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View Poll Results: Scenario: Plain clothes police officer brandishes gun at you w/o identifying himself.
Self defense is OK, since from your perspective it is nothing other than a threatening stranger. 16 100.00%
Self defense is not OK. 0 0%
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Old February 29, 2012, 01:08 PM   #1
14VeritasAequitas
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Self Defense Against Unidentified Gun-Brandishing Police

Hello everyone -

There are cases where a plain clothes police officer brandishes a weapon without identifying himself first.

See this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHjjF55M8JQ

From the motorcyclist's perspective, a strange man in an everyday car pulls up next to him, gets out of the car, and brandishes a gun. With only that information at hand, I think it is reasonable for the motorcyclist to assume the stranger poses a deadly threat, thus giving him reason draw and shoot at the unidentified stranger in self defense.

It is only after the fact that the plain clothes officer identifies himself. It happens to be a Maryland State Trooper. The car is not marked and the officer is not uniformed.

I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on this. If a complete stranger brandishes a weapon at you, but happens to be a police officer in plain clothes and unidentified, is it legitimate to defend yourself to the ultimate degree?

Last edited by 14VeritasAequitas; February 29, 2012 at 01:49 PM.
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Old February 29, 2012, 01:24 PM   #2
orangello
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If this really does happen to somebody, i do hope they have the incident on video/audio recording. Otherwise, it may be difficult to convince a jury that the officer didn't identify himself, a mistake so assinine as to be difficult to believe from the calm of the jury box.

In my opinion, if a clear threat to my life exists, then i can defend myself against that threat to stay alive. If that threat later turns out to be a LEO, that would be very unfortunate and would complicate my route home greatly.

A semi-relevant case would be the Cory Maye http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cory_Maye . He spent years in prison due to alleging similar circumstances (no announcement/ID as "police") involving his shooting of an on-duty LEO. I believe it was one shot from a .380 at an officer wearing a bullet-resistant vest that killed the officer in question.

I think rather than "OK" as the situational description, perhaps "legal" would be more relevant.
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Old February 29, 2012, 01:24 PM   #3
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If you draw and fire on someone who ends up being a cop, you better hope and pray its all on film. Unfortunately, the cop will most likely get the benefit of the doubt over you.
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Old February 29, 2012, 01:25 PM   #4
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The answer is entirely a matter of state law. I don't know what MD law says, but that's where the answer lies.
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Old February 29, 2012, 01:30 PM   #5
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I like your copy/paste style of throwing around some vendetta against the police with this video (as seen over on THR if anyone wants to go look)

I respond in kind with my own copy/paste:

One problem with your scenario. You only show us the ends result of what this motorcyclist was doing. He knew and admitted he was attempting to evade police, therefore it wouldn't be beyond the belief that you would encounter an armed man. I would not condone drawing considering I have all the information and you only give us part which shifts wrongdoing onto the cop. (Just in case you didn't get what I was saying the motorcyclist was performing an illegal activity at the time of this "brandishing")
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Old February 29, 2012, 01:42 PM   #6
14VeritasAequitas
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@ WeedWacker - no vendetta here. And yes I posted the thread to multiple forums to maximize the number of responses.

Per your response on THR, given that the motorcyclist admitted to evading police, in that scenario I would certainly expect the officer to do what he did (although he still should have identified himself immediately).
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Old February 29, 2012, 01:44 PM   #7
Crazy88Fingers
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You may also notice that there is a marked patrol car behind the motorcyclist, so it would have been a very bad idea to draw on that officer.
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Old February 29, 2012, 01:45 PM   #8
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The great thing is that mini HD cameras like the "GoPro" are gonna do wonders for people in the future. I'm thinking about getting one for the work pickup to use as a data recorder. (That and I wanna make time lapse movies of my 6 hour drive across Minnesota.)
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Old February 29, 2012, 01:50 PM   #9
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In <fill in the blank state name with any state that does not regularly issue CCW's> the cops have no worldview that includes people being armed as a normal course of events. They assume that very few are armed, that only bad guys are armed, and they have little fear of pulling out a weapon to basically "brandish and threaten" folks on the side of the road.

