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Old November 20, 2006, 04:45 PM   #1
Chris73
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Protecting someone else's life?

Last night I was watching a show on Court TV that showed videos of some of the worst robberies and holdups. One of the incidents really got me mad and my mind started formulating scenarios.

One of the robberies went down like this...

Video footage showed a lady at the counter purchasing something, a man and his wife/gf were down an aisle towards the back of the store. A masked man comes in with a revolver in his hand, "gangsta style" (turned sideways) pointing it at the clerk and comes up right behind the woman at the counter. The thug didn't even see the couple at the back of the store. He was demanding money from the clerk and when he didn't move fast enough for him, he fired a shot above the clerk's head. As the clerk started to open the register, he fired again and hit the clerk in the gut. He then walked out of the store.

First let me state that I live in Florida and have a CCW permit. I also carry my 1911 with me. I wondered what could I have done in this case? I don't have any intentions of coming off like Rambo, so please no flames....

If I were at the back of the store and the thug fired a shot towards the clerk, would I be "permitted" to draw and fire at the thug from behind in an effort to save the clerk's life? I always hear that it wouldn't "look good" to a jury or prosecutor if I shot someone in the back. In this case, I would have no choice, as I wouldn't want to have him turn around and shoot at me if I were to announce myself and order him to drop his weapon.

I have also been in a bank when it got robbed and the thug was threatening to shoot the teller. I was about 10 feet behind him at the time. This was a few years ago and I didn't have a CCW at the time. After that, I applied for it.

What would you do? Just hide and hope he goes away, or God-forbid he decides he doesn't want any witnesses alive and shoots everyone in the store?
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Old November 20, 2006, 05:29 PM   #2
marlboroman84
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In both situations you describe you would be justified. The issue with shooting someone in the back is generally applied to if it's only a confrontation between you and another person, because shooting them then generally means they were running away.

Defense of another's life is shaky ground, but if you know 100% what is going on and there is no doubt in your mind that it's nothing other than what it is, you'd generally be justified.

Florida's laws are very pro-CCW now and give you alot more options than other states. After he even pulled that gun on the clerk, you'd have been justified in shooting him.
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Old November 20, 2006, 05:45 PM   #3
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In PA, it is legal to use lethal force in the stead of someone else who is legally justified in using lethal force to defend himself. So, if this would have happened in PA, you would be justified in using lethal force to defend the store owner.

If I was there, I have no idea what I would really do. However, assuming I would respond and try to stop the actions of the robber, I would probably draw down on the robber either once he drew on the cashier (assuming I saw him draw), or when he fired the first shot. At that point, depending on mannerisms, etc. I would draw on him and order him to drop his weapon no more than twice, at which point, upon the suspect's failure to stop his threatening actions, I would shoot to stop the threat. However, if it looks like the criminal is even more of an imminent threat than he would otherwise be, I would probably shoot to stop the threat. However, this is my .02.
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Old November 20, 2006, 06:25 PM   #4
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Also keep in mind the man in the isle had his wife/gf with him, she would be my first priority. A handgun, even a .45, does not launch a magic bullet. Even if you put seven rounds into him he could still turn and shoot back, possibly striking your significant other.

Legally, yes you would certainly be justified in this case, and in fact if I was alone I would draw and shoot without hesitation. No warnings either btw, that just gives him a chance to take the old lady hostage or shoot the clerk, or both.
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Old November 20, 2006, 06:30 PM   #5
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I've seen that video. Once that warning shot is fired, I'm telling the SO to head for exit, cover and I'm shooting that SOB immediately. (assuming clear backdrop)
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Old November 20, 2006, 06:50 PM   #6
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Three other considerations, besides the criminal angle. First and foremost, the robber you have the drop on might have an accomplice who’s got the drop on you. Your just part of the scenery in the beginning, pulling a gun makes you part of their world, and a guy in the store or right outside the door might only take notice of you once you get involved.

Second, even if the robber can't or doesn’t sue you, if you screw up, anyone else you hit might, like if you hit the shopkeeper.

