Cleveland homeowner defends against alleged burglar

FOX 8 News (WJW Cleveland) is reporting that a 65-year-old homeowner shot and killed a alleged burglar in front of his home.

While the Cleveland media seems eager to find the first Castle Doctrine case, the details of this case do not seem to indicate that this is what they are looking for.

From the story:

Lawrence Hanson III saw a light on and heard gouging and chiseling sounds of an inner door being demolished about 2:30 Tuesday morning. By Hanson's account, he ran upstairs, got dressed, retrieved a 9mm handgun and decided to go outside and confront the man from an attached building. By then the man was also outside in a field in front of the building. Hanson says the intruder stopped when he shouted he was armed. "But then when he got to the fence, he started walking towards me. And I said 'You know I shoot you?' And he kept coming at me..."

"I'm trying not to shoot him. I prefer just to turn him in and go to court and let that be bygones. But he kept, came at me and I just pulled the trigger."

The news story reports that the homeowner was not arrested, but that after homicide detectives complete their investigation, facts will be turned over to the city prosecutor to determine if charges are warranted. Again, from the story:

Ohio's version of the "Castle Doctrine" went into effect September 8th. A presumption of self defense is automatic for a homeowner who uses deadly force on an intruder. But the Buckeye Firearms Association which helped draft the legislation, does not believe it applies to Hanson's case. "Because the shooting did not take place in the homeowner's house. It has to be in a house or in a vehicle or occupied dwelling," says Association Spokesman Jim Irvine. "It applies only in your house or in your dwelling. It will apply on your front porch or other structures like that. But as soon as you leave your house and go out in your yard or someplace else, this no longer offers you any protection."

Cleveland Police Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Stacho is quoted by WKYC (Cleveland's NBC affliate) as saying "It appears right now that it was self defense.

"It appears that the homeowner did what he had to do to defend himself. But that's not something that we're given authority to make a determination on. We will send this case to the county prosecutor for a review."

Ohio gun advocates like Jim Irvine, the chairman of the Buckey Firearms Association, says this is a classic example of why Ohio law should protect innocent homeowners.

"If somebody has to die I'd rather the bad guy than the victim dies," says Irvine, "but I've talked with enough victims and nobody wants to be in a situation that Mr. Hanson was in. Nobody wants to take another person's life. It changes you forever."

UPDATE 9/24/08 12:00p.m.: Ruled justifiable homicide. No charges to be filed.

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