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Ask for your Attorney

Have you considered what you’d say to responding and investigating officers in the aftermath of a deadly force encounter? If not, then as a prudent person, you should think about it out now…before the situation arises. You never know when life will throw you an extremely unpleasant curveball. Those times in particular are when a good attorney can become your best friend.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with asking for an attorney, knowing the right time and place to ask can make all the difference in the world to your defense. That goes double in today’s climate where politically-motivated prosecutions sometimes follow righteous self-defense incidents.

Marty Hayes, at the Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network covered this in his article “You Have The Right To Remain Silent”:

Actions of an Innocent Person

First, don’t act like a guilty man or woman. When the first words out of your mouth are, “I want my lawyer,” you have done a surprisingly good imitation of a street-wise criminal. What is any self-respecting cop supposed to think? Dead body + gun + “I want my lawyer” = jail.

If, on the other hand, the officer hears, “My life was threatened, I had to shoot,” he forms a slightly different picture. In addition, if he first learned of the incident by a call from you to 9-1-1, and at that time you indicated that you were the victim of a robbery (or whatever crime caused you to believe your life was in danger) then he forms a different picture of the call before he even gets there.


You can do a lot worse than asking for an attorney when police start asking questions. You can do much better though if you can remember a few basic things.

As a long-time trainer, I prefer the five-point plan taught back in the day by Massad Ayoob at his Lethal Force Institute classes (now the Massad Ayoob Group). It’s what we now teach in our classes. Here’s the quick and dirty:

  1. VICTIM: Claim your role as the victim to responding/investigating officers. Example: “That guy tried to rob me and I thought he was going to kill me!”
  2. PROSECUTE:  Tell the police you’ll cooperate with the offender’s prosecution.
  3. EVIDENCE: Point out any evidence. Identify to the officers all relevant evidence. Police aren’t all-knowing and they might miss important evidence that might go towards your exoneration. If the bad guy had a partner who ran away, provide a description.
  4. WITNESSES: Identify any witnesses who saw the encounter. Oftentimes witnesses will claim to have seen nothing.
  5. LAWYER: Ask to talk to an attorney before giving a statement or answering questions. Yes, it’s okay to tell cops your name, address and date of birth without Perry Mason at your side. Questions about what happened, or what you saw, or how you perceived things? Nope. “I’ll be happy to answer after I’ve consulted with counsel.”

Frankly, unless you’re used to getting into defensive gun uses with alarming regularity, I would strongly consider asking for an ambulance ride to get checked out if you’re feeling at all anxious or unwell. Your blood pressure may well be in the stratosphere. You may be in the early stages of an anxiety attack or you might be having a heart attack. You may have suffered an injury that you don’t even realize. What’s more, you’ve probably not had an adrenaline dump like that in a long time, if ever.

Don’t lie to the cops and tell them you might be having a heart attack when you’re not. Describe your condition and ask for an ambulance. Keep it simple: “I’m not feeling so well. Can you call an ambulance for me please?”  Get professionally checked out unless you’re sure you’re in good shape.

This particular post-incident plan for interacting with officers is the best I’ve encountered so far. It sets the tone of the investigation. It offers you an opportunity to make sure relevant evidence is discovered and identified. At the same time lets the officers know that you know your rights.

In short, think through what you’d tell the local constabulary in the aftermath of a self-defense incident now, not when you’re in the back of a squad car wearing bracelets.


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  1. I had to defend myself. I think I’m having a heart attack. I’ll answer any more questions after my doctor clears me. Get me an ambulance.

    • +1. “I feared for my life, or the safety of others…”

      Here are the names of witnesses.
      I am feeling faint now, can I please just wait until the ambulance gets here…

      Here is my attorney’s name and number- you can call him after I get out of emergency, glad to talk then.

      (get a good one on retainer- if you CCW and train to be good, you can afford a retainer, if you can afford the time to go to the range, and the ammo.

      If not, you probably shouldn’t be carrying, for you risk depriving your family of your income while you stay in jail… think about it.)

      • If you can’t afford a retainer you shouldn’t be carrying because your family may be deprived of income while your in jail? Really? Better that than be deprived of income because you’re dead.

    • This is actually a subject covered by the same author (Ayoob) in his book. It’s a bad idea. What do you think the outcome will be?

      1) It becomes clear you faked a heart attack or medical problem (doctors can tell this quite easily from EKGs and other standard tests) and you are labeled a liar.
      2) You were in such a state of mental distress that you were unable to tell what was going on… and are unreliable as a witness.

      There is a much simpler solution. Instead of lying or playing games, say you want to speak to a lawyer before getting into any details of what is happening.

      • FTA: “Don’t lie to the cops and tell them you might be having a heart attack when you’re not.”

  2. This advice in this article is the worst advice possible. Do not listen to these people. If you want to know what to do, ask a criminal defense attorney who has ACTUALLY handled (dozens) self-defense cases, including shootings.

    PS: “street wise criminals” do not ask for an attorneys in 98% of cases. They try to talk their way out of trouble, which almost never works (it just gets used against them later, twisted and spun to the prosecutor’s advantage). I knew this article was bogus the minute I read that bit….

