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View Full Version : Attacker about to grab you; no eveidence of weapon; what do you do and what's legal


gvf
November 19, 2006, 03:26 AM
The various states all seem to accept a BG with a weapon about to attack a person as cause to shoot if they have CCW - with some states demanding an attempt to leave as an additional requirement - but if that is impossible, seems they too would consider this justifiable SD. BUT, what if a BG - and a young, muscular BIG BG - is running at you from 10 feet away, it's after dark and no one is around, and is obviously about to grab you and start hitting. Especially if - like me - you are small, close to 60 yrs old and also have medical conditions that could be set off in such a "fist" attack, e.g., heart condition etc. You can't run say, becasue he'll tackle you from behind, and while you have no sight of a weapon, you believe his fists alone could seriously injure you. Well, you can shoot, but is that justifiable when the authorities find one dead BG and no weapon of any kind. Or in that situation to you try to merely wound, attempting to hit him in the leg, something like that?
Seems dicey to me and confusing as to what is legally jusitifiable. Any experience in this, or thoughts? I live in NY State by the way.
Thanks

hawken50
November 19, 2006, 03:48 AM
someone once told me, concerning self defence, "don't do anything with a gun unless the alternative is worse than spending the rest of your life in jail." not much help from a legal stand point, but definatly food for thought.

old 12 gauge
November 19, 2006, 07:09 AM
remember Bernard Geotz from N.Y. He killed 2 and critically injured the 4th, One was not arrested and went on to a life of crime resulting in the murder of someone else.
Bernard got jailed for a dozen years and was released. He should have whacked the other looser and there would have not been a murder later on.
He had no police record and the freaks that went after him were all juvinile felons.

DasBoot
November 19, 2006, 08:06 AM
gvf,
I believe your scenario falls into the catagory "Disparity of Force", which basically allows you to use deadly force to defend yourself if your attacker is much larger/stronger than you are.
It also applies if there are multiple assailants.
That, at least, is what I've been led to believe.

marlboroman84
November 19, 2006, 09:31 AM
GVF,
Das Boot has it right. In Tennessee CCW class they make comments to the situation you describe. If your an older man with medical conditions then it is assumed that 1, especially 2 or 3, younger, larger males could probably seriously hurt you. That being said, what is the statute for self-defense in most states? The threat of serious bodily harm or death.

Check into your state laws and maybe some old cases if you can find them, but I know in Tennessee the law tends to be in your favor if you are facing multiple assailants (armed or not) or even one assailant that is larger,quicker,seriously trying to hurt you,etc. The only thing with that is that obviously you can't start the fight by walking up to Bruno the bouncer and saying "Hey tell your mom I said hey!" and then proceeding to make kissy faces at him. That is cause to be squashed outta the old gene pool. :D

Petre
November 19, 2006, 09:36 AM
Attacker about to grab you; no eveidence of weapon; what do you do and what's legal ?

I'd punch him in the throat.

Unless the attacker is approaching with a potentially deadly weapon , you don't pull a gun. :cool:

Ausserordeutlich
November 19, 2006, 11:03 AM
So far, a couple of absurd, fallacious analogies to the question posed. The correct answer, in most states, is that lethal force is appropriate when a reasonable person would feel that his or her life was in danger. Given the parameters of the question, OF COURSE lethal force would be appropriate!

BerettaCougar
November 19, 2006, 01:57 PM
Every answer in this thread, except for the one where someone told you to check your local laws is worthless text.

Check your local laws.
Use your better judgment, you honestly feel your life is at risk of being taken, or severe bodily injury can occur, you do what you think is needed.

If that be draw, punch, run, scream, whatever it is you think in the split second will keep you alive.

Ausserordeutlich
November 19, 2006, 05:49 PM
If you have to check your local laws prior to making the decision to defend yourself or your loved ones, then you've already lost the battle. :) One can't possibly anticipate every scenario. All one can hope to do is make the best decision, in media res as possible do one's best to survive, if that scenario is a potentially deadly scenario.

gvf
November 19, 2006, 07:46 PM
Thanks very much for the info., After posting the thread, I thought of 2 other initial responses that might be good if there was time: YELL, as I just read in another posting, and something clear and ummistakable in case there are people, later witnesses, who might hear-(and also as an attempt to keep the guy off of you): "Stay Back!" "Don't Attack Me!" , something like that.

