50-year-old Billy Cowart was found to be acting in self defense for the shooting of 2 coworkers in June of 2016 in the United Auto Workers 551 parking lot.
Cowart, who is a licensed concealed carrier and a veteran with “extensive combat training,” was immediately arrested and charged with attempted murder.
Cowart was then suspended and terminated from his position in the company where he spent the better part of 2 decades.
After more than a year waiting for trial, his attorney, Dave McDermott, was finally able to present the surveillance footage of the shooting, which showed Cowart was not the aggressor in the altercation.
The video shows the argument between the men, employed by Ford Motor Company, which led to one man walking up to Cowart and “sucker punching” him in the face.
The punch rocks Cowart, who stumbles back, drawing his pistol and firing at the ground in the direction of his attacker. The attacker and another coworker were wounded in the legs by the shot.
“He retreated,” Cowart told CBS News. “I holstered my gun.”
Then, just as things looked like they would soon be finalized, the Ford employee was thrown another curveball.
“I get a call from my attorney Dave and he says, ‘Turn the TV on. You’re not going to believe this,’” Cowart said.
Just days before Cook County Judge Joseph Claps was to give his ruling on the case, he was accused of bringing a pistol into the courthouse and accidentally dropping it on the floor in front of two women.
Surveillance footage shows the county judge drop the weapon on the floor of the lobby, then quickly scoop it up and deposit it into a pants pocket.
Because of the judge’s lack of judgement and a Quality CCW Holster, Cowart’s case was again pushed back another three months until a separate judge could hear the case.
After reviewing the case, the new judge determined from the footage of the shooting that Cowart was indeed acting in self defense and found him not guilty on all counts.
“I was actually numb,” Cowart said of the experience. “You can say innocent until proven guilty, but it’s guilty until proven innocent.”
But life has yet to return to normal for the armed defender more then 30 months after the shooting as he is still in negotiations with Ford to be returned to his job with two and a half years of back pay.
According to Cowart, Ford has been difficult to convince of his innocence even given the legal ruling over the case.
“The union here basically said, ‘You got what you deserved. Deal with it,’” he said. “I was crucified before the trial. I was the villain. I was the mad employee.”
Cowart sat through a 10-hour arbitration hearing with his employers, but must wait another month before he hears if his nightmare is actually over.
The legal and financial burden associated with a self defense shooting adds to the overall stress of an already highly traumatic incident.
Self-defense insurance can help lower the stress after a self-defense encounter by providing the finances needed to win the legal battle. USCCA offers some of the best.
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