“A 30-year-old Chattanooga man who shot and killed a 19-year-old man in March will not face criminal charges in the slaying,” timesfreepress.com reports. “Investigators decided Joshua Smith acted within the law when he shot Steven Hurston 11 times at a Hixson apartment complex March 26.” Turns out . . .
Mr. Smith thought he was meeting Taylor Smith (no relation, above) for paid sex. When Mr. Hurston stepped forward to rob Mr. Smith, Mr. Smith shot the aspiring robber.
Eleven times. Specifically, “eight times in the arms, twice in the shoulder and once in the chest, according to his autopsy.”
While the media made big deal of the number of shots fired, notice that only one of Mr. Smith’s rounds struck center mass.
We don’t know the sequence of shots, but the round that perforated Mr, Hurston’s chest was likely the fatal ballistic blow. Bottom line: it may have taken all of eleven shots to stop Mr. Hurston’s imminent, credible threat of grievous bodily harm or death.
This incidents evokes an oft-repeated piece of advice for anyone prepared for a defensive gun use: keep shooting until the threat stops. Three things to keep in mind:
1. You have a legal right to continue firing until you’ve stopped an imminent, credible threat of grievous bodily harm or death
After all, that’s what you’re doing. You’re not shooting to kill. You’re shooting to stop the threat. If the cops or anyone else asks why you shot someone, that’s your answer. Nothing more, nothing less.
2. “Stop” doesn’t necessarily mean kill
You can stop a threat without making the bad guy assume room temperature. Unleashing one or more rounds may incapacitate or stymie your foe. Stymied foe? Threat stopped. Stop shooting.
Whether or not you’re on safe legal ground to continue firing depends on the bad guy’s potential to continue his or her imminent, credible threat of grievous bodily harm or death.
Does the bad guy have access to a deadly weapon? How incapacitated are they? It’s a grey area subject to the “reasonable person standard” (i.e., would a “reasonable person” share your opinion of the threat at the time of the shooting).
In any case (so to speak), the cessation of hostilities triggered by your gunfire may create an opportunity to escape while the bad guy reconsiders his options. Take it if you can.
It may sound silly — given that we’re talking about the direst or dire situations — but you’re better off legally if you don’t kill your attacker. You also reduce your chances of later retribution from the dead perp’s associates. There are also psychological considerations — for you.
3. Conserve your ammo
Mr. Smith may have simply emptied his gun at Mr. Hurston, accounting for the multiple hits. (We don’t know how many times Mr. Smith missed.) Regardless, “spray and pray” is a technique better used on insect-ridden plants than human beings.
If nothing else, you may be facing multiple attackers. If you keep firing until you stop a single threat, you may not have enough rounds to deal with the bad guy’s colleagues. In that sense, you need to keep firing to stop the entire threat.
Whether you’re facing one bad guy or four, fire only as many rounds as it takes to stop the threat. As mentioned above, look for an opportunity to stop firing. And run.