The other is too carry a non-lethal deterent, pepper-spray, a surefire light, and if possible use it first. Aside from the fact it might work, evidence you tried an alternative to a CCW first (especially in the pepper spray which would be still on or near the BG), might help with later legal issues.

Thanks Again!

badbob
November 19, 2006, 08:40 PM
If the BG is 10 ft. away and closing, it's too late to do anything except brace yourself for the blow if you haven't already drawn and aimed your weapon.

badbob

Country
November 19, 2006, 09:16 PM
gvf: I thought of 2 other initial responses that might be good if there was time: YELL, as I just read in another posting, and something clear and ummistakable in case there are people, later witnesses, who might hear-(and also as an attempt to keep the guy off of you): "Stay Back!" "Don't Attack Me!" , something like that.

gvf, If you have time to yell, I would say "STOP or I WILL SHOOT!!!"

newerguy
November 20, 2006, 10:21 AM
First off, Bernard Goetz didn't kill any of his attackers. He shot four guys, crippled one, fled the scene, disposed of the weapon, was indicted, had his indictment upheld in the Court of Appeals (NY's highest court) and then aquited in a jury trial of all except a weapons charge that sent him away for almost a year. But lets not fool ourselves, that guy is a little off. His aquital had a lot to do with the times he lived in. In 1984, average New Yorkers were terrified of crime, and the subways were the stomping grounds for "wolf packs" or maurading teens looking to commit crimes ranging from vandalism to murder. People were afraid, and they thought they understood Goetz. BTW, Goetz tried to shoot one of his wounded attackers a second time, while the guy was on the ground, because he, "didn't look so bad". Lest not try to learn too much from this case

Second, since you are in NY, here's Section 35.15 of the NYS Penal Law.

35.15 Justification; use of physical force in defense of a person.
1. A person may, subject to the provisions of subdivision two, use
physical force upon another person when and to the extent he or she
reasonably believes such to be necessary to defend himself, herself or a
third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or
imminent use of unlawful physical force by such other person, unless:
(a) The latter's conduct was provoked by the actor with intent to
cause physical injury to another person; or
(b) The actor was the initial aggressor; except that in such case the
use of physical force is nevertheless justifiable if the actor has
withdrawn from the encounter and effectively communicated such
withdrawal to such other person but the latter persists in continuing
the incident by the use or threatened imminent use of unlawful physical
force; or
(c) The physical force involved is the product of a combat by
agreement not specifically authorized by law.
2. A person may not use deadly physical force upon another person
under circumstances specified in subdivision one unless:
(a) The actor reasonably believes that such other person is using or
about to use deadly physical force. Even in such case, however, the
actor may not use deadly physical force if he or she knows that with
complete personal safety, to oneself and others he or she may avoid the
necessity of so doing by retreating; except that the actor is under no
duty to retreat if he or she is:
(i) in his or her dwelling and not the initial aggressor; or
(ii) a police officer or peace officer or a person assisting a police
officer or a peace officer at the latter's direction, acting pursuant to
section 35.30; or
(b) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing
or attempting to commit a kidnapping, forcible rape, forcible criminal
sexual act or robbery; or
(c) He or she reasonably believes that such other person is committing
or attempting to commit a burglary, and the circumstances are such that
the use of deadly physical force is authorized by subdivision three of
section 35.20.

Syntax360
November 20, 2006, 11:15 AM
The other is too carry a non-lethal deterent, pepper-spray, a surefire light, and if possible use it first. Aside from the fact it might work, evidence you tried an alternative to a CCW first (especially in the pepper spray which would be still on or near the BG), might help with later legal issues.

Just my humble opinion, but if I'm afraid someone is about to attack me and I believe they are capable and willing to kill me, I'm not reaching for pepper spray.

If you honestly believe you life is in danger and [almost] any idiot would recognize that fact, lethal force should be justified.

And what if you do end up reaching for the pistol instead of the spray? Seems like prosecution would have the nifty "Why didn't you go for the less lethal option instead of dumping a magazine into his COM? After all, his actions were only the unfortunate byproduct of the bad circumstances of his upbringing. :barf:" arguement.

spacemanspiff
November 20, 2006, 01:38 PM
Been there, done that, bought a t-shirt.

