Michigan Man Charged With Felony Assault After Drawing Gun in Self-Defense

concealed carry holster" by ibropalic is marked with .

Isaiah Ware was just trying to buy some lasagna for dinner when he strolled into a grocery store in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan last October. What should have been a quick trip instead ended up with Ware facing felony assault charges after a confrontation with another shopper. 


Ware was headed toward the self-check out when he bumped into customer Calvin Williams. Surveillance footage from the store shows the two men exchanging words, and then Ware pulls his gun from his holster. Based on both witness statements and surveillance footage it doesn't appear that Ware ever pointed the gun. Instead, the two men separated, with Ware continuing on to the self-check out with his pistol at his side. 

“He didn’t make any threatening motions with that weapon,” said Neal Brand, Ware’s defense attorney.

Ware can be seen in the video walking away from Williams, his gun in his right hand with a bottle of Windex and groceries in the other. Ware watched Williams as they parted.

“That ended the threat, and that ended the problem,” Brand claims.

Williams could be heard on police body camera footage providing his perspective of the situation.

“He didn’t point, but he pulled it where there were customers and people around,” Williams said.

Bloomfield Township police arrested Ware, and the prosecutor’s office charged him with assault with a deadly weapon.

You don't have to be alone in the woods with a violent stranger before you can lawfully defend yourself with a firearm. We have a right to carry for self-defense in public, which inevitably means that we have the right to defend ourselves when there are others around. And the vast majority of defensive gun uses don't result in a trigger being pulled at all. The presence of the firearm is enough to end the threat. 


Did Ware have a reasonable belief that Williams threatened him with great bodily harm? Based on Williams' own statements to police, I'd say yes. 

Brand released more body camera video where Williams told police that he would’ve slammed Ware to the ground.

“To be honest, if he wouldn’t have had the gun on him, I would have slammed him to the ground right there,” Williams said.

In other words, the presence of the lawfully possessed pistol in Ware's hands did stop him from being physically assaulted. Under Michigan law, use of deadly force is justified when an individual "honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual." 

Does being slammed to the ground count as "great bodily harm"? Again, I'd say yes. 

Granted, we're only hearing Ware's side of the story here, but it does sound like he has a strong defense. The "victim" admits that Ware never pointed a gun at him, told police the presence of the gun stopped him from physically attacking Ware, and Ware himself sought to de-escalate the encounter by walking away from Williams instead of escalating the confrontation once he had his gun in hand. 

That's not the kind of case I'd want to bring before a jury if I were a prosecutor, but for now the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office isn't backing down. In a brief statement to WDIV-TV, the prosecutor said the office can't comment on the specific circumstances, "but we take such cases very seriously, and we will continue to pursue appropriate charges."


Well, that's the problem, isn't it? A felony assault charge doesn't seem appropriate given what we know about the incident. Ware's trial is set for June 17th, so there's still time for the Oakland County prosecutor to drop the case, but at this point it looks like a jury of Isiah Ware's peers will soon decide whether he should remain a free man or be remanded to the custody of the state for pulling his pistol and saving himself from being body-slammed to the floor. 

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