Thomas Greer gained fame in July of this year by making some imprudent statements to the media. He had shot one of a pair of burglars who had assaulted him in his home. At the time, he was quoted as saying, “The lady didn’t run as fast as the man, so I shot her in the back twice. She says, ‘Don’t shoot me! I’m pregnant, I’m going to have a baby!’ and I shot her anyway.” Greer is 80 years old, and suffered a broken collar bone during the assault . . .

The statement did not hold up against forensic analysis. Mr. Greer fired three shots, two of which struck Miller, once in the left side of the chest, and once in the right knee. She wasn’t shot in the back. The shooting happened inside of Greer’s home, not outside, as was implied by early reporting. After being shot, Miller fled the home and collapsed in the alley outside.

From the dailymail.co.uk:

‘Thomas Greer is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury,’ according to the report signed by Deputy District Attorney Janet Moore.

‘Greer exercised his legal and legitimate right of self-defense when he shot and killed Andrea Miller.’

The results of the investigation make it seem likely that Greer was just “tough talking” to reporters, rather than clearly stating the facts of what happened. Presumably, Greer told prosecutors a different version of events, one that was consistent with the physical evidence, probably on the advice of counsel.

The incident serves as an example of why it’s a bad idea to talk to the media after a self defense shooting.  While you have no legal obligation to tell the media the truth, you will be tried in the court of public opinion. Greer was widely accused of being a cold-blooded murderer because of the ill considered statements that he made. He would have been better served by refusing comment.

I have to give the prosecutor, Janet Moore, credit for thoroughly investigating this case and making the right decision. It would have been politically correct to take the old guy’s braggadocio at face value and prosecuted him to the full extent of the law. It would not have served justice, it would have been a waste of taxpayers money, but it would have been politically expedient.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Gun Watch

 

47 Responses to Self Defense Tip: Don’t Talk to Reporters

  1. How did he gain fame in July of this year?

    Thomas Greer is awesome and he is too old to care what the media and what people think. He dished out some macho man comments to stick it to robbers everywhere. Come to my house and attack me and i’ll shoot you – even if you are a pregnant woman running away!

    Prudent? No. Ballsy Yes.

    • You pretty much nailed it. What youngsters are not even remotely capable of comprehending is when a man get’s old, his mind may still be there, his will is still there, but what fails is the body. However, good old adrenalin is a cure all for being old and one very important thing kids also don’t get, old guys don’t care! They flat don’t give a flying turd ball. At his age, he’s seen most of his friends and family die. He doesn’t care if he get’s taken, but by god those punks are going down first.

    • That old man has brass balls the size boulders! I’m guessing this is the LAST time his place gets robbed. I wouldn’t even play my music too loud on his street. He’d be all like ” turn that shit down!” And I’d be all ” yes sir! Sorry!”
      It reminds me of the ending of them movie Untorgiven. The writer asks Clint Eastwood who he killed next. Eastwood replies he can’t tell him who was next only who’ll be last.

  2. I’ve dealt with reporters a couple of times. Even when there’s no legal issue involved, you have to be on your guard.

    • I’ve already been interviewed by a reporter (not a DGU) who was taking notes AND recording the entire interview with a tape player and STILL got some info wrong in the article. Blatantly wrong. Best advise as reiterated a few times the comments here is to not talk at all to the media in a defensive gun use situation.

    • Newspapers, Internet blogs, TV, it is all for profit. Reporters ONLY want storys that sell. If it is the truth, then that is a bonus. It just has to be close enough to the truth not to get sued. I’ve been interviewed once, my wife twice by reporters. In all cases, you could see where the reportered wanted to go, what they wanted you to say. One of my wifes interviews they spiced answers to questions to other questions she refused to answer. did she really say “yes” to a reporter, but not to the question that showed up on the evening news. A quick phone call after the news program and threatened legal action prevented the same piece being repeated that night.

