Fatal Shooting Could Fall Under 'Castle Doctrine'

Evansville police continue to investigate the fatal shooting of an alleged burglar early Sunday morning but, at this point, police believe the shooting was justified. Under state law, a person is justified in using reasonable force, including deadly force, in order to prevent or terminate another person's unlawful entry of or attack on the person's dwelling, better known as the castle doctrine.

Around 4 o'clock Sunday morning, police were called to the 1100-block of Washington Avenue, just east of Highway 41. Officers were flagged down a pedestrian who told police there was a man who had been shot. Officers eventually found 25-year-old Malcolm Tyler with a gunshot wound. When officers began to render aid, they reportedly found a handgun on the ground underneath Payton's body.

Payton was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Detectives then spoke to the owner of a home in the 1100-block of Adams Avenue. According to police, the homeowner said Payton was breaking into his home when he fired at him.

"Payton was actually wearing a mask and pointing a gun at [the homeowner] as he came through the window. Based on the evidence at the scene and the information that we have at this point, it appears that the homeowner's actions were justified under Indiana's Castle Doctrine," said Sgt. Jason Cullum.

State law is quite clear, stipulating that a person is justified in using force if they reasonably believe its necessary to protect their home.

"Basically, what the legislature says is that you're allowed to assume their ill intent," said Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann. "You're allowed to assume they're an immediate threat of violence and that you're able to use force up to and including deadly force to repel their entry into your home. The legislature has made it very clear that they want people to feel safe in their home. They want people to feel protected. I think this law draws a bright line."

The homeowner involved in the shooting did not want to appear on camera but told Eyewitness News that he has sympathy for Payton's family and friends. However, he now fears of possible retaliation that may follow.

"That should be a legitimate fear for him. We do see victims of crime that take actions to defend themselves that are targeted a second time because friends or family of the person they took action against are mad," Sgt. Cullum said. "They don't care that their friend or loved one was committing an armed violent felony."


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