Justifiable deadly force and justifiable homicide stand within some of the grayest areas of law today. In one particular case, four sheriff’s deputies in Oklahoma were part of an informal investigation pursued by the Pottawatomie County District Attorney, Richard Smothermon. The DA issued the decision in a formally written letter to Sheriff Mike Booth that the four deputies were, indeed, justified in using deadly force at the scene that killed the suspect.
At the end of a high-speed chase, which began with an altercation between the suspect and a victim, the four sheriffs had discharged their weapons and shot the suspect, resulting in his death. They took this action because the suspect had fired two shots at the victim’s vehicle, and then would not stop when pursued by law enforcement vehicles, lights and sirens blaring, exceeding 90 miles per hour and traveling several miles before losing control of his vehicle and crashing into a ditch.
Officers, who were aware the suspect was armed and shot at the victim, drew their weapons and ordered the suspect to get out of the vehicle several times. The suspect then accelerated and revved the engine, trying to get out of the ditch, which triggered the officers’ order to disable the vehicle. When the suspect came out of the vehicle with gun in hand, raising it in the air, and then pointing at the officers, the four deputies in question discharged their weapons at the suspect.

Justifiable Deadly Force

When deadly force is used, necessity is a vital factor in determining justifiability. In most cases, the use of deadly force used for self-defense requires assessment of the following questions:

  • Was the deadly force necessary?
  • Was deadly force reasonable?
  • Was death or serious bodily injury imminent?

Posing these questions in the case of the deputies mentioned above, it would seem that the deadly force was not only necessary to stop the suspect from doing any damage or hurting anyone. With a gun pointed at the officers, death or serious bodily injury was certainly imminent. Therefore, the deadly force was justifiable. If you provoked the attack, however, it could not be considered justifiable. Not all deadly force cases are as cut-and-dry as the case above. Often, whether the actions you took were considered to be justifiable deadly force will be left up to subjective opinion of a police officer or a judge.

Contact A Legal Representative

An Oklahoma U.S. Law Shield Program attorney can help you prove your justifiable deadly force defense if you find yourself charged, arrested, or under investigation for using self-defense. Call us today at 405-232-7980.