Should I Tell someone about the Shooting?

Have you ever heard a gun owner say, “If I am ever involved in a shooting, I should “say nothing” and “demand an attorney,” if involved in a self-defense shooting? Even if you have talked to a noted criminal defense attorney about how to respond, is this the best way to deal with responding officers?

There might be another option. Just to set the record straight, I do not have extensive legal experience on either the defense and prosecution sides of criminal prosecutions, but over the past number of years, I have seen and talked to many attorneys about this type of situation. Let me share some thinking with you that might be of some help should this ever happen to you. While I am not advising you personally, it is an area where it helps to have some different perspectives.

Consider the case of Frank Magliato from 1983, discussed in an article on the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network site. A junkie brandishing a club attacked him. He pulled out his revolver he was carrying and discharged it, killing his attacker. Even though he had a permit to carry the firearm, Magliato left the scene in his car and did not surrender himself until two days later. As a result, he was dubbed the “Ferrari Killer” by the media, which relied on statements by a buddy of the junkie.

What should he have done? Well, by not reporting, he made himself look guilty…

How about this story? An attorney is confronted by an aggressor. In fear for his life, he presents a firearm and the attacker backs off… The attorney, shaken, goes home and does not call police. Was there a duty to report the crime? Well, in the meantime the police get a call from the attacker essentially stating that a gun toting maniac assaulted him… and the attorney endures arrest, trial, and one day is vindicated… but at what cost?

Here’s another one for you to consider. You are unlocking your car in a store parking lot, and some guy suddenly shoves something into your side, demands your wallet, and says “Hurry up! I should just kill you anyway… don’t make me shoot you.” You see your wife and child coming your way… and he looks over at them and shifts his body. Fearing for them and for your own life you manage to pull your concealed pistol and shoot him.

What happens next is a blur as the police arrive. Your assailant is alive, and says “he shot me… I was just asking for directions… The only item found nearby is a hard plastic tube on the ground. Do you clam up? Merely demand an attorney?

Managing the scene for yourself in a violent encounter takes training to minimize the risk to you of being unfairly caught up in the legal justice system. Massad Ayoob has often shared these five steps that follow the arrival of police.

  1. Tell responding officers, “I’m the victim; he is the perpetrator.”
  2. Tell responding officers, “I will sign a complaint.”
  3. Point out pertinent evidence.
  4. Point out any witnesses who saw what happened.
  5. If there is any hint that you are a suspect, say, “Officer, I will fully cooperate after I have counsel here.”

Some defense attorneys I know tell folks to “say nothing”. I think that this is a mistake, since your story may be told by someone else who paints YOU as the bad guy. Something to consider…but it will always be your choice. My recommendation is think about this “in advance” not on the scene.

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