What to do if involved in a self defense shooting.
I represent a lot of folks with conceal carry permits. I am frequently asked about how they should conduct themselves if they are every involved in a self defense situation and who best to speak with the police. This has prompted us to develop a does and don't list.
Self Defense - The Aftermath1. DO NOT call 911 in a panic and upset. Take some deep breaths and try and calm down before making the call. All calls are recorded and the first things you say will be important. No matter how tough you think you are if you are involved in a shooting your body and brain will be in a mess. Seeing a body on the floor will compound your emotional response. Remember to stop, take some deep breaths, calm down as best you can and try and order your thoughts before you call law enforcement.
2. DO NOT leave the scene unless you are in immediate danger. Its normal to want to distance yourself and seek friends or family when you are under stress. But do not leave as it may be misinterpreted as fleeing the scene and could give the impression of guilt.
3. DO NOT move or clean up anything. Doing so will destroy potential evidence and be misunderstood as tampering with a crime scene. That goes for anyone else who is with you.
4. DO NOT have your gun in your hand when the police arrive. They will be rolling in hot with dispatch information that a shooting has occurred and someone is armed. They do not know you and they will assume you are the bad guy and not the good guy. If they see you holding a gun you will be seen as a threat. Holster your gun or put it down and don't touch it again unless instructed to do so by the police.
5. DO NOT MAKE A STATEMENT TO THE POLICE BEFORE SPEAKING WITH YOUR LAWYER. Exercise your right to remain silent. Shut up. Be polite and be cooperative. The police have a job to do. Follow this advice and do not say too much because anything you say will be used against you. I have been asked hundreds of time about what to say. My advice is to keep it simple and say something generally as follows:
"I am not armed. My firearm is (Location of gun) and that is the gun I used to shoot my attacker in self defense because I feared for my life. I do not want to say anything else until I have had time to talk to my attorney. I want to fully cooperate with the investigation completely, but I am very upset right now and I need to talk to my attorney first. I hope you understand."
The police will try and press you further but not give any ground about wanting to speak with your lawyer. I will want to be present for any questioning to protect your rights.
6. DO NOT FALL FOR THE GOOD COP BAD COP. We have all seen this on T.V. and we think to ourselves we would never fall for that routine. We are smarter than that. Big mistake. As a law abiding citizens we have the urge to cooperate and help. That is our nature. Law enforcement count on people responding to authority and cooperating. While law enforcement are not necessarily your friend they are not you enemy either. Remember they have a job to do - clear their case and arrest the bad guy(s) and then move onto the next case. Follow my advice and speak with your lawyer first.
7. DO NOT ACT LIKE A TRIAL ATTORNEY - YOU ARE NOT ONE. Law enforcement have more than one way to get you to talk. If I was in their shoes, and I was as a prosecutor, I would challenge your representation that you acted in self defense by using deadly force. Resist the urge to argue you case. Keep your mouth shut. Argue your case to me not the police. You are not a lawyer just because you can use Google or have watched every episode of Law & Order. You are not in court yet and its my job to argue your case not yours.
8. DON'T ACT LIKE A KNOW-IT-ALL ASS. Never lecture the police on the law. One of the very worst things you can do is ruin your opportunity to make a good first impression when encountering law enforcement. Do not act superior or be belligerent. If you have not heard of the crime "contempt of cop" well its true. Police are just like everyone else who is in a profession and will react like any human when you challenge their knowledge or belittle their intelligence. Do not talk down to them. No matter what the police say, even if you know its incorrect, it's not the time to say anything.
9. DO NOT FORGET YOUR MANNERS. Be polite and answer yes sir/ ma'am or no sir/ma'am. This simple thing will go a long way in demonstrating your respect for them and the law and the seriousness of the situation, that you are a respectable and upstanding citizen. Proper manners never hurt any situation.
10. DO NOT ACT SURPRISED IF YOU ARE TREATED LIKE A CRIMINAL. You should assume that you will be proned out on the ground, handcuffed, given your Miranda warnings and arrested. They will want to ask you questions. Take a deep breath, relax and follow the script in paragraph 5. You will most likely be placed in a police car and taken to jail. It takes the police time to sort these things out. Don't give up your rights thinking it will get you out of jail faster. This is a process and the hardest thing you will do is to be patient as the process works. It takes time to sort out "the truth" and you should not take it personal. Don't resist or argue. Cooperate fully and just let it all happen. Call me immediately to help you protect your rights and sort everything out.
This material is designed for general information only. The information presented should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Persons reviewing this material are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues. This information may be considered an advertisement for services under the Oregon Code of Professional Responsibility. (C) 2017 Van Ness, Williamson LLP, All Rights Reserved
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