Aftermath of a Shooting: What to Do?
You own a licensed gun. You've just used it against a criminal who was trying to rob you or who had broken into your house. The sound of gunshots are still ringing in your ears. The smell of gunsmoke still lingers in the air. If in a public place, You have a small crowd gathering around you staring. If in your home, your crying and hysterical wife and kids frantically trying to call the police or barangay. Curious neighbors lingering around your house. A dead body with three holes in his chest and one in his face, lies in a pool of blood at your feet.
1. DO NOT STAND OVER THE DEAD BODY WITH A GUN IN YOUR HAND. Put away your weapon and do not show it to the first responders. That is the surest way of getting shot yourself. Remember the police just got a call of a shooting. They do not as yet know who the bad or good guy is. Any armed person at the scene will be assumed to be the bad guy. So do not make yourself a target.
2. BE COOPERATIVE WITH THE POLICE. Inform the police of what had happened, with a calm and assuring voice. Do not go hysterical. Do not fight with them or resist. They will ask for your weapon, give it to them, but if possible ask for a receipt later. Voluntarily submit to picture taking, give your name, address, fingerprints, etc. These are routine. Everything will eventually be sorted out, so do not worry.
3. DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS YET ABOUT THE INCIDENT. You have the right to remain silent. This sounds like common sense. But majority of people would amazingly and willingly answer questions in a police interview and sign a "statement" prepared by the police. This is sheer stupidity. Remember, you have the Constitutional right to remain silent and to the presence of a lawyer of your choice. In the immediate aftermath of a shooting, your mind is unclear, your nerves are shattered, you have a feeling of uneasiness. Those are natural reactions to taking another human life. This is therefore not the best time for you to be answering questions from the police or giving a statement. Normally, you would want to have the situtation diffused first, your mind and nerves rested, and your lawyer present, BEFORE you answer questions from the police regarding the incident. Take your time and do not be in a hurry. Do not be bamboozled by the police into talking to them. Remember that silence does not equal guilt. Above all, THINK FIRST.
4. DO NOT TALK TO THE PRESS. Never, ever talk to the press. In the aftermath of a homicide the press, particularly beat reporters who are hungry for a story tend to exaggerate the facts to suit their audience and sensationalize their story. This will be done AT YOUR EXPENSE. Woe unto you if you allow yourself to be interviewed by the press, who will be in a frenzy to get the "scoop". Remember the press is there to make a story and to sell the news. They don't care about your innocence or guiilt. The more you say, the better for them, the worse for you.
5. CALL A LAWYER IMMEDIATELY. Remember you have the right to a lawyer, preferably one of your choice. By law, your lawyer should be granted access to you by the authorities wherever you are, at any time of the day or night. Insist upon the presence of your lawyer and make sure he arrives and is there. The presence of the lawyer is your BEST SAFEGUARD against abuses by the police or military.
Choose your lawyer and get his cell phone number NOW, before the violent incident occurs. Not when you are already in jail and are fumbling for a telephone number to call. That is the worst time to be looking for a lawyer.
Do not agree to have a free lawyer appointed for you by the police. That is a common trick. The Police or military normally trick detainees to agree have a free lawyer assigned to them. It's all a ploy. The public lawyer is in truth in cahoots with the authorities. The free lawyer will then urge you to make a signed confession prepared by him purportedly in exchange for a quick release. Remember you are entitled to a lawyer OF YOUR CHOICE. So YOU choose one whom you TRUST.