I hope you never have to use a firearm for defense against an imminent, credible threat of grievous bodily harm or death. If you do, you will be incapacitated. By adrenalin, if nothing else. And that means . . .

You won’t be “in your right mind.” You’ll be both excitable — and this is the important bit — suggestible. Especially to an authority figure or figures who have secured your safety. You know: cops.

Your new best friends will want you to talk. They’ll encourage you to vent. They might call the bad guy(s) by bad names to work you up into a lather, ostensibly to prove that you did the right thing and they’re on your side. Legally speaking, they’re not.

It’s critical that you do NOT say certain things to the police in the aftermath of a defensive gun use. Here are the three most important to avoid . . .

1. “The m’f*cker had it coming”

Shooting someone requires aggression. It’s unlikely that this aggression will wear off completely in the immediate aftermath a violent or potentially violent attack. Resist the urge to express your anger.

Your defense depends on the police, prosecutor, judge and/or jury’s belief that you are a good guy. Good guys don’t like the fact that they shot someone. They did it because they had to, not because they wanted to.

So no swearing. No indication of personal animus to the perp(s) or potential perp(s). In this respect, as in so many others, silence is golden. Chill, as best you can.

2. “I shot three, maybe four times”

“What happened?” the cops will ask. “My life was in danger,” you will reply. “I’ll be glad to make a full statement after I’ve spoken to my lawyer.” And then STFU. Right?

Well, almost.

You need to describe the perps to the police, tell the cops where they went (assuming the bad guys aren’t wounded or dead), and point out any witnesses and evidence that they might miss.

You must NOT describe the course of events. “I was standing here, the bad guy was there, I fired, four, maybe five shots.”

Your memory is not reliable, and anything you say can be used against you in court. Again, exercise your right to silence, promising to provide all the details after you’ve consulted with legal counsel.

3. “I’ve been training for this for years.”

Of course you should provide ID to the police. But your background is not relevant to your defensive gun use at the scene of the crime (or the police station). You should NOT tell the police OR EMT STAFF anything else about yourself, your firearms or your training.

Evoke your right to silence. Have I mentioned that before? It’s true: what you don’t say can’t be used against you in court. As justified as your defensive gun use may be, justifying it at the scene is a really, really bad idea.

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74 Responses to 3 Things You Should Never Say to the Cops After a Defensive Gun Use

    • But seriously. Should you start videoing the scene right away and what the cops do and say when they arrive?

  1. Or, if you are in Travis County, Texas, simply indicate ICE agents may be looking for you in connection with another crime. You’ll be released without question.

  2. Don’t say a word. Get a lawyer, he or she can answer the questions for you. Cops are not your friends, don’t every think they are.

  3. Going into vast detail with the attending enforcement officers about the shooting seemed to help George Zimmerman overall.

    I sure wouldn’t bet on the same strategy.

    • It did help him; in fact, I think it might have been a large part of him being found ‘not guilty.’ You can say “your silence won’t be held against you” in theory but in practice… it’s sometimes a different story.

      Zimmerman was able to make accurate, consistent statements about what happened. If you can do the same- and you know you were justified- talking the police will probably help and won’t hinder. But the rub is… how can you trust that you can make accurate consistent statements in such a situation without having been there before? And are you confident enough in your legal knowledge of state self-defense law?

      I’m pretty confident recounting such events based on experience but who knows, if I was blindsided on a dark night and had to shoot in self-defense I might not trust myself to be clear.

      • Youtube offers excellent training examples. Scene from a Dallas shooting where a cop shot and killed a mentally ill man who was brandishing (i.e., holding) a screwdriver and ignored repeated orders from police to put it down: Lots of cops were milling around and the union representative could be heard telling the cop-shootist “Don’t Say Anything”. That sounds like pretty good advice to me. In the video there were at least two other cops who were witnesses to the fatal shooting and still the cop-union rep cautions his client to keep quiet.

  4. “Why you hasseling me pig?”

    “What?! You just shot somebody and now you’re lookin for a suspect?”

