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Old August 12, 2010, 10:43 AM   #1
erikrichard
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Is shooting someone who is trying to beat you up self defense?

Assuming you believe the defendant's girlfriend and witness following the van and motorcycle, do you think the defendant was correctly charged with assault? what's the general law when it comes to using deadly force against non-deadly force?
http://www.whec.com/news/stories/S1692162.shtml?cat=566
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Old August 12, 2010, 11:26 AM   #2
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Many people have been killed or crippled by nothing more than a beat-down using feet and fists, so in general, I don't think it's automatically wrong to shoot an unarmed assailant. It's still a judgement call though - if someone walks up to you, sucker-punches you and then just stands there, are you really justified in shooting them?

In this particular story, though, I think the more important question is whether Hasman was a victim or an instigator. And of course the story changes depending on who you're talking to. Hasan is going to have a hard time arguing that the shooting was unavoidable.
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Old August 12, 2010, 11:58 AM   #3
Frank Ettin
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In general, in order to demonstrate that the use of lethal force in self defense was justified, one must show that the assailant had (1) Ability, i. e., the power to deliver force sufficient to cause death or grave bodily harm; (2) Opportunity, i. e., the assailant was capable of immediately deploying such force; and (3) put an innocent in Jeopardy, i. e., the assailant was acting in such a manner that a reasonable and prudent person would conclude that he has the intent to kill or cripple. Under some circumstances, that will be possible even if the assailant is unarmed.

However, to be justified in using force in self defense you must usually also be able to show that you did not provoke the attack, and you may under some circumstances have a duty to avoid the attack or retreat, if you can do so safely.

But reading the newspaper account, this particular situation looks like a giant hairball. Did Hasman do anything to provoke or contribute to the affray? Could he have safely avoided contact with the minivan? There seem to be a bunch of conflicting stories, so it may well be a matter that the DA, a grand jury and/or a trial will need to sort out.

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Old August 12, 2010, 12:48 PM   #4
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Reading the (presumably unbiased) statement of the security guard who witnessed the event, it sounds like the cyclist was not the aggressor. Of course, there may have been words/gestures between the cyclist and the minivan's occupants prior to the actual altercation, but it would appear the aggressor was the minivan passenger.

I wouldn't even hazard a guess whether the passenger's actions gave the cyclist reason to think he was in danger of grave bodily harm or death. That's an issue for the trier of fact.
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Old August 12, 2010, 01:07 PM   #5
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
Assuming you believe the defendant's girlfriend and witness following the van and motorcycle, do you think the defendant was correctly charged with assault?
Well the problem with this assumption is that there isn't much physical evidence to support it. Apparently there is a lot of eyewitness evidence; but it is contradictory.

A proescutor is extremely likely to let a jury decide in this kind of case where the evidence doesn't clearly favor one of two contradictory stories. After all, that is why we have the legal system to begin with.

The fact that it happened in Rochester, New York doesn't help the shooter any. The mere fact that he was carrying a pistol on a motorcycle there may have broken a number of laws even before we start sorting this mess out.
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Old August 12, 2010, 01:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DogoDon
Reading the (presumably unbiased) statement of the security guard who witnessed the event,...
One needs to be careful about relying on one witness, especially when there are multiple and conflicting accounts. The security guard may be unbiased insofar as he doesn't know any of the participants, but there are many reasons why eyewitness accounts of an event may be erroneous in one or more ways. This can be especially true when the witness has observed only part of an event that took place over some extended period of time or when the witness focused only on an area of an event presenting itself in a physically larger tableau and involving multiple participants.

I'm not saying that the security guard is wrong. I'm only saying that with the information we now have there's really no good way for us to dope out and form meaningful conclusions about what actually did happen. We might be able to make some fairly decent guesses, but it's entirely possible that when all of the evidence is developed and laid out, those guesses will turn out to be wrong.
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Old August 12, 2010, 01:51 PM   #7
erikrichard
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From the responses so far it looks like the whole thing boils down to whether the defendant believed he was in imminent danger of death or severe injury. Given that standard I'm pretty puzzled as to why charges were brought in the first place, unless the prosecutor believe the driver's story for some reason. Not only do you have a mug shot taken the day it happened with a fresh bruise on the defendant's face, but you have an unbiased eyewitness totally consistant with the defandant's story. The only contradictory story is from the driver of the car, who in my opinion is obviously lying.
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Old August 12, 2010, 01:51 PM   #8
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Agreed, fiddletown! Eyewitness testimony can be dubious, to be sure.

