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Cop at night (courtesy

Ohio – -( [Recently] at work I responded to an urgent call for backup. An armed homeowner pulled a gun on one of my fellow officers. In the end, everything turned out fine. No one got shot. By the time I arrived at the home, both officer and homeowner had secured their respective weapons and were talking peacefully. It was a tense situation for a few seconds and could have ended tragically. Here’s how it went down…

The officer was dispatched on a “check the well being” call. A high school student had called police to report that he had received several texts from his friend. The text messages hinted that the friend was planning on killing himself. The officer was sent to the friend’s house to ensure that he wasn’t suicidal.

It was 9 pm and dark outside. The house was lighted up inside and the officer heard sounds that indicated the house was occupied. The officer knocked on the door vigorously and rang the door bell. No one answered.

The officer could have just left the scene at that point, but he is conscientious and wanted to make sure that the boy wasn’t in danger, or even worse, had already attempted to kill himself.

Seeing lights on at the rear of the house, the officer decided to try knocking at the back door. He entered the back yard through an unlocked fence gate and was walking towards the back door of the house when the homeowner spotted him.

The homeowner was inside the house and couldn’t see well. He heard his gate open and close, then saw a man dressed in all dark clothing poking around in his back yard with a flashlight in hand. The homeowner ran to get his pistol.

By the time the officer reached the back door, he was looking down the barrel of the homeowner’s gun. The cop drew his own gun, called for backup, shined his flashlight on his badge, and verbally identified himself as a police officer. The homeowner immediately lowered his gun, then secured it before opening the back door and talking to the officer. Tragedy averted.

Let me start by saying that no one in this situation did anything wrong.

The cop was trying to make sure a boy wasn’t going to kill himself. The homeowner was legally defending his residence from a suspicious intruder approaching the back door of his house. Some frazzled nerves, poor training, or a couple more pounds of pressure on either weapon’s trigger would have resulted in a tragic outcome.

How do we prevent situations like this from going bad?

We have to start by teaching cops to take extra care to identify themselves in any ambiguous situation. Any time a cop is on another person’s property, he should be in full uniform. He should repeatedly verbalize the fact that he is a police officer.

Basically, cops need to slow down a bit and look at their actions from the perspective of an armed homeowner. Would the cop’s actions be thought of as “suspicious” by the property owner? If so, it’s up to the cop to change his approach to ensure that the resident knows that the person lurking in the darkness is a police officer instead of a potential home invader.

Second, you as a homeowner must recognize that there are legitimate reasons for police to be on your property (and occasionally in your house). Not every “intruder” is a criminal. I hear a lot of talk from armed citizens saying “I never break any laws. There’s no reason for the police to be on my property. I’ll shoot first. Better to be judged by 12 than carried by six…etc.”

That logic is wrong. The homeowner in this story didn’t break any laws. He didn’t have any reason to suspect that the police would be coming to his house. Despite the fact that the homeowner did not violate any laws, there was still a legitimate reason for the police to be poking around his back yard.

There are lots of completely legal situations that could result in a cop, fireman, or utility worker to need to be in your yard. Let’s use some logic here. What is the more likely explanation for a strange man to be in your yard at night? Is it more common that that stranger might be a first responder of some sort, or is it more common that the stranger would be a home invader?

Speaking for myself, I’ve never been the victim of a home invasion, but I’ve seen utility workers in my yard dozens of times…even at night. I’ve had firefighters walking through my yard trying to find the source of a brush fire. I live in a relatively safe neighborhood. If I play the odds, it’s more likely that anyone on my property is a neighbor or first responder than it is that the person is a criminal.

We all just need to calm down a bit. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t defend your property or yourself. Just make sure that the person you are “defending” against is a real threat. Shooting the policeman who is trying to ensure your son isn’t trying to kill himself doesn’t create the outcome you are looking for.

Cops need to make sure their actions don’t appear criminal. Armed citizens need to ensure that they practice good target discrimination and take some training about how to adequately address threats in a low light environment. Both groups need to be calm and clear thinking, without the automatic “I am right” egotistical response that is commonly seen.

Cops don’t want to get shot. Armed citizens don’t want to mistakenly shoot a cop who is trying to help them. Both groups want the same outcome. But it is only by understanding the other group’s perspective that we can safely achieve it.


Greg Ellifritz is the full time firearms and defensive tactics training officer for a central Ohio police department. He holds instructor or master instructor certifications in more than 75 different weapon systems, defensive tactics programs and police specialty areas. Greg has a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and is an instructor for both the Ohio Peace Officer’s Training Academy and the Tactical Defense Institute. For more information or to contact Greg, visit his training site at Active Response Training.

Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots political action committee dedicated to defending and advancing the right of Ohio citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities. Visit:

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    • .

      Ditto Pub.


      “We all just need to calm down a bit. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t defend your property or yourself. Just make sure that the person you are “defending” against is a real threat.”

      But so many other articles here on TTAG stress being fast on the trigger or else you’ll be sleeping in a pine box.

      An unknown guy in dark clothing with gun drawn at your back door at night? What could possibly go right?


      • According to the article above, the officer didn’t draw his gun until he was looking down the barrel of the homeowner’s gun.

        • Drawing my weapon on a gun that is already on me is probably not a great decision. Yeah, I understand action is faster than reaction. But still…

  1. I’m generally ok with the article, except for the probability comment. Utility services, while holding an easement to our back line, or cops or firemen, should not be entering property without making every effort to notify the residents. that happened here, but it needs to happen every time. Otherwise, the slope from property to premises is a slippery one.

    • In my neighberhood I’ve watched cops and bad guys bouncing over fences thru our backyards. No time for polite knocks at that moment.

    • I’m an ex lineman. We do not always enter from your front yard , we may come from your neighbors to the rear and work in the easement . If I need to come up to your house I will come up with a bright light if I’m there at night and always in clothing and hardhat with ID that identifies who I’m working for and knock on the front door. I had an idiot pull a shotgun on me once while I was on a pole that was not on his property, it did not go well for him. He thought we were there to kill his power since he was in arrears, we were there because his neighbor was having problems related to a bad neutral. The 2 power co. trucks, all the lights aimed at the pole and him trying to tell the officer that very quickly showed up that he thought we were there to kill his power when he still had time to pay. Now his account was marked as needing police so his neighbors ought to love him now. They get to stay out longer while we waited for an officer from then on. You ought to try to climb down a pole when someone is holding a gun on you. He still had it out when the officer showed up.

  2. Let me start by saying that no one in this situation did anything wrong

    You have phones, you could have called the residence first. This was not a felony warrant, it was a wellness check.

    As for the rest of the “legal” reasons cops could be on my property or in my house, you are lying. How about before you hide behind your qualified immunity and the exigent circumstance charade you actually do some police work and call.

