Every day, Houston men and women put on their police uniforms and go to work to protect our city. Our police officers know they run the risk of not returning home to their families when they set out to protect ours.
These dangers are all the clearer following the recent shooting of Deputy Alden Clopton. Deputy Clopton was shot six times in the chest and stomach while he and a partner were conducting a traffic stop. Luckily, he was wearing a protective vest and after medical treatment, he is expected to survive. Unfortunately, what happened to Deputy Clopton is not a rare instance. In Houston alone, this is the second such ambush on a law-enforcement officer in the last few months.
Our law enforcement officials deserve the utmost respect — and if the situation ever arises, protection. So how can you help a law-enforcement official if you’re ever in a position to assist?
While it may be tempting to jump to the aid of a police officer, it may not always be allowed by law. Reading and understanding the rules now may help you and an officer who may need your assistance one day.
Under Texas Penal Code 9.33, a person can use force or deadly force to protect another person if:
- You reasonably believe that your intervention is immediately necessary to protect someone else from death or serious bodily injury; or
- You are preventing an aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.
If the above circumstances are not met, you cannot use deadly force to protect a law enforcement official or anyone else. However, if you discover the officer or other individual is in danger of bodily injury (being punched, being tackled, etc.), you may use force to intervene. Force can mean tackling or punching the bad guy, or under Texas Penal Code 9.04, even showing your gun or holding a man at gunpoint. If the situation escalates (for instance, if the bad guy tries to take your gun, or he starts pulling out a gun of his own), then it reverts back to a deadly-force situation.
Understanding when and how you can protect others could potentially save a life one day, and could save you from unnecessary legal troubles. Even if you are never in a situation to use force or deadly force to protect the brave men and women who risk their lives for our city, make sure to thank law enforcement for the work they do! Let them know that their sacrifices are appreciated!
We here at Texas Law Shield support the Thin Blue Line.