FORT SMITH — Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue recently had to determine if a person’s use of deadly force was justified under Arkansas law for the fourth time since he took office in 2009.

FORT SMITH — Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue recently had to determine if a person’s use of deadly force was justified under Arkansas law for the fourth time since he took office in 2009.


However, it was the first case where deadly force was employed in a public place.


On Monday, Shue determined Grayson Herrera, 23, of Van Buren was justified when he shot and killed 34-year-old Fadi Qandil of Van Buren on May 10 near the Malco movie theater at Central Mall.


Under Arkansas law, a person is justified in using deadly force if he or she believes an aggressor is committing or about to commit a felony involving force or violence; using or about to use unlawful deadly force; imminently endangering a person’s life or imminently about to victimize a person in continuation of a patter of domestic abuse.


Although a person is not required to retreat into his home or on the land immediately surrounding his home before using deadly force in the above-mentioned circumstances, outside of those locations, a person can only use deadly force in self-defense if he or she can’t retreat with "complete safety."


"Although there is much concern for these weapons being discharged in the presence of so many people, Grayson Herrera could not ‘retreat’ with ‘complete safety.’ And furthermore, the murderous intent of Fadi Qandil placed him in imminent fear for his life and he was entitled to act upon his honest belief that deadly physical force should be applied," Shue wrote regarding his finding.


"Stand Your Ground" laws generally allow for the use of deadly force for self-defense in public places without any obligation to retreat, with the varying restrictions in the 23 "Stand Your Ground" states.


Both Fort Smith Police Chief Kevin Lindsey and Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck declined to take a position regarding a potential "Stand Your Ground" law.


Shue also declined, saying as a nonpartisan elected official it wouldn’t be appropriate to inject himself in a partisan election discussion. He did agree to speak about existing self-defense law in Arkansas.


He said the significance of the words "complete safety" can’t be understated.


"I have not found facts presented to me (in a justifiable homicide case), where I could say, you could retreat in complete safety (using a reasonable person standard), in 25 years doing prosecutorial work. I’m not saying it cannot exist, I just haven’t seen it in my experience," Shue said.


Shue was a deputy prosecutor from 1983-96 and from 2003 until he was elected prosecutor in 2008 and took office in 2009.


Shue added that reviewing the use of deadly force by a citizen is a factually intensive analysis.


Any time he issues a finding in those cases, Shue said he receives numerous "what if" inquiries from the public, asking if they would be justified in using deadly force in certain situations.


Shue said because each case requires a review based on its unique facts as they relate to the law, he can’t answer those questions.


For example, if a downtown businessman walked out of his office and came upon what appeared to be an armed robbery, would he be justified in using deadly force to stop the robbery?


Shue said while the law allows for the use of deadly force in the defense of others, simply being told a robbery was in progress doesn’t provide enough information to make a determination if the use of deadly force was justified.


Another aspect of several "Stand Your Ground" laws is immunity from civil liability for the use of deadly force.


Under Arkansas law, "no person is civilly liable for an action or omission intended to protect himself or herself or another from a personal injury during the commission of a felony unless the action or omission constitutes a felony."