    Since the welfare of the boy in question is left out, my guess is it was a prank call or wrong address.

    • When all else fails, kick off the siren and lights until the neighbors form up, then discuss possible avenues of entry. Not that important? Then go away.

      • I agree. The officer could have given a few burps of the siren and left the lights on while investigating. The officer’s stealth did not seem necessary in this situation.
        A good, thought provoking article.

    • 1) The police do not have access to everyone’s phone number, particularly cell phones which are taking the place of land-lines. In this case the officer probably had the teens number but that brings up point 2:

      2) What happens if someone does not answer or refuses to talk? In a case like this- a potentially suicidal subject (probably a minor) may not pick up. Do we then declare it ‘no contact made’ after the knock at the front door and leave the scene? It’s fine if you want to do that but most people would scream bloody murder if the cops shrugged, left and the ‘high school student’ then killed himself. Perhaps we need a ‘do not visit’ list for local PDs where residents can decide they do not want the police to check on their welfare or check for burglars etc?

        • You’re taking a civil case about liability and confusing it with duty. While police officers cannot be held personally liable for individual’s safety* that is not the same thing as ‘duty’.

          The duty of police is what society demands, not what a court finds is actionable in a civil trial. And society will not accept if the police simple say “we are not responsible for any person’s safety” and don’t bother. Society will not accept if the police knock on the door of a suicidal teen, shrug, and drive off upon getting no answer. I know this because I see the kind of crap society at large demands of cops- and society at large is different in its views than the people commenting TTAG. Think about how much of the general population actually accepts that they are responsible for their own safety. Not that much.

          It’s easy to get complaints from victims that you aren’t ‘doing your job’ when you refuse to violate people’s rights (i.e. “those kids are making too much noise with their party, break the door down or something or I’m calling my friend the chief!”). But refusing to do anything that is even within the law is not going to fly unless everyone has the libertarian views often espoused here. I’m not saying those views are right or wrong, but the police are what society makes them. And that’s why I suggested a sort of ‘do not check welfare’ list. It wouldn’t eliminate the problem but it would at least reduce it.

        • umm yes they do…

          they have no liability if they can’t since they are trying to deal with some kid who sent texts that made the other kid, their parents, cop think something bad was going to happen.

          Supreme court ruled on this in the 80’s and you do something stupid like shoot a cop and 100 more will be after you. Now you may live to be on trial which hardly ever does someone not get convicted and most states have auto death….

          People don’t get why a cop was trying to be stealthy… umm if a person is going to kill themselves then sirens and crap could make them just do it. People need to pull their head out and think gee does a cop want to go to a persons house in the day who is sending this crap to others… I know three dead over this type of call and cops tend to hate suicidal welfare checks since the odds of a weapon sky rocket.

          People don’t realize how laws like auto life or death for cop killers passed the supreme court so easy. So man up and if that scared put some lights up outside and stop being so trigger happy since the person has to be breaking the law and be a credible threat to even think about a gun and first responder doing their job is not breaking the law and why supreme court ruled killing them because you disagree is not ok.

          hell you don’t even OWN your land to start… The Gov owns all land within its borders and there is no country that doesn’t follow that basic rule. I mean heck how can they take it away if you own it…

          • So, if the “supreme court” decided that all women should fall into bed with Bill Clinton if he winks at them… or all men (outside of their cronies) needed his willy pruned somehow… this would be fine with you? Or do you have some sort of Ouija board to tell you when the “court” should and shouldn’t be able to dictate things? Remember that what seems reasonable and acceptable to you isn’t automatically agreeable to everyone else..

            The court has a political agenda, just as with every other government entity. Has very little to do with legitimate law or even rational thinking.

        • If a potential suicide results in someone getting killed, it should be the suicidal person 100% of the time, not a cop and not a disinterested homeowner. Stay out of backyards in the middle of the night, as a general rule, as a fallback position. Then train and discuss circumstances under which you might disregard that basic rule.

    • Agree. You have no right to trespass on my property, no matter what your job is. If Joe Blow down the street doesn’t have the right to do it, neither do you; badges don’t grant special rights.

      • This is the perfect example of a potential SWATting. Someone calls with a report, suspicion or complaint that they know will force one or more LEOs to respond when the resident of the location has no knowledge of their approach. Especially in “may be suicidal” or “hostages” or “man with a gun in the window” of course the police will attempt to make entry.

        It should be VERY important for the responding LEA to make all sorts of effort to announce their presence before breaching the residence. IMO.

      • Okay, let’s take that view to the quick conclusion. You don’t show up for work one day. Or the next. At what point does someone “trespass” onto your property to look in your window and see you sprawled out on the floor? Is there never such a point?

        How do you feel about delivery men leaving packages on your porch?

        Don’t worry about the answers too much, because courts don’t define deliverymen leaving a package as trespassing. Nor is it trespassing for a cop to walk around your property in the circumstances above. But keep thinking cops are “enjoying special rights” by doing their job, I guess.

        • Keep telling us you are certain of the laws of 50 states. In TX, many rules change when the sun goes down. That one? I dunno, I don’t care. Cops here have more sense than you describe.

          And I often have deliverymen leaving packages on my porch, in the daytime and with a loudly marked truck easily visible out front, not sneaking around my back yard at midnight. It is not the same.

      • Make sure you notify your local first responders of your opinion. That way, if Mr. Bad Guy breaks into your house, or if a fire breaks out on your property, the first reposnders will know that you mean business and do not want ANYBODY on your property NO MATTER WHAT and will act accordingly. They will then honor your wishes by letting Mr. Bad Guy steal everything you own or letting that fire destroy your property. Also, if you have a heart attack, they will be sure to get permission (they will have to ask via telephone or loudspeaker) from your unconscious body (no answer is an implied “NO”) before trespassing and applying medical aid.

        • So you are telling me that all cops are all or nothing? Kneel in worship as I pass or I will laugh as I watch you die? You are a sick puppy, and I think you are absolutely wrong.

      • When your house is on fire (10ft from the neighbors house) I coming and putting the fire out. No matter what you say about anything.

        1.) Insurance Co has a big interest in your house not burning down.
        2.) The neighbor (and their insurance co) have VERY BIG interest in addressing your stupidity (all house fires are caused by human).
        3.) Going to attempt to preserve your “stuff” including your firearms and ammo stash.

        You’ll know when I show up. Will have multiple 20+ton RED trucks with be making enough noise to wake the dead, enough flashing lights to guide in a UFO, my flashlight and scenelights will freaking blind you, and then you get a nice cold shower (with foam/soap).
        Note: if you interfere (usually a pretty high bar compared to interacting the POPO) with what I’m doing you will be arrested and know that a handline is quite functional as “nonlethal”. Might also be packing.

        homeowner must recognize that there are legitimate reasons for police to be on your property (and occasionally in your house). Then get a warrant.