      Reporters don’t want to tell YOUR STORY. The only want to USE YOU to sell newspapers, get ratings for their TV/Blog. And they will USE YOU to their best interest, which most of the time isnt in your best interest

      • Actually newpaper reporters/editors don’t give a crap about selling anything as that would be EVILLLLL capitalism. Only agenda is promoting libtardism.

        If anyone in the newspaper “business” cared a whit about sales/profits would not find that 90% of US newspapers are full on marxist.

  3. Must have happened in like Texas, Oklahoma, or some other gun friendly state. You’d never find a prosecutor who uses phrases like “legal and legitimate right of self-defense.”

    wut? Los Angeles? shhh. Don’t tell the politicians. They thought they got rid of the death penalty.

  4. How he got away with that in CA, despite his age, is beyond me. If it were me, I’d be fighting a murder rap right now.

    • Little known fact: CA really has very strong self defense laws and the jury instructions do not necessarily impose a duty to retreat.

      • Yep. From the jury instructions (CalCrims 505)

        A defendant is not required to retreat. He or she is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of (death/great bodily injury/ ) has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.

        There are some limited exceptions, namely if you were the initial assailant (then you must have attempted to break off the fight or he must have escalated the fight so suddenly as to leave no time), or if you are a felon using a firearm (California court cases establish that a felon actually can possess a gun legally when possessed during and only during lawful defense of self or another. But there may be a duty to retreat if it can safely be done… court case is unclear)

    • CA actually has incredibly strong self-defense laws. Including the strongest stand your ground law in the country. The CA government has been fine with this because, until Peruta, only a select few chosen ones were allowed the means to effectively be able to defend themselves.

  5. Once again:

    1st Amendment squatters swatting the 2nd Amendmenters.

    When the whole thing gets chucked that’ll be one of the no-limit tags in the open season.

  6. A little off the subject, but not that much – let me also suggest not talking to police investigators or detectives either, until you have lawyered up. I have been told (I think by Andrew Branca, author of the Law of Self Defense) , that you typically want to talk to the first officers responding so that they can secure the scene, and, importantly to you, secure any evidence there that might be helpful to your case. If it isn’t secured up front, it is often lost. You should probably be circumspect about what you say with the responding officers, but quiet when the investigators/ detectives show up. Their job is to build a case, and you don’t want it to be against you. And, you probably don’t know enough to protect yourself at that early date – for example, the person you shot may have been the mayor’s son, or Al Sharpton’s nephew. One other thing – cops can, and do, lie, and some do it to make a case. Any promises they make are problematic. Which is another reason to lawyer up – lawyers, even prosecutors, who are caught lying can, and often do, get in a lot of trouble with the state bar, including up to disbarment.

    • Good comments and not off topic at all. Statements are statements snd can come back to haunt you, whether made to the media or the police.

      I would only add along with no talking goes no doing. Don’t try to improve the forensics by modifying the crime scene. That’s called evidence tampering. Don’t let police wander through your home, either. If they want to use the restroom, there’s a gas station down the block. Need a drink of water? Gas station again.

      Confine the investigation to the immediate crime scene, give no consent for searches elsewhere, and don’t fall for tricks that allow them to search casually throughout the house for things in plain view. They don’t need to see how much beer you have in the fridge nor what graphic art adorns your bedroom walls, if those locations aren’t part of the crime scene.

      • A third point: Make sure you invoke AND exercise your right to remain silent when questioned, and always request a lawyer. Simply clamming up can, in certain situations, be used against you, and if you do not invoke your right to a lawyer, the police can restart questioning at a later point. By invoking your right to remain silent and requesting a lawyer, you both ensure that your silence cannot be used against you, and prevent the police from engaging in any questioning at all until one is present. Furthermore, it ensures that even if you are provoked into opening your mouth after requesting a lawyer, any statements made as a result will be inadmissible.

        It’s not enough to just keep your mouth shut around the police, you have to explicitly invoke your right thereof.

        • And be polite and respectful when you do it. As for as admission in court, statements being thrown out due to the 5th amendment right only apply if you are a suspect. If someone else ends up going to trial, you are technically a witness, and those statements are not thrown out. It comes back to simply staying quiet and advising that you are waiting for your attorney. Don’t say ANYTHING else at that point.

