DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — In the last several days, self-defense laws have taken the spotlight after multiple shootings across the country.
First, 16-year-old Ralph Yarl was shot after ringing the wrong doorbell in Kansas City. Yarl was trying to pick up his younger brothers but ended up at the wrong address. The homeowner accused of shooting Yarl said he was scared for his life and thought Yarl was trying to break in. Yarl is back home recovering.
Next, in New York, 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis died after a homeowner shot her when the car she was in turned into the wrong driveway.
Finally, in Central Texas, a cheerleader is in the hospital after she was shot for accidentally getting in the wrong car.
Both Missouri and Texas have stand your ground laws. Now, 2 NEWS is digging deeper into Ohio’s stand your ground and self-defense laws following those shootings.
Ohio’s latest version of a self-defense law was signed into law in 2021, stating that a person no longer needed to retreat before the use of lethal force if that person had a lawful right to be there.
“You just cannot use lethal force because someone takes a foot or steps on your property or takes something you own,” Thaddeus Hoffmeister, a professor of law at the University of Dayton, said. “You have to have either a fear of serious physical harm or death.”
This part of the stand your ground law, according to Hoffmeister, is the biggest misconception and leads to people taking the law into their own hand instead of letting trained officers handle these situations.
“Any time you decide that you’re going to be judge, jury and executioner, you run the risk that you’ll be prosecuted,” Hoffmeister said. “I think it’s hard for people to. They’re not familiar with the law, and they sort of make a grand idea in their mind, based on what they’ve seen on television, which in many cases doesn’t correctly follow what the actual statute says.”
A property owner may use reasonable, but never deadly force when he or she believes the force will protect their property from harm, according to a conceal carry manual by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
“The examples that I’ve seen across the country, they’re not going to hold water in most jurisdictions in the state of Ohio,” Hoffmeister said. “A person would be prosecuted for the conduct that I have seen across the country. I think Ohio is pretty straightforward in that respect.”