Self Defense: Prosecutors Won’t Pursue Charges Against Missouri Woman Who Shot Off-Duty Firefighter Gripping Her Boyfriend In a Chokehold

Missouri prosecutors will not file charges against a woman who fatally shot an off-duty firefighter outside a gas station near Kansas City.

The woman shot Anthony “Tony” Santi while he fought Ja’Von Taylor, a man she accompanied to the Independence, Missouri, gas station. Cellphone video shows the woman, identified in some reports as Taylor’s girlfriend frantically screaming, holding a weapon with an extended clip while Santi held down Taylor in a headlock.

Witnesses said the fight went on for about 10 minutes. It ended after the woman shot the 41-year-old firefighter in the back with Taylor’s gun. He reportedly died on the scene.

Taylor has been charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, but the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said it won’t pursue a second-degree murder charge against the woman, because she acted in self-defense.

“We grieve with the family and community over this tragic loss of life of Mr. Santi,” the prosecutor’s office wrote in a statement to Kansas City Star. “Missouri law governs this case, specifically self-defense and defense of others, leading us to decline charges after a careful review.”

Santi first encountered Taylor inside the gas station on Oct. 6. Taylor had a dispute with a female cashier over the brand of cigars he wanted. The clerk did not have the cigars he liked and refused to assist Taylor further and asked him to leave after he insulted her. When he refused, Santi intervened and demanded that Taylor leave, according to court documents. A verbal altercation ensued that spilled into the parking lot.

According to court documents, Taylor then pulled the weapon out of his vehicle where his girlfriend was a passenger, spurring the fight.

The cellphone video shows the woman grabbing the gun out of Taylor’s hand while screaming, “Let it go! Let it go!” She also begged the men to stop.

“Get off. My kids is in this car!” She screamed, trying to pull Taylor, 22, out of the headlock.

“You’re killing him,” she screamed.

The woman also struck the firefighter three times in his head, the video shows, in an effort to prompt him to loosen his arms around Taylor’s neck. Santi did not budge, even after she briefly points the gun at him.

Legal experts said the 1979 state law protects people acting in defense of others from being prosecuted.

Missouri’s self-defense law says: “A person may… use physical force… (if) she reasonably believes such force to be necessary to defend… a third person from what… she reasonably believes to be the… imminent use of unlawful force by such other person.”

“The question was did she reasonably believe that he was subject to imminent risk of death or serious physical injury?” Steve Leben, a law professor with the University of Missouri-Kansas City, told KCBM News.

Kevin Jamison, author of “Missouri Weapons and Self-Defense Law,” told Fox 4 that the woman can argue that she shot the firefighter to save her boyfriend’s life. Although establishing the aggressor in most cases is important, the attorney said, it might not be needed in this case.

“The girlfriend is only constrained by what she reasonably believed to be the circumstances. If she didn’t see the start of the fight, all she knows is her boyfriend is getting strangled,” Jamison said.

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