BUFFALO, NY - A shooting in Buffalo's University district is putting the focus on when you have a right to use deadly physical force to protect yourself.
Police say a man being robbed by two others at a Minnesota Avenue address Sunday evening, shot and wounded both armed assailants, one seriously.
According to police, the man apparently used his legally registered hand gun when being robbed of a gold chain and an undisclosed amount of cash.
Under arrest and charged with Robbery in the 1st Degree are Robert Moore, 19, and Bernard Byrd III, 21, both of Buffalo. Byrd remained in serious condition at ECMC as of early Monday evening.
According to a next door neighbor, who says she heard the shots and called 9-1-1-, the man who police say was the robbery victim had been washing a car in a driveway of the home at 665 Minnesota Ave. just a few moments before shots rang out.
She noted the incident occurred just feet away from where a woman was shot and killed last year.
Generally, under New York State law a person --before using deadly force for self-defense -has a duty to first retreat if they can safely do so, according to prominent defense attorney Paul Cambria.
"There are a couple of exceptions," noted Cambria. "You don't have to retreat if you're in your own home."
As well, Cambria notes there are a handful of offenses for which someone can use deadly physical force to stop from occurring.
"The statute makes it clear that robbery is one of those offenses that you can use deadly physical force and there's no duty to retreat," Cambria said.
Police now say they believe both of the robbery suspects were armed with guns.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita declined comment because this is an ongoing investigation, but Cambria fully expects the DA will, as a matter of course, present the case to a grand jury.
Cambria says it is also possible the shooter could be exonerated, due to another part of the statute, which could be interpreted to say that a person can use deadly physical force to retain property just stolen from them.
This could bear out particularly if the finder of facts in the case determines the retention of the property taken was in fact part of the course of the robbery.
"There is a very good basis for someone to say they came to me, they forcibly took my property, which is robbery, (and) I stopped them from retaining it," he said.
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