Courvoisier v. Raymond, 23 Colo. 113, 47 P. 284 (Colo.1896) – Case Brief


Courvoisier v. Raymond, 23 Colo. 113, 47 P. 284 (Colo.1896).

Facts

  • Raymond runs out hooligans from his building with a gun
  • Hooligans gather outside his place along with a few more
  • Hooligans start throwing objects at Raymond
  • Raymond shoots warning shots in the air
  • Gunfire gets attention of off duty cops
  • Three cops come to see the ruckus
  • 2 wait afar, one cop Courvoisier makes his way through the crowd and approaches Raymond
  • Raymond fearing for his life, claims he doesnt hear cop say hes a cop
  • Raymond shoots cop after cop reaches for pocket, allegedly believing him to be a hooligan

Procedural History

  • Cop obtained judgement against the defendant
  • Defendant appeals due to erroneous jury instructions
  • “the court instructs you that if you believe, from the evidence, that, at the time the defendant shot the plaintiff, the plaintiff was not assaulting the defendant, then your verdict should be for the plaintiff”
  • The instruction excluded full consideration for the justification claimed by the defendant.
  • If Raymond had mistook cop for a hoodlum, would it be excusable to shoot him?
  • To justify self defense plaintiff needs to satisfy the jury that he acted honestly in using force, and that his fears were reasonable under the circumstances, and also as to the reasonableness of the means made use of

Holding

Reversed

If the jury had been properly instructed of plaintiffs self defense claim they might have voted differently

Rule

You’re allowed to make a reasonable mistake of identity when acting in self defense of imminent bodily harm

If a defendant believes the need to act in self defense to protect himself or others with reasonable force may do so, even if the person posing the threat was not actually doing so

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