Vicksburg Police: Homeowner’s actions did not meet ‘Castle Doctrine’
Published 2:44 pm Thursday, December 19, 2019
Below the legal description of the state’s “Castle Doctrine” and an account of the events Monday on Meadowvale Drive that resulted in assault charges being filed against a homeowner in relation to shooting at intruders.
The “Castle Doctrine” (97-3-15 (3) of the Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated) states: “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;”
On Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, Jamaris McDaniel, Lamar Gray, Jr., and Demond Thomas broke into a residence in the 300 block of Meadowvale Drive. The resident, Jeremy Johnson, who was not at home at the time, was alerted to the burglary as it was occurring.
A “reasonable man,” the actions of which are the standard of law, 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.
That is not what Mr. Johnson did. He left a safe location, armed with a handgun, and drove home with the intent to confront the persons inside his house. Johnson caught one climbing out through a rear window and shot him in the leg. The burglars quickly fled.
After the burglars escaped, Johnson fled the scene himself. He was stopped some blocks away by a Vicksburg Police officer a few moments later, thanks to eyewitnesses who provided descriptions of his vehicle.
Johnson never called the police during the entire incident.
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.
Vicksburg Police Department investigators conferred with District Attorney Ricky Smith prior to charging Mr. Johnson.