‘Castle doctrine’ law forces shooter’s release, prosecutor says

‘Castle doctrine’ law forces shooter’s release, prosecutor says

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Thread: ‘Castle doctrine’ law forces shooter’s release, prosecutor says

  1. #1
    Member Array Longbow's Avatar
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    Thumbs up ‘Castle doctrine’ law forces shooter’s release, prosecutor says

    ?Castle doctrine? law forces shooter?s release, prosecutor says



    A man who police said shot his Wal-Mart co-worker in a dispute over the length of a work break has been released from custody because his actions may be protected by Montana's recently enacted "castle doctrine" law.

    The shooting, which took place Monday evening, is under investigation by the Billings Police Department and could still result in charges. But Yellowstone County Attorney Dennis Paxinos said language in the "castle doctrine" bill passed during the last session of the Montana Legislature required him to release the shooter until more information becomes available.

    The law asserts, among other things, that a person has a "natural right" to use firearms for self-defense and is not required to summon law enforcement assistance before using "justifiable" force to ward off an attack.

    "The play of (House Bill) 228 with the current law causes us some pause to do a much more thorough investigation to determine if we can charge anyone," Paxinos said.

    When police arrived at the Wal-Mart on King Avenue West at about 9:15 p.m. Monday, they found Daniel Lira, 32, inside the store's loading dock area with a gunshot wound.

    Billings Police Sgt. Jay Berry said that Lira hit co-worker Craig Schmidt, 49, in the face. Schmidt fell backward, then pulled out a .25-caliber semiautomatic Beretta handgun and shot Lira, police said. The single shot was fired at a range of 10 to 15 feet.

    Lira, 32, was taken to St. Vincent Healthcare and later released. Police Sgt. Kevin Iffland said the bullet grazed the side of his head from front to back.

    Paxinos said that prior to passage of House Bill 228 authorities would have had probable cause to arrest Schmidt for assault with a weapon.

    Now, he said, they need more details about whether there was a history of aggression between the two men, what they may have said to each other when the incident occurred and other information that will shape whether it was reasonable for Schmidt to believe his life was threatened. Other details such as the size of the two men - Schmidt weighs 150 pounds and Lira weighs 300 pounds - could also affect whether a self-defense claim is reasonable, Paxinos said.

    "I'll have to do the investigation while the guy is free to move around," said Paxinos, who along with other county attorneys opposed House Bill 228 during the legislative session.

    The "castle doctrine" bill, which was sponsored by Republican Rep. Krayton Kerns of Laurel and supported by the National Rifle Association, sparked passionate debate about self-defense rights before passing the Legislature.

    "Once somebody punches you, and you're down and incapacitated, that person has already demonstrated an intent for violence and you can't tactically assume that they're only going to hit you once," said Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, who crafted the bill.

    But those opposing the "castle doctrine" legislation argued that existing law already protects those acting in self-defense, and that the new code would only create unnecessary burdens for prosecutors and police officers.

    "There's just such a disconnect between words on paper and what happens on the streets of Montana, and I think legislators had to be more sensitive to what's happening on the street," said Jim Smith, spokesman for the Montana County Attorneys Association.

    Aside from potential legal charges, it was unclear if Schmidt or Lira will face disciplinary action from Wal-Mart. Schmidt has a permit to carry the concealed weapon, but a spokesman for the company said it would be inappropriate to discuss whether Wal-Mart has a policy about employees carrying guns.

    "We are still gathering details at this time, and we're now most concerned about the well-being of the people involved," Kelly Cheeseman said.
    "Planning to draw and chamber a round after TSHTF is like planning to fasten your seatbelt after you see the other guy run a stopsign..."

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    Distinguished Member Array pcon's Avatar
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    I'm not sure I'd shoot someone if they punched me, personally. Though, I don't know the details of the situation, to me, this doesn't sound like a justified shooting...at least based upon what was written.
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    Distinguished Member Array Rcher's Avatar
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    I just love Montana! "Where men are men, women are scarce and sheep are scared"

    I'm not sure that the Castle Doctrine has any bearing on this or not. It sounds like there may be some "disparity of force" issues though. I certainly plan to keep my eye on this one. This will most likely set a precedence for those who carry in MT.
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    Member Array Chiller2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcon View Post
    I'm not sure I'd shoot someone if they punched me, personally. Though, I don't know the details of the situation, to me, this doesn't sound like a justified shooting...at least based upon what was written.
    I disagree unless the investigation find he hit first I find it fully justified.Just because someone else considers fighting a way to settle disputes or fun I don't and if somebody hits me I am going to assume deadly intent and defend myself.

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    Gee, so the cops and DA will actually have to investigate what happened before putting a potentially innocent person in jail. No more guilty until proven innocent. What is the world coming to? Paxion was against the bill to begin with so he's already got an agenda as far as commenting against the new law.

