Summary of Courvoisier v. Raymond (1896), 47 P. 284
P, appellee = Raymond
D, appellant = Courvoisier
Procedural History: P filed a cause of action for D shooting him. Trial court ruled in favor of P. D appealed. Appellate court reversed.
Facts: D was awakened at night by pounding on the lower level of his home, which housed his jewelry shop. After he refused to let the pounding men in, they vandalized the front of his shop and went around back and gained entry through another way, and began pounding on D’s sister’s door. D took out his gun and went to expel the intruders from the building. When the intruders left the building, they were joined by two or three others outside the rear of the jewelry store. D fired a shot to frighten intruders away, but they began to throw stones and bricks at him. D responded by firing a second and third shot. Shots had attracted the attention of two sheriffs and P, a police officer, who came to investigate the disturbance of the peace. The other two officers stopped and began to arrest the intruders, and P began towards D. P called out that he was a police officer and for D to stop shooting. D took aim and fired, seriously injuring P.
Issues: Was P assaulting D at the time P was shot? >Yes.
Was the trial court erroneous in its instruction to the jury that D could only claim self-defense if P was assaulting him? >Yes.
Holding: Judgment of the trial court is reversed; D is found to have acted in reasonable self-defense.
Rationale: The evidence shows that the circumstances surrounding the shooting would have led a reasonable man to believe that his life was in danger, or that he was in danger of great bodily harm at the hands of the plaintiff. The instruction to the jury did not allow them to consider whether D would have been justified in shooting one of the rioters, as he testified he believed P was. If the jury had been allowed to determine the act excusable for the mistaken identity, the court believed that they would have found for the defendant.