Indiana: Where It’s Legal For Criminals To Kill Cops
By now you should all be at least a little familiar with the Castle Doctrine, or “Stand Your Ground” law, as it’s often and mistakenly called (they’re not synonymous). After all, those three words—Stand Your Ground—were pounded into our ears, time after time, day after day, by most of the news media during the days leading up to a recent high-profile trial. And they did so even though Stand Your Ground was never part of the defendant’s defense. But, this post is not about that case. Not at all. This is about Indiana and just how dangerous it is to work as a police officer in that loony bin that calls itself a state. No offense to the citizens there. I’m sure you are all fine people. The lunacy I’m talking about is in the form of politicians (as if that’s news in any state, including the District), and I’ll explain.
Simply put, the Castle Doctrine is a law that permits a person to use force, including deadly force, to defend himself in his own home against intruders. In some states, the law extends to vehicles. And, in other states, such as the case in Florida, citizens have the right to use force, including deadly force, to defend themselves anywhere and anytime, without first attempting to retreat.
Personally, I believe everyone should have the right to defend him/herself anytime and anywhere. And, if the violence escalates to the point where your life is danger, well, your level of defense should rise to a level that terminates the threat.
Indiana, however, has taken the Castle Doctrine to the extreme. Governor Michael Pence signed a bill into law that legally allows the use of deadly force against police officers should you believe they entered your home illegally. That’s right, the governor of Indiana basically issued a free pass to kill cops.
Think about it for a moment…
Joe and Ima Dopedealer just sold the last eight ball of the night and then readied themselves for bed, gargling and brushing their nine teeth—Joe has four and Ima five. Crack and meth took the rest. They gathered up a few weapons—nothing fancy, just an AK and a couple of .45’s—and placed them on the floor beside their bed, a mattress they’d found leaning against the dumpster in the alley behind Jimmy Joe’s Reptile Emporium and Ice Cream Shoppe.
They were both sawing some serious Z’s when they heard the front door come crashing in. This was followed by what sounded like several people somewhere in the front part of the house yelling something about “serve porridge?” And why were they yelling it over and over again?
Joe grabbed the AK and Ima a .45, and when two of the porridge people broke through the bedroom door, well, Joe and Ima capped them both.
“Scary critters too,” Joe told the detective, “all dressed in black, wearing masks and carrying machine guns. But that wasn’t the end of it. No sir. They was more porridge folks coming down the hallway, and they musta’ been plenty scared ’cause they was a callin’ and a screamin’ for the po’leece the whole time. Come to find out, they was the po’leece, and they kicked in the front door ’cause they said me and Ima done sold some rock to an undercover po’leece woman.”
But, thanks to Indiana’s “kill a cop” law, Joe and Ima won’t be facing any charges because they didn’t know they were shooting and killing members of the Drug Suppression Unit’s entry team, who, by the way, were yelling “Search Warrant!” (not “serve porridge” as Joe thought) as they entered the house after using a battering ram to gain access through the locked door.
Joe and Ima both told investigators that they were defending their home against who they thought were robbers, or killers, or both, especially since they wore masks and carried guns. And, they broke down the front door just like those men who committed the home invasions two blocks over just one month before the police “hit” Joe and Ima’s house.
This Indiana law sets a horrible precedent. Sure, the scenario above is to the extreme. But, in the land of reality, a citizen’s rights of protection against unlawful search and seizure are already guaranteed by the 4th Amendment, and you can bet every single cop in this country has been taught what they can and cannot do based on the 4th. However, the average Bill and Jane have no clue what’s legal or illegal regarding search and seizure laws and protections. All they know now is that they have a new-found tee-totally new right to hit, punch, slap, and even shoot any cop who tries to make what the Bill and Jane’s of Indiana think is an illegal arrest.
So, what the governor of Indiana has done is to open year-round hunting season on police officers. I wonder if he also set a bag limit on the number of officers a crook can kill per day?
