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Old June 15, 2011, 09:52 AM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
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Defense of Others

We often discuss about whether it is wise to intervene in a third-party conflict. Over at THR, I came across this real-world example of how that can go wrong:
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/c...f98f01edf.html

As a nightclub in Missouri was closing, shots rang out. Asif Blake, an Iraq veteran with the Missorui National Guard was firing a weapon outside in the parking lot. Officer Daryl Hall, an off-duty police officer who frequented the clun, rushed outside and confronted Blake, ordering him to drop his weapon. When Blake refused, Hall began firing.

At this point, the club's bouncer, Will Spencer, a sergeant with the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron working a second job, arrived at the parking lot and saw Hall shooting Blake. Not recognizing Hall, who was an acquaintance, Spencer fired two shots*, killing Hall. Both the police officer and Blake died at the scene.

*Spencer was apparently not licensed to work as a bouncer in Missouri. According to the news article, bouncers must be licensed and are not authorized to carry firearms.

I thought the story was interesting because it demonstrated a number of factors we discuss here often.

1. Looks can be deceiving. Spencer apparently was acquainted with Hall. However, in the early morning light, he didn't recognize Hall and didn't hear Hall announce himself as a police officer. What looked like a case of one man shooting another down in cold blood in a bar parking lot, turned out to be more complex.

2. Unless you saw the whole scenario from beginning to end and were close enough to hear everything that transpired, it would be very easy to get the wrong idea about what was happening here.
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Old June 15, 2011, 10:57 AM   #2
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I dont know what I would do in that situation. My first reaction would be call the police. Second idea is to get out of there as fast as possible, but thats just me. If I was equipped to handle a situation like that though, maybe I would have found cover and asked whats going on.
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Old June 15, 2011, 12:02 PM   #3
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The clearest thing about this story is that there are no "good guys" here.

As you noted, BR, Mr. Spencer was working illegally as a bouncer, given that he had no license for such work -- and even if he'd had the license, he should not have had a gun: bouncers in St. Louis are not permitted to carry weapons. (And it's not known if he had a carry permit, in any case.) He's not exactly a poster child for responsible citizenship.

Mr. Hall, the off-duty officer who was killed after leaving the bar and opening fire on the suspect, had a blood alcohol level of 0.047%. That's under the legal limit for driving -- but would any of us want to go shooting with someone with that much alcohol on board? I think not. Another non-poster-child...

There are way too many things wrong with this picture...

What, by the way, are the laws in MO about carry in bars? Drinking while doing so? This case doesn't provide much support for loosening restrictions on such...
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Old June 15, 2011, 02:20 PM   #4
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Just one more reason to stay the heck out of bars.

We had 2 bars, one night some folks came in guns drawn and shooting. Almost every person in the bart pulled a gun and commenced to shooting the place up. One gal had a 41 mag. I dug over 40 slugs out of the walls and found a slide blew off someones gun behind a cooler.

You just never know who has a gun, this was long before ccw was allowed in that state.

I took a sawed off 12 ga off a guy one time.
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Old June 15, 2011, 02:32 PM   #5
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Kind of an easy answer ... if you don't know what's going on, don't shoot ... period ... how could you possibly know who's right and who's wrong with two guys shooting at each other? call 9-1-1 and duck ...
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Old June 15, 2011, 02:59 PM   #6
SRH78
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There are lots and lots of unanswered questions with this story.

From another story on the incident
Quote:
About 2:30 a.m., Hall, 34, left his girlfriend at The Label, at Fourth and Gratiot streets, and ran outside, spotting a man firing a handgun in an adjacent parking lot, police said.

Witnesses told police that Hall identified himself as a police officer, pulled out his own gun and order the man to drop his weapon. The gunman refused, police said.