I don't think I'd want to be the cyclist in this case.
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Old August 12, 2010, 01:52 PM   #9
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Given that the witnesses' statements contradict each other, it's hard to see how to decide this except to let a jury sort it out. But the defendant seems to have done his bit to escalate things; even according to his girlfriend's statement, he was the first to start yelling, and the first to leave his vehicle to confront the other parties. Given that, I don't see how they could have failed to charge him, even though the driver of the van admitted that he'd been driving very badly, "bobbing and weaving thru traffic." (From the van driver's statement: http://www.whec.com/whecimages//hasm...-statement.pdf)

Whatever the exact facts of the case, it's a textbook example both of how to provoke a road rage incident, and of how not to behave in one. Plenty of fault to go around, I'd say.
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Old August 12, 2010, 02:19 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by erikrichard
...the whole thing boils down to whether the defendant believed he was in imminent danger of death or severe injury. Given that standard I'm pretty puzzled as to why charges were brought in the first place,...
[1] Well Hasman did commit assault. He shot someone, and that is at least assault. His defense will be that he was justified in using lethal force to defend himself.

[2] Given the conflicting evidence, it would not be necessarily be clear to the DA that the use of lethal force was justified according to the applicable legal standard.

[3] It will therefore be up to Hasman to put forth evidence establishing that prima facie every element necessary to satisfy the legal standard for the use of lethal force in self defense. Those elements, in this jurisdiction under these circumstance, may include the duty to retreat or avoid confrontation if it can be done safely. It looks like Hasman might have some difficulties there.

[4] And note that the standard for the use of lethal force is not, "...the defendant believed he was in imminent danger of death or severe injury..." It's whether a reasonable and prudent person in like circumstance would have believed that.
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Old August 12, 2010, 02:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Vanya
...according to his girlfriend's statement, he was the first to start yelling, and the first to leave his vehicle to confront the other parties. Given that, I don't see how they could have failed to charge him,...

If those things are true, I would submit that he is, in fact, the initial aggressor and would have no justifiable claim to self defense. This would be particularly true if the van drivers claim that the shooter asked him "Do you want to get shot?" LOOONNNGGG before there could be ANY justifiable use of force.


One more situation wherein EVERYBODY acted like a complete jackass. There were soooo many chances for everybody to get out of this with no crimes committed.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.
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Old August 12, 2010, 03:53 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by peetzakilla
I would submit that he is, in fact, the initial aggressor and would have no justifiable claim to self defense.
<snip>
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Yes to both. Exactly so.

(Yet again. )
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Old August 12, 2010, 04:00 PM   #13
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A biker can suffer greatly from anyone that hits them with a car or truck.

Dont know what started it, but if it was me on the bike I wouldnt let him get close. My bike is a bit faster than that van.

Why didnt he drive off when the van stopped? Always leave an escape route when on a bike.

I wouldnt have shot the guy even if he did punch me in the face, isnt a life threating item for me, I been hit by the best when I was a boxer, never knocked out tho. The biker didnt look like a whimp but then never can tell.
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Old August 12, 2010, 04:38 PM   #14
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I'm going to go with the security guard's version. His account has the motorcyclist trying to get the police to notice the van. Then he describes the van passenger getting out of the van, and the cyclist back peddling to avoid the attack. The "victim" threw TWO punches before he got shot.

I rate it a good shoot.
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Old August 13, 2010, 07:08 AM   #15
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This event happened in my hometown and it is pretty clear that the shooter has an uphill battle to fight to convince the jury that it was self defense.

1. He had multiple chances to escape before the final confrontation and chose to remain close enough for the van to catch up at a light.

2. He may have upped the confrontation by making the " do you want to get shot ? " comment.

3. NYS is a duty to retreat state, and he clearly did not retreat.

Bad behavior all around on the part of both the individuals involved, and it will not go well for the shooter.
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Old August 13, 2010, 09:48 AM   #16
erikrichard
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A couple points;
From the pic the guy looks like a cruiser rider. Most v-twin cruisers are about as fast as a van, so I'm not buying the '"why didn't he just speed away?" thing. Also, when they passed the cop the defendant couldn't have anticipated or foresaw them attacking him, so his waiving to the cop instead of pulling over totally makes sense to me.
When he asked the guys in the van if they wanted to get shot, that to me is fair notice and warning not to attack him and that he was prepared to defend himself with a gun instead of a fist. I don't see how that warning could be interepreted as an aggressive move on his part, aggravating the situation. To me the sob who got out and cold-cocked him not only was the dumbest of the 3 by far, but got what he deserved.
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Old August 13, 2010, 10:39 AM   #17
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From the pic the guy looks like a cruiser rider. Most v-twin cruisers are about as fast as a van, so I'm not buying the '"why didn't he just speed away?" thing.
Even a slow bike is still much quicker than a fast van - if the rider had wanted to leave the confrontation behind him, he would have had no problems outpacing the van.
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Old August 13, 2010, 10:50 AM   #18
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just drive away

How hard is it to drive away when the van stopped? You drive to the police department and stop there. I see no indication that there was an attempt to avoid confrontation. This one looks bad for us gun toters.
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Old August 13, 2010, 11:08 AM   #19
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All involved look very bad. It sure looks as though everyone involved contributed to the escalation of the situation to a violent incident. I cannot say whether or not charges are warranted, but this was certainly an avoidable shooting that never needed to happen.