Walking home a few years back, evening, maybe 8-ish, dark out. A man gets out of the passenger side of a truck parked up on my left, and walks around the front of a building (presumably to go inside, it was a gas station). As I am passing the building I notice that same person has walked all the way around and is on an intercept course towards me. He is about ten yards off, and he looks behind me, I hadn't noticed the truck he got out of had crept up behind me. The person starts yelling at the driver, and I walk faster.
The person then catches up to me, and I turn to face him, with my hand on my holstered weapon. He asks me if I have the time. I tell him 'No'. He then asks my name, and some other distracting questions. I am continuing to move, and don't want him any closer.
There is no where for me to retreat to, as the streets are icy, sidewalks nonexistant due to being covered with snow, and I can only cross half the street. The person follows. He now wants to 'shake my hand'. I tell him I don't know him and I don't want to know him. I am still palming my weapon. He has presented no weapon yet, but he is making my spidey sense go berserk.
Long story short, I am convinced he was about to mug me when his driver approached too soon.

In retrospect, I was ill prepared, had a flashlight on me, but it was in a pocket on the right hand side, and I'd have had to choose between using the light or having to use the gun to defend myself. Now, i carry my flashlight accessible to my weak side.

MD_Willington
November 20, 2006, 01:41 PM
I wear steel caps everyday, can I kick'em in the shin :confused:

mikejonestkd
November 20, 2006, 01:44 PM
If someone is attacking you and you have a reasonable belief that your life is in danger then you are justified in using the means necessasry to stop the attack. Don't ever go on the assumption that because the attacker may be smaller than you or there may be only one attacker that you will not be justified. I know plenty of small men and women that could kill or main a big guy in seconds----don't go on the looks of the assailiant.

I have a close family member that is one such person, she looks like she teaches kindergarten or sunday school and is so sweet. I have seen her overwhelm much larger men in competitions in seconds.

Big Don
November 20, 2006, 02:45 PM
I live in a nicely rural area, which invites creeps to dump their trash on my nicely rural road. On my work to work one morning, I spotted a guy dumping trash. I yelled at him from my vehicle, from a distance, to pick it up and get on the road. His response: "F you, I'm going to shoot your ass!" Grabbed fanny pack and cell phone, called the sheriff's office, still did not see a weapon, figured he was a blow hard. He started to drive off, turned and came back towards me. Cell phone in weak hand, pistol in strong hand and out of sight. SO dispatch is hearing the whole conversation as he ran his mouth. I was sitting up much higher than he in my SUV and could not see a weapon as he approached but was fully prepared to put several into him if I did, while I yelled in the phone "Drop your gun" or some such wording, as I knew it was on tape. He drove past me at close range, made the old pistol finger and said "bang." He never saw my real pistol. Don't know if the cops ever got him but they sure wanted to for the assault. Spoke with a lawyer friend/gun owner and a cop friend and both said it went down as it should have since I never saw a firearm and was in a position to have known whether he had one. They also said it would have been a righteous shoot had I seen a firearm and fired first and foremost because of his threat/assault.

I've played that whole scenario out in my mind, thinking what I'd have done differently. I could have driven off as soon as he made the first statement. I could have exited the SUV and gone to the far side and continued to report to the SO until he left. I could have shown him the S&W 9 as he drove by and watched him crap his pants (Oh, do I wish I'd have done that!:D ) but could have then faced a "brandishing" accusation. Would I have done the same thing if I hadn't had the pistol with me? I'm not sure. However, I'm glad I had the piece.

Lastly, remember the stats: the mere presentation of a weapon has been shown to make the majority of the bad guys back off and back off right now. Those that don't may not live to regret it.

shield20
November 20, 2006, 05:23 PM
Be aware of this...

"The actor reasonably believes that such other person is using or about to use deadly physical force."

Also be aware that ...

11. "Deadly physical force" means physical force which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury.

and..

10. "Serious physical injury" means physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death[pretty serious!], or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.


You do NOT have to be someone's punching bag, especially someone who could easily cause you serious physical injury.

Dwight55
November 20, 2006, 06:45 PM
gvf, . . . I too pondered this question, . . . and made up my mind that I only have one option (62, bad knee, bad ticker, ++++), . . . and that is to pull my firearm with the full intention of shooting, . . . if in fact the presentation of the firearm does not dissuade the bg.

