View Full Version : Talking to Police

April 18, 2006, 10:46 AM
Just read this very interesting article. I am sure others have already read it but just posting it for all to see.


April 18, 2006, 11:23 AM
#1 "A kid broke into my home and attacked me with a knife. I shot him with my gun to protect myself. He collapsed outside the door of my bedroom. I?m calling you from the telephone in my bedroom. Please send the police and an ambulance."

#2 "I was standing in line waiting to buy tickets when I stepped on the shoe of a boy who was standing in line behind me. He and several other boys attacked me, knocked me to the ground and began kicking and stomping me. I shot at them in self-defense. I want to cooperate with your investigation, but I?ve got to talk with my attorney before I can tell you anymore."

how about this from my personal short list...
"Listen officer, i know you are just doing your job and im gonna make it easier for you. i hope you understand, but, im not saying anything until i speak with my lawyer. Then ill be happy to give you everything to the absolute best of my recollection, OK?"

April 18, 2006, 01:20 PM
The way some cops and many lawyers are, I wouldn't say a THING until I talked with an attorney. Not a THING, other than perhaps "It was in self defense" or "I fully intend to cooperate with this arrest" and then comply with EVERYTHING the cop says while being taken into their custody.

April 18, 2006, 01:44 PM
Thanks, Crazi.

Good article. I emailed it home.

April 19, 2006, 01:59 AM
Good article. I read it and hope never to have to be in that situation. One underlying theme: have an attorney.

April 19, 2006, 03:21 AM
very informative thanks for the info

April 19, 2006, 08:09 PM
I agree with those that caution against saying anything at all to the coppers until your attorney is there.

April 20, 2006, 06:59 AM
The police can and will use everything you say against you in a court of law.

Bear that in mind.

Be totally compliant with the police but say nothing until you have a lawyer.

April 20, 2006, 10:00 AM
As a cop, I advise you to say nothing until you have an attorney present.

April 20, 2006, 01:59 PM
I am not saying this as a dig towards our law enforcement. I have friends that are police officers and I respect those that "serve and protect".

But, let's never forget; all policemen and LE are not 2nd ammendment friendly. Many of them are very liberal in their views of private gun ownership and our RIGHT.


April 20, 2006, 02:36 PM
The right to keep and bear arms is irrelevant. The LE officers primary function is to investigate the crime.

TexiCali Slim
April 20, 2006, 07:48 PM
"Murrrr, See coppah I aint sayin nothin See! Murrrr!":D

Blackwater OPS
April 20, 2006, 09:11 PM
A good article, I think it protects the real victim and allows and investigation to proceed as quickly as possible. Despite this, I would say NOTHING until I can reach my lawyer.

April 20, 2006, 10:38 PM
liliysdad --- As a cop, I advise you to say nothing until you have an attorney present.

I don't know how to do the quote thing but I have to agree with Liliysdad. Every police officer that I've ever talked to has said the exact same thing. I pray that I never see the day but my approach would be cooperate but don't say a thing without a lawyer.

April 21, 2006, 09:09 AM
how many police are willing to make a after shooting statment before they speak w/ the PBA rep?


April 21, 2006, 06:14 PM
Sometimes it does not matter what you say to the police (if anything). Some (not all) LEO's tend to form oppinions regarding guilt of innocence from their "gut reaction" to an incident. You never know if you are talking with an officer who has already made up his mind that you are the one who needs to go to jail. Once this mindset has been established no amount of reason or finely-worded statements will convince him to see things your way. Shut up, ask for a lawyer, and pray that his squad car has a "dash-cam" and audio recorder. Otherwise you may read in his report something like:
"The suspect confessed to beating the victim while I transported him to lockup. He then gave me consent to search his vehicle, house, and workplace. He said he fought the victim because something he said made him angry"

I wish things like this did not happen... but they do.

April 24, 2006, 09:35 AM
how many police are willing to make a after shooting statment before they speak w/ the PBA rep?


I agree. One of the first things we were taught about LEO involved shootings is "Consult your PBA rep before making a statement."

April 24, 2006, 10:24 AM
Ok, so you live in a small town and the yellow pages are not going to be much use. How do you obtain a suitable attorney?

How many of us have not made prior arrangements with an attorney specifically for CCW, or do not have a family attorney?


April 24, 2006, 12:38 PM
The police can and will use everything you say against you in a court of law.

It's not the police who would prosecute you. And the tone of thatexercise is going to depend largely on your county/state political climate and the personal views of - or political pressures being brought to bear upon - the DA and staff.

What an LEO thinks of the 2nd Amendment is a non-issue...what you SAY to them during their investigation, however, is not.
Another thing to consider is - this is something I don't know - whether or not evidence admitted into a criminal trial would be admissable in a civil trial. Just another thought.

April 24, 2006, 02:59 PM
Who is usually the guy breaking in and getting shot? It sure isn't the local parish priest or the kindergarten teacher. These kinds are those who have most likely had numerous run ins with the police long before the homeowner had to put a rd into him. The police probably not only know the guy by name but can run off his entire rap sheet. Same with the prosecutors. You won't see any of them shedding a tear for the long lost soul of the recently departed crumb. The homeowner just made their life easier.
But if you're involved in a bad shoot where you should have taken that extra 1/2 second to think instead of opening fire, then, yup, you better be talking to an attorney real fast.

April 24, 2006, 03:51 PM
ISP2605 -

You're forgetting that there's two possible trials that'll occur after your self-defense shooting - criminal and civil. And while the shooting may be 100% cut-and-dried (eg. your attacker was named Jason Voorhees, was smeared with fresh co-ed blood, and was shot in the process of chainsawing through the front door of your home at Crystal Lake), the civil trial is another thing again.

A good lawyer will make sure that you don't make statements in the heat of the moment, give conflicting stories due to post-adreneline rush confusion, or any of a number of potentially costly mistakes you might make that - even if they don't result in a criminal trial - will cost you heavily in a civil suit. And don't forget that the rules of evidence are much slacker in civil courts, so the most innocent-looking stuff that'd never see the light of day in the DA's case may still pop up to bite your civil defendant butt.

After all, when crippled ol' Widder Voorhees is on the stand lamenting how "Jay-Jay" always paid her medical bills, was kind to animals, and never slaughtered on Sundays...you'll want every advantage you can get.

