FROM DERP TO DRT: Michael Caldwell should have stuck with of chasing cars. (Photo: Tyler Police Department)

Michael Caldwell, 31, of Tyler, Texas, was being a jerk this past Saturday morning… with the emphasis on “was.”

Caldwell and his girlfriend were thrown out of an IHOP Saturday morning for creating a disturbance. Shortly afterward, he was the subject of a 911 call from a driver who said that he was worried that Caldwell was going to cause and accident as he was chasing cars on the Highway 64.

Before officers could arrive, Caldwell and his girlfriend then went into a nearby Walgreens and caused another disturbance. They were thrown out of that establishment as well.

After being tossed from Walgreens, but before police arrived, Caldwell then started a fight with Fredy Neal, 65, who was merely trying to use the Red Box (an automated DVD and video game rental kiosk) outside the pharmacy.

Neal told Caldwell to back off.

Caldwell attacked Neal.

Neal shot Caldwell, and Caldwell ceased to be a problem for anyone other than the morgue.

Neal then pulled out a handgun and after several attempts to keep Caldwell from assaulting him, he shot him once in the chest.

Investigators have confirmed that Neal has a license to carry a concealed handgun. He has not been charged in the shooting. Neal was not held in custody by authorities based on the fact that he was cooperative with police, not a flight risk, and witnesses on the scene confirmed that Caldwell initiated the altercation, according to police.

Don Martin, public information officer for Tyler police department, said that Texas “stand your ground” laws may be raised in this case. “He felt that he was in fear for his life….” said Martin.

Tyler criminal defense attorney, Bobby Mims, said that Texas law can protect those who use deadly force when they reasonably fear for their life.

“Generally the law in Texas is that you may use deadly force in some instances,” said Mims. “You have to have a right to be there wherever you are; you have to be lawfully carrying your firearm; and you have to be in fear of your life, protection of others, or property.”

This would seem to be an open-and-shut case, so it’s doubtful that the media will be able to spin this into much of a controversy.

Caldwell acted erratically in numerous locations in front of a significant number of witnesses, went after Mr. Neal in front of witnesses, and then pressed his assault after Neal presented a weapon and declared his intention to defend himself.

Neal fired one measured, accurate shot, so it is unlikely that there is much of an argument for excessive force.

Based on the details of the case, this seems like a very legitimate case of armed self-defense against an unarmed attacker.

It will be interesting to see the results of the toxicology screen that they will do during Caldwell’s autopsy.

What do you think they’ll find?