Skip to Content

Martin Case Impact: When is Deadly Force Lawful?


Florida teen Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman last month, igniting a furor that still reverberates throughout the nation. Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense, but some believe it was racial profiling.

The killing of the unarmed teen has led to rallies across the county asking why Zimmerman has not been charged with the shooting. One of the reasons: Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which says, “A person may use deadly force in self defense when there is reasonable belief of a threat, without obligation to retreat first.”

But what would happen if a similar situation unfolded in Oregon?

“The Florida law specifically states that a person has no obligation to retreat before they use force against another person,? Deschutes County sheriff’s Patrol Sgt. Dan Bilyeu told us Friday. ?However, in Oregon law, it does not say one way or another. It doesn?t say you have an obligation to retreat or you don’t have an obligation to retreat.?

In 2007, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled you do not have to retreat before using deadly force as self-defense. However that is considered case law, not Oregon law — and officials say sometimes retreating could be your best option.

“If you can retreat to a far corner in your house and give that perpetrator every opportunity to leave, or go away, you’ve done everything within your power,? Bilyeu said. “However, when retreating does not solve your problem, deadly force can be used.”

“When you are in imminent fear of death or serious injury for yourself or another person — that’s pretty much what you need, if you’re going to use deadly force, physical force against another person,? the sergeant added.

This case also has prompted officials to remind Oregonians to know the laws regarding concealed weapons. For information on concealed weapons classes, you can visit the Deschutes County Sheriff?s Office website at

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content