Handling the 911 Call
by Drew Beatty
It's happened. You've had to defend yourself from a violent attack. You could not avoid it. You've either presented your firearm or actually fired it to stop the unavoidable threat to your life or the lives of others. There's no turning back. What is your next step, once you and all other innocents are clearly safe from the threat?
It is important that you dial 911 as quickly as possible to get your side of the story on the record. But first, it's recommended that, if circumstances allow, you take a minute to collect your thoughts and calm down. Breathe, and try to prepare yourself for what you need to say. Remember, you were the victim, even if the perpetrator looks more like the victim because he was actually shot or he had a gun pulled on him. Either he or someone else could easily call authorities on his behalf and make YOU out to be the offending party in the incident. This happens. Criminals are not known for their honesty, and they would certainly prefer to blame you for attacking them rather than go to jail themselves for the crime that they committed.
Also, think about witness perspective. Perhaps a witness didn't observe what led up to you using your firearm, but instead only saw you brandishing or actually firing the weapon. What would that look like from the perspective of someone with little or no familiarity with violent encounters, other than what they have seen on television? It could look like you committed murder in cold blood, and if they get their point of view on the record without you getting your point of view on the record, you could have a big problem. You could have a long, expensive uphill climb to establish your credibility and innocence. You could make a bad situation even worse.
The importance of being the first person to call 911 cannot be overstated. You need to establish that you are the victim - because YOU ARE the victim. Every word of a 911 call is recorded, and can be used in your defense in court. The 911 call is evidence that will be used to defend your innocence. You can use the call to clearly establish your innocence, and that you were the victim of an attack, you tried to avoid it, you were afraid for your life, and you had no option left but to use your firearm to defend yourself from imminent physical harm or death.
Because the 911 call will be used as evidence, it is equally important that you know what to say as well as what NOT to say. “I killed the stupid son of a bitch,” when played in court would tarnish the innocence you need to establish. Be careful what you say, and say only what needs to be said. Your statements should establish these relevant facts below:
- You were the victim of a crime.
- Your life was clearly in danger, and the danger was unavoidable.
- You used the weapon to end the deadly, unavoidable threat.
Sean Maloney, Defense Attorney and Co-Founder of Second Call Defense, recommends you communicate the following:
- Your name.
- Street address.
- What happened.
- Request for ambulance and police.
- Your location at the address.
- Description of yourself.
The call to 911 would go something like this:
Operator: 911. What is your emergency?
You: Operator, my name is (your name). I'm at (address). I was attacked and feared for my life. There has been a shooting. Send an ambulance and the police. I'll be at (your location at the address). I'm wearing (description of your clothing).
Let's say you're a white man with a wife and two kids. The call would sound like this:
Operator, my name is Sam Smith. I'm at my home at 123 Main Street. I was attacked and feared for my life. There has been a shooting. Send an ambulance and police. I'll be standing at the front door with my wife. My children have gone next door to our neighbor's home. I'm a white male, 6 feet tall with glasses and brown hair. I'm wearing blue jeans and a green t-shirt.
End the call. The operator may need you to repeat the address or other information. But you should avoid providing any details.
Remember the importance of calling 911. Always have your cell phone with you when out in public. Many trainers recommend rehearsing the 911 call to ensure you state the relevant facts of the violent encounter. Make 911 your first call. Then, make Second Call Defense your second call. Professional representation and insurance are critical to surviving an incident where you used a weapon to defend yourself or others.
Drew Beatty is a 50 year old husband and father, and a lifetime resident of the great state of Colorado. He is a long-time firearms enthusiast as well as a strong advocate for The Second Amendment.