Dave R
April 24, 2006, 03:59 PM
My only concern with not talking to cops is that I have had 2 cops tell me they assume guilt when the the subject of an investigation "lawyers up." They assume innocence when the subject speaks freely. Is that said to ensure cooperation? Or is it sincere?

Blackwater OPS
April 24, 2006, 04:03 PM
My only concern with not talking to cops is that I have had 2 cops tell me they assume guilt when the the subject of an investigation "lawyers up." They assume innocence when the subject speaks freely. Is that said to ensure cooperation? Or is it sincere?

That is total BS. In any case, I usually know a person is going to get off when they refuse to incriminate themselves and lawyer up. It is a rare case that is won by evidence alone and not a confession or guilty plea. Most of the time if a person demands a trial I tend to think they are not guilty, if anything.

Edited to add: Of course there is an exception for people stupid or unlucky enough to get caught it the act. :)

April 24, 2006, 04:08 PM
"ISP2605 -
You're forgetting that there's two possible trials that'll occur after your self-defense shooting - criminal and civil."

No, I'm not forgetting about it. I'm very well aware of it. BTDT. Been involved in those cases as the defendant (twice), witness (both to the shooting and as an expert witness), and investigator in numerous shooting cases, both LEO and civilian. So yeah, I have been around that mulberry bush many times. Did shooting cases for a lot of years and was in federal court twice on 1983 action.
So yeah, I know what goes on in those proceedings. Those are not something I imagined, read about, or heard others talk about. Saw them first hand.

Capt. Charlie
April 24, 2006, 04:22 PM
My only concern with not talking to cops is that I have had 2 cops tell me they assume guilt when the the subject of an investigation "lawyers up." They assume innocence when the subject speaks freely.
Possibly only a semantics problem here, but the term "assume" falls in the same category as "routine". Both are a form of profanity in law enforcement.

What I assume doesn't mean squat in what action I take. Solid probable cause does. If there's a discrepancy in statements, most likely you'll be detained for further investigation, but an arrest won't be made without probable cause.

Another thing to consider is - this is something I don't know - whether or not evidence admitted into a criminal trial would be admissible in a civil trial. Just another thought.
Civil court is much more forgiving than a criminal court. Anything admissible in criminal court will be admissible in civil court, but a lot of things presented during a civil trial would not be admissible in criminal court. That was, I believe, O.J. Simpson's big problem.

April 24, 2006, 04:22 PM
My only concern with not talking to cops is that I have had 2 cops tell me they assume guilt when the the subject of an investigation "lawyers up." They assume innocence when the subject speaks freely. Is that said to ensure cooperation? Or is it sincere?

That may be the case - but what does it really matter what they 'assume'?
They can't arrest on an "assumption" and they certainly can't prosecute.
They can assume all day long - they're not the ones who are going to have to wade through civil litigation before it's all said and done.
They're not the ones who are going to have to pay Jason Voorhees' mom $100k because he had a rough childhood and it wasn't his fault he broke into your house and strangled your grandma. :mad:

Assume away, Mr. Officer.
They can only hold you for so long without charging you with a crime, and an overnighter at the local jail isn't nearly as bad as having to sell your house to make restitution payments because you said something in the heat of the moment that came back to bite you in the tail at the civil trial.

April 24, 2006, 04:25 PM
Sounds exactly like what Ayoob has been writing for years.

April 24, 2006, 04:34 PM
Anything admissible in criminal court will be admissible in civil court, but a lot of things presented during a civil trial would not be admissible in criminal court.

Thanks for clearing that up - I wasn't so sure which way that went.

April 24, 2006, 10:21 PM
No, I'm not forgetting about it. I'm very well aware of it. BTDT.<snip>Well then, I'm not sure I understand your previous post. You seem to be saying that a shooter doesn't need to worry about "lawyering-up" if it's a clean, good shoot that takes a scumbag off the streets. My point was that, even if the cops and DAs line up to shake your hand afterwards, there's still a very good chance of civil action from friends or family of the shootee - and having engaged an attorney from the get-go will give you a better shot at prevailing in that trial by (at least) reducing the chance of you inadvertently saying something damaging to your defense.

Do you not agree? If not, could you explain your reasoning? Because - and I'm not trying to be snarky here - that would go against pretty much all the advice I've ever heard or read on self-defense shootings: "Shut up and lawyer up!". If you've got experience to the contrary, I'd like to hear about it (as much as you can or are willing to tell, of course).

April 24, 2006, 10:42 PM
"Well then, I'm not sure I understand your previous post."

Here's my point. Others have posted such comments as:
"The way some cops and many lawyers are";
"The police can and will use everything you say against you in a court of law.";
"Once this mindset has been established no amount of reason or finely-worded statements will convince him to see things your way.".
It's the general tone of paranoia that the police are out to get everyone. Have any of these ever been involved in a shooting where police responded? Or even had any dealings with police in a defensive situation? Or are they just parrotting some paranoia from others who have never been in such a situation? Have they ever responded to a shooting to find some guy who the police has been dealing with for years, always skating by with minimal penalties, pulling jobs but leaving not enough evidence to get charges filed? You won't find police and prosecutors shedding any tears when these kinds finally get caught up with. Just to clue everyone in, the police aren't out to make an arrest everytime there's a shooting. If it's legit, then no sweat. Not everyone who is involved in a shooting is drug downtown and held in a dark dungeon with the ultimate goal of charging everyone. That's just not the way things are done. Maybe on TV or the movies, but not in real life.
If you haven't never been involved in these situations then you'd probably be very much surprised at the conversations that go on behind closed doors between police and the prosecutors when one of community's regular actors finally gets his final reward.

April 24, 2006, 10:49 PM
I would suggest that you think about it like this.

If you have an armed intruder in your home...or threatening your life limb or body, and you took armed measures to disarm them, I would let the cops know.

Lawyering up right away always looks guilty, as if you have something to hide. Lawyering up always plants the something to hide seed. Not to mention that lawyers have a habbit of mucking things up. Then you have to think about how long its going to take for some hump lawyer to get your statment to the detectives, not to mention whether or not he takes the time... and is smart enough to accurately articulate what actually happened. I know this is going to be a big shocker, but not all lawyers are exactly sharp. I personally would talk the investigating officers ear off. This is one of those times that you have to drop the conspiracy theory/all cops are stupid way of thinking, and have faith in the judcial system.

April 24, 2006, 10:58 PM
The cops will use everything you say against you.

