Your Right of Defense Against Unlawful
“Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking
an arresting officer's life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136
Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in
the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529. The Court stated:
“Where the officer is killed in the course of the disorder which naturally
accompanies an attempted arrest that is resisted, the law looks with very
different eyes upon the transaction, when the officer had the right to make the
arrest, from what it does if the officer had no right. What may be murder in
the first case might be nothing more than manslaughter in the other, or the
facts might show that no offense had been committed.”
“An arrest made with a defective warrant, or one issued without
affidavit, or one that fails to allege a crime is within jurisdiction, and one
who is being arrested, may resist arrest and break away. lf the arresting
officer is killed by one who is so resisting, the killing will be no more than
an involuntary manslaughter.” Housh v. People, 75 111. 491;
reaffirmed and quoted in State v. Leach, 7 Conn. 452; State v. Gleason, 32 Kan.
245; Ballard v. State, 43 Ohio 349; State v Rousseau, 241 P. 2d 447; State v.
Spaulding, 34 Minn. 3621.
“When a person, being without fault, is in a place where he has a
right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel by
force, and if, in the reasonable exercise of his right of self defense, his
assailant is killed, he is justified.” Runyan v. State, 57 Ind. 80;
Miller v. State, 74 Ind. 1.
“These principles apply as well to an officer attempting to make an
arrest, who abuses his authority and transcends the bounds thereof by the use
of unnecessary force and violence, as they do to a private individual who
unlawfully uses such force and violence.” Jones v. State, 26 Tex.
App. I; Beaverts v. State, 4 Tex. App. 1 75; Skidmore v. State, 43 Tex. 93,