A court case was decided this month by an appellate court in New Jersey which affirmed that citizens are allowed to defend themselves against police brutality.
The court’s decision involves the case of Darnell Reed, 33, who was beaten to a bloody pulp by officers during an arrest in 2013 in which he faced multiple charges. A jury found him not guilty on seven of the eight charges, with the only guilty charge being that of “resisting arrest.”
However, the appellate court ruled last week that Reed was denied a fair trial in that instance, as the jury had not been instructed to consider whether or not Reed had that right to defend himself against police brutality.
To come to their decision, the court referenced the long-standing precedent set in State v. Mulvihill, which notes:
“If in effectuating the arrest or the temporary detention the officers employs excessive and unnecessary force, the citizen may respond or counter with the use of reasonable force to protect himself, and if in doing so the officer is injured no criminal offense has been committed.”
Because the officers were found to have used excessive force and severely injured Reed, the court noted that Reed would have been justified in defending himself against his abuse.
Therefore, the defendant was entitled to a self-defense charge and its omission from the jury instructions was plain error.
This ruling is also supported by an Indiana law which allows for citizens to shoot at police officers who unlawfully enter their homes.
In that case, Indiana took action to “recognize the unique character of a citizen’s home and to ensure that a citizen feels secure in his or her own home against unlawful intrusion by another individual or a public servant.”