22 Jul Incident Analysis: Chicopee MA Shooting
July 16th 2016 in Chicopee MA, a 15 year old boy was shot dead by a homeowner who was subsequently arrested and charged with murder after the homeowner fired a single round at who he thought was a person trying to break in to his home.
The police got this one right.
It seems counter-intuitive…
Someone who you reasonably believe is apparently trying to break in to your home at which time you arm yourself, challenge the subject, and then fearing for your life and safety fire a shot at the subject.
The problem is… those facts simply don’t add up in this case.
Listen up folks… this stuff is important if you own a firearm for self defense or home defense.
I’m going to make it quite clear: IN MASSACHUSETTS YOU CAN’T JUST SHOOT SOMEONE BECAUSE THEY ARE IN YOUR HOME UNLAWFULLY.
Period. Now go read that again.
CASTLE DOCTRINE IN MASSACHUSETTS
It is a common law establishment that your home is your castle, and you have a right to defend it. We have covered this topic before and you can read more about it here in a previous post we made on it.
There are limitations to that fact though that you need to concern yourself with.
First and foremost, it is a commonly accepted myth here on the internet that you have a duty to retreat when someone is in your home unlawfully in Massachusetts. This is false.
Inside the home you do not have a duty to retreat. Outside the home you need to exhaust all reasonable means before resorting to deadly force.
Here are some key points as delineated in MA General Law Chapter 278, Section 8(a):
In the prosecution of a person who is an occupant of a dwelling charged with killing or injuring one who was unlawfully in said dwelling, it shall be a defense that the occupant was in his dwelling at the time of the offense and that he acted in the reasonable belief that the person unlawfully in said dwelling was about to inflict great bodily injury or death upon said occupant or upon another person lawfully in said dwelling, and that said occupant used reasonable means to defend himself or such other person lawfully in said dwelling. There shall be no duty on said occupant to retreat from such person unlawfully in said dwelling.
It is pretty straight forward folks. There are elements that need to be fulfilled prior to deadly force being authorized.
- REASONABLE BELIEF: It has to be reasonable… not just to you but in general, a reasonable person. (THINK JURY)
- IN SAID DWELLING: Yep. They actually have to be IN the residence.
- ABOUT TO INFLICT GREAT BODILY INJURY OR DEATH: Yep. They have to be about to hurt you really badly or potentially kill you.
Without these elements being present, any use of lethal force would be a no go. Such as in this case.
BREAKING DOWN THE TRAGEDY
The facts of the case are as follows:
- Boy is at a friend’s house drinking alcoholic beverages.
- Boy and friend leave and attempt to go to another friend’s house.
- Boy goes up to what he thinks is his friend’s house
- Boy begins banging on the door, causing wife of homeowner to yell out to husband stating “Someone is trying to break in”
- Husband wakes up and retrieves his Smith and Wesson
- Husband verbally challenges boy through the door
- Boy keeps banging on door to the point where a pane of glass falls out in to the home
- Husband fires a single shot through the door which strikes the boy, ultimately killing him.
It can be scary when an unknown person is banging on the door in an apparent attempt to get inside… but that does not excuse the actions of the homeowner.
At no time did the victim enter the home.
At not time would a reasonable person conclude that the boy had the ability OR the intent to cause serious bodily injury or death.
We posted about this incident on our Facebook Page (like us please!) and we got some interesting responses.
Of the most interesting was this one:
The conversation devolved significantly and has since been removed from the post. Here is the link to the post. I have redacted the follower’s name as a courtesy and to prevent any flaming.
The bottom line is that this follower is subscribing to a mentality that will result in improper use of force culminating in the homeowner ending up in jail.
Just. Like. In. This. Incident.
If you subscribe to the above commenter’s point of view… you are part of the problem. Bravado laden statements like this only serve to paint our community as what the anti-gunners want to see us as: bloodthirsty redneck ammosexuals.
Don’t give them the satisfaction and be a thinker before a shooter.
IGNORANCE IS NOT A DEFENSE
Simply stating that you didn’t understand the rules of engagement will not help you. Telling the cops “he was in my house so I shot him” without being able to satisfy the elements laid out in c.278 s.8(a) will end you up in jail.
It is imperative that you understand the law. You MUST know that information.
So it is your choice…
Are you an asset to the gun community or a liability? Give yourself a good hard look in the mirror and be realistic… do you fully understand the law? Could you reasonably articulate why you took action?
Let us know what you think in the comments box and don’t forget to share this post on social media!