Most definately, police will use everything that you say which is incriminating against you.
If you have nothing to hide, and have acted within the limits of the law, you will have nothing to say which is incriminating.

How many times do you think that police give miranda warnings to innocent citizens before they question them in order to obtain the truth...before eliminating them as suspects? Everytime? 9 out of 10?

April 24, 2006, 11:09 PM
What you say can also clarify the situation quickly which could keep you out of problems.
It doesn't hurt to discuss with an attorney. Just realize that while waiting for an attorney you could be waiting where you may not want to wait. Also realize, it's your attorney. The police don't provide you with an attorney.

How many have the foresight to already have an attorney, and have discussed their options with that attorney prior to CCW? Or have given it any thought? Or are they just going to wait until a situation happens then grab the phone book and start running down the names? If so, it's too late at that point.
How many who CCW carry any kind of liability insurance? There's more to self-defense than deciding which ammo to carry. Even in a legit, straight up shooting, if sued it's going to cost you even if you win. Attorneys aren't free. Counter-suing isn't realistic. What's the chances of the BG having anything to collect?

April 25, 2006, 07:32 AM
As a civilian, no statement made, other than an excited utterance can be used against someone, criminally or civilly, unless they have been mirandized. So there really is no need to avoid speaking to an investigating officer unless someone starts to read you your Miranda rights.

April 25, 2006, 07:52 AM
"As a civilian, no statement made, other than an excited utterance can be used against someone, criminally or civilly, unless they have been mirandized."

Not at all true. Every utterance you say can be admissible. Miranda only applies for custodial interviews. Two things have to be present before Miranda applies. One is you have to be in custody. Two is it has to be an interrogation/interview. Absent either one of those and Miranda is not required. Standing at the scene and being asked "What happened?" is not interrogation and you obviously aren't in custody, therefore, there's no requirement for Miranda. Whatever you respond with is admissible.

Shawn Dodson
April 25, 2006, 09:32 AM
Lawyering up right away always looks guilty, as if you have something to hide. Lawyering up always plants the something to hide seed. I disagree. You're merely exercising your rights, no different than an LEO who declines to provide a statement until he/she consults the PBA representative/union attorney.

April 25, 2006, 09:46 AM
DO NOT TALK TO THE POLICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have nothing against police in general,I have something against a few individuals though;) ! ALWAYS,ALWAYS talk to an attorney first!
It is better to spend 72 hours in investigation then 20 years in prison for self defense!I personally spent around 40 hours in an interogation once, they were mad as hell cause i had ABSOLUTLY nothing to say,I sat there with my mouth shut and went home later.Thats all that matters right?:D

April 25, 2006, 10:37 AM
It was suggested in my CHL class, that if you have to shoot someone in self-defense, remain the 'victim' throughout the ordeal. You were attacked (probably), you started off as a victim, stay that way. Don't let the BG be the victim because he's dead. Tell the officer that you are willing to talk, you are under a lot of stress, you can't endure the situation, please get me away from here and I'll tell you what you want to know.

First, you ARE under a lot of stress, adrenaline is pumping and you need to calm down before blurting out any information. And above all, don't get cocky and make like you are a big hero for wasting a bad guy. (It may look as if you planned it)

Second, once you are moved to the police station or wherever, you can ask for an attorney, you've already been established as the victim.

April 25, 2006, 12:44 PM
"And above all, don't get cocky and make like you are a big hero for wasting a bad guy."

Several years ago I was interviewing a cop who took a shot at a driver who tried to run over him. The macho had kicked in and he was making it difficult for me and him. We knew what had happened, had plenty of witnesses, it was a straight up, legit shooting, but we needed to get his story.
I asked him "Why did you shoot at the driver?"
He replied "Because he was trying to run over me."
My next quesion was "So you were in fear of your life."
He answered "Nope, I wasn't afraid."
(Help me here guy. Work with me. Don't make it harder than it needs to be.)
I said "Did you think he would hit you?"
He answered "Yep, coming straight at me. No doubt he intended to hit me."
So I asked again "So you were in fear of your life."
He replied "Nope, I wasn't afraid."
Me: "If he had hit you, do you think he could have killed you or caused you great bodily harm."
Him: "Sure. "
Me: "So being in fear of your life, you fired a round to protect yourself and stop the attack?"
Him: "Yep, except I wasn't afraid."
Why do they make it hard on themselves? All this was audio taped. Fortunately it never came back to bite him but you can imagine what that would have sounded like to a civil jury. "Nope, I wasn't afraid."
Sometimes egos and machismo are your worst enemies.

April 25, 2006, 01:01 PM
Guess lawyers arent "bottom feeders" when there is a body in the house and cops at the door.:D


Shawn Dodson
April 25, 2006, 01:50 PM
"Nope, I wasn't afraid."

He apparently had a "reason to believe" that his life was in danger, but he might not necessarily have been "in fear" for his life.

Fear is an emotion. Not everybody experiences it. Sometimes one just goes on autopilot, and their training, experience and a need to act takes over. For example, when coming to the assistance of other officers I can't recall a moment in which I was "in fear." (And I'm not saying this to be macho - I just sized up the situation and acted with a purpose.) If there was any emotion I can remember feeling, it was anger.

I do understand what you're getting at, though.

April 25, 2006, 01:59 PM
I fully understand what you're saying. I was in several shooting situations in my career (11 total) and responded to others as backup, and in a lot of very hairy situations where there wasn't any backup. Spent nearly 10 yrs on SWAT and was point guy going thru the doors on many occasions. Can't say it was fear. Concern at the time but not "fear" in what people read "fear" in the dictionary. There was too much going on and too much business to take care of to have the emotion "fear". The phrase "in fear of your life" does not equate to shaking-in-your-boots fear but "in grave concern for you life" type fear. In the term used "fear" does not equate to "scared". I'm sure you've heard the term "in fear of your life".

April 26, 2006, 11:54 AM
As far as Miranda warnings go, two things trigger the requirement for a Miranda warning.

1. The freedom to move freely, whether it be by arrest, detention, or other, has been taken away.
2. The asking of incriminating questions.

Both elements, at the same time, must be met in order to trigger the necessity of a Miranda warning.

Hell, you could walk with a mass murderer down the street all day with him confessing to you his worst sins. As long as you never stop/detain/prevent his agress/degress, he isnt entitled to a Miranda warning. And...Everything he said would be totally admissable.

