There wasn’t much doubt that police in Knightdale, North Carolina would conclude that a homeowner acted in lawful self-defense when they shot an intruder in their home last week, but I’m glad that it didn’t take too long for that determination to be made. Sometimes it can take months for armed citizens to be cleared of any charges, but in this case it took less than a week to conclude that the homeowner was justified in their actions.
It was last Wednesday evening when police were called out to a home in the community just east of Raleigh and found a man suffering from a gunshot wound to the face. Authorities say 35-year-old Juan Acevedo was actively trying to enter a home when he was confronted by the resident.
“The investigation revealed that Acevedo was attempting to break into the home when he was confronted by the resident, a legal gun owner,” police said in a Monday news release.
Police said Acevedo ignored several warnings from the homeowner, officials said.
“When the suspect broke a window and attempted to enter the residence, the homeowner fired a single round, stopping the offender’s advance,” the news release said.
Despite being shot in the face, Acevedo’s injuries weren’t life-threatening, and he’s already been released from the hospital and taken to the Wake County Detention Center, where at last report he was being held on a $15,000 bond on charges of felony breaking and entering with intent to terrorize.
Under North Carolina law, use of deadly force is justified in self-defense when a person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another”. There’s also no duty to retreat in North Carolina, so long as the armed citizen has a legal right to be in the location where they’re being assaulted.
In fact, North Carolina law specifies that “the lawful occupant of a home, motor vehicle, or workplace is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to another”, so long as the person on the receiving end of that defensive force was in the process of” unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a home, motor vehicle, or workplace.”
In this case, Acevedo was caught red-handed trying to unlawfully and forcefully enter the home and continued to do so after repeated warnings from the homeowner that they were armed and prepared to defend themselves. The homeowner obviously had a legal right to be in their own dwelling, so this wasn’t a close call, at least legally speaking.
For Acevedo, however, it was a very close call. He’s lucky to be alive today, even if he is facing felony charges as a result of his late-night encounter with an armed citizen. I hope this will be the teachable moment that Acevedo needs to turn his life around once he’s released from custody, because the next time he runs into an armed citizen he might not have the same good fortune.