Raleigh police say woman shot man in self-defense after road rage incident

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

We don’t have a ton of detail about what led up to a shooting in Raleigh, North Carolina on Wednesday of this week, but we do know that Raleigh police have declined to arrest the woman who shot a man in the parking lot of a Food Lion grocery store after determining she was acting in self-defense.

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According to police, 49-year-old Steven McLamb is accused of tugging on a woman’s car door handle Tuesday after following her to the store at 7713 Lead Mine Road.

He reportedly became aggressive as they were driving, and the woman shot McLamb in self defense.

McLamb died from his injuries in the hospital.

Raleigh police Maj. Brian Harrison said that authorities do not plan to file charges unless new evidence becomes available.

Defense Attorney Lee Turner said McLamb contributed to the incident.

“It’s obvious this individual contributed to what occurred to him that day by his own actions,” Turner said.

Turner mentions Statute 14-51.2 — commonly referred to as the Castle Doctrine.

“Basically saying your home, your automobile, your workplace are considered to be an individual’s castle and you have a right to defend yourself inside those locations,” Turner said.

According to the law, the person defending has to feel there is an imminent threat of serious bodily injury to themselves.

“The law presumes she was afraid for her life because this person was trying to unlawfully enter her ‘castle,’ her car,” said Daniel Meier, a defense attorney.

The “aggressive behavior” by McLamb before he followed the woman into the parking lot may have played a role in determining whether or not the woman legitimately believed she was at risk of serious bodily harm or death. On Friday, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman spoke to WTVD about the incident, and said that both eyewitness accounts and video evidence pointed to a legitimate claim of self-defense.

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Freeman said video from the incident helped make it obvious what really happened.

“We were fortunate to have access to various video. Also there were witnesses in the area that were able to give a pretty clear image as to what happened here,” Freeman said.

The whole scene apparently started as an episode of road rage.

“Mr. McLamb was the aggressor,” Freeman said. “He followed the other individual into the parking lot and upon getting out of his car — approaching her car and attempting to get into her car — she, acting in self-defense, shot and killed him.”

The woman who shot McLamb had no criminal history and legally owned the gun she was carrying.

“I think what’s really important here for people to understand is that provision in our law is not an invitation to vigilante justice, but it does allow when someone has a responsible fear for imminent death or bodily injury that you’re allowed to protect yourself.”

Again, the public hasn’t yet seen this video evidence or heard from the witnesses themselves, but based on Freeman’s comments it sounds like once McLamb decided to get out of his car and tried to force open her door after aggressively pursuing her into the parking lot, the armed citizen had a reasonable belief that he intended to do her harm. If he’d even stood in front of her vehicle and yelled at her she wouldn’t have had grounds to fire her gun, but based on the statements by the prosecutor McLamb wasn’t content to keep the altercation confined only to words. Instead, he went after the woman herself, and at that point she had every right to protect herself.

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Honestly, I don’t understand what would have led McLamb to pursue the woman into the parking lot in the first place. No matter how annoyed or aggravated you get by other drivers on the road, the simplest and easiest thing to do is just keep on driving without escalating things into a confrontation. If someone is driving dangerously, call 911 and report it, but there’s no reason to engage with that person directly. If McLamb had just taken a deep breath and continued on his way he’d still be alive today, but it sounds like he chose to needlessly escalate a situation to the point that his victim was in legitimate fear for her life instead; a decision that came with fatal consequences.

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