The following is a video transcript.
Suppose you’ve just been involved in a self-defense incident. You drew your weapon and fired a shot, wounding and potentially even killing your attacker. There is a body lying on the floor, and you need to get help fast. You grab the phone and dial 911…
If you used or displayed your gun, you need to call 911 as soon as possible after the incident. Be aware all 911 calls are recorded and anything you say can (and more than likely will) be used against you.
You are experiencing a level of stress unlike anything you have ever felt before; you are panicked, emotional, and your adrenaline is flowing through your body. Because you are in a traumatic state, it is likely you will not remember things clearly and may even forget some details of the incident.
Therefore, it is important that you prepare a comprehensive self-defense plan to get the help you need and avoid incriminating yourself. Even if you did everything right during the incident, what you do and say to the police and the 911 operator could make the difference between spending the night at home or in jail.
As U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorneys, we have years of experience defending thousands of members and have seen and experienced numerous 911 interactions. In this video, we will help you create a comprehensive plan so you know what to do and what NOT to do when calling 911 after a self-defense incident.
The 911 Call
DO NOT wait to call 911. After a self-defense incident, we recommend you call 911 as soon as possible.
DO NOT GIVE THE OPERATOR A DETAILED DISCUSSION OF WHAT HAPPENED. When the operator answers, BE BRIEF. Say as little as possible. Remember, all 911 calls are recorded and may be used as evidence against you in a criminal prosecution or even a civil lawsuit.
If you are charged later down the road, prosecutors will have a field day analyzing each and every word you said to the operator, looking for inconsistencies in your statement and the physical evidence discovered by the police. What were once innocent misstatements on the phone with the 911 operator can be painted by the prosecutor as attempts to fabricate or lie in front of a jury.
DO NOT use words like “killed” when speaking about the incident to the 911 operator. Don’t even mention that you drew your weapon or fired it unless necessary. Only give them enough information so they can send the appropriate emergency services personnel.
DO tell the operator the following:
- Your name;
- Your location;
- That you are the victim of a crime;
- What services are needed (such as police, EMS, or fire);
- A general description of what you are wearing to avoid any confusion by police when they arrive (as in you’re a 5′ 8″ female wearing a blue shirt and pink pants); and
- Essential logistical information that you may need to convey (like you have the intruder held at gunpoint in your living room), but as little information as possible.
Confirm your address before hanging up.
It’s important that you confirm the operator has the correct address before hanging up so that they can quickly and accurately dispatch the help you need to your location.
Hang up the phone.
You are under no obligation to stay on the line, so end the call after providing the necessary information. Operators are trained to keep you talking on the phone and will try to elicit as much information as possible from you before the police arrive. The operator may attempt to call you back, but you have no legal obligation to answer.
Call THE U.S. LAWSHIELD EMERGENCY HOTLINE
Call the U.S. LawShield Emergency Hotline (the number located on the back of your member card) and follow the instructions the Independent Program Attorney gives you. Your Independent Program Attorney will assist you through the process. Try to make this call in an area where you can be alone and can speak privately.
If you cannot get to an area where you are alone, simply give the attorney your name, member number, location, and what type of emergency you have experienced—like a shooting, drawn firearm, etc.
If you have time, give the name and phone number of an emergency contact—in the unfortunate event the police arrest you.
Before the police arrive…
If possible, make sure your firearm is returned to safekeeping. Remember, the police are there to secure the scene and gather evidence. When they arrive, they are dealing with limited information and will not immediately know who the victim is and who is the bad guy. It can create the wrong impression when the police arrive and your gun is in your hand and the other guy is on the ground.
Remember, an Independent Program Attorney is ready to assist you and is just a phone call away. If you have any questions regarding how to navigate the 911 call after a self-defense incident, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.
I think the advice is a little naive. Yes, you call the police right away and give them the necessary information, but how do you avoid saying: I shot the person or I hit him on the head when the operator ask you what happened. You cannot just say “send me to police or ambulance”, they always ask you what happened. I have no idea how to avoid telling them. Give us some examples what to say, please.
Quick true gun story:
My wife needed help and her friend called 911 to get an ambulance. While the friend was on the phone my wife removed my gun from my night stand to put it in my safety box. The housekeeper saw the box and asked my wife about “the gun”. The operator heard only “gun” and sent two officers to my home and shocked my wife even more.
