Republican Governor Mitch Daniels has signed Senate Enrolled Act 1 into law in Indiana. The new law allows citizens to use deadly force against police officers they think are illegally entering their homes. Earlier this month, Addicting Info reported that the bill had passed the Senate. Republicans say the bill is designed to keep police safe, but Democrats say the bill will lead to the wanton killing of police officers.
Rep. Craig Fry, a Democrat, says the bill “is going to cause people to die and it’s too late after somebody dies for a jury to sort it out. Somebody’s going to die, whether it’s a police officer or an individual who thinks a police officer is entering their home unlawfully. People are going to die.”
Fry’s colleague, Democratic Rep. Linda Lawson, a former police captain, says the bill would create an “open season on law enforcement,” and it is opposed by “1,250 state police officers and 14,000 men and women in blue, brown and green.”
The new law reverses a state Supreme Court ruling that homeowners do not have the right to use force against law enforcement officials who they believe are illegally entering their homes. According to the Evansville Courier Press, an Evansville resident fought a police officer who followed him into his house during a domestic dispute call. “The state Supreme Court found that officers sometimes enter homes without warrants for reasons protected by the law, such as pursuing suspects or preventing the destruction of evidence. In these situations, we find it unwise to allow a homeowner to adjudge the legality of police conduct in the heat of the moment,” the court said. “As we decline to recognize a right to resist unlawful police entry into a home, we decline to recognize a right to batter a police officer as a part of that resistance.”
While announcing his decision to sign the bill into law, Governor Daniels tried to claim that the law doesn’t declare an open season on police officers.
“Today is an important day to say: Indiana’s outstanding law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect all Hoosiers. The right thing to do is cooperate with them in every way possible. This law is not an invitation to use violence or force against law enforcement officers. In fact, it restricts when an individual can use force, specifically deadly force, on an officer, so don’t try anything. Chances are overwhelming you will be breaking the law and wind up in far worse trouble as a result.”
But Governor Daniels is merely attempting to put political spin on a bad bill. Indeed, Daniels admits that he nearly vetoed it precisely because the bill could be grossly misinterpreted and could lead to killings of police and citizens. This law is basically a loophole for citizens to kill police officers and claim self-defense. There are many people out there who think no police officers have the right to enter homes or property, even if there is a warrant.
As the state Supreme Court said, sometimes police officers have to enter homes to prevent the destruction of evidence or to prevent someone from grabbing a weapon in their home to use against police or someone else. Sometimes police must pursue suspects in their homes. But this bill reverses that ruling and gives those suspects the legal authority to slay police officers. It’s the equivalent of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law that led to the killing of Trayvon Martin. In that incident, George Zimmerman believed he had the legal right to gun down a kid for walking through the neighborhood simply for being a young African American male strolling around the community at night. Zimmerman, believing the innocent boy to be a threat, followed him and then shot him to death. Because of the Florida law, Zimmerman remains a free man because he can claim self-defense. This Indiana law will allow people to do the same thing to police officers on their property and in their homes. It makes the already dangerous job of law enforcement even more dangerous and will ultimately lead to the legal murder of police officers who are just trying to do their job.