Was it self defense. Officers and attorneys are deciding whether the homeowner who shot and killed an intruder in Orem on Monday morning should face charges.
Attorney Stephen Allred, who is not involved with the case, says the shooting was justified.
“There’s a lot that has to happen in a homeowner’s mind very quickly to determine whether they should be firing their gun,” Allred said.
The Orem Police Department said the homeowner found a 49-year-old man in his garage, went back into his house to get a gun, then returned to the garage. The two men fought, the intruder swung an object at the homeowner and then the homeowner shot him, police said.
“We don’t know if this was a burglary or what,” said Lt. Craig Martinez. “It’s still really too early on in the investigation to make that determination.”
Allred, who handles criminal defense cases for Zabriskie Law Firm, said Utah’s stand your ground law would most likely protect the homeowner.
“Had the individual just been arguing with him in the garage, then you’d have the other side of the coin where it’s not justified,” Allred said, adding, “It sounds like the homeowner felt his life was in danger with the individual swinging at him.”
Allred said this case is a good reminder to run through scenarios with your family for what you would do if threatened by an intruder.
This analysis is based upon what is known at this time and is not intended to second guess this homeowner. After all, we were not there. Therefore, we will focus on what we know and the laws of Utah.
In our course we spend some time talking about this exact scenario. While facts are still forthcoming, it has been make clear that the homeowner, finding an intruded in a detached garage, attempted to stop the illegal entry. Upon contact, the home owner was physically confronted, requiring a level of force likely to cause serious bodily injury or death (self defense).
As a property owner, you are allowed to use force to stop an intruder or prevent them from stealing your property. Can you be armed while doing so? Absolutely! In fact, I would highly recommend it. We talked in class on how we are not allowed to use force that is likely to cause death or serous bodily injury to protect property. Property simply does not hold the same value as a human life. However, like in this case, when confronting an intruder, you don’t know the intruders intent or if they are under an substance that may have them in an altered mental status. Your challenge to their presence may illicit a physical reaction.
Suggestions: Remember, they are just things. There is never a reason to put yourself in harms way for property. When you see an intruder, you typically, you will get an adrenals rush and spring into action. We are hardwired to chase what runs, always remember to slow down and assess the situation for risk versus benifit. Many people have been hurt or killed after running into a situation without good situational awareness.
Keep the tactical advantage: (some basics)
- Trust your instincts. If something does not feel right, it is not. Respond accordingly.
- Always assume there is more than one bad guy. Remember, we get brave in groups.
- Keep the element of surprise. This may mean you have to resist that urge to turn on lights. This often illuminates you. If you do turn on lights, make sure you are in the shadows and they are in the light.
- Be verbally strong as needed. If you do have a verbal confrontation, be direct in what you want this person(s) to do. Use your ‘big dog’ voice. Do your best to avoid swearing. Studies show that a person confronted with a person swearing at them tends to invoke a physical response.
- Keep your distance. Do not forget the 20′ rule we talked about in class. They can cover more distance then you think.
- Watch the hands. The hands are what can cause you harm so watch them closely.
- Don’t get distracted by non-threats. Keep your eye on the task at hand. You hear with your eyes and not your eyes. However, we instantly look at who is talking to us.
- Communication. It is not always verbal. Go over basic hand signals with your family so you can communicate quietly over a distance.
The list can go on and on but these are a few reminders and tips for dealing with a force or deadly force situation.