It wasn’t a great day for a female homeowner in Amarillo, TX, when a 53-year-old man broke into her home. It was an even worse day, however, for that man, Cedric Milligan, as she shot him dead and police found his dead body when they responded to the burglary call and arrived at the residence.
When officers arrived at the home at about 5:30 am on the morning of Thursday, June 22, they were told that Mr. Milligan had attempted to forcibly enter the residence and so the homeowner used deadly force to stop him before it was too late. Unreported was what firearm she used to deliver the dose of stopping power.
The incident is currently being investigated by the Amarillo Police Homicide Unit, but should end in favor of the homeowner if the story she gave to the police about what happened when she shot Mr. Milligan is accurate.
That is thanks to Texas’ largely permissive Castle Doctrine, a legal principle that lets residents of the state use deadly force to defend themselves, their families, and their property from an intruder or attacker. The idea behind the law is that a residence is one’s “castle,” and so can be defended with any necessary degree of force from an intruder without the duty to retreat. That right is codified in Texas Penal Code Sections 9.31, 9.32, and 9.33.
Under the Castle Doctrine rules in Texas, one who is not committing an illegal act has no duty to retreat before using deadly force and deadly force is justifiable if the individual thinks it is reasonably necessary to protect themselves, their family, or their castle from an intruder or the unlawful use of force by an intruder. “Castle” is extended to both vehicles and workplaces.
Further, outside the Castle Doctrine but protected by Texas self-defense law is the right to intervene to protect others from violent criminal activity. Under the Penal Code, using deadly force is justifiable if the individual using it reasonably believes it is necessary to protect someone else from imminent death or serious bodily injury, or to prevent the commission of a violent crime such as aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, or robbery.
Additionally, Penal Code 9.42 provides that deadly force may be used to protect land or property if it cannot be protected or recovered by other means when a person reasonably believes that deadly force is immediately necessary to prevent: arson, burglary, robbery and aggravated robbery, theft at night, or criminal mischief during nighttime, or to prevent someone fleeing with property after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime.
That is far more permissive than the use of force doctrine in blue states, which largely requires one first retreat even if in danger of bodily harm and forbids the use of force to defend property, even if it is clear that a robber is making off with it or attacked someone to get it.
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