SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Springfield police say they’re making progress in the investigation of a deadly shooting Wednesday night.
Investigators say the man is claiming self-defense, but they’re dealing with some conflicting witness statements.
Police say it happened just before 8 p.m. Wednesday night on Bob Straub Parkway. They say there was a crash between two drivers, possibly stemming from road rage, and both drivers got out of their cars. Gerald Strebendt, 34, reportedly shot and killed 53-year old David Crofut. A passenger in Crofut’s vehicle was not hurt. Officers say that person is a key witness in this investigation.
This case has raised a lot of questions about the laws surrounding self-defense.
There’s been a spike in Lane County recently of residents purchasing guns for the sole purpose of protecting themselves. So it’s crucial to know when and how you are able to legally use that gun for self-defense in Oregon.
Firearms instructor Donovan Beard goes straight to Oregon law–Oregon Revised Statute 161.209–when talking about legally defending yourself with a deadly weapon.
“If someone is using unlawful force against you, you can use a reasonable force against them to protect yourself or a third person,” Beard said.
So, who determines what is reasonable?
“In legal terms in a jury, a jury is formed. A jury is formed from drawing people from the community to speak in behalf of that community, so we need to be acting in defense of ourself that we would be doing so that any member of if they were in the same situation would do themselves,” Beard said.
That can leave some gray area as to what’s acceptable. Beard says there are also subject factors to take into account.
“It would be unreasonable if I was being attacked by a 90-year-old lady that I use deadly force. However, if I was being attacked by someone 100 pounds heavier than me and six inches taller than me, because there’s a disadvantage on my end, I might have to use more force,” Beard said.
And if you have to use force, what constitutes a dangerous weapon? Law says it can be a substance, instrument or article. An article being something not designed to be a weapon but used like one.
“A baseball bat is designed to hit baseballs. However, is a baseball bat capable of causing death or serious physical injury? Yes. Same with a car or a beer bottle,” Beard said.
Beard stresses that even though it might be your right to use force, no law says you have to act.
“If you have the opportunity to get away, get away because there’s nothing that says we have to get involved,” Beard said.
Every state has its own laws pertaining to self-defense, so what might apply in Oregon may not apply in another state with stricter or more relaxed laws.