Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

March 8, 2012

Good police officers won’t walk away from trouble

Hoosiers will get hurt if ‘castle-doctrine’ bill passes.

Just when you were hoping that the legislative session in Indianapolis would be over before our elected officials could do any more damage, the Indiana House approved on a 74-24 vote a measure that would allow Hoosiers to legally defend themselves against police officers who enter their home.

The measure, known as Senate Bill 1, is a naive and dangerous knee-jerk reaction to an Indiana Supreme Court decision last year. The court ruled that homeowners do not have the right to use force against law enforcement officials whom they believe are illegally entering their homes.

That decision came in the case of Richard Barnes, 57, an Evansville man who filed a lawsuit against police who followed him into his house Nov. 18, 2007, while they were responding to a domestic dispute Barnes had with his wife.

According to the Evansville Courier and Press, proponents said the measure provides police with additional legal protection, while affirming the “castle doctrine” idea that homeowners have the right to resist anyone, including police, who invades their homes.

In a rare appearance on the House floor, Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, urged the chamber to approve Senate Bill 1.

“What we’re doing here is we’re writing a jury instruction. We’re writing an appellate standard to see who’s responsible; who has a defense,” he said.

“What this says is when it does get to the courts and the courts have to sort out who’s right, who’s wrong, this clarifies that we’re back to the same standard we had in this county, in this state, for more than 200 years,” Bosma said.

Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, said the measure would help Hoosiers who would otherwise “lose freedom” to “the coercive power of government.” He said without action, police officers who kill citizens in their own homes would be protected.

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