If you’ve taken my CHL class, you’ve heard me talk about how more often than not we’re better off being a good witness. I offer that piece of advice in the context of the legality of the defense of others. Well..

Mr Waller’s tragic encounter with the Dallas Fort Worth Police Department is an example of how NOT being a good witness can get you killed.

Jerry Wayne Waller, a 72 year-old grandfather, heard his neighbor’s house alarm. Like a good neighbor, he walked over to investigate. Since it was late at night, he decided to carry his .38 caliber handgun for protection.

The details remain unclear. Although not present, Waller’s son claims the police recount of the incident is inaccurate. He asserts that his father never exited his garage and “was shot multiple times in the chest only a few steps away from the doorway to his kitchen.”

Let’s assume the worst. Let’s assume that Mr Waller’s son’s claims are true. Let’s assume police gunned him down in his garage.

To the outside observer making those assumptions, this series of events can appear to be a clear cut case of police ineptitude. Some may even call for disciplinary action, decrying the officers’ actions. Quick blame of those officers ignores the consequences our own actions have and how we can easily place ourselves in VERY dangerous situations.

While a gun is a very effective tool of self-defense, carrying one comes with risk. Failure to recognize that risk is problematic at best. In a worst case scenario, that ignorance can end your life.

Imagine for a second, you are one of the responding officers. You are responding to a house alarm at 1 am. You have no idea what to expect. Your heart is racing. Your gun is drawn. You’re in a heightened state of alarm.

While approaching the residence, you see a man in a neighboring garage. It’s 1 am and you don’t expect anyone to be awake, much less wandering outside the walls of their home. You order the man, who could very well be the burglar to the ground. Instead of complying, he turns to you. And he does so with a handgun. Do you wait for him to raise his pistol and fire a round at you? Or do you, realizing he didn’t comply and assessing him as a threat, defend your life?

Well?

He wanted to help his neighbor. He thought he was doing what was right. In the end, his good intentions cost him his life.

Go ahead and blame those officers all you want. Jerry Wayne Waller will still be dead.  You could be next.

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