This weekend’s arrest of Dayron Wills for First Degree Assault with a Firearm and related gun charges for his alleged shooting of 5 people has sparked a contentious debate around town…was this self-defense or reckless and criminal conduct? Thankfully and miraculously, no one was killed. The video circulated by the Stamford Police Department on their Facebook website is compelling and graphic. Yet the first two seconds of the video suggest that the alleged shooter is getting jumped and attacked by a number of people. While this may not necessarily the use of deadly force, the full story will likely develop as the court case progresses. And as more information is being released about the case, media reports have indicated that Dayron Wills was legally permitted by the State of Connecticut to carry a gun.
So is this a case of self-defense, intentional assault, or somewhere in the middle? Does Connecticut have stand-your-ground laws that will provide Mr. Wills with a solid defense to his charges? Keep reading to learn more…
People are generally quick to judge a shooting case, yet Connecticut self-defense law is actually much more comprehensive and subjective. Connecticut, like many states, has a modified “stand-your-ground” law, sometimes called the “Castle Doctrine.” When you are outside of your home, Connecticut law requires you to retreat from violent confrontations if you can do so safely. But as top Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyers have argued for years, you are permitted to apply deadly physical force without retreating in situations where you cannot safely retreat and reasonably believe you are immediately threatened with deadly physical force by an attacker (regardless of whether the attacker is armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon). That’s the law of self-defense and defense of others.
But who decides if you’re being reasonable in assessing the risk and retreat issues? These are obviously tough decisions and at the end of the day, a judge or jury decides what a reasonable person would do in an identical situation. One person’s perception of deadly force could be very different from another person’s impressions. So while Connecticut does offer some safe harbor laws for a person acting in self-defense, it is always a good idea to safely walk away from an escalating physical confrontation rather than resort to violence.
The Stamford shooting this weekend also brings to light another hot-button issue in the news these days. How is amateur video footage being used by law enforcement in the prosecution of Stamford assault arrests and other crimes? Notice how quickly the Stamford Police Department got hold of the amateur video footage of this shooting and posted it on its website, circulated it to local news media, and used it to gather and collect tips. Even more interesting are the comments on the Stamford Police Department Facebook website alongside the video. The use of social media – whether by Stamford criminal lawyers or by the Stamford Police Department – can lead to huge breaks in a case for either side. A perfect example is the Kobe Bryant rape case, where social media led to a tip to Kobe’s lawyers that the victim may not have been honest with Colorado police. After the defense investigated this tip, the district attorney dropped the charges within months.
We will keep monitoring this case closely and keep you informed of legal developments and breaks in the case.