For as much as your local city may praise the effectiveness of your local emergency response, this story caught my eye because this may be more the case, than people think. So, when your local city officials continue to reduce or fail to impose necessary increases in public safety, this very well could be the result.

A Denver woman who spent nearly 15 frantic minutes on the phone with a 911 dispatcher was killed Monday night by a bullet to the head before help arrived.

The gunshot was the last sound 911 dispatchers heard on their call with Kristine Kirk, 44, which lasted for approximately 12 to 13 minutes, said Denver police officer Raquel Lopez. Kirk’s husband, Richard, 47, was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder, Lopez said. He is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

In her call to 911, Kirk said her husband was “talking about the end of the world and he wanted her to shoot him,” according to statements that Kirk made to the 911 operator. There was a gun in their house, Kirk said at the beginning of the phone call, but it was locked in a safe.

As the call went on, Kirk told the 911 dispatcher that her husband was hallucinating, scaring their three young children, the court document said. Then, when she saw her husband had gone to the safe and gotten the gun, she started screaming. The sound of a single gunshot reverberated on the call, and Kirk wasn’t heard from again.

Officers, who had initially been sent to the house on a domestic disturbance call, were dispatched to the Kirks’ at about 9:32 p.m. Richard Kirk was arrested at 9:55 p.m. Denver police are reviewing their response to the incident and investigating what took so long, Lopez said.

When officers arrived, they found Kristine Kirk lying on the floor with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Police are investigating the possibility that Richard Kirk, who admitted to killing his wife on his way to the police station, used marijuana prior to the shooting.

Police response times have gotten longer in recent years, as reported in the Denver Post, with the Denver police chief blaming budget constraints that have prevented the city from hiring any new officers since 2008.

It is a shameful state of affairs, that police response is that long in coming and yet our courts tend to criminalize those people who use force against an intruder to save their lives and their property.

This case is an example of why states passed the “Stand your Ground” laws. The stand-your-ground law states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense, when there is suspicion that a person might be a threat, without an obligation to retreat first. The concept sometimes exists in statutory law and sometimes through common lawprecedents. One key distinction is whether the concept only applies to defending a home or vehicle, or whether it applies to all lawfully occupied locations. Under these legal concepts, a person is justified in using deadly force in certain situations and the “stand your ground” law would be a defense or immunity to criminal charges and civil suit. The difference between immunity and a defense is that immunity bars suit, charges, detention and arrest. A defense, such as an affirmative defense, permits a plaintiff or the state to seek civil damages or a criminal conviction but may offer mitigating circumstances that justify the accused’s conduct.

More than half of the states in the United States have adopted the Castle Doctrine stating that a person has no duty to retreat when their home is attacked. Some states go a step further, removing the duty of retreat from other locations. “Stand Your Ground”, “Line in the Sand” or “No Duty to Retreat” laws thus state that a person has no duty or other requirement to abandon a place in which he has a right to be, or to give up ground to an assailant. Under such laws, there is no duty to retreat from anywhere the defender may legally be.

The law’s effect on crime rates is disputed between supporters and critics of the law. It is reported that those states adopting “Stand Your Ground”/”Castle Doctrine” laws reduced murder rates by 9 percent and overall violent crime by 11 percent, and that occurs even after accounting for a range of other factors such as national crime trends, law enforcement variables (arrest, execution, and imprisonment rates), income and poverty measures, demographic changes, and the national average changes in crime rates from year-to-year and average differences across states.

Many states have some form of stand-your-ground law. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona,California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming have adopted Castle Doctrine statutes.

For example, most state provisions provides that “an individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if . . . the individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent” the imminent death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault of himself or another individual.

Note, the state of Colorado, where this incident occurred, does not have the “Stand your Ground” law. So, what do you do when society cannot protect you from harm?

 

 

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