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Lawmakers Debate Expansion Of Stand Your Ground Law

kystie_phillips.jpg

Kystie Phillips shot a man outside her home who was wrestling with a police officer. She's now being sued. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

Indiana lawmakers are wrestling with whether to expand the state’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” law to cover civil lawsuits.

Indiana law says someone is not criminally liable if they use justifiable force protecting their person, their property, or someone else from harm. But it’s less clear whether the criminal in that case can sue and win in civil court.

That’s what’s happening to Kystie Phillips, who shot a man outside her home who was fighting with a police officer.

“Someone like me needs to know that their life isn’t going to be forever broken because they choose to help,” Phillips says.

There seems to be agreement that criminals shouldn’t be able to sue their victims. But some worry a proposed bill’s civil immunity is too broad. Attorney Scott Severns says the measure shifts away from what he calls “reasonable and cautious self-defense.”

“What can easily tip over into vigilantism,” Severns says.

A House committee plans to consider changes to the bill and vote on it at a future meeting.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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