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Senate Committee Passes Bill On Unlawful Police Entry

A bill granting citizens the right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes is headed to the Senate floor after a committee passed it Tuesday.

The bill stems from a recent state Supreme Court decision that is believed by many to bar people from resisting police entry into their homes, even if that entry is illegal. The legislation spells out specific circumstances in which a citizen cannot resist a police entry: if the officer believes there is a threat of physical harm to someone in the home, the resident or residents allow the officer in, an officer is pursuing someone or the officer has a warrant.

State police spokesperson Mark Carnell says the bill allows citizens to make split-second decisions on what can be very complicated legal issues.

“The law enforcement officer’s going to get injured when this happens, the citizen’s certainly going to get injured," he says. "At the end, once all’s said and all’s done, the individual will still have committed a crime, he still will have unlawfully used force to resist an otherwise lawful entry.”

Carnell, along with a representative from the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council, offered a different solution. The right to defend one’s home from unlawful entry is already in state statute: simply add language that explicitly includes law enforcement who are acting out of bounds.

But Indianapolis Republican Senator Michael Young, who wrote the bill, says that proposal is too ambiguous, compared to his legislation.

“Under their scenario, I have to guess what’s legal and what’s not," he says. "This bill tells them what is legal and what’s not.”

Young’s bill passed the committee unanimously.

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