“Victor Arenas’ family said he went outside with his gun about 4 a.m. because he thought an intruder was trying to enter his home,” azfamily.com reports. “According his brother, Arenas heard a noise in the front yard and asked who was there, but the officer did not identify himself. The family said they heard gunshots, and Arenas ran back inside and fell on the kitchen floor. Arenas’ brother began CPR.” Victor Arenas died from his wounds. The police said . . .
“We don’t know what led up to this at this point,” said Eloy Police Sgt. Brian Jerome. “I can’t comment as to whether or not the officer did or did not identify himself. I can tell you that he was in full uniform and the officer was out in a public area conducting an investigation. That’s the information that we have.”
Police say the officer was investigating a burglary call after a business alarm went off in the area.
Regardless of the police response to a home owner defending his territory, it’s not a good idea to leave your house at 4 a.m. to go looking for bad guys.
When you go-let’s-face-it-hunting for bad guys you never know what you might find. You could find a skilled assailant waiting in ambush, multiple attackers ready to swarm, a scared or trigger-happy cop, a drunken neighbor or a kid on a dare. There are lots of ways an armed search mission could go seriously, tragically, irrevocably wrong.
Legally speaking, with certain notable exceptions (e.g., Texas and Georgia), you are only cleared to shoot another human being if they pose an imminent, credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm to innocent life. While most states will allow you to “stand your ground” against such an attack, it’s much more difficult to justify a self-defense shooting where you actively seek out an intruder or intruders, leading to an imminent threat, leading to a shooting.
That said, there are inside scenarios and outside scenarios. Police, prosecutors, juries, judges, even the Supreme Court (e.g. McDonald) consider home defense a “special case.” A man’s home is his castle, and all that. Depending on the jurisdiction (rural vs. urban), “clearing” your property will lead to a simple, legally-loaded question: why didn’t you stay put and call the police?
Why not indeed? Room or area clearing is a specialized task best performed by a trained team. Preferably people armed with rifles with a flashing light in the background indicating that there are a lot more armed people where they came from. (Unlike the single deputy who responded to my early a.m. false alarm.) Your best bet: gather friendlies, tool up, assume a defensive position, call the cops and wait for help. And not necessarily in that order.
Remember to tell the 911 operator that you’re armed and describe yourself. Feel free to ignore their advice and/or drop the phone (while still connected) while waiting. Meanwhile, stay calm and stay safe. Which almost always means staying hidden. [h/t NYC2AZ]