I would imagine that in states where CCW's are the norm, and a high percentage of people carry, that the police are a little more circumspect about pulling a gun, and probably a little more likely to be identifying themself properly lest they be shot.


In Maryland, this is just likely part of how the police work "as a usual thing", insofar as they do not have any respect for the fact that THEY are right on the edge of participating in a criminal assault when they act like this. There's no penalty, either from their organization or the fact that honest citizens might shoot back.

In Florida, this would be a good way for a plainclothes cop in an unmarked car to be shot in a case of mistaken identity. And with Castle Doctrine including ones car (or motorcycle), I'd be pretty quick to have had my pistol out myself had someone blocked me in with an unmarked car and then had exited it quickly to confront me *no matter if I had been speeding or not*. I'd have immediately assumed it was a road-rage assault in the making, and I'd be looking over the top of a .45 automatic. Heck, on a bike I cannot even lock the door and hide... you're fully vulnerable and the pistol comes out faster.


Just another demonstration of the 2nd amendment at work.


It would be interesting to hear from the MD State Police on this... since none of us want to see a cop get shot by accident. Any other LEO's interested in chiming in?




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Old February 29, 2012, 02:00 PM   #10
14VeritasAequitas
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@ Willie Sutton -

Thanks Willie - I appreciate and agree with your post. Since Maryland has no respect for the 2nd Amendment, you're probably right: maybe the police aren't as conscious of the safety reasons for identifying themselves.
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Old February 29, 2012, 02:31 PM   #11
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Leading up to this, the motorcyclist had seen the police lights in his rear view for a while.
He knew he was being pulled over.
The officer also received some sort of sanction as well if I remember correctly.
What scares me more is a no-knock middle of the night house entry.
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Old February 29, 2012, 02:46 PM   #12
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In Oswego an off-duty deputy was standing behind a pregnant woman in the express lane at Walmart and he got ****** because she had too many items for the express lane so he gets beligerent and starts insulting her and her husband pushes the guy back - the husband doesn't go into all out attack mode - he just pushes the guy away from his wife, and the deputy pulls a gun !!!

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local...139067454.html

I don't think this guy is going to get away with it. There were about two dozen witnesses.

Also, because he didn't identify himself as a law enforcement officer until quite some time after he pulled his piece - the 911 switchboard lit up like a Chirstmas tree as patrons were calling in an armed robbery / man with a gun.
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Old February 29, 2012, 04:07 PM   #13
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"Also, because he didn't identify himself as a law enforcement officer until quite some time after he pulled his piece - the 911 switchboard lit up like a Chirstmas tree as patrons were calling in an armed robbery / man with a gun."



While just a few miles north in Wisconsin he would have likely been shot. Which, frankly, he probably would have deserved because at that moment he was just a criminal assaulting someone with a deadly weapon.

And it would have been on video, being in a store.

Which video would have (A) vindicated the shooter and (B) served as a good classroom lesson for LEO's that abuse their power.




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Old February 29, 2012, 04:18 PM   #14
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The OP posed a question:

Quote:
I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts on this. If a complete stranger brandishes a weapon at you, but happens to be a police officer in plain clothes and unidentified, is it legitimate to defend yourself to the ultimate degree?
WeedWacker provided the additional information that shows that this person was actively engaged in a crime at the time of the event.

So, here is my answer: If a complete stranger brandishes a weapon at me, but happens to be a police officer in plain clothes and unidentified, it is NOT legitimate for me to defend myself to the ultimate degreee when I am in the process of committing a criminal act.

It's likely not legal either.
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Old February 29, 2012, 04:42 PM   #15
14VeritasAequitas
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lawnboy:
Quote:
So, here is my answer: If a complete stranger brandishes a weapon at me, but happens to be a police officer in plain clothes and unidentified, it is NOT legitimate for me to defend myself to the ultimate degreee when I am in the process of committing a criminal act.