You know, an officer’s job is stressful enough as it is, worrying that you might not make it home at the end of your shift. And there are plenty of officers who don’t—57 so far this year. It’s a dangerous job, and the officers in Indiana sure have more to worry about now than ever before.
I’m guessing the law makers who dream up and pass garbage like this law have never been faced with danger of any kind, and don’t care about the people who do, ironically, while protecting the very politicians writing this stuff. I guess some of them have more important things to worry about, like how to get away with sexting and posting nude photos of themselves on the internet.
What law makers/politicians should be worrying about are, for example, finding solutions to the problems associated with the U.S. having the largest prison population in the world. And that southern states incarcerate more people than in other areas of the country. For example, Louisiana, the state with the highest murder rate, also has the highest population of prisoners—893 per 100,000 residents, and the majority of those inmates are serving their time in privately run prisons (prisons for profit).
Mississippi is second on the list, and it’s prison system is already $30 million in the hole for 2013. This state is also the proud owner of the highest poverty rate in the country.
Then comes Alabama, Oklahoma (23% of their inmates are housed in private prisons), and Texas (number 5 on the “most incarcerated” list). Georgia and Florida also made the top ten list. Again, a high poverty rate in Georgia while Florida is the nation’s eighth highest on the list for violent crimes committed (515 crimes per 100,000 residents).
What about the body count in Chicago. Young men, women, and children are murdered there in shocking numbers. What’s being done there to stop the carnage?
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that certain laws—new laws—are indeed badly needed in this country, and some of the ones we already have in place need some fine-tuning. What we don’t need is to make every thug and gansta’ a card-carrying member of the Kill-A-Cop Club.
This addition to the Castle Doctrine basically made a target of every officer in Indiana, and I’ve seen some bad guys who could shoot fairly well.
Be safe out there, guys. We don’t want to see a number 58. Unfortunately, I know the number of officers killed in the line of duty will continue to grow as the weeks and months pass. Sadly, law enforcement laws like the Indiana Castle Doctrine could very well help those numbers climb even higher.
*I’m traveling today so I won’t be around to respond to comments until late afternoon or evening. This post is definitely not about the recent high-profile trial, so please let’s leave it out of the discussion.
That’s a scary law. What gets me is the number of people who think you need to protect yourself from the police. Are there bad cops out there? Yep. But not nearly as many as the movies and TV would have you believe. I agree, Lee, I think we need to be going after the guilty more and protecting those who protect us more. If there ever is a true and honest reason to shoot a cop in self defense, I would think there would be plenty of evidence to prove self defense, like any other self defense case.
As for the idea of the “Upstanders” as one poster put it opening fire when cops enter their house, odds are extremely unlikely it would happen as most people who aren’t doing anything wrong will take the second or two necessary to evaluate the situation before opening fire. Those whose response is shoot first, question later, usually are up to no good to begin with, why else would you feel such a need to open fire just because something woke you up? But, that could just be my opinion.
This law leaves far too many variables to play and offers criminals too easy a way out. Like I said, are there bad cops out there? Absolutely. But not nearly enough to justify the legal use of deadly force because you may feel threatened by one.
Some have asked about the threats, etc. and why they can’t locate the thread anywhere online. I’ve held the comments posted to this site, and I did because many children use this site as a research tool for school projects. There were also many childish emails sent to my personal email address. I see no need to air those either.
Lee, where were people on this thread doing this? “bash me, my family, all cops, courts, George Zimmerman (I just knew this would happen), OJ Simpson, Trayvon Martin, The Reverand’s Sharpton and Jackson, gun control, Sandy Hook, Obama, Clinton, and one even took a shot at the pope—”
I used my handy-dandy search function and could come up with no mentions of anything in that statement except from you. Is there another conversation thread on your forum that I’m missing? Because everyone here has been respectful and decent.