    Folks, the criminal justice system is a farce. If you shoot someone in self defense, it’ll be mostly political as to whether you get charged or not. If you’re black or brown and or poor, you’ll almost certainly be charged in almost all parts of this country. Self-defense doesn’t apply to your kind

    • Agree that most criminals try to talk their way out but I’m not sure what “street wise” means, if anything. Nevertheless, I don’t think author is implying to blabber away, instead merely he’s saying try to not be antagonistic & make sure you establish that you are the victim.

    • Um, so you are saying you know more than Massad Ayoob and Marty Hayes (who has a JD btw)? So which firearms school do you run?

      • Agreeing with you, Mark.

        This advice may have come VIA a non-expert, but it came FROM a great expert on the topic. Massad Ayoob has probably knows more about Defensive Gun Use (DGU) cases than any attorney, because he has testified as an expert witness in dozens of DGU cases, investigated dozens more as a magazine reporter, and talked to several DGU attorneys about the subject. You would be wise to take his advice, because he knows what he is talking about.

        • I realize the cult of Massad Ayoob runs deep with the Guns&Ammo folks. And if you live in a rural environment, that operates as it did 30+ years ago, you can probably get away with being an Ayoobite.

          As was noted Ayoob is a (sorta)cop, from a different era. Yes, he’s apparently a popular expert witness, he has written a crap-ton of books/articles, becoming popular in the late ’70s. I don’t think he’s been a full-time cop for at least 35 years – he’s constantly going to some conference, speaking gig, whatever.

          Take Ayoob with a grain of salt, or at least as one of your touchstones. Not your only one.

          That said, other than the ‘call me an ambulance’ thing (if you live in civilization there will guaranteed be one at a shooting), any lawyer I’ve met gives the same general advice (situational, ‘natch). Espouse your victim status, that you had to defend yourself, and that you’d like to confer with counsel before making any further statements.

        • A good video to watch is on YouTube. It’s called “Don’t talk to the police”. It’s done by a law professor and in the last half he has a police investigator to refute anything that was presented. I watch it from time to time to remind myself of the protocol I might be faced with.

      • Again, how many self-defense cases have these guys ACTUALLY defended or tried? I MIGHT pay attention if you tell me 50…. Until then it’s armchair stuff.

    • Don’t blame John for not knowing that this is bad advice, he grew up in a small town, he’s never been in the military, and most importantly he’s never been arrested. Like the majority of the white population in America, spending a night in jail would do a world of good for his attitude.

      He doesn’t know any better because he’s never played the game for real. He’s been propagating the same info. you see here for years, which he got from Massad Ayoob. Ayoob is a “captain” at his P.D., which consists of maybe eight to ten people. Not saying that Mas is not a good trainer or writer, but he’s not an operator. John is just promoting the police line of how THEY want you to behave. Underlying his belief system is the false yet fervent hope that “the police are your friends.”

    • Truth says: ” If you’re black or brown and or poor, you’ll almost certainly be charged in almost all parts of this country. Self-defense doesn’t apply to your kind”

      This directly contradicts evidence that John Lott presents in his “War on Guns” book he released this year. In fact, he points out that white people are more likely to be charged.

    • Did we read the same article? He suggests asking for a lawyer as the primary focus of the article. The secondary part is a suggestion that you tell the cops the basic facts that are vital to establishing your self-defense claim… assuming it was self-defense.

      He’s not suggesting you go the George Zimmerman route of full and complete immediate cooperation… even though that very likely saved Zimmerman’s bacon when it went to trial, as it inevitably did.

      • This should be reiterated. While George Zimmerman probably would have walked any way, It was pretty much a done deal though, after his video recorded reenactment the day after he fatally shot Treyvon Martin. He didn’t have to testify in court, which would have subjected him to cross-examination, in order to get his story in front of the jury. Rather, they just had to play that video recording. The prosecution did it, knowing that the defense would do so if they didn’t. And, that recording framed the entire trial. The prosecution was left with saying “well, maybe Zimmerman might have possibly done X”, instead of, or in addition to, his video testimony. Not a good place to be, when trying to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They were never able to overcome the original framing of the incident as an unprovoked violent attack on Zimmerman by Martin.

      • In many cases saying one wrong word can get your bacon fried… You want to take that chance by telling the COPS the basic facts? No do overs, you live with the the consequences of saying one wrong word? Go for it…….

  3. I took Ayoobs MAG 40 class 2 years ago. He still teaches the same 5 points you mentioned above. Seems like sound advice.

  4. “First, don’t act like a guilty man or woman.”
    I thought all red-blooded Americans were considered innocent until proven guilty per the U.S. Constitution? Don’t judges and juries assign guilt, not cops like Judge Dredd? Maybe we all need to get with the times, it’s a Brave New Militarized Police world.

    ” When the first words out of your mouth are, “I want my lawyer,” you have done a surprisingly good imitation of a street-wise criminal.”
    This is a surprisingly accurate description of how 95% of cops think when they roll up on a “civilian” shooting incident. Unless you are also a cop and flash the tin, then they become much more helpful. They might even erase the video if it makes you look bad, like how only two cameras on scene out of five were “working” when Laquan McDonald was shot by CPD.

    ” What is any self-respecting cop supposed to think? Dead body + gun + “I want my lawyer” = jail.”
    Once again very accurate as to how cops think in a biased manner right from the start. A surprisingly honest look into the primitive brain pan of most cops.