It's likely not legal either.
Thanks for the response. My question is posed as intended, without regard to the background of the video. The video I attached does not show the motorcylcist committing a crime and that is irrelevant, as the questions is formulated with only the information presented in the original post.
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Old February 29, 2012, 04:43 PM   #16
RamItOne
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didnt read all the posts but...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojpcg...eature=related

3 min mark he looks behind himself and sees the unmarked car, cant tell if his grill flashers are on or not but i think he knew something was up with the car, why else did he look back....
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Old February 29, 2012, 04:48 PM   #17
14VeritasAequitas
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C0ountZero0's example is much more applicable to my post, so if you're reading from here on out, consider this example instead. I used the posted video as an example because that specific cut merely shows a stranger aproaching a citizen while wielding a gun. Whether or not in reality there was criminal context is irrelevant to the purpose of the hypothetical scenario based question.

Quote:
C0untZer0: In Oswego an off-duty deputy was standing behind a pregnant woman in the express lane at Walmart and he got ****** because she had too many items for the express lane so he gets beligerent and starts insulting her and her husband pushes the guy back - the husband doesn't go into all out attack mode - he just pushes the guy away from his wife, and the deputy pulls a gun !!!

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local...139067454.html
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Old February 29, 2012, 04:52 PM   #18
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14VeritasAequitas,

Your original post comes across as anti-cop. Here's why: You included the information that the unidentified person was a cop. If you had actually meant to ask the following:

If a complete stranger brandishes a weapon at you is it legitimate to defend yourself to the ultimate degree?

then why didn't you do so? It looked to me like this was started as an anti law enforcement thread. So I answered it the way it was asked.

I'm not always pro-cop, but I'm always anti criminal.

Now, if you did intend to ask:

If a complete stranger brandishes a weapon at you is it legitimate to defend yourself to the ultimate degree?

my answer is: yes.
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Old February 29, 2012, 05:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
With only that information at hand, I think it is reasonable for the motorcyclist to assume the stranger poses a deadly threat, thus giving him reason draw and shoot at the unidentified stranger in self defense.
The problem with only that information at hand is that if anyone is in commission of a crime and that is why off duty cops are coming after you. They will never be viewed as justified. They will be viewed as a nut on a bike running cars off the road and shooting at police.
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Old February 29, 2012, 05:09 PM   #20
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Quote:
Whether or not in reality there was criminal context is irrelevant to the purpose of the hypothetical scenario based question.
I rather strongly disagree.

If you're in the middle of committing a crime or escaping after committing a crime, there's no point at which anything you do can be considered self defense (especially in states with the felony murder rule). If there's a criminal context to the situation, you have to assume that police are going to be involved, and even if not, if you act out of even legitimate self defense, your butt still deserves to rot in jail forever.

It seems to me like you're trying to redefine a hypothetical situation to where the police are naturally at fault.
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Old February 29, 2012, 05:13 PM   #21
14VeritasAequitas
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lawnboy,

I understand where you're coming from. The reason I created the thread was not to be anti-cop. The reason I posted was because after seeing some examples of off-duty police officers wielding their weapons without identifying themselves, it raised concerns in my mind for the safety of both the citizens AND the officers.

Officers really need to make sure to identify themselves, and also only draw when warranted. The example of the off-duty officer in the grocery line did not warrant drawing a weapon, and as many other people have suggested, regardless of whether he was a LEO or not, at that moment in time, he was just another human being assaulting innocent civilians with a deadly weapon because they had too many grocery items.

*So the concern for the LEOs is, if they aren't trained to identify immediately, in states that allow CCW, they are liable to get shot, legally, if brandishing outside their legitimate powers.

*On the other hand, the dilemna to the civilians is that if they always have to hesitate to wonder whether a threating stranger MIGHT be an off-duty LEO, it could result in law abiding CCW's not being able to effectively defend themselves against TRUE criminals.