        • When your house is on fire (10ft from the neighbors house) I coming and putting the fire out. No matter what you say about anything.

          Wouldn’t most sane people recognize a house fire as “exigent circumstances”?

        • ” (all house fires are caused by human).”

          Lightning is only a rumor? There has never actually been a tornado? What year were gas line leaks finally conquered?

    • And the next time when a kid kills himself you and the whole neighborhood will be screaming to high heaven that the police didn’t DO anything! They let the poor boy hang himself!

      • How many suicides a year in the US? 20k by gun? Maybe they should take guns away to stop that number, one is too many blahlahblah. I don’t want to live in your police state where cops can inspect every house with a teenager, and I will fight it with everything I have.

      • So all any ex-souse or enemy or prankster has to do to put a cop inside your house/apartment is call in a phony “possible suicide” report. What could possibly go wrong?

  3. “Is it more common that that stranger might be a first responder of some sort, or is it more common that the stranger would be a home invader?”

    I live in the Austin area. Cops here would no sooner start running around in back yards in the middle of the night than the man in the moon. There is essentially zero possibility that stranger is a first responder, maybe you should ask someone from NYC. Meanwhile, if a police officer who has entered my home without my knowledge or permission would like to end the day alive and not a murderer, he damn well better have left a marked police car out front, and be fully uniformed.

    I have had a deputy sheriff knock on my door to ask me to escort him to my neighbor’s house, he was not getting a response by phone or doorbell, was worried about the elderly man’s safety, since his wallet was stolen a few days earlier. He had no interest in entering the property alone. And that was 10 years ago.

    • ” Cops here would no sooner start running around in back yards in the middle of the night than the man in the moon.” -ditto

      The cop needs to think about: ” is what I’m doing the right thing at the right time. I could be mistaken for a burgler. This isn’t smart.”

      I live in the burbs of a major metro area. All of a sudden neighborhoods in what was once an almost crime free area area experiencing burglaries on a daily basis. Car break ins nightly. People are on edge and are probably sleeping cocked and locked now if they weren’t before. Bad idea for a cop to go creepy crawling around back of someone’s house. The PD in question here needs to change their protocol for dealing with situations like this before someone ends up dead.

  4. Clearly police and legal protocols are in need of some re-examination regarding when and how people—police and non-police—handle guns. Greg’s observation about this encounter is very much to the point, i.e., nothing happened when something very, very bad could have happened. I’ll wager that there are events just like this happening all the time where competent police officers have a clear-eyed understanding of what their proper role is along with an equally clear-eyed understanding of the public with whom they interact. I could add the usual (and unfortunately so) “yeah, but” caveat but I won’t because most of us already know how that plays out. Instead, I’ll say “good on ’em” and hope Greg’s training will help cops develop better ideas about how to deal with ambiguity.

    Social psychology has a term for describing what I think Greg wants to accomplish in his training. It’s called the “generalized other”. Basically, it refers to our abilities to imagine ourselves as others see us. Some people have a very sophisticated ability to do this and are, thus, very accomplished at social interactions. Others are less good at imagining themselves as others see them while some people aren’t good at it at all. When people like this assume authority positions there is a high likelihood that they’ll misread a situation and get themselves and/or others into trouble. And when they’re cops and carry guns, the trouble can be very serious indeed.

  5. I too noticed that the original premise for arriving at the property was not fleshed out. Was this a SWATTING? I, for one, think that I may be engaged in something as simple as a shower where I do not wish to be interrupted. If I don’t answer the door, especially if you’re not identifying yourself, expect me to ignore you. And don’t get riled up when I do

  6. ” shined his flashlight on his badge,”

    …something I do all the damn time but was never taught in my academy. Why? No idea.

    • Not enough. There are plenty of criminals with fake or stolen badges.

      Seems to me that the first problem is police taking action on a vague notion of an unknown caller about a possible suicide. “SWATTing and other malevolent calls are common. Verification of authenticity of the caller might need to be first. Visit him/her. The chance that the anonymous call is legitimate is probably very low, especially in a case like this.

      I don’t believe that suicide is the business of any government entity, myself, but more properly the business of family and faith community, if any. Preventing suicide is pretty much a lost cause. If they want to die, they will… eventually. If they are actually asking for help by a pseudo attempt, they are generally NOT asking for cops to intervene. I dealt with this a lot as a health care professional. If the police get such a call, they need to quickly find relatives or community/faith personnel to make the contact… not sneak around in a darkened back yard peeking into windows. That’s just plain dumb.

      In the scene presented, there would likely have been far less confusion or danger if the gate had been locked, and motion detectors had turned on large, bright lights in the yard upon any attempt to enter over that gate.

      Trusting that people will calmly respond to a potential invader, quickly getting past preconceived notions and the adrenalin rush… that way lies tragedy.

      • “Not enough. There are plenty of criminals with fake or stolen badges”

        While that is completely true, it would buy a minute from me, at least, checking to see if a uniform accompanies it, inviting a radio call for reinforcements, something. As a quick reaction it beats drawing a gun.

        • Completely ignoring the rest of my comment. Shame on you, Larry. 🙂

          But a lot also depends on where you are. Out here, I’d KNOW if there was an officer behind that badge, since I know all 7 of them personally.

          In a urban setting, it could get very complicated, which is why at least some effort at verification of the report seems like a good first step. In any case, sneaking around in a dark back yard does not seem to me to be a good idea… for a cop or anyone else.

          Try that in MY back yard, and you might well have a shotgun pointed at your guts. Whoever you are… if I didn’t recognize you.

  7. A cop goes on someone’s property to “protect” them and could easily end up killing them! That’s complete crap. Stay off of my property.

    If there were texts, y’all had a phone number. If you’re concerned, make a call. Otherwise, mind your own business. There’s nothing on my property that is of your concern.

    Butting in here didn’t make anything better. Y’all only made things worse. What would’ve happened if the cop killed the guy? Nothing would’ve happened to the cop, but the other guy would’ve left his family without him. What would’ve happened if the guy shot the cop? Y’all would’ve either shot him after that or thrown him in jail for the rest of his life!

    Make the world a better place and stay away.

    • 1. The report came from the studen’ts friend, not the student himself. There is no indication they had the house number.
      2. Even if they had the student’s number, I’m pretty sure the correct protocol isn’t calling him up and sayning, “Hi, I hear you’re considering suicide! And that’s bad, mmmkay?”
      3. The officer knocked on the front door and rang the bell before going around back.
      4. The officer did approach with his gun drawn, verbally identified himself when the homeowner appeared armed.

      Taken all together, I’d say the officer behaved appropriately.

