The Indiana law that justifies use of deadly force for people defending themselves, their home, or others in danger is seldom used, but this week’s case involving an Indianapolis family brings it to the spotlight, says the Indianapolis Star. Robert McNally put a chokehold on a naked intruder. The man died, and McNally faces no charges. Law enforcement officials said McNally’s actions were justified under the law, which does not require people to back away before defending themselves or someone else from serious bodily injury or a forcible felony.
Indiana is like 22 other states, mostly in the Midwest and South, that since 2005 have strengthened deadly force laws to ensure that crime victims could not be prosecuted for rightfully defending their family or home. Some advocates the expansion of such laws could promote violence as a means of retaliation and point to examples of the laws’ abuse in other states. “The concern I’ve had is that by changing well-developed law, maybe we’re encouraging more people to shoot first,” said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which has opposed the strengthening of force laws. Henry Karlson, a retired professor of law at Indiana University, said it doesn’t appear that McNally used deadly force because it wasn’t foreseeable that his actions could cause death.