The in basket: Sharell Lee said in an e-mail, “The incident in the news about the road rage murder in Seattle had a group of us discussing the rules of self defense on the highways.
“A question was asked: If a person, who has a concealed weapon’s permit, has a gun in the car with him and is fired upon by another driver, does he have the legal right – based on self defense – to fire back? Or are the rules of self-defense different on the highways than in other situations, especially given the proximity of other vehicles, moving traffic, etcetera?”
The out basket: l wrote the following and fired it off to the Kitsap County prosecutor’s office to see if they would support my assumptions:
“I’m fairly certain that if you shot back on the highway you would be arrested on suspicion of several felonies, which then would be sorted out over several weeks with your lawyer seeking a self-defense dismissal. You might or might not be jailed in the meantime.
“That’s what usually happens in gunfire incidents away from the roads.
“Sharell already anticipates some of the complicating factors that would make a road rage duel different, (moving traffic, close proximity of others) but all would work to make law enforcement’s response more stern, not less.”
Ione George, one of the senior deputies in Prosecutor’ Russ Hauge’s office, declined to advise me, not surprising given how ex parte comments can derail a future prosecution under some of the most unexpected circumstances.
She just said, “As your question reflects, this is a complicated matter, and I am not able to give you a simple answer. The circumstances of every situation are unique, and this office cannot render advance legal judgment as to the appropriateness of any action involving use of deadly force.”