27 August 2014

Attacked by a skateboard, justified deadly force?

An ongoing theme in America seems to be what justifies the use of deadly force by both police and citizens.  The generally agreed upon definition of deadly force is any force that is likely to cause serious permanent physical injury or death.  Some mistakenly believe that an attacker needs to have a gun for the cop or citizen to be justified in shooting them.  This is absolutely not the case.

Recently, an attack really hit home for me.  You can read about it here.  Basically, a local fella was walking across a bank parking lot around 10:44 at night along with his pregnant wife.  Three subjects began to verbally harass his wife calling her a "fat ass" among other things.  The victim told them to knock it off at which point they confronted him.  During this confrontation, he was struck in the head with a skateboard.  After he was down and unconscious, a black male produced a gun and punched him in the head several more times.  The primary suspect who is 18 is in custody and the investigation continues.  The victim is in a coma and is not expected to survive.  So, now his unborn child will be fatherless.

The reason I know so much about this is that it happened in my town, or in town from where I live.  The American Legion of which I am a Legionnaire, as well as a Legion Rider, is next door to the Wells Fargo.  Last week I was there four times and that lot is where I park my bike.  Just minutes ago I got back from my buddy's computer shop which is on the same block.  The area even at night, being part of the town square, is well lit.

This has caused me to play the scenario over and over again in my head.  Here are my thoughts for the citizen, both armed and unarmed.

People that frequent the area, especially the Legion, said that they would have shot him.   I explained that chances are it would not be an option.  See those that carry guns often like to conjure up fantastical scenarios where there is some kind of a stand off that allows for a red light / green light reaction.  The skateboard being an impact weapon, usually swung with two hands, requires that the attacker be very close.  If you are likely enough to see it coming, it will appear as a blur and you might not even process that anything is being swung at you.  Bottom line is that once you are in a close contact confrontation you need open hand skills and the first thing you need to protect is your head.

Can you imagine if this 18 year old was black and the person attacked was a white police officer who shot and killed him, or even just punched him in the face?  The story would read "White police officer severely injures / shoots black teen who he says "attacked" him with a skateboard.  Now, after reading the above story, you have a better context and understanding of what any impact weapon could do.

Interpersonal violence is misunderstood by our society including law enforcement leadership.  There is absolutely no such thing as "unarmed".  Also don't delude yourself by thinking that since you mind your own business, are old, a woman, handicapped, or whatever that you will not be targeted.  Those are the things that predators look for.  Remember- AWARENESS-AVOIDANCE- AGGRESSION

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