Back on the topic at hand. If you have nothing to hide, then why hide? I cant see someone saying "He broke in my house and came at me with a kinfe/gun, and I shot him." being misconstrued. I guess this is my last postin this thread. I'm going to have to agree to disagree. Good thread and replies.

April 26, 2006, 01:47 PM
As a former and highly effective deputy prosecutor (or DDA for those of you in the Golden State,) I would concur with SRT dog's statement of the law. However, if I had a dollar for every glad-handing felon who only wanted to tell his story, I would be independently wealthy.

If you are legally justified in using deadly force, there are only a few questions I would answer for the investigation officers. I would tell them whther there are any other people in the residence or building. I would tell them where the assailant is. If they ask if you are allright, I would answer truthfully that you don't know. Post-shooting stress will mess you up badly. I would also indicate the location and condition of all unsecured weapons. I would NOT tell the officers anything about the circumstances of the shooting. I would also refrain from characterizing any firearm as "then gun I used to shoot the intruder."

My final statement to the investigators would be something to the effect of, " I mean no disrespect, sir. I understand that you have a job to do. I too have a job to do. My lawyer has told me to never make a statement anywhere unless he or another lawyer is present.

Then I would shut up and take the big ride to the station. I would keep my mouth shut until I was able to speak privatly with my lawyer. Then I would explain the situation to him and let him tell the officers what happened.

If you are ultimately charged and go to trial, the DA cannot on your silence nor your request for an attorney. The DA cannot compel or question your attorney. If your attorney deems it necessary and intelligent for you to testify, you will be free to take the stand and provide the unvarnished truth and no one will be able to allude to your silence on cross examination or in the state's closing argument.

Hopefully, most of us will never be placed in the circumstances of no options other than shooting or dying. Legally and practically, that is the only time it is advisable for a citizen to display a deadly weapon in some states or cities. In some locales, it is permissible to use deadly force to protect a third innocent party. Be absolutely certain that the third party is in immediate and imminent risk of being killed or grievously injured. If you intervene in a scuffle without being relatively certain of who the aggressor is, it is far better to let the authorities respond.

That is the reason they go to work every day and risk their lives and their sanity. On average, the NIJ requires no fewer than 440 hours of intensive training before one can become a police officer and they know what they're doing.

Don't be a Rambo wannabe and remember, it is better to spend four hours in handcuffs than to do four decades in prison. Do your job to protect yourself after a shooting as you have done to protect yourself by shooting.

April 28, 2006, 09:17 PM
from LFI-1 Judicious Use of Deadly Force, April 2000

(1.) Give your address
(2.) Tell them exactly what's going on without going into un-necessary detail:
" I live at 27 Elm Street. There's an intruder in my house RIGHT NOW.
I have him at gunpoint RIGHT NOW. I live at 27 Elm Street."
(3.) Don't begin at the beginning and chronologically describe everything that
has happened. The Dispatcher doesn't need to know and doesn't care! Get to
the point! You can explain the other details later to the responding officers.
(4.) Repeat your address so that they know for sure where you are.
(6.) Give the cops your description -- race and gender, how you're dressed, etc.
(7.) Tell them where in the house you are located and how they can get to you -- will a family member meet them at the door or do they have to break in, or what?
(8.) Give them a description of the suspect, so there will be no problems of
mistaken identity once the police arrive.


(1.) When they arrive, do exactly as they say. If they tell you to put your gun down, hen put it down. If they handcuff you, don't resist. Self defense situations are very chaotic, and the average officer does not go to many incidents involving a legitimate display or delivery of force by a law-abiding citizen, so it may take them quite a while to figure out what's going on.
(2.) What do you tell the cops?
-- "This man tried to attack me"
-- "The evidence is here"
-- "The witnesses are here"
-- "I will sign the complaint"
-- "I will cooperate with the prosecution"
-- "I will cooperate with the investigation, but I'm kind of upset right now. I will cooperate with the investigation and make a full statement after I've had time to gather my thoughts and speak to my attorney."
(3.) You need to give enough of a statement so that the police have an idea about what happened. In particular, they need to know who potential witnesses are and where relevant physical evidence might be located. At the scene, they need enough information to begin the investigation and properly manage the crime scene. Remember, the police equate silence with guilt! The only people who utilize the "right to remain silent" are those with something to hide, so a carefully worded statement is probably in your best interest.

"At the scene, tell the responding officers a synopsis of the incident. Cops connect silence with guilt. Almost everybody they ever deal with who asks for a lawyer turns out to be guilty.
Tell them what they need to know to get an idea about what just happened. Especially identify any witnesses so that the cops know who to talk to, and point out any potential evidence that they might otherwise overlook. Help them to do their job better. If you are perceived as obstructing the investigation, that perception is NOT in your best interest."
-- Massad Ayoob


(1.) Contact the police. Explain the situation. Describe your physical description so that they know who to look for to prevent a "mistaken identity shooting".

(2.) If the event takes place within a building, you need to designate a
"welcoming committee" for the police. Somebody needs to meet the police
at the door, and that somebody needs to be able to repeat the explanation.

(3.) In the case of an enclosed incident, such as the armed robbery of a business, it is desirable for someone to lock all exterior doors and to only open them for uniformed police. This keeps any robbers outside from rescuing their friends, and can prevent witnesses who "don't want to be involved" from slipping out in the confusion.

(4.) Control Yourself!
-- Keep your muzzle off the cops!
-- Don't point the gun at any responding officers by mistake
-- Follow directions from the police

If you're involved in a shooting, give a brief statement to the investigator at the scene. Don't give a detailed statement until you get a chance to calm down, collect your thoughts, and talk to an attorney. GIVE THEM ENOUGH INFORMATION TO GET STARTED IN THE INVESTIGATION. Where is the evidence? Where was the point of entry where he broke into your house? Who are the witnesses?

"Under fire, you will not be able to keep track of how many rounds you fire! We call it the "fire four, reload eight" phenomenon. Under stress, you will experience what is called "cognitive dissonance" which means that your thought processes will be all jumbled up. Your perception of time and distance will be altered and may not be accurate. History has taught us that if you fire more than two or three rounds in a self-defense scenario, you WILL forget how many rounds you've fired.
Sometimes, an investigator who does not understand this dynamic seizes upon this inconsistency as evidence of deception. It is nothing of the kind.
When they ask you how many rounds that you fired, tell them: "I don't know. I was in fear for my life. I didn't have time to count . . . " -- Massad Ayoob
14 April 2000

It's always best to tell the police SOMETHING. If you act like you've got something to hide, they will evaluate the situation in a whole different way

April 29, 2006, 06:49 AM
How many of us have not made prior arrangements with an attorney specifically for CCW, or do not have a family attorney?

