I'd recommend you buy Alan Korwin's new book, After You Shoot - Your gun's hot, the perp's not. Now what?
Alan begins with the premise that what you say when you dial 911 may be used against you
. It's sound advice. From the moment the action is over until your lawyer takes over, what you say and how you say it
can make all the difference in the world.
Massad Ayoob as suggested minimizing your discussions with the police over the specific details and that includes when you dial 911. As the police arrive, you should have put the weapon down in a safe manner and greet them unarmed. They won't always know who is the good guy or bad guy. You cooperate only to a point. You do
want them to know you're the victim, but you don't want to get bogged in details while your adrenaline is still pumping and you're still dealing with emotional shock.
I'm not a lawyer, nor am I offering legal advice. I'm relating what more experienced folks have suggested we do in the aftermath. As always, it is worth investing a few dollars to seek legal advice ahead of time
and to have several business cards of criminal attorneys with firearms experience
Calls are recorded. Your voice. Your words. Choose carefully. You do not
want to say "I just shot a burglar!" or "Some guy tried to knife me in an alley and I shot him!" These are admissions of responsibility ("I shot him!") and point directly at you as the perpetrator.
Unfortunately, 911 operators are trained to obtain as much information ("intel") as possible for responding officers. When you ask for an ambulance because "A man trying to rob someone got shot", they will ask you who shot the man or if the shooter is still there. They may be more direct - "Sir, did you
shoot the man?" And it's hard to go against a lifetime of believing that being cooperative and honest is the best policy. But if there is even the slightest
question of justification and the DA has your "confession" on tape, it could be game over
Both Massad Ayoob and Alan Korwin have covered the procedures for what to do when the cops arrive. There is a certain amount of cooperation you provide before telling police you'd prefer to speak to your lawyer. Once you do that, their questioning should
stop. If any cop pushes you for a statement, if you say "I feel like I might get sick" it will clear a nice circle around you for a while.
In the Home
Married or not, your spouse or significant other should be forewarned to follow your lead and talk to your lawyer before answering any more than basic questions (name, relationship, address). If you have children at home it's a good idea to ask a lawyer ahead of time just what control you have over them being questioned by police.
Keep in mind that if you or your spouse had the presence of mind to lock the safe before police arrived, they're still likely going to open it. But there is generally no hurry and you can refuse permission (I dunno, don't you need one of those warrant things? I'd rather let my lawyer deal with that.
) Seizure of your firearm collection may depend on how the scene looks, what information and evidence they have and the local DA's attitude. If you're and/or your family are in pajamas or you're in your BVD's, the door jamb is splintered and there's some scumbag is on the floor with a 9mm Hi-Point in his hand, there may be little to indicate something other than self-defense.
Do you live alone?
If so, do you have a trustworthy neighbor, friend or relative nearby? Often times, after their preliminary investigation, police will want to "talk to you further, downtown." That means leaving your home in the hands of police searching for evidence. It is in your own best interest to have someone arrive to take possession of keys and be responsible for locking up or arranging for the security of your home (e.g. replacing the front door or at least nailing plywood over it.) That person can also take notes of what he sees police removing from the home in your absence.
¹ If the perp's accomplices claim they saw it all before you tell police others were involved, your claim that they were accomplices seems like a thin denial. But if you are able to at least tell the cops that one or more persons ran off and later see one talking to police, your "Hey! He's the other guy!" statement is much more believable.
² Nor is there any need to lie about what happened. If you're not sure you should say something, then don't. Let your lawyer earn his money. Rule number one is never admit you shot someone without talking to your lawyer. For all you know, you fired at him and missed but his frightened accomplice shot him in the back. Stranger things have happened!