The following is a video transcript.
Preparedness in self-defense requires training. We train by going to the range, talking to our family about what to do in an emergency, and keeping up to date with changes in the law.
But a blind spot for many responsible gun owners is preparing for the legal aftermath of a self-defense incident. This aftermath preparation starts with planning for a simple phone call that could mean the difference between going home after an incident, spending a lifetime behind bars, and everything in between.
This call is… to 911.
Before You Call
After you’ve neutralized a threat and the scene is safe, in almost every scenario, your first call should be to 911. But be aware everything you say is being recorded, even before the operator picks up the phone.
When it comes to a high-stress critical incident—whether it be anxiety, a physiological response, or misperception—what you say can have serious legal consequences. And often what you say may be misconstrued or used against you. If you give an inconsistent statement or if what you say on the 911 call does not line up perfectly with the physical evidence, police and prosecutors may try to paint you as a liar.
Imagine, you’ve just experienced the worst moment of your life. You’ve been attacked and were forced to shoot your attacker. Your entire body is shaking with adrenaline and you might have even been injured in the incident. You get on the phone with 911 and say, “He had it coming! He asked for it! I fired two shots, and I killed him.” The 911 operator keeps you on the line. The realization that you’ve killed a human being sets in. You start saying, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!”
The Victim Found Guilty
While many of us would agree that a perpetrator who wages a fierce attack on an innocent victim “has it coming” when the victim fights back and shoots them, this is exactly the kind of statement that piques a prosecutor’s interest when they’re deciding whether or not to charge you with murder. Add to that statement the fact that, in your adrenaline-filled state, you didn’t realize that you emptied your entire magazine. Well, law enforcement now has evidence to attempt to paint you as a liar and a cold-blooded killer. Your apologetic statements, though made innocently in your emotional state, will now be portrayed as consciousness of guilt in front of a jury and evidence that you knew your actions were wrong.
That’s why you must keep your call to 911 simple and concise.
Follow these five crucial steps during your call
- Provide your name.
- Give the location of your emergency.
- Inform the operator of the services needed, typically police and EMS.
- Make a very short statement about the defensive incident. For example, “I was just attacked and had to defend myself.” Or, “I was just the victim of a crime.”
- Finally, hang up the phone.
The operator will try to call you back, but you don’t have to answer. At this point, if you’ve followed these steps, you’ll be in a much better position if you’re later accused of wrongdoing.
Call your Independent Program Attorney
The next call you make should be to your Independent Program Attorney. Because every case is different, you should follow their advice for your set of circumstances. Most often, your Independent Program Attorney is going to help you avoid the use of “trigger words” with law enforcement, will aid you in giving them the right amount of information (but not so much that your statement is inconsistent with physical evidence), and will ask you the proper questions to obtain all the important facts regarding your specific situation.
The bottom line comes down to preparation. Part of protecting yourself and your family is being proactive and training for the before, during, and after a defense incident. Making the 911 call is just one part of the equation.
If you have any questions about the potential legal aftermath or how you can prepare, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
This is great information. Thanks.
Your info. is much appreciated. thank you.
Thank you for this article. This is great information.
An additional piece of information that you may want to include in the 911 call is a description of what you are wearing to assist the police in identifying you, when they arrive.
Also, in the description of the incident, I would mention that I was the victim of whatever crime I was reporting.
A question. If the situation was stable and after contacting my attorney, would it be advisable to reconnect to the 911 operator to facilitate identifying yourself to the police?
Thank you for this information, it seems very helpful.
Excellent advice. I’ve taken a US Lawshield workshop and the presenters (who were former state troopers) went into great detail about these kinds of situations as well as provided specific examples from real cases that went smoothly as well as cases that were a struggle because of statements made by the 911 caller to police and over the phone.
Thanks for this – GREAT back-up to the presentation we just enjoyed by you folks at Athena Arms in Bellevue, NE, 11/5.
Went to a US Law Shield seminar last month. Attorney who spoke was great (Terry Decker, I think was his name, out of Baltimore, MD area). Made great points. Excellent info.
As former LE (NJ) I would add that ANY STATEMENT you make WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU! Keep answers to LE questions brief and to the point. DO NOT GUESS at anything. And remember you were and are under EXTREME STRESS. A request for medical attention (chest pains) and trip to the ER is more than reasonable and cannot be denied. Buys time for attorney.
Thank you for the information can ever be explain enough
Smart advice, as we must be prepared in the event of a tragic/defense situation
Great information!Glad am a member. Thank-You
We get sound advice based on experience, from U.S. & Texas LawShield. We hear testimonies from members who tell of QUICK response time from attorneys. It always amazes me how many people feel compelled to add advice that can be used against you. The more you talk to 911, the greater the risk.
U.S. & Texas LawShield goes to great lengths to keep us safe from incriminating ourselves. Why add ” one more bit of advice”? Under stress the more time you stay on the phone with 911, is more time to make a mistake.
5 steps….simple and sound advice.
Thank you! I am saving this email for future reference. Hope I never have to implement it.
Good advice. Hope I never have to use it, but I appreciate the sound advice.
When the police arrive, should you re-establish communication with the lawyer and have him on speaker phone for the conversation with the officer(s)?
practice talking to 911! keep it short, to the point. The stress will numb your mind, practice will help in the time of stress.