I looked for and found an attorney that is active politically in the pro RTKBA movments here in Ohio. I called and chatted with him about keeping his number in my wallet/cell phone, just in case. He agreed and even offered some advice regarding the Ohio plain site requirements while in/on a moving vehicle. Have since sought advice from him on another issue and found it a good thing to have a friendly relationship with an exprienced profesional.

WildAlaska as far as bottom feeders, hmm well I guess there are 1 or 2 out there who might give the rest a good name :)

Attributed quote (to John Adams?) -In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress.

April 29, 2006, 08:55 AM
Does anyone have experience of the American Self Defense Institute? For $50.00 a year they provide, among other things, a 800 number you can call for legal advice after a self defence incident, and will help you find a _suitable_ lawyer. They do NOT pay legal costs.

(benefits listed).

This organization would appear to be of particular value if out of state.


Capt. Charlie
April 29, 2006, 12:16 PM
(1.) Give your address
(2.) Tell them exactly what's going on without going into un-necessary detail:
" I live at 27 Elm Street. There's an intruder in my house RIGHT NOW.
I have him at gunpoint RIGHT NOW. I live at 27 Elm Street."
(3.) Don't begin at the beginning and chronologically describe everything that
has happened. The Dispatcher doesn't need to know and doesn't care! Get to
the point! You can explain the other details later to the responding officers.
(4.) Repeat your address so that they know for sure where you are.
Good advice, Jeff, but let me veer from the original thread topic long enough to add one important thing. Don't just give your address; give a brief description of your house or business as well.

If I had a penny for every street address I had difficulty finding, I could've retired a long time ago. Inconsistencies in address numbering, hidden or difficult to see house numbers, or a complete lack of them are common, and precious time is lost trying to find a particular address. That's precious time that can be life-threatening to you.

Give something simple, like "it's the red brick house third from the corner". Where it's possible, police units will also approach from the rear where there are no numbers, and the description helps coordinate their approach.

April 29, 2006, 02:32 PM
I'd like to add a few thoughts to this excellent thread.

#1 "A kid broke into my home and attacked me with a knife. I shot him with my gun to protect myself. He collapsed outside the door of my bedroom. I?m calling you from the telephone in my bedroom. Please send the police and an ambulance."

I'd never say "I shot him" but I would say (as the 2nd example did) "I fired at him to protect myself." with emphasis on the idea that you fired at the person, not that you know for sure that you actually shot him. An instructor told me about a case where the shooter said he'd shot the BG, but there wasn't a mark on the guy. Turns out the dead BG died of a heart attack and the shooter had missed twice.

Besides that, saying "I shot him" implies you are responsible for the person's injuries or demise. Saying "I shot at him" or "I fired on him" is truthful and does not assign a result to the shooting.

I'm of the opinion that you need to provide the arriving officers with enough information to establish YOU are the victim, the other person is the criminal and who needs medical attention. Pointing out evidence or witnesses is crucial too. If the incident started in a park a block away, you tell them that so they can look for evidence between locations. But you clam up on the specifics until you talk to a lawyer.

When the questions start, give a direct and honest response like "Officers, this happened so fast and I'm so shaken up I don't think I can say anything until I talk to my lawyer. I want to cooperate but right now I don't even know if I can tell you what day it is."

Blackwater OPS
April 29, 2006, 05:20 PM
I had an interesting thought today, that it would never even cross my mind to withold information from the police after say, a traffic accident or anything not involving firearms.

It is just when it comes to self defense or guns in general that I become worried about being "railroaded" into a position where I am forced to defend myself in court.

April 30, 2006, 03:47 AM
Capt. Charlie is absolutely right in his advice about describing your house or the location of the incident clearly to the police dispatcher when calling in a report.

I'm working right now (in relieving the dispatcher at this exact moment) and it's been raining steadily since about 7pm. About 1:50am this morning I got sent to back up another agency at a domestic in one of the older residential neighborhoods downtown, with lots of trees. In the dark, in the rain, that causes lots of shadows. And a lot of people don't have easily visible house numbers on the front of their houses either. In this case, the female complainant was barricaded in the back bedroom and couldn't turn on the porch light or do anything to help us locate the house.

It turned out NOT to be a big deal -- the drunken boyfriend was arrested for disorderly conduct and went to jail. He didn't hit her nor tear up the house or anything like that. Still, it took us a while to find the right house because we didn't want to light up the entire neighborhood with spotlights or flashlights trying to find the right house, because we wanted to surprise the suspect when we showed up. Well we did, and he wasn't much of a problem other than being mouthy and then whiney after he was arrested, but under other circumstances that delay in finding the house might have been critical.

May 3, 2006, 10:45 PM
As a civilian, no statement made, other than an excited utterance can be used against someone, criminally or civilly, unless they have been mirandized. So there really is no need to avoid speaking to an investigating officer unless someone starts to read you your Miranda rights.

Not true. More and more things can be held against you every year as the sup. ct. chips away at Miranda. Confessions can come in if voluntary before miranda. For the "public safety" certain things can come in -- for example if you just shot someone the cops can say "where's the gun?" and if you tell them they can use that 'confession' of knowledge against you. All sorts of things.

As a lawyer the thing that worries me most about people talking to the cops is that 1) cops are expertly trained in getting things out of you that you don't necessarily want to say, even if you have absolutely no plans to say them initially 2) you may tell the cops you did something that you didn't even realize is illegal, but that the cops never would have found out if you hadn't yammed it up.

When we studied criminal procedure we realized just how often people "slit their throats with their own tongues." Problem is, you never know when it's going to happen so you might as well shut up.

May 30, 2006, 05:39 AM
When we studied criminal procedure we realized just how often people "slit their throats with their own tongues." Problem is, you never know when it's going to happen so you might as well shut up.

Doggieman, you got it exactly right!!!
As a former LEO, I can attest to this fact. I cannot count the number of times people put the noose around their own neck without realizing it, and I just stood their and let them.

The problem with many LEO's is that we become jaded. Many begin to look at society as Perpetrators or possible perpetrators. This is the reason that I left the field.

