HOUSTON - Does Texas law allow you to shoot a protester if you see him or her defacing a Confederate statue? A Texas man claiming to be a police academy instructor says the answer is yes. We're verifying this troubling claim that's gone viral.
Phil Ryan made the post on Facebook. He cites all sorts of criminal statutes here in Texas and ends by writing "Bottom line, if someone is destroying a monument or statue that isn't their you can defend it by force during the day, with deadly force at night."
We turned to KHOU legal analyst Gerald Treece for answers.
"That's just not the law," said Treece. The Texas Penal Code allows for the use of deadly force when protecting people's private property.
"I can used deadly force against you if you're using deadly force or if there's a fear of deadly force against me," said Treece. But statues in public parks aren't private property.
"If the question in a classroom came up, 'Professor, can I shoot someone at night putting magic marker on a statue?', I would say no, a thousand times no," said Treece.
Texas Penal Code 9.43 clearly states the private property being protected with deadly force needs to be "tangible and moveable." A statue doesn't meet that qualification either.
"It's not tangible, moveable property, owned by anybody, but the government," said Treece.
Treece says outlandish posts like these misrepresenting Texas law only threatens to make an already toxic situation in this country that much worse.
"These are strange times, volatile times, the last thing we need is someone out there telling folks incorrectly that they can go use deadly force," said Treece.
So, we can verify that this viral post claiming its legal to shoot a protester caught defacing a statue here in Texas is false. But it's not just false - it's also dangerous. If you see someone defacing a statue or monument, what you should do is call local law enforcement.
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