Lucas County prosecutors talk self-defense rights after man stops hatchet attack

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - It's a horrifying incident that neighbors say they won't soon forget.

"I heard this lady screaming," said one man who didn't want to be identified. "She was saying, 'Help me! He's killing me! He's killing me!'"

Wednesday afternoon Toledo police say a man and woman were arguing in a truck near the intersection of Nelson and Lodge.

Shortly after, investigators say the man started attacking the woman with a hatchet.

"I thought it was his hand, but it was actually an ax," said the neighbor.

The unidentified man says he witnessed the man strike the woman multiple times in her arms and face.

"She was bleeding and she was just screaming for her life," said the man.

As the violence continued, officers say Benjamin Hand, 29, came out from his home shot and killed the attacking man.

Neighbors say they feel it's a move that ultimately saved the 53-year-old woman's life.

"Just think, had it been my wife or niece I would have wanted somebody to save them—not actually take a life, but some people leave you no choice," said the unidentified man.

Lucas County prosecutors say Ohio law allows people to defend themselves in violent acts against themselves or others.

"There has to be that immediate threat," said Chief of the Criminal Division of the Lucas County Prosecutor's Office Jeff Lingo. "Once that treat is over, your right to defend yourself or that other person is also over."

When it comes to self-defense that hurts or kills someone, Lingo says it doesn't automatically mean someone is off the hook.

"In the vast majority of cases like this, the case is investigated by law enforcement agencies, presented to a grand jury and the grand jury makes a determination as to whether or not charges should be brought against that person," said Lingo.

But in the court of public opinion, neighbors living on Nelson say they think the right call was made to save a life.

"So you think what your neighbor did was justified?," asked 13abc reporter Michael Bratton. "Yeah, yeah," said the unidentified neighbor.

At this point, Hand is not facing charges as he answers questions from investigators.

Detectives will speak with county prosecutors to determine what charges Hand will face, if any.