Gunfire erupted between Hall and the gunman, with a nightclub security guard also opening fire, according to police.
One issue here is that a man in plain clothes aiming a gun at you is a man in plain clothes aiming a gun at you. I don't know why Blake was shooting but if I were lawfully firing a weapon in self defense, which I am not saying he was, and someone not in a police uniform had a gun aimed at me, that person would be seen as a threat. As for the bouncer, I don't know what he saw or thought he saw but if you are going to fire you weapon, you better be sure of what is going on and unfortunately this is a prime example of why.
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Old June 15, 2011, 04:24 PM   #7
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As CCW citizens we are not law enforcers and my thought process is, if my life, a friend and relative are not in immediate danger, I refuse to personally get involved in any situation that does not relate to me.

Because if you end up shooting the wrong person, you can put yourself in a lot trouble. In this instance, I will leave the area and call the police.

My CCW is not for the protection of others who have refused to take their own safety seriously. I will only get involve if I know the whole story other than that; the police will have to handle it. Not interested in playing a hero!
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Old June 15, 2011, 04:41 PM   #8
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I know exactly what I'd do in that situation - call the police, and that's all. I am not a police officer, not trained to be one, don't have the immunity an officer has, and certainly not paid to be one. I will risk my life and freedom to protect myself and my immediate family, with very few exceptions. I suppose if I heard someone screaming rape in a close proximity where it is clear that a much stronger person is basically torturing a weaker person, I might intervene if I have the ability to do so effectively. Otherwise, I'd call "911". That's what its for.
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Old June 15, 2011, 05:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
As CCW citizens we are not law enforcers and my thought process is, if my life, a friend and relative are not in immediate danger, I refuse to personally get involved in any situation that does not relate to me.

Because if you end up shooting the wrong person, you can put yourself in a lot trouble. In this instance, I will leave the area and call the police.

My CCW is not for the protection of others who have refused to take their own safety seriously. I will only get involve if I know the whole story other than that; the police will have to handle it. Not interested in playing a hero!
Could not have said it any better or more to the point myself. +1
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Old June 15, 2011, 05:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
As CCW citizens we are not law enforcers and my thought process is, if my life, a friend and relative are not in immediate danger, I refuse to personally get involved in any situation that does not relate to me.

Because if you end up shooting the wrong person, you can put yourself in a lot trouble. In this instance, I will leave the area and call the police.

My CCW is not for the protection of others who have refused to take their own safety seriously. I will only get involve if I know the whole story other than that; the police will have to handle it. Not interested in playing a hero!
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Old June 15, 2011, 06:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
As CCW citizens we are not law enforcers and my thought process is, if my life, a friend and relative are not in immediate danger, I refuse to personally get involved in any situation that does not relate to me.

Because if you end up shooting the wrong person, you can put yourself in a lot trouble. In this instance, I will leave the area and call the police.

My CCW is not for the protection of others who have refused to take their own safety seriously. I will only get involve if I know the whole story other than that; the police will have to handle it. Not interested in playing a hero!
For the most part, I agree but there are some situations that it would be very difficult to look in the mirror if you did nothing. I don't think this is one of those situations but lets say you see a man attacking an unarmed woman or a child? Armed or not, could you really walk away? It is always a bad idea for you personally but there are times you would have to be extremely cold hearted to do nothing. Unfortunately, I have found myself in that situation a few times and when a little kid is screaming and crying because someone is beating and choking their mommy, walking away isn't really an option.
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Old June 15, 2011, 06:53 PM   #12
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Patience is a virtue. The bouncer 'jumped the gun." This is hardly the first time a cop out of uniform has been shot by mistake. Apparently undercover cops have it the worst. Here is a Baltimore incident involving an on duty cop in civilian clothes that closely parallels the St. Louis shooting in that uniformed officers didn't know what was going down when they first arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, these things are over in seconds, and nobody gets their money back.

http://www.wbaltv.com/r/26427374/detail.html
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Old June 15, 2011, 06:55 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SRH78
there are some situations that it would be very difficult to look in the mirror if you did nothing. I don't think this is one of those situations but lets say you see a man attacking an unarmed woman
I once worked with a linebacker who was on a semi-pro team. He and his wife would regularly on weekends get liquored up and beat on each other, sometimes in public, as a prelude to amorous activity later in the day. I recall him showing up for work on a Monday with a broken nose, compliments of his wife. We're not talking about love-taps here.