  5. I’m fortunate that my girlfriend is a county prosecutor. Her comments: if the only other possible witness is dead on the ground when the police arrive, there isn’t any evidence that a crime occurred…UNTIL YOU OPEN YOUR DAMNED MOUTH. Even if it’s a clean shoot, if you say the wrong thing, suddenly there is something to investigate. Don’t provide anything other than your name and state it clearly that you want to speak with your lawyer (not a lawyer, YOUR LAWYER).

    • … there isn’t any evidence that a crime occurred … UNTIL YOU OPEN YOUR DAMNED MOUTH.

      Extremely serious question: should we apply this even to the point of not calling police/911 to report the event?

      Assume I applied deadly force (with or without a firearm) in righteous self-defense and my attacker is incapacitated/dead on the ground. Calling police/911 and only saying that there is a body on the ground is still incriminating myself since it puts me at the scene and guarantees that I am a suspect. Since we have a right to not incriminate ourselves — and calling in a body incriminates us in the mind of police/prosecutors — should we not keep our mouths AND phones shut?

      • Unfortunate as this is, I would say that it largely depends WHERE you are. Now, of course cops and lawyers would disagree with this, but if you’re not in your home, there are no witnesses, and no cameras, well, what’s to stop you from just walking away and pretending nothing happened? You’ll create a bind for yourself if it does come back to you, it’s true. But if you can be reasonably sure that won’t happen? If it was just a freak event and you have no connection whatsoever to the aggressor, and there are no other witnesses or surveillance footage, well, why not?

        Note: if you choose to carry, PLEASE wipe down the ammo for your carry gun. Actually, no. Buy a brand new box, put on some latex gloves, and then load your magazines. If/when you kick the round out of the chamber at the end of the day, don’t touch it with your bare hands. This advice isn’t specific to one situation, either; just a good precaution that will give you more options in the aftermath of a defensive shooting.

      • Well, 911 is for emergencies (fires, crimes in progress, medical emergencies). A dead thug does not an emergency make.

        But you may want to call the Coroner and request that the rotting corpse be removed from your property.

      • “if the only other possible witness is dead on the ground when the police arrive, there isn’t any evidence that a crime occurred”
        I’d say the possible witness dead on ground is pretty good evidence a crime occurred.

        • Hmm. Kind of an important point, eh? Since the person did NOT die from natural causes, there are only two possibilities: either someone murdered the deceased or the deceased attacked someone and the defender prevailed. Either way, a crime occurred. The only question is whether or not the deceased was the perpetrator or the victim.

      • I really don’t have an answer. In the discussions that we’ve had about DGUs, her recommendation was pretty much the same as everyone else’s: STFU.

  6. “Capped his punk ass!!!!!”

    While standing over the body as well?

    Bad idea.
    But seriously, with an adrenaline dump, concentrate, really attempt to slow your breathing down, as your ears maybe ringing like after a rock concert, and most importantly;

    STFU.

  7. I’m thinking that calmly asking to speak with an attorney is enough to speak. I’ll provide my ID and CCW permit upon request, but that doesn’t require me to speak.

  8. Do not talk to the police, when you are involved in a defensive shooting you go from a law abiding citizen to a suspect..
    merely ask for a lawyer and SHUT UP!

  9. I’m guessing that asking if any of them know a good taxidermist is probably in the bad idea column too.

      • I’m sure it can be done but it’s probably a huge pain due to the differences between our skin and that of animals and the inability to hide seams and stitches under fur. There was a body called “El Negro” that was taxidermied (sp?) and on display for decades.

        That said I would think it’s illegal as hell these days since the handling of human remains is generally pretty tightly controlled.

        Still, it would be a very dark joke to make after a DGU and I can’t say I’d recommend asking the police about it.

  10. 4. I fired a good clean finishing shot into him after he was down.

    (Someone actually said this, or something similar, to police.)

  11. Can a brother get a smoke? I’m a little excited right now, and would really like a smoke to calm down. I’d also like to call my lawyer, please.

    • That’s so funny… having quit smoking a while back, I could totally see a situation like that requiring a smoke. Just don’t let it shake in your hand and look all nervous when you’re dragging on it…

  12. Why have a lawyer on speed dial? Lawyers are expensive. Instead have a black market organ harvesting group in your list of friends. You get paid instead of paying.

    No body, no crime.

