Shooting Law Enforcement Officers in Defense?
Written By: Dan Stanley | Posted: Thursday, June 28th, 2012
A new law in Indiana gives a citizen the right to shoot law enforcement officers if they, the officers, illicitly trespass into the property and life of that citizen.
The reason for such a piece of legislation was the result of an Indiana State Supreme Court decision. According to Noel Brinkerhoof, the State Supreme Court has ruled "that there was 'no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.'" Out of this came this controversial law.
One side, understandably, claims this will lead to officers being shot without a good reason. The other side claims this is necessary due to the Supreme Court's decision to make it illegal to defend oneself physically against an intruding officer of the law.
According to one observer, the right to shoot in self defense an officer of the law is already written into the fourth amendment which prohibits unlawful searches and seizures and secures people in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against such unreasonable searches and seizures. This is a good point to say the least, especially in this day and age of confusion regarding the proper role of the state regarding a person's privacy and protection.
There is no question in my mind that shooting an officer of the law due to his lacking a search warrant (he is wrong at this point) can lack a moral basis. Yes, on principle, one may argue, this can be done. But an officer of the law intruding to steal or rape or damage one's person or property is one thing. That officer illicitly (without a warrant) looking under a bed for someone who may not be there is another. I would find no basis to shoot anyone for simply walking onto my property, especially if there is no threat to my life or property.
But there is a bigger problem that gives a better answer and eliminates almost any possibility of this ever happening. It is to recognize that officers of the law (knowingly or unknowingly) are involved in so many circumstances that should never be.
A classic example happened in 2010 wherein a man was stopped by a police officer. He had crashed and was in a "diabetic shock." The result was, according to the report, he was "beaten by multiple officers, pepper sprayed and repeatedly tasered before dying." Presently a suit has been filed by his widow and the courts will decide the conclusion.
Question: Why was he stopped? Because he crashed his car. Now stop and think about this. He was not a criminal suspect. He had not robbed a bank. He had not murdered someone. He was not on the run. He simply crashed due to a physical problem. The result was he died at the hands of the officers. But you might think, shouldn't the police be the first on the scene? Why? Why do they have to be there at all? Why can't those who arrive help the man? What has made us think the police need to show up at the scene of a car crash? Herein lies a big part of the problem as far as I am concerned.
What you will find is we have created circumstances that puts the police in many, if not most, circumstances that are unnecessary and at times simply intrusive. We have, likewise, also put many citizens in circumstances that force them to make decisions that are unnatural because of this. Now the average citizen is made to feel a participant in what he knows is unnecessary at the best and even wrong at the worst. He must "tell on someone" or give up his right to privacy or explain things that are truly beyond the proper purview of the law. He must forgo defending himself lest he be guilty of resisting arrest or disorderly conduct. The car crash is just one of many examples.
My guess is that the average citizen would never pull out a gun and shoot at an officer of the law; even if that officer was (and they do) acting beyond what is reasonable or even lawful. Mr. Citizen will settle it later in another format. He respects and obeys the law as we would say. But for officers so instructed and empowered, without a conscience problem or severe consequences, to kill someone over a physical problem or misunderstanding is for them to err in a serious manner - maybe to the point of being guilty of murder.
There needs to be a drastic change so this never happens again (it will, due to a fallen world). One change would be to get back to the proper purpose of civil government. And that proper purpose is to "catch the crooks." It is to "execute wrath on evil doers." It is not to pull out guns and kill citizens due to accidents, reactions, bad driving habits or even disorderly conduct. For to allow officers to do so is like allowing citizens to shoot an officer due to a trespass by that officer that does not endanger the life of the citizen. Both officer and citizen should equally be punished for such a crime. And both should be protected for legitimately protecting themselves from each other when either life is endangered unjustly so.
Dan Stanley is an owner and contributing editor of the Eau Claire Journal. Email: email@example.com