Lyons, Colorado is a mountain town that is quieter than Mayberry RFI. There are no drug problems, gangs, or much of a population at all. Oskar Blues brewery has live music on Friday and Saturday nights and that’s about it. You can’t dismiss my worries by claiming that this kind of thing only happens in crime-ridden inner cities to people who are grateful for it. It’s happened in rural Colorado, to women just like me. I’m not being disrespectful to anyone by pointing this out, nor does this mean I don’t respect and honor our hard-working police.
Lee, I’m so sorry to hear that you rec’d some less than professional or respectful comments. I know you posted your concerns to create a conversation and present a scenario that most of us can’t relate to. Please continue your good service…enlighten us, help us become better writers, better citizens. If we disagree, we learn more. I hope to learn a lot more from you! Cheers, Wil
Obviously the bad guy, with his pants down, is still very dangerous. AKs and 45s or any other arsenal will be within arms reach if he/she is in the business they’re in. Granted, most of us don’t live in those neighborhoods but the innocent guy next door to the whacko drug dealer is in harms way. And the dark of the night raid doesn’t keep him anymore secure when shots are being fired rapidly. The eastern case sighted with the innocent guy who ultimately hung himself revealed 215 shots fired by policemen and 5 by the guy who defended himself. Our whole justice system is to protect the innocent…yes, we have to let some go to accomplish that goal. The fine public defenders have the where withal to figure out something other than unsafe sneak attacks in the middle of the night. How about secure the house until the bad guy appears. Set up a net, pull it tight….wait until the bad guy has to come out of the house. Something to keep our cops safe. Yes, the cops know more than we do but like all professions, you can easily get into ‘we do it this way’ and don’t look for other solutions. I want all the Joes and Imas out of our lives…now…but we have to figure out a way to snare them in first.
Well, I guess I was dreaming when I expected a civil and creative discussion. So, since some people have decided to use this as a forum to bash me, my family, all cops, courts, George Zimmerman (I just knew this would happen), OJ Simpson, Trayvon Martin, The Reverand’s Sharpton and Jackson, gun control, Sandy Hook, Obama, Clinton, and one even took a shot at the pope—well, I’ve decided to call it quits on this topic. You just can’t invite everyone to play in the sandbox because there’s always someone who doesn’t play nice.
My suggestion to those of you who absolutely despise reading what I write on this site is this…don’t read it. I learned a long time ago that I don’t like coconut, and you know what I’ve done since? I avoid it because I find it offensive.
But I welcome everyone to visit here, and to participate in the discussions. That’s how we all learn and grow. But please, no threats or bashing when things don’t go your way or if I don’t agree with you. You’ll never see me threatening you or your family, and I don’t expect anyone to threaten mine.
So, next topic, please. By the way, I’m more than willing to allow opposing views/posts, as long as they’re civil. Send me message and we’ll set it up.
For now, though, save your typing fingers because I’ve cut off all comments on this post. I grew weary of seeing the many ways you’d like to butcher my body. It’s just an article…geez. Simmer down.
So it was a set-up?
But: to say there should be checks and balances and skeptical judges does not mean these things are everywhere reliably in place. Hence, the concerns expressed and real instances cited. Cops do raid the homes of the innocent. Accidentally, I’m sure.
And: Joe’s & Ima’s right to self-defense seems intact, through all this, mean as their castle may be. Certainly so if they really didn’t know it was a police action. The core question is whether they’re entitled to conclude a police action isn’t intended to be a warrant-sanctioned arrest but represents a threat to their lives.
Which takes it all back to stand-your-ground. Who can prove you weren’t afraid? It’s a bad law.
Now we should start over, working the second half of the post: The Prison Industrial Complex and the combination of the War on Drugs and Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines that feeds it.
No, I didn’t paint myself into a corner. What I did was to write the piece in such a manner that drew the exact responses I knew it would. My reason for doing so is as follows:
1. The law that should’ve been introduced would pertain to the No Knock rule. Instead of signing whatever warrant officers bring to the judges, there should be checks and balances in place that would prevent kicking in the wrong door. It’s not that hard to do.
