Over the weekend, a security guard who was also a concealed carry holder was working at a Chicago Nightclub and allegedly shot and killed one of his co-workers. He is claiming it was self-defense, but this is a case worth breaking down because it brings to light a lot of things from your past that can come back to haunt you.
Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Cooper said that 23-year-old Devontrell Turnipseed was working outside a door at a nightclub late Saturday. Another unarmed security guard, 38-year-old Artemis Harris, came outside complaining that Turnipseed was letting people into the club too quickly and not patting people down well enough.
Cooper said that the two men were arguing outside the business and “squared up face to face.” Then, Turnipseed allegedly took a gun out of a holster on his waist and tried to give it to another security guard, but Harris punched him in the face.
Turnipseed fired three shots as he fell to the ground, two of which hit Harris in the chest, and he did not survive.
Prosecutors said the altercation was caught on surveillance video, and Turnipseed allegedly told investigators he had shot Harris because he got punched.
During the bond hearing on Tuesday, David Drwencke, a private defense attorney, said there are “serious questions” about “the intent and whether or not… this was in self-defense.”
Drwencke said, “I don’t believe the proof is evident that a murder has occurred, but instead, somebody was defending themselves.” Judge Kelly McCarthy held Turnipseed without bail.
I spoke with the owners of the club, and they confirmed it was an outside security firm and not direct employees of the club. I think to say they were stunned that this happened is probably an understatement, considering the people that they hired to prevent problems are the ones that caused the problems.
So now that you have the information available let’s look at it from a prosecuting attorney’s standpoint and what they might use against you. Keep in mind that I am not an attorney, so this is not legal advice. I am a licensed Illinois concealed carry instructor, so I am familiar with the state statutes and training requirements.
Concealed Carry License vs. Firearms Control Card
The news reported Turnipseed was working as a security guard, but the local news also said he had his concealed carry license. In Illinois, you are required to take a 16-hr. class for your CCL that includes when deadly force is justified. It is an entirely different 40-hr. class if you are going to work as an armed security guard that goes into even more detail about the legalities of using deadly force.
The 16-hr concealed carry course includes:
- 720 ILCS 5/7-1. Use of force in defense of a person.
- 720 ILCS 5/7-2. Use of force in defense of dwelling.
- 720 ILCS 5/7-3. Use of force in defense of other property.
- 720 ILCS 24/1 et. seq. Unlawful Use of Weapons.
- 430 ILCS 66/65, which includes instruction on prohibited areas and the parking lot exception.
According to state records, Turnipseed also got his “Firearms Control Card” in February 2020, which allows you to carry a firearm as a security officer. The prerequisite for that is a 40-hour course. In Illinois, you can carry without having your CCL if you are licensed under the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). You can only carry when you are actually working for a security guard company with their permission.
The 40-hr Armed Security Guard course covers:
- The law regarding arrest and search and seizure as it applies to private security
- Civil and criminal liability for acts related to private security.
- The use of force, including but not limited to the use of nonlethal force (i.e., disabling spray, baton, stungun, taser, or similar weapon).
- Verbal communication skills.
- The offenses under the Criminal Code of 2012 that are directly related to the protection of persons and property.
- Private security officers and the criminal justice system.
- Customer service, civil rights, and public relations.
Who was the initial aggressor?
Could Turnipseed be viewed as a potentially deadly threat and the initial aggressor when he went to “disarm” and hand his weapon to someone else? I don’t know about you, but if someone went to reach for a gun in front of me, I would probably perceive them as a threat. If that was the case, it could be argued that Harris acted in self-defense when he punched Turnipseed.
Turnipseed will most likely claim that he acted in self-defense because he got punched first, but he is not a 90 lb. woman that might be able to prove there was a disparity of force. Being hit by someone a single time will probably not justify using your gun in self-defense.
Social media may impact your defense.
If you don’t know it by now, then you are living under a rock when it comes to posting something on social media. Whatever you have posted on social media in the past could be fair game if you are involved in a self-defense situation. The statement Turnipseed wrote on social media about why he left a job is that “They Just didn’t Have Open Armed Positions For Me, so I Left,” and we could look it at in different ways. First, maybe he was saying he would get paid more as an “armed” security guard, but it could also be perceived as he wanted to carry a gun publicly to show off. Maybe he just did not feel safe working an unarmed job, but his words are open for interpretation.
At different times, he posted the following comments, which were probably not such a good idea. A prosecuting attorney has a lot more resources than I do and can even attempt to subpoena things you might have deleted.
I think you get the idea that what you say on social media could come back to haunt you.
You only talk to your attorney!
This is standard advice for anyone if you are involved in a self-defense situation. The Suntimes reported, “While in custody, he allegedly told investigators he shot his co-worker in retaliation for getting punched in the face.”
An example I usually use is the statement “I can’t believe I did that” and how it could be misconstrued if you say it to the police. You might have said it because you were in shock and could not believe your only possibility was to fire your gun in self-defense. Still, it could also come across as if you had doubts and maybe had another option besides pulling your gun.
The prosecution has charged him with first-degree murder, and the judge denied bail, so that is not a good sign. There were a lot of poor decisions along the way, and an event like this affects more lives than people realize. A life was lost, and another man is looking at the possibility of spending a very long time behind bars. According to the owner, the business is not going to reopen, which means there are people that have lost their jobs. Although the details do not look like the shooting was justified, he is innocent until proven guilty. I guess we will wait and see what the court decides, and hopefully, the video will be released so we can see firsthand what went down.