    At first glance the Montana statutes did seem to be fairly liberal as to when you can use deadly force, until you read the referenced sections:
    45-3-102. Use of force in defense of person. A person is justified in the use of force or threat to use force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other's imminent use of unlawful force. However, he is justified in the use of force likely to cause death or serious bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
    Which, I believe, is consistent with other Castle Doctrines.



    Yup, don't have all the info - what happened immediately before the punch, and in between the punch and the shot, and what condition was the guy in after getting hit, what did the big guy do after the other guy was on the ground. What is that 300 lbs made of - fat or muscle?

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    Distinguished Member Array TerriLi's Avatar
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    I used to work for WW, when unloading a truck its dangerous. Add in the fact that everyone has a razor knife on them you can't say there arn't deadly weapons about. Although this I would see more as a showing that the .25 auto is a poor SD round, sounds like it hit the skull and bounced off to the side. Also that the GO failed to use a tactic of the pocket mousegun/gut gun, which is empty the clip in the attacker. Then again his weapon could have malfunctioned after the first shot, or the attacker at this injury fell back and stopped his attack.

    All in all this is a situation that we just don't know enough of the details because we were not there to fully say with certainty what is a correct responce.
    I know not what this "overkill" means.

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    Isn't Brokeback mountain in Montana...

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    Distinguished Member Array pcon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chiller2 View Post
    I disagree unless the investigation find he hit first I find it fully justified.Just because someone else considers fighting a way to settle disputes or fun I don't and if somebody hits me I am going to assume deadly intent and defend myself.
    I definitely agree with you that people may find fighting acceptable. For all I know, this very well could be justified. I'm just saying, with the way it's presented NOW, it doesn't appear to be justified. Certainly though, there could have been much more to this story that we don't know. I'd like to find out more about it personally.
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    "Once somebody punches you, and you're down and incapacitated, that person has already demonstrated an intent for violence and you can't tactically assume that they're only going to hit you once," said Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, who crafted the bill.


    This says it all to me. under the new Montana Law, the guy was clearly justified in shooting the other.
    "Planning to draw and chamber a round after TSHTF is like planning to fasten your seatbelt after you see the other guy run a stopsign..."

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    Craig made two mistakes...he used a .25 for SD and he didn't empty it. Should have used one of these
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    im just undone that new "unnecessary burdens" are now placed on prosecutors and LE in Montana with the castle doctrine......

    /sarcasm

    this just goes to show you that innocent until proven guilty has gone away with the dodo.....

    i guess its a burden to find facts anymore and that the populace should just do what the government commands

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    VIP Member Array stormbringerr's Avatar
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    but a spokesman for the company said it would be inappropriate to discuss whether Wal-Mart has a policy about employees carrying guns.
    that sounds a bit odd. does this decision depend on the manager of each wal-mart store independently..
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    Senior Member Array 1911PKR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mosouthpaw View Post
    im just undone that new "unnecessary burdens" are now placed on prosecutors and LE in Montana with the castle doctrine......

    /sarcasm

    this just goes to show you that innocent until proven guilty has gone away with the dodo.....

    i guess its a burden to find facts anymore and that the populace should just do what the government commands

    By populace...you mean these ,of course.
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    VIP Member Array packinnova's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcon View Post
    I definitely agree with you that people may find fighting acceptable. For all I know, this very well could be justified. I'm just saying, with the way it's presented NOW, it doesn't appear to be justified. Certainly though, there could have been much more to this story that we don't know. I'd like to find out more about it personally.
    Why? There seems to be some pretty large lack of humility in society today where most folks seem to think that just because someone hits them that it's not a deadly force situation. How many times have we all either personally seen or read about folks getting punched and down only to be continually kicked about the head gut etc... and usually the attackers friends end up jumping into the fray as well. Sorry, but given the repeated news reports, the personal sights, and the training I have, EVERY SINGLE attack I consider potentially LETHAL.
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    Distinguished Member Array pcon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by packinnova View Post
    Why? There seems to be some pretty large lack of humility in society today where most folks seem to think that just because someone hits them that it's not a deadly force situation. How many times have we all either personally seen or read about folks getting punched and down only to be continually kicked about the head gut etc... and usually the attackers friends end up jumping into the fray as well. Sorry, but given the repeated news reports, the personal sights, and the training I have, EVERY SINGLE attack I consider potentially LETHAL.
    That's fine for you, if that's what you've experienced. I certainly do not treat every encounter as a "shoot first" situation. If I get punched, my first reaction WILL NOT be to shoot the guy. I'm not willing to take a life until I've exhausted ALL of my options. I'm just giving my viewpoint on this. Based upon how this is written now, they make it sound like his first option was shooting...that may or may not be true. I'm simply going off my interpretations of the events.
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