2. Everyone is quick to jump on the “police are militarized” bandwagon. However, many of these folks have never been in the military, nor have they been a police officer. So how do they know? Simply because officers wear the similar clothing and carry similar weapons does not make them soldiers. Cops and soldiers do not receive the same training. And, there’s a tactical reason for everything they do and wear.
3. There’s a huge difference in the objectives of soldiers and that of the police. Soldiers have a goal—to kill or capture an enemy.
The police don’t battle anyone attempting to win a war. Instead, they have a duty to protect citizens and their property, and they must arrest people who’ve broken the laws of their locale. There is no intent to kill anyone, and the difference between the two is huge.
4. Search warrants are supposed to be served during daylight hours, and most are. However, it is often necessary to do so at night because a)it’s much safer for everyone when the officers catch the crooks with “their pants down,” and off guard; b)that’s when the bad guys are at home instead of out on the street trying to sell dope to your kids, or robbing the store you and your family built from the ground up; c)it’s the best time to catch dangerous people – murderers, rapists, drug dealers, etc. without a gun in their pants (not all search warrants are for drug dealers).
5. The reason officers dress in the black clothing, wearing vests and carrying the type of weapons they do is simple—they want to live through the experience and go home to their families. Bad guys carry guns with lots of ammunition and most of them aren’t afraid to shoot cops. They’re also not afraid to shoot you or your kids if they get in the way.
6. Cops don’t raid the homes of the innocent. Sure, accidents have happened. And my answer to that is in my earlier comment regarding mandatory checks and balances.
7. I’ve fielded many, many questions and angry comments about this topic in my day. And, you know what? Most of the people who are foaming at the mouth angry about cops and search warrants are the people who live nowhere near the areas where these home entries occur. Those folks don’t see the violence, drug dealing, and the decent people who can’t even set foot outside their homes at night out fear of getting hit by a stray bullet from gang members.
The people who live through that hell know what it’s like, and most appreciate it when the thugs are removed from their streets.
People who live in nice neighborhoods and gated communities have no clue what it’s like to have your house and cars shot during driveby’s, or to have a loved one caught in a crossfire.
So, please, convince me that it’s safer to approach these thugs on the street while they’re armed, high, and ready to kill anyone who tries to get in the way of their “business.”
How about a quick show of hands…how many homes in your neighborhoods have ever been raided by the police during the nighttime hours? And I mean door-kicking search warrants.
And toss me in as another person who thinks that the reason this happened isn’t because the Congressman in question has never faced real danger before, but because he’s been following a lot of particular news stories.
For example, people worked up from $50 bets on basketball games to just over the felony line by undercover officers, and then shot in their homes when the officers brought SWAT with them.
Or, while I don’t have a link to this one, the case of a family whose father was shot by police while resisting arrest on a valid warrant… issued for a man of the same fairly common name in a different town entirely, with an address nothing like the one the officers approached with guns drawn.
Or the woman whose home was invaded by armed police officers because she screamed and ran away from the window, leading officers to believe there was a crime in progress. The courts have upheld this as a legal search of the home. This would be more understandable if she hadn’t screamed and run away from the window because a SWAT officer stood up and pointed his rifle at her through said window.
And then there’s the case of Fred Hampton, back in the 60’s, killed by police who basically burst through the door guns-blazing because the FBI had given them fake intel that Hampton had been responsible for killing another officer (and then drugged him that night so that he wouldn’t be able to fight back).
I understand why the police feel they need use more force these days. But when that force is mistakenly turned on innocent people, whether the result of an honest mistake or not, innocent people get hurt or killed because the police involved assumed that they were guilty until proven innocent. And, all too often, the police are allowed to do all of this with little more than a “my bad,” if they even admit they did anything wrong at all.