      • No, apparently the correct protocol is to go to his house and say “Hi, I hear you’re considering suicide! And that’s bad, mmmkay?”

    • And if he left and the kid blew his brains out then people like you would be ranting how cops don’t do their jobs and are just there to collect a check.

        • So are you suggesting we only hire cops who have proved that they’re psychic? Cause otherwise hindsight is meaningless.

        • No one can blame the police for not saving a hypothetical suicidal kid. We can only comment on what actually happened, which requires no psychic powers.

        • But unless the cops were psychic, they couldn’t KNOW that there was no suicidal kid. It’s like someone saying “you shouldn’t have shot him, his gun wasn’t loaded!”

        • What at least some of us are saying is “don’t invade someone’s home without a warrant or permission due to a phone call from an unidentified person claiming anything, I don’t care what.” If you know who is making the call, it is still a risk, but if everybody survives (as in this case), you can find the swatter and fine/imprison the jackass adequately to discourage repeat adventures. Was anybody arrested for this crap?

      • I’m sorry, in what world do you live in where the suspected presence of a teenager in a home = no need for a warrant go trespass? Cause eff that place.

        • B

          The officer was there lawfully in the performance of his duties. He knocked on the door and was trying to make contact by knocking on the back door. He did not make entry into the house. He was not legally trespassing. So perhaps you should do your research before you run your mouth

        • Do your neighbors regularly come over to use your grill, or your swimming pool? Do you borrow your neighbors’ lawn chairs and lawn equipment? You know better than that, it is called trespassing.

        • In many places entering easily-accessed property in order to provide a service is not considered trespassing. Police get included along with the postal worker, FedEx driver, flower delivery girl, etc. The difference lies in having a specific service at a specific address; the uniform in itself is irrelevant.

      • Try again. The cops are not suicide counselors. They owe no duty to interfere with your attempted (or successful) suicide. In short, it isn’t their job.

        • As a former fire fighter I know that cops do have the duty to protect the life of someone who is trying to kill themselves. No one has the legal right to attempt or commit suicide, think about all the political fights over assisted suicide laws for the terminally ill. It is illegal in 47 states to attempt to kill yourself if you have a terminal disease.

          When we got a suicide call we, cops and firefighters/emts had to make entry to the home to verify that the person was ok. Then, we had to legally take them to the hospital for a psych check. If they did not go willingly they were cuffed to the gurny.

          So, to the law there is very little difference between a suicide that and a threat to kill someone else. In each case a life is being threatened, it does not matter if it is your own.

          If you don’t believe me just think about how it would go if someone tried to commit suicide in a police station lobby. When the person declines cop help are they just going to stand there and watch?

        • Pull a gun in the lobby of the cop shop and I’m pretty sure you DID just committed suicide Wouldn’t even have to waste your own ammo.

        • If that’s the truth, I would keep in my pocket the names and numbers of several people who are responsible for that manner of stupidity, and if an illegal entry had to be made into private property without a warrant, call them up and tell them where to show up, I’ll point out the house to you from behind a tree.

  8. Time for police to stop trying to protect people from themselves. It’s not worth the risk to the officer, and people often don’t appreciate it anyway.

  9. As a Fireman we encounter this regularly. We are routinely called to respond to an elderly person who is wearing a medical alarm. They have this device for the classic “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. The alarm company always calls but sometimes doesn’t get an answer. We always arrive in uniform and in a marked vehicle. We first try to yell to the person. If that doesn’t work we attempt to look in the windows, but often there are shades or furniture blocking a clear view. The last resort if we believe someone is injured inside is to break in. Announcing ourselves as we enter. Sometimes we find buttons pushed accidentally and people sleeping, sometimes we find people injured on the floor.

    We also respond to assist the police to check the welfare if they need assistance. We recently responded with the police and used a ladder to enter a second floor window. I was very nervous crawling through the window. Unfortunately that person had passed away.

    I promise the decision isn’t made lightly for any first responder or police officer

    • I am sorry, I consider that a completely different situation, you are talking about confirmation that someone inside the dwelling has *requested* assistance, as opposed to some unknown person claiming to know something about what’s happening inside the dwelling. If the unknown person were inside the dwelling, he’d let you in. If he doesn’t let you in, it is a LIE, stay the hell out or expect to be shot. The alert system is clearly intended for people to ask you to open the door and find them. Having a siren going full blast when you do seems only sensible.

      And if the person is dead, he can wait until daylight.

  10. Brother been there 100 times, check the welfare calls, smoke in the area , fumes in area, wires down in the back yard , rec fires in area of , something’s burning over there …..a hundred reasons why were in folks back yards. Or houses and apartments .

    Water flowing into an apartment from floors above.

    Hell I’ve pulled drunks out of burning buildings who were sound asleep.

    • Except for the tree service that comes around once a year to trim the branches away from the utility lines (and they have to come to my door for me to unlock the gate), I have NEVER had ANYONE in my backyard that wasn’t there with my knowledge and permission, and that has been the case since 1968. NO police officer has any business in my backyard (my “curtilage” ) unless he/she is in hot pursuit, has a warrant, or has my permission. Fireman are a completely different story, and when they come into the neighborhood, it is always loud and with lights. In this particular case, if the officer had a warrant, the homeowner would be dead–even if the officer was at the wrong address. In no-knocks, there is no such thing as de-escalation.

  11. Despite the fact that the homeowner did not violate any laws, there was still a legitimate reason for the police to be poking around his back yard.

    I do not agree. Any schmo can call police and report anything … anonymously … which means such reports are not trustworthy. If police want to go to the address, they are welcome to look at the yard from the road. They are welcome to turn on their flasher lights in the driveway, turn on their flashlight, walk up to the front door, and knock. And they are welcome to call the homeowner on their telephone or cell phone to inquire. Beyond that, they have no legitimate business or authority to go any further … for the very reason that is the lesson of this story.

    There are lots of completely legal situations that could result in a cop, fireman, or utility worker to need to be in your yard.

    And those situations do NOT legally or morally justify use of deadly force.

    Is it more common that that stranger might be a first responder of some sort, or is it more common that the stranger would be a home invader?

    That all depends on where you live. Nevertheless, as I stated above, the presence of an unidentified person in your yard does NOT legally or morally justify use of deadly force.

    • Maybe only firemen or paramedics should do “wellness checks.” I have never heard of a homeowner being killed by a fireman or paramedic due to a misunderstanding.

    • “Nevertheless, as I stated above, the presence of an unidentified person in your yard does NOT legally or morally justify use of deadly force.”

      It sure does justify coming out of your door with a gun, at which time that unidentified person drawing WOULD justify use of deadly force. If police do not think they are a force unto themselves, and can make up the rules as they go along, then this is a no-brainer. Even if you HAVE a warrant, you need to go through the front door, and under most circumstances arrive in the daytime. Backyard, at night, there really is someone suicidal, here.

