Today when perusing my feed reader, I saw a blog post titled “From Self Defense to Murder in three seconds” on one of my regular reads. I read the post and watched the linked video. If you’re interested, here is the link to the video. I will refrain from linking the post itself.
I’m a little confused by the criticism. Bad guy follows dude into a parking area where he’s pretty well boxed in, and comes out swinging a club of some sort. Dude shoots, bad guy pulls back and turns, dude shoots again. The angle isn’t perfect, and there’s a third person blocking the bad guy at that point, so we can’t see everything that happens all that clearly, but after about a second, dude touches off a third round.
This happened in another country and dude has supposedly been charged with murder. (There’s also a report that the two had been feuding for quite some time, rather than this being a random road rage incident, as it is presented on the video. I’m not sure that changes anything, but full disclosure and all.) Blog author seems to agree that this would have been an acceptable response by the prosecuting attorney, had it happened in the US. I’m not sure I agree.
Think about it from dude’s perspective. Even if he knew that bad guy was pursuing him, and acknowledging that had he known, a better course of action would have been to not stop, certainly not park in a way that limits egress, and definitely not to attempt to exit the vehicle. All that said, once he was being attacked by a lunatic with a bat, I can’t see how deadly force wouldn’t be a legal response.
Just like Zimmerman, mistakes were made leading up to the encounter, but none that were illegal that we are aware of. And it’s too late at that point anyway. It’s kill or be killed, since the option of running was no longer available. Retreating should never be legally required anyway, even though it is often the wisest move.
We train to engage quickly once the shoot/no shoot decision has been made. Split seconds are often the difference between life and death. Adrenaline is a powerful thing. You shoot bad guy once. He pauses and kind of crumples. Do you really have time to stop and analyze whether or not he is down, or only momentarily delayed, waiting for an opening to finish you off? Maybe you missed, and his reaction is one of surprise, not one of being shot. I mean, half a second ago he was trying to turn you into hamburger using a baseball bat.
So you shoot again. Many advocate a double tap. Two rounds on target, pause, and repeat if necessary. In the blog author’s opinion, the second shot may have been okay, too. But just maybe. But supposedly the third round was an execution shot that cannot be forgiven.
To my old eyes, it seems like bad guy was out of the fight at that point, but can we be certain? Is it possible that we missed something? There was a third party between the two combatants, but that means little. And adrenaline is powerful stuff. Once in the blood stream, we can’t turn off its effects in a split second.
I understand the logic behind the author’s comments. Observing from a sterile environment, it may be questionable. Could it have been an execution? Sure. But it could also have been a response to bad guy turning and trying to push the intervening party out of the way so he could continue the fight. But the fact is, we’re Monday morning quarterbacking one of our own, one of the few who actually needed to use his gun for self defense. And we’re throwing him under the bus and driving over him.
I was somewhat guilty of the same after watching an old man shoot the bastards in the internet cafe in Florida a few years back. He actually chased the bad guys out of the building, shooting while they were retreating. I casually mentioned to someone that nobody else seemed to notice or care that it had gone from armed thugs (real threat) to assholes and elbows (no threat) while old man kept pursuing and firing. I can’t find any reports of him being charged, and he shouldn’t have. Although, I fear that had either thug expired as a result, the outcome may have been different.
Yes, we should learn from these kinds of events, and do everything we can to avoid making their mistakes. But in my opinion, given only the video evidence linked above, it was a righteous shoot. Cops (not that we should even consider wanting to emulate them) regularly unload multiple magazines into suspects, firing long after they stop twitching, and nobody blinks.
Mistakes were made, but that is part of being human. No self defense situation will ever be 100% perfect. Why the microscope and condemnation on this one?