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Shooting incident leads to questions about citizen actions

On Behalf of | Feb 6, 2021 | Firm News

Many shootings are the result of passion or panic, and when bullets start flying there is always the risk of collateral. But what if someone intends to stop an alleged suspect of a crime in progress?

As Fox News reports on a bystander shooting in Arizona, they show how cases of aggravated assault get tricky in any state in the case of attempted citizen’s arrest.

A missed shot against a shoplifter

Authorities arrested a 45-year-old woman for aggravated assault and discharging a firearm within city limits after she saw an Ace Hardware employee attempting to stop a shoplifter. She drew her firearm and fired, missing. The bullet ricocheted and hit the store worker’s knee.

The shoplifter escaped, but the woman remained on the scene and awaited authorities to turn herself in. Emergency personnel took the employee to the local hospital for serious injuries and they expect him to survive.

The investigation is ongoing, though the report does not mention whether investigators have a lead on the shoplifter.

Citizen’s arrest in Indiana or Kentucky

If a private citizen has probable cause to believe someone committed a felony, they may attempt an arrest in order to prevent further breaches of the peace. Any illegal activities used to apprehend anyone are still technically illegal and state authorities may arrest a well-meaning citizen. After that, it is up to a citizen’s defense and available evidence for a jury to determine whether the action or arrest was reasonable. In this case, where the attempt failed and resulted in collateral damage, there are still plenty of questions left unanswered.

Taking this kind of action is a risk, and an assault charge may affect a person’s future long-term. Anyone involved in a situation like this may want to emulate this woman’s cooperation with authorities to avoid making a risky situation worse.