On October 14, Aaron Smith shot his brother-in-law, Robert Van Hemert, in their Utah home following a family argument. But officials have ruled that the use of deadly defense was justified, that Smith did so in self-defense, and he will not be facing criminal charges.
Smith had been invited over to his sister’s house making him lawfully allowed in the home. Shortly after entering the home, an argument broke out between Smith’s sister and her husband, Van Hemert, about rent for the home. Van Hemert was upset with his wife for taking a title loan on their car for the rent. Investigators reported that Smith stepped in and defended his sister, saying that Van Hemert was not contributing to the household’s finances due to his unemployment.
Van Hemert demanded that Smith leave the house. When he did not leave, Van Hemert walked into a nearby bedroom and loaded a magazine into a firearm. Cache County Attorney’s Office said,
“Within seconds, Van Hemert reentered the family room in an aggressive manner with a handgun in his right hand.”
Smith believed that his and his sister’s lives were in danger. In defense, he drew a handgun of this own that he had been carrying concealed, firing five shots at Van Hemert and hitting him in the head, neck and chest. He died at the scene.
Smith called 911 after the shooting and reporting to dispatch that he acted in self-defense after Van Hemert pulled the gun on him and his sister. Smith was taken into custody, but it was reported that he was compliant with investigators.
It has been reported Smith holds a valid firearm permit issued by the State of Utah, whereas Van Hemert, on the other hand, was a convicted felon and was prohibited from even owning a firearm. Cache County Attorney James M. Swink announced in a release,
“The investigation reveals that Smith used deadly force because he reasonably believed that such force was necessary to prevent Van Hemert from killing or seriously injuring him and perhaps others. Conversely, the investigation also reveals that Van Hemert unlawfully used deadly force under circumstances not warranting the use of such force.”