Video Shows the Emotional Toll that Comes with Using Justifiable Deadly Force

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With his voice trembling and his eyes watering, Thomas Yoxall of Arizona recounted the incident that changed his life forever at a press conference last week.

Earlier this month, Yoxall shot and killed a man to save another man’s life.

As previously reported by GunsAmerica, it all started around 4:30 a.m. several Thursdays ago when Arizona State Trooper Edward Andersson was responding to reports of gunfire along the median of Interstate 10 west of Tonopah, Arizona.

Andersson pulled up to find a vehicle flipped over in the ditch. He did not immediately see anyone around the vehicle, so he began setting up flares.

The suspect, identified as Leonard Pennelas-Escobar, shot Andersson twice as he was lighting flares, once in the shoulder and once in the chest. Escobar proceeded to beat the trooper with his pistol and slam his head into the pavement, according to CBS affiliate KPHO.

That’s when Yoxall pulled up in his truck. Seeing Trooper Andersson being beaten “in a savage way” spurred Yoxall into action. He grabbed his gun, ordered Escobar to stop assaulting Trooper Andersson, and when the suspect failed to obey the commands, opened fire, killing him.

“To be honest with you, it was very visceral and instinctive. I had to help. I knew I had to help. So there wasn’t an option for me,” Yoxall said at the press conference at Department of Public Safety offices in Phoenix.

Yoxall told reporters that he has no military or police training. However, he does shoot regularly and he is a responsible gun owner. He also believes that his presence that day was not by accident but by divine will.

“I firmly believe that that morning I was put there… by God,” Yoxall said. “It’s difficult to think about that day still.”

Yoxall is seeking guidance from his pastor and is hoping he can put the trauma of the incident behind him. Meanwhile, trooper Andersson is recovering from his gunshot wounds.

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Just a quick thought.  I believe this press conference is instructive to the many millions of gun owners who carry but have never had to use deadly force. Too often we hear from the armchair commandos who talk cavalierly about “killing bad guys.” You know, the guy who reads an article about a deadly force encounter and responds by saying something like:

I woulda pulled out old slab side, put two in the perp’s chest and one in his big head because it’s better to be judged by 12 rather than carried by six and I wouldn’t lose one wink of sleep over killing that evil thug. Easy-peasy.

While it’s possible that one could use lethal force during a highly traumatic encounter and not be flooded by a wave of emotions in the ensuing weeks and months, it’s probably unlikely. Most of us are normal, non-violent people who haven’t had to take a life. To assume that one can just kill someone and not feel anything afterward is naive, which is why Mr. Yoxall response is so telling. It underscores the reality of killing, how it’s never as cut and dry as it appears, how it comes with an emotional toll, and how it changes the lives of many people, in this particular case, from the suspect to the victim to the shooter to all their respective families.

Carrying a firearm for self-defense is a serious business that may have serious consequences. It should be treated accordingly. We do no favors to ourselves or the gun community by pretending otherwise. I’m grateful that Mr. Yoxall — through his lucid remarks and very raw emotions — stepped forward to remind us of this fact.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Dan February 5, 2017, 3:23 pm

    Let’s not overthink this. Using force against evil shouldn’t be a concept so foreign to us or so feared (that is, if we are good men and women). Evil uses force to do harm all the time around us – just watch the news. Groom you mind however you need to and make yourself ready for it. If your character is sound, resorting to violent action against evil when necessary shouldn’t damage you.

  • Angus February 3, 2017, 9:10 pm

    Let us see a video of a relative of someone who was unable to protect himself against a criminal who was armed. Better to be judged by a jury than carried by your friends.

  • skipNclair February 3, 2017, 12:45 pm

    I believe he did what the good lord God almighty would have him do under the circumstances. If you flip this, and he did nothing , and the officer was killed, and the guy took even more lives would that not have been worse for him to live with? You did a great job try not to judge it, and use God to help you deal with it and move on.

    • deanbob February 3, 2017, 1:42 pm

      I concur. And even though I do not have a CCW (very seldom leave my house), I pray I never have to use deadly force to protect my home and loved ones. This type video should be mandatory viewing for all CCW classes. If nothing else, it should generate some thought.

  • Mister Ronald February 3, 2017, 11:32 am

    I do believe that the guy that saved the Police officers life my killing the thug probably saved more lives in the future then if the criminal had lived. He should feel “NO” remorse and actually feel good about saving a productive life and doing away with a danger to future society.
    These killer thug criminals always seem to have a very long record of crimes they did in the past but are let free to do more crimes until they kill innocent citizens.

  • Nate February 3, 2017, 10:49 am

    What a great advertisement for reading On Killing by Dave Grossman (LTC ret).

  • Raskolnikov February 3, 2017, 5:46 am

    Harking back to the vicar John Donne and his treatise “No Man Is an Island”, one would think the horror of being the instrument of death would be extremely traumatic. There are instances in life that we could call “crossroads”. When viewed from the primary perspective of Mr. Yoxall’s actions, he was first and foremost the instrument of LIFE for the trooper. If the removal of Sr. Escobar from the ranks of the quick was necessary to preserve the life of the trooper, perhaps Mr. Yoxall needs to rethink his actions from this point of view. I am sure that had I been in Mr. Yoxall’s situation I could have performed to his level but being an instrument of death is not totally foreign to me. After having spent more than two years mired in the swamp of a stupid conflict in Southeast Asia that was based upon a lie by a liberal President, I have had ample time to ruminate on my guilt or innocence and I concluded, early on, that my conscience is clear. Simply put, there are some people who clearly and obviously need to be put down like the sick dogs they are. The people I was in conflict with in Viet Nam, lo, these many years ago, did not deserve to die but this sorry-ass shitheel Escobar was preordained to receive his one-way ticket to Hell early, so weep not Mr. Yoxall, for you are the sterling proof that the Second Amendment is necessary.

    • Daniel Braatz February 5, 2017, 1:36 pm

      Amen!

      -& Thank You for your service

    • Daniel Braatz February 5, 2017, 1:37 pm

      Amen!

      -& Thank You for your service

  • Brian February 3, 2017, 3:09 am

    Speaking as someone who has had to shoot in self defense the aftermath is not easy. No training in the world can prepare you for it. I dont wish it on anybody

  • Tom Horn January 31, 2017, 8:37 am

    Thanks for this article. Definitely needed.

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