Castle Doctrine at Work in Texas

Although I wasn’t there, it seems pretty clear to me that A) the homeowner was foolish not to have one in the chamber, and then assume that rectifying this mistake would somehow scare a burglar and B) his life didn’t appear to be in imminent danger. At least not at the point when he shot. [Thanks to MikeB30200 for the headline and the link.]

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

27 Responses to Castle Doctrine at Work in Texas

  1. avatarRes Publica Americana says:

    He should have shot through the window, but up and away from the perpetrator and any other people that might have been behind that fence first. If that didn’t work and the kid broke in, shoot him as a last resort.

    • avatarConor says:

      Warning shots, for reasons that have been articulated more thoroughly and effectively by others elsewhere, are NOT a good idea. Sounds like he shouldn’t have pulled the trigger at that point at all.

  2. avatarMygaffer says:

    Imminent danger is supposed to be a part of the castle defense. If a person is on the other side of a closed and locked window then you are not in danger. He needs to be charged with manslaughter and serve some time. If that kid actually had pried that window open and got inside then its fair game, but he jumped the gun, literally.

    I don’t feel SOOO bad for that kid though, as he was breaking into the dudes house. That does not justify the shooting in and of itself but he was half of that equation and we shouldn’t forget it.

    • avatar7350livin says:

      Here’s an example of someone that was outside of a closed and locked window/door that never made it in the house. What would you do?

      http://www.coloradoconnection.com/news/news_story.aspx?id=252001

      In Colorado’s “Make My Day Law,” you do not have to wait to determine the criminal’s intent. If someone is 1) trespassing on your property AND 2) does anything else threatening (B/E, assault, battery,…) imminent danger is assumed and the residents can use up to deadly force to protect themselves. Sounds reasonable to me.

      Now, could the situation in Texas have been handled differently? Maybe, but we weren’t there. It’s another tragic story that never should have occurred and I put the blame fully on the kid’s parent(s). The mom was obviously not a big believer in personal responsibility and must have passed her apathetic view towards the community onto her son. It’s tragic that the 17-year-old died and that the homeowner’s life will forever be changed because of the 17-year-old’s actions. As for the mom, she’s no victim.

  3. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    This guy is screwed and I’m sure they will use this video aganist him in court. He must have been surprised and scared by what he saw, and he seems to have over reacted and now he’s going to jail. The only chance this guy has of getting a free pass on this one is that he lives in Texas, and they don’t like robbers to much.

  4. avatarxpo says:

    What I take away from this is that Fort Worth Momma’s need to raise their boys a bit better and the homeowner needs to replace his smoke alarm batteries.

  5. avatar2Wheels says:

    Mommy needs a reality check. You raised a criminal. Just visiting somebody? I ain’t never knocked on a window with a crowbar.

    The homeowner on the other hand, is an idiot… No reason to shoot that kid when he did.

  6. avatarmichael says:

    The fact that both the perp and the shooter are black may be mitigating, and to the favor of the shooter. Second, shooting over someone’s head in order to “scare” them away, as some are suggesting, is never a good idea. As far as immanent danger? The kid had a crow bar in his hand and was getting ready to climb through the window.

    Grand juries are the tool of the DA, so it’s going to be up to him to decide what to do. He must take into account whether a jury would convict, and other political factors. My guess is that this is all forgotten.

  7. I’m startin’ to like you guys. You know the guy I got this from, Bob S., had nothing but justifications for the shooter. Over here though, you guys use a different measuring stick for determining lethal threat. I like that.

  8. avatartdiinva says:

    I have told my wife that under no circumstances should she come down from the bedroom if she thinks someone is in the house. If the perp manages to get by the dogs and up to the bedroom then no Commonwealth Attorney will indict and if they did, no Virginia jury would convict a woman who defended herself when confronted by a bad guy at the bedroom door. You should always retreat to safety if you think someone is in the house. If he comes to you, you are going walk if you have to use lethal force.

  9. avatarGus says:

    Just FYI, in Texas the act of breaking into a house is justification under the law to use deadly force to stop the intruder. The intruder does not have to be inside the house for deadly force to be applied. Texas law assumes someone with a crow bar who is forcing their way into the house is a deadly threat.

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      Understood. But that still doesn’t make it a good shoot.

      • avatarJordan says:

        Thats up to the shooter as far as Texas law is concerned. If the shooter feared for his life, that was all the justification he needed to shoot in that particular situation. It is sad that a 17 year old had to die, but the sad truth is that the shooter probably saved other people from being robbed or worse.

        I understand you guys saying that you would not shoot, but under Texas law this guy was completely justified and should not serve any time. At what point does the public get to decide that they are not going to put up with this crap anymore? The obvious problem here was this kids mother. She was an enabler, pure and simple.

    • avatarBuuurr says:

      I believe a law (or it may still be in the works) was passed recently in Ohio stating the same thing regarding property. The extended Castle Law I think they called it. The words your property, your belief and intruder were all you need in court I think. I need to do more digging on it.

      *with some quick poking around the net I have found court rulings state Castle Doctrine in Ohio demands personal defense of oneself in their home, in their car and in the regard to immediate family. It does not say where for family from what I have read. So, from this, I can say that if I am out in public and someone is (or I have the belief of such) about to harm my wife or kid I can act accordingly without the burden to be on me in court. Good to know.*

  10. avatarJ.K. says:

    FYI, this MikeB302000 is an anti-gun advocate.

