Thursday, September 14, 2023

Kystie's Law

Woman Sued After Using Firearm to Save Cop

By Robert A. Waters

Aurora Police Sgt. Bill Halbig wrote the following synopsis about the circumstances that led to a lawsuit against Kystie Jaehnen: "On January 20, 2017, a suspicious person prompted a call to 9-1-1 in Ohio County, Indiana. The suspicious person was parked in an elderly person’s yard for an extended period of time, blocking her driveway and creating a road hazard.

"Shortly after, a police officer (Michael Powell) arrived in response to the call. The man began resisting and both the officer and the man went to the ground. A young woman (Kystie) standing nearby on her property ran to help the officer. Kystie could see the officer was losing the fight as this man reached for the officer’s gun. Fortunately for the officer, Kystie was armed and shot the man one time which ended the fight."

The assailant, Justin Holland, 25, received immediate on-scene medical attention but died from his wound. Some newspapers reported he was shot once in the shoulder, others that he was shot in the abdomen. An autopsy determined Holland had the following drugs in his system: methadone, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines, marijuana, and dextromethorphan.

The Dearborn County Register reported Holland (pictured above) "was facing charges of fraud of a financial institution, theft and forgery at the time of the incident and had previously been arrested for one count of battery resulting in bodily injury."

Indiana State Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Stephen Wheeles said that "it was obvious the officer was not winning the confrontation." Because of this, the Dearborn/Ohio County prosecutor refused to charge Kystie. In fact, he praised her actions.

Then the family of Holland sued Kystie Jaehnen.

Eagle Country Online reported "an Ohio County woman facing a wrongful death lawsuit for fatally shooting a drugged-up man as he attacked a police officer is asking Indiana lawmakers to enact new legal protections for people in her situation." Kystie told prosecutors when she went to Powell’s defense, she felt she was protected under Indiana’s self-defense law.

That was not the case.

The complaint alleges that "Kystie L. Jaehnen used excessive and unjustified deadly force in shooting and killing Plaintiff’s decedent, Justin Holland. [She] acted willfully, wantonly and with reckless disregard for the welfare of [Holland]." Eagle Country Online reported that "the Hollands are seeking unspecified damages, relief, and legal fees from Jaehnen, Powell and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. They demand a jury trial."

Officer Powell's legal defense is covered by his department and the Fraternal Order of Police Legal Defense Fund. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is also covered.

Halbig wrote: "It is tragic how one person's irrational and unlawful actions can destroy the peaceful lives of others. This case is about more than the right or wrong of one party suing another. Imagine not being able to come to the aid of another person for fear of being sued, possibly to the point of bankruptcy. This case is about a person having the basic God-given right and the 2nd Amendment right to defend both yourself and others without the fear of civil retribution."

Halbig started a GoFundMe page that raised nearly $100,000 to cover Kystie's legal expenses.

After Kystie (now married and called Kystie Phillips), testified, the state of Indiana passed Act 1284, also referred to as Kystie's  Law. According to WKRC television, "the new law gives those cleared of wrongdoing immunity from civil lawsuits. The change is being praised by police groups, but the group Moms Demand Action says it encourages armed vigilantism."

In 2019, the Holland family dropped its lawsuit. No reason was given.

NOTE: Michael Powell is a "conservation officer" for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

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