    To give John credit here, the five points are pretty good. The problem is that they rely on verbal interaction with macho cops who are likely to roll up, point a gun at your head, and flatten you on the ground as they grab for your piece. What does the highly trained up John Boch recommend in that scenario? Say like if you’re not in Champaign County, or you forgot your Masonic ring?

    • We get it. You hate John. And Masons and white people from southern illinois. Fess up now. You wanted his gig and he was better qualified than you. Now you’re butthurt.

    • ““First, don’t act like a guilty man or woman.”
      I thought all red-blooded Americans were considered innocent until proven guilty per the U.S. Constitution? Don’t judges and juries assign guilt, not cops like Judge Dredd? ”

      here’s a hint: ” I popped a cap in the monkeyfloggers ass, yo” will not work as well as “He demanded my valuable property”

      also “the monkeyfloggers last words were give it up, motherfu….” will not work well for you.

      you have to talk like a police report, not like a skel.

      • “What do the Masons have to do with this?”

        John Boch lives in Illinois. Although the state was overwhelmingly for the North during the War Between the States, and IL auto license plates used to state “the Land of Lincoln” there is still a pathetic remnant of brain dead white baby boomers from small towns south of Joliet who listen to people like John because he’s the smartest and most educated guy in the room, so he must be an expert on everything he talks about, which he definitely is not, as you see here.

        Drive anywhere in Illinois that is more than seventy miles from Chicago, and you will see the little round signs with A.F. & A.M. (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons) on the edge of town. You may think it’s a quaint joke, but many police and judges in the all-white small towns are Freemasons. They symbolize the “in-group” of good old boys who don’t like “outsiders.”

        It’s the ridiculous mentality of people like John that they are “the good guys” and “on the same side” as the police, so you should just explain yourself to them as he advocates in this article, and everything will be fine, because we’re all in the same club. It’s the Northern version of the Ku Klux Klan, an ignorant and dangerous racist mentality held by the retarded hicks who let Brandon Phelps from Harrisburg (30 miles from Kentucky in far southern IL) put everything the police unions wanted in his concealed carry bill, because “the police are our friends.”

        • These horribly backward communities filled with rednecks, hicks, klu klux klansmen, and white boys…..they must be horrible and dangerous places. I bet everything has been tagged with spray paint and grown men pedal drugs in broad daylight. You probably cannot go outside without the sounds of urban warfare and sirens. These are probably the same communities that show up on worst of, most dangerous, most violent, and most murder of all the nation and world.

          You never considered for a minute that the people of these small towns live there on purpose. Their neighbors and friends are there on purpose too. Not because it is backwards or because anyone is racist. No these communities are the way they are because they are safe and want to stay that way. Progressive politics and policies have turned one place after another in to slums with rows of abandoned houses.

          Don’t assume that people are bad just because they are not like you. This seems to be something people cannot get right on either side of the aisle. In fact use some common sense. The people you are persecuting are often times gainful and productive members of society. They don’t have much serious crime or people with rap sheets that could shutdown I-Cloud. Give people the chance you feel you deserve.

  5. Buy and read thoroughly Andrew Branca’s book, The Law of Self Defense. If a lawyer associated with one of the legal support groups such as ACLDN offers a class on use of deadly force, take it.

    • Bought the book two weeks ago, just finished it.

      Frankly I found the legal system to be quite overwhelming. Seems like they are more interested convictions that truth.

      • “Frankly I found the legal system to be quite overwhelming. Seems like they are more interested convictions that truth.”

        The legal system is a business designed to allow the parasites to separate you from your money. That’s why Illinois’ shit concealed carry bill sponsored by state Rep. Brandon Phelps has criminal penalties of six months or one year for every one of the hundreds of gun-free zones. It creates new “business” for the cops, courts, and lawyers.

        NRA collected $1.3 Million from the city of Chicago on the Otis McDonald case. The worse the bills NRA passes, the more money they can collect “defending our rights” Black plaintiffs from Chicago have been very profitable for NRA in recent years: Otis McDonald, Rhonda Ezell & Shawn Gowder. There’s big money in using blacks as plaintiffs, then flushing them down the toilet in the bills.

    • I agree. I bought the book a year or so ago, read it, and passed it on to a friend. If you are going to carry concealed, you really need to know the limits of what you can legally do with the firearm that you carry. When shooting someone is a justifiable use of deadly force. And, when it isn’t. Also, Branca goes into great detail over at Legal Insurrection any time there is a well publicized death where deadly force may have been justifiably used in self-defense. I started following him right after Zimmerman shot Martin, and have been doing so since. He follows the evidence, and the trials, on a day-to-day basis, as only an attorney who has long worked in this area can. So far, I can’t remember one of his predictions being wrong about whether a self-defense claim will or won’t work.

  6. The cop that taught the CCW class I was in said just tell the officers your name, age, address and simple things like that. Act in shock because you are after something like this and say I can’t make a statement yet as I’m so shook up I need an attorney. Remember cops get 24-48 hrs before they have to make a statement why should you have to. In the heat of the moment nothing you say will be good.

    • Yep, cops tell the cop shooter to not say a word… Then the cop gets a sit down with an FOP lawyer BEFORE making a (planned) statement with said lawyer present. You won’t see a cop say a word without a lawyer after a shooting….

