Violence Med For Depression 2011-07-08 Pennsylvania Father Shoots to Death 17 Year Old Depressed Son Who Attacked Him With Knife: Ruled Self-Defense
Summary:

Paragraph 47 reads:  "Additionally, Stephen was identified as having anger issues relating to his parents.  Stephen was on medication as a maintenance treatment for the Major Depression Disorder, according to the press release."

Paragraphs 15 through 20 read:  "At this time, Stephen Schmitz followed his father into the laundry room and began to challenge him about the return of a Blackberry cell phone. Stephen Schmitz advanced towards his father yelling at him and demanding the return of the phone, according to the press release."

"As Stephen came towards his father, Lt. Schmitz saw a large knife in Stephen’s hand.  Lt. Schmitz retreated as far as he could in the tight confines of the laundry room."

"When Stephen was only about three feet away, Lt. Schmitz backed against the side wall of the room where his right leg buckled, and he fell to the floor. Stephen Schmitz then stood over Lt. Schmitz and swung the hunting knife with a double handed grip at Lt. Schmitz’s body, according to the press release."

"After missing Lt. Schmitz, Stephen Schmitz again raised the knife above his head.  Lt. Schmitz believed that Stephen Schmitz was going to stab him."

"Lt. Schmitz then fired two shots from his duty-issued Glock .45-caliber pistol.  The shots were fired toward Stephen’s chest because Stephen was too close for him to be able to aim anywhere else, according to the press release.

"Lt. Schmitz fired his weapon to prevent Stephen from stabbing him."


http://lansdale.patch.com/articles/hatfield-township-cop-justified-in-using-deadly-force-in-shooting
 


Hatfield Township Cop Justified in Using Deadly Force in Shooting

Lt. Eric Schmitz, of Towamencin, shot his son after he attacked him and tried to stab him with a hunting knife

By Tony Di Domizio | Email the author | 3:14pm

Hatfield Township Police Lt. Eric Schmitz was justified in using deadly force when he shot and killed his son, Stephen Schmitz, June 8,  Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman ruled Friday.

Schmitz shot his son after he attacked him and tried to stab him with a hunting knife, Ferman said.

Detectives from the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office and the Towamencin Township Police Department investigated the facts and circumstances of the incident. 

The investigation included reviews of all police reports, witness statements, crime scene investigation, firearms analysis reports, recorded 911 calls, psychiatric evaluations of Stephen Schmitz, and the autopsy results, according to Ferman.

Lt. Schmitz provided a detailed statement of the events of June 8, 2011.  This statement was corroborated by other independent evidence gathered by investigators. 

None of the evidence gathered during this investigation is in any way inconsistent with the account given to detectives by Lt. Schmitz, Ferman said.

On Wednesday, June 8, 2011, at 3:09 p.m., the Towamencin Township Police Department responded to the Schmitz residence at 102 Oxford Road, Towamencin Township, for a reported shooting, according to the press release.

Arriving officers found the victim, Stephen Schmitz, 17, deceased on the garage floor.

Through investigation, detectives learned that Lt. Schmitz adjusted his work schedule on June 8, 2011, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., so that he could arrive home early and check on his son, Stephen, who had been released from the Horsham Clinic on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, according to Ferman.

Lt. Schmitz wanted to be home for his son, as it was Stephen Schmitz’s first day back at North Penn High School after being committed to the Horsham Clinic following a suicide attempt on May 26, 2011.

Lt. Schmitz arrived home a little before 3 p.m. on June 8.  At that time, Stephen Schmitz was using the computer on the first floor.

There was no one else present in the house other than Lt. Schmitz and Stephen Schmitz, according to the press release.

A short time later, Stephen Schmitz went upstairs. Lt. Schmitz’s other son, Andrew, 18, called on the phone to ask his father where the local UPS store was located. Lt. Schmitz then used the computer briefly to look up the phone number for the UPS store.

Lt. Schmitz called the UPS store to get the location, and he then relayed that information to Andrew over the phone.  When he was done, Lt. Schmitz headed for the laundry room on the first floor where he planned to start a load of laundry before then changing out of his police uniform, according to the press release.

