Recent cab shooting surfaces questions of when it's appropriate to use self-defense

A recent cab shooting has some individuals questioning their self-defense rights. News 10 sat down with gun shop owner, Steve Ellis and Vigo County Prosecutor, Terry Modesitt, to learn more on the legality and safety measures of self-defense situations.

Posted: May 21, 2019 7:01 PM
Updated: May 22, 2019 8:30 AM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- Standing your ground against threats of violence can be tricky when it comes to the law, but a recent shooting raises questions for many about self-defense.

As we've reported previously, police say a Terre Haute cab driver shot a 17-year-old boy after an attempted robbery took place.

Indiana law states you're allowed to use reasonable force to prevent the imminent use of unlawful force against yourself or another person.
In this case, the driver told police that 17-year-old Davieonne Young pulled out a gun... and tried to rob him.

Police say the driver reacted and shot Young.

Vigo County prosecutor Terry Modesitt told News 10 that there are two scenarios to determine the legality of self-defense... reasonable and deadly force.

"The person who used reasonable force has to explain why that force was necessary and when it comes to deadly force the person has to reasonably believe they or someone else is at risk of imminent serious injury," said Modesitt. "An example would be I'm outside mowing my grass somebody runs up to me with a gun and says give me your wallet, now I'm under the threat serious bodily injury, etc. they have a weapon where it's an imminent threat so under those circumstances I would be allowed under the statue, and all these cases are facts sensitive, then to pull a gun and shoot them."

Tuesday morning News 10 also spoke with Steve Ellis, the CEO of Top Guns in Terre Haute.

He tells us if someone is carrying a firearm, they are usually trained on knowing when to use the weapon but, he emphasizes the importance of knowing when to pull the trigger. 

"At the end of the day, the question is whether a reasonable individual of our peers would also believe that your life was threatened or someone's life was threatened. On one hand, while we certainly don't want to see any type of vigilante justice, while on the other hand, with this particular case without knowing all the facts, just on the surface it seemed like it was justified and we commend anyone who would save their own life or the life of others," said Ellis.

As a result of this incident, Ellis has decided to offer a free training clinic.

It would be taught by lawyers and firearms professionals and would provide gun and safety training and a legal breakdown of the Indiana law on self-defense

"I think this is a great way to get the public educated," said Modesitt.

"The clinic will start as soon as possible as long as individuals show interest," said Ellis.

For more information on ways to get involved, click here.

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