Man charged with reckless endangerment after shooting back at armed car thieves

Police Line / Police Tape" by Tony Webster is marked with CC BY 2.0 DEED.

What the heck is going on in Memphis, Tennessee these days? Coming up later today on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co we’ll be discussing a move by the city council to enact a ban on “assault weapons” and several other gun control measures via a voter referendum; a move that not only flies in the face of the Second Amendment but would be a clear violation of the state’s firearm preemption law. But while lawmakers are hoping to take a bite out of the right to armed self-defense, law enforcement in Shelby County appear to be doing the bidding of anti-gun activists as well by charging an armed citizen with reckless endangerment after he returned fire when suspected car thieves shot at him as he stood on his front porch.


There’s no question that the homeowner was returning fire after the armed assailants were the first to pull the trigger, so why did deputies end up arresting him? It sounds like the armed citizen was cooperative with police, but may have given them enough information to arrest him on dubious charges.

When they were talking to him, from what I saw, it was like they were trying to find ways to charge him,” the homeowner’s wife said. “That doesn’t sound right. Why would you put pressure on the victim when you should put pressure for the suspects to be found.”

Before retreating behind a vehicle, one of the alleged thieves shoots a round of gunfire at the man as he stands beneath his porch light.

Another couple of rounds are fired at the man before he returns fire three times, based on the security video.

“Right now I’m just thankful that no bullets hit him or my daughters or myself,” the homeowner’s wife said.

A barrage of bullets are then fired from the direction of the burglars as the man returns fire about four more times.

Finally, the thieves take off as another shot is fired from the window of their car and the man retreats back inside the house.

When Shelby County deputies showed up, the man told them that the suspects’ car was slightly behind his van and he couldn’t see what he was targeting, court records show.

Deputies said that he also admitted to closing his eyes while he shot because he was scared and shooting as the suspects ran back to their car.


Based on what the armed citizen allegedly told deputies, there were definitely a couple of mistakes made starting with talking to the deputies without an attorney present. I understand that the homeowner didn’t believe that he did anything wrong and was just providing information to the responding officers, but it would have been much better if he’d simply informed them that he wanted his lawyer around before he gave any statement. Tennessee’s reckless endangerment statute is so broadly written that the deputies could make an arrest simply based on the homeowner telling them that he had his eyes closed when he was pulling the trigger, even if he was in justifiable fear for his life.


Swearer adds that “this nonsense from the cops” is a perfect example of why gun owners should purchase a legal liability insurance plan, but I’d reiterate that it’s also another bit of evidence demonstrating why, if you’re ever forced to protect yourself or your family with your gun, you shouldn’t talk to the police unless or until you’ve got an attorney by your side. This homeowner is facing the possibility of felony charges and a potential prison sentence because he believed he was doing the right thing in answering deputies’ questions, and while prosecutors may decline to pursue charges against the armed citizen I wouldn’t count on that happening, especially with Memphis politicians already scapegoating legal gun owners for the actions of violent criminals.

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