    I had to post this on his site:
    “Sure, home burglary is not a capital offense, but up to what point do you suggest should a home owner hold back using deadly force against a burglar? Until the home invader commits a crime that does deserve capital punishment? Unfortunately, by then, the home owner would be dead.

    I’d rather keep castle doctrine on the books and have regular educational campaigns informing the criminally inclined of the very real occupational hazards they must deal with when committing crimes against law abiding citizens.

    I don’t agree with what this home owner did, but I’m also not crying for the stupid choice of a criminal.”

    • Jin, Thanks for introducing me to the readers. I would prefer gun-control advocate, but what you said is close enough I guess.

      One of the things I object to is the notion that the gun-owning homeowner is somehow a more valuable species than the criminal burglar. Both are human beings and if you take the worst of the homeowners and the best of the burglars, they’re not all that different from one another.

      The commonplace disparagement and writing-off of criminals as if they’re dispendable as soon as they step out of line, adds to the problem. This attitude makes it easier to abuse your rights as homeowner and lawful gun owner. Ersland is an example, as is the guy in this video.

      • avatarBuuurr says:

        Meh. While I don’t agree with what this guy did. I don’t agree with what you are saying, MikeB. It is simple. You have issues (the criminal), you don’t know boundaries, you want something/someone that isn’t yours.

        Now whatever the reason (whether they be something that could have been changed or something to be pitied about the intruder) are irrelevant once you add my family. I don’t care if you have a head issue or are just drunk.

        That isn’t my kid’s problem nor is it my wife’s. It is mine, and how I choose to deal with an issue that willingly ‘entered’ my home, without my consent, whether it be friend or foe is out of anyone’s but mine, hands.

        All I can say is that the law in my area (and more importantly) my bible say to defend it/them or the consequences are mine and mine alone.

        My local area are expanding our Castle Doctrine to deal with the exploding crime in the city. We are in the process of moving but until then the above is a major reality. I pray it doesn’t come to that. I don’t want it on my conscience, I don’t want my wife and kid to go through it, I don’t want to pay a lawyer because some dumbass family member of the deceased or injured thinks it was my fault I was home when the perp entered.

      • avatarThe Great Equalizer says:

        People breaking into other peoples’ homes have the same right of self-defense as anyone else should they, while home, be attacked.
        We are all equal before the law, and that includes self-defense law.
        All of us have the right to protect ourselves; all of us face the same risk of being lawfully shot when we break in on others.
        There are not two species of people, one held “more valuable” than the other. There is just one people, endowed with the same rights of self-defense and the same risks those rights entail.

  11. avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    I have to say that he seemed to have ample time to dial 911 and either wait, armed, in the house, or show the punk he had the draw on him and watch the offender run away. Now, had he popped up in the house with the crowbar-that is different. As for Momma, see what her excuses and enabling got her. As a kid who suffered through 9 break ins growing up-I have no mercy for a robber I find inside my home. Maybe he should have put on a leather mask, popped up in the window and growled “come on in-you look purty!”

  12. avatarpoppymann says:

    The guy obvioulsy lives in a sh!tty neighborhood and has to deal with this stuff constantly.He was within his right to shoot. He shot and killed the burglar. Therefore it was a good shot. We can all talk about calling 911, firing warning shots, etc. but the Castle Doctrine exists for this very reason. He acted with restraint as opposed to the Angry Pharmacist

  13. avatarOman says:

    Let me get this straight. The mom is saying “Why didn’t the homeowner do more to scare the kid”… The kid with a crowbar that can potentially be used as a weapon that is caught in the act of breaking into the homeowner’s house? There was no way the intruder was oblivious to the fact that somebody was watching him… the blinds were open on him. If putting a mag in the gun and racking back the slide (I’m guessing that’s what the homeowner is talking about) and pointing the gun in the direction of the intruder isn’t enough to scare the him… well… something is clearly wrong. Has the intruder been tested for drugs?

    If I had a gun pointed at me whilst breaking into somebody’s home I would have got the hell out of there.

    Oh and for the record, knocking on the back window is totally different from prying open a window with a crowbar.

  14. avatarBJ Anderson says:

    Lets not forget about Mr. Horn from Houston TX. Mr. Horn witnessed a burglary in progress at his neigborhs home. After calling the police, Mr. Horn should have let them handled it. Mr. Horn put himself in harms way and took the law into his own hands by shooting the burglars after leaving his safe home. He was not charged and his life was not theatened as well.

  15. avatarUSAFSecurityPoliceVeteran says:

    There is a old saying in law enforcement and it applies to this. “I’d rather be tried by 12 than carried by 6″. I’m not saying he did everything right especially when he fired. But on that same note he had a crowbar at a back window so he wasn’t coming over for tea and cookies. The man may have feared for his safety most 17 year olds i know can hold their own and a football player to boot? I mean c’mon yes it is sad and i feel for the family. At same time his own mom admits he has been having problems although sugar coated by her in school. Unfortunate yes but criminal not in my opinion. The man did what he felt right and yes taking a life will probably haunt him for life. Besides wither he is judged here or not he will be judged when it counts as will the kid.

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