On the night of October 17th, 2015, Stephen Maddox was forced to use deadly force after being attacked three times in a very short timespan. He was attacked by a casual acquaintance that had threatened him in the weeks before, stemming from a petty incident while riding motorcycles. He pulled off from the group to go to a convenience store. That was it. In the weeks leading up to the attack, Stephen had walked away from attempts to draw him into a fight from the individual, and had blocked him on social media, avoiding any contact with him.
The attacker was about 5 inches taller and weighed about 100 pounds more than he did. The first attack was stopped by 4 individuals pulling the attacker off of Stephen in a bathroom of a convention center. Stephen had been taken to the ground and was being chocked before any intervention. He then retreated to the parking lot in attempt to leave the event, when a second attack took place in the parking lot. Once again, Stephen was able to get away and get to his motorcycle to leave. However, his motorcycle had three locks on it, and he was physically exhausted. His legs felt like they were about to give out. He was drenched in sweat, and was so wet that he thought he might have been stabbed. One of Stephen’s friends arrived at his motorcycle seconds before the attacker arrived a third and final time to attack him. This last attack resulted in 5 shots being fired from Stephen’s gun that was retrieved from the motorcycle. All of the shots were at close range or while in physical contact with the attacker.
Not knowing the status of the attacker, Stephen ran around the corner to call police. He even stated on the 911 call that he was scared to go back over to his motorcycle. When officers arrived, he was taken to a nearby police station and interviewed for 3 hours. Stephen cooperated fully even unlocking his iPhone and retrieving the eyewitness phone number for officers. He tried to tell the investigators what he remembered.
The problem was that following three attacks on his life, he was physically, emotionally, and mentally spent. At that time, he couldn’t have given the most accurate account of what had just happened. He told investigators he had 2 children, when he has 3. He told them that his daughter went to a college that she has never attended, and he gave them the wrong address to his house.
These are all classical signs of what one may experience following such a critical stress event. Most police investigators know about these signs, as their own brothers and sisters in blue who are involved in officer involved shootings aren't interviewed for 24-48 hours. There is a great reason for this as you can see above. If the officer experiences tunnel vision or auditory exclusion, they may not see or hear things that others hear. If they experience intense second guessing, they may indicate that they could have or should have done something different, even though in most cases, there would be nothing more they could do and live though the incident.
The IACP, or International Association of Chief’s of Police, recommends 2 sleep cycles before giving interviews due to critical stress and it’s effects. Some departments interview officers directly after, but they also allow officers to review their reports a day or two later for any changes that need to be made.
Now, before we go any further, I want to make it clear that Stephen did not do anything wrong in talking with the police. As stated in an earlier video, he believes in hard work and doing what is right. Most people in his place would talk to investigators, and those that say they would not, may do so if they were under the same stress. Many of our calls come after our members talk to the police. In some cases, it actually helps. In the Zimmerman case, one of the reasons he wasn’t charged initially was that he talked to the police, and even did a walk though the next day with investigators.
The real takeaway here is that while most police officers understand the effects of critical stress, there are some who do not. In this case, after interviewing Stephen for three hours, investigators came to the conclusion that he was guilty and charged him with Murder I. The one eye witness who was standing next to Stephen during the final attack, was not interviewed for over a year and a half. Nor were many of the witnesses of the other attacks. There was no effort to locate any other possible witnesses. There was no effort to contact people after a tag reader had been utilized at the event. The response from the investigator to this was that “good people should call in”. There was no effort to collect and test evidence, including Stephen’s clothing. The medical examiners report was wrong and was amended over a year later. It was the blueprint of an insuffucient investigation. Investigators jumped to conclusions based on interpretation of an interview of someone who had just literally fought for their life and had to take a human life. The physiological effects, the physical and mental exhaustion, and the emotional devastation were all discounted.
So, knowing the effects that you may experience should be in everyone’s mind who carries for self defense. While we always hope that we never have to use our firearms in self defense, if we ever do, we need to understand them and what you may experience with each one. In the upcoming months, we will be talking with experts about these effects.
Stephen was found not guilty in a trial lasting two weeks after being charged with Murder I almost two years previous. CCW Safe successfully defended him, being the first company in this industry to successfully defend a full start to end trial on a Murder I case. CCW Safe would like to acknowledge Attorney Tartt Thomas of the Thomas Law firm and Attorney Kurt Schmidt of Schmidt law, both located in Wilson, N.C. We would also like to acknowledge pathology expert Dr. Jamie Downs, and use of force expert Robert Murphy, who both were instrumental in the development and success of his defense.