Finally, how can you be sure you know what's going on. In this case it looks pretty straight forward, but what if the guy behind the counter is a burglar running through the register when the owner sees him and pulls a gun? What if you think you see a mugging and it's a plainclothes cop? There are lots of what ifs. If you are wrong, then you might be going to jail or getting shot yourself.
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Old November 20, 2006, 07:01 PM   #7
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newerguy - I appreciate you offering other scenarios, but in THIS case, the thief was wearing a mask and holding a bag. I don't know many cops that wear halloween masks during a sting. LOL
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Old November 20, 2006, 07:28 PM   #8
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Like I said, this case looks straight forward. However, no one will ever fight that battle again. I'm talking about intervening in general.
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Old November 20, 2006, 07:46 PM   #9
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I have another senario. I did not observe this dirrectly, but was told the story from several people seperatly, all their stories match up so I can say reasonably well that I know what happened.

*Scenario*
A man is outside a store and beating his wife with his fists for whatever reason. She is on the ground begging him to stop.
*End Scenario*

Had I been near and seen this happening I would have positioned myself so I had a safe backstop if I where to miss. ( I wouldn't get so close that he could jump me.) I would then draw my weapon and get the mans attention and tell him to stop it or I will shoot. As I see it, I do not have to give the man a warning but it allows the situation to end without bloodshed. If he tells me to F-off and continues to hit her I would then have to drop the hammer on him until he is no longer a threat to her.

Would this be the correct (Or at least a reasonable) course of action to take? The senario happened as described above but the man eventualy threw his wife into the car and drove off before the police could get there. (They did get the plate number.)
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Old November 20, 2006, 08:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
*Scenario*
A man is outside a store and beating his wife with his fists for whatever reason. She is on the ground begging him to stop.
*End Scenario*
I am a big guy, but I would not consider using a firearm first in a situtation like that. It is much easier to increase your level of force(draw a gun) then it is do go back down a notch. I'd start with something verbal, then go to unarmed physical force, then if I had no other options and I felt someone's life might be in danger, deadly force as a last resort.
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Old November 21, 2006, 01:04 PM   #11
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Not always as it seems

Having spent 12 years as a firefighter/paramedic and having many LEO friends, I've learned that domestic disputes can turn ugly on you in very big hurry. Far too many coppers have been injured or worse when wifey has a sudden change of mind about arresting her Adam Henry husband who was just punching her lights out. Given Crosshair's scenario, I don't think I'd intervene unless I was very certain the AH was about to end her life, either with fists or a weapon. Up until then, I'd have my pistol out, concealed as best as possible and be yelling at the BG to cease and desist. Then, if he decided to come after me, things would certainly get interesting.
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Old November 21, 2006, 02:49 PM   #12
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+1 for Blackwater Ops and newerguy -- watch out for your BG to grab a hostage or have a back-up buddy nearby. There is a 7-11 store within walking distance of my home and any time I approach the store, I slow down to look both inside at what's going on and in the parking lot to see if anything triggers alarms. While inside I'm evaluating the threat level of other folks and even occassionally leaving the store when groups of rowdy young turks enter (this is California after all).

In the first scenario, you need three eyes. One to watch the BG, one to observe the positions and actions of the clerk & old lady customer and one to watch your six for a potential partner of the BG. In that scenario, when he starts shouting for the money, I'm getting my SO behind the best cover possible and drawing. Depending on the time between the robber's first shot and second, once he demonstrates a willingness to fire, he goes down. This is provided that (a)the customer(s) are no where near my line of fire, (b) The clerk is not in line with the BG, (c) a miss won't go out of the front window to endanger others outside. If I do take the shot, it will be without warning and likely be a double-tap to disable him from being a threat. The last thing I want is to shoot the BG and then have to play hide & seek with him in the store until its over.

In the second scenario, the use of non-lethal force is recommended to begin with. As pointed out by Big Don, cries for help may mean only "Stop him from hitting me" and if you turn the man's lights out she's suddenly telling the cops she wasn't in any real danger and her husband didn't really deserve to die. That's when things can get really ugly.

Start with verbal force while putting your pepper spray in your left hand. At my age, I can't go mano v. mano with a younger/larger guy, so repeat the commands loud, clearly and firmly. If he ignores you or fails to comply you can baptize him with pepper spray. If he starts towards you baptize him early & often.

This permits you to present an affirmative defense in any investigation or court proceeding. You tried to stop him with words, then a non-lethal pepper spray (whilst retreating from contact) and finally the danger was so extreme you were compelled to fire.
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Old December 16, 2006, 08:16 PM   #13
James K
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In one SD course, the following scenario was discussed.

