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Vicksburg Police explain how homeowner’s actions prompted assault charge

The actions of a Vicksburg man who shot a teenager during the reported burglary of his home was not acting in self-defense, police said Thursday.

Jeremy Johnson, 31, 301 Meadowvale Drive, is charged with aggravated assault in the Monday incident in which he reportedly shot Jamaris McDaniel, 19, during the burglary. He was released on $55,000 bond.

Vicksburg police Thursday released information clarifying why Johnson was charged and why his actions did not fall under the “Castle Doctrine” which allows people to defend themselves in their home if they feel their life is in danger.

According to police reports, when McDaniel, Lamar Gray Jr., and Demond Thomas broke into Johnson’s home Monday, Johnson, who was not at home at the time, was alerted to the burglary as it was occurring.

Under the law, police said, a reasonable man “would have immediately dialed 911 and reported the burglary in progress. The police would have responded and the matter would be been resolved through the due process of law.”

Johnson, however, “Left a safe location armed with a handgun and drove home with the intent to confront the persons inside his house,” police said, adding Johnson caught McDaniel climbing out through a rear window and shot him in the leg, and the burglars fled.

After the burglars escaped, Johnson left the scene. He was stopped some blocks away by a Vicksburg Police officer a few moments later, based on information provided by eyewitnesses.

Johnson never called the police during the entire incident, police said.

“Mr. Johnson’s actions show that he was not in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm, because he went to the residence with the intent to confront the three young men who were there inside. This is not the act of a person using defensive force,” police said.

Police investigators conferred with District Attorney Ricky Smith before charging Johnson.

According to the state’s “Castle Doctrine,” “A person who uses defensive force shall be presumed to have reasonably feared imminent death or great bodily harm, or the commission of a felony upon him or another or upon his dwelling, or against a vehicle which he was occupying, or against his business or place of employment or the immediate premises of such business or place of employment, if the person against whom the defensive force was used, was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, occupied vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or if that person had unlawfully removed or was attempting to unlawfully remove another against the other person’s will from that dwelling, occupied vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof and the person who used defensive force knew or had reason to believe that the forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred. This presumption shall not apply if the person against whom defensive force was used has a right to be in or is a lawful resident or owner of the dwelling, vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or is the lawful resident or owner of the dwelling, vehicle, business, place of employment or the immediate premises thereof or if the person who uses defensive force is engaged in unlawful activity or if the person is a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of his official duties;”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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