My reasoning is simple, . . . I am armed generally when I leave my house, . . . and even if I am able to survive the beating, . . . if the bg gets my weapon, . . . there is a whole new set of problems beginning to emerge, . . . and my shortened life expectancy is the first one on that list.

Just food for thought, . . .

May God bless,
Dwight

Country
November 20, 2006, 08:54 PM
Everyone discounts the effectiveness of a knife but...

Check this out
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1459052511793821456

CriTiCiZe
November 20, 2006, 09:29 PM
wow, that's an eye-opening video!

ChileVerde1
November 21, 2006, 01:01 AM
LEO's are taught the Lethal Force Continuum for the use of force. It has escalating levels of force starting with no resistance to lethal force and the approprite measures that can be employed in between, non-lethal, less-lethal, etc. Obviously, most CCW's dont carry O.C. spray, batons, so there is a little bit of a difference, but it is still a good reference tool to answer this question.

But if a person, as mentioned before, can articulate facts supporting a fear of severe bodily harm or death, lethal force can be justified. For example, disparity in age, body size , fitness level, etc in an altercation which you have tried to avoid or did not bring on, where an assailant is overpowering you. If you have fought to exhaustion and an assailant is still coming at you, even if he is smaller than you and you and if have reason to believe he is intent on killing you... These are all split second decisions.

stephen426
November 21, 2006, 04:44 AM
There really is no easy answer for this question. Can you be absolutely sure the person is going to attack you or is it possible he is just going to run past you. Do you risk over-reacting to a non-threat or not acting quickly enough and risk getting seriously injured or maybe even killed. Both gvf and Dwight are a little further along in years and they cannot fend off a younger stronger attacker. Forget about the strikes to the throat or the kicks to the shins. Maybe if it was really the last resort, go down fighting. A young strong attacker will probably be able to block these blows or take them without minimal reaction.

Since this is a gun forum, the typical response is to pull your gun out and shoot the attacker. The thing is, there is little time to do that, especially is you are older and do not have the speed and reflexes you one had. Besides, I bet even most the quicker and younger guys of this forum could not draw and get a shot off if someone was running at them from 10 feet away. I would have to say go with the less than lethal weapons such as pepper spray or a tazer. Tazers have become very popular with police and seem to work immediately. Even big guys drop like rocks after getting tazed. Even most gun shot wounds take longer to stop an attack (other than head shots).

If you make a mistake with mace (or pepper spray) or a tazer, you have a much lower chance of killing someone by accident. If you can convince the police you had a credible fear for your safety, I doubt you would get charged. Pepper spray may not be effective enough for some, but you can walk around with it in your hand in bad areas without anyone noticing it.

frog21
November 21, 2006, 07:20 AM
If your BG is 10 feet away and already running at you, you will NOT clear the holster and get off a shot. If the BG is 20 feet away, you MIGHT get off 1 shot if you paractice a lot, especially from concealment.

If you yell at the guy just yell, STOP!

timothy75
November 22, 2006, 05:09 AM
You could fake a heart attack, he may not want a death on his record or concious and leave.

stephen426
November 22, 2006, 11:09 AM
You could fake a heart attack, he may not want a death on his record or concious and leave.

Hey Tim... is your nickname possum? :p

I think that would just make it easier for the bad guy to take your stuff. Just lie down for him. :rolleyes:

invention_45
November 22, 2006, 11:57 AM
If your BG is 10 feet away and already running at you, you will NOT clear the holster and get off a shot.

While this might not seem obvious, remember the last time you were running or saw someone running fast. A running step is about 3 feet long. Don't forget to count the guy's reach. Running, you take about two steps per second. This means you have about 0.9 seconds to dig around with your hand and find your gun, get it out of the holster, which might be a bit of a yank, get the gun past whatever clothing is covering your holster, move the gun to point in the direction of the attacker, and pull the trigger. Sounds impossible to me. Add to that that your first shot is pretty unlikely to hit anything, even at 10 feet, that freezes your attacker in space. He'll still likely be capable of injuring you badly and still be on his way toward you by sheer momentum.

If the BG is 20 feet away, you MIGHT get off 1 shot if you paractice a lot, especially from concealment.

You better be very well practiced. This only gives you 2.0 seconds to do all that stuff.

If you yell at the guy just yell, STOP!

And you better multitask that yelling with drawing.

