A 32-year-old male intruder entered a home a bit before 3:00 AM on a Sunday morning last month. There were two women inside at the time and one of them told police that she shot the man once in the thigh. The suspect was taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police say the gun was legally owned and no charges have been filed against the woman resident.
So much for the idea that shooting to wound someone in the arm or leg might not be as lethal as shooting for the center of mass. There are major arteries in the extremities that, if severed, can cause someone to bleed out in a matter of a few minutes. Plus, it’s much easier to miss an arm or leg and thus increase the risk of injuring an innocent person.
We don’t know if that was this woman’s intention but it’s worth noting.
We also don’t know if the man broke the door to gain entry or if the door was unlocked or maybe if he was let in by one of the women. The difference between these can have legal implications for the defender inside the home.
If the man physically broke the door to gain entry, the law in many states will grant that the occupants were in fear of death or great bodily harm thus giving them the imminence and proportionality factors and likely innocence as well. Castle Doctrine removes the legal duty to retreat so the woman would then only need to show that her actions were reasonable.
If the man was allowed in through an open door or initially invited in then the woman may need to be able to articulate that the above factors were in play rather than having them legally given to her. In other words, she might need to be able to make the case that she shot the man in self-defense much like if the incident had happened out in public.
And of course, there is the idea that not much of anything good happens in the small hours of the morning, especially on the weekends. Lock your door, turn out the lights, and don’t let anyone in at that time of the night.