Green Beret Acquitted In Shooting Of Thief Under Colorado’s “Make My Day” Law

There is a verdict in Colorado where Green Beret Michael Joseph Galvin shot and killed Robert Carrigan after Carrigan broke into his garage. Carrigan was shot three times in the back.  The case raised a threshold question of whether the state’s “Make My Day” law applied to a shooting in a garage detached by the home of the shooter. A jury clearly believed that it did and acquitted Galvin from the charge of negligent homicide.

Galvin, 35, is a Fort Carson as a communications sergeant and Arabic language expert who has served in the Army Special Forces for 12 years.

The Colorado law, CRS 18-1-704, states:

The affirmative defense of self-defense is found in section 18-1-704 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

That statute states, in pertinent part, as follows:

(1) … a person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he may use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose.

(2) Deadly physical force may be used only if a person reasonably believes a lesser degree of force is inadequate and:

(a) The actor has reasonable ground to believe, and does believe, that he or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury….

Prosecutors charged that the garage was not covered by the law because the break in was not within his domicile and that he did not fear for his life to justify the shooting of the unarmed man in the back.



We have previously discussed Castle Doctrine laws or “make my day” laws, including other cases involving garage shootings or shootings off the property of the homeowner.  This includes the Montana case of Brice Harper, 24, gunned down Dan Fredenberg, 40, in his garage. Fredenberg, 40, was coming over to confront Harper about having an affair with his wife, Heather Fredenberg. Harper cut the encounter short by shooting him dead and a prosecutor declared that the shooting cannot be prosecuted given the state’s Castle doctrine or “Make My Day” law.

In this case, the jury clearly did not view the nuances of the location or the question over the level of threat to be determinative.  While the law contains critical limitations on the use of the doctrine, the jury clearly viewed the purpose of the law as giving license for the use of lethal force for any break into a home (or in this case, a garage near a home).

33 thoughts on “Green Beret Acquitted In Shooting Of Thief Under Colorado’s “Make My Day” Law”

  1. Hmmm. Shot him in the back. . .That seems familiar:

    Fermel Parlee (Jackson gang: [after Bean shoots Bad Bob in the back] You call that sportin’? It weren’t a real standup fight.

    Judge Roy Bean: Standup? I laid down to steady my aim.

    Fermel Parlee (Jackson gang: Well, I mean he never had a chance.

    Judge Roy Bean: Not at all. Never did, never would have. I didn’t ask him to come here. I don’t abide giving killers a chance. He wants a chance, let him go someplace else.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  2. A home, a garage, a shed/workshop; it doesn’t matter. They’re all on YOUR property, where you have a right to let your guard down and feel safe. I see no distinction between someone sitting in his living room watching t.v., or another guy out in his unattached garage working on a hobby. They’re both integral parts of your domicile, and if someone invades, you have a right to defend yourself and your family. The only question I have in this case is whether it was necessary to shoot the perp in the back. If he was fleeing, he shouldn’t have been shot, especially by an Army sgt trained in firearms and presumably more capable of controlling his instincts and emotions while engaged in a fight. I’m thinking the verdict was a reflection of the jurors being fed up with career criminals and meth addicts stealing everything that isn’t nailed down.

  3. I think when you are in a fight with someone, that the fight doesn’t end for Person B at the same exact moment that it ends for Person A. Just because one person (A) decides to break off the attack/fight, it takes a few seconds for that other person (B) to consciously realize the fight is over. B is still in fight mode for a brief period.

    I think maybe that is what happened here, and perhaps with Michael Slager, the cop in South Carolina who shot the black dude, Walter Scott, as he was fleeing.The fight was still going on for Slager. I also think that is what happened in the video below. FWIW, I think there ought to be a “Shoot The Shoplifter Law”. . .

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  4. The death of any mothers son or daughter is sad but when you are committing a crime and are injured or killed Minimum 50% of Your death or injury lies at your feet. By committing crime you are assuming the risk and responsibility for whatever happens as a result of you committing the crime. If someone dies during the commission of a robbery, prosecutors charge the criminals with murder; even if they did not pull the trigger.. This criminal assumed the risk and paid a heavy price for attempted robbery. this should have never went to trial.

  5. The biggest issue here is JT calling the Castle Doctrine a “Make My Day” law. That’s clearly an attempt to use language to change the elements of the case. It paints the homeowner as an overreaching and almost out-of-control vigilante–and it suggests JT’s bias, rather than facts, guide his thinking.

    1. I thought that as well, Show Me. I kept reading the story looking for the “Make My Day” part.

  6. FYI, the catchphrase “make my day,” or, more precisely, “go ahead, make my day,” was written by Charles B. Pierce, an independent filmmaker, who was credited with “story by” in the film “Sudden Impact” starring Clint Eastwood. And the actual origin of the phrase came from Pierce’s father Mack, who used to tell him as a child, “Just let me come home one more day, without you mowing that lawn, son just go ahead…..make my day”.

  7. “Galvin, 35, is a Fort Carson as a communications sergeant and Arabic language expert who has served in the Army Special Forces for 12 years.”

    See, there’s your mistake dude. Note to other criminals – don’t break into the house of a special forces trooper.

