By Mark “Six” James
The stress and adrenaline dump of a deadly force encounter are challenging enough in and of themselves; however post deadly force encounter the steps you take next are as important as the preparation which allowed to survive the encounter.
In most states you cannot use any more force than the force being used against you and when that force stops so must yours. If you have made the decision to use deadly force you must have felt your life, or that of your client or team member was in serious danger. That decision will be sorted out by the judge not me but until then here are some important considerations:
When the perpetrator is no longer a threat stop shooting. While you call the authorities continue to check your surroundings particularly behind you to make sure he has no bad guy buddies trying to sneak up on you. Since there is a temporary lull in the storm, take the time to tactically reload (get your weapon back to full ammo capacity); in the event that the situation continues to deteriorate.
Call 911 or ask someone to call the authorities immediately, and ask the dispatcher to send the police, if the client, team member, innocent bystander or perpetrator has been injured also notify them to send an ambulance also (even if you believe the perpetrator may be fatally injured ask them to send an ambulance anyway). Give the dispatcher a good description of yourself so police may recognize you.
You need to be the first to call in you don’t want the perpetrator or the perpetrators buddies calling the authorities first trying to manipulate the situation. As soon as it is tactically safe have the other team members evacuate the client. You must be careful while the first encounter may have been an attempt on your life or that of your client, there may be other assailants waiting to launch a second strike.
Now call your attorney. First call is to 911, second call is to your attorney! Don’t misrepresent the facts (to either the dispatcher or police) or alter evidence at the scene. If you alter evidence eventually it will be found out and your credibility will be lost at minimum or you may be charged with tampering with evidence. Secure the weapon. If the perpetrator has a weapon, try and secure the weapon, this does not necessarily mean picking it up.
You may accomplish this by merely instructing the perpetrator to move away from the weapon. There may be times when you may have to literally secure the weapon (for your own safety or the safety of others), if this is the case and you must pick it up, consider sticking an ink pen in the muzzle/barrel and picking it up.
Other times you may secure the weapon by slightly moving it away from the perpetrators grasp with your foot. If a crowd appears and they start to become riotous and you no longer feel safe and you must flea, immediately tell the dispatcher if they are still on the line or redial the police as you head straight to the police station. As soon as it is tactically possible secure your own weapon in your holster (however holstering your own weapon does not mean not keeping it at the ready).
You don’t want to be standing there with a gun in your hand when the police arrive. There will be times that you may have to hold a perpetrator at bay, until the police arrive. If that is the case and they say put your gun down. Please heed that advice, you don’t want to become an accidental shooting because they thought you were the perpetrator!
There is a good chance you will at minimum be handcuffed or arrested even in a self-defense shooting, until the police can sort out the situation.
Remember the police are also concerned for their own safety and since one person is already down, they don’t want the second person down to be them. Tell the police you would like to press charges or file a complaint against the perpetrator. Point out any witnesses on the scene or relevant evidence the police should be aware of.
Don’t talk to anyone about the case until it has been adjudicated. If you are arrested and placed in a holding cell, avoid talking to anyone about your situation. You never know who may be trying to cut their own deal or if the police may have planted a snitch to try and check your story.
Don’t talk to your family, friends, co-workers or strangers about the case. People will try and press you for details. Just advise them, “unfortunately this is still an ongoing investigation and I am not at liberty to make any comments.” While you may not be charged criminally in the case, it doesn’t mean you may not become the party of a civil suit.