Two recent shootings raise questions about necessity of deadly force

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Two recent shootings in the metro are raising questions about whether deadly force was necessary. 

Police have not said yet if the shootings fall under the Stand Your Ground law. 

Kansas and Missouri have the law in place, Missouri recently enacting it in 2017. It means that people have the right to kill someone if they reasonably feel their life is being threatened without having to retreat first. 

That law can be fuzzy, especially in high-stress, emotional situations. 

"It's probably not ambiguous if you know the law, but I think what can happen is that people take the phrase 'stand your ground' and they misinterpret what that means," criminal defense attorney Rick Johnson said. 

Johnson pointed out in those situations 'reasonableness' may be different than what 12 jurors might think in a trial. 

That's where it gets complex, Johnson said.  

In Lawrence, a man shot and killed Trevor Mohawk on his porch. The men didn't know each other, but police said Mohawk walked up on the porch in the middle of the night and knocked on the door. The homeowner got his gun and answered the door. Somehow a fight started between the two, shots were fired, and Mohawk was dead. 

It's unknown what exactly happened and if Mohawk had a gun. 

That incident may fall under the Castle Doctrine which dictates a homeowner or a guest at someone's home has the right to kill an intruder in self-defense. 

Johnson says Stand Your Ground and the Castle Doctrine are different, but can both apply in one situation. 

In Kansas City on Friday around 4 a.m., a man who says he was remodeling a vacant building at 2100 Linwood shot and killed another man who entered the building. Police say he was homeless, and that it appeared he'd been squatting in the building for some time. 

The unnamed remodeler called the police after he shot the man, and then went home. 

KCPD could not provide any updates on Friday afternoon. 

No one has been charged in either shooting. 

"The adrenaline and all that, we do our best to train them to handle it," Frass Azab said. 

Azab owns Warriors Academy, a martial arts training facility near downtown KC.  

He says this year he's noticed membership going up and more people wanting to defend themselves. He notices they want to take physical training as well as gun training. 

But, Azab notices, many are often confused about Stand Your Ground. He says with an increase in people wanting to take protective measures, it's imperative that there be more educators on the ever-evolving gun laws. 

"We always have to be clear with them between the thin line of standing your ground and just getting into legal hot water," Azab said. "When we train them, we take it to the extremes to help them just to restrain sometimes. Like we always say, there's a physical battle and there's a legal battle that always follows." 

By restraint, Azab means control and restraint, a basic fundamental of martial arts that helps a victim control a violent situation. 

The law is newer in Missouri, which is the 25th state to adopt a Stand Your Ground law. 

Johnson is not sure if it is doing harm or good.

"We simply haven't had time for that to work. At the same time, if people who act in self-defense, if they are protected by this law for being unreasonably incarcerated and being convicted and going to prison, then the law should remain," Johnson said. 

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