The real scenario with Goetz was the following from what I have read. Correct me if Im wrong:
- There were 4 loud and rowdy black teenagers who were fooling around on a train.
- The other passengers on the train had purposely sat far from these youths. There were about 15-20 passengers on the train. There was an obvious perception on the train that these teenagers were up to no good.
- One of the teenagers asked Goetz for 5 dollars. Goetz ignored the guy the first time. On the second request, Goetz gets up and opens fire.
- The teenagers never touched or assaulted Goetz. They were simply loud, fooling around and one had asked Goetz for 5 dollars. There was never any physical contact.
- Some of the teenagers had criminal records and one had admitted in a newspaper interview that they planned on robbing Goetz.
I don’t believe the above scenario would qualify as a good defense for deadly force and I bet that in many courts around the nation Goetz would have served serious time in jail.
Goetz could have walked away from the incident. Simply moved to the other side of the train with the 15-20 passengers who were on it. Maybe he could have pulled the train’s emergency cord to create a diversion or he could have simply given up his wallet or the 5 dollars that was requested. However, he made a decision against 4 teenagers. These teenagers were far from the innocent type though with criminal records for violent crime.
Goetz’s actions after the incident make me believe that he thought he was not acting appropriately. He escaped off the train and fled to another state. These are not the actions of a person who believed that they were 100% in the right.
I’m not certain if I can say I would do the same thing and draw a gun on the youths and fire. This is an area of grey. You have 4 rowdy teenagers that can overpower you who are requesting for your cash. If you do not pull your gun, then the result might be you getting hurt and your wallet stolen. They might even turn the weapon on you.
In any event, the youths were acting foolishly by provoking people.