You, legally armed, see a young woman running from a house, followed by a man who runs her down, throws her to the pavement and appears to be trying to pin her arms and is beating her in spite of her screams for help and futile resistance. You, being a good guy, shoot that AH who is obviously doing harm to a poor weak woman.

Congratulations! You just shot an FBI agent trying to arrest a nurse suspected of killing 20 patients in a nursing home.

That kind of situation is the reason why some CCW states say specifically that you can use the gun ONLY in defense of yourself or immediate family members, and not try to defend others, even though every instinct says you should.

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Old December 17, 2006, 01:36 AM   #14
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In the first scenario you indicated that there was a masked man at the counter who had just put a warning shot over the clerk's head. Here's some things to remember.

1). You have to assess the situation, do not fixate on masked man, survey the scene to determine if masked man has friends.

2). Get the S.O. to hard cover, if there is none, then you get them to hit the deck and keep thier eyes peeled.

3). Remember that even if you are "trying to help", every round you fire is yours. YOU OWN THEM. You are responsible for whatever the bullets do to others. Be sure of your target and what is beyond. If you have the slightest misgiving about taking the shot, DON'T SHOOT.

4). If you shoot, MOVE. That way if you missed masked man's friends, you have made it harder for them to retaliate by moving and changing the dynamics of thier shot(s).

5). Use concealment and cover whenever it presents itself.

6). These things can be disregarded if the scene demands it of you in order to survive. Not before though.

As for the man beating the woman, yeah, call the cops and use the reasonable continuum of force. Start with verbal and then move up from there as the situation warrants. If he ignores you, then you have a hard choice to make, but shooting him should not be considered unless he stops on her and comes for you with intent to do greivous bodily harm or commit murder. Remember, talking is a good way to keep from shooting in a lot of scenarios. But again, if you have to shoot, then shoot (as per #6 above).

All in all, train to assess, plan and act. No two scenarios that one person may encounter have have any serious chance of being the same (it has happend though).
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Old December 17, 2006, 02:11 AM   #15
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Jim Keenan

That situation seems about as realistic as requiring CCW applicants to qualify at 25 yards. An FBI agent doing an arrest of a dangerous suspect without backup? An FBI agent beating a suspect? Not exactly proper FBI protocol.

Though you do bring up a good point. The proper method, after more reading, would be gradual escalation of force. Just drawing and shooting the guy could lead to all sorts of trouble as you mention.
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Old December 17, 2006, 02:36 PM   #16
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Something to remember (at least in NC and I assume other states) is that intent does not matter. If you defend someone, you just put yourself in their shoes. In the opening scenario, I probably would have drawn as soon as I saw the gun and would have fired at his first shot. However, in the FBI example above, I would be serving life in prison. If you cannot be SURE of the circumstances, you stand the chance of shooting the wrong person because you misunderstood the situation. If I'm walking down the street and see a man about to stab someone else and shoot him, I'm screwed if he happened to be the victim who got the knife away from his attacker (or is defending himself with his own knife). Think about CCW, if you see someone with a gun, do you KNOW that they are the attacker? I often go out in public dressed pretty rough, especially if I've been working on a car or out playing in the mud. If I'm attacked by someone and draw, how many people will think that *I'm* the bad guy just because how I look?
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Old December 17, 2006, 02:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
That situation seems about as realistic as requiring CCW applicants to qualify at 25 yards. An FBI agent doing an arrest of a dangerous suspect without backup? An FBI agent beating a suspect? Not exactly proper FBI protocol.
Proper protocol goes out the window when you're defending yourself. If you see a cop trying to get someone in cuffs, it will often look like they're "beating" them. And who knows, if the agent saw a weapon and the nurse is trying to get it, you can be sure some punches will be thrown to prevent it. To put it in a better perspective, how about an undercover cop working narcotics? They often WILL be alone when the shtf.
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Old December 17, 2006, 05:41 PM   #18
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One of the stupidest things you could do would be to announce yourself and try to enter into some kind of dialogue with the scumbag. If you have an advantage, keep it. Don't wait for the first shot, for crap's sake! That's equally stupid. You gonna wait to see how successful the parasite is with the first shot, before deciding to step up to the plate?

