What does Kentucky’s self-protection law say?

What does Kentucky’s self-protection law say?
The family of the victim says the Feb. 23 shooting at the Okolona Olive Garden was a hate crime, but the attorney for the suspect says it was self-defense. (Source: Michael Flynn)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Police said they are investigating hate crime allegations that include a social media post that spread quickly after the shooting at the Okolona Olive Garden. Jose Munoz’s family says that suspect, Devone Briggs, was saying racial slurs to them because they were Mexican. Briggs’ attorney says it was self-defense.

Munoz, 25, was shot and killed Saturday night in front of a crowded restaurant.

25-year-old Jose Munoz was shot and killed after a shooting at the Olive Garden Saturday night.
25-year-old Jose Munoz was shot and killed after a shooting at the Olive Garden Saturday night.

WAVE 3 News wanted to explore what Kentucky’s self-protection law really means. Attorney Leland Hulbert says the law is broader now than it used to be. In 2006, the law was changed. LMPD has not confirmed whether the Olive Garden shooting case was self-defense.

There was no surveillance video of the incident. Hulbert says in this specific case what will be critical is the witnesses.

Devone Briggs is charged with murder in teh shooting death of Jose Munoz, 25 at the Okolona Olive Garden restaurant on Feb. 23, 2019.
Devone Briggs is charged with murder in teh shooting death of Jose Munoz, 25 at the Okolona Olive Garden restaurant on Feb. 23, 2019. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

On Monday, Briggs was in court when his attorney argued he shot Munoz in self-defense.

"As I understand this, this is a significant self-defense issue," Briggs' attorney, John Olash, said in court Monday. "From the witnesses I've spoke to, the deceased is the one that was the aggressor. He swung at my client, he pushed my client, he threatened Mr. Briggs before the deceased was shot. This will be a challenged case."

That’s not what Munoz’s family told WAVE 3 News. They say it was because a four-year-old girl they were with bumped into Briggs. They say Briggs pushed the girl and started yelling racial slurs and when Munoz stepped in to break up the argument he was shot.

Hulbert has been on both sides of the courtroom as a prosecutor and defense attorney.

Attorney Leland Hulbert explained Kentucky's self-protection laws.
Attorney Leland Hulbert explained Kentucky's self-protection laws. (Source: Dale Mader)

"If you have a belief, it doesn't even have to be a reasonable belief," Hulbert said, "but if you have a belief that someone is about to use serious force on you you can protect yourself there is no duty to retreat in Kentucky."

Hulbert says the self-protection law is vague and favors protecting the person making the claim of self defense.

When asked if someone has to be physically touched to make them feel like they are in danger, Hulbert said, "No, it can be a myriad of things. Anytime you are met with any resistance, I won't even say physical or deadly force, but just resistance, you can argue in self defense, self protection. It's available. Whether or not it succeeds is up to a jury."

This case just started, with still some time from knowing if this case makes it to a jury for trial. Hulbert says witnesses will likely play a key role in this case. That's where the hate crime aspect was brought up and is being investigated.

LMPD sent out a Tweet shortly after the shooting asking anyone who was at the restaurant that night that they didn't speak with to get in contact with them.

Indiana’s self defense law is similar to Kentucky’s self protection law.

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