his PBA legal fund attorney and talk to him at some point.

    Not a bad shoot at all but the guy just would not stop talking , and that can be a bad thing if you get sued.


    Dec 31, 2000
    Nothing wrong with telling the responding officers that you are really shaken up at the moment, but fully intend on cooperating. Seek medical help, if you need it (blood pressure, heart trouble, whatever the case may be).
  6. Thank you all very much for the replies, it makes a world of difference to hear it from professional individuals.
  7. The-Fly

    The-Fly The Bofh

    Apr 27, 2005
    No offense, but in this day and age of hyper aggressive DA's looking to prosecute "gun" crimes at the drop of a hat, taking the 5th is a WISE thing to do for civilians that do not have a police union or rules such as Garrity to protect them.

    I'm not saying a victim shouldn't give some VERY basic info out (who the bad guy is, where his weapon is, etc), but in general the less the victim says, the better until such time they talk to their lawyer.

    I know this can make things a little harder on the investigating officers, but we have to protect ourselves in a legal sense as well.
  8. RussP

    RussP Moderator

    Jan 23, 2003
    Central Virginia
    The part in bold, can you expound on the "etc"? What does that include?

  9. trekdesigns


    May 4, 2010
    South Florida
    I agree 100%. "I'd be more than happy to speak with you in the morning with my lawyer present." I feel no need to make a statement at that time. There will be more than enough evidence on scene (witnesses, CCTV, broken glass, bullet holes and possibly a dead man) that they do not need an immediate statement from you.

    No matter what you say, everything is going to be taped off, and there will be an investigation. If your going to be arrested like Sgt127 says i'm willing to bet that nothing you say to the responding officers is going to change that.
  10. DaBigBR

    DaBigBR No Infidels!

    Oct 28, 2005
    Circling the wagons.
    This has been covered pretty well in this thread. I've read others that did not go that way.
  11. The-Fly

    The-Fly The Bofh

    Apr 27, 2005
    Stuff like your name, your address, where your firearm is, where the bad guy's weapon (if any) is, if your hurt, if anyone else is hurt. Very basic factual info.

    I strongly discourage people from discussing what happened until such time they talk with a lawyer.
  12. DMF

    DMF P33

    Jan 19, 2003
    I'll add, if responding officers arrive and you have a gun in your hand, you will be ordered to "drop the gun." Do exactly that. That means open your hand and let the gun free fall to the ground. The responding officers only know they've been called to the scene of a shooting, and have no way of knowing you're a "good guy." Do anything other than dropping the gun when ordered could reasonably interpreted by the officers as moving to shoot, and they would justified in responding with lethal force. It doesn't matter if the gun is a $3500 custom pistol, or a Makarov you paid $150 for, if you're ordered to drop the gun, do just that.
  13. The-Fly

    The-Fly The Bofh

    Apr 27, 2005
    Couldn't agree more. I teach students that PRIOR to the police arriving, to either holster their firearm or unload it, slide lock it, and place it a few feet in front on them, and then to keep their hands above their head in plain view.
  14. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003
    And your advice differs from the totality of my post, how?
  15. merlynusn


    Nov 16, 2007
    The investigation will go on whether you make a statement or not. While I agree (and would use it if it were me) about talking to a lawyer before detailed questioning, the detectives will make a determination based on the information they have.

    If you are involved in a shooting with a thug and the only witnesses are the thug's friends, a more detailed statement might be better. They will go off the information they have, especially if it's a homicide investigation. If everyone is saying "We were just walking along and that guy came up and shot us." Then if you are the shooter and you invoke, then they will go with what they have. You will be arrested and charged. They might be dropped later on, but you'll still be charged. They typically won't let a homicide suspect walk away baring other information.

    If you can get a lawyer to come to the station immediately, then by all means, do so. That will show you are willing to talk, but you're also protected. I know that if I'm involved in a shooting, I will call my FOP lawyer and have him there before I talk to anyone. But not many people have a lawyer on standby either.

    Will the detectives try to figure out if it's really self defense? Yes. But it also requires some information from the person who is claiming self defense. Also, self defense is a defense, not necessarily a bar to prosecution.
  16. Hollywood D

    Hollywood D

    Jun 10, 2006
    I can give you an example based on something like that which happened at work a few years ago.

    Cliffs notes version:

    Two guys are working at a liquor store. They both have guns behind the counter. Two suspects walk in with guns to rob the place. The clerks pull out their guns and shoot the suspects. I can't remember if both suspects died, but one did for sure.

    Homicide responds. They brought them to the station for an interview. No handcuffs or anything as it's being treated as a righteous self defense shooting at this point.

    If a guy gives a basic synopsis of what happens then says 'Look I've never been in this situation before and I don't know how this all works and I would like to have an attorney present before I make any other statements', I don't have a problem with that.

    I do recommend you at least give a brief rundown of what happened, but that's up to you. And you will be way amped up anyways so your mouth will probably be going a mile a minute regardless.
  17. Javelin

    Javelin Got Glock? Silver Member

    Feb 9, 2008
    N. Dallas
    I don't agree with this at all. If you are talking to the Law you need a Lawyer. I would not care about the criminal case so much as the civil that will inevitably follow even in the best of case self defense.

    So - Lawyer or else pay the price later with all of your hard earned cash pulling back word play that their legal team will do everything and anything they can to extort money from your wallet in court.
  18. Javelin

    Javelin Got Glock? Silver Member

    Feb 9, 2008
    N. Dallas
    And the little who-dunnit cop that shows up at the incident is only there to collect evidence. The evidence you provide will be used against you in a court of law (both civil and criminal). After a shoot you are in no way able to give a complete statement and you really need just just go downtown with the nice peace officers, call your lawyer, and sit and don't say a damn thing until he arrives.

    Seriously folks this is not a game. It is your life and in the civil court proceedings the assalaint's family will have your cake and eat it too.

    You need to protect yourself, your family, and your belongings from the abuse of the civil court system.
  19. Sgt127


    Nov 5, 2002
    And, we come to the inevitable turn that always happens with these threads....
  20. Yup, a know it all with no experience shows up and shoots off his mouth.