Thursday, March 08, 2012

What not to say to 911 or the cops after a shooting

[Click here to listen the 911 call made from a private residence in Springville Utah where a home owner shot and killed an invader.] This series has long argued that there are two parts to armed self-defense. Defending yourself against a lethal threat and defending yourself against prosecution for defending yourself against a lethal threat. Just as the first rule of a gunfight is have a gun, the first rule for staying out of jail and/or losing everything you own due to defensive gun use is STFU (Shut The F Up). That rule starts from the moment you call the cavalry. Here’s the 411 on 911 . . .

1. Make the call as short as possible
911 operators are trained to keep the caller on the line as long as they can, until the first responders make the scene. You are under no legal obligation to remain in contact with the operator.
By the same token, the 911 operators are trained to extract as much information from the caller as possible. You are under no legal obligation to answer any of the operator’s questions.
f you’re in the middle of a Defensive Gun Use (DGU) talking to a 911 operator is not a particularly good use of your time (as opposed to say hiding, running or fighting). If it’s a post-game show, you don’t want anything you say to be used against you in a court of law. And yet everything you say to a 911 operator can and will be used against you in a court of law.
It’s also the way you say it. In the example above, the caller laughs nervously. Well, you and I think it’s a nervous laugh. A prosecutor might convince a jury to hear it another way. Hint: not a good way.
So communicate the basic information necessary: the situation (there’s an intruder in my house/there’s been a shooting), your address, a description of yourself and the medical condition of a wounded friendly (if applicable). After that? Nada. What else do the cops need to know? Nothing. Not a damn thing.
2. Either hang up or put the phone down as soon as possible
Once you’ve shared the key info, either hang up or put the phone down. The former is the best strategy if the DGU is done. The latter is the best option if the situation is in progress.
If you throw the phone down—an excellent idea from a strategic/situational awareness point of view—remember that you’re being recorded.
Use that to your advantage. If it’s safe to do so, yell a warning to the intruder. “The police are on their way. I’ve got a gun. Don’t make me me shoot you.” Over-zealous prosecutors hate that stuff. Juries love it.
Again, it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. If you start swearing, laughing (even nervously) or go for some Clint Eastwood-like line before pulling the trigger, that will NOT work out well for you.
3. Do not discuss the 911 call with the cops
Police/detectives arriving on scene will try to extract as much information from you as possible. The cops may try and use information from the 911 call to get you to talk before you lawyer up. Lawyer up. Tell them “My life was in danger” and “I will answer all your questions after I speak with my attorney.” And . . . that’s it. Nothing else.
Don’t be fooled by 911 operators’ good intentions (which are beyond doubt). They are not trying to get you into trouble. But by God they can.
I know it’s difficult not to tell a helpful stranger anything they want to know in a time of grave danger. But give them the basics and STFU. Don’t give law enforcement and the perp’s lawyer the ammunition they need to turn you from an armed self-defender into a victim of the legal system.
- Stuart


Going back to #3, I once had the opportunity to talk with an attorney that was also a former prosecuter and he gave me some free legal advice. Yeah, it was free - we were seriously fucked up. Some of it dealt with what's posted, but the most important part was what to do after the cops show up to a shooting, whether it's in your home or in the fucking grocery store.
His advice? I quote: "Shut the fuck up. Do not say a word about the incident."
He went on to explain that you should tell the Man that you respectfully decline to give a statement until you have a chance to talk to your attorney. His reasoning was that if you give a statement in front of a dozen cops that are there and listening, there's going to be 12 different versions of what you said and your attitude when you said it. If you consult with an attorney, there's going to be one version.
Sure, the cops are going to be pissed because you're not "cooperating" and yes you will go to the police station, but fuck 'em. A night downtown at the cop shop beats the fuck out of 20 years in San Quentin.


Marc Cote said...

Funny enough that you post this right after I watched this youtube two nights ago.

sig94 said...

Can't say I disagree with any of that. I work with a great, really tremendous group of people. But even if the cops are sympathetic, and many, many are, some are not (especially the young ones who seem to think that they're the only ones who should be armed) and definitely, some prosecutors aren't. So yeah, shut up and lawyer up. Be nice, but be quiet.

steiner said...

Only fish with open mouths get caught.

Edward Teach said...

Oh, there she is! My favourite season!

TotC said...

Ok, I read this and agree with it. But, when I first saw this, my initial reaction was ,"that girl in the photo has poor trigger discipline."

Titan Mk6B said...

And if it is all over unload your weapon, pop out the magazine and open the action. Set the gun in a prominent place and sit down somewhere away from it with your hands in full view. Take a few deep breaths to calm down and think rationally. It will get crazy when the cops do show up.

Erkl Holder said...

1. Down in south Texas the Rangers - back in the 50s - used to advise folks who lived out in the hinterlands, to 'shoot, shovel and shut up." Colonel Charles Askins, admittedly a bit of a psycho, reportedly said to one rancher who called him out after a shooting in which the rancher had killed two bad guys, "Shit, you called me out for two Mexicans? Should just buried 'em and gone on with your business."
Yeah, he was a bit of a racist, but the word was out that you did NOT screw with him.
So, if you have a field,an old well or a nearby strip pit and a pickup truck... well...

BTW - another thought - what would prevent you, AFTER the deed was done, to call 911 and THEN do the screaming of 'Stop - I have a gun! Please stop! No, no, aaahhh... BANG BANG BANG!" with the slugs going into the walls, whatever, because you panicked...
audio evidence to prove you tried to be nice.
Regardless of the BS on TV, they cannot tell within ten minutes or so, when the bad guy shuffled off to Buffalo, whether it was just before, or during, your 911 call.

T1 said...

I was thinking that she has nice tits.

Skip said...

I'd hit it.

Uriah said...

I grew up in Maryland, and it wasn't THAT bad back then, but you still wanted to be very very careful when you had to shoot someone, in Kentucky, not so much.

crankyjohn said...

George Zimmerman should have read this shit.