The best advice is to say nothing without YOUR attorney present...PERIOD!

June 18, 2006, 06:46 AM
From John Farnam of Defense Training International

14 June 2006
Two important points from Skip Gochenour's lecture at the 2006 National Tactical Invitational.Skip is involved with the criminal justice system daily, and these two points should be kept in mind by all of us: In the wake of a deadly-force incident in which you were involved:
(1) Let your lawyer do all the talking!
(2) "Self-defense" is a justification only available when your actions were intentional. "Self-defense" may not be invoked to justify accidents!
Your lawyer can have his facts all mixed up. He can tell outrageous lies.
You can fire him on Monday morning, and probably should! However, when talking with investigators and prosecutors, HE CAN GET YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY BEFORE THEM WITHOUT STATEMENTS THAT ARE ATTRIBUTABLE TO YOU! You needn't worry about what he says, to anyone. You need only worry about what you say.

It 's your statements, even inadvertent ones, that will come back to haunt you.

For example: When you intimate or even suggest, however subtly, that your use of deadly force was, in fact, accidental, from that point forward "self-defense" will no longer be available to you as a justification for what you did. A negligent discharge (ND) that results in an injury or death is a negligent homicide, and it cannot be subsequently converted to "self-defense," no matter what the person was doing when he was shot. STATEMENTS AS INNOCENT-SOUNDING AS, "I 'M SORRY." "I DIDN'T MEAN TO" or "I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS HAPPENED" ARE ALL THUS PERNICIOUSLY INCRIMINATING. Such statements must never leave your lips! Those of us who go armed neglect the foregoing at our peril.

created by [email protected]
Copyright © 2006 by DTI, Inc. All rights reserved.
created on Wednesday June 14, 2006 23:59:2 MST
Refinements, from a student who is a well-known and respected criminal defense attorney:
"I cannot count the number of times I've heard a client say, "They wanted to interview me, and we talked a little, but I didn't tell them ANYTHING. I was very careful.' Then, I get the discovery, including the report on the interview. It invariably includes a full confession, plus additional damaging statements, repeated multiple times. Great beginning for our defensive strategy!

The only thing that I believe a person should tell police who arrive at a hot scene (not all lawyers agree) is:

(1) 'Thank heaven you're here!'
(2) 'I'm the one who called.'
(3) 'A man broke into our house and tried to murder us.' (adjust as necessary)
(4) 'I'll be happy to answer all your questions, as soon as my lawyer is here.'

The only additional statements I advise are: Tell arriving officers about: (1) active threats, (2) innocent people in the area (3) evidence, and (4) witnesses. These are important to the case, to the safety of officers and others, and may not be obvious. Those statements, while still not risk-free, are appropriate and reasonable, and I think there is a moral duty to provide information which DIRECTLY effects the safety of officers and the discovery of truth."

created by [email protected]
Copyright © 2006 by DTI, Inc. All rights reserved.
created on Thursday June 15, 2006 23:59:2 MST

June 18, 2006, 09:29 AM
What about anyone who was with you? Are you going to ask them to clam up too? Is that a reasonable expectation? Would THAT request be incriminating if it came to light? If they do clam, they get to take the big ride and be detained also because if you have not admitted to being the shooter, they may be presumed potentially guilty?

I assume comments made by the spouse could be indirectly damaging (by suggesting damaging questions to ask others, for one example), even though spousal testimony cannot be used against you.

At what point is the evidence of children admissible? Who knows what children might say?

Unless they know the game, adult family/friends are going to want to say (true) things that will put you in the clear. And the police will talk to them out of your earshot at the scene.

I'm sorry these questions complicate the discussion, but I have never seen them discussed. I realize there is a big difference between inadvertant self-incrimination, and potential incrimination by others. Their version of the event is likely to differ from yours somewhat, and those contradictions might be exploited, I suppose.

A lawyerly comment would be very helpful here.

June 18, 2006, 12:13 PM
cgraham has brought up a point as important as the origional poster. What if your not by yourself when the SHTF?? What are their problems if they clam up?

June 18, 2006, 12:34 PM
From what I have been told by the Detectives that I work with in Homicide sections, their word of advise is "Keep your mouth shut until your lawyer shows up." They are trained to get any type of statement from you. And if you think that just because your friends with them, sorry, but that goes out the window. If they don't do their job correctly, they can get in trouble for not following procedures. Just as we have the right to carry a firearm, we also have the right to remain silent no matter what the LEO feels about us "Lawyering up."

June 18, 2006, 11:40 PM
Media Tactics

By Victoria Deaton
E-mail: [email protected]

Here goes...off the cuff...my basic rule on how to deal with reporters (mostly TV) when they show up at the shooting scene, and later on at your door and at the courthouse. I'll try and post a more concise version later. Grab a cup of coffee. It's a very long post but subtle nuances are important here. I'm not supporting or damning the media, just giving y'all a feel for what usually happens. If you have a shooting buddy, and you feel pretty comfortable with what I'm outlining, discuss a media plan with him and your attorney in case a shooting occurs to give you some level of preparedness. You may need your buddy as a designated family spokesman. Don't identify him as a shooting sports partner...just a "friend of the family".

I'll assume the shooting happened in a public place, making it a bit more high-profile, like in a road-rage situation where good guy and bad guy aren't immediately evident, unlike a situation where some guy broke into your house at night. The following thoughts are based on heavy media coverage in a town that has a big newspaper, several TV stations, and a neighboring town that has the same. You might get lucky and just get a reporter or two. Unless your local law enforcement agency's jurisdiction has 800MHz systems you can expect the media to show up shortly after the law enforcement officers are dispatched to the shooting scene. 800Mhz systems can cut down on what the media pick up on the scanner, but some law enforcement agency's are providing the media with 800 MHz receive-only radios upon request. In short, you may have to deal with reporters and cameras during one of the most stressful moments of your life. Stay cool, and take care of business.

At the scene, don't duck the cameras. It makes you look guilty. Never, EVER put your hand over or on the lens of a camera, or get in a shoving match with a photographer. It makes you look guilty and evasive, and the photographer in most jurisdictions can and will press charges. Most of all, it makes you look physically aggressive — not a good thing at this time. If you are in a patrol car, don't duck down; don't cover your head. If the officer can give you a copy of a report or even a piece of useless paper to look at, it's even better to look occupied. If not, a simple nod to a camera is okay. Do NOT talk to reporters or answer questions yelled at you. They will be set up in a line along the crime scene tape and a camera will always be on you. Reporters will be talking to the designated law enforcement officer spokesperson. There might be choppers overhead. Live vans and sat trucks will set up on sidewalks. The circus has come to town.

