The case for self-defense

I’ve been asked by several friends about my thought on the self-defense shooting of Darren Evanovich. I’ve been soaking up the various news reports, and have some initial thoughts, but will reserve full opinion until official reports are released.

First, a little background

Darren Evanovich confronted a 53 year old woman in the parking lot of Cub Foods, on the 2800 block of 26th Avenue South, last Thursday at about 10 p.m.

The 23-year-old Evanovich, of Minneapolis, allegedly took her purse and beat her in the head with his gun.

A (so-far) unidentified man who witnessed the robbery chased Evanovich. There was then a confrontation, and shots were fired, killing Evanovich. The unidentified man then called police, and remained at the scene until they arrived. Investigators say they found Evanovich’s gun near where the shooting took place.

When police arrived, the witness told officers he had a permit to carry. Officers detained the man for questioning and then released him without charges. The case is currently in the hands of the Hennepin County attorney, who will will either decide whether or not to file charges, or impanel a grand jury to do so.

Last night, Evanovich’s sister, Octavia Marberry, was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting.

Evanovich was on probation for a 2009 attempted first degree robbery, and another simple robbery charge.

Not all of the facts are out, but there is some intense debate about whether or not the shooting is justified or not.Most of the debate seems to centered around the duty to retreat in Minnesota, and the expectation of being a “reluctant participant”.

The “duty to retreat”, and “reluctant participant” in Minnesota comes from case law (State vs. Austin, State v. Basting). It sets the precedent that law abiding citizens to retreat, if practical, to avoid a lethal confrontation. It does not require you to turn your back on an armed assailant. The expectation of “reluctant participant” is defined as the absence of aggression or provocation on the part of the defendant.

Here is a scenario where I can see self-defense being not only legal, but unavoidable.

John Doe hears a scream, looks up, and see 2 people beating a woman.  John Doe attempts to intervene, and the assailants take off.

John Doe pursues the thieves in order to identify them for police.

Evanovich then commits another felony by drawing his illegally-carried gun and threatening John Doe’s life.
In fear for his life, John Doe defends himself by drawing his legally carried gun, and firing in self defense.

Again, this is just a potential scenario that fits the facts we presently have.

As every permit holder knows, a Permit to Carry doe s NOT grant you any law enforcement powers.  You have the same rights and responsibilities as every other citizen; you have simply been permitted to have a firearm on your person.

It similarly does not remove your rights, or cripple you to inaction or apathy to injustice.

Minnesota does have a “Good Samaritan” law (604a.01), which states:

A person at the scene of an emergency who knows that another person is exposed to or has suffered grave physical harm shall, to the extent that the person can do so without danger or peril to self or others, give reasonable assistance to the exposed person. Reasonable assistance may include obtaining or attempting to obtain aid from law enforcement or medical personnel. A person who violates this subdivision is guilty of a petty misdemeanor.

Minnesotans also have the power to make a citizen’s arrest (629.37).

A private person may arrest another:

(1) for a public offense committed or attempted in the arresting person’s presence;

(2) when the person arrested has committed a felony, although not in the arresting person’s presence; or

(3) when a felony has in fact been committed, and the arresting person has reasonable cause for believing the person arrested to have committed it.

In the scenario above, John Doe was well within his rights to make a citizen’s arrest. While many, myself included, would not risk the dangers of chasing a felon into the dark to attempt to ID or arrest, it’s not illegal.

It was not until Evanovich turned his gun on John Doe, that the situation went from identify and detain to a fight for life.

To the claims of vigilantism:

The nearly 90,000 permit holders in Minnesota are law abiding citizens. They have spent their time, their money and their effort to pass the multiple background checks, attend the rigorous training, and purchase the necessary tools and permissions to make sure they can defend themselves lawfully. They have passed local, state, and federal criminal background checks, and have no history of gang affiliation, drug abuse, or mental health dangers. Every permit applicant is verified by their county Sheriff to pose no danger to self or others.

With this exceptional background, and a high level of respect for the rule of law, it only stands to reason that permit holders are motivated to aid victims of injustice.
This is not symptomatic of vigilantism, rather concerned citizens standing up for justice.

Author: Rob Doar

The case for self-defense