        • Agreed. Just as concealed means concealed, silence means silence.

          Even after you invoke your right to remain silent, the police can trick you into talking by asking about other topics. Once you resume talking, then they can ask you about the case again.

          This was a recent SC decision, whose name esacapes me. A suspect invoked his rights to a lawyer and to remain silent and the police stopped questioning. Later, the police offered him a mint or candy or similar, and he spoke when accepting it. That reset the rights requirement, because he spoke, and the police resumed questioning about the case. In court, he argued that his original rights invocation still counted, and those second round questions and his answers should be excluded. The SC disagreed.

          Silence means silence. If you speak, you must re-invoke your rights.

      • Didn’t see your comment, but the not tampering with evidence is VERY important! +1

        As for the search, if it happens inside of your home and you don’t consent to a search, a search warrant will be obtained. I would consult with your attorney and follow their advice on the consent. Every circumstance is different, and there may be instances where it is advisable to consent to the search of the scene. Do it under the advice of a good attorney.

        As for the scene, you don’t get to control the size or location of the scene. Legally, you have no say. Once the scene is set and sealed, nobody enters or leaves without being logged. If consent to search the premise has not been provided, the scene stays sealed till the search warrant is obtained and conducted. If a suspect has possibly fled through the back of the property, that area will be sealed as well. Unlike what you see on TV, there are very few people walking through the scene. The goal is to prevent it from being disturbed.

    • Yes & no. Coming from the law enforcement side (former), it is true that one of the first things that we do upon arrival is secure the scene. This is done after clearing the scene and bringing in medical if there are any injuries. The primary job is not to “build a case,” but to document the scene and get the facts. We don’t get bonuses for putting people in handcuffs, or getting “felony arrest points.” I think people often forget that. Whether someone goes to jail or not doesn’t have any bearing on a paycheck. Some of the things I sometimes hear on this forum drive me nuts. It’s like they think we enjoy creating excessive work and paperwork (this comment isn’t aimed at you, just what I’ve seen written in the past).

      Face it, even though many have a passion for the job, it is still that, a job. It’s a job to ultimately bring home a paycheck to survive and support a family. I do recommend everyone do some ride-a-longs. It will give better insight into the job. Don’t just do one, but do five to ten over a year or two. It may change some of your perceptions. It’s a lot like our pro-2A crowd. Other people’s perceptions are based off of what they see on TV and read in the newspaper. The same is true with the LEO crowd. People learn everything from CSI and Law & Order, yet it is drastically different.

      Initial statements are important of what has happened and what is going on. I would always state that you are the reporting party (if you dialed 911) and give any know pertinent facts regarding suspects, descriptions, locations, and if there are any injuries. Don’t exaggerate anything or make statements that aren’t true. If the knife is a 3 ½” folder, don’t say they pulled out a machete. Being attacked with a 3 ½” folder is a deadly force situation and is justifiable like being attacked with a machete. After that, I would agree. You need to stop talking and contact your attorney.

      I’ve been through an officer involved shooting, and I did the same thing (and also provided medical assistance to the injured party). Afterwards, I contacted my FOP 800 # and waited for an attorney prior to being formally interviewed by our multi inter-agency “shoot” team. My agency had an agreement with other nearby agencies. In the event of an officer-involved shooting, homicide investigators are provided by multiple agencies to eliminate the “nepotism” possibility by taking it out of the officer/deputy’s agency.

      I believe the attorney is necessary. After you have been involved in a shooting, your brain is running at “a million miles per hour.” You need to get your thoughts and facts straight, and a good attorney will slow you down and get the details in line. Anybody who carries should have self defense insurance. I personally have the NRA endorsed insurance: https://www.locktonaffinity.com/nrains/defense.htm?segmentcode=bja01900. I also have their instructor insurance. I figure, in today’s society, you can’t be too careful. With a 24-hour 800 #, you can get help no matter what time of the day if you have used your weapon defensively. I’m sure there are other excellent providers out there and would be interested in hearing who other people use and their feedback.

