In every concealed class I have taught I have always hammered home if you shoot someone, even if justified, plan to get a new set of bracelets and a jail cell for at least a short period of time. A recent incident in Taylorsville, NC showed this is absolutely the case. WSOCTV reported the family of an employee called the employer at his home and threatened to kill him. The men then went to the employer’s home armed with pipes and he shot one of men in his driveway. The men left the property after the shooting and the person who had been shot died on the way to the hospital. The incident was videotaped and the men are reported to be separated by some distance at the time of the shooting. The incident happened Monday in Alexander County and according to the news report the Sheriff indicated they were 50 feet apart. (Let’s explore that at the end of today’s post.)
In NC you have a right to defend yourself and according to our castle doctrine laws you can do so with deadly force in your home, work (if allowed), and car without hesitation. Something I often skip over in class is your curtilage. The reason I do so is it is easy for someone to understand their home, work, or car and difficult to understand the curtilage. It also keeps them out of a grey area. The curtilage of a home is the land (or buildings/structures) immediately surrounding a home. Per the law I should be fine to use the castle doctrine in those areas, but the definition of what is and what is not my curtilage could be open for interpretation. In this case I believe that is what we have and the sheriff erred on the side of caution and arrested the shooter. I personally believe that was the wrong move because he was not a flight risk and also because with a good lawyer he should be proven to be within the curtilage of his home, although he does need to start keeping his mouth shut. There is nothing positive which can come from speaking anything other than the facts of the case to law enforcement and the media. Other than the facts and pointing out any evidence which might be lost you should keep your mouth closed.
Let’s take a look now at what I see in the photos. First a long shot of the driveway where the incident happened. Unless someone monkeyed with the crime scene the car in the driveway was most likely already in the driveway and the men with the pipes most likely pulled up behind it and exited the vehicle. Assuming the police car is outside any area of evidence collection the distance from the police cruiser to the back of the black car in the driveway is, wait for it, about 50 feet. Actually assuming the length of a car is 18-20 feet it might be 60 feet, but keep in mind it is not part of our area marked off with crime scene tape. Let’s zoom in a little.
In this next photo you can see the markers placed by law enforcement. Typically they are marking casings, blood, and other crime scene evidence. I can clearly see a metal pipe (3) and markers 1 through 4. Assuming, perhaps incorrectly, the man who was shot had the pipe and was shot there or close by the distance from the garage to the markers is at most 40 feet and to the black car at most 20-25 feet. I certainly would call my driveway my curtilage. So the shooter could not shoot through the black car, with the police marching all over the area to the left of the black car one would hope he was not standing in that position so the shot must have originated from closer to the house. It’s recorded on cell phone video, but I can’t compute a 50 foot distance from what I see on the newscast. If 1, 2, or 4 is a spent casing then the distance to the pipe is 10 feet or less.
I’ll watch this case with some interest, but the issue for the man who shot would be having no proof of a death threat on the phone. Other than that three men arriving with metal pipes registers to me as a show of deadly force. If one charged me I would probably shoot them rather than face being beat to death by a team of trespassers.