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Understanding Missouri self-defense laws after men charged for Chiefs Super Bowl rally shooting


A Columbia criminal defense attorney said she believes the two men charged with murder and other crimes after the Kansas City rally shooting could claim self-defense, but it won't be easy.

Missouri prosecutors said on Tuesday that Lyndell Mays, 23, and Dominic M. Miller, 18 were charged with second-degree murder, armed criminal action and the unlawful use of a weapon in Jackson County. A probable cause statement says Mays was the first person to shoot his gun after an argument between two groups.

When questioned by police at the hospital days after, Mays allegedly told them he heard someone say "I'm going to get you." He claimed he believes this meant they were going to kill him.

Missouri law grants a person the right to use force to defend themselves, if they reasonably believe they're in danger of imminent physical harm, according to criminal defense attorney Jennifer Bukowsky.

A person also has the right to use deadly force if they believe they're at risk of serious physical injury or death, she said. Bukowsky pointed out the fact that both Mays and Miller were shot during the incident, which could play a role in a self-defense claim.

"That is going to factor into a defense attorney being able to make a claim that they were reasonable in their belief that they acted in self defense," Bukowsky said.

Bukowsky said the case becomes complicated because the law does not allow the person who first pulls out their gun during a fight the total right to use self-defense. Court documents state that when Mays pulled out his gun, no one else appeared to have one out.

One person allegedly pulled out a gun on another and Miller pulled a gun on that individual, chased them and shot, court documents say. Another person then followed Miller and shot him.

Bukowsky also said in a scenario like this, there possibly could have been a "duty to retreat."

"At one point both of these individuals allegedly were running with their guns towards people during the melee," Bukowsky said. "So, that will be a difficult fact for the defense to wrestle with."

Court documents say autopsy results indicated the bullet found in the woman killed that day -- radio DJ Lisa Lopez-Galvan -- was fired from the gun Miller fired.

Missouri law protects a person if an innocent bystander is injured while a person is acting lawfully in defending themselves, according to Bukowsky. The fact that Mays and Miller shot into a crowd of what was expected to be 1 million people, Bukowsky said could make it difficult to convince a jury that shooting a gun was reasonable in that scenario.

"Is a jury going to find that you're acting lawfully if you're involved in a crowd? Are they going to find that it was reasonable, you didn't have another choice? It might be harder to make that case to the jury," Bukowsky said.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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Nia Hinson


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