Holding a Minnesota Permit to Carry license does not exonerate you from careful scrutiny of your actions should you decide to use deadly force. And when it comes to using a self-defense as a legal reason for using deadly force, you first must admit that you violated the law by shooting that person, but that under the law, you were an unwilling participant and that you had no other alternative. Admitting that you shot the other person is the first step in claiming self-defense as a reason to use deadly force. This is precisely what Bryon Smith is admitting: He shot the two teens who entered his house on Thanksgiving Day, 2012, but he shot them in self-defense.
Minnesota law is murky on the justifiable use of deadly force, in my opinion. Here is the relevant law:
“609.06 AUTHORIZED USE OF FORCE.
Subdivision 1. When authorized. Except as otherwise provided in subdivision 2, reasonable force may be used upon or toward the person of another without the other’s consent when the following circumstances exist or the actor reasonably believes them to exist:
(1) when used by a public officer or one assisting a public officer under the public officer’s direction:
(a) in effecting a lawful arrest; or
(b) in the execution of legal process; or
(c) in enforcing an order of the court; or
(d) in executing any other duty imposed upon the public officer by law; or
(2) when used by a person not a public officer in arresting another in the cases and in the manner provided by law and delivering the other to an officer competent to receive the other into custody; or
(3) when used by any person in resisting or aiding another to resist an offense against the person; or
(4) when used by any person in lawful possession of real or personal property, or by another assisting the person in lawful possession, in resisting a trespass upon or other unlawful interference with such property; or
(5) when used by any person to prevent the escape, or to retake following the escape, of a person lawfully held on a charge or conviction of a crime; or
(6) when used by a parent, guardian, teacher, or other lawful custodian of a child or pupil, in the exercise of lawful authority, to restrain or correct such child or pupil; or
(7) when used by a school employee or school bus driver, in the exercise of lawful authority, to restrain a child or pupil, or to prevent bodily harm or death to another; or
(8) when used by a common carrier in expelling a passenger who refuses to obey a lawful requirement for the conduct of passengers and reasonable care is exercised with regard to the passenger’s personal safety; or
(9) when used to restrain a person who is mentally ill or mentally defective from self-injury or injury to another or when used by one with authority to do so to compel compliance with reasonable requirements for the person’s control, conduct, or treatment; or
(10) when used by a public or private institution providing custody or treatment against one lawfully committed to it to compel compliance with reasonable requirements for the control, conduct, or treatment of the committed person.
Subd. 2. Deadly force used against peace officers. Deadly force may not be used against peace officers who have announced their presence and are performing official duties at a location where a person is committing a crime or an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult.
609.065 JUSTIFIABLE TAKING OF LIFE.
The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06, except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor’s place of abode.”
As you may know, opening statements began Monday morning in the Little Falls, Minn. murder trial of Byron Smith. He is a 65-year-old man who killed two teens who broke into his home on Thanksgiving Day, 2012. Smith is charged with two counts of first-degree premeditated murder. “According to the criminal complaint, Smith shot Kifer and Brady multiple times during the burglary of his home. He admitted to using “more shots than” were needed, and even gloated about firing a “good, clean finishing shot.” He did not immediately report the shooting to police, instead having a neighbor call on his behalf the next day.” (Fox 9 News)
Now, I don’t know how this will play out, but for sure, you don’t say anything about getting a “good, clean finishing shot” and you never admit to using “more shots than” are necessary. You shoot just enough to remove the threat, then you stop – even if the other person is in significant pain. You don’t do a mercy killing.
If Smith is convicted, this will be a classic case of how talking after the shooting, but before your lawyers are present, can negatively affect you in a court of law. We’ll follow this trial here, but for sure, be clear on one point: you don’t talk after the shooting until your lawyer is present.