All went fine after she explained that we are legal gun owners and after verification they thanked her and left after putting my gun very high on a shelf.
– That could have ended different -there was only the word “GUN” mentioned and they showed up.
We are okay with the police and have no problems.
I was planning on calling US Law Shield first then 911 after a shooting incident in my home. If it’s in a public area with witnesses around, I’m sure they will be calling too. When I first joined I was instructed to call my program attorney first then 911.
This was helpful, but a video with a simulation of a 911 call of a shooting would be more helpful to understand better how to respond to the operator who is asking the specific questions and wanting more details than what you are saying to give.
I second Cynthia’s suggestion!
This was helpful. Keep it short & just the facts no extra info. Be polite & hang up.
As you say above, you are stressed and panicked. A video showing a call to 911 would be extremely helpful. Sometimes when your adrenaline is rushing and you are in a bad situation, you do not remember speaking to anyone, even 911.
I am a 9-1-1 operator and I will ask you as many questions as I can, and I will call you back if you hang up on me as stated in our protocol. I think if you told the operator that you’ve been instructed by US Lawshield to not answer any questions, we would be able to somewhat understand your situation. However, that won’t stop me from asking questions for the safety of our first responders and any other people that may be on scene.
Why are Prosecutors so hell bent on convicting the victims of a crime instead of the perpetrators? Where is the public outcry when a prosecution is against the wrong party. Victims were not looking for a fight. When presented an attack you can either submit or fight back. That is a DEFENSIVE move not an offensive move After every justified shooting I think gun rights organizations should put pressure on local media to explain why the DEFENSIVE move was the CORRECT move.
Being a Law Enforcement & CC instructor I instruct my students to call 911, give a brief explanation of the situation, location, what your wearing and what kind of force was used. Then when the police arrive on scene immediately ask for medical attention (my chest hurts)which they must give you. While under medical care they usually will not ask any questions until you are released from the hospital. This gives you time to call your attorney & time will help you remember what happened and what you heard. Don’t answer any questions of any kind without your attorney present.
I believe from My sources in law enforcement (relatives, friends) and personal experience, that the law is NOT out to get the victim. Indeed, the central problem is data collection and assessment. Many haVe prior preconceived notions prior to any questions and lack ANY training. A simple fix: Require Your Officers to review old TV shows of Adam-12 or Dragnet, eVen Barney Miller would be good. Especially since the majority of departments have NO mandated training or budget in this regard. And it’s CHEAP!
To answer Klaus, no I am not a lawyer:
“I think the advice is a little naive. Yes, you call the police right away and give them the necessary information, but how do you avoid saying: I shot the person or I hit him on the head when the operator ask you what happened. You cannot just say “send me to police or ambulance”, they always ask you what happened.”
How do you avoid saying incriminating things? You simply don’t say them. As our lawyers have pointed out, when you call 911 you are not legally required to say things like “I shot the person in the head.” Stick to what they said in the article. I have been the victim of a crime, (maybe) someone has been shot, (definitely) I need immediate medical attention.
“I have no idea how to avoid telling them.” Don’t. Don’t answer the question. Move on to the other information you need to provide to get officers and EMT on the scene.
I would recommend you do something I did, feel free to add your own flair. I framed a 911 speech in my kitchen, outlining what needs to be said (based from the advice of our lawyers here) and then I read it, on a regular basis. Like marksmanship, this skill is perishable and needs to be practiced. Rehearsals will save lives and heart-ache.
“We are okay with the police and have no problems.” Great! But, remember, it’s not the Police Officer’s job to determine your guilt. That’s the DA’s job. If they are questioning your innocence, they’re more likely to arrest you, confiscate your firearm, and book you. The DA will figure out the rest. In the mean time, you get to post bail, never see your weapon again without a huge legal battle, and deal with the instant repercussions of being arrested.
Thanks for the great answer – you cleared a lot up that I did not understand in the article. I hope I am prepared much better now and ask you a favor:
Can you provide us with your SPEECH in the kitchen? We all could learn from you a lot and would be very thankful to you. By the way JD Knight – I write books and my favorite knight is Edward – the black prince (a real person)
Can you be charged with failure to render aid if you don’t tell 911 someone has been shot and they don’t send an ambulance? How do you keep people who are trying to render aid from disturbing the evidence in your favor?