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Old October 27, 2018, 02:08 PM   #16
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 9,123
Originally Posted by Solovist View Post
....What im wondering is did i do the right thing in not going down? I was unaware of this law at the time, and even knowing it i feel it could have made the situation worse....
Staying put and calling the police was probably the best idea under the circumstances.

Intervening in defense of another can raise complex complex issues, and what would constitute an appropriate response is highly dependent on (1) exactly what is happening and how it is happening; (2) how well you really understand what is going on; and (3) what your true skill level is.
  1. This has been discussed at length on this board, including here, here, here, and here.

  2. The threshold question must always be is, "Do you really know what is actually going on?"

    1. You might be legally justified in using lethal force in defense of others, but in doing so, you generally step into the shoes of the person you are defending. If that person would have been justified to use lethal force to defend himself, you would be justified in using lethal force in his defense. But if not, your act of violence would be a criminal act subjecting you to prosecution, conviction and jail (in some jurisdictions you might still avoid legal liability if you made a reasonable mistake).

    2. So if you are considering using force in defense of someone, are you sure you know what happened? Are you sure you know who the original aggressor was? Are you sure that the person you intend to help is the innocent good guy? If you think you know, but are wrong, you are risking jail and your family's future.

      1. You might think a kid is being kidnapped, but no one is going to be giving you the key to the city for shooting the father taking his kid, in mid-tantrum, outside for a "time out.

      2. The guy you think is beating up an old lady might be a caregiver trying to get a confused and combative Alzheimer patient out of traffic to safety.

      3. You think that a scruffy bum is beating up some guy, but you won't get a medal for shooting an undercover cop trying to arrest a pimp who is resisting. You'll be going to jail instead.

      4. And you certainly won't be getting any congratulations if you injure an innocent bystander in the process.

      5. And if you think you know, but are wrong, you will be shooting the innocent good guy.

    3. If you can't be absolutely sure what's going on, you can still do a few things that could help while minimizing jeopardy to you and minimizing the risk of making hash of things.

      1. Call 911,

      2. Be a good witness

      3. Take notes,

      4. Take photos,

      5. Let those folks involved in the apparent conflict know they've been seen,

      6. Be prepared to defend yourself if necessary.

    4. There's an adage from medicine which applies here. "First, do no harm."

Originally Posted by Solovist View Post
...TLDR; If i follow the law and use force to assist someone being assaulted, am i shielded by the law if i have to use deadly force BECAUSE I went down to help?
First, let's be clear that intervening isn't necessarily following the law. The law doesn't require you to intervene. The law gives you some protection if you choose to use force to try to help some innocent person (understanding that you can still have downside risk if the person you help actually isn't innocent).

As far as you being protected, that again depends on exactly what is happening and how it is happening.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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