You decide: Is it self defense or murder?

Here’s a video we first saw on Greg Ellifritz’s blog showing a woman shooting a man with a rifle during an altercation at a gas station in Houston. provides some details about the shooting:

Surveillance video shows a woman dressed in camouflage shorts and a white T-shirt arguing with a man near the gas pumps. At some point, she pulls out a rifle from the trunk of her vehicle and points it at the man.

That’s when the man swung at her, knocking her backwards. The woman aimed her rifle directly at the man and fired off several rounds. To witnesses’ surprise, she then pulled out her cell phone and recorded the body lying on the ground.

The victim, identified by family members as 58-year-old Lewis Daniels, died at the scene. A knife was also found on the ground near his body.

So is it self defense or murder? Greg makes some great points in his article about this. Here are our thoughts.

Did the woman have a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm? It’s difficult to justify killing someone if you can’t convince a jury that they would have taken the same action.

Was there any opportunity for the woman to escape? Stand your ground laws vary from state to state, but generally authorities will look at whether there was any chance for you to avoid using lethal force.

Who started the conflict? This is always a difficult question to answer. And because the video doesn’t have sound, it’s hard to understand how the chain of events started in this encounter.

What does the video show that makes you think it was murder or self defense? Notice that the video is edited, so you can’t see everything that happened. Does this make a difference?

Watch this next video of the same incident which includes more detail. (The computer generated audio sounds weird, but this is the most complete version of the surveillance video we could find.)

After watching the second video, what do you think now? Doesn’t look quite as much like self defense does it?

Hold on, here’s yet another video where a legal expert says the shooting may be justified.

Confused? Even with video, it’s not necessarily crystal clear is it? This is one of the problems you’ll face if you ever have to defend yourself. Facts can be subject to interpretation. Witness accounts can differ. And even if you strive to do everything right, you could end up with a legal mess on your hands.