At this time, Stephen Schmitz followed his father into the laundry room and began to challenge him about the return of a Blackberry cell phone. Stephen Schmitz advanced towards his father yelling at him and demanding the return of the phone, according to the press release.

As Stephen came towards his father, Lt. Schmitz saw a large knife in Stephen’s hand.  Lt. Schmitz retreated as far as he could in the tight confines of the laundry room.

When Stephen was only about three feet away, Lt. Schmitz backed against the side wall of the room where his right leg buckled, and he fell to the floor.  Stephen Schmitz then stood over Lt. Schmitz and swung the hunting knife with a double handed grip at Lt. Schmitz’s body, according to the press release.

After missing Lt. Schmitz, Stephen Schmitz again raised the knife above his head.  Lt. Schmitz believed that Stephen Schmitz was going to stab him.

Lt. Schmitz then fired two shots from his duty-issued Glock .45-caliber pistol.  The shots were fired toward Stephen’s chest because Stephen was too close for him to be able to aim anywhere else, according to the press release.

Lt. Schmitz fired his weapon to prevent Stephen from stabbing him.

The hunting knife measured about 10 inches in length and was identified as a knife that was kept within a toolbox inside the garage of the residence, according to the press release.

After the shooting, Lt. Schmitz immediately called “911” and rendered aid to his son until the arrival of the Towamencin Township Police Department and Volunteer Medical Service Corps of Lansdale.

Only about 10 minutes elapsed from the time Lt. Schmitz arrived home until the time of the shooting. 

Stephen Schmitz was pronounced dead at the scene by Montgomery County Coroner Walter Hofman. 

Lt. Schmitz suffered injuries to his knee and back as a result of the attack and was transported to the Emergency Room at Abington Health Lansdale Hospital. He was released June 9.

Through investigation, detectives learned that Stephen Schmitz’s behavior had grown progressively more alarming in the previous two months, according to the press release.

Family members described Stephen as having mental health and behavior issues and related that he was on medication for his mental health problems.

Lt. Schmitz and his wife, Lori Schmitz, were very concerned about Stephen’s issues and were doing everything possible to get Stephen counseling and treatment, according to the press release.

Because of Stephen’s increasingly violent behavior, Lt. Schmitz removed his handguns from the residence about two months before the shooting, and took them to the police station to keep them away from Stephen.

As a further precaution, Lt. Schmitz moved his rifle from the house to the police station about a week before the shooting and hid a dismantled shotgun in his bedroom closet, according to the press release.

Lt. Schmitz would secure his duty weapon inside the trunk of his vehicle when not on his person, according to the press release.

On May 26, 2011, Stephen Schmitz tried to strangle his brother, Andrew, and threatened to kill himself by holding a knife to his stomach.

Towamencin Township police officers responded to the residence and encountered Stephen.  Stephen screamed, “[Expletive] you, I hate all you cops,” and, due to Stephen’s aggressive demeanor, he was immediately handcuffed, according to the press release.

Police asked Stephen if it was his intention to kill himself.  Stephen Schmitz said, “Yes, I was trying to kill myself.”  When asked why, Stephen replied, “I can’t live my own life. There are too many laws.”

Stephen Schmitz also said, “I just want to [expletive] die.”  This incident resulted in Stephen being committed to the Horsham Clinic that same day.

As police transported Stephen to Horsham Clinic, Stephen said that he “hated” his father and that he “hates all cops” and that he wanted to die, according to the press release.

Family members confirmed that, after his release from the Horsham Clinic on June 7, Stephen’s behavior was the worst it had ever been and that Stephen was filled with anger, according to the press release.

On the day of his release from the Horsham Clinic, Lt. Schmitz and his wife went to the Horsham Clinic and met with Stephen and his counselor regarding his return home.  During the discussion of the “safety plan” and house rules, Stephen became angry over the return of his Blackberry phone.

Stephen became so angry that he had to leave the room to calm down.  The counselor contemplated revoking Stephen’s discharge.  Stephen agreed to calm down and was released to his parents, according to the press release.

