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A Deputy fired after putting knee on Black man's neck.. The news article reports:

A relative of the man was arrested when she tried to intervene, according to the news report.

Let us assume that kneeling on the neck is criminal: In the unlikely event that state prosecutes said relative, what principle / defense would her counsel engage to support a plea of not guilty?

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Most people would refer to this as "defense of others."

In North Carolina, though, the relevant statute, G.S. 14-51.3, formally refers to this as "Use of force in defense of person." The statute allows a defense against criminal and civil liability for non-deadly force used "against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that the conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other's imminent use of unlawful force."

Note, however, that the statute does not allow you to invoke the defense when the victim "is a law enforcement officer ... was lawfully acting in the performance of his or her official duties and ... identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law." This raises the question of whether the officer in this case was "lawfully acting in the performance of his official duties" when the relative intervened. If he was, the defense would likely be unavailable.

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  • Another police officer in a similar situation was found to have committed a felony. And since that felony led to the death of the victim, he was convicted of second degree murder and is now serving a twenty year sentence.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 12 at 9:53

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