Another California Stand Your Ground Victory
This week criminal defense attorney Joseph Tully successfully defended another self-defense “Stand Your Ground” client in California at the Contra Costa Courthouse in Martinez, just two blocks from the Tully Weiss office. This new case involved Sgt. Schitara Page, an African-American woman, an Army Veteran of four tours and an active reservist who used her personal side arm to defend herself against a deadly attack in the East Bay.
Rather than hail her as a hero, the Contra Costa DA prosecuted Sergeant Page for violations of Penal Code § 246 – shooting at an occupied vehicle, and Penal Code § 246.3 (A) – gross negligent discharge firearm. Read more about this compelling case of Law Enforcement punishing people for defending themselves. Spoiler alert: Above all Tully prevails and the jury brought back Not Guilty on all charges.
After four tours and nine years in the Army, Sergeant Page continued her service as an Army Reservist, and earned her Bachelor’s Degree and her Masters. As she continued her higher education, she was working as an armed security guard at a large Richmond, CA supermarket in Contra Costa County California. She was certified as an Expert shooter by the U.S. Army, and continued to train about twice a week at the gun range. Therefore, as a result of her training and discipline, she was both competent and confident with her Smith & Wesson 9mm sidearm.
THE GROUND SHE STOOD ON
In December 2018, in her capacity as an armed security guard at the supermarket, she witnessed a pair of store patrons stuffing merchandise into their pants. Our Sergeant meets the two men at the front of the store, notices a package of meat protruding from one man’s pants, and asks them to return the merchandise. One of the men punches Sgt. Page in the face, threatens and curses at her, and runs out the door throwing items at her. In response, she tries pepper spray but is too far away. Sgt. Page pursues them into the store parking lot and watches them jump into their attended truck poised for escape.
The driver yells a threat of bodily harm at her, “I got something for you, bitch!”, and the large black 4X4 truck accelerates forward. With less than a second to react, and not knowing if the truck would mow her down, or the robbers had weapons in the cab, Sergeant Page reacts on instinct to defend her life and protect others from the fleeing men in the truck. She drew her personal side arm and put three precise shots into the front tire, disabling the vehicle. In the face of deadly force, Sgt. Page used her firearm to stand her ground.
Her training and instincts stopped the truck and saved her life. The three shots all struck the tire treads, and as she planned, there were no ricochets. As a result, no one was hurt, and the criminals were apprehended. After that, Sgt. Page then stayed on scene to be interviewed by police and help Richmond CSI collect shell casings.
She acted within protocol in her role as a security guard. She was in the right to be in the parking lot. Security guards can seek return of property. Security guards can collect license plate numbers. The Sergeant responded to the initial assault by trying mace, and only responded with her firearm when confronted with deadly force. It is clear Sgt. Page was following her job duties and did not create this incident.
“Stand Your Ground” Aftermath
The Richmond PD ignored the criminal behavior of the robbers and instead only arrested Sgt. Page for using her firearm in self-defense. The charges filed by the Contra Costa County DA, which she faced in court, were for shooting at an occupied vehicle (Penal Code § 246), and gross negligent discharge of a firearm (Penal Code § 246.3A).
Despite erosion to the Second Amendment in Contra Costa and all of California, we still have the right to defend ourselves and others against harm. The jury instruction is CALCRIM 3470, which is effectively a California “Stand Your Ground” Law in the Golden State. Below are the criteria for legally standing your ground and defending yourself with a firearm in California.
CALIFORNIA STAND YOUR GROUND – CALCRIM 3470
The defendant reasonably believed that she was in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or was in imminent danger of being touched unlawfully;
The defendant reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger; AND
The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.
A defendant is not required to retreat.
She is entitled to Stand Her Ground and defend herself AND,
if reasonably necessary, to Pursue An Assailant until the danger of death or bodily injury has passed.
This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.
In this case, the robber threatened Sgt. Page and called her a “bitch”. Punched and bruised her while fleeing. Implied serious bodily harm yelling “I got something for you!” from the truck, which was seen as a Criminal Threat. After that, he then drove truck forward knowing Sgt. Page was in front of truck = Assault with Deadly Weapon.
Sergeant Page was within her rights to stand her ground and use her weapon in self defense. The jury agreed at trial in August 2019 and returned a verdict of Not Guilty on all charges.
VERDICT: Not guilty. Sergeant Page acted in LAWFUL SELF-DEFENSE WITH A FIREARM
- The two robbers had a long criminal history. Despite that, and despite the fact they stole product from the store, assaulted Sgt. Page, and tried to run her over, were NEVER charged with a crime.
- The two arresting officers were rookies that had only a few months each experience on the force. The Assistant DA who insisted on prosecuting Sgt. Page for defending her life, was not a rookie.
- Sergeant Page earned a perfect score on her LSAT law school entrance exam, and is being courted by top law schools across the nation. The team at Tully & Weiss wish her well.
- She was acquitted in less than 40 minutes.
- The East Bay Times has a full article on Sgt. Page and her self-defense case.
When people think of California and guns, they usually think of strict gun control. Though “Stand Your Ground” in California is not a codified law, was never legislated, and is not even referred to “Stand Your Ground”, the right to defend oneself is protected. In the form of jury instructions, CALCRIM 3470 lays out your rights to defend and protect, without obligation to retreat. This story of Sgt. Page is getting attention from newspapers, TV, and websites, and spreading the word that your life is YOURS to protect. As long as District Attorneys prosecute people for self defense, the People need to push back for their rights.
Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph Tully
Author and Lawyer Joseph Tully brings a passion to law practice rarely seen among criminal defense lawyers and it drives his extraordinary record of positive outcomes. The Tully and Weiss firm’s criminal law office is in Martinez California, with a second office in Redding. Mr. Tully and team outwork and out-prepare prosecutors to combat the California’s massive law enforcement and judicial advantages over an individual. This imbalance of power against the innocent is the topic of Mr. Tully’s book California: State of Collusion. Joseph Tully is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, an elite certification awarded to less than 1% of California lawyers by the California Board of Legal Specialization.
In addition, Joseph Tully has been listed among the National Trial Lawyers’ “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” multiple years. He has an extraordinary record of victories in high profile trials from Redding to Contra Costa County and multiple precedent-setting wins in self-defense trials. His diligence and meticulous preparation resulted in scores of great outcomes for cases others declared impossible.