What Should You Do After Using Deadly Force in Your Home?

If you remember only ONE thing I say in this post, I want it to be this: When we (the police) respond after you have used deadly force in your home, we are going to be “amped up.” Someone has fired shots, and someone else has fired back, fled the scene, been injured or been killed. So we are understandably concerned about being shot by SOMEONE when we arrive.

You’re the Good Guy, But…

Because of this, please remember to do EVERYTHING we tell you to do. Do those things IMMEDIATELY and without hesitation, then await further instructions. You know you’re the good guy, and your family knows you’re the good guy, but we probably don’t have a clue as to who you are or what you’ve done. The reactions of responding officers may seem extreme, but do not debate or argue about anything you are told to do. You do not want to end up being a tragic statistic.

In the Immediate Aftermath of a Defensive Shooting…

What I want you to do in the immediate aftermath of using deadly force in your home is … nothing. Give yourself at least a 10 count so that your pulse returns to normal and any additional actions you take are coherent. Once your adrenaline has dropped, verify that your family members are OK and call 911 if the line is not already open.

If you have taken down an intruder who is now motionless, you should move to a better position of cover. Reload if you can, and continue to monitor the suspect. Never approach a downed suspect!

While You’re Awaiting Police Arrival…

Let the dispatcher know you have an injured suspect inside your home who needs medical attention. Advise the dispatcher of any injuries you or any family members have. Remember that even if you or other family members have been injured, fire department medics will not enter your home until law enforcement officers declare the scene safe. This means that you will need to tend to any personal injuries yourself. Don’t attempt to aid the suspect! Give a description of yourself, including clothing, so that arriving officers recognize you.

Once the Police Arrive…

Make sure your gun is not pointing anywhere toward the police entry point. Once officers have control, limit what you say. Give your “name, rank and serial number” (so to speak). You can say that your life was in danger and that you defended yourself.

You may be asked to go to the station for questioning or even be arrested, but don’t say anything further — and don’t panic. If you have a USCCA Membership, call the Critical Response Team at the first opportunity, and they will help advise you further.

Avoid Bad Advice; Get Home-Defense Expert Answers

Sometimes home defense involves firing shots when an intruder is at the threshold of entry trying to force his or her way in by breaking down a door. Some really bad “advice” about what to do in these situations has circulated for years. If you are forced to fire as an assailant attempts or makes entry, and the suspect’s body falls outside the threshold, don’t “drag the body” inside your home. That’s tampering with a crime scene!

I don’t know if this so-called advice exists only in Ohio or if it exists nationwide, but it is the worst self-defense advice I’ve ever heard.

Fortunately, the USCCA exists to put bad advice like this permanently to rest!

About Scott W. Wagner

Scott W. Wagner is a criminal justice professor and police academy commander from Columbus, Ohio. He has been a police officer since 1980, working as an undercover liquor investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader. Scott is currently a patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. He has been a police firearms instructor since 1986 and is certified to instruct revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.

Scroll to Top