At some point you may have to walk into your local courthouse/police department. Expect cameras during this "walkdown". Again, don't duck. If you're cuffed in front, ask the law enforcement officer if you can fold a shirt or jacket over the cuffs. Photographers will be walking alongside, ahead, and behind you and scurrying pretty quickly. This is a function of having to have walkdown shots that are 30 seconds long plus having shots to edit, so they're gonna be moving pretty quickly and jockeying for position. Don't misinterpret this as aggression. Again, a nod is fine. Do NOT say anything more than "It's best I don't talk to you guys yet." if anything at all. Always use conversational language whenever possible. Walk tall. Don't slouch. Don't appear cocky. Just walk normally. You can do anything for 3 minutes and that's all the media wants at that point: pictures and maybe some sound (TV slang for "interview") with one of the folks involved in the shooting. Pray for a tornado, hurricane, landslide, meteorite...anything to divert crews (manpower) to other stories. <g>

If you have an attorney at this point, coordinate a statement of some sort and contact your family to make sure they get the same message. The media will descend upon your house to get a shot of where you live and will probably knock on the door. If it was up to me, and if it's a high profile shooting, I'd put my family in a hotel room for a few days. Expect live trucks on the street. Expect your neighbors to be asked questions. The line your family is to use is "hi, guys...sorry, we just can't talk right now" if they are getting in the car to come down to the PD. Conversational english. Non-adversarial.

Reporters have deadlines. TV reporters have to have pictures and an interview for that deadline. TV folks will need something for 12 noon, 5pm, 530pm, 6pm, and 11pm, and the stuff will get regurgitated for the early am show at 6am or whatever; they call this "feeding the monster"--a huge demand for fresh pictures and interviews. They are not interviewing you because they want to or want to "nail" you. They are there because of managers who are competing to be #1 with the story, and that crew is the one that got dispatched. Don't take it personally. Depending on whether the shooting was a big deal they will do liveshots, and photographers will be looking for pictures. Did you use a pistol or an AR-15? Expect to see a shot on the news of a law enforcement officer handling it, and boy does that AR look big as hell. Simple COM (center of mass) shots from a Glock 19? Pictures of the brass on the street. A 12ga. fired at near point-blank range leaving a mess on the bad guy's car? Depending on the video standards (rules of what gore can be used on-air) at a station, that mess from the shotgun may show up. Shootings are ugly. The pictures won't be of you fighting for your life so that you can go home to your family, but of the aftermath. I think about these things because I've seen them for the past 12+ years and unfortunately the expected post-shooting media exposure affects my shoot/no-shoot decisions.

You can't control the pictures at the scene but at least you can control the soundbites from your "team" that go on TV and the quotes in the paper. Have your attorney work with someone you designate as a family representative, like your shooting buddy (who may better understand a defensive shooting situation than your non-shooting neighbor Barney does). First, get control of your personal situation: handle the Law enforcement officers, get your attorney on the horn, and call your family. Then use the attorney and your designated family spokesman to provide the media with a statement if they are on the story big time, even if the statement doesn't amount to much. Once it's approved by the attorney, have your friend Joe Soundbite go to the house, if that's where the media are camped out. If at all possible, give them a statement away from the house to draw them away from your family and neighbors. (If you ever once carted a shotgun out to your car on the way to the gunsmith and a clueless neighbor saw it, you can expect a soundbite on TV to the effect of "yeah, he was always playing with guns" or something stupid like that.)

Spokesman: "Hi, I'm Joe Soundbite, and since Fred Defendant is over at the police department helping out with the report, he's designated me to give you guys a brief statement. Before we get going, I'd like to ask for your help. First, we'd appreciate it if you folks will respect his family and give them some room. No one here in the house is going to make a statement. Second, any questions about the situation will need to be directed towards Todd Louis Green, his attorney, who will give you folks more info since he's working closely with the PD and with Fred. This okay? Good. Now I'm going to make a statement. You guys ready?(they'll all nod since they've been rolling tape all this time---it just makes you look as cooperative as possible) I can't answer any questions, but Fred is uninjured (or is being treated or whatever). He told the police that he'd cooperate in any way necessary. The situation happened while he was on his way to work/lunch/whatever. It's a stressful time for everyone involved, and we're cooperating fully with the authorities."

Two things have happened. You've gotten the message out that you don't want the media hounding you (more on that later) and you've given them a miniscule soundbite ("it happened on the way to work...he's cooperating") which is something benign but usable. Make sure your buddy sticks to the script. Keep the tone conversational, like you're telling your employees about a new policy. Firm, but conversational.

After the statement, the media will attempt to get more information. Joe Soundbite, your friend/spokesman, is to smile, shake his head, and say, "Geez guys, I can't give you any more than that since everyone is so busy and I don't have much info. But if you guys will help out and not hassle the family, we'll help out by giving you guys what you need in time to meet deadlines. Have you talked to the cops? They've been very helpful to us. Perhaps they can give you more than I can." He's identified Law enforcement officers as being "helpful" to you (that's subtle), and then ended the impromptu press conference.

June 18, 2006, 11:41 PM
dealing with the news media -- continued

This sort of deal making usually works when you've got a shooter who has been already identified as being in a "self-defense shooting". Remember the advice in other posts to tell cops "I' was afraid for my life"? That's a good thing. Remember that if it is a justifiable shooting, and the basic facts come out soon afterwards (reporters will interview law enforcement officer spokespeople on the scene) then you have a very good chance of working with media that will understand early on that it was a justifiable shooting. Good newspeople (they do still exist) will recognize the dynamics.

You can expect calls from the newspaper and TV stations all day and into the night and for a while after the shooting, so prepare your family accordingly. Stick to your spokesman unless your spouse is up to it. Joe or Spouse Soundbite is to repeat the script. Change a few words here and there as the hours progress so they have something different to put on the air...again, it's a sort of trade. If you give them tidbits to appease their editors and producers so that they can feed the monster, they'll give you a bit of room. They may contact your employer to find out what kind of person you are. Don't be surprised if they look for any criminal history...anything on the record will show up, particularly if the shooting has any hint of being anything other than self-defense. Going before a magistrate? If the magistrate permits, you may have cameras on you there as well.

