BUFFALO, NY-- Buffalo Police say an off-duty officer shot and killed a burglar who was ransacking his Lisbon Avenue home Monday afternoon.
Police say the officer returned home to find a handgun, jewelry, and cash. They say the officer confronted a 53-year old man who was walking down the stairs to a side door, and when he refused to stop, the officer shot him on the sidewalk. He died at the scene.
Homicide detectives and the police's Internal Affairs Division are both investigating.
Police have not released any names.
We spoke with two attorneys Monday to find out what the law says your rights are when it comes to using deadly force if someone breaks into your house.
"He immediately checked for his duty weapons that were in a secure place and learned to his disagreeable surprise that they were missing," says Tom Burton the BPA trial attorney who will represent the officer in this case.
Burton tells us the officer quickly pulled out another gun, and heard someone crash down the stairs.
According to Burton, the officer yelled for the person to surrender, and when he didn't, the officer opened fire.
"After the burglar staggered out, learning the hard way that he had picked the wrong house to burglarize, the officer recovered a loaded service semi-automatic that was in a small satchel that the burglar had in his hands," says Burton.
Burton says officers are trained to end threats like this.
Attorney Paul Cambria says in this case there are four possible justifications for using deadly force: preventing the burglary, protecting yourself from deadly force, preventing an escape and performing your duty as a police officer.
"As long as he's committing one of these statutory crimes, burglary, rape, arson, sexual offense, escape, etc, if he's committing one of those, the law allows you to use deadly force to either prevent that crime from occurring or to stop someone or apprehend someone if it's reasonable to believe that's the only way you could do it," says Cambria.
But, what if someone is in your yard, and not inside your home? Can you use deadly force?
"Then, they're just committing trespass. Trespass is not one of the recognized crimes, so then you would need to have justification based on a reasonable belief that they had deadly force, and if you didn't use it against them that they would use it against you," says Cambria.
Burton tells us the intruder had nine felony convictions. All nine were from New York State.
"I suspect there will not be many wet eyes in that neighborhood. This guy was a certified serial felon with a lengthy history of burglary and violent crimes, and the thing we should all be happy with is that a coroner's van was there for the criminal, not the cop who shot him," says Burton.