I'm left with the question: is the flashlight more aggressive than it is assertive, and have I actually been monumentally stupid by shining it in somebody's face after they didn't get that I really don't want to talk? It produced instant compliance, but that's a sample size of one so there's no inferring.
I've gone 'round and 'round on this topic with different folks some of whom absolutely insist that "spotlighting" someone is an aggressive act and invites retaliation.
Now I'm NOT saying that my experience is what will happen all the time but the -many- times I've felt the need to "spotlight" someone either on duty or off (formerly worked in LE) almost always brought the other person up short.
The rare (maybe one or two) times I can remember that it triggered an aggressive response the aggressor was still blinded enough to have trouble determining my body position, location of my arms, and/or what I had in my hands and that gave me a powerful tactical advantage. (When the flashlight blinded person rushing you can barely see your dodge and doesn't even see a PR-24 swinging in the fight's usually over before it really starts).
Additionally, I COULD see the aggressor BECAUSE they were already lit up.
Now I'm a bit of a flashlight nut so the lights I carry are small but very powerful so that may also have something to do with it but in general I don't think appropriate spotlighting is a poor tactical choice.
Also, if you are one of the rare breed who has a powerful professional grade light on hand that tends to make the person on the other end notice that you are a PREPARED individual (unlike 90+% of the rest of the world). That usually leads to the thought that you might be PREPARED in other ways and tends to immediately remove you from the "easy mark" category.
Have you ever tried it out? Some night have a friend flash you in the eyes and see if you can see - momentarily?? You are blinded.... period. I'm not saying forever but longer than you think, long enough for you to move and prepare. TRY IT out and see for yourself.
I agree oldkim, and in those few seconds most people can put a LOT of distance between themselves and a threat if necessary.