---

I have read that 21 feet is sort of the rule that courts use when your are defending a knife-wielding assailant. But the definitions I have heard assume the assailant starts from standing still. His acceleration probably gives you an additional second. Still not very comforting.

The real deal is that you should try your best to anticipate how risky the places you intend to place yourself may be. Then stay out of these places unless you absolutely have to go there. In that case, you should give your gun a yank to loosen it from settling in the holster and so that your hand knows exactly where the gun is at the moment. If you can keep your hand on it without being seen, all the better. Then get your business done and get the hell out of there.

I've read some actual "caught off guard" successful self-defense stories involving such distances. In all the cases, the gun owner knew they were walking into potential trouble and had the gun not in the holster, but drawn and in-hand but hidden in papers or something.

stephen426
November 22, 2006, 12:16 PM
I think many of you guys are missing a big point of this arguement... when do you know for sure you are getting attacked or going to get attacked? Do you draw on every guy and double tap him just for running in your direction? If so, please let me know so I can move far the hell away from where you live.

I believe the laws concerning the use of force have a little gray area. I can understand the whole disparity of force arguement, but unless you are under attack, or the attacker has produced a weapon and is advancing on you, when are you actually justified in using deadly force? I guess it comes down to the ole "better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6 arguement".

invention_45
November 22, 2006, 02:47 PM
when do you know for sure you are getting attacked or going to get attacked?

It's worse than that. Once you are sure you are being attacked, how do you determine that the attack is apt to cause you serious bodily injury or death? That is a particularly gray area, because a simple shove can kill you, while often being shot won't.

That's why it's best to try to at least avoid doing obviously dangerous things like using dark alleys instead of walking an extra block and using a well-lighted street.

When I began firearm self-defense training, I was one of 4 students. I was the one who had just bought a gun, so I was the very least experienced. The idea was to wait for motion to start, draw, fire, recognize a jam (that we KNEW was there), clear it, and then fire on the attacker.

The next guy up from me had taken 4 SD courses. He managed to shoot the "attacker" approaching from 50 feet when there were 10 feet left, pretty consistently. The more trained guys did better, like they had 30 feet margin.

I, on the other hand, was killed every time. And we KNEW we were supposed to shoot and were ready and waiting.

The point of the whole thing, in response to the original question, is that finding yourself in the proposed scenario is finding yourself in a monumentally tight spot.

cloudcroft
November 23, 2006, 12:43 AM
"Attacker about to grab you; no eveidence of weapon; what do you do and what's legal?"


Assuming that you were taken completely by surprise (HTH did that happen?), you have NO TIME to think about "what's legal"...to hell with that crap. If you do stop to ponder the question, you're already behind the curve -- playing catch-up -- since your assailant isn't giving THAT any thought whatsoever.

You do the same.

How far you go -- injury to said assailant -- is up to you, but others will act differently...that's their call as it is yours.

I know what *I* would do, but can't tell you or anyone else to do it.

-- John D.

Koz
November 25, 2006, 01:00 AM
clinch and knee till he falls to the ground

2400
November 26, 2006, 05:04 PM
If the BG is 10 ft. away and closing, it's too late to do anything except brace yourself for the blow if you haven't already drawn and aimed your weapon.

+1 ....

njtrigger
November 26, 2006, 08:39 PM
Everything can be justified if explained the right way.

The man was running towards you in a hostile and aggressive manner. He had his hands in his pockets and you dont know what he was taking out. You drew your weapon and commanded the man to halt. He did not halt and his hand was still in his pockets. You then fired your weapon out of fear that he would either wrestle the weapon out of your hand and use it against you or he would take something out of his pocket to use against you.

Since you were out on the street, there was no place to retreat to where the aggressor could not catch up to you. If you had tried to run, then you would have simply run out of breath or he might have caught up to you where he would have used your weapon against you.

firemedic1975
December 12, 2006, 05:52 PM
In Florida the law passed last year says that if feel threathened your are allowed to use deadly force.

CraigJS
December 13, 2006, 07:57 PM
It's amazing how many posters don't stick to the origional posters scenario, dealing with situation, health conditions, BG size etc... But instead go off on a tangent.
Read your state laws, consider your situation, ask the question to LEO's, lawyers, permit instructors etc. Then you make your choice, a choice that you may have to live with or die with.
I wish you well, stay safe.