You have just used deadly force to defends yourself, now what?
By Tom Russell, Owner and C.E.O. of the American Firearms Academy and Conceal-Pro
Let me begin with the obligatory, “I am not an attorney.” I am not offering legal counsel, however I am encouraging you to have legal counsel on standby in case you ever have to use deadly force to defend your life, or the life of another person, and to call on that counsel immediately when the time comes.
According to the Texas Penal Code, Sec. 9.01.Deadly force, “means force that is intended or known by the actor to cause, or in the manner of its use or intended use is capable of causing, death or serious bodily injury.” In short, “deadly force” is a level of force sufficient to cause death or serious bodily injury.
So, you and your spouse have just left the Dallas Theatre Center after enjoying The Christmas Carole and crossed Ross Ave. to the parking lot where you left your car. Being in “Yellow” you notice the streetlight is out on the west corner of the lot. Hmmm… you sharpen that Yellow and take the flashlight from your pocket. (You do always carry a light don’t you?) You guide your wife to the center of the drive but it’s a tight lot and there is only twenty-five feet between the cars on your left and the cars parked along the edge of the lot to your right.
As you come abreast of a mid-size SUV and a van, two trolls step out and are instantly within six feet of you. You and your wife have talked this over numerous times. You have a plan. As she steps behind you and you raise your light and your hand goes to your XDS45, the thug on the left states in understated eloquence, “Hey M…F… give me your money or I will cut you and the b…!”.
As the light beam illuminates the threats you see both are armed with knives. You are being threatened with deadly force, the means to carry out the threat is present, and it is imminent. At this point you are justified in defending yourself and your wife with deadly force. As you lock into the Harries Technique with your XDS and flashlight, your eye finds the orange fiber optic front sight indexed high-center mass” on the troll to the left, you press the trigger one time. You don’t actually hear the shot, or notice any recoil, as you transition to the second threat who has now dropped into a deep crouch. As your front sight settles you press the trigger twice, and then shift back to the first troll, only to see him crumpling to the ground so you hold your fire.
With gun in hand in the “low ready” position you scan 360 degrees to ensure there are no other threats, and then direct your wife to call 911 for the police, and an ambulance. Your wife might tell the 911 dispatcher, “My husband and I are in the parking lot at the corner of Ross Ave. and N. Hawkins St. Two men attempted to rob us at knife point. My husband has a CHL and shot both of them. We need the police and an ambulance. My name is Sally Jones. We are Black/White/ Hispanic. My husband is wearing a brown coat and slacks and I’m wearing a white dress.”
The dispatcher may ask for additional information regarding a more exact location, clothing description, etc. If so, I would encourage you to provide that information, however, regarding details on the actual event I would simply repeat primary points already mentioned and leave it at that. You may very well be in an extreme emotional state, after all you’ve just shot someone. The act of self-defense/deadly force may have been completely justified but it is perfectly natural for a good person to experience remorse or regret and that moral reaction could cause unnecessary uncertainty, which if expressed could cast doubt on the justification of your actions.
There being no apparent threats you holster the gun. Being a wise man you know you don’t want that gun in your hand when the police arrive. They will not know the story when they pull up and will reasonably assume anyone holding a gun is a threat, so you put the gun away.
The responding officers will take your pistol. It is good to have a spare on your ankle, you still need to get home. They will ask for identification and an explanation of what happened. I would responds, “Officer, those people threatened us with knives and I was afraid for our lives and had to stop the threat. If you have any other questions please talk to my attorney.” This limited response is not because we doubt the principles of the investigating authorities, and certainly not to hide the facts, quite the contrary, it is to insure that the facts are communicated clearly without emotion creating unnecessary confusion.
It is at this point you need to call your attorney so that he can serve to interact with the police and the District Attorney’s Office on your behalf. It’s important to remember that everything you say is being reported, and when heard out of the immediate context could be construed to convey something you never intended, again, let your attorney speak for you.
The clear communication of information to the police will also serve to help you defend yourself in the civil suit that is likely to follow.
Remember, if the unlawful threat of deadly force was directed against you or another, the means to carry it out was present, and the threat was imminent, then it was right and just for you to stop that threat. Regrettable? Certainly! Right, just, and responsible? Absolutely!
“But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.”
Jesus Christ, Luke 22:36
In closing, your personal judgment of your actions should be based on principle and not emotion.