Have you fallen and you can’t get up? There’s an app for that, and maybe it will alert police to come to your home to help even if it turns out that you haven’t fallen, you’re up and don’t need their help. Too bad.
The alarm from the residence ended up being a medical-assist alarm that originated from someone’s cellphone inside the home, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The home belonged to 62-year-old Dick Tench, described as “fiercely patriotic.” When Trench saw a flashlight through his window, he did what any fiercely patriotic owner of his own castle would do. He got his gun, because he was on the good guy curve and assumed, for lack of reason to think anything else, that someone was about to burglarize his home.
Outside, with a flashlight, was Greenville, South Carolina, sheriff’s deputy Kevin Azzara. He was there to do his job and assist a person in need. But that didn’t mean he was going to violate the First Rule of Policing.
Azzara responded to an alarm call on Eastcrest Drive in Simpsonville June 14. After approaching the front door, he saw a man inside, later identified as the homeowner, armed with a handgun. According to the Sheriff’s Office, the man pointed the gun at Azzara, at which point Azzara fired his weapon into the home.
The initial story was that Trench opened the front door and pointed his gun at Azzara, but then body cam footage was released and that story dies a swift brutal death. The story morphed into Trench pointing the gun at Azzara from inside the house, as seen through the window. That’s not as flagrantly false, but hardly confirmed.
It’s unclear from the video whether Tench pointed a gun at the deputy. In an exchange with the officer that’s captured on video, however, the man acknowledges he did not know who the deputy was and said that he was protecting his home.
The post-shooting investigation of Deputy Azzara’s actions have absolved him of any wrongdoing.
The Sheriff’s Office’s Officer of Professional Standards conducted an internal investigation to see if Deputy Kevin Azzara violated any written policies during the incident. The investigation concluded and found that no agency policies were violated, spokesman Lt. Ryan Flood told The Greenville News Wednesday.
The State Law Enforcement Division is still conducting its investigation, but it’s unlikely to reach a different conclusion. Deputy Azzara saw a man with a gun, felt threatened and fired first in “self defense,” as the Reasonably Scared Cop Rule allows. Indeed, the fact that Trench was holding a gun, as opposed to any of the other things a person might hold within his own home that could be mistaken for a gun and serve as good cause for a killin’ is about as certain an exoneration of Azzara’s shooting as it gets.
But Trench was in his own home, had no clue that the person whose flashlight was shining into his home was a police officer and did what any red-blooded South Carolinian patriot would do, prepared to defend his castle. How could shooting him be right? How could shooting him not be a crime?
The law would have to struggle with all these difficult questions, conflicting doctrines, and, if you want to really get to the core of the issue, the ability of a person in his own home to survive. But instead, the law has chosen to protect cops, to let cops shoot, even when they’re there to help and the uncertain target of their bullet is the owner of the castle, within his castle, doing nothing more than what every American is entitled to do, defend his castle. Unfortunately, Trench’s castle had windows.