Can a homeowner use deadly force in their home?

ARLINGTON (WFAA)- What does the law say about a homeowner's right to use deadly force in his or her home? 

It's a question that’s being raised again, after a 17-year-old was killed early Sunday morning in Arlington while he attempted to burglarize a car.

According to police, the incident happened around 3 a.m., when a 17-year-old man and another 19-year-old man were caught breaking into a truck on French Wood Drive. The homeowner confronted them with a shotgun.

"At some point during this confrontation, when the suspects were trying to flee, there is a shooting,” said Lt. Chris Cook, with Arlington Police. “One suspect is shot, transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.”

The homeowner said he feared for his life, according to police. He declined to comment to News 8 Monday. The 19-year-old suspect fled the scene but later turned himself in to police. He was cooperating with an investigation and had not yet been charged.

The homeowner had not been charged either, but Arlington Police are gathering evidence and will hand the case over to the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office to determine whether deadly force was justified.

So what does the law say about the homeowner's right to use force?

"There's lots of misconceptions, but it's really pretty simple. If you believe that your life or your family's life is being threatened, you may use deadly force," said Bryan Proctor, owner and trainer at Go Strapped Firearms Training in Pantego.

Proctor teaches classes using realistic scenarios and weapons to help gun owners prepare. He boiled it down to a few key questions that the shooter must answer before pulling the trigger.

"I have to shoot that person. I have to shoot that person now. And nothing else will do, or I will die or suffer serious bodily injury," he said.

Proctor also pointed out the law makes exceptions for theft of property at night. Then, he said, deadly force can be authorized.

"However, the jury still has to decide whether that property was worth the life of the person stealing that property," he said.

WFAA


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