A man who has property north of Spokane, WA called the police to report that some tools had been stolen from his property (he does not live on this property) and that the thieves had left evidence that they could be intending to return for more items later. He asked that they check on his property overnight in case the thieves returned.
Unknown to the police, though, the property owner decided to return to the property. When an officer came by to do a prowl check, the owner confronted the officer in the building’s doorway, and shots were fired. The property owner was hit and taken to the hospital.
Can you see how both parties could perceive a threat here?
The officer is checking for burglars that were recently in the area and suspected to return. He was not informed that the property owner might be present. The owner is suspecting a burglar might return but apparently didn’t consider that an officer that he requested might be coming around at some point. He confronts the officer in a doorway, and both end up firing shots that likely both believe are in self-defense. It’s was not released if it’s known who fired first.
This happened after dark so it’s possible that the owner didn’t have enough light in the building to identify the officer as such. However, this is a Sheriff’s Deputy, so he’s not wearing a dark blue uniform. And just because you see someone in your doorway that doesn’t automatically make them a threat. Verbal commands could have helped identify who’s who.
Let’s go back to the universal safety rules. Know your target! Don’t be shooting at a silhouette in a doorway unless you have clearly identified a deadly threat. Can you imagine the legal issues the owner could have faced if he had shot the officer instead of the other way around? As it is, we can just hope that he’ll fully recover.
Perhaps the lesson here is if you’ve called the police, let them do their job. They don’t need or want your help aside from valuable information. And if the situation changes, it’s best to let them in on it ASAP.