County Attorney Drops Charges Against Dennis Fleming

In news that will surprise almost no one, Strafford County attorney Tom Veraldi has decided that Dennis Fleming won’t have to face a felony charge after firing a warning shot and holding a burglar at gunpoint until police arrived earlier this week. As wmur.com reports, Veraldi said “The facts available at the scene on Saturday supported the charge of felony reckless conduct, but subsequent facts discovered since have led me to believe that such a charge under these circumstances would be unjust.” We’re guessing the constantly ringing phones and overloaded email inbox Veraldi’s no doubt been contending with had something to do with his decision.

comments

  1. avatar Coyote Gray says:

    No, but really. NH…very gun friendly state.

  2. avatar great unknown says:

    Outside of Keene, where they arrest you for videoing the police and want to get a tank for the SWAT team. Somebody there has delusions of grandeur. Other than that, NH is not just gun-friendly. It’s just flat out friendly. Which is why is live here.

    1. avatar cwp says:

      New Hampshire is friendly, but it’s friendly in a very specific, understated, New England kind of way. My wife (who’s spent most of her life in Virginia and California) thinks New Hampshire is incredibly unfriendly.

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        It sounds a bit like the Northwest, which is friendly in a polite, but detached, introverted way. We’ll be nice to you (there’s no reason not to be after all), but we don’t want to get into your business. People coming here from other, more nosy parts of the country are often confused by this.

  3. avatar Van says:

    Good news.

  4. avatar MadDawg J says:

    Can we throw this guy the parade that he rightly deserves now?

    Oh, and Mr. Fleming if this all made you want to move, I would love to have you as a neighbor.

  5. avatar Ralph says:

    I’m glad that the charges were dropped. The cops confiscated all his firearms when they busted him. I wonder if he’ll ever see those guns again.

    1. avatar Esemwy says:

      Not if they’re valuable.

    2. avatar BeninMA says:

      They were promptly returned — just heard Mr. Fleming on talk radio. He was actually very complimentary of how the police treated him.

  6. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    I think it would be cheaper to rebuy all the lost firearms because the legal fees will kill him.

  7. avatar John R. says:

    Hooray for Mr. Fleming and the actions he took. It’s just a shame it’s newsworthy that Mr. Fleming is NOT going to be prosecuted for using reason, common sense and backbone.

  8. I’m really glad the guy isn’t gonna get prosecuted. But now can we talk about how you just DO NOT FIRE WARNING SHOTS? Is it now safe to talk about how the guy really should learn Cooper’s Rules and try not to learn tactics from Hollywood?

  9. avatar RuffRidr says:

    So an innocent man is not going to spend any time in jail. MikeB302000 must be crying in his Wheaties this morning.

    1. avatar TSgt B says:

      He’ll be all better after a teddy bear and a nap.

  10. avatar Ivan Pistov says:

    I for one have never understood the objection to firing a warning shot, especially into soft ground (not the street or driveway or any concrete or in the air). If the anti’s are so afraid of “hurting” a dearly loved criminal, this certainly should get his attention and lead to arrest rather than instant death. This is another one of those rules like the almost universal requirement to retreat. Where did THAT come from? I’m too old and fat to retreat, a lot of people I know can’t retreat, my father in law lives alone and in a wheel chair. Retreat? Ridiculous, unless you are somewhere where you are prohibited from being, a rare case indeed.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      The requirement to retreat is not an absolute. You must retreat only if you can do safely. If someone can’t retreat, like your father, then he doesn’t have to retreat. If retreat would place the defender in greater danger, then once again there’s no duty to retreat. In a growing number of “Castle Doctrine” jurisdictions, there is no duty to retreat if you are in your own dwelling. In “Stand Your Ground” jurisdictions, there’s no duty to retreat if the defender is somewhere he’s lawfully allowed to be.

      Personally, I’d rather not kill someone if I can avoid it. Which is what the “retreat” states require.

      1. avatar Sigman says:

        The problem is who decides if it could have been avoided by “retreating”. If you are standing in front of a anti gun judge, I think the verdict will be that you could have retreated, without knowing if you could have. Same thing with a anti gun jury. I think if someone comes into your house at night or any other time with bad intent, their rights should be null and void.

  11. avatar Bob says:

    If the guy was arrested, and he probably was, his arrest record will remain with him the rest of his life, it is impossible to get it removed even when charges are dropped, so damage was definitely done.

