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Alabama’s “Stand Your Ground” Law

Many people are aware of the case of George Zimmerman, who was recently acquitted for shooting Trayvon Martin in Florida in self-defense after a long and very public trial. We had a similar situation here in Jefferson County in May. While a young man was killed, in our local case the defendant did not go through a trial.

Last May 7, Demetrius Thompson was shot by a woman who was outside walking her dog. The woman, who was not named by the police, was outside at about 12:15 am when she saw someone run by her home. The woman’s boyfriend was recently robbed, so she was scared. She went back inside and got her gun.

When she went back outside, Thompson started coming toward her. The woman told him that she was armed and that he should stop. He continued to approach her, so she fired the gun once. Thompson collapsed at the end of her driveway and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A horrible surprise, but a just outcome

After the shooting, it was determined that Thompson was the son of the woman’s boyfriend.

Under Alabama’s castle doctrine, or “stand your ground” law, a person is allowed to use force, even deadly force, if they reasonably believe that another person is using or is about to use unlawful physical force against them or against a third party. After an investigation, Chief Deputy Randy Christian said that the woman’s use of force was justified and she would not be charged with a crime. Christian added, “I wish we knew what [Thompson’s] intent was and why he didn’t stop, but those are questions that will go unanswered.”

While the woman in this case still must wonder why she had to shoot that night, the fact that she was not prosecuted and that she was permitted to remain anonymous means that she will be able to get back to her life without the stress, stigma and expense of a trial. If you or someone you love has been the victim of an assault and was forced to defend themselves, you should speak to an experienced Alabama criminal attorney immediately.

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