The rule of law and due process apply to everyone, even people with long criminal histories. Even people who have bad reputations in dangerous, gang-infested, drug-dealing dystopias. In 2016, Saeve Evans was involved in a gunfight. A 16-year-old girl was killed. Saeve Evans’s legal defense was self-defense.
Below is a DC Police Department post on X, formerly Twitter, of the recent incident in which Saeve Evans was involved. Saeve must have been released pending the appeal of the 2016 case because the video incident happened on August 1, 2023.
Assistant Chief Leslie Parsons provides an update regarding the officer-involved shooting in the 1700 block of Benning Road, Northeast. There are no injuries reported and there is no threat to the community. The incident is under investigation by MPD’s Internal Affairs Division. pic.twitter.com/Y5KwTtw72e
— DC Police Department (@DCPoliceDept) August 1, 2023
Saeve Evans is still a citizen of the United States. He is protected by the Constitution.
On November 25, 2016, Saeve Evans was in a gunfight during which a 16-year-old girl was killed. During the gunfight, he was briefly caught on surveillance video with a gun in his hand. The defense argued that Saeve Evans had fired the gun in self-defense. Evans is a convicted felon who had been shot multiple times before this incident. Saeve Evans surrendered to the police on November 29. Evans demanded a jury trial. The jury found Evans not guilty of everything but the illegal possession of a gun.
DC law allows even violent felons to use guns for self-defense as an exception to their more general ban on possessing guns.
The video shows Evans had the pistol in his possession for at least three seconds after the gunfight was over. The police were not able to prove Evans had the pistol in his possession before he could legitimately use self-defense. The people on the other side of the gunfight were never identified. The judge ruled the three seconds were long enough to convict Evans of illegal gun possession.
Evans was convicted. Evans appealed to the DC Court of Appeals. The opinion was rendered on November 16, 2023. It was a split decision on basic self-defense rights. From courthousenews.com:
DEAHL, Associate Judge: The otherwise illegal possession of a firearm may be justified, so as not to be criminal, if the weapon is held in lawful self-defense. This case presents the question of when precisely that legal justification ends—whether it is the instant a person realizes the threat has subsided or if it instead extends to a period allowing the person to reasonably relinquish the weapon. The trial court instructed the jury, as the government now maintains, that the justification ends the moment the person appreciates that the threat animating the right to self-defense has subsided, so that they must effectively drop the gun in that instant or otherwise lose their justification defense. In appealing his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm, Saeve Evans counters that the justification defense logically extends to a short period after the person realizes the threat has subsided, so that they have a reasonable opportunity to promptly dispossess themselves of the weapon. We agree with Evans and reverse his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Even convicted felons with long histories of interactions with the police have the right to defend themselves from those with homicidal intent.
The DC jury was unclear how long would be acceptable for Evans to hold onto a firearm he had just used to defend his life. The judge in DC said no time at all. Two of three judges on the DC circuit said some time must be allowed for the defendant to reasonably disarm. In this hard case, two judges on the three-judge panel came down in favor of self-defense.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.