What NOT To Do When Your Neighbor’s House is Being Burglarized…
July 14th, 2008
Here is an intense, real life example of someone making several flagrant mistakes in their 911 call to report two men burglarizing a neighbor’s home.
The 911 dispatcher does a fantastic job of counseling and advising the caller, but the situation escalates into the caller shooting and killing the two burglars as they left his neighbor’s home.
The shooter’s actions resulted in a firestorm of public outcry from all sides of the issue, forcing a Grand Jury to ultimately determine the fate of the shooter.
First, listen to the actual 911 call and then I will discuss the event and the actions of the shooter. You will need to turn up your speakers so you can make out all of the conversations.
Points to consider from this 911 call:
1. It took over 7 minutes for the police to respond to this extremely urgent 911 call. You can expect at least that amount of time or more should you ever need the police. Remember that when seconds count, the police are just minutes away…
2. 911 calls are recorded and will be used as evidence against you if you make a decision or take action that results in criminal investigation or civil litigation.
3. NEVER, EVER say you are going to kill anyone. If you must shoot, you are shooting to stop an attack. Shooting with the intent to kill elevates your “reaction to a deadly threat” to “premeditation to kill” and can be used against you by a criminal prosecutor or civil lawsuit attorney.
4. The reason you call 911 is because you fear for your life and need emergency help, not because you are pissed off and want something done about it. NEVER, EVER say, “I ain’t gonna’ let em’ go… I’m going to shoot…”
5. Never challenge or argue with the 911 dispatcher who tells you, “You’re gonna’ get yourself shot if you go outside that house” with a response like, “Wanna bet? I’m gonna’ kill em’.”
6. A crow bar IS a deadly weapon BUT ONLY IF your assailant is close enough to use it (21 feet or closer) AND is showing INTENT to use it to inflict serious bodily injury or death. There was only one crow bar.
7. Note the two rapid shots and then what sounds like a third shot a significant amount of time (about 8 seconds) later. Although you cannot determine shot placement from the audio tape, news reports state that both burglars were SHOT IN THE BACK, indicating they were fleeing when shot.
This situation is not looking good for the shooter, Joe Horn. In a place like San Francisco, California or Boston, Massachusetts or New York City, Joe would have been arrested and the District Attorney would have immediately filed criminal charges against him for manslaughter or worse.
However, Joe lives in the great state of Texas. Texans elect a different breed of public official and thus have a different set of laws than most states. Knowing that this case was going to polarize the community, especially along racial and socio-economic lines, the Grand Jury was asked to review the evidence to decide if charges should be filed or not.
Here is the ABC News story following the Grand Jury’s decision.
Note: You will have the 6 listed news stories to watch. Pay particular attention to stories 1, 2, and 6 as they are very educational in terms of what the law and the public perceived in this case. Then see my final comments below.
Surprised at the verdict?
The only thing that kept Joe Horn from a prison yard full of the same type of people he shot was the interpretation by the Grand Jury of the law in Texas that allows use of deadly force to protect personal property. Most states do not have such a law, so don’t expect to enjoy a similar outcome if you shoot two men in the back who burglarize your neighbor’s house.
Here is a question for you… After all that Joe Horn has been through over 7 months — including the legal fees, sleepless nights, potential for a criminal manslaughter conviction and prison sentence, do you think he would do it again to protect a “bag of loot?”
THAT is the question you need to answer for yourself in advance or you could be in the same situation Joe Horn is in.
A good rule of thumb is: If it is not worth killing or dying for it probably isn’t worth fighting (shooting) for.
Another good rule of thumb is: When you shoot for property or principle, it carries a VERY HIGH price tag.
As a personal note to Joe Horn:
I understand you Joe and so do all the good, law-abiding people who would have wanted to stop criminals from burglarizing their neighbor’s home. I understand that if you don’t stop them, then what’s to prevent them from burglarizing your house tomorrow or invading the house down the street next week, raping or killing the occupants? Where does it all end if good men look the other way when they can act to stop a crime in progress?
I don’t fault you for what you did, because I understand you and I would have felt the same way. I just wish you had been to Front Sight BEFORE this happened to you because I guarantee that after taking our training and listening to our classroom lectures involving EXACTLY the issues you faced, you could have still stopped the burglars, but you certainly would not have made the mistakes that caused you seven months of sleepless nights, grief and expense.
You have paid a very heavy price by shooting for principal and to protect property. That price is not over yet. You can expect a civil case to be filed against you by a slippery contingency attorney representing the grieving family of the criminals you shot. I know it is not fair. As you are finding out, life is not always fair, but it is always real.
If the criminals you shot were members of any street gangs, you also must now look over your shoulder for the rest of your life for any potential retribution for killing one of their own.
Joe, I’m very sorry you have had to endure this nightmare. I cannot do anything about what happened in the past, but I can certainly help you prepare for the future. You are welcome to contact me and I will provide you with a free, Five Day Armed Citizen Course at Front Sight. It is the least I can do to assist you.
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See you next week.
Dr. Ignatius Piazza
Founder and Director
Front Sight Firearms Training Institute