This incident occurred last Friday, and the surveillance footage has been making its rounds on the internet. Today I want to discuss whether or not the stabbing was justified. I am not a lawyer, so these are just my opinions.
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First, I’ll start with the details of the incident. Just before 3:30 PM last Friday, two masked men walked into a Las Vegas smoke shop. The store owner walks to the counter to help them and realizes they have masks on. He asked them why they had masks on, and after getting no response, he asked them to leave. At this point, the two suspects are trespassing. At this point, the store owner armed himself with a knife next to the register.
According to Las Vegas Defense Group, in Nevada, if the trespasser is posing an immediate threat of injury, then the property owner or tenant can act in self-defense with reasonable and proportional force.
So at this point, it would seem that he could use “reasonable and proportional force” to remove them from the store but did it warrant deadly force at this point? At this point, I don’t believe so. He also has the right to protect his property from being stolen, but I don’t think the use of deadly force is justified.
Then one of the suspects grabs a cup with some bills and chance and starts to walk out of the store. The store owner then asks him to leave the change and take the bills. That suspect then comes back to the counter to steal more. As he steals something else, the other suspect jumps the counter.
That’s when the store owner stabbed the suspect, who jumped over the counter seven times, hitting him in the neck, leg, and back. The wounded suspect called his mother and told her he was going to die. The store owner then called the police.
As of this writing, the two suspects have been arrested. The wounded suspect survived the stabbing. And the store owner has not been charged.
So do I think the store owner was justified in using deadly force? Again, I am not a lawyer, but I’d have to say no. The Nevada state stature of justified homicide is defined as:
Killing in self-defense. If a person kills another in self-defense, it must appear that:
1. The danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save the person’s own life, or to prevent the person from receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary; and
2. The person killed was the assailant, or that the slayer had really, and in good faith, endeavored to decline any further struggle before the mortal blow was given.
By looking at the video, the suspect that jumped the counter directed his attention to stealing something from behind the counter. He didn’t seem to make any threats toward the store owner himself. The other suspect was already on his way out of the store at this point as well. There also were no weapons displayed by the suspects. They didn’t say they had a weapon or make any threats.
The store owner was quoted as saying, “I assumed they had a firearm” and that he never saw a visible firearm but felt “I couldn’t take it anymore.” Assuming someone has a weapon is insufficient to justify using deadly force. Nevada Revised Status 200.130 states:
Bare fear insufficient to justify killing; reasonable fear required; rebuttable presumption under certain circumstances.
1. A bare fear of any of the offenses mentioned in NRS 200.120, to prevent which the homicide is alleged to have been committed, is not sufficient to justify the killing. It must appear that the circumstances were sufficient to excite the fears of a reasonable person and that the person killing really acted under the influence of those fears and not in a spirit of revenge.
I posted this video on my YouTube channel and Instagram. Many of the comments are mixed with people agreeing with my analysis that he wasn’t justified in the use of deadly force. And then there’s the other side of people saying the suspect got what he deserved or the usual, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
I can understand being fed up with people robbing your store. I read somewhere that he may have been robbed recently before this occurred. I also understand people watching the video and being fed up with criminals getting away with crimes like this. But you have to know the laws if you are going to use deadly force. I think the use of pepper spray would have been a better choice.
I also think it was a bad idea for the store owner to post an “Ask Me Anything” thread on Reddit, which has since been deleted. But you can still see many of the posts here. He said his lawyer said it was okay for him to post it. I’d have to disagree.
In one post, he stated that he bought a Glock 19 to defend himself if anyone comes back to retaliate. I’d highly recommend he get training on both how to use the gun and the self-defense laws in the state of Nevada.
“in the heat of the moment i had no idea what was going on, clearly you can see in the video what he was grabbing for but keep in mind I had a lot of adrenaline and it was a fight or flight response.”
I think stating that he didn’t know what was going on and that you can clearly see the suspect was grabbing merchandise (and not moving toward the store owner or threatening him) was a bad idea.
I will keep an eye on this one to see what happens with the store owner. I bet he’s at home hoping he doesn’t get charged with assault with a deadly weapon which is a class B felony in Nevada and is punishable by a sentence of 1 to 6 years in state prison and a fine of up to $50,00.00. If he is, I think his lawyer will have a hard time proving this stabbing was justified.
If you take anything from this story, it should be that you MUST know your state’s laws on self-defense.
I’d like to hear your opinions on this as well. Let me know what you think in the comments below.