First Degree Murder Charges Against Member Dropped
by Marty Hayes, J.D
I am writing this at Gunsite Academy where I am attending training. While on my way south from WA State, I received an urgent call from the home office, telling me of a member-involved shooting, and the need to get working on the case. I pulled over at a rest stop on I-5 in California and got to work on the Boots on the Ground phone. Within a couple of hours, we had lined up an attorney for the member, and a couple hours after that, the attorney and member got together at the jail to start the member’s defense. I will leave out the particulars of the situation, and will only note that immediately after the incident, the member did not have an attorney to call, so he called the Network first and our immediate task was connecting him with an attorney.
Fast forward a week. After spending a week in jail pending filing of formal charges, the member and his attorney sat down and discussed the case with the lead detective. The sheriff’s department subsequently decided they lacked sufficient evidence to go forward with formal charges. Our member is now free with no hammer over his head, and frankly, is pretty thankful for his membership in the Network. You will likely hear from him personally in these pages if we can tell the story without incurring further legal jeopardy for the member. This experience was a great example of how membership in the Network can benefit the lawfully armed citizen.
What could have gone better? While I cannot be certain, I suspect that if the member’s phone call from the jail could have gone to his previously selected attorney (not to the Network) he might have been able to avoid the days in jail. His attorney could have responded immediately, gone over the facts with the member and then discussed the case with the lead detective and perhaps later with the prosecutor. It is possible that the member may not have been arrested and booked in the first place, although we will never know.
If you don’t have the cell phone number of an attorney in your wallet, you could be arrested and booked after self defense as was our member. If you’re a Network member, we will start working on your incident as quickly as we can, but you will still have to wait in jail, something everyone would prefer to avoid.
Insurance Commissioner Fight Update
It has been a busy month here at the Network. First, let me provide an update on the fight with the WA Office of Insurance Commissioner (OIC). (If this is the first you’ve heard of our fight in WA, please browse to https://armedcitizensnetwork.org/join/fight-against-wa-insurance-commissioner for the background.)
We lost our legal fight that we presented to the OIC’s own hearing officer to get the Cease and Desist Order stayed, and we decided not to appeal that decision. We made this choice because first, the C & D order is not affecting any current Network members, so we’re no longer worried about caring for our existing members. The order just affects our ability to sign up new members in WA. It is annoying and we are losing money because of it, but we have a more important fight.
What is important is winning the appeal on the larger issue of whether or not Network benefits constitute insurance. To this end, our attorney, Spencer Freeman, and I have spent the last month working on the appeal, and most recently working our response to the OIC’s response to our appeal. This takes a bunch of time and energy.
Recently, we contacted a dozen WA members who had written to Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler when the notice of the C & D order came in March. We asked these members if they would sign a declaration stating that when they joined the Network, they knew they were not buying insurance. Let me tell you, YOU GUYS ARE GREAT! Everyone helped out and by the time this report is published, their declarations will have been forwarded to the presiding officer, an administrative law judge employed by the OIC, for consideration.
We still have some work to do on this end before we get a ruling, and the battle starts over in Superior Court if we do not get a favorable result from this appeal. As I have said before, we are in it for the long haul. I will, of course, keep you all apprised when we have something of substance to share.
Speaking of Gunsite Academy
Gunsite is where I go for my training. I find the instructors here top notch and the whole experience is very welcoming and rewarding. As I write this, I have been at Gunsite for two classes in a row. In the first class, 66 percent of the students were already Network members, and in the second class (under way as I write this), half of the students are members. I was happy to share the good news with them when charges against our member were dropped.
Another nice experience during this trip was getting to spend some time with Rob Leahy (shown in photo above, center) at his Simply Rugged Holsters (https://www.simplyrugged.com/) workshop, when he invited the class I was in to an open house last Sunday evening. Simply Rugged Holsters is a Network Corporate Affiliate and Rob and his crew help us promote membership in the Network.
Dealing with Mob Violence
After reading last month’s interview with Massad Ayoob about mob violence, one of our members asked a question that was so thought provoking and important that I wanted to share it with all of our members. The question centered around a hypothetical incident, where a member, needing to respond to a threatening mob who was closing on him, decided he needed to use deadly force to save himself or his family, and unfortunately ended up wounding or killing an unintended person because he missed his target. Would the Network assist him with his legal defense, he asked?
The answer is, it depends. ANY Network assistance to members after a use of force incident has to be decided based upon on the facts of the case. We have to explore details, like: 1) The reason the member used force, 2) was that force reasonable? 3) Was the member breaking any laws at the time of the incident, and if so, what laws? 3) Was the member the initial aggressor (did he place himself in a situation where he then needed to use force in self defense)? Without knowing the answers to those questions, we are not going to be able to immediately grant assistance. We talked earlier about having an attorney, and the answer to many of those questions can be provided by the member’s legal counsel.
If the case is complicated by a person being unintentionally injured or killed, additional questions have to be explored. For example, 1) Does it appear that the member was “reasonable” in the nature of his response to the threat? (Think: aimed fire v. spray and pray). 2) Was the unintended target a part of the mob violence?
The Network assists wrongfully prosecuted members after a legitimate act of self defense. Until we can make a value judgment as to the righteousness of our member’s response to the threat he faced (and that decision will be made based upon the details of the case known to us at the time of the request), I cannot answer whether the member will receive support from the Network.
Each case of use of force must be considered through exploration of the details of the case, both by law enforcement and, if we are to fund the legal defense, also by the Network. I cannot immediately say, “Sure, we will help” until I’ve seen enough to conclude that the member acted responsibility.
The best way to make sure this doesn’t occur to begin with is to be well trained, so that if you have to shoot, you don’t miss. This is one of the reasons I take my own training so seriously, spending about $3,000 a trip to Gunsite.
Now, you don’t have to go to Gunsite for training (although it is well worth it). I am sure you can get excellent training near your home city. Check out our Network Affiliated Instructors and go take some training. A few hundred bucks (or even a few thousand) verses spending time in jail seems like a no-brainer to me.
[Photo, right: In a class I took a few years ago, Gunsite Instructor Bob Waley demonstrates pivot turns that keep feet firmly planted in a power stance.]
To read more of this month's journal, please click here.