    • Become a member of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network…..not a bad deal for $135 per year…..price goes down to $95 /yr after the first year……if their panel of expert witnesses determine you actions were in self-defense they will secure your bail/bond….up to $10,000 to retain your legal counsel and will continue to fund your defense should you go to court including your attorney, expert witnesses and other forensic experts to the funds max coverage of over $400,000….that’s no small potatoes…..I don’t have that kind of cash laying around either so I joined last year…..

      • Not emmployed by them, no reimbursements for mentions, but have ya all not heard of the United States Concealed Carry Assoc. (USCCA)? Inexpensive monthly membership gets you bonded out, legal fees paid for a criminal case that you’ll be part of, and civil suit coverages because “momma don’t believe my boy woulda tried to hurt nobody and that guy shot him for no good reason.”
        Plus plenty of free training articles, videos, and a petty dang good Concealed Carry magazine subscription.
        I sure as hell don’t mind the cost for the coverage.

        One other thing you may not want to tell LE after a defensive shooting:
        “Dang! I heard them HydraShoks were good! Wondered if the 230 grain rounds were the ones to use….” etc.
        Just because LE carries a gun for duty doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to talk about guns & ammo when they’re responding to determine who is at fault for the blood on the gas station lot.
        Oh, the USCCA ID card also has post-shooting steps with the phone number you should memorize anyway.
        You know your wife’s number, along with others, and when they put you in a holding area you won’t get to keep that iPhone with the speed dial to use and play MARIO Run while you wait…holding cells aren’t designed for your convenience and I hear the concierge sucks.

    • Still ask for a lawyer. It prevents them from talking to you (legally). It’s best to specifically invoke both your 5th and 6th Amendment rights to an attorney. I don’t expect people to remember to do that, but it’s what’s best.

      Also, keep your mouth shut. If you talk to them, you are waiving the rights you just invoked. I wouldn’t even describe the fleeing attackers. You should be golden if they are never found.

      If you’re arrested, then you will get a court appointed attorney if you “cannot afford one.” I’m not sure what that means. And court appointed attorneys aren’t awful. I’m one, and I got a guy who confessed off. (Phrasing).

  13. If you intend to invoke your Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, case law now requires you to affirmatively state so. Just shutting up without saying anything can indeed be held against you, and has been done so.

  14. ahh… cogline and the gov. just made me laugh very hard for a while.

    “can you uncuff me so i can unzip and piss on him before he’s cold?”

  15. For what is worth, after you shoot someone in the street, and you had a good reason, the following response is normal, expected, understood and allowed.

    Go into shock, stare into the distance and become mute.

    Do not say a fucking word, youve just shot someone, you are in shock.

    • That reminds me, you’ll need to be checked out by a doctor. Ask for this and use the time to calm down and think about things. Don’t discuss the event with anyone except your wife/husband!

      Also be sure to check yourself for bullet wounds because sometimes you may not realize your hit.
      Don’t give first aid to the scumball who made you shoot. If he was a deadly threat, rendering first aid makes it look otherwise, as if you feel guilty.

      • Depending on how high profile the shooting ends up, your significant other might snitch you out, unless you are referring to him / her being on scene and having the same story.

        Its often enough always the woman who brings a man down.

        Lawyer ONLY.

  16. In Salinas v. Texas, SCOTUS ruled that:
    “the prosecution’s use of [petitioner’s] silence in response to another question as evidence of his guilty[sic] at trial did not violate the Fifth Amendment because petitioner failed to EXPRESSLY INVOKE HIS PRIVILEGE NOT TO INCRIMINATE HIMSELF in response to the officer’s question.”

    If you’re gonna STFU, tell’em your gonna STFU.

  17. “That was so f***ing cool! I’ve sat around so many nights drinking, cleaning guns and thinking about all of the shit I hate just wishing someone would kick my door in.”

  18. “Whatta ya mean I CAN’T keep his ear, I cut it off myself”.

  19. I’d probably tell the cops exactly what happened and then call a press conference in front of all the liberal media.

  20. Just keep your mouth shut after asking for an attorney. This is sage advice from car accidents to defensive shootings. No, the police DON”T want to help you and will do everything to placate a state’s attorney who wants a stat. There are FEW prosecutors who are pro-gun, pro-2A.

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