  8. Thank goodness the dead guy wasn’t Black, or Al Sharpton would be up there with BLM, arguing:

    “The Castle Doctrine doesn’t apply here! This wasn’t no castle! Did you see a moat??? Is there a drawbridge??? How about them little round thingies they shoot arrows out of??? No, this was just pure dee murder of another innocent black man!!!”

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  9. “In this case, the jury clearly did not view the nuances of the location or the question over the level of threat to be determinative.”


    The defense argued that Carrigan lunged for Galvin’s pistol before the shooting, and that Galvin was protecting his family. Given that evidence you can be sure that “nuance” was not on the jury’s collective mind as most anyone can envision this horror. Shot in the back? Electrical signals in your body can move as fast as 150 meters per second and most humans can move in about .25 seconds in response to visual stimulus. The prosecutors were dolts for bringing the charges with that irrefutable evidence.

    1. That scenario could be easily proven if Carrigan’s fingerprints were on Galvin’s weapon. If he just lunged for it, it would be hard to prove either way. And I see what you’re saying that someone could turn as someone else was lifting to fire, so their back was presented.

      It does trouble me that he was shot in the back. I wasn’t there, and I haven’t seen the evidence. If he was turning, that would affect the trajectory of the bullets in his flesh. And that would have come out as forensic evidence presented to the jury. I also have no idea if Carrigan was found with any weapons or the entirety of the evidence.

      There is no guarantee or expectation of safety for anyone who breaks into any home or structure. That is not a safe activity.

      As for the garage structure being detached, it is considered part of the home as far as real estate. You do not buy or sell a property separate from its detached garage. It’s included. It’s on the property. Heck, a lot of men spend more time in their garage man cave then they do the house.

      So what happened in that garage? Did he hear a noise and then surprise a thief? Was the thief armed? Were their signs of a struggle? Did he move in Galvin’s direction? Some people I know live in a neighborhood where a thief broke into an elderly man’s home at night, beat him to death, and robbed the place. The thief did not have a gun, but he was deadly, just as mankind have been deadly to each other long before the advent of the firearm.

      In my opinion, if the thief was trying to flee, then the shooting was not justified because the fight was over. If the shooting happened during a scuffle, or when he was trying to grab for the gun, and the perp turned suddenly, then it was justified. A homeowner is not required to just stand there and get beaten to death in his own garage, porch, or kitchen when he has a firearm in his hand for defense, nor can he allow a thief to grab his firearm because he’s hesitant to use it. But he cannot shoot someone who changed his mind and tried to leave the fight. The only additional information that I have been able to find so far is that Carrigan was found to be under the influence of meth at the time, so that brings the logic of his actions under question. And it was said at trial that Galvin was protecting his family.

      Before I could make any judgement as to whether the shooting was justified or not justified, in my own opinion, I’d have to look at the evidence presented to the jury.

      1. Karen S – caught in a garage with an armed robbery, who has already attacked me, I am not going wait for him to turn around. Besides, we are talking about milliseconds of reaction time here. My two car garage would not give them both a lot of space to move in, considering they were armed and fighting.

  10. This is pretty much on the line. The critical issue here is ‘If someone feels endangered he or she can kill the perceived threat.’ A cop recently killed a guy only because he felt threatened/in fear for his life-the guy was reaching for his license after lawfully notifying the cop that he had a licensed firearm on his person. The cop requested that the man deliver his license. This is a situation where the cop was out of control, not in his garage and in control. The family of the dead driver should be compensated. The police should be dialed back.

    In this case the homeowner is in his building, clearly a potential threat, and the homeowner is not required to ‘only wound him’. The attachment or detachment of the garage is irrelevant. Some societies would perceive this as over reacting, but in the US with its gun fetish and high levels of crime, waxing the MF is the appropriate thing to do. When in Rome.

    The problem is where this ‘Castle’ law is defined in its extreme. This circumstance may appear extreme but technically the home owner was within his right as the criminal was in his garage. The cop shooting the driver several times, dead, was in that land of, “I was in fear for my life, so I killed him.”

  11. Thank you, Sergeant, for helping to repair defects in the gene pool.

  12. Most burglaries are committed by armed felons who are often drug addicts. Innocent people do get murdered and that is one reason why burglary falls under the felony murder laws. At most, this guy should be civilly liable for overreacting, and the burglar’s family should be compensated.

    1. No wonder crime is on the rise. Tooo many do not want to be responsible for themselves, expect the police to magically appear and then blame the police for some form of misconduct and wonder why they are slow to react waiting for backup and supervisors. If you can’t defend yourself and by extension the nation can’t defend the nation then what is your answer, suggestion, idea or explain why you don’t give a damn about yourself so why should others risk their lives to defend you.?

    1. True enough but I’d like to exonerate him under the “Fleeing Felon Doctrine.” Who knows what havoc he could have caused if allowed to be out there in the community. Good shooting, Sarg.

      1. I heard of a guy, Peter Parker, had the chance to stop a fleeting from but didn’t. And that guy later killed Peter’s uncle. Tragic all around.

        1. Ugh, edit button and reading would help. That’s supposed to be” stop a fleeing suspect from escaping but didn’t.”

  13. Simple, don’t break into someone’s home, garage or property!
    What do we know about the perp Carrigan?

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