  7. Too much talking. And that second point seems really strange. Why be offering to help prosecute at that point? That sounds like way too much of a pre-planned answer.

    • If you are even remotely likely to be involved in such an event having pre-planned answers is a very good thing, as your mind will be having difficulty focusing and police are trained to use this confused state to try to trap bad guys into revealing too much information before they lawyer up.

      In addition, stating that you are absolutely willing to assist in any way that you can with a potential criminal investigation, after you consult with an attorney, firmly puts you in their minds as NOT the bad guy.

  8. “In the heat of the moment nothing you say will be good.”

    True, and as per Miranda warnings which you know from hundreds of TV shows, “anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.” They mean that for real. The legal system is run for profit, and if police seize your gun after a shooting and arrest you for manslaughter, it pumps up the stats at the local P.D. and makes them eligible for more federal money to buy some decommissioned tanks and grenade launchers to “protect us from terrorism.”

    The profit angle is why state Rep. Brandon Phelps and the NRA let the police unions put criminal penalties of six months or one year in jail for every violation of Illinois’ shit concealed carry bill. It provides a motive to grind up licensed citizens in the system, and the cops, lawyers, and judges can all feast on your blood as you rot in jail. NRA made $1.3 Million in legal fees on the McDonald case, they have figured out that bad gun laws are quite profitable.

      • “We got it that you don’t like the NRA.” Who’s we? You and your coon hound?

        So the problem in the gun rights movement in America is not that NRA, Inc. uses and discards black people as cannon fodder for lawsuits, then writes bills that betray their interests, it’s that someone points out their conduct? It’s who I like or don’t like, not what the huge rotten corpse of NRA does to backstab their own membership in collusion with anti-gun police unions? Oh, okay then.

        ” Enough with the same copied paragraph already.”

        So don’t read it tough guy. I didn’t know you were giving orders around here. The pain between your ears is call cognitive dissonance. That’s what happens when uneducated and ignorant people figure out that the institutions they believe in are corrupt fronts like NRA that actively work against the interests of their members. Cognitive dissonance can cause a crude and childlike hostility in the brain pans of aggressive and low class losers who can’t comprehend the reality that surrounds them, like a cave man pointing and hooting at a jet airplane.

  9. All I know is that I’m NOT an “operator”, cop (wannabe or otherwise), mercenary, etc. I take the words of professionals, like Mas Ayoob, very seriously. I don’t agree with him on everything but as far as how to handle responding officers – I take that advice to heart.

    Who knows if I’ll even remember this article if I was involved in a self defensive gun use…

    • Ed- see the comment of 16V above re. Mas Ayoob, he explained it better than I could. Ayoob is a great writer. Re. his courtroom skills, I can’t comment because I’ve never seen him in court under oath. The point is that John Boch is peddling the Ayoobite line on how to interact with police, which as 16V notes may have worked in 1975. It’s 2016 now and even the below average I.Q.white baby boomer retards are at least starting to figure out that the police are not your friends, due to forced and repeated video viewings of police shootings. The dipshit hicks are finally being brought into the 21st century and reprogrammed from the Mayberry matrix they want to live in. Is Ayoobs’ 1975 advice suitable for the militarized police state?

      John is in his 40s now, but his mentality is stuck in 1975 with Massad Ayoob, because he grew up in a small town and lives in a small community in Champaign County very near the medium size city of Champaign-Urbana where he went to school, but he has never been arrested and really has no idea what he is talking about when it comes to interacting with police. Not all the advice in his article here is bad, but it’s not all good either.

  10. This is one of the reasons I carry a .357 magnum. If I’m involved in a defensive shooting I’ll have about 2 hours to just say, “What? Your lips are moving but all I hear is the ringing in my ears!”

    • Got that right, Gov. I made the mistake (in my younger years) of unloading 6 rounds of .357 without ear protection. It’s been forty years and my ears are still ringing. (Tinnitus)

      • Yep. I shot 2 rounds from a partially sheltered position with a couple walls for the sound to bounce off of. My ears rang for two hours. Hope I never have to clear the cylinder I’m someplace like a parking garage. But if I do, tinnitus will be the least of my worries.

  11. Awful advice. Say nothing. Ask for your attorney. Asking for an ambulance is in interesting trick, but just delays the inevitable.
    The evidence such as it is will speak for itself. Nothing you say can help, and it can only hurt.

    But I’m just a criminal defense attorney, so what do I know.

    • About 35 years ago I had an attorney give me his best advice. “Shut the F@@k up.”

      Then he said his second piece of advice was “Shut the F@@k up.”

      As you might guess his third piece of advice was”Shut the F@@k up.”

      He said most clients hang themselves because they… guessed it.

    • No, the evidence doesn’t always speak for itself. Real life isn’t like CSI, where the CSIs always collect the correct and important evidence, and, in may cases, the crime scene is compromised by the time that your attorney can have it investigated. Which is why you probably need to point out to the cops what you consider key evidence that could exonerate you. If the other party was armed, point out their weapon, etc. it is very hard to prove justifiable use of lethal force in self-defense if the weapon used to put you in reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily injury disappears. And, if the police don’t collect it, there is a distinct chance that someone will grab it.

