Three Midwest City shootings test Oklahoma's 'Make My Day' law

by Juliana Keeping Published: February 20, 2012

— It's a place known for the long, symbiotic relationship it shares with nearby Tinker Air Force Base.

But recent events have given Midwest City another distinction: It's a dangerous place to commit a burglary, Police Chief Brandon Clabes said.

For the third time in just more than a year and half, the Oklahoma County district attorney has ruled a resident was within his rights to shoot and kill an intruder under the state's “Make My Day” law.

“Go ahead. Make my day.”

The phrase conjures up the image of Clint Eastwood's “Dirty Harry” in the 1983 film “Sudden Impact.”

The Oklahoma law nicknamed “Make My Day” allows the use of deadly force by individuals who have a “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” after someone illegally enters their business or home.

Lawmakers currently are exploring expanding it to include individuals who enter a business peacefully but carry “violent intent.”

Clabes called the number of “Make My Day” shootings since October 2010 “an anomaly.”

He said burglaries tend to drop immediately after one of these incidents occurs.

Overall, though, break-ins are becoming more common, statistics show.

Incidents of breaking and entering occurred 414 times in Midwest City in 2000 and in 2010, nearly double to 817, according to the most recent state crime data available.

Census figures show the population remained steady during the same time period, with a half percent bump from 54,088 to 54,371 individuals in the 24-square-mile city.

January case

In the most recent Midwest City case, a man's growling dog alerted him to a break-in Jan. 26 at a duplex in the 300 block of N Kendra Drive.

It was about 7:40 a.m., and Elmer Reed's girlfriend had left to go to school, records show.

As the intruder kicked in the front door, Reed fired a single round from his semi-automatic handgun, hitting the intruder in the chest, Clabes said. It was the only bullet in the gun.

A 911 recording says Reed hid in the closet waiting for emergency responders to arrive, Clabes said. The intruder, Reginald Keith Joseph Jr., 27, was taken to Midwest Regional Medical Center, where he died, Clabes said.

“He was trying to pull the trigger first, and I shot him,” Reed told a 911 operator. “He fell to the floor with his gun right next to him.”

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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