When coming out of the Police Department, after talking to your attorney, you'll have another walkdown the same as before. Best to have your attorney come out, talk to reporters, and give a brief statement. If he's media savvy, he'll give the ground rules, just like Joe Soundbite did (see how this is coordinated?). It goes something like this:

Attorney: "Hey guys, gather round and I'll tell you what's up. First, no cameras for a second, okay? Fred is finishing up with the Police. It's been a long day, and we'd appreciate it if you'd give him and his family some room. That okay? Can you do that? We know you need statements and pictures, so here's the deal. He won't run from you guys if you don't chase him. I'm gonna give you guys a statement, answer as many questions as I can, and then we'll see if Fred is done and we'll walk out. How about we come out this door, we'll get in the elevator, and walk out the front door. He'll walk to the end of the block here and then we're gonna get in the car and that'll be it for today."

The attorney answers questions; his style at that point is his choice. He goes back and gets Fred (you), but before he comes out the door, he comes back out to the herd of reporters and says "we're about ready". What this does is look like you are cooperating fully, helping out the media who have been camped out not knowing when you'd appear. In essence, you are controlling your appearance, which is better than running the gauntlet. Give them a bit of what they want after setting up the guidelines. Most of the time, attorneys will help their client sneak out a back door. When that happens, media members form an impromptu "pool" that temporarily puts media competitors on the same team and increases resources...they will assign photographers to each door, with the agreement that whoever gets the video will share it with the other competing station. Again, give them a little bit, and they'll usually back off and won't resort to pool tactics or pack mentality. It works 90% of the time.

Do not discuss the case in any way shape or form. Don't give much personal information other than the most positive (Sunday school teacher, etc). Don't let anyone who is making statements say stuff like "Fred is well-trained...shoots IDPA...is on a tactics list." It will come out as "Fred trained to do this sort of shooting." THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS OFF THE RECORD, AND CAMERAS ARE ALWAYS ROLLING. It's the media version of "treat every gun as if it's loaded". Never let your guard down. Don't say anything stupid. Also, wireless mics are pretty much standard nowadays in TV. It's unethical, but sometimes a reporter will show up on a doorstep with no camera with the intention of getting someone on the record...with a photographer nearby recording the audio and pictures. Never be afraid to ask if you are being recorded (and ask them to stop if necessary and insist on an off-camera interview), and always assume that you are being recorded anyway to be safe. A good reporter will knock on the door, politely ask if you (or family member) will consent to be interviewed on camera. If not, will you make a statement off-camera? If not, can they get pictures of you and the reporter talking but without sound? You may feel like not saying anything, and that is your right. But if nothing else, comply with the last one (reasons follow), but be sure and ask if they are recording the conversation. Remember that while you may not want to give a statement, the victim's family certainly will, and it is best to be on the record in some way that makes you human. But do it in a controlled fashion. Never lose your cool, even if the reporter is a jerk. Let your attorney handle the folks who are on your private property against your wishes *after* you have officially, politely asked them to leave. Have your attorney place a phone call to the station's general manager or the newspaper's publisher. Crap rolls downhill, and no news director wants to hear from their boss that an employee was acting unethically. Expect to hear some sort of excuse about "reporting the news", so don't bother calling unless it's over-the-top aggressive tactics.

If the police report comes out favorably to the shooter, have the attorney, or family member, leak a copy of it. Send it first to the reporters who are cooperating with your request for some privacy.

Do NOT threaten reporters/photographers. One incident a few years back had a shooter threatening to *shoot* reporters if they came on his property. Not good <g>. If they do come onto your property, let the cops know. If the shooting happened on your property, the media will be behind crime scene tape and that distance is determined by Law enforcement officers. They will also look for other angles, like the street behind your house.

Take a look at your property and where the public right-of-way is. Once the crime scene tape comes down, the media knows where the right of way is and will sit there. This means that they can't sit on your lawn, but they can shoot from the sidewalk, or across the street. Remember that if you take an adversarial position with them, they will find ways to get pictures that are worse than those that you control--i.e, the controlled walkdown, the statement on the steps, etc. If you can get them away from your house by keeping all the statements at the PD or attorney's office, even better.

Also remember that the victim's family will be involved and may be interviewed. They *will* provide pictures of the victim to the media. As you can expect, the picture won't be of a snarling, crazed gunman who pulled a gun on you. It will be a picture of him at a family cookout or some pre-crack-addiction picture with him smiling and looking nice and neat, or him accepting the employee of the year award at work. You'll hear the relatives say "He was a great dad/son...he never hurt anyone...now what will we do now that Sally has no daddy?" That picture and interview will be shown in the same report as your picture going into the courthouse. The victim's family can talk for hours and make themselves heard to every reporter who will interview them. You're stuck with short soundbites through your attorney and spokesman at first. This is why image is so darned important. If the shooting incident goes as far as to change legislation (the Seagroves shooting in NC, for example) the pictures will be trotted out for years to come whenever the issue arises. Image is everything. Don't lose your cool. Take care of business with the Law enforcement officers and your attorney, then take care of your family. Make sure if you have kids that you help them deal with the focus that will be on your family. Keep young kids away from the TV initially since the pictures from the scene may be frightening to them. As soon or someone you trust has time, explain in appropriate detail the situation and the resulting publicity. Your kids may take some crap at school; your kid's teacher or guidance counselor may be able to help. Again, never release any info that may come back to haunt you.

Never play up to the camera. No Bible-thumping. No false tears (remember Susan Smith? Every newsroom in the county knew within 10 seconds of her first interview that she was guilty). No matter what you think of the media, there are usually professionals here and there in very market who will give balanced reports right up until the point where they feel you are manipulating them beyond what can be reasonably expected, but no further. Understand what they need to "feed the monster", give them enough to keep them out of your hair, but do not give them anything that will ever come back to haunt you.

Just my 2¢ worth. The counsel of your attorney and local Law enforcement officers takes precedence and none of this is legal advice.YMMV, etc. I'll be more than happy to answer any specific questions and I promise I won't be as long-winded. <g>

Victoria Deaton is a Photojournalist with over 12 years of experience working for major news organizations. She is also an avid shooter and an advocate of the 2nd Amendment and carrying concealed weapons.

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