Take the shot! You're in FL, not in some sissy, Democrat-run state!
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Old December 18, 2006, 12:20 AM   #19
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How did we get OFF-TOPIC with bringing in the FBI scenario?

This is about defending the life of the store-owner/employee who has just had a shot zip past his ear already because he didn't get the cash register opened fast enough. The next shot that the BG (did) make was at the clerk, hitting him in the gut. If I'm in the back of the store, how do I know (or not) that the BG isn't a psycho who doesn't want any witnesses alive?

And to think... I could have saved the clerk's life, my significant other, and myself if I had just shot the scum. But I couldn't.... because someone posed the question of, "What if it was an FBI agent"?
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Old December 18, 2006, 01:54 AM   #20
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Quote:
How did we get OFF-TOPIC with bringing in the FBI scenario?
Because as a gun owner and carrier, it's something that everyone needs to consider and think of. While most of the people on this forum would not hesitate to use force for the aid of another person, many people haven't considered the possibility that they may mistake the the victim for the attacker. In a gas station hold up, it's going to be pretty obvious. On the street, it might not be.

Quote:
If I'm in the back of the store, how do I know (or not) that the BG isn't a psycho who doesn't want any witnesses alive?
Basically, that statement is the kind of thing that makes the FBI scenario relevant. In most situations where you are not the victim but rather coming to the victim's aid, you are in the "how do I know (or not)" stage.
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Old December 18, 2006, 06:47 AM   #21
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I would hope that most of us could tell an assault from an arrest. And secondly you will rarely see an agent or officer make a bust alone for the simple fact that they are not sure what they are up against. Also they will identify themselves before they bust in guns blazing. Basically I am saying they will not act as a group of common thugs. Honestly guys, It will be very rare to be caught in the middle of a shooting and not know who is who.

These guys have a hard enough job without us mistaking them for BGs. Analyze the situation first, If you're not close enough to know whats happening, You're not close enough to get involved.
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Old December 18, 2006, 07:58 AM   #22
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Helping Others

I believe I once a read a distinction - and an important one - between the legal test for self-defense and the legal test for defense of others, and I assume I saw it under NY State law.

While in SD a reasonable belief (one that would be so held by any reasonable person) that one's life - or severe bodily injury - was imminently threatened and there was no alternative but to take lethal SD action is the standard, this was not enough when taking the same action to save others.

Then the reasonable belief had to, IN FACT, be true, they were ACTUALLY being lethally jepordized by an assailant. If you are wrong, you pay the piper, beliefs, reasonable or otherwise, are not enough. Becasue it's one step removed from a personal action taken under the extremest stress, there is a greater requirement for objective certainty.

Anyway, I seem to recall this from somewhere regarding our state law.
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Old December 21, 2006, 01:18 PM   #23
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Intent Does matter

I don't want to jump in here, but I hate to see things stated as fact which are not. Dave421, in North Carolina (and most other states) intent does matter. It is one of the elements in almost every crime. I would hate to see someone hesitate to come to the aid of a person under attack due to something they had read on the Internet.

The appropriate standard is "reasonable and prudent". If your actions are reasonable and prudent they are generally allowed. Civil cases are entirely different so you can be sued for just about anything including doing nothing.

John
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Old December 21, 2006, 02:59 PM   #24
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This is a State related issue, I know here in New York they frown if you are defending yourself, if you come to the aid of another with a firearm they will try and hang you. That came straight from the local police detectives as to how the DA handles these matters, they try to discourage 3rd party non-leo shootings. You can do what your heart tells you, but it will cost you thousands in defense funds even if you are aquitted, plus you risk jail time and fines if they judge you wrong. I don't think its a smart gambit, even though its been a question asked by many over the years. You just can't count on a jury seeing things your way. If your life was imperiled, however, thats a different story.
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Old December 21, 2006, 03:18 PM   #25
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I am sure its been mentioned. When the perp pulled his handgun, he became fair game. When he fired the first shot, the situation begged for redress. When he shot the clerk, his life was forfeit. I would have most likely killed him, since he had demonstrated intent to kill others, and my being in the store put my life at risk as well.
With no shot fired, I would have let him leave, as long as he did not directly threaten me.
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