      • No, the evidence doesn’t always speak for itself.

        Better than to have an adrenaline dump induced brain fart and rapidly talk a bunch of rubish the cops may misinterpret. Giving a statement later after meeting with council ensures a well reasoned and defensible position.

    • One thing you really should know: Massad Ayoob, on whose profession advice this article is based, has made a career out of eating criminal defense attorneys, AND prosecutors, for lunch. I think he knows whereof he speaks.

      And for your further education; this video is a bit long, and the second speaker is a cop. The advice of the attoreny – Don’t talk to the cops. The advice of the cop? “Never talk to the cops1”

    • Ayoob’s book gives example where the evidence may have spoken for itself but the police would not have known where to look for it except for the cooperation of the ‘suspect.’

  12. So I’m going to throw down my own JD degree and legal experience down (don’t hate me…I don’t practice law anymore). This is how I used to advise my clients:

    1. As soon as you’re sure…and I mean really sure…the threat is over, holster your firearm. The last thing you want is for first responders to be confused over whether you’re a threat yourself.

    2. If the perpetrator is still in the area…hopefully because you’ve dropped that perp like a bad habit…point at the perpetrator and say “that person robbed/shot at/whatever me and I was afraid for my life”. If there were accomplices that ran away, this is the time to say so. Describe them if you can.

    3. Point out any witnesses to the incident.

    4. When asked, explain that you’ll be happy to tell your side of the story, make a statement, and answer questions once your legal counsel is present. Thereafter, SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP. Even if you’re not subject to a criminal investigation or prosecution, you will certainly be sued by the perp or the perp’s family…and everything shred of information you provide to the police is evidence in that civil proceeding. Plenty of people have avoided criminal prosecution only to lose everything in a civil lawsuit. So SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP.

    I’d have saved several folks a bundle of time and money if I’d printed this on laminated cards and glued it to the back of their hand.

  13. I would rather be arrested than say something that could be used against me in court from a possible brain fart I had after an adrenaline and mag dump.

    Cop: What happened here?
    Me: lawyer
    Cop: What?
    Me: lawyer
    Cop: are you ok sir? We a few questions for you.
    Me: lawyer
    Cop: ok – we are going to have to take you in.
    Me: lawyer

    See? All you really need to remember is one word.

  14. Because this is a gun blog, and because the blog is about shooting, and because I want to be informed about equipment, politics and law surrounding guns (in case I decide to buy one), I went with a friend to a “seminar” conducted by one of the organizations that provide legal assistance to gun owners.

    Learning about local laws was pretty interesting (defense attorney presenting), but learning about cops was even more interesting. I am sure all of the information from the attorney is good stuff, but the cop made the largest impression when she talked about how “good guys” end up jailed, charged and convicted by doing something the lawyer literally pounded the table about….asking for a lawyer.

    The cop stated simply that “uncooperative” was a magic word for police and prosecutors. No matter what the gun owner says about the events of a shooting, the minute “lawyer” is mentioned (or, even “I decline to answer questions until…”), the word “uncooperative” goes down on the notepad, and appears prominently in the prosecutor’s case. Even being more than willing to help with the event investigation AFTER talking to a lawyer does not remove the notation “uncooperative” from field notes, or the prosecutor’s mind. Whether true or not, the cop implied that a good shooting could “go bad” simply because “uncooperative” gun owners generally piss-off police and prosecutors, and because prosecutors are very sensitive to establishing who has power and who has not.

    Oh yes, that “uncooperative” thing? It can be a gift to the criminal’s family civil suit for wrongful death.

    • In my experience, yes and no.

      Yes, ‘uncooperative’ is a huge mark that someone is guilty in an investigator’s mind. But asking for a lawyer is not necessarily that level. Of course if you do it like the guy who posted above you (just saying ‘lawyer’ when the cops ask if you’re alright) they are going to cuff you, toss you in the back of a cruiser and your lawyer will have a much harder time putting forward your AFFIRMATIVE defense. But if you give the police a reason to think there is more to the case- and hopefully a direction to look in- they’ll do that and might be able to find the exculpatory evidence (i.e. Martin\Zimmerman).

      Cops want to put guilty people in jail. It’s best to act like someone who is guilty of no crime and the article gives a pretty good way to do that.

      • Of course if you do it like the guy who posted above you (just saying ‘lawyer’ when the cops ask if you’re alright) they are going to cuff you, toss you in the back of a cruiser and your lawyer will have a much harder time putting forward your AFFIRMATIVE defense.

        Giving a calm and reasoned statement later does not make it a “harder time” for your lawyer. The cops and prosecutor can write “uncooperative” all they want. It’s not going to change the position of the evidence on the floor or the bullet holes in the wall.

        • “The cops and prosecutor can write “uncooperative” all they want.”

          A good attorney will tell you that field notes are not taken simply to aid in writing formal reports. The notes are a source of “evidence” that will be presented to a jury of uninformed peers. The “uncooperative” label is designed for that audience. The characterization can be helpful in convincing the jurors that the person claiming self-defense is not to be believed, not to be trusted. In jurisdictions where politics are seriously anti-gun, police and DAs are not only trying to convict the criminal who was shot, but the gun owner as well. A “twofer”, if you will.

