Indiana prosecutor says self-defense laws 'never black and white'

There's been a string of high-profile shootings across the country raising questions about the limits of self-defense laws. 

In one recent example, an 84-year-old White man is accused of shooting a Black teenager who rang his doorbell in Kansas City when the teenager had the wrong address. The victim's family is now calling for federal hate crime charges, believing the shooting was racially motivated. 

Former criminal defense attorney and current prosecutor Matt Kubacki says the legal use of self-defense tends to come down to whether any aggression can be considered reasonable, which is typically case-by-case. 

"The way the statutes are written, it's somewhat black and white. But the way it's actually applied and practiced, it's never black and white. It's all fact-specific," Kubacki said. "So, what's a threat to you may not be a threat to me. But it's also where we live." 

For instance, Kubacki says so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws may not apply if a person claiming self-defense is seen as the instigator.

"You can use force, even deadly force, but there has to be some reasonableness to it," Kubacki said. 

The dynamics can also change when an incident happens on a person's private property. 

In the end, Kubacki says, it's up to prosecutors to prove any action was "unreasonable" to press charges against someone claiming self-defense. 

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