In the last issue of Foreman’s Forum, I described a scenario where you needed to make a decision on whether or not to use deadly force. If you have not read part one, find a copy of Athens Now, or go to www.athensnowal.com and click on Foreman’s Forum.
There is lot going on in the scenario that leads up to the time when you need to make the decision to use deadly force. There are the loud voices, which sound angry and threatening. The fact that you witness the violent actions of an angry man, also contribute to fear that your safety is threatened. When the man is yelling angrily at you, you have even more concern for your well-being. Finally, when he begins crashing against your front door and actually begins to make forceful entry, you are now in great fear of bodily harm or death.
All of the above events are going to be critical evidence as to your state of mind and are part of what investigators or a jury will use as a basis for their decision as to whether or not deadly force is justified.
Many people, myself included, would very quickly come to the conclusion to shoot when a violent assailant is coming through the front door. But, maybe, there are other options. While you certainly have the right to defend yourself and your loved ones, retreat may be the best option.
Many things come to mind when making the decision to fight or flee. If you are alone and concerned only for your own safety, your actions will be different than if your loved ones, such as your spouse or children, are in danger. Can you retreat and also get them to safety? Getting them rounded up and escaping out the back door on a moment’s notice might not be so easy. Will they cooperate or begin asking tons of questions about what is happening? Do they know what just transpired with the angry man outside?
There may be a time when retreat is NOT the best action. There may not be sufficient time to retreat safely. In that case, a deadly threat must be met with deadly force. Taking a life, even when it is justified, is not like in the movies and on TV. In all my twenty-four years as a deputy sheriff, thank goodness I never had to take someone’s life. I have known deputies who did use justified deadly force. It is not something that is easily forgotten.
If at all possible, I must advise you to choose “retreat” as the best option when you are threatened. To run away from a threat is not something most men want to do. Most men think they would rather brag to their friends, “Hey, when that stupid jerk started kicking in my front door, I shot him so many times it took half his face off!” That is NOT something you want a jury to hear.
Either way, you must have a plan in place. Include your family in your planning and actually carry out a “fire drill,” so everyone knows what to do if threatened with a home invasion. You may need to assign older children to be responsible “guardians” of younger siblings. You will need to have a “safe” room inside, if that is your plan, or a place outside such as a neighbor’s home.
Just like in the last issue, dialing 911 as soon as possible is a top priority. Don’t hang up once the cops are on the way. Keep the line open and on speaker phone. If you have a shirt pocket put the cellphone or cordless phone there to free up your hands. If you are warning the attacker that you are armed, that recording over the phone will be to your advantage if you do have to shoot. After you have retreated to a safe room or are in a good position in which you can defend yourself, take some deep breaths and think about the firearms training you took as a student in one of my classes. If you can, barricade the door. Do that and take up a defensive position behind some heavy solid furniture. Let the 911 operator know what part of the house you are in and yes, tell them you are armed. Don’t open the door until the 911 operator tells you the officers have safely secured your home.
By: Paul Foreman
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