Upon his release from the clinic, Stephen’s violent demeanor returned immediately.  After arriving home on June 7, Stephen continued to act in a very aggressive manner and stated that he “hated” his family and that his family “did not know what he was going through,” according to the press release. 

At one point, Stephen’s older sister tried to give Stephen a hug, but Stephen refused using expletives towards his sister.

Later in the evening of June 7, while Stephen’s sister was speaking with her father about her weekend plans, Stephen walked up to Lt. Schmitz and, in a calm tone, said, “I just want you to know I hate you."

Stephen then asked his father to tell him that he hated Stephen. Lt. Schmitz replied, “I can’t say that because I love you and we care about you very much,” according to the press release.

Later that evening, Stephen told his sister that he “hated this family.”

As a result of Stephen’s aggressive behavior, Lt. Schmitz slept with his metal police flashlight on the night of June 7because he was afraid that Stephen would harm his family, according to the press release.

Detectives obtained Court Orders for the mental health documents relating to the diagnosis, care, and treatment of Stephen Schmitz.  A comprehensive review of the documents revealed that Stephen Schmitz was clinically diagnosed as having Severe Major Depression Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. 

Additionally, Stephen was identified as having anger issues relating to his parents.  Stephen was on medication as a maintenance treatment for the Major Depression Disorder, according to the press release.

On June 9, Montgomery County Coroner Walter Hofman conducted an autopsy on the body of Stephen Schmitz.  Dr. Hofman opined that the Cause of Death was gunshot wounds to the trunk and that the Manner of Death was Homicide, according to a press release.

Whether a homicide constitutes a justifiable homicide is a question of law for the District Attorney.  The answer to that question turns on whether the person who committed the act that led to the death of another person was justified in the use of deadly force under the facts and circumstances of the event.

The Pennsylvania Crimes Code governs the use of deadly force in self-protection.  Under Chapter 18, Section 501 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, “deadly force” is defined as “force which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.”

The use of deadly force is justifiable if the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat.

However, deadly force is not justified if the actor, with the intent of causing death or serious bodily injury, provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter, under Chapter 18, Section 505. Nor, is deadly force justified if the actor knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating.

However, the actor has no obligation to retreat before using deadly force if the actor is in his dwelling, so long as the actor was not the initial aggressor.

 

According to Ferman, Schmitz was justified to use deadly force against Stephen Schmitz on June 8.

This incident began when Lt. Schmitz returned home from his tour of duty.  Lt. Schmitz had changed his work schedule to be home when his son Stephen completed his first school day after being discharged from the Horsham Clinic.

Stephen Schmitz began challenging Lt. Schmitz regarding the return of a Blackberry phone inside their home.  As Lt. Schmitz entered the laundry room of the home, Stephen Schmitz produced a hunting knife causing Lt. Schmitz to retreat against the side wall of the room and fall to the ground, according to the press release. 

Stephen Schmitz then stood within three feet of Lt. Schmitz and swung the hunting knife with a double handed grip at Lt. Schmitz’s body.  After missing Lt. Schmitz, Stephen Schmitz again gripped the knife above his head, poised to strike again. 

Lt. Schmitz, believing that Stephen Schmitz was going to stab him, fired two shots at his body.  Lt. Schmitz reasonably believed that deadly force was necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily injury when Stephen Schmitz attempted to stab him with the hunting knife, according to the press release.

Lt. Schmitz did not provoke the use of force against himself in any way.  Lt. Schmitz was not the initial aggressor in this incident.  Rather, Stephen Schmitz was the initial aggressor. Lt. Schmitz was attacked within his own dwelling, and, as such, did not have an obligation to retreat.

Moreover, even if the attack did not occur within his dwelling, Lt. Schmitz still did not have an obligation to retreat because it is clear that he could not have done so with complete safety.

Although Lt. Schmitz had no duty to retreat during this incident, the district attorney found that Lt. Schmitz did, in fact, retreat as far as he could within the laundry room of the residence before he fell to the floor as Stephen Schmitz advanced towards him.

Lt. Schmitz refrained from using deadly force until he was on the floor with Stephen standing above him with the hunting knife poised above his head.  At that point, Lt. Schmitz had no choice but to use deadly force, according to Ferman.