  12. The cop drew his own gun, called for backup, shined his flashlight on his badge, and verbally identified himself as a police officer. The homeowner immediately lowered his gun, then secured it before opening the back door and talking to the officer. Tragedy averted.

    Let me start by saying that no one in this situation did anything wrong.

    Umm… did the writer do something wrong in writing down the order in which the cop did things?
    Because if I were the homeowner, and “drew his own gun” were armed uninvited visitor’s first move, fall down with a GSW to the head would have been his second move.

    When the homeowner already has his gun deployed, verbally ID first, provide light for visual ID if needed, and then you will HAVE NO DAMN REASON TO DRAW ON AN INNOCENT GODDAMN HOMEOWNER because he will be standing down!

  13. The Police did not kill an innocent person in his house this time but almost did? Talk about damning with faint praise. I hope society is waking up to the fact that the police are the pointy end of State’s spear and perhaps armed men knocking on your door should not be the first response but the last resort.

  14. “Basically, cops need to slow down a bit and look at their actions from the perspective of an armed homeowner. Would the cop’s actions be thought of as “suspicious” by the property owner?”

    And that right there ladies and gentlemen is why so many “Law Enforcement Professionals” go on record arguing against armed citizens. Costs them extra money to attract, hire and train officers who are willing and able to respond in the way the officer from the above story did. Homeowner and officer are both extremely lucky.

    • Ellifritz’s article today is about the inadequate training given police officers and how it is coming back to bite the officers rather than the jurisdictions that failed to prepare them properly.

  15. Not to mention police impersonators. Coming to your home, car and while you are out and about. Anyone can get police paraphernalia. It adds more uncertainty to an already bad situation.

    Robert, to close the loop, was the call fraudulent, a mistake, wrong address, etc?

  16. Second, you as a homeowner must recognize that there are legitimate reasons for police to be on your property (and occasionally in your house).

    Not without a warrant, there aren’t.

    (Or truly exigent circumstances, such as chasing a violent criminal who happens to trespass on my property while fleeing.)

  17. Most of the time, prowlers are not a threat until they actually break in. Exceptions are shooting into a home, arson or bombing but those are much more rare. If you see a prowler, call 911 to request police assistance, and arm yourself in case the prowler breaks in before the police arrive. If you have to shoot, the broken door or window and the recording of your 911 call are evidence to support your claim of self defense.

  18. It’s a good article, but it’s not clear to me whether the officer identified himself at the front door. He probably should have. Some people don’t answer knocks at the door late at night from strangers.

    Additionally, it is not an uncommon tactic for home invaders to knock first. If someone answers the door, they bum rush them. If no one answers the door, they go around back and look to break-in when they are not visible from the street.

    Just saying…

  19. “Second, you as a homeowner must recognize that there are legitimate reasons for police to be on your property (and occasionally in your house)”

    I don’t think there is ever a situation where I’d cover a person who was simply on my property. If I’m inside with my side arm and he’s outside I’d probably in every occasion call the police.

    The other case, however is a whole other world. I can’t imagine a situation where someone is actually in my home and they draw on me it’s hard to imagine not stopping them with force. Even in the comfort of this chair with no stress its hard to wrap my head around someone in my home uninvited who I have covered raising their weapon even if they are dressed like an officer. I’d have to have knowledge of more officers on scene (more than a random traffic stop), and they’d have to be very loud and descriptive for things to end without rounds going off.

    • An excellent reason for cops to wear vests, and homeowners to aim center mass. Bruises and hard feelings, pissing contest in court, everybody goes home.

  20. Nobody did anything wrong? Get off my damn lawn and if I don’t answer the door and you don’t have a warrant then get bent!

      • Hannibal,

        I am sympathetic to the “exigent circumstance” idea when there really is an exigent circumstance. The real problem is determining what actually constitutes an exigent circumstance. With burner cell phones, Voice over IP phone service, and caller I.D. spoofing these days, phone calls are not reliable: anyone could be calling from anywhere claiming to be anyone from anywhere. This is what enables “swatting”.

        I can only think of three ways for police to learn about an event to truly qualify as an exigent circumstance:
        (1) Someone reports an event in person and is willing to wait with police until police determine what is happening.
        (2) Police officer sees an event and has body camera recording his/her response.
        (3) Someone provides video of an event to the police.

        Here is another way to look at this:

        (A) A homeowner who is armed and able to defend themselves will never have an exigent circumstance. Why? Home invaders at such a home would promptly find themselves under fire and either surrender, be incapacitated, or extricate themselves thus eliminating any exigent circumstance that requires police to crash through the homeowner’s doors. (Police would still want to get to the home in a hurry due to the nature of the situation of course but they would have no reason to crash through the doors of the home.)

        (B) Of course unarmed homeowners will be in an “exigent circumstance” during a home invasion … and they will be in that situation because they failed to be armed and able to defend themselves.

        (C) Unarmed homeowners have abdicated their responsibility to protect themselves and their families. That choice elevates their risk of harm and requires outside (police) intervention during an attack. And when police have a policy of responding to unverified reports of exigent circumstances, that elevates the risk to me and my family (e.g. “swatting”). It is wrong and unjust for those families to expose me and my family to more risk because they fail to take personal responsibility for their own protection. For those reasons, police should NOT handle phone calls reporting “exigent circumstances” as an exigent circumstance until verified. By all means police are welcome to drive to the reported address to inquire with the homeowner — and that inquiry MUST be limited to a uniformed officer parking in the driveway with flashers on, their handheld flashlight on, and knocking on the front door. Anything beyond that is unwarranted and inviting disaster to both homeowners and responding police officers. (Notice my extremely poignant use of the word “unwarranted”.)

      • That’s big talk, but could get you killed. If it turns out the guy you killed in such a response did not have a wife and was alone in the house, in a sensible world you’d spend the rest of your life in prison. A snotty attitude of “I’m a cop, no one would put me in prison for something as minor as shooting a citizen to death for no reason.” leads to people with RF’s inherent distrust of police. *I* would not go sneaking around my neighbor’s backyard in the middle of the night without his permission, therefore I do not expect *YOU* to do such a thing, either.

  21. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cops came back and arrested him after the DA manufactured some charges for him.

    DA’s just doing what DA’s do…

  22. Thanks for posting. Despite the “one answer fits all situations” comments, it’s helpful to learn about scenarios from real-life situations.

  23. I find it odd that the home owner didn’t hear vigorous knocking nor the doorbell, but heard the gate outside open and close.

