An incident between two armed individuals in Houston earlier this month offers a chance for Texas & U.S. Law Shield Members to learn what do at the scene of a self-defense incident, says Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington.
Byington recapped the details: “A man in southwest Houston was taken to the hospital after a shootout between him and another man. The second man, who was uninjured, told police he was defending himself. The second man claimed he was being robbed at gunpoint, and he also told officers that he had a concealed handgun permit.”
The shooting happened about 8 p.m. in the parking lot of a convenience store on Houston’s west side.
Police responded and found one man with multiple gunshot wounds. He was taken to the hospital in serious condition, reported KHOU.
Byington said the investigation is ongoing, but she points out three elements that Members should be aware of:
If the first man was indeed armed, that goes a long way toward establishing the legal basis for the second man’s use of deadly force.
“What we don’t know yet, based on the media reports, is if the first man displayed his weapon,” she said. “If the second man saw the weapon and believed that his adversary was moving to deploy it, then the second man didn’t have to wait to shoot to protect himself.”
Byington noted that in a story about the incident, the Houston Chronicle reported that police said that the second man approached officers at the scene and said he shot the other man to repel an armed robbery attempt. Police also said he had a license-to-carry permit, the newspaper reported.
Byington added five pieces of advice Members in this predicament should follow:
She said the first step a Member must take is to ensure you’re safe at the scene.
Then call 9-1-1 and tell the operator that someone tried to rob you at so-and-so location, give your name and general description, and to please send police and an ambulance. Then hang up.
“Next, call the Emergency Hotline number on your card or stored in your phone while you put your unloaded firearm out in the open away from you, and wait for the police to arrive,” she said.
“It is always best to get your version of events in front of the authorities as fast as practical,” Byington said. “Members just have to be extremely careful approaching officers who have responded to a call in which ‘shots fired’ have been reported. I can’t emphasize that enough. Police know there’s a gun at the scene, so they’re going to be hyper-aware as they arrive. Do not approach the police until they ask you to. Whatever directions the police issue, comply slowly and with your hands visible.”
“Then tell them you don’t want to make a statement until you talk to your lawyer,” she concluded.
Homicide detectives were expected to take over the case, which is routine whenever someone is shot and wounded in Houston, the Chronicle reported.
Also, it’s an interesting side note that the first man had been shot several times. “You can keep shooting until you stop the threat,” Byington said. “But once the threat is stopped, you have to stop shooting.”
Byington said, “This incident shows what Members already know — citizens face danger each day from people all too willing to use deadly weapons in robberies and burglaries. It is legal to use deadly force in self-defense, and we encourage Members to call the non-emergency line to discuss the topic in more depth, or come to a seminar or workshop and learn the rules. If you’re ever forced to defend yourself, you will be glad you did.” — by Bill Miller, contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog