Statement Analysis®

Oscar Pistorius

On February 14, 2013, Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp whom he fatally shot at his home on the same day. Pistorius is a double leg amputee who competed in the 2012 Olympics representing his county of South Africa. He was able to run in the 400 meter race by wearing prosthetics legs. Because his prosthetics limbs are J-shaped, Pistorious is known as the "Blade Runner."

In an effort to be released on bail, Oscar Pistorius' attorney read the track star's affidavit to the judge. Here is the portion of his affidavit in which he describes what happened on February 14.

"On the 13th of February 2013 Reeva would have gone out with her friends and I with my friends. Reeva then called me and asked that we rather spend the evening at home."

The word then can mean "immediately" which is how people usually want to use it. However, this word can also mean "soon afterward" which is how people usually use it. This means they have withheld some information. Something else occurred before the word then.

"I agreed and we were content to have a quiet dinner together at home."

When people use the word agreed it sometimes means they first disagreed and then changed their mind. The police should investigate if Pistorius and his girlfriend had a disagreement. Perhaps he wanted to go out with his friends and did not want Reeva to come over that night.

"By about 2200 on 13 February 2013 we were in our bedroom. She was doing her yoga exercises and I was in bed watching television. My prosthetic legs were off. We were deeply in love and I could not be happier. I know she felt the same way. She had given me a present for Valentine's Day but asked me only to open it the next day."

The phrase "by about" indicates he has skipped over something. He does not tell us what time Reeva came to his house. He does not tell us what they were doing prior to being in their bedroom.

I find it odd that at this point in his statement he tells us that his prosthetic legs were off. I would expect him to state this when he was dealing with the intruder. At this point, there is no reason to tell us this.

The same thing applies to his statement that he and Reeva were deeply in love. He mentions this to convince us that he did not purposefully shoot her.

"After Reeva finished her yoga exercises she got into bed and we both fell asleep."

The word after is a word that spans time. Pistorius has skipped over something in his story. We do not know what time Reeva finished her exercises.

The phrase "we both" violates our rule "the shortest sentence is the best sentence." The word both is not needed but Pistorius felt he needed to add this word. Perhaps they did not fall asleep. Again, we do not know what time frame he is talking about.

"I am acutely aware of violent crime being committed by intruders entering homes with a view to commit crime, including violent crime. I have received death threats before. I have also been a victim of violence and of burglaries before. For that reason I kept my firearm, a 9 mm Parabellum, underneath my bed when I went to bed at night."

Pistorius refers to his the weapon that he keeps underneath his bed as a "firearm." We will see if his language remains consistent in calling it a "firearm."

"During the early morning hours of 14 February 2013, I woke up, went onto the balcony to bring the fan in and closed the sliding doors, the blinds and the curtains. I heard a noise in the bathroom and realised that someone was in the bathroom. I felt a sense of terror rushing over me. There are no burglar bars across the bathroom window and I knew that contractors who worked at my house had left the ladders outside. Although I did not have my prosthetic legs on I have mobility on my stumps. I believed that someone had entered my house. I was too scared to switch a light on."

There are two types of emotions: short-term and long-term. Short-term emotions occur at the peak of the incident. If you turned around and someone was standing directly behind you, you may become startled. Once you quickly realize the person is not a threat the surprise is over. Being startled is a brief emotion.

Long-term emotions such as being in shock or being frightened occur after the incident is over and the person has time to reflect on what happened or could have happened. The incident itself is so overwhelming these long-term emotions are suppressed. When a deceptive person inserts long-term emotions into his story he usually puts them in the wrong place. He places them at the peak of the incident.

Pistorius tells us that he was in "terror" and was "too scared." Later he will state that he was filled with "horror and fear." These do not appear to be brief emotions but long-term emotions. They also appear to be out-of-place in his story.

Pistorius states that he was "too scared to switch a light on." This does not make sense. Being in the dark usually adds to the stress and fear that one may be experiencing. Turning on the light so you can see what is going on usually helps to alleviate any fears.

"I grabbed my 9mm pistol from underneath my bed."

Pistorius had a change in language. Earlier he called it a "firearm." Now he refers to it as "pistol." There are no synonyms in Statement Analysis. Every word means something different. A change in language indicates a change in reality. Truthful people will use the same language throughout their statement. There has to be a justifiable reason why he changed his language or else it is an indication he is being deceptive. As I read his statement I cannot find a reason why he would change his language from "firearm" to "pistol."

"On my way to the bathroom I screamed words to the effect for him/them to get out of my house and for Reeva to phone the police. It was pitch dark in the bedroom and I thought Reeva was in bed."

The phrase "on my way" sounds very casual for someone who "felt a sense of terror rushing over me." This phrase also indicates he has withheld some information. What did he do after he grabbed his pistol?

The phrase "to the effect" means he is not telling us exactly what he said.

When the word phone appears in a statement it often ties the person to the crime scene which is obvious in this case. The problem is it sometimes ties a person to the crime scene in a not so innocent way.

