Oroville, California

From the Enterprise-Record of July 13, 2007

Man who held gun on teens won’t be charged

After further investigation: authorities said Wednesday that no criminal charges will be filed against a Helltown Road man who held a gun on two teenagers he suspected of trying to steal his medical marijuana.

“I think he was in the right; justice has been done” said the father of the arrested homeowner, Carl Coleman Jr., 37.

The younger Coleman was arrested early Monday morning after one of the two youths he caught on his property and held at gunpoint, fled and later claimed Coleman had assaulted them.

District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Wednesday further investigation by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office was unable to disprove Coleman’s claims he was lawfully protecting his property.

Unaware of the decision not to file any criminal charges against his son, Coleman’s father earlier Wednesday had sought a court writ, challenging the arrest as unconstitutional.

Gordon Dise, a self-professed “legal strategy consultant” and local medical marijuana proponent who accompanied several of Coleman’s relatives and friends to court Wednesday afternoon, praised the decision not to prosecute the homeowner.

“I think the district attorney is doing the right thing and pursuing the thieves, instead of the victims, who are medical marijuana patients,” the local activist stated.

“You have an absolute right to defend your life, your liberty or property with all force necessary,” added Dise, even to the point of pursuing a suspected felon who tries to avoid being turned over to the police.

According to Ramsey, Coleman told authorities he had returned to his Helltown Road home Sunday to find it had been burglarized earlier in the day and that several items were taken.

Relatives say among the stolen property was Coleman’s lawful medical marijuana.

He was waiting for the suspects to return, armed with a shotgun, when the homeowner said that one of the two teenage boys started to walk into his back yard late at night.

Grabbing and holding the first youth, Coleman told authorities how he pursued a second teen a short distance, knocking him off his motorcycle, with a blow to his helmet with a flashlight.

Ramsey said at that point, Coleman telephoned his 15-year-old son to come over, though it was uncertain whether that would get the youths to leave, help hold them for police or “possibly to administer some street justice.”

Outside of court Wednesday, the homeowner’s son, Carl Coleman III, denied reports that he was also armed that night.

He said his father had called him because he knew the two youth.

The two teens were able to get away, one of them calling a family member on his cellular phone claiming he had been physically assaulted by two persons at a Helltown Road home.

When sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers found the boy in Butte Creek, he told them that the second teen was still being held at gunpoint at the residence.

Deputies reported that they forced entry into Coleman’s home after they got no response to knocks on the front door.

Following questioning, the two youths were subsequently confined to the Butte County Juvenile Hall on charges of suspicion of attempted burglary.

Coleman was booked into the Butte County Jail on felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon and false imprisonment.

Ramsey said Wednesday that after asking the sheriff’s deputies to do further investigation, “it was the combined opinion that we could not overcome any defense of property or self,” claimed the arrested homeowner.

“Although it does appear that Mr. Coleman may have gone a bit beyond the reasonableness standard, we don’t believe we could prove it (to a jury),” added Ramsey.

According to family members, they were told late Wednesday afternoon that the jail was in “lockdown” and that Coleman may not be released until sometime today.

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