Brandon Watson of Portsmouth, Virginia, was convicted of misdemeanor reckless handling of a firearm by a local judge after he fired at police who forcibly entered his home on Jan. 3, 2013.
Police were responding to a call of potential burglary, but entered the wrong home, Watson’s home.
Not knowing that it was the cops who were at his back door late at night, Watson did what many would do in his situation, he grabbed his firearm and prepared to confront the intruders.
“I announced myself, ‘Who is that? Who is that? I have a gun.’ And as soon as I said that, two red laser beams were on my chest,” Watson told NBC 12, recounting the incident. “so I looked at the red laser beams on my chest, and I fired a warning shot.”
Once Watson realized it was the police who were entering his residence, he dropped his gun and complied with the officers’ request.
Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney Earle Mobley then charged him with reckless handling of a firearm, even though police were in the wrong backyard.
“You cannot fire indiscriminately through the window,” Mobley said.
A judged agreed, and convicted Watson. Watson appealed the judge’s decision to a second judge who declared a mistrial. Finally, his case was brought before a jury of his peers.
“This can’t be doing your job. You come in my backyard, try to open my door, open my window and flash red laser beams on my chest because you thought I was the burglar, and I thought you were the burglar,” said Watson, explaining on why he appealed the decision.
The jury agreed with Watson, and believe he exhibited great restraint in only firing one shot given the situation.
“There was agreement if there had been more than one bullet hole, had he sprayed the wall with bullets, bang, bang, bang, that would have been reckless,” Danny Barnes, one of the jurors..
“The Commonwealth really didn’t have a case,” he added. “It wasn’t reckless, so it didn’t’ take a lot of discussion.”