Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

State News

February 24, 2012

Police disagree with 'dealy force' bill

BATESVILLE — Police and prosecutors fear a legislative response to a controversial court decision on resisting law enforcement will end up endangering officers and crime victims.

Their concern is prompted by a Senate bill that says a person can use "deadly force" against a police officer if that person "reasonably believes" that force is necessary to keep the officer from acting illegally.

Proponents of the bill argue it simply clarifies Indiana's "castle doctrine" law that allows people to use force to protect their homes from illegal entry.

Opponents of the law worry it will endanger officers who have to make snap decisions in volatile situations.

"We believe people have the right to be secure in their homes," said Hendricks County Sheriff Dave Galloway. "But the people who hear about this law are going to think it's OK to kill a law enforcement officer. What you and I think is 'reasonable' isn't the same as somebody high on meth. They're going to shoot first, and ask questions later."

Gallowaywas among a long line of law enforcement officers and prosecutors who spoke against the legislation before a House committee that approved the bill Wednesday.

Also opposing the legislation are advocates for domestic violence victims, who fear the language of the bill will have a chilling effect on officers responding to domestic violence calls.

Prompting the legislation was an Indiana Supreme Court decision issued last year that said an Evansville man didn't have the right to resist a police officer who'd responded to a 911 domestic violence call.

The ruling, in what's known as the Barnes case, also said Indiana residents didn't have the right to resist an unlawful police entry, and that allowing such resistance unnecessarily escalates the  potential for violence and the risk of injuries to all parties involved. The court said persons who believed their rights had been violated by an unlawful police entry could later seek a remedy in the courts.

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