  12. Massad Ayoob on warning shots:

    “I recommend warning shots only for police, and only to halt a fleeing felon, and then only under certain circumstances. A civilian has no need to fire warning shots when the criminal is attacking him – indeed, it will only cost him a precious moment and a precious cartridge. if he has justification to shoot, he should shoot to stop; if deadly force is not warranted, the gun should remain silent, period.”

    from here:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1510/is_n77/ai_12919685/

    and more recently:

    http://www.glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=18620924#post18620924

  13. avatar Ivan Pistov says:

    Mr. Ayoob is the recognized authority on these matters. I presume that his opinion on the subject is based partly at least on present law in most places (places like New York or NJ you had better defend with a baseball bat). In spite of Mr. Ayoob’s policy pronouncement I will never completely agree with it. It appears that the object of USING the gun (rather than just having it for a last resort) is to KILL, not wound or merely subdue without injury. Mr. Fleming was able to subdue without any injury or death, for which I commend him. I think this is the main reason he has so much community (and nationwide) support for what he did. And any DA or judge worth his salt would see to it that his arrest “record’ is expunged.

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      Fleming said that he wanted to show the BG that he meant business. What, having a gun stuck in the BG’s face wasn’t enough?

      Rounds can go in unexpected directions. Maybe the ground was soft, like a berm at a shooting range. Great! And maybe Fleming’s round could have found that stone about an inch from where his bullet hit the dirt, ricocheted and killed his neighbor. Not great.

      99 times out of 100, warning shots are a really stupid idea. Like this case. Stupid, but fortunately not felony stupid. I’m glad he got his freedom and his guns back.

      1. avatar Ivan Pistov says:

        OK. You guys have pretty much convinced me. But remember in a lot of states and localities it’s also illegal to “brandish”. So I see this as a definite dilemma. Under these circumstances is it also illegal to announce that you HAVE a gun? The BG may think this can be true or not true and act as though it is NOT true, leaving you with more decisions to make. Seems to me all of this should be unnecessary when defending your rightful property and life. At this point I’m glad I have not had the opportunity to confront this situation and hope I never do. Living in a rural area so far we have had no trouble but you never know.

    2. avatar Dave says:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massad_Ayoob

      Mr. Ayoob is not only a nationally recognized expert on use of lethal force by civilians, he is also a long time resident of NH and a retired NH LEO. No matter what you think of the DA’s actions, please don’t taint his opinion by referring to it as a “pronouncement”.

      When the law changes, his opinion might also change. But Larry Robertson is correct, I don’t recall anything in Jeff Cooper’s rules about warning shots. IF lethal force is justified, the warning shot should be the first center-of-mass impact and is followed by as many as necessary to end the threat, but no more.

  14. Like I said I am GLAD the guy is not getting charged….but I still don’t think firearms should be used to “shoot to wound” or “fire warning shots” or any other Hollywood hokum.

  15. avatar Jim Lellman says:

    New Hampshire license plates say “Live free or Die”

  16. avatar Woody J Hiatt says:

    What a great story to run across. It made my Day!
    Mr Flemming could have waited for investigators to show up and they might have seen the culprit. However, Flemming grabbed a weapon and looked around in case the intruder was still about. He lucked up. Firing a warning shot got the attention of the burglar and no doubt aroused some neighbor’s attention. One down, many to go.
    Give Flemming a medal, Replenish his ammo and put him on Neighborhood watch.
    Kudos for the DA also.
    From A Georgia Boy

  17. avatar Grandpa of 45 says:

    Why am I left wondering why the arresting officer felt he should/had to arrest Mr. Fleming? I don’t think it should be up to the District Attorney to decide hours later that he’s going to be “just” and drop the charges. Might this have been an unwarranted arrest? I think I would like to see a bit more about the officer’s thought process. Did he cuff both men and put both in the back of the same cruiser, I wonder. (And I’m not anti-officers…one of my sons is one)

  18. avatar Augydoggy says:

    Here’s the moral of the story which no one has yet touched on…

    DON’T ever try to make a citizen’s arrest as it will just get you in trouble. Dennis Fleming saw the burglar going out the window BEFORE he fired his gun – the threat to Dennis’ life was OVER at that point and there was no reason to pull the trigger and honestly no reason to even call the police. A gun can only be used by a private citizen to defend his life when it is immediately threatened…NO other reason. Only public outrage saved Dennis from prosecution – had this gone to court he would have lost his case and gone to prison. Dennis was not acting in self defense when he fired his weapon – the legal system saw him acting as a vigilante at this point. It is not LEGALLY justifiable to take a life to simply defend your property in most places, even if they are running away with your microwave oven in their arms – just let them go and call your insurance company. A warning shot is very dangerous in the city as bullets easily pass through multiple walls and can injure or kill your neighbor a mile away and ricochets are impossible to predict. I don’t make the laws but I certainly understand them and conduct myself accordingly to avoid getting into a legal nightmare. Dennis clearly broke the law in this case and is lucky to get out of this one.

    1. avatar Woody j says:

      Wait a minute! This situation stinks! the prosecutor has to interpret and abide by the law as he best he can do so. The shooter was scared to death and trying to scare off the perpetrator. Did he hit him/her? Did the shooter know at that time if his family was still alive? Sounds like he got a large favor from the Prosecutor but should have gotten a Gold medal.

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