If a person intervened in their 'play', it wouldn't surprise me at all if that person got his clock cleaned by the both of them. Certainly, if that person intervened with deadly force, the supposed 'victim' would be the star witness against him at trial for his unwarranted attack on the injured/deceased spouse.

Not all is as it seems.
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Old June 15, 2011, 08:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
I once worked with a linebacker who was on a semi-pro team. He and his wife would regularly on weekends get liquored up and beat on each other, sometimes in public, as a prelude to amorous activity later in the day. I recall him showing up for work on a Monday with a broken nose, compliments of his wife. We're not talking about love-taps here.

If a person intervened in their 'play', it wouldn't surprise me at all if that person got his clock cleaned by the both of them. Certainly, if that person intervened with deadly force, the supposed 'victim' would be the star witness against him at trial for his unwarranted attack on the injured/deceased spouse.

Not all is as it seems.
As for this couple, what if a LEO saw them "playing"? What if other witnesses saw everything that happened? They are creating a very bad situation and are not immune from liability. Make no mistake, if they are exchanging blows, they are breaking the law. That is not really the point we are discussing though. This is where judgement and a measured response comes into play. You don't have to run into every situation guns blazing or swinging away trying to be Rocky. As I said, I found myself in this situation several times and I am also well aware of how abused women are likely to lie for the bastard after the fact if it is someone they are in a relationship with. I won't take any more action than what is absolutely necessary. Simply displaying the willingness to intervene physically is usually all it takes to end these situations. Quite frankly, I am not to worried about the situation you described because it should quickly be resolved with words instead of having to resort to violence.

What if it was your wife, daughter, sister, or mother being hurt? Would you want someone with the ability to help them to stand around and let it happen? It is a bad situation and one that each person has to judge for themselves and decide the best way to handle it.
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Old June 15, 2011, 09:28 PM   #15
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I think we can all agree that drinking while carrying is a bad idea. I'd be willing to bet that most departments prohibit it. Dunno about other states but in Texas using lethal force in defense of others is legal....but I'm very unlikely to intervene in a situation that I don't understand.
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Old June 16, 2011, 10:11 AM   #16
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I think it a valid point that we should not assume that all females are innocent because of their sex. Men sometimes have to defend themselves against women. And as has been posted on TFL many times, women who are victims of domestic abuse often paradoxically attack their defender, in defense of their own attacker/husband/boyfriend. It makes for a very difficult and volatile situations in which LE professionals tread quite carefully.
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Old June 16, 2011, 10:28 AM   #17
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Vanya
<SNIP>
Mr. Hall, the off-duty officer who was killed after leaving the bar and opening fire on the suspect, had a blood alcohol level of 0.047%. That's under the legal limit for driving -- but would any of us want to go shooting with someone with that much alcohol on board? I think not. Another non-poster-child... <SNIP>
Just wanted to point out that the BAC is equivalent to 2 to 3 drinks in 1 hour for an average sized guy - 180lb to 220lb. I don't think many people would want to be involved in a shooting after a couple/few drinks.
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Old June 16, 2011, 11:31 AM   #18
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I want to say that in some states, an LEO's police powers are suspended when they reach a certain level of intoxication, but I may be just reaching.
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Old June 16, 2011, 01:16 PM   #19
SRH78
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Quote:
Just wanted to point out that the BAC is equivalent to 2 to 3 drinks in 1 hour for an average sized guy - 180lb to 220lb. I don't think many people would want to be involved in a shooting after a couple/few drinks.
Correct. 1 drink is typically .02 for an average size man and the average man loses .02 an hour. Based on his photo, this was more than an average size guy and considering this was closing time and he had been there for a party, it is very safe to he had more than that to drink. Also, his bac would most likely have been checked at the hospital well after the fact and after his bac had dropped considerably. It is not unreasonable to assume that he was legaly intoxicated at the time of the shooting.

