"It's just a bizarre set of circumstances. The bottom line is, you point a gun at a deputy sheriff or police office, you're going to get shot."
- Lt. John Herrell, Lake County FL Sheriff’s Department
At 1:30 AM on July 16, 26-year-old Andrew Lee Scott did what a lot of people might do. When there was a loud banging on the front door of his apartment in Lake County, Florida, he grabbed a pistol and answered the door.
At that point he was shot dead by a team of Lake County Sheriff’sDeputies.
Deputies were looking for an attempted murder suspect, and found his motorcycle parked in front of Scott’s apartment. So, they knocked on his door without announcing they were police.
Robb Allen at Sharp As A Marble probably said it best when he referred to “lethal levels of Fail.” There were so many mistakes made on both sides of this that the lessons should be self-evident. But I wanted to go through them, and talk about how I addressed this with my family last night, so that you might be prepared.
HAVE A PLAN
Everyone in your household needs to know the plan, and needs to follow it. You have fire drills at your house - you need to practice this, too.
Only the eldest person home answers the front door after dark. If my kids are home alone, they don't answer the door. Period. If they are seen and called to by someone outside, they can deal with them at that point. But they don't open the door to someone they don't know.
FOLLOW THE PLAN
If someone knocks on my door late at night, we don’t open the door. It's that simple.
I will go to the door with a pistol either holstered or concealed behind my back, and with a phone. We first find out who it is, by turning on the front porch light, and looking out the front window at the porch. (If your house isn’t set up that way, you need to have some way to see those people.)
If they are people we know, and they don’t sound under duress, and there are no others with them that we don’t know, only then would we open the door, and deal with the situation.
If they are people we know, but they sound under duress, we find out why and assess the situation from there. If they have trouble and need my help, I would decide which way to go.
If they are not someone I know, I will call 911 and tell them help is on the way, but I’m not opening the door. Not if it’s raining, or winter, or the baby is sick. It sounds cruel, but I would rather that, than for you to read about me the next day, killing by home invaders.
IF IT’S THE POLICE
If they claim to be the police, I would tell them I am calling 911, and do so. I would tell the dispatcher that the police are here, and ask why. If they have legitimate reason to be there, I would put my pistol away, and open the door, and follow their instructions.
It is vital that at no time would I show a gun or other weapon to someone at the door. First, if they are police, they will shoot me. If they aren’t police, they could call 911 themselves and report me for assault. Yes, I could present a positive defense under Georgia’s Castle Law, but that would still involve being arrested, hiring a lawyer, and lots of money.
Of course, if someone forces their way through my door, I will have a split second decision to make. If they are police, I need to follow their instructions completely if I want to live through this. For me, this is vital. I have quite a smartass disposition, and a more than a little bit of a Don’t Tread On Me attitude. The key here, though, in every situation, is to de-escalate, so that, hopefully, no one has to get hurt. And certainly, things turn out better for us than they did in Lake County.