So I can see why it is that this law, poorly written though it may be, was proposed and passed. Criminals may take it as a license to open fire on officers breaching their homes, but… well, maybe officers shouldn’t be making armed entries into homes when there are other options available, even if they *do* have a warrant for a search or an arrest.
Dad always taught me that the easiest way to keep somebody from wanting to shoot you was not charging at them with a drawn weapon.
I too agree with the general tine of the comments. I don’t see it a giving out a free license, but taking away the free pass it seems that officers sometimes have in fatal raids.
Lee, I have to agree with the general tenor of comments so far. No one wants police officers endangered; but every week, it seems, there are reports of tragic errors that perhaps might be avoided if police were not being used as shock troops instead of peace officers. The situation you describe could have been defused and resolved without a midnight armored assault.
I respect and admire the police, Lee. But the increasing militarization of our police force is good for no one, citizens and law enforcement alike. This event happened just a few miles from my home. I don’t feel safe with police officers and police departments behaving like this: http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20130718/COLUMNIST/130719612/2256/NEWS?p=1&tc=pg
“…and if the violence escalates to the point where your life is in danger.” That’s a nice high bar. But the problem is that with these laws people can CLAIM that they felt their life was in danger…even if they put themselves in the position for their lives to be in danger. Or even if they are among the “walking paranoid,” to whom everyone seems like a threat.
Indiana has taken it a step further. And that’s the problem with these laws. Where do they stop. I know of at least two instances here in California where the police have broken into the wrong house, terrorizing people and then saying, “oops, my bad.” Not saying it happens often, but these laws are only going to make it worse for everyone.
Oh…this is so difficult and yes, for all the right reasons we have to protect our law enforcement force. Honestly, though, I’m at odds with this. And I greatly respect your experience and wisdom. My concerns lie with the safety of the police officers. In my view, there is no rational reason for the officers to storm into any household in the middle of the night. To startle dangerous people who have a sh…t load of guns and can use them recklessly is just a casualty waiting to happen. There is a warrant to search ‘toothless’s’ house so why didn’t the officers go in right after the sale was made? One case comes to mind whereas the officers rushed a house and the owner was severely injured, a spinal rupture left him immobile and little remained of his intestinal track. He survived. The real tragedy…the wrong house was stormed that particular night. In the heat of the moment, all the wrong things occurred. And the innocent man lives with the error. We treated him in our hospital for years and so his burden carries a very heavy weight when I look at these incidents. Another victim of the ‘middle of the night’ surge occurred in the wrong house, he shot an officer in defense and subsequently killed himself in jail after six months incarcerated for the error. He was proven innocent after his death. These kind of night time rushes just don’t make sense to me (I would say a lot of us but then I could be so wrong). Yes, we must do everything to protect our cops…and that means we might have to give up the chase. The crooks, the bad guys all come to the surface at one point or another…they are too dumb for the most part to stay hidden. So don’t rush into harms way, outsmart them. Take them when least expected may be a proven theory but even that has to be managed where safety comes first.
This will probably cause a rash of discussion…but I’m sure everyone’s heart is with the officers who protect us.
I think you’ve painted yourself into a corner, Lee. In your story Joe and Ima exactly meet your self-defense any time anywhere criteria. They are citizens at home, asleep, suddenly under what seems to them life-threatening attack. Probably the underlying idea is that they know perfectly well they’re shooting at cops, being such low-lifes. But even without the Indiana law they’d have a case.
And what if the squad got the address wrong and busted in next door, Sam & Sally Upstanders place?
I’m sute there are instances where middle-of-the-night home invasions are best practice for police forces. But it’s a scary tactic that often misfires. Probably there were some spectacular examples of hitting the wrong house or other overreach that prompted the Indiana law (I don’t know, but something must have triggered the discussion).
Cops get things wrong. They are not always good guys. Terror tactics against civilians deserve some scrutiny. The Indiana law sounds like it needs work, but the impulse behind it isn’t hard to understand.