How many cases of justifiable homicide—circumstances in which a private citizen kills someone in self-defense—are there each year?
It's a question we asked in light of the proposed expansion of the so-called Castle Doctrine, which lays out the circumstances under which you can kill someone in self-defense. As Indy contributor Travis Fain wrote last week, existing law limits those circumstances to your home. But Senate Bill 34 would allow you to kill someone in self-defense in your workplace or your car. And instead of having to show police that the assailant was actually trying to hurt you when you killed him or her, the new law would generally presume you had "a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm." It also rolls back a "duty to retreat" when your life isn't necessarily in danger.
According to the latest figures from the N.C. attorney general's office, from 2000–2009, there were 99 instances of justifiable homicides involving private citizens.
In comparison, only 48 cases of justifiable homicide involving a police officer and a perpetrator were reported during the same time period.
The justifiable homicide data does not include circumstances in which the assailant did not die.
And for additional comparison, there were 396,105 violent crimes—murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults—reported over those 10 years; 5,456 of those crimes were murders.