    Cops should not be snooping around people’s backyards for most situations (I cold foresee some situations where it may be legit – i.e., rescue operation, witnessed an active crime in progress). I am also concerned about “swatting”, as it happens randomly. The other thing that concerns me as a homeowner is if a cop does illegally enter my house and I draw on them, that cop and his backup will also draw on me in my own house and probably fire whether I fire or not. Most cops wouldn’t show the same restraint seen in this story. Glad no one was injured or killed.

  24. I’m shocked. I honestly think this is the first time I’ve heard of a cop being sent out because of a possibly suicidal person that didn’t result in the cop executing said suicidal person. Miracles happen after all.

    • Brings up the question of what happened to the family dog, doesn’t it? Oh, wait. That happened because there was no suicidal person, end of miracle.

    • I’ve never heard of a cop being sent to help someone who is suicidal ending up shooting the person, and I’m aware of over a dozen such interventions — one involved me, called in ’cause the suicidal kid was in the youth group I led and his parents were out of state at the time; two others involved me because I was talking to the person one line while I called the crisis people on another, and kept talking until the police were on the scene (for one of those I acted as negotiator to get the police allowed into the house).

  25. Call me cynical but it sounds like a BS call to begin with. A near tragic prank. As in charge the punk who sent the cop…

  26. Until it returns to Peace Officer instead of Law Enforcement Officer, and Protect and Serve becomes once again the mantra and not just a decal, and LEOs stop making weekly headlines for everything from making up laws to outright murder, if you are in my yard at night I highly suggest you shine that light on your badge the entire time rather than waiting until the last minute. Fact is, I don’t trust you anymore. It’s a damned shame, and I regret it, but I didn’t create the situation.

  27. Everyone can have their own opinions but not their own facts. Regardless of your opinion about the cop being in the back yard the fact is not only did he have the legal ability to with a suicide call, but he had the legal requirement to. End of story. And if you still say you are going to force them off your property by the threat of a firearm, you will be arrested and successfully prosecuted with a felony. And that means you will never be able to have a firearm again for the rest of your life. Your call….

      • I used to be a fire fighter, the cops in our town would have been fired if they had not continued passed knocking on the front door, SOPS. I would have been too.

        • Ditto — I’ve been a firefighter- a fire ground officer – and a paramedic among many other things in my life. in SOME cities there were ‘no entry without cop’ rules, and that was two double cars before the Ambulance/Engine could enter – having a heart-attack? you died because of that rule. Appartment fire? make that 3 or 4, not one. The rule was in place because residents of the neighborhoods TENDED to be ‘gang-bangers’ and would rob the rig of it’s opiate drugs, Engines of their ‘brass’ and medical kits, and hold EMT-II’s and Paramedics at gun point for their trauma pack drugs. I’d say about 100% of heart attacks died in those ‘projects’ because of delayed response time. A third twin squad car would roll in about 5 min after our arrival and stake out our rig from a different angle, not just one fore and one aft. 6 cops and two ALS personnel for ONE heart attack. It’s the neighborhood, and sadly a LOT of people died – and brain damaged from loss of blood because we’d often wait up to 10 minutes for enough cars and people to show up– two singles did not equal 1 double cop car.

          A paramedic, a guy I went to school with, was responding to ‘woman down’ — he pounded on front door of what he did not realize was a house turned into apartments (so said his responding EMT) — really loud and gave FD ID, lights on rig flashing, no siren – it’s too loud for residential neighborhood. His EMT was getting the ALS Trauma kit from the rig (BLS kit went first with Paramedic who was always first in) — When he went to open door to shout ‘FIRE DEPARTMENT RESCUE’ – he got a 12 gauge in the chest and died – seemed a tenant on first floor closest the door thought cops had a warrant for him, and shot first. Tenant is known, but not captured yet that I know of.

          In other areas, when we’d get a call out for medical, Ambulance rolled first, engine second, Cops when they could, often inside of 10 minutes – on duty was the Primary Fire Engineer and a Paramedic (also an Fire Engineer) – and volunteers, all EMT-I’s or II’s, responded in their own vehicles to the station if call was outside of a 1/4 mile radius of the city, or to the address – rule #1, KEEP YOUR BLINKERS ON TO GUIDE OTHERS – and #2 POUND THE CRAP OUT OF THE FRONT DOOR IF FIRST RING OR KNOCK DIDN’T BRING RESPONSE – and scream FIRE-RESCUE!!!! LOUD – if outside the .25 mile radius, often EMT’s closer to address than station would show up first and follow rules 1,2 above. NEVER enter a house UNLESS FRONT door was open, and they had screamed their ID — never lost a man. And we entered a LOT of houses where 1) victim had called in ‘I think I’m having a heart attack” or ‘My wife/husband is really sick, maybe a heart attack.” 2) person was LOC when we arrived and could not respond to our calls, but was absolutely alive (think broken arm with loss of blood, hit head with swelling of brain or blood/CSF in skull – etc).

          In a report of ‘smoke in area’ — would go around and after dark or late evening – laze house with spot light – and engine lights on – then knock – while another person would look around for smoke using the ‘new’ Mag lights on the market – (dating myself here) never had a complaint. People understood the nature of fire. Pull a firearm on a firefighter, even a volunteer in civvies, go to jail.

          In rural areas, you can see flashing lights and strobes for MILES to come and sirens on during response alerted neighbors 1) we were in area and 2) they might be needed to get dressed and FOLLOW us. Often, in rural areas, addresses are hard to find so we would sometimes be lead in by a neighbor sitting shotgun with ‘navigator-raidoman in center or strapped to running board (or in hose bed if in open cabin like a lot of Le Frances).

          Unspoken rule – shoot a firefighter-EMT, you die while trying to escape, same as for a cop. I was once asked to ‘witness’ several ‘escape’ attempts from a miner who had holed up and was shooting AT cops when BLM found him operating a claim that did not belong to him – as reported by the claim owner. Damn shame he fell down the bank so many times, sometimes people don’t learn you can’t run well with your hand behind your back while on steep gravel slopes. — the fact that he was not shot-and-killed by SO units – some of whom were ex-military ‘experts’ or ‘DM’s’ — was because the idea was NOT to kill him but to make him surrender, even though he started the fire-fight and continued it – it was felt he was not a ‘real’ threat even though returning fire. And, yeah, you HAD to be there to understand the ‘rules of engagement’ for that particular situation.

