In California the Handgun 'Study Guide' put out by the Department of Justice incldes a section on the use of lethal force. As I understand it, unless a 'reasonable person' (as determined by the jury) would have acted in the same manner, one is dead meat ... a beat down is the politically correct path to take.
Permissible Use of Lethal Force in Defense of Life and Body
The killing of one person by another may be justifiable when necessary to resist
the attempt to commit a forcible and life-threatening crime, provided that a reasonable person in the same or similar situation would believe that (a) the person
killed intended to commit a forcible and life-threatening crime; (b) there was
imminent danger of such crime being accomplished; and (c) the person acted
under the belief that such force was necessary to save himself or herself or another
from death or a forcible and life-threatening crime. Murder, mayhem, rape and
robbery are examples of forcible and life-threatening crimes (PC section 197).
Limitations on the Use of Force in Self-Defense
The right of self-defense ceases when there is no further danger from an assailant.
Thus, where a person attacked under circumstances initially justifying self-defense
renders the attacker incapable of inflicting further injuries, the law of self-defense
ceases and no further force may be used. Furthermore, a person may only use the
amount of force, up to deadly force, as a reasonable person in the same or similar
circumstances would believe necessary to prevent imminent injury. It is important
to note the use of excessive force to counter an assault may result in civil or
The right of self-defense is not initially available to a person who assaults another.
However, if such a person attempts to stop further combat and clearly informs the
adversary of his or her desire for peace but the opponent nevertheless continues
the fight, the right of self-defense returns and is the same as the right of any
other person being assaulted.