I’ve been enjoying the different force-on-force training scenarios offered up by the First Person Defender series of videos that we’ve been sharing over the last week, and think that the second scenario in the “Squatter Attacks Home Inspector” video offers an excellent place for a discussion of the importance of training.
The scenario is that our defender, Lyle (green shirt), is a home inspector meeting with a couple of realtors (purple shirts) to check out a home, and a squatter at the home (red shirt) confronts them, pointing his finger and yelling and tell them to go away.
As they focus on the man in the red shirt angrily advancing and yelling at them, the door to the home opens (above).
A man in the blue shirt emerges, and lifts his shirt.
Blue Shirt draws a gun from his waistband and opens fire without saying a word.
Lyle draws his gun, presses out, and engages Blue Shirt, which is clearly justifiable as he was an obvious deadly force threat. You’ll notice that Red Shirt (screen caps above and below) is just standing there once the shooting starts, while the purple shirts are pulling away from the gunfire.
As Blue Shirt starts to collapse, Lyle immediately swings over to Red Shirt, who is standing there with both arms in front of him, empty-handed, and Lyle fires a shot into Red Shirt’s chest.
Lyle then follows both shot men to the ground, covering them, and then asks for one of the purple shirts to call 911. The scenario then ends.
Was Shooting “Red Shirt” Legally Justified?
It’s clearcut that Lyle’s decision to return fire against Blue Shirt’s attack is legally justified, but his decision to fire on Red Shirt is a bit more nuanced.
I asked Andrew Branca, attorney, firearms instructor, and author of The Law Of Self Defense for his opinion on the scenario, focusing specifically on the shooting of the unarmed Red Shirt.
His opinion was in concurrence with my own: Red Shirt didn’t need to be shot. He had no weapons in his hands. Red Shirt stopped moving forward when Blue Shirt came out and opened fire. That is our shared subjective opinion, but does Lyle have an argument to make that he was justified in shooting Red Shirt?
Yes, he does.
Branca notes that Lyle (or his attorney)could argue that he felt Red Shirt and Blue Shirt were acting in concert, and this was collectively a deadly force attack that required him to shoot both men.
Will Lyle’s argument help him avoid charges? If charged, will Lyle’s argument help him avoid conviction?
Those are questions we can’t easily answer, as there are simply too many variables. Depending on the political environment, the whims of the prosecutor and other unforeseen variables, the prosecutor could very well decide to charge Lyle for voluntary manslaughter for shooting Red Shirt. He also stands a good chance of getting a conviction.
Lyle’s attorney would be put in the unenviable position of either arguing that Red Shirt and Blue Shirt were acting in concert (without any obvious and direct evidence that this was the case), or that shooting Red Shirt was a “reasonable mistake,” effectively hoping that the jury with have pity on him.
It’s not a position I would want to be in, nor a position I want you to find yourself in.
The key to avoiding finding yourself in such a predicament is, of course, training. Specifically, you need to obtain good armed self-defense training for a quality instructor who can teach you more than just basic marksmanship. Good defensive firearms instructors will also stress the ability to solve problems logically, instead of just reacting blindly in fear where you can make a split-second decision that could ruin your life, and end the life of someone else.