          I have found – 90% of the times cops ARE good guys who look at the world with a jaded eye. Firefighters are the opposite – when a cop shows up, At BEST only ONE person is happy — often no one is happy. When a firefighter shows up EVERYONE is happy. That “looking glass self’ – makes even good cops take a skeptical view of the world – I’ve been pulled over in counties I didn’t live in and would always announce to THOSE cops that I had firearms in the car if they ever asked me to step out- one state I ‘live’ in requires every CCW holder to let the cop know, even if unarmed – and so I have spent a lot of time in the back of squad cars, most often with door open, un hand-cuffed, talking with the cop as he ran my firearms. I understood why he was doing it — and unless was given a particularly hard time, even thanked them- hell they may have been MY stolen firearms – and in counties were I lived and was known by LEA’s I’d simply tell them I had a firearm in the vehicle, and when they asked where– tell them – and they’d smile and say ‘don’t make any fast moves in that direction’ and we’d both kind of smile – and when I had to show registration or insurance to a newer cop who knew me – I’d say — there’s a firearm in the glove compartment, I’d feel better if YOU did it while I was in front (back) of your unit – and only once did they take me up, they normally would ask – chambered, I’d say no, and they said, ok, just take out the gun slowly and safe if and put it on the dash – sometimes they’d put it on the hood or roof, other times just leave it there – it’s the attitude of the driver, and if you know them or not – one reason to live in a small town.

          BACK YARDS – I’ve covered back-yards – but on my small ranch I’ll see people across the valley a few times a month – and if they are just traveling through – no harm no foul – just them and sheep and some young cattle – and sometimes it’s a BLM truck – and I know most of them so I have no care – and sometimes its cops in FWD’s and I’ll call and see what’s up – and often they are looking for a ‘lost hunter’ or ‘missing kid’ from a neighbors – so I’ll join in.

          Cops come to my door a couple of times a year – and they are not the gestapo – they are investigating something and want to know if I know something – or when I’m evicting a bad tenant they are mostly always welcome –

          I don’t understand the kill them first, ask questions later mentality — MOST people are good — MOST people do not mean you harm — and the more I read blogs like this and see the divide between those who want to shoot first and those who have a more sane reaction – the more I think that not only FULL – more than now – background checks be done – but that every gun owner should have a short psych evaluation – even if just on paper — to screen out the crazies – the ones who think opening a side gate is grounds to open fire to kill – or that your lawnmower being taken is more important than human life — or that a cop who is trying to do a welfare check on – even a bogus – suicide should not check on the well-being of another human should be denied the right to own a firearm because they are a danger to themselves and others. I am not against suicide – that is between a person and their God — but when you telegraph it — or are told it has been telegraphed, then cops and EMT’s have the DUTY to follow through with their duty to ‘protect and serve’ — and that even means entering a house to see if a person is critically injured – at best, it saves an ugly clean up job – anyone seen what a corpse can do to a rug or chair or the smell they can put into the walls of a room after a week of rotting? And at worst – remove the suicide before it’s more than soap and water clean-up. If there IS no suicide – at least a person should feel lucky to have friends who care enough that they call in a welfare check – I have a neighbor I’ve called a welfare check on a few times – he lives alone – and no answer on the phone or returns call in a day, I’ll drive over – and if I don’t see him — or get a response from a locked house – I’ll call the LEA and have THEM do a welfare check – at 75 you can trip and fall and not be able to get up – or stroke out and die in a chair – a million things can happen. It’s about caring about others over your property or thinking that EVERYONE is out to get you. THAT should be grounds for denying a person a firearm. period.

          If cops are ‘bad guys’ – you either best MOVE — or figure out what it is in YOU that makes you so damn paranoid of people who have more power than you, — or become part of ‘them’ so when ‘it’ happens, you are on the side with the massive firepower, endless ammo, and can pass information to the ‘underground’ about plans about future movements. I find more ‘jerk’ cops than firefighters – but then I also find more ‘jerk’ people than cops. I’m old enough that it can roll off me – we all feel our oats as young bucks – but killing someone has NEVER been part of my ‘life view’ or ‘World View’ — in fact – it’s been the ability of DE-ESCALATION that has always made the most impression on me.

          Maybe it’s the lack of a Draft and a LOT of people seeing combat up-close and personal that makes they kill-happy– and ANY ones who has EVER been in a firefight and taken causalities knows EXACTLY what I mean. If more people saw what war does to people when others are short – what kinds of things go on inside your head for the rest of your life, the fewer people we’d have out there wanting — waiting — for a reason to kill someone. — Trust ANY vet – it ain’t like any movie you’ve EVER seen. Until you’ve seen – and had – the 1000 yard stare, you don’t have a f-ing clue what it’s like to kill someone – or to have someone seriously try to kill you. I was in the jungle so I like wide open places like the Basins and Ranges — I can’t imagine where vets from the ‘Sand box’ will end up more comfortable – in trees? or out on the ‘plyas’ or the Basins and Ranges where they can see forever on a perfectly flat surface – and ANYTHING higher than an inch can be seen – Jack Rabbits don’t like it, but if you need to with a good pair of binoculars — say 15-20x you can spot them on the horizon that can be a mile or more away —

          MAYBE people who want to shoot first and question later should be the first to enlist and ask for advanced fire training so they can be on the front line and get the paranoia out of their system, and get the ‘kick’ (no pun intended) of return fire to the ‘bad guys’. That MIGHT help them understand the reality of killing someone and the arm-chair hero feeling of killing someone, anyone, who knocks on their back door at night. Trust me – ‘inside the wire’ is mostly a night time thing — and sending rounds downrange doesn’t feel quite as ‘heroic’ as it does when you are sitting in YOUR living room watching TV – but WAIT! — you ARE in your ‘living room’ (hootch) watching TV — and ‘they’ ARE trying to break into your back yard and kill you – so you should feel right at home. And you have every kind of ‘black gun’ you need – and all the ammo you need to ‘kill’ ANYONE in your backyard!!!! You’ll be in Arm Chair Heaven!!!!!

    • “not only did he have the legal ability to with a suicide call, but he had the legal requirement to.”

      Yeah, destruction of government property is a serious crime.

    • Regardless of your opinion about the cop being in the back yard the fact is not only did he have the legal ability to with a suicide call, but he had the legal requirement to.

      You may or may not be correct. Is there any relevant case law regarding a “suicide call”? IANAL, but IMHO the source allegation in this story is closer to an anonymous tip than it is to specific, reasonable, articulable suspicion:

      A high school student had called police to report that he had received several texts from his friend. The text messages hinted that the friend was planning on killing himself.

      Texts from a friend. “Hinted at”. These are not evidence of clear and present danger of suicide. That’s why the officer involved was sent on a well-being check, and not a suicide in progress:

      The officer was dispatched on a “check the well being” call… The officer was sent to the friend’s house to ensure that he wasn’t suicidal.

      That doesn’t sound like “exigent circumstances” to me. So, that’s why I ask: what does the relevant case law have to say?

      (And please note that I have no inherent problems with such well-being checks, and understand and appreciate that police officers may have to do more than merely knock on the front door for such calls. In fact, I had an elderly friend – in Ohio – who died in her house, alone, and no one knew. It was thanks to the police that she was found.

      My main issue in this story is two-fold: the officer apparently not identifying himself or his purpose clearly/early enough, and the police officer drawing his firearm on the homeowner.)

