A concealed carry holder in California successfully fought off an armed attacker outside his home.
Now, for me, as a certified firearms and CCW instructor in California, I am all for people using their Second Amendment right to bear arms and protect themselves. However, this is a prime example of what NOT to do as a concealed carry permit holder.
While this video appears to be of a man protecting his family from armed robbers, let’s pick it apart from a California legal perspective.
- As a CCW permit holder, your goal is to stop the threat. It is NOT to chase it down and keep shooting at what WAS the threat. The way it appears in this video, he stopped the threat when he threw a cup of hot tea at the robbers, and they ran off.
- To avoid any serious legal, financial, emotional, familial, or societal ramifications, good CCW training includes knowing how to make a decision other than shooting.
The way I see it in this video, the robbers were running away. The homeowner could’ve run into his house, locked the door, and instructed his wife or nanny to call 911 while remaining vigilant in the house until the police arrived.
A prosecutor could potentially see the shots fired not as a self-defense move, but rather as four negligent discharges. Once the threat ended and the robbers ran away, the homeowner could’ve made a different decision other than chasing after them and shooting.
What if he had hit a neighbor or car driving by?
On the flip side, the homeowner’s response could meet the requirements of a reasonable and rational fear of great bodily harm or death to him and his immediate family (per CA PC 198). Also, AOJ (ability, opportunity, and jeopardy) appears to have been satisfied.
In a confrontation that happened last year in Antioch, California, the district attorney Diana Becton said: “In the eyes of the law, Mr. Williams’ actions ceased to be self-defense when Mr. Williams pursued Mr. Jackson and the other suspect with a firearm — and continued to pursue Mr. Jackson after he shot him.”
“The legal distinction is clear: when your property and life are being threatened, an individual is legally justified in using deadly force in self-defense,” Becton said. “However, once the threat of harm has dissipated, the victim of a property crime cannot then use deadly force to reclaim stolen property.”
California Castle Doctrine
You can legally use force to protect your home. However, in this case, where the attacker targeted him outside of his home, I lean toward the threat ending when he threw the tea at his assailant.
There are many complexities of the California Castle Doctrine. PC 198.5 says, “Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.”
The robbers never entered the house, so the Castle Doctrine technically does not apply if the intruder is not inside or trying to enter the residence.
The homeowner’s attorney could argue the latter part of “trying to enter the residence” in his defense if he needs one.
California Stand Your Ground Law
The stand-your-ground law is a defense he might use for someone who uses force inside or outside the home. However, this law has its own nuances and specific parameters.
CAL CRIM 505, “A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of (death/great bodily injury) has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.”
The danger of death or great bodily injury probably passed when the attackers ran off.
As a firearms instructor, I understand his reaction to protect his family. Still, I also see the homeowner’s negligence and lack of trigger control. Shooting all over the place runs the risk of hitting an innocent bystander.
I am certainly not giving the intruders a break here. They still approached the homeowner at gunpoint. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in court, especially considering that this occurred in the very gun-unfriendly State of California and the more liberal County of Los Angeles.