The Cornered Cat
“Don’t talk to the police” — good advice?

Nope. Or rather, not entirely. Even though the “say nothing” strategy works as a good general rule of thumb in most interactions with police, immediately after a shooting the good person who engaged in legitimate self defense should take a slightly more nuanced approach to the responding officers.

Here’s an excellent, excellent video on that subject from attorney Andrew Branca. Branca is the author of The Law of Self-Defense, a reference book I can strongly recommend. In this video, Branca tackles that popular lecture we’ve all seen telling people to say nothing to the cops, and he explains how and why such advice does not apply to people who use guns in true self defense.

Branca advocates a “say little” strategy when interacting with police immediately after a self-defense incident, a strategy he refers to as a judicious use of the 5th Amendment. “If we’re attacked by someone on the street, we don’t simply shoot everybody on the street,” Branca says. “We use defensive force judiciously, only against the person who is the aggressor attacking us, even under the threat of life threatening attack… In the same way, we can talk to police judiciously, using informed judgment even in the aftermath of a life threatening attack.”

If you’ve ever wondered how to call 9-1-1 without messing up your legal defense after a shooting, this is the video for you.

The video runs for about an hour, so I suggest sitting down tonight to watch it with your significant other. (Yes, even if your significant other is not a gun person.) Why? Because if you ever need to use the gun in self defense, you’ll really want to have people supporting you who understand what you need to do and what you need to happen right after the shooting. Talking these things over with your loved ones in advance can help prevent some very uncomfortable relationship issues from popping up during the critical hours immediately after a violent encounter.

Stay safe.

3 Responses to “Don’t talk to the police” — good advice?

  1. awalker1829 says:

    I’ll actually go a bit further and say that in the instance of a shooting, we MUST talk to the police judicously. The police cannot preserve evidence that they don’t know exists-evidence that may mean the difference between the prosecutor charging you with a crime or the prosecutor declining to present to the grand jury. Tell the police the information that they need to know to preserve evidence and witness information that could bolster your claim of self defense.

    After the shooting, you can pretty well plan on being detained for further investigation and may well be driven to the police station. Depending on where you live, you may be arrested or you may be released without charge-all dependent on the infomation that the police obtained from the physical evidence and witnesses. By giving the police pertinant information, you are giving the prosecutor reasons not to prosecute.

  2. Gray Jay says:

    Ms. Jackson,

    Regrettably, I don’t have an hour to watch the video. Is there a synopsis I could read? Basically, I’m wondering how Mr. Branca’s advice differs from Massad Ayoob’s advice on what to say to the police, post-armed confrontation. I’ve seen it represented in places like this post from as ‘Five things to say to the cops after a gunfight’. Briefly, they’re:
    1. Tell responding officers “I’m the victim; he is the perpetrator.”
    2. Tell responding officers, “I will sign a complaint.”
    3. Point out pertinent evidence.
    4. Point out any witnesses who saw what happened.
    5. If there is any hint that you are a suspect, say “Officer, you will have my full cooperation after I have counsel here.”

    I’m a first time poster/long time reader and have recommended your blog to people seeking information on how to carry a concealed weapon. The advice for women on dressing around a weapon, as well as efficiently cycling the action on a semi-auto pistol, has been especially helpful. Thank you for the wealth of information you have graciously made available.


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