"I noticed that the bathroom window was open. I realised that the intruder/s was/were in the toilet because the toilet door was closed and I did not see anyone in the bathroom. I heard movement inside the toilet. The toilet is inside the bathroom and has a separate door."

The word noticed sounds rather casual.

Earlier in his statement he said that "someone was in the bathroom" and that "someone had entered my house." He now changes his language from "someone" to "intruder." It would appear there is not a justification for the change.

"It filled me with horror and fear of an intruder or intruders being inside the toilet. I thought he or they must have entered through the unprotected window. As I did not have my prosthetic legs on and felt extremely vulnerable, I knew I had to protect Reeva and myself. I believed that when the intruder/s came out of the toilet we would be in grave danger. I felt trapped as my bedroom door was locked and I have limited mobility on my stumps."

We would want to clarify why his bedroom door being locked made him feel trapped. The door locks from the inside which means he could unlock it and get out of the room. Maybe he felt that someone else would not be able to enter the room and provide him with help.

He stated, "I have limited mobility on my stumps." Earlier in his statement his mobility was not as limited when he said, "I have mobility on my stumps."

"I fired shots at the toilet door and shouted to Reeva to phone the police. She did not respond and I moved backwards out of the bathroom, keeping my eyes on the bathroom entrance. Everything was pitch dark in the bedroom and I was still too scared to switch on a light. Reeva was not responding."

Earlier he said that he told Reeva to "phone the police." Now he is telling her again to phone the police. How does he know Reeva did not call the police the first time? He tells us that Reeva "did not respond." Earlier when he told her to call the police he made no mention of her not responding.

Even though he has fired several shots, even though the intruders now know he has a gun, even though Reeva is not responding, he is still "too scared" to turn on the light.

"When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who was in the toilet. I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet door but it was locked. I rushed back into the bedroom and opened the sliding door exiting onto the balcony and screamed for help."

The word dawned does not seem appropriate. It is too casual. If you suddenly realized you had just shot your girlfriend, that is when you would be filled with "horror and fear." The word returned also seems too casual.

Why did Reeva lock the toilet door? Is it because she heard Pistorius say that someone was in the house? Or, is it because she was trying to get away from Pistorius?

For a man who has "limited mobility" on his stumps, he "rushed" back into the bedroom, opened the sliding doors and exited onto the balcony.

Although he told Reeva to "phone the police" his actions for getting assistance is to go onto the balcony and scream for help.

"I put on my prosthetic legs, ran back to the bathroom and tried to kick the toilet door open. I think I must then have turned on the lights. I went back into the bedroom and grabbed my cricket bat to bash open the toilet door. A panel or panels broke off and I found the key on the floor and unlocked and opened the door."

The word think means he is not certain if he turned on the lights.

The word then means he may have done some other things.

He tells us that he "grabbed his cricket bat to bash open the toilet door" but he does not state that he hit the door with the bat.

We would want to explore what he means when he stated that some panels broke off and then he found the key on the floor. Are the two related to each other?

"Reeva was slumped over but alive. I battled to get her out of the toilet and pulled her into the bathroom. I phoned Johan Stander who was involved in the administration of the estate and asked him to phone the ambulance. I phoned Netcare and asked for help. I went downstairs to open the front door. I returned to the bathroom and picked Reeva up as I had been told not to wait for the paramedics, but to take her to hospital. I carried her downstairs in order to take her to the hospital. On my way down Stander arrived. A doctor who lives in the complex also arrived. Downstairs, I tried to render the assistance to Reeva that I could, but she died in my arms."

We believe what people tell us; "I carried her downstairs." They are now downstairs. After saying that, he then backs up in his story and says, "On my way down Stander arrived." This portion of his statement appears to be out-of-order and would be worth exploring.

The word tried means he attempted but failed to render assistance. Did he use the word tried because the assistance he provided did not work? Or, did he use the word tried because he did not provide any assistance?


There are several areas within his statement that need to be explored. He had some changes in language that do not appear to be justifiable changes. His emotions appear to be out-of-place. He uses language that appears too casual for someone who thinks he may have just shot his girlfriend. His refusal to turn on the light does not make sense.

When we examine his pleas for help we find some problems. Twice he told Reeva to "phone the police." Presumably because he believes there is an intruder in his house. Once he realizes he has shot Reeva and she is in need of some medical attention what does he do? He said he exited "onto the balcony and screamed for help." Calling the police or emergency services would appear to be the quickest way of getting help for your girlfriend. When he finally does pick up the phone he does not call for an ambulance. Instead, calls John Stander and asks him to call for an ambulance. Again, not the quickest way of getting help for a person who has been shot several times.

Pistorius said that he fired the shots before he put his prosthetic legs on. That would greatly change the height from which the shots were fired. By examining the height and angle of the bullet holes it should not be that hard to figure out if that portion of his story is true.

Anyone who has been in law enforcement or taken a gun safety class knows that you do not squeeze the trigger until you have identified your target. Shooting through a door at an unknown person is absolutely negligent. Even if the shooting was not premeditated his actions are still worthy of jail time.

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