Pro-Tip: Shooting Fleeing Women in the Back is NOT Self-Defense

Hey folks,

One of the conditions of using deadly force in self-defense is that one be facing an imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm. That definition of imminence is well captured by Black’s Law Dictionary:

Immediate danger, such as must be instantly met, such as cannot be guarded against by calling for the assistance of others or the protection of the law . . . Such an appearance of threatened and impending injury as would put a reasonable and prudent person to his instant defense.

In other words, the threat is about to happen right now.

When do defendant’s lose their claim of self-defense on the element of imminence? When the threat is to occur in the future and has not yet ripened, or when the threat has already passed. In either circumstance there is no currently existing imminent threat that must be necessarily neutralized by defensive force.

Imminence arose starkly in a recent “defensive” shooting by Tom Greer, an 80-year-old California man whose home had been invaded and he himself seriously injured by a pair of twenty-year-old ne’er-do-wells: 26-year-old Gus Adams and 28-year-old Andrea Miller. (Usual caveat: the facts as described are drawn from a “news” story reported in the Daily News.  Also, a grateful h/t to Charles C.W.Cooke of National Review Online for being the first to bring this to my attention.)

Although there were many points during the course of the physical fight in which Greer would have had a robust self-defense argument for his use of deadly force against Adams and Miller, his actual use of such force appears to have occurred well after the imminence “window” had closed.

Read all the details over at my post at Legal Insurrection:

Pro-Tip: Shooting Fleeing Women in the Back is NOT Self-Defense

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

P.S. The newest Law of Self Defense University Video/Podcast has just been released:  “#004: The Intersection of Tactics and Law.” Enjoy!

About the Author

Andrew Branca
Andrew F. Branca is a Massachusetts lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense website (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), and many other re-sellers. Andrew just launched his latest product, the LOSD Instructor Program, designed for gun safety, marksmanship and tactical strategy instructors. Be an elite member of the self defense community, understanding your state's self defense laws to a depth even lawyers rarely achieve. Check it out here.   Andrew also gives live, in-person, ~5 hour-long state-specific Law of Self Defense Seminars all over the country. Click here to find a live seminar covering your state's self-defense laws.   Andrew also produces many 4-5 hour online, on-demand state-specific Law of Self Defense training courses. These online classes are enriched versions of the live, in-person state-specific Law of Self Defense Class Andrew gives all around the country. Click here to find an online course for your state. These online classes are priced at $249/HOUSEHOLD. You can learn more details and view the first section of the training class for free (about 30 minutes worth of self-defense law training) by clicking here.

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