Oh, and for the fella above? Threatening to shoot someone is, in itself, an assault upon that person which must be defended in the same manner as an actual shooting. It is not an appropriate action in any but the most dire circumstances, and even then, most of the time is counterproductive.
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Old August 13, 2010, 12:10 PM   #20
erikrichard
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I was looking for the other viewpoint, there are some valid points made - thanks. It isn't a black and white situation, but the fact that sticks out to me the most is the passenger punching the defendant in the face, words spoken beforehand are much less important.
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Old August 13, 2010, 01:22 PM   #21
maestro pistolero
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The defendant warned the attacker that he might be shot. Now If someone attacked me after I issued such a warning, i would fully expect his intentions to be to do me serious bodily harm.
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Old August 13, 2010, 01:54 PM   #22
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Got into this a day late, but the bottom line is that one should walk away when they can, and Hasman definitely could have swallowed his pride and tried to ride off into the sunset. If the guys in the minivan followed, then it's a different story.

A situation happen to me the other day at Wally World (not going into detals). After I stupidly reacting to something a young punk said under his breath about me, I consciously de-escalated the situation.

20/20 hindsight, I should have let it slide off my back like water off a duck's in the first place. Believe it or not, this site and THR dot org reminded me of that...always better to walk away than stand your ground and kill or shoot somebody...unless it's in your house or you or a loved one is in harms way.

Going back to the Hasman - he F'd up by pulling over and getting off his bike. I mean, What did he think was going to happen? The guys in the mini-van wave and give him a peace sign while they drove by???
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Old August 13, 2010, 02:12 PM   #23
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When I took my CCW course, the instructor was very clear about how armed citizens have the obligation to de-escalate as much as possible before using deadly force in self defense. That means a lot of tongue biting, and offering apologies if it means the person that is agitated at you might go away.
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Old August 14, 2010, 12:11 AM   #24
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Is shooting someone who is trying to beat you up self defense?
Yes.

However, the devil is in the details. Generally, the concept of disparity of force will be used to judge basic justification. And it is that judgement that (generally) determines if legal proceedings will be brought.

A couple of 20-30 year old males, both in fair general health, is a situation that makes determination highly dependant on the specifcs of the conflict.

A 20yr old 200lb male vs a 70 yr old 120lb female? Whole different standard will be applied.

Here is one example, a middle aged CCW holder, sitting in an open air cafe, having coffee was attacked by and "indigent" male (don't recall the age, but not a youth), and despite verbal warning, began pummelling the CCW holder. Knocked down, on the ground, with the attacker atop him, the CCW holder drew and fired, ending the attack. Ultimately, no charges were filed against the CCW holder.

Is shooting someone who is trying to beat you up self defense? Sure. Is it justified? Probably, depending on the specific situation. Remember though, you may believe it is justified, ans still be found to be legally in the wrong!
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Old August 14, 2010, 10:50 AM   #25
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+1 44 AMP,

As far as not being able to seriously hurt/kill someone with your bare hands or feet, thats just ridiculous. Don't care who you are, one shot to the right place, especially barehanded, could be fatal. 'Boom Boom' Mancini delivered a fatal blow in the ring, sanctioned fight, against another pro fighter wearing gloves. There's been more than a few fighters that have had their brain scrambled with knockout shots and they were wearing gloves.

Also, not being familiar with where this happened can't comment on whether the rider could get away from the van or not. Maybe this happened in heavy traffic where the safest thing for the rider to do was pull over, maybe the rider could have got away. Guess the jury will figure that one out.

I do know that I wouldn't jeopordize wrecking on my bike and possibly hurting my wife/self trying to flee someone harassing me while riding. If I had a safe escape route then by all means I'd take it. If not, I'd pull over in the safest spot I could find, dial 911 and hope the harasser went on.

The driver of the vans statement, saying "when his passenger opened the van door, the biker already had his weapon pulled", didn't make since. Picture an altercation with someone and when you step out of your vehicle, the other person is standing at his with a gun already pulled. Are you going to still approach that person and punch him?

That part sounds a bit like BS to me or maybe the passenger in the van just came from the bar,just did some meth/coke(makes you feel invincible) and didn't care the person he was going to punch had a weapon. Again, don't know I wasn't there but I hope all the facts come out in this case.

For those that don't ride, let me say that people on bikes sometimes become the targets of dangerous harassment by people in cars. I've been riding for many years and it happened to me. Should I have shot the individuals that did the harassing, no, I was able to pull into a gas station and they went on. Had they pulled into the station, hopefully the law would have got there before these assailants had a chance to do me harm.
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