Perhaps you saw the story on social media. Headlines proclaiming “Ex-Army Sniper Kills Neighbor’s Intruders” and the such. The story, quoted from a Seattle newspaper that one later discovers describes itself as “a news and entertainment satire web publication,” claimed a Texas Army veteran who just happened to be cleaning his sniper rifle at 1 in the morning, looked out his window through the scope and saw his neighbor’s entire family bound, gagged, and being threatened at gunpoint in their bedroom. The tale got taller as the Good Samaritan called 911, but ultimately took a shot from across the street, hitting 2 of the 3 intruders.
While the story was ultimately declared a hoax, it got us to thinking. Would it be legal to use a weapon to defend your neighbor’s life? So we asked Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker.
Edwin stated that the Army vet in the story was justified under the law.
“Here in Texas, you’re allowed to defend another person whenever the situation reasonably appears to be one where the person being attacked would be legally justified in defending themselves.
“In other words, you can protect other people in the same situations you can defend yourself.”
Since this would be considered a Castle Doctrine situation for the invaded homeowners, Edwin explained, the fictional sniper neighbor would be justified in using deadly force to defend them.
“Additionally,” Edwin commented, “this sniper neighbor should receive the same presumption that he was reasonable in the use of deadly force just as if the helpless homeowner had defended himself.”
This presumption is a powerful tool that allows a defendant to walk into the courtroom and already be considered reasonable, rather than having to prove his reasonableness to a jury.
So the bottom line in this very fake news story, is that the completely fictional Good Samaritan former sniper insomniac did not break any laws with his bullseye shots through the window from across the street to save the lives of his neighbor’s family.