          Evidence at the scene will be interpreted by the only entities who count, police and prosecutors. Your “story” is just your story. Keep in mind that prosecutors do not succeed by declining to pursue cases that are not guaranteed to be convictions. It is not the job of the police and prosecutors to ensure your innocence is protected.

        • The “uncooperative” label is designed for that audience.

          And quickly remedied by providing an explaination to jurors if necessary. Also – “uncooperative” is not evidence.

          If you want to talk to the cops after a DGU, go ahead. I will not. I’ve read too many stories. Everything you tell them will be used against you. Don’t try to talk your way out of not getting arrested by “cooperating.” Cops and prosecution can make their own assumptions. Assumptions clarified after a statement from you after council with an attorney.

          • Not recommending a course, one way or the other. Pointing out there is no really “good” way, and one shouldn’t imagine there is. Info is pretty neutral. Consider all the corners, especially when beliving being “right” creates immunity from a twisted system.

        • The notes are a source of “evidence” that will be presented to a jury of uninformed peers.

          Then the defense can simply inform them.

          If all they have for a case is “uncooperative” – then I’ll take it. They have to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. “Uncooperative” is better than your own statements used against you during an adrenaline dump induced brain fart. In fact, is so flimsy and transparently disingenuous, they likely wouldn’t even bother using it.

          • Remember that the jury, not the prosecutor, not the defense counsel, not the accused determine “reasonable doubt”. Juries are generally suspicious of average joe having a gun. TV conditions the to believe that an honest person “has nothing to hide, and is eager to tell their side; the truth.” So, if the jury is hounded by claims that the defendant is “uncooperative”, that can create all the doubt needed. Which is why gun owners should probably have already lined-up an attorney skilled and experienced in defending “self-defense” claimants. To think otherwise is sorta like unshakable faith that “shall not be infringed” will make one immune from all federal and local laws curtailing your rights to possess and use a gun.

            Again, not recommending one theory or another. Simply pointing out that regardless of the law, you go into court guilty, and juries usually start from there. Surely any “reasonable person” knows that they would not end up charged in criminal court if they hadn’t done something wrong.

            Some gun owners will calculate that it is better to risk jail, than to have no options at all. Others might decide the risk of attack is insignificant compared to the devastation of a trial. Caution and prudence should rule the decision process.

      • Not sure I indicated any sort of “taking advice”. Just reporting how police and prosecutors can view the “I want my lawyer” declaration. There seems to be an underlying theme on this blog that if I believe I am on the side of the angels, ipse dixit I represent unassailable truth that no police or DA will dare refute. Does that mean one should not have a gun, or use it legally? No. Just proferring something to consider when imagining how things will go in your “righteous shooting” incident. In the courts of law, “right” does not make “might”. “Right” is determined by how well your attorney convinces the jury (or judge) you were not guilty of a crime (or how poorly the prosecution does proving your guilt).

        BTW, FWIW, “Not guilty” does not equate to “Innocent”. “Not proven” might be a better term, but doesn’t sound so sexy as “Not guilty”.

          • Nope, twice.

            The cop merely stated what can come of “I need to speak to my lawyer”. Telling the audience what can happen is not “bad”. She never recommended ignoring the advice and counsel of the attorney who spoke first. The upshot is that police look for evidence to be used in prosecution (or booking in the jail), not for evidence that “proves” the self-defender is/was innocent, justified, not chargable. Some jurisdictions allow police to make judgements at the scene of a shooting, others do not (“book ’em all, let the DA sort it out). Ignoring the bias of police is a pretty risky life strategy. Believing you are “right” will not keep you out of jail. Oh, and by the way, a belligerent stance toward life in general always comes out under stress.

        • No, she was giving advice. It was bad.

          Why do you take every comment as a cue to carry on about something only tangentially related?

          • Which tangent would that be? Which responses are/were not related to the aftermath of a self-defense shooting?

          • Infinitesimal contact with the sphere. The discussion being events surrounding a self-defense shooting, natural strings of conversation are spawned. Otherwise, each original submission should be read and deleted, without thought or remark.

          • “Evaluating the probable outcome of a legal matter.”


            “Probable” is scenario dependent. You may live in a location where the viewpoint of police is inconsequential, needing no consideration of “probable outcomes” in other locales. You may have had intense interaction with police and are confirmed that they are benign, friendly, supportive of private ownership and use of firearms, and all sorts of other variables favorable such that you would never face a situation where police would be dismissive of your rights. Others may not.

        • You’re unable to distinguish between something being relevant to the overall topic as opposed to relevant to a specific comment?

          • Ah yes, a rudimentary grasp of the written word will quickly identify those of low class. Gives the anti-gun crowd pleasure to confirm to the world gun owners are dullards. Be proud to be representative of the low opinion “gun sense” people have of POTG. Be gratified you are one who keeps the pro-gun movement fractured and at war with itself. It’s a winning strategy.

        • Yeah. Responding to your own comment can look kinda incoherent:

          “McCann commented on In the Aftermath of a Self-Defense Situation, Know When To Ask For An Attorney.

          in response to McCann:

          Yet another example of why you should never take legal advice from the police.

          Oh good, your most incoherent post yet.”

        • Well, this unfortunate exchange has continued long enough that none of your posts has a reply button.

          • As my great-great grandpappy used to say, “If you don’t like what you are seeing, turn the d@#$ thing off, or change the channel.”

    • So what are you supposed to do? “Cooperate” with the police and thus risk saying something that could get you fried? Refusing the answer questions cannot unto itself be used against you. However, anything you say can.

      • Exactly. Go into this whole thing with a good comprehension of the risks and possibilities. There is no single correct answer.

  15. I feared for my safety. I’m not answering any further questions for the same reason law enforcement don’t answer questions. At the appropriate time, I will make a response through my attorney.

  16. Why do some people think they are knowledgeable to give legal advice when they are obviously idiots?

    Shut the fuck up. Best legal advice ever.

    • Again, maybe you should read the source material from the book which explains with some detail why it’s not necessarily the best policy to go that route in all (self-defense) situations. That doesn’t even address the new narrative which, if you’re on the wrong side of the media, you will be painted as a murderer (and maybe racist) who was so guilty that he knew not to tell the police anything! If you were being robbed at gunpoint it might be useful to get that information out right then instead of waiting until after arraignment.

      Or just ‘shut up’ completely and make your lawyer and bail-bondsman happy.

      • …if you’re on the wrong side of the media…

        White male or cop, either way, shooting a black guy carries a strong risk of MSM prosecution, let alone the lunacy of social media chuckleheads.

  17. Some things not covered here. Are you known in your neighborhood, your job, your town as a good person? Do you participate in civic affairs, such as food banks, charity promotions, even parades and the local fair? Do you know the local police at all? Have you asked about a “ride along” with an officer?

    This doesn’t mean you have to be involved up to your eyeballs all the time, of course, but the better the people around you know you, including the cops, the better off you will be. And the more likely a jury would give you a fair shake.

    But do you live in a place where this would not be possible, or not help you? A place with out of control “cops” who shoot people regularly? Why do you still live there? Just something to think about.

    • “Are you known in your neighborhood, your job, your town as a good person?”
      As judged and decided by who, the local gossips at the coffee shop?

      “Do you participate in civic affairs, such as food banks, charity promotions, even parades and the local fair?”
      These are all great things, but what if you travel for business to make a living? I’m not running for mayor, or to win a popularity contest. Any American citizen in any state has the right to be treated fairly by police, and this mentality gives some police the idea that some people find it acceptable for police to commit crimes against persons who are “outsiders.” It’s a Freemason/ Ku Klux Klan mentality.

      “Do you know the local police at all? Have you asked about a “ride along” with an officer?”
      No one should have to befriend the police in order to have an expectation of being treated fairly, whether it’s a noise complaint or a defensive shooting as discussed here. It’s a job, police are paid to do it. I pay taxes to pay for people to snowplow the roads, and for garbagemen to pick up the garbage. Does a citizen who pays property taxes have to befriend the garbageman in order for the garbage behind his house to be picked up?

      “…the better the people around you know you, including the cops, the better off you will be. And the more likely a jury would give you a fair shake.”
      This advice may work if you never leave the county you grew up in, it’s mostly all white, and the local cops, judges, lawyers, county board members, etc. are all people you went to high school with. What if you travel for business to all 50 states?

      “But do you live in a place where this would not be possible, or not help you? A place with out of control “cops” who shoot people regularly? Why do you still live there?”
      You can’t run from the Matrix, the 1970s are over. We either have equal justice under law, or we do not. Legal justice is not dependent on geography. That’s why my ancestors got on a boat and came to America in the first place. Everything you said here is good advice, but if there are gun owners who are willing to make excuses for police criminals because “our police would never do things like that around here” then we all have a big problem with the rule of law in this country.

      • Well, Otis… you obviously should and must do what you think is right for you. These things I suggested are not the answer for everyone, obviously. They are just some things to think about.

        I left So. Calif. 11 years ago because none of this was possible. I live in a small, rural town now where all of it is both possible and beneficial. Each to his/her own. 🙂

        I’m sure not making excuses for rogue cops or any part of the current injustice system. But there are things we can do personally to make our situation better.

        • Uuuhhh, like, uuuhhmmm, living in a small town where you are relatively immune from the dangers of urban dwellers, where you live peacefully, where you can depend on your neighbors being trustworthy and helpful, where police are like Andy and Barney is, well, cowardly, racist, fascist, smacking of superiority, hateful, and whatever else I left out of this list. You should be ashamed.

          Be an adult, step up to your responsibilities. Live in the inner city of a large metropolis. You owe it to the rest of us.

            • Cowardly, cowardly, cowardly. In law, avoiding tax is not the same as evading tax. When it comes to fleeing the cost of living in a major city, that is simple evasion. Only ranchers and farmers should be allowed to live in rural areas. And businesses directly supporting ranching and farming. Only live off the land folks should be outside cities. Shameful to run away from the adventure of megatropolises; shameful. Get off your duff and move to Denver, or Manyannapolis, or Dallas. Better yet, San Diego !

