The Law Blog of Oklahoma

Fatal Shooting of Man Trying to Drown Infants Ruled Justified

Posted: Friday, July 07, 2017

The Pontotoc County District Attorney has determined that no charges will be filed in the fatal shooting of a Poteau man who was attempting to drown twin infants in a bathtub.

On June 2, Leland Foster, a man with a history of domestic violence, showed up at an Ada home where the mother of his 3-month old twins was staying with the babies. Foster reportedly barricaded the woman, alternately identified as his ex-girlfriend or estranged wife, in a bathroom, holding her at knifepoint as he attempted to drown the two babies in a bathtub.

A 12-year-old girl ran from the home for help, reaching the home of Cash Freeman, a neighbor who had just come home for lunch. Hearing the girl's explanation of events transpiring at the home, Freeman grabbed his gun and went to help.

Freeman reportedly discovered Foster holding the babies underwater as their mother screamed hysterically, unable to help the infants because of the knife.

The neighbor fired his weapon twice, but says that Foster continued to assault the infants and their mother. He fired a third time, killing the man. Because he shot Foster in the back, Freeman was afraid he would be "in trouble" for killing the attacker.

Yesterday, Potontoc County District Attorney Paul Smith issued a statement saying that no charges would be filed against Cash Freeman, calling the use of lethal force justified.

A statement from the District Attorneys Office said that upon coming across the scene, "one might get the sense that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent or stop this horrible crime from going any further."

The report continued, "Mr. Freeman reported that even after firing two (2) shots, he still considered the decedent to be a threat observing him to [be] armed with the knife and responding to the cries of the mother to help her because she felt the children were going to die, and viewing the decendent’s evil intent expressed in his facial expression, he felt compelled to fire the third shot to attempt to get past this violent man to render aid and prevent the man from getting back up to harm anyone anymore."

When looking at the totality of the situation, Smith said that the shooting "was certainly necessary under these gripping circumstances."

Not every killing of another in an attempt to stop or resist a crime is considered justifiable homicide. Oklahoma's law defining justifiable homicide is found in 21 O.S. § 733:

A. Homicide is also justifiable when committed by any person in any of the following cases:

1. When resisting any attempt to murder such person, or to commit any felony upon him, or upon or in any dwelling house in which such person is;

2. When committed in the lawful defense of such person or of another, when the person using force reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to terminate or prevent the commission of a forcible felony; or

3. When necessarily committed in attempting, by lawful ways and means, to apprehend any person for any felony committed; or in lawfully suppressing any riot; or in lawfully keeping and preserving the peace.

B. As used in this section, "forcible felony" means any felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any person.

Lethal force in defense of property would not be considered justifiable homicide, nor would the use of lethal force be justified if the assailant was no longer a threat. However, state law allows the use of lethal force in defending oneself and others from great bodily harm.

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