Disparity of force.......in the real world

This is a discussion on Disparity of force.......in the real world within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I just got off the phone with a very close buddy of mine. Great guy, but like many great guys, there's a black sheep in ...

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Thread: Disparity of force.......in the real world

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    VIP Member Array David in FL's Avatar
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    Disparity of force.......in the real world

    I just got off the phone with a very close buddy of mine. Great guy, but like many great guys, there's a black sheep in his family. This particular black sheep is his older brother and was just tried before a jury for assault with a deadly weapon here in Florida. I thought that the circumstances (and result) were worth sharing, given the number of discussions that take place on this forum surrounding the use of deadly force, specifically as it relates to a situation where the victim reacts to what he/she considers to be a vast disparity of force between himself/herself and his/her attacker(s).

    The circumstances leading to the arrest are as follows...... Brother black sheep is sitting around in a bar with a bunch of friends when another guy joins the group. The other guy claims that black sheep stole something from him, and of course black sheep denies the allegation. The other guy, mid 30's, 6' 3" and over 250 lbs picks up a chair and charges black sheep. Black sheep, who is 58 years old, 5'9" and 145 lbs soaking wet decides that the other guy represents a real threat to his life based on the disparity of their size and ages. He pulls a folding knife and cuts the big guy on his forearm as he swings the chair at him. Other patrons pull the two apart and the bartender calls the police.......next step, trial by jury for ADW.

    In the interest of full disclosure, the black sheep in question here is no saint. He has a prior criminal record and was hanging out with other people of equally questionable character. It's important to understand though, the jury never learned of his prior bad acts or any other references to his character beyond the actual circumstances surrounding the incident itself. The defense was based on the disparity of force between the two men and the fact that black sheep was attacked by the larger man and was simply defending himself while in fear of death or grievous bodily harm. The jury found that the force he used in doing so was inappropriate and convicted. On Monday, the judge awarded him the absolute minimum (mandatory) sentence allowed by law......

    ......15 years in the state pen.

    Judged by 12 rather than carried by 6 is all well and fine, but my buddy's brother is going to be 70 years old before he has any chance at freedom again.

    What would you have done in similar circumstances? Something to think about the next time we consider those disparity of force scenarios........

    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

    Theodore Roosevelt

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  3. #2
    EdC
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    Quote Originally Posted by David in FL View Post
    ...... Brother black sheep is sitting around in a bar with a bunch of friends when another guy joins the group. The other guy claims that black sheep stole something from him, and of course black sheep denies the allegation. The other guy, . . . picks up a chair and charges black sheep. Black sheep . . . decides that the other guy represents a real threat to his life based on the disparity of their size and ages. He pulls a folding knife and cuts the big guy on his forearm as he swings the chair at him.
    Sorry about your brother. 15 years is an awful long time for just cutting someone on the forearm. However, I think a lot might have happened between the denial of the allegation and other guy picking up the chair and charging, for a jury to convict.

    I have more questions than additional comments, though. Black sheep had time to pull a knife and engage, but not enough time to get out of the way of the chair? So if it were me, I'm thinking more evasive tactics rather than counter attack in such a situation.

    Hard to put myself in the situation,as there's much about the situation I don't know. It would be interesting to read a transcript of the trial, and know what the witnesses' testimony was.

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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Yep, this happens as a criminal case result. :|

    What would I do?
    Get the absolute best attorney I can find regardless of cost.
    If it takes me 15 yrs. to pay off the attorneys fee debt then so be it. It's better than losing and spending 15 yrs. in the pen _and_ still owing attorneys fees.

    Another example of how having pepper spray on hand to simma down an ape can be better than leaping straight to lethal force measures/tools.
    If it doesn't work then well okay you tried and the jury will recognize as much too.

    - Janq
    "Killers who are not deterred by laws against murder are not going to be deterred by laws against guns. " - Robert A. Levy

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    VIP Member Array Paco's Avatar
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    That does in fact seem a bit harsh for Brother Black Sheep. Myself being 6' 0" 230(ish) Lbs I'd give the chair man a swift kick in the nuts on his way over with the chair. If I were the size and build of Brother Black Sheep I would probably have done the very same thing, I might have tried to duck the first swing, since swinging a chair isn't the fastest of actions I'd think the intentions would be fairly well telegraphed.
    "Don't hit a man if you can possibly avoid it; but if you do hit him, put him to sleep." - Theodore Roosevelt

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    Distinguished Member Array mr.stuart's Avatar
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    Sitting in a bar was his first mistake. Mix people and booze and trouble is easy to find.

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    VIP Member Array semperfi.45's Avatar
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    IME, knife attacks or defenses never fair well in front of a grand jury.

    Unless there's more to the story that wasn't disclosed, this seems like it should have been downgraded to a lesser charge and plea bargained. Of course if there is a significant criminal past (ie. repeat offender) for Brother Black Sheep then I can see why the state went to trial.
    Training means learning the rules. Experience means learning the exceptions.

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    VIP Member Array David in FL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdC View Post
    Sorry about your brother. 15 years is an awful long time for just cutting someone on the forearm. However, I think a lot might have happened between the denial of the allegation and other guy picking up the chair and charging, for a jury to convict.

    I have more questions than additional comments, though. Black sheep had time to pull a knife and engage, but not enough time to get out of the way of the chair? So if it were me, I'm thinking more evasive tactics rather than counter attack in such a situation.

    Hard to put myself in the situation,as there's much about the situation I don't know. It would be interesting to read a transcript of the trial, and know what the witnesses' testimony was.

    Not my brother, my buddy's. The black sheep in my family aren't in jail, yet.......
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

    Theodore Roosevelt

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    VