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    Author: Andrew Branca

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    Andrew Branca

    Andrew F. Branca is in his third decade of practicing law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He wrote the first edition of the "Law of Self Defense" in 1997, and is currently in the process of completing the fully revised and updated second edition, which you can preorder now at He began his competitive shooting activities as a youth in smallbore rifle, and today is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a Life Member and Master-class competitor in multiple classifications in the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA). Andrew has for many years been an NRA-certified firearms instructor in pistol, rifle, and personal protection, and has previously served as an Adjunct Instructor on the Law of Self Defense at the SigSauer Academy in Epping, NH. He holds or has held concealed carry permits for Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, Virginia, and other states.

    This past Wednesday the Ohio House voted by a 64 to 26 margin to pass HB 228, which seeks to bring Ohio self-defense law into the modern era. It is believed by advocates of this legal advance that the Senate version of the bill will pass that chamber easily, and with sufficient votes to overcome a promised veto by Ohio Governor John Kasich (R). Although the bill makes several changes to Ohio self-defense and gun law, the changes of most interest in the context of self-defense involve changes to the burden of persuasion on a legal claim of self-defense and the adoption of a “hard” stand-your-ground provision.

    This “Case of the Week” involves a conviction and sentencing out of Texas this past week, in which Terry Thompson was sentenced to 25 years in prison as a result of his use of a BJJ-style choke hold that caused the death John Hernandez in May 2017, as reported this week by KTRK (ABC) Television News. I also previously covered this case right here at Legal Insurrection: “Law of Self Defense: Murder re-trial for man who confronted public urination.”

    This Case of the Week is not so much a case of self-defense law as it is a case of mischaracterization of self-defense law. As sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, the media will continue to mischaracterize “Stand-Your-Ground” in terms of both actual application and as legal doctrine. A recent example came across my desk this week from a publication named “Black Voice News,” in an article you can find by clicking here.

    On October 3, 2018, Michael Dunn—a City Commissioner for the city of Lakeland, FL—shot and killed Cristobal Lopez as Lopez shoplifted a hatchet from Dunn’s store, reports TheLedger, a local paper. The shooting occurred as Dunn was attempting to stop Lopez from leaving the store with the hatchet. The store's security recording captured the struggle at the door, the shooting, and the rapid demise of Lopez. You can be view below our video analysis of this shooting:

    The Baltimore police officers who are suing State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for maliciously investigating and defaming them when she criminally charging them over the death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody have appealed the 4th Circuit’s dismissal of their case to the US Supreme Court, according to the Baltimore Sun. A copy of the officers' petition for certiorari to the US Supreme Court is embedded at the bottom of this post. In addition, you can find my extensive coverage of the Freddie Gray cases over at Legal Insurrection by clicking here.

    Not that it ought to be any surprise to anybody who looked at the evidence, but Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke has just been found guilty by a jury of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. There was a hypothetical narrative under which Officer Van Dyke's narrative of innocence might have been compelling, but he never offered such a narrative, even after testifying in his own defense -- likely because he hadn't the evidence to support it.

    A prosecutor in Colorado Springs is going to once again test the legal boundaries of Colorado’s "make-my-day" statute, which came into law in 1986. The "Make My Day" law, properly §18-1-704.5. Use of deadly physical force against an intruder, has several substantive sections:  one relaxes the proportionality requirement when dealing with a home intruder under certain circumstances.  Two others provide for criminal and civil immunity under those same circumstances.

    This case of the week, Williams v. State, is out of the Georgia Supreme Court, in a decision handed down just last week, and involves a man whose claimed “warning shot” earned him life in prison, even though the bullet he fired wasn’t proven to have harmed anyone. Stoplight Confrontation Between Two Groups The facts involve two groups of men stopped at a red light who get into a lethal confrontation. The Defendant was in the front passenger seat of his friend’s Ford Mustang, with others in the back of the car. The Defendant and others in the Mustang were armed. A Dodge Challenger rolled up next to the Mustang containing several other men. The two groups had some pre-existing animosity, and began to yell at each other.

    Around 2:30 AM last Tuesday, a man attacked an Uber driver, saying he had a pistol while raising his cell phone in his right hand. He abruptly discovered that the Uber driver was willing and able to defend himself from a deadly force attack with a lawfully carried handgun. Now the Uber driver, who coincidentally had just graduated from the local police academy, is being showered with praise by Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida, where these events took place.

    This week’s case is not so much a case as it is a cautionary tale about the risks of relying upon the purported use-of-force law expertise of others based solely on their job title, and dangers of not you yourself being educated on that law. I warn students in every class that certain job titles, like lawyer, cop, or firearms instructor, do not guarantee that a person in those fields knows a darned thing about use-of-force law.

    Michael Drejka, the 47-year old shooter of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton over a July 19 dispute about a handicap parking spot, has been arrested and charged with manslaughter, reports the Tampa Bay Times and other news sources.  He is being held on $100,000 bail in Pinellas County Jail.
    [AFB: Update, just reading the charging document closely now, and see Drejka was charged under Florida Statute §775.087(1)), Florida's so-called "10-20-Life" mandatory minimum sentencing law, the one that caught up Marissa Alexander. I'll discuss the details of this in more detail in a future post, but in effect it means that if convicted under that provision of the law Drejka is looking at life in prison, even though charged "merely" with manslaughter rather than murder, because manslaughter is a first degree felony and this killing involved the use of a firearm.]
    We previously covered this case immediately after it occurred here:
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