Stockton Criminal Defense Attorney Allen Sawyer Weighs in on Possible Misuse of Deadly Force

The incident raises a number of questions: An unarmed man who was overpowered by two neighbors after he attempted to steal a car in Stockton in early March died before police arrived at the scene. The suspect, who was 35 years old, was presumed to have suffered a heart attack.

The obvious first question is what role the two men who subdued the suspected thief while waiting for the arrival of officers might have played in his untimely death. That the man was purportedly in the act of committing a crime did not give the two witnesses the right to exert unlimited force against him, said Stockton Criminal Defense Attorney Allen Sawyer in an interview with FOX40 after the incident.

Sawyer asserted that deadly force is reserved for circumstances of self-defense or protection of another person, and does not extend to the protection of vehicles or other property. Whether or not the two men who overcame the suspected thief had good reason to believe their lives were in danger remains another question to be answered by the ongoing investigation. It was reported the suspect had no weapons on him at the time of the incident.

Another matter Sawyer raised was whether or not the suspect suffered from any underlying medical condition. Until forthcoming details emerge from the police report and autopsy, the answers to these questions, and the question of whether or not charges will be filed by the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office, remain unanswered.

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