      I understand that there are some lying cops out there, but that doesn’t describe the majority, and it also doesn’t fairly present the fact that the majority of us support the right to self-defense (some of us take it so seriously that we belong to organizations such as this: http://oathkeepers.org/oktester/about/).

      I think the big thing to remember is to be on guard, don’t talk about the case to ANYONE that isn’t involved till ALL litigations are over, and don’t be macho and exaggerate the truth like this guy did to the media. It could hurt you in the long run. After my officer involved shooting, people around me knew, but I didn’t get into detail even with close friends. The last thing you want is for a friend to be subpoena’d because you were flapping your biscuits. Even if you aren’t charged criminally, just wait until you get to sit through a federal punitive damages lawsuit by the defendant or their family (even though you did the right thing and they are sitting in prison for decades). Trust me, they’re fun . . .

      • Jeff, If you don’t get “felony arrest points” you’re in the wrong (or right) department. Pretty standard nationwide to measure your “productivity” by number and type of arrests. Those numbers are integral to your performance reviews, and ultimately promotions and pay raises.

        Not saying it’s a good system, it’s horrible to incentivize arrests, but it’s really rather common these days. Especially in big, hugely corrupt departments like NYC and LAPD.

        • “Jeff, If you don’t get “felony arrest points” you’re in the wrong (or right) department. Pretty standard nationwide to measure your “productivity” by number and type of arrests. Those numbers are integral to your performance reviews, and ultimately promotions and pay raises.”

          That is absolute, pure horse feces.

        • JR, agreed! The department I was with had a pretty comprehensive annual performance appraisal. Yes, productivity ABSOLUTELY matters, but it’s quality, not quantity. The appraisal comprises of many sections including team leadership/communication (you know, are you actually a team player?), officer safety, report writing, investigative skills, traffic/driving safety (are you cracking cars when you shouldn’t be?), firearms proficiency, etc., etc. Think of it from our side, why would I want to punish average ordinary “Joe Citizen?” There is plenty of criminal scum (you know, gang bangers, meth-head/doper/burglar/robber, etc.) to keep everyone busy.

          Also, step-in-grades are usually fixed, and it is rare for someone to not get them unless they are performing below standard. The agency I was with had a 6-year top-out program. There is NO incentive to make up stuff just to jail people. There is a LOT of incentive if you are looking to promote to Sgt., Lt., etc., to do thorough reports and investigations. If your cases are constantly being plead out and you are staying out of court because of thorough police work and well-documented reports, that is a GOOD thing. There is nothing more embarrassing than sitting on a witness stand testifying only to find out that a key element was left out of your report (it has happened to all of us). The rule of thumb: “If it isn’t in your report, then it didn’t happen.” The other side of this is that if you are dealing with a civil “neighbor dispute” that isn’t a crime but can relay them to the correct people (mediation services or something), this is also good thing. I know many people that have been given “props” by supervisors for successfully ending ongoing issues, and nobody had to go to jail.

          I saw another commenter that talked about his carry class and what the detective teaching it stated about him carrying a recorder into every seen. That is SO true. A lot of us have been doing that for years (mainly to protect ourselves these days). The other thing that people forget is that we don’t know either party involved, so I could care less about “taking sides.” When I get on a scene, I want to know what actually occurred and properly document that, taking appropriate action.

          This is pretty standard nationwide. My agency that I was with is CALEA certified and has to pass audits and inspections to remain accredited. It has been a very “big deal” thing since I started there, and they push to maintain those standards. They have fired people for integrity issues, and I also remember a former deputy being prosecuted by the district attorney for blatant 4th amendment rights violations. It never made the news since the news didn’t have a good story. Nobody cares about a headline that states, “Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney prosecute Deputy that Violated Citizen’s Fourth Amendment Rights on Traffic Stop.” Instead, everyone wants to hear, “White Officer Shoots Three ‘Unarmed’ Black Teenagers” (even if they were all 19 and beating the officer with baseball bats).