Last edited by SRH78; June 16, 2011 at 01:49 PM.
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Old June 16, 2011, 01:30 PM   #20
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Quote:
Just wanted to point out that the BAC is equivalent to 2 to 3 drinks in 1 hour for an average sized guy - 180lb to 220lb. I don't think many people would want to be involved in a shooting after a couple/few drinks.
Correct. 1 drink is typically .02 for an average size man and the average man loses .02 an hour. Based on his photo, this was more than an average size guy and considering this was closing time and he had been there for a party, it is very safe to he had more than that to drink. Also, his bac would most likely have been checked at the station well after the fact and after his bac had dropped considerably. It is not unreasonable to assume that he was legaly intoxicated at the time of the shooting.
So, because he had a few.....not drunk he shouldn't intervene?

That is ludicrous, blowing a .04 at the end of the evening is not impaired, it is half the ludicrously low .08 threshold for DUI
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Old June 16, 2011, 01:34 PM   #21
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I think it a valid point that we should not assume that all females are innocent because of their sex. Men sometimes have to defend themselves against women. And as has been posted on TFL many times, women who are victims of domestic abuse often paradoxically attack their defender, in defense of their own attacker/husband/boyfriend. It makes for a very difficult and volatile situations in which LE professionals tread quite carefully.
I agree with this. It is definitely a bad situation where judgement and restraint are critical. Much more so if you are armed.
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Old June 16, 2011, 01:37 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SRH78
...his bac would most likely have been checked at the station well after the fact and after his bac had dropped considerably. It is not unreasonable to assume that he was legaly intoxicated at the time of the shooting.
Not quite, unfortunately. His BAC was determined after his death during this incident, so I don't think it would have dropped much. I'm not 100% sure what happens to BAC post-mortem, but I believe it stays more or less what it was at the time of death, since the alcohol is no longer being metabolized.

The Minnesota standard for intoxication around firearms, which is the one I'm familiar with, is 0.04, or half the legal limit for driving, so he would have been illegal by that metric; I don't know whether MO has a comparable standard.

But was there enough alcohol in his system to impair his judgment? Probably. Did that contribute to his death? Hard to say. But it's irresponsible for anyone, police officer or not, to drink that much while carrying, and it sure didn't help.
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Old June 16, 2011, 01:49 PM   #23
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So, because he had a few.....not drunk he shouldn't intervene?

That is ludicrous, blowing a .04 at the end of the evening is not impaired, it is half the ludicrously low .08 threshold for DUI
You didn't read my posts very well did you? I never said he shouldn't have intervened. As for his bac, if you think he only had 2 or 3 drinks, you might as well still believe in Santa Claus. It could very easily have been hours after the fact before his bac was checked. If it was 2 hours, then he would have been legally intoxicated. If it was 3 hours, that puts him above .10. What I am saying is choosing to drink after making the choice to carry was irresponsible and he was probably well above .04 at the time of the shooting. I am not judging his actions in choosing to shoot because I wasn't there and don't know what happened.

Fyi, there have been a lot of people get out of DWI's because their bac wasn't checked until much later at the station. The prosecutors are well aware their bac was above the limit when they were stopped but that doesn't matter in court because all that matters is what it was when checked. I think it is safe to assume that the individuals responding were more concerned with trying to save his life, as they should have been, than checking his bac.
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Old June 16, 2011, 01:53 PM   #24
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Not quite, unfortunately. His BAC was determined after his death during this incident, so I don't think it would have dropped much. I'm not 100% sure what happens to BAC post-mortem, but I believe it stays more or less what it was at the time of death, since the alcohol is no longer being metabolized.
It was my mistake to say station instead of hospital. According to the story though, he died at the hospital so there likely was time for it to drop before he passed. I don't know either what happens post mortem but it makes sense that it would not continue to drop.
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Old June 16, 2011, 03:53 PM   #25
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Defense of others is one thing, but coming to the aid of another and using lethal force would, at least on my part, require myself to be in danger as well. Fistfights are one thing, but running in to the middle of two armed individuals who have had a bit to drink? No thanks.
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