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I was stuck in the riot, in Chicago, a few days ago, and felt rather threatened by the degree of organized lawlessness. I walked out of my home to purchase a soda, and saw an organized raid of 7/11 involving multiple cars, and coordination between five to ten people. (they sent a guy to the back door to catch anyone running out) A lot of these individuals looked like gang bangers in style and dress. I felt intimidated and threatened, and ran to another store to find it broken into too. I eventually found a non-looted 7/11, and heard loud bangs and pops of another store being broken into or gun fire. I felt threatened by every stranger on the street as I walked the mile back home.

If I had pulled out a legally owned gun, and shot the organized raid dead would the Illinois legal system protect me, considering this is a stand your ground state, in practice?

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Illinois has a "Castle Doctrine" which includes dwellings and other qualified buildings, but not a general "Stand your Ground" doctrine. Normally, to claim self-defense one has to show that they were not able to retreat and had to use force, but in Illinois you do not have a duty to retreat if you are preventing criminal interference with a dwelling or with real property that you or a family member owns, or you have a legal duty to protect (see Ill Code 720-2 and Ill Code 720-3). In order to use deadly force in any case, it must be to prevent a forcible felony, which is defined as (720 ILCS 5/2-8):

"Forcible felony" means treason, first degree murder, second degree murder, predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, robbery, burglary, residential burglary, aggravated arson, arson, aggravated kidnaping, kidnaping, aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

So, assuming you have no legal duty to protect the 7-11, you would not be justified in using deadly force against rioters merely on the basis that they were committing a forcible felony against the building. On the other hand, if you were in the store or could see someone in the store being attacked, you may be able to successfully defend deadly force used to protect yourself or that person.

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  • What about if I fear an assault on my person occurring, and fire over that? Seems reasonable to believe a riot might turn into an assault on your person. There were shots exchanged between cops and looters. – ZeroPhase Aug 12 at 1:40
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    @ZeroPhase You can go to the 720-2 link and go to section 1 to see the law for self-defense of a person. To use deadly force, you need to believe it's "necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another, or the commission of a forcible felony." I'm not sure exactly how imminent the death or harm has to be, but merely seeing a riot and feeling threatened is not enough. – IllusiveBrian Aug 12 at 11:52
  • But, is menacing behavior enough? To believe imminent threat is likely. I'd argue being stuck in riot would be quite threatening. – ZeroPhase Sep 21 at 20:08
  • @ZeroPhase All application of the law is highly fact dependent, whether or not a person is justified in harming another in self defense depends upon the totality of the circumstances. With that said, a person who is otherwise minding their own business that is attacked unprovoked by a crowd of people will likely have a strong deadly self defense justification. – IllusiveBrian Sep 23 at 18:21

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