So for both LEOs to not have to worry about getting shot by law-abiding CCWers, and for law-abiding CCWers to not worry about hesitating out of uncertainty during a realy attack, a clear understanding needs to be in practice. The best solution is for LEOs to ALWAYS identify themselves (hmm, maybe that's why it's already a requirement). If the LEO doesnt abide by the requirement, could be his loss.
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Old February 29, 2012, 05:15 PM   #22
14VeritasAequitas
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Quote:
I rather strongly disagree.

If you're in the middle of committing a crime or escaping after committing a crime, there's no point at which anything you do can be considered self defense (especially in states with the felony murder rule). If there's a criminal context to the situation, you have to assume that police are going to be involved, and even if not, if you act out of even legitimate self defense, your butt still deserves to rot in jail forever.

It seems to me like you're trying to redefine a hypothetical situation to where the police are naturally at fault.
No, I'm posing a question where there is no criminal fault. The video exerpt I included showed no criminal conduct. Perhaps there was criminal context in early portions of the video, but I was using that specific excerpt just as a visual example. My question pertains to the scenario where there is no fault.
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Old February 29, 2012, 05:25 PM   #23
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Officers really need to make sure to identify themselves, and also only draw when warranted. The example of the off-duty officer in the grocery line did not warrant drawing a weapon, and as many other people have suggested, regardless of whether he was a LEO or not, at that moment in time, he was just another human being assaulting innocent civilians with a deadly weapon because they had too many grocery items.

*So the concern for the LEOs is, if they aren't trained to identify immediately, in states that allow CCW, they are liable to get shot, legally, if brandishing outside their legitimate powers.

*On the other hand, the dilemna to the civilians is that if they always have to hesitate to wonder whether a threating stranger MIGHT be an off-duty LEO, it could result in law abiding CCW's not being able to effectively defend themselves against TRUE criminals.

So for both LEOs to not have to worry about getting shot by law-abiding CCWers, and for law-abiding CCWers to not worry about hesitating out of uncertainty during a realy attack, a clear understanding needs to be in practice. The best solution is for LEOs to ALWAYS identify themselves (hmm, maybe that's why it's already a requirement). If the LEO doesnt abide by the requirement, could be his loss.





Bravo. Well said. A lesson that LEO's should only ignore at their peril.



BTW, although it is irrelevent to the discussion, the hypothetical being set forth that we have no knowlage of prior misconduct by the motorcyclist, the last time I checked, speeding on a motorcycle was not a felony, nor anything that would trigger being threatened with an unholstered firearm by anyone. It's just speeding.


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Old February 29, 2012, 05:31 PM   #24
14VeritasAequitas
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Technosavant:

Quote:
If there's a criminal context to the situation, you have to assume that police are going to be involved, and even if not, if you act out of even legitimate self defense, your butt still deserves to rot in jail forever.
Aside from the topic of this thread, what if it's a crime that is illigitimately illegal? There are plenty of oppressive regimes that outlaw whatever they want. Does that mean somebody who disobeys that law is inherently deserving of rotting in jail forever? What if you lived in Nazi Germany, yet you assisted an innocent Jew; does that make you inherently deserving of punishment? Fortunately laws in America are generally just, but it is ignorant to not recognize the difference between malum prohibitum versus malum in se law.

For those who don't know: a maulm in se law involves an offense that is evil in itself, whereas a malum prohibitum law involves an offense that is wrong only according to an arbitrary prohibition.
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Old February 29, 2012, 05:32 PM   #25
Willie Sutton
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"If you're in the middle of committing a crime or escaping after committing a crime, there's no point at which anything you do can be considered self defense"


OK, so... in my tiny town I roll thru a stop sign, drive off and then exceed the speed limit on the road out of town. I am a criminal fleeing the scene of a crime? And when I am run off the road by a guy in plain clothes driving a car not identifiable as a police car, and he jumps out yelling and waving a gun, I have given up my right to self defense because my *traffic violation* (or my two traffic violations in my example) has caused me to lose my right to protect myself?


Uhhh.... No.




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