      • Here from Georgia case. As stated, the law in each state may vary. Says that in Georgia – The court stated that the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) in § 35-8-2(8)(A) lists “protection of life” as one of the duties of a peace officer. That contradicts all I’ve ever hear that the popo have no obligation to protect you. Should lead to all kinds of liability for Ga cops when they FAIL to protect a citizen of the state. I’m not going to read the entire Ga code but I’d bet there is a section that says “if they want to”.

    • If he had the legal ability to, then the law should be changed, and LEOs should be the ones demanding that it be changed. That is just stupid, to invade private property without at least a signed statement from a positively identified individual, after that person is warned he can go to jail for a false statement. And a warrant is still the best idea. And I doubt he would have that legal ability in TX at night.

  28. Agree with this article 100%. One point that isn’t covered though – the police officer banged on the door (and didn’t receive a response )before walking around the back of the house. Why did the homeowner not hear the officer banging on the door but then was in a position to see the officer a few moments later walking toward the back of the house? Was there something in the home environment (e.g., loud music playing) that prevented the homeowner from hearing the officer at the front door?

    • Why did the homeowner not hear the officer banging on the door but then was in a position to see the officer a few moments later walking toward the back of the house?

      The source material leaves many unanswered questions. You’re assuming that the homeowner didn’t hear the police officer at the front door.

      Perhaps he did, and chose not to answer.Maybe the homeowner didn’t know it was a police officer (we don’t know if the officer did or did not attempt to identify himself at the front door), and opted not to answer the door for a stranger at night. Maybe the homeowner did know it was a police officer, and simply chose not to respond (since there’s no requirement to do so).

  29. “Let me start by saying that no one in this situation did anything wrong.”

    Wrong. Never call the police if your friend is suicidal. Very rarely can a police officer help a truly suicidal person. In those situations, it almost always ends in a suicide by cop.

    • The problem is that 911 is emergency services, it is not medical services. If anyone was to call 911 and say “I think my friend is going to kill himself”, it will always be a police officer that shows up. It should ALSO include medical personnel, but the person to secure the scene will be law enforcement, and for very good reason.
      Now, if you called and said “my friend took a lot of pills and I think they are trying to kill themselves”, you might get a different response, depending on the SOPs for that area. But everywhere I’ve worked, “suicide threat” is assumed a gun until proven otherwise, and therefore dangerous to the responder.

      • “but the person to secure the scene will be law enforcement, and for very good reason.”

        For the very same “very good reason”, pounding on the front door for another 15 minutes while your lights and siren are on full blast would be a better idea than circling out into the dark of the back yard. I don’t care how much authority you think you have, a .308 deer rifle has more. It is just stupid, don’t do it. And I have to tell you, if I’m on the jury for charges resulting from the shooting death of a cop found with his gun in his hand in a private back yard without a warrant in the middle of the night, where no crime was being committed and no one at that address had requested assistance, that shooter is going to walk. Swatting is also an attempt to kill cops, someone should pay attention before going on and on about some imagined authority which does not make you bulletproof.

  30. As a couple of people have posted above, the original material leaves out some detail that make for some pretty huge holes in logic. It’s hard to imagine that someone didn’t hear a police officer loudly identifying himself and knocking but then heard a gate and saw someone dressed in dark clothing in his back yard.
    Then again, as a firefighter and an EMT, I have seen people sleep through, or stare at the TV through, some pretty amazingly loud things. And maybe the homeowner was in the shower for the first set of IDs and knocks, and just came out of the shower right when the officer was coming around the back. Maybe.
    Even so, it is hard to believe that someone aggressive enough to go out and confront an intruder at gunpoint, would then refuse to fire as that, still unidentified, intruder drew a weapon. I know if I was unsure of someone’s intent, and then they drew on me, that intent would be well established.
    I’m really glad cooler heads prevailed here. But that backup the officer called, that should have been before he walked into the back of the house. And the backup should have included emergency medical personnel. Police, for their own safety, should never be entering someone’s property alone unless under the most dire and immediate instances, and this was far from that. It’s asking to be hurt.
    Both the homeowner and the officer should have been loudly verbalizing who they were and their intent throughout this process. I’ll just have to assume they were not.
    It is still hard for me to believe the officer drew on this homeowner, and that he didn’t get shot for it. I would have been pretty calm, right up to the point where an unidentified person on my property drew a weapon on me, and at that point that person would have between 2 and 15 .458SOCOM rounds to dodge.

    • Aw, those are easy to dodge, I’ve shot a few and they’re so damn big you can see ’em coming from a mile away.

  31. But if I can’t see who’s at my door I don’t open it to begin with. You’re always safer behind a closed door than standing in a doorway. And when I do answer the door, I may have a .357 in my hand behind my back, but I don’t greet people by introducing my little friend first.

    As for the cop, you have to announce yourself better than this one apparently did. Guess it’s a good thing Fido wasn’t loose in the back yard, huh?

  32. Would the cop’s actions be thought of as “suspicious” by the property owner? If so, it’s up to the cop to change his approach to ensure that the resident knows that the person lurking in the darkness is a police officer instead of a potential home invader.

    How about this: A cop should approach the house in the same way he would want another cop to approach his house when he is home, asleep at 3am. Or his/ her spouse is home alone with the kids.

  33. What about no-knock warrants?

    Or, for that matter, the regular warrants. Since SCOTUS, in their infinite wisdom, said that knocking quietly and then busting the door after a “reasonable time” is okay, and that “reasonable time” can be as little as 15 seconds, and still doesn’t count as a no-knock (BTW all you Scalia fans should keep in mind that he was with the majority opinion on this – see US v. Banks).

    Basically, how am I supposed to tell that someone breaking my door at 4am, when I’m sleeping, is a robber or a cop?

    • no-knock warrants are a recipe for needless shootings, either of the police of the occupants.

      they should only be used in extreme cases where someone’s life is in imminent danger, such as hostage situations or kidnappings.

      a no knock warrant is far more dangerous to society than some pothead growing plants, or whatever other crime most of them are committing.

  34. Cops have no business sneaking around someone’s yard in the middle of the night, unless they have a warrant or see a crime in progress. And I agree with all of the posters who commented that the cop should have left his cruiser in the driveway with the lights running, and should have been in uniform.

    Also, the cop should have tried a little hard to get a phone number. I provided mine when I got my driver’s license, and assume most jurisdictions do that, too.

    luckily the homeowner didn’t have a dog in the yard.

  35. Why did the homeowner even open the door for the LEO? Did he have a warrant? I would have told him to leave my property and thank him for letting me know that my son might be suicidal.
    The LEO should have knocked on the front door, like any reasonable person. I still would have thanked him and sent him on his way.

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