          I know there are some scummy officers out there, and there are definitely a few agencies that are sub-standard, but this is how real performance appraisals are conducted. My former agency consists of just slightly higher than 500 sworn personal including detentions, patrol, investigations, and support services.

          The last 15-20 years or so has been a large push to “quality” police work as well as better “community policing.” In the words of the founder of modern policing, Sir Robert Peel, “The Police are the Public, and the Public are the Police.” The last two decades have consisted of a large push back to these principles. Out of the 900,000+ sworn personal in the US, it takes just one to screw it up for the rest of us. It’s similar to the problems we have with gun control these days. People feed off of what they see in the media and “assume” that is how it is always done.

          Going back to the original topic, be careful what you say, do provide initial good information (then shut up once the scene is contained), get a good attorney, and follow their counsel. At the same time, I encourage everyone to do a few ride-a-longs with their local agencies. You will get a different perspective on what really occurs, and it will also help you have a better understanding of what to do if you find yourself in a bad situation.

        • Complete crap.

          There are productivity goals in many departments but they aren’t for murder, and certainly not for detectives making murder arrests (think more like parking tickets). Closing a case is good- but closing it as a justified homicide is not looked on as lesser than booking someone for felony murder.

    • Reading this article, what makes us think he DID say those things? I read that he was “Quoted as saying”. Got a video? Or did some MDA activist make up the “quotes.”

      • The article says it was told to KNBC by Greer himself. There is a video on the article, but at my current location I cannot watch it.

  7. I guess. An old man with a broken collarbone is pretty dang sympathetic. And he could have a bit of dementia…

  8. I avoid anything and everything that has to do with the media..even the seemingly harmless interview at the county fair.. or traffic, or weather.. I’m the guy you never hear or see.. Just how I like it.

  9. Or maybe the reporter applied some imagination under the guise of artistic license…?

    “Let’s make it a bad shoot; that’ll sell papers…”

  10. As a generality, mainstream corporate media is doing business, not serving the subject of the story.

    Don’t talk to ’em. Ever. They’re just freeloaders who can’t find real work in this world.

  11. Some guys need to go to jail just for being stupid, scummy, lying sacks of shit. I would cry no tears if that guy talked himself into jail

    • U mad bro? It’s called justice. Little “preggo” girl and her punk bf deserved it. Don’t break into people’s houses and or assault people and this won’t happen.

  12. That said not talking to the press is always a good idea after a shooting. It is not a good idea to talk a lot to the cops without legal representation

  13. You have nothing to gain by talking to the media. And Masaad Ayoob is right about limiting what you say to the police. Think of it as legal self-defense. But at least statements made to the media are not made under penalty of perjury, but they can be used against you to impeach you if you testify otherwise. Be careful.

  14. Old guys- some informal advice I read someplace- like LEO or real gun attorney/defense atty feedback:

    Tell the police you felt threatened with death or deadly harm, and you had to defend yourself.
    Give them names of witnesses who were there so they can corroborate.
    Then say you are feeling a little dizzy and would like to get your heart checked,
    and just be quiet for awhile, until the ambulance comes.

    Call your lawyer on the way to the hospital.

    PS: I would not cross the street to pi$$ on most reporters if they were on fire.
    Much less talk to them. Fox hotties and some of the bloggers excepted.

  15. Here’s the quote I would have really liked to see:

    “She said, “Don’t shoot me! I’m pregnant, I’m going to have a baby!'”

    “I immediately thought, Darwin Award! and did my best to qualify her.”

  16. It is very easy to talk yourself into trouble. A detective that did a talk at my CCW class told us he always carries a pocket recorder to every scene of any kind. His basic advice was STFUP around all police.

  17. I was told a long time ago if I shot an killed someone in my home. “Feign remorse until the police and TV cameras are gone. Then breaks out the champagne”

    • Make sure when you call 911, to request an ambulance. Ask the operator for assistance in rendering first aid. Get a towel that you don’t mind soiling and apply pressure to any of the seven wounds on the dead guy. Last but not least, delete this comment from your hard drive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *