In-Depth Legal Analysis: Phoenix Homeowner Stops Attempted Home Invasion
By Attorney Marc J. Victor
October 20, 2021
In general, homeowners in Arizona may use their guns to shoot at intruders in self-defense. This may only be applicable if they fear for their lives or if they believe that the intruder is capable of inflicting serious bodily harm and is about to do so.
The video shown above is of a homeowner in Phoenix, AZ, protecting himself from several suspects by firing his weapon as they attempt to forcefully enter the home.
Keep in mind, I don’t have all the facts in this particular case, so my comments will be general and only based on the facts that are in this video. If the facts were later determined to be different, that would affect my analysis and possibly even lead to a different conclusion.
As I often say, it all depends on the facts, but in this particular case, and with the limited facts I have, this looks to be a good shooting.
So, let’s begin by talking about the use or threat of deadly physical force. First, for the use of deadly physical force to be justified, the threat of serious physical injury or death must be imminent. In other words, the threat needs to be immediate, and you, or another person, must be in danger of death or serious physical injury. If this is not the case, then deadly physical force is not justified.
- The threat is imminent.
- A threat of death or serious bodily injury.
- Armed perpetrators with size disparity.
What I like about this particular shooting is the homeowner, from what I can tell, did everything right. First, he waited until the door was kicked in before shooting. This shows that it was imminent. Second, as soon as the perpetrators started to run, the homeowner stopped shooting. Third, the homeowner did not pursue the perpetrators. The reason this is important is that self-defense is only about stopping the immediate threat. You can only threaten or use deadly physical force to stop the use of someone else’s threat or use of deadly physical force. So, once the threat is no longer present, any additional use of physical force may be seen as street justice. It is also generally not smart to pursue the bad guys as this can generate new risks.
Also, if the homeowner had continued firing after the perpetrators turned and began running, he may have hit them in the back. This would make it harder to argue self-defense as a justification because the perpetrators were running away likely posing no further threat.
What the Homeowner Did Right:
- Waited until it was imminent.
- Stopped shooting when the threat was over.
- Did not give chase and continued to shoot.
Remember, I am only commenting on this particular shooting, and my analysis is only based solely on what can be seen in the video. Every case is different and turns on its unique set of facts. But, from everything we see in this video, this certainly appears to be a legally justified shooting.
I would also like to comment on a few other things that I recommend you do if you ever find yourself in this situation. You should never make any detailed statements at the scene or to the 911 operator. It’s always best to first speak to an attorney before making any statement. If emergency medical attention is needed, you should simply inform the 911 operator there has been a shooting, medical attention is needed, provide the address, and hang up. Next, expect the police will be arriving soon with guns drawn. You should do everything possible not look like a threat when the police arrive. Safely secure your firearm out of sight. Under no circumstances should you be holding your firearm when the police arrive. They could mistake you for the perpetrator. When the police ask you for a statement, politely but firmly, insist on speaking with your attorney before making any statement.
What you should do:
- Call 911 but make no detailed statements.
- Safely secure your firearm out of sight.
- Do not present as a threat.
- Clearly invoke your right to talk with an attorney before making any statement.