It’s a situation you have nightmares about. A man and his fiance walked into the Super Y party store at the corner of Middlebelt and Ecorse roads Saturday night only to find themselves confronted by a masked gunman. The couple was making a random stop at the party store when they walked into the middle of an armed robbery. The female was ordered to the ground at gunpoint while her fiance pleaded for her life. When the gunman turned and pointed the gun at the man, he instinctively grabbed the weapon and shot the gunman twice. The injured robber stumbled out the door, collapsed and died. His two accomplices managed to escape and police are still searching for them. For the full Detroit Free Press story click here
Here’s our take on the story:
Killing another person is considered self-defense and justifiable homicide if the person honestly and reasonably believes their life is in immediate danger or there is a threat of serious bodily harm. For instance if a man threatens to kill a woman, but he doesn’t possess a weapon, the woman cannot respond by shooting him and rely upon self-defense, to avoid a murder conviction. This is because there was no immediate danger.
After the danger no longer exists, the person’s right to use deadly force in self-defense vanishes. Additionally, if the person can safely avoid the use of deadly force, they must attempt to avoid using it. For example, they could use non-deadly force or attempt to retreat.
In today’s story the customer’s life was in immediate danger, and it doesn’t appear that he could safely avoid the use of deadly force. As a result, it’s likely he will not be charged and could rely upon self-defense.
In contrast is Tigh Croff’s story. It was reported that Tigh Croff returned home to find thieves ransacking his house. He reportedly chased one of the thieves, Herbert Silas, down the street firing his handgun at him. When Silas turned around and said “what are you going to do, shoot me?” Croff shot him in the chest. Croff has been charged with Second-Degree Murder. It’s difficult for most people to imagine Croff successfully relying upon self-defense, because Silas was unarmed and fleeing. That being said, Croff could at least make a valid argument that when Silas stopped and turned around, he presented a serious threat of bodily harm, because if he didn’t shoot him, Silas would beat him up and take his gun.