Police in Gig Harbor, Washington, are investigating the death of a 36-year-old man found dead inside a local home Friday morning.
Officers discovered the corpse after receiving a phone call at around 7:22 a.m. reporting gunfire at home near 66th Ave. NW and 87th St. NW, according to a news release from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
According to police, the 36-year-old man was killed by the 59-year-old homeowner.
Officers learned that the dead man and his girlfriend fought Thursday night.
Deceased man went to the home and was threatening his girlfriend and others at the house before he tried to break inside. The shooter is being released and detectives will send the completed case to the prosecutor for review.
— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) July 29, 2022
The fight ended with her going to the neighbor’s home to spend the evening. The woman had an active no-contact order against her boyfriend at the time, police said.
On Friday morning, the boyfriend went to the 59-year-old man’s home and began allegedly making threats against his girlfriend and the home’s other inhabitants.
He soon began to try to break in, police said, at which point the homeowner discharged his firearm, leaving the 36-year-old man dead on the home’s back porch, according to KTTV.
Police took the shooter into custody and later released him. No charges have yet been filed. The case remains under investigation.
“Once the investigation is completed, detectives will forward it to the prosecutor’s office for review,” the sheriff’s department said.
Washington state law allows one to use force in self-defense if they’re a “party about to be injured” or helping someone “about to be injured.”
State law explicitly allows force “in preventing or attempting to prevent an offense against his or her person or a malicious trespass, or other malicious interference with real or personal property lawfully in his or her possession.”
However, according to state law, one may not use more than necessary force.
Washington State follows the “Stand your ground” rule when it comes to self-defense, according to gun law attorney William K. Kirk.
The “Stand your ground” law does not impose a “duty to retreat” — a requirement that a person retreats to a safe place if possible, instead of using force in self-defense against an assailant or potential assailant first.
Whether the 59-year-old’s actions constitute “necessary force” is a matter that the courts would decide following a police investigation.
In Washington, courts may look at both “subjective” and “objective” factors when determining if a particular act constituted legal “self-defense.”
“A jury may find self-defense based on the defendant’s subjective, reasonable belief of imminent harm from the victim; given this subjective component, the jury need not find actual imminent harm,” Kirk said.