by Robert A. Waters
On New Years’ Eve, Sarah McKinley, 18, called 911 to report someone trying to break into her home. She waited 21 minutes for cops to arrive. By that time, Justin Shane Martin had forced his way through a locked door and pushed away a sofa McKinley had placed there as a barricade. The teen then shot the intruder.
Here’s part of the conversation between the dispatcher and the would-be victim:
SARAH MCKINLEY: There’s a guy at my door. I’ve got some dogs that keep coming up missing. This guy’s up to no good. My husband just passed away. I’m here by myself with my infant baby. Can I please get a dispatch out here immediately?
DISPATCHER: Hang with me a second. Are your doors locked?
SARAH MCKINLEY: Yes, I’ve got two guns in my hands. Is it okay to shoot him if he comes in this door?
DISPATCHER: Well, you have to do whatever you can do to protect yourself. I can’t tell you that you can do that, but you do what you have to do to protect your baby...
Martin died at the scene, a hunting knife still clutched in his hand.
Under Oklahoma's Castle Doctrine law, McKinley will not be charged.
Two days earlier, in Henderson, North Carolina, a 14-year-old boy was home with his 17-year-old sister when a gang of four men forced their way inside. While his sister hid in a closet, the teen (never identified by police) also used a shotgun to kill one of the men.
Here’s a portion of the 911 call he made.
TEEN: I just shot the man. He came around the corner. I shot him. He broke the whole glass out [of the back door]...I don’t know how many it was. Just one came around the corner. I got one more [shell] in the chamber. I’m going to shoot again.
DISPATCHER: Do not, while I’m on the phone, do not fire that firearm. OK?
TEEN: What if another one comes in the house, ma’am?
Michael Anthony Henderson, shot by the teen, died in the backyard of the home he'd invaded. Three other members of the gang fled. They’ve all been arrested. The teen, protected under North Carolina’s Castle Doctrine law, will not be charged.
It is irresponsible for a dispatcher to tell the victim of a home invasion that he can’t protect himself. If that's the policy of the Henderson Police Department, they need to change it.
On the other hand, the Oklahoma dispatcher told McKinley to "do what you have to do to protect your baby." That helped give the mother the courage to defend herself and her child.
In any case, the victims got it right. There are now two less thugs to prey on others, and several more who’ll be spending time in prison.
Police rarely stop crimes, they merely mop up crime scenes.
What would have happened if these victims hadn’t been armed?