A Self Defense Shoot Out in Huntsville
Early one morning, Matt Christopher pulled into the Home-Depot parking lot. He wanted to call ahead to a fast-food restaurant to determine if they were serving yet.
While making his call, he noticed a man in the parking lot acting strangely. The man was angrily waving his arms and yelling at a closed building. The man then got in a car parked in the general vicinity of Matts's car. Matt left the parking lot, and so did the man.
The man followed Matt, tailgating him and yelling obscenities. Matt did not know why he was being followed. To Matt, the man appeared to be high on meth.
Matt continued driving with the man following him. The man continued yelling obscenities at Matt.
Matt hoped the man would continue down the road if he stopped, so Matt pulled over beside a Mexican restaurant. The man pulled over as well, parking directly beside Matt. The man stepped out of his car and punched Matt's side view mirror.
The man rushed at Matt, yelling, "I need money. Give me $10.00."
At this point, the man lifted his shirt and reached his right hand into his waistband as if to retrieve a firearm; Matt shot him once. The bullet went through the man's hand and into his stomach. The man was bluffing as he had no gun.
Panicked, Matt left the scene and threw his firearm out the car window.
Matt was arrested and questioned by the police. Initially, he lied to the police and told them he had no idea what they were asking him about. Matt subsequently changed his mind and told them what happened.
Matt was charged with Assault, First Degree. This crime occurs when a person intentionally causes serious physical injury to another person with a firearm.
Matt's defense was self-defense.
Under Alabama law, a person may use deadly physical force and is legally presumed to be justified in using deadly physical force in self-defense or the defense of another person if they reasonably believe another person is about to commit a first or 2nd° assault or a robbery of any kind. Additionally, Alabama law provides a person has no duty to retreat if they are in a place where they are lawfully allowed to be
A person accused in a case like this has a right to a pre-trial hearing. If they can establish to the judge they were justified in using deadly force to defend themselves; the judge can find that the person is immune from prosecution.
I believed Matt was justified and reasonable in his belief that he would be assaulted and robbed when the man reached into his waistband while demanding money.
Matt had a strong case for self-defense.
I asked for a pre-trial hearing.
The prosecutor agreed on the strength of Matts's defense as he dismissed the charges.