  18. Here is my plan, should I ever be unlucky enough to need it.
    1) Get to safety. Or, at least a defendable location. If you aren’t a cop, a doctor, or a paramedic, you most likely have no legal duty to give first aid. They may be playing injured to get you in close, or may have friends nearby. Reholster if safe, but not if merely in a defendable position.
    2) Call 911 to get your story on tape and to sound like the victim, and not the perp. The police responding will probably be somewhat predisposed to your story this way, and it may keep you from having to testify in court, which would otherwise subject you to cross-examination.
    3) Reholster when you see the police arriving, if you haven’t already (see above).
    4) Tell the first responders a quick summary of your story, pointing out where your weapon is (giving it up when requested), and pointing out any evidence that you think is relevant, any witnesses who might help your story, etc. This helps to frame the event in their minds, and helps to make sure that all of the important evidence is collected, and important witnesses identified. As I said above, this isn’t CSI, and police often lose valuable, exonerating, evidence.
    5) Ask for medical help, or at least an evaluation at a hospital, if necessary, or even plausible.
    6) Shut up and ask for your attorney when the investigators/detectives show up. Maybe tell them that you would like to help more, but your attorney has advised you that they need to be present. Be apologetic. This point will often be fairly obvious in larger jurisdictions, because they typically aren’t wearing uniforms. But, even if they are, or the department is too small to have separate investigators/detectives, you should be able to tell the point where things change from a police response to a shooting into an investigation. One key is when they start challenging your story. Or, when they ask you to go downtown to talk to them (or someone else). Once you are away from the crime scene, there is very little that you can do to protect evidence or the identity of witnesses, so there is little reason to cooperate until and unless your attorney is present (and plenty of reasons not to).

  19. Most clients of most criminal defense lawyers are in fact guilty of the crime they are suspected of. Defense attorneys assume the client is guilty and concentrate on achieving the best result that they can for a guilty defendant. (Just ask one.) In addition, most criminal defendants are just not the sharpest knives in the drawer at the time they are arrested — some are just stupid, some are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and some are just angry or otherwise emotionally overwrought. Under those circumstances, whatever they say is likely to be the wrong thing. Thus, the blanket advice to shut the hell up. There is no realistic way that a guilty client can “explain” his way out of his situation. For the defense attorney, it is all about providing as little to the prosecution as possible, so that the prosecution has as much difficulty as possible in proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, or in giving the prosecution a less strong case for plea bargaining. The less damage control the defense attorney has to do the better.

    Most criminal defense lawyers have no experience with clients who are actually innocent; the advice that serves the best interests of most of their clients may not be the advice that best serves that small minority. There’s a difference between “Screw you, pig, I want a lawyer,” and “Officer, I was the one who called 911. He was threatening my life, I did what I had to do, and I am just too upset to talk with you right now, but those three people over there saw what happened, and the knife he had to my girlfriend’s throat is over there. My pistol is in the holster, and my extra magazine is on my belt. I’d like to talk to my lawyer before I say anything else.”

    Most of the “explaining” by the first kind of client is going to be the kind that is demonstrably false. “I didn’t shoot him, it was those guys in the car that drove by. I never saw that gun before. I never touched it. I didn’t shoot the gun.” At trial, the prosecution just points out that the defendant lied to the police.

    In a legitimate self-defense shooting, there is no question as to who did the shooting. The shooter has to own it in order to defend it in court. So, one should at least start by making the self-defense claim at the outset.

    • “Defense attorneys assume the client is guilty and concentrate on achieving the best result that they can for a guilty defendant”

      Most BAD criminal defense lawyers think that… Passing the bar doesn’t mean you’re a good attorney. FYI, there’s a lot of attorneys out there that couldn’t litigate their way out of a paper bag. Be careful if or when you have to hire one.

      • You need to read that in the context of the paragraph. Look, there are times when the client is as pure as the driven snow and could easily talk his way out of the problem by being completely upfront and cooperative, but, most of the time, they are not, and “explaining’ just digs the hole deeper. For purposes of that initial advice to shut up, the lawyer assumes the client is guilty because he probably is, and talking will just make things worse. If the client is in fact innocent, the lawyer is afraid he will say the wrong thing.

        However, in a real defensive shooting situation, there is value in limited initial cooperation as described above so as to establish your position as a reasonable, but shaken up, good person who was put in an untenable position that you don’t want to talk about right now. The article basically says to say that much and then to shut up.

  20. Posting here puts you at risk for being labeled as something you may not be. Just hope you’re not in the dock someday.

  21. Under no circumstances ask to be represented by an attorney while being questioned or while on trial or at any other time! This is important!

    Fast forward a few posts and you’ll see why. Lawyers are responsible for everything bad in the world! Don’t get involved with them!

    If you hate lawyers, it would be much better to do hard time. Well, not better for you, but it would be better for everybody else.

  22. A method I read to speak is something like point out evidence, witnesses, etc…if you can, but otherwise, say something like, “I understand you’re doing your job officer (s), but I’d really prefer to answer any questions until talking to a lawyer.”

  23. Grist for the mill: When a dirtbag cop here in NYC is driving while so badly intoxicated that even the “professional courtesy” can’t get them out of trouble the PBA steps in and tells them to say nothing without a lawyer.

    While in the wake of a DGU I don’t think Mr. Hayes’ advice is all that bad but I’m less worried about seeming like a criminal to the officer on the scene and much more worried about how the fiercely anti-gun* NYPD is going to use every trick in the book to make sure I serve jail time for having the gall to think that anyone outside of the protector class has the right to defend themselves.

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