INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A proposal aimed at assuring Indiana residents they
sometimes can resist police officers entering their homes could see a key
change sought by law enforcement groups, the House sponsor said Monday.
Prosecutor and police groups have objected to a list of limited situations
of when officers can legally enter a private home, which was included in the
bill the Senate approved 45-5 last month.
The Legislature has been working on a measure expanding self-defense rights
following the public uproar over a state Supreme Court ruling last year that
residents couldn’t use force against officers even during an illegal entry.
Republican Rep. Jud McMillin of Brookville, who is sponsoring the bill, said
he is working with law enforcement officials on a new version to be
considered by a House committee on Wednesday.
Changes from what the Senate approved would specify that residents are
protected by the state’s self-defense law if they resist police officers who
are acting illegally, McMillin said.
“We also want to make sure that it does not create the incentive for people
to think that it’s OK to go out and use force against law enforcement
officers,” he said.
The Senate version would allow residents to resist if the police officer
wasn’t identified or on official duty. Officers would be allowed to enter
homes when they have court warrants, are chasing a criminal suspect, believe
someone inside is in danger or have permission from the residents.
The state Supreme Court’s police entry ruling brought Indiana law in line
with most other states. But about 250 people attended a Statehouse rally
against the decision, contending it infringed on their constitutional rights
and contradicted centuries of common law precedent regarding homeowners’
rights and the limits of police power.
Republican Sen. Michael Young of Indianapolis, who sponsored the bill in the
Senate, said he worried the changes would leave too much potential gray area
for both residents and police officers about what they could do.
“A court is now going to have to decide what is lawful and unlawful,” Young
said. “As a citizen, you don’t get to know that in advance.”
The court decision came in a case in which an Evansville man was convicted
of misdemeanor resisting arrest for blocking and shoving a police officer
who tried to enter his home without a warrant after his wife called 911
during an argument. The man was shocked with a stun gun and arrested. His
wife told officers he hadn’t hit her.
Law enforcement officials have maintained that they don’t think legislators
should enact a law laying out situations for when police entry is right or
Advocates for domestic violence victims also objected to the Senate’s
decision to remove a provision that specifically allowed officers to enter a
home while investigating suspected domestic violence. Young proposed that
change, saying officers could still enter a home if they saw that someone
was injured or believed a person was in danger.
The state’s current self-defense law states that anyone is justified in
using reasonable force — even deadly force — to protect themselves or
another person from an illegal attack and that a person has no legal
obligation to retreat.
“We want to make sure that clearly officers who are acting beyond their
duties or illegally don’t get any protection,” said David Powell, executive
director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. “They should be
treated like anybody else.”
Any proposal advanced by the House criminal code committee will still need
approval of the full House before going back to the Senate for further