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White Center Homeowner Shoots and Kills Burglar: Was the Use of Force Lawful?

Posted by Steve Karimi | Apr 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

A caller to 911 recently stated that someone had broken into his home on 13th Avenue Southwest in White Center. The man was apparently hiding in a bedroom closet awaiting the authorities when the alleged burglar entered the room. The homeowner shot and killed the 29-year-old man just before responders arrived. Detectives searched the area and did not find any other suspects.

Prior Similar Incident

In Belfair, Washington, 59-year-old Bruce Fanning entered his home and found 31-year-old Nathaniel Rosa in his bathroom taking a shower. According to Fanning, they exchanged words that were “unintelligible” that he deemed to potentially be threatening. Fanning then retrieved a handgun and killed Rosa by firing three shots. Deputy Ryan Spurling of the Mason County Sheriff's Office released a statement saying that Fanning “was not in any danger” after exiting the bathroom. He went further to explain that he feels the incident was not an act of self-defense.

Fanning was detained on possible charges of second-degree murder. He has since been released as the authorities continue to investigate. It is unknown why Rosa entered Fanning's home; however, there are apparently several adjacent homes that are “almost identical” to other another. Analysts on NBC expressed their belief that Fanning's actions were improper because the situation did not warrant the use of lethal force.

Defending Against Violent Crime

According to RCW 9A.16.110, individuals will not be subject prosecution when protecting themselves by “reasonable means necessary” when endangered by someone committing an act including assault, robbery, arson, rape, etc. This applies when the victim is acting to defend themselves, their family, or their property from acts of violence. If a person who is charged is determined to have been acting in self-defense, the state will reimburse them for legal costs and related fees. The amount of reimbursement will be determined based on the discretion of the court.

In matters that lead to a jury trial, some of the questions that are asked include:

  • Whether it can be determined that the defendant was acting in self-defense?
  • Was the individual protecting himself, members of his family, or his or her property?
  • Was the individual responding to aid someone who was in danger?
  • Did the defendant act while in the course of committing a crime?

Washington Code: Use of Force

The law allows for the usage of force in various scenarios. One is to apprehend someone committing a felony so they can be brought into the custody of law enforcement. The usage of force is lawful to defend against injury from someone acting with malicious intent. Force may be used to prevent an individual who is mentally impaired from committing dangerous acts.

Experienced Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney

Have you or a loved one been placed in a position of danger and responded with force to protect yourself? The laws in Washington allow for those in danger to take reasonable actions to defend themselves. We encourage you to contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi for a consultation today at (206) 621-8777.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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If you were arrested or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Seattle or surrounding areas of Washington State, the Law Offices of Steve Karimi can help. Call 206-660-6200 24 hours a day for a free consultation.

Seattle Defense Lawyer

Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.