A Senate committee voted unanimously Tuesday morning in support of a bill that would allow homeowners to use force to resist an illegal police entry.
The bill comes after a controversial Supreme Court decision in May that held that current Indiana law didn't allow homeowners to violently resist police officers under any circumstances.
The bill specifies under what circumstances police could enter a home: with a warrant, in pursuit of a fleeing criminal suspect, to prevent someone from being harmed or at the invitation of a resident.
Otherwise, a resident could use reasonable force, including a gun if necessary, to prevent entry.
"Our history as a country, our laws, our constitution have all been designed to protect the individual from its government, not the government from its citizens," said Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis. "But in this ruling, we are now protecting the government from its citizens."
One protestor dressed as a medieval knight to show his support for the doctrine.
"At 3 a.m. in the morning, with strangers who have burst in and are standing at the foot of your bed, I wouldn't even have time to do a Tebow, said Paul Wheeler of Indianapolis. I'm going to meet force with force, and I have every right to defend my home and my family."
An Indiana State Police attorney objected to the bill and said it could result in police and citizens being shot.
"Our concerns are that we will end up with people making split-second decisions, law enforcement officers and citizens getting killed or hurt badly as a result of this," said Lt. Mark Carnell, an attorney with state police.
But sponsors said the court ruling puts residents in greater danger and that giving them the option of going to court later to sue the police is not reasonable.
One cited a 1997 Indianapolis case involving Officer Myron Powell, who was later convicted of murder.
"The officers go in. The person didn't have a right to defend themselves. And, guess what happened to him? They shot him in the head, killed him, stole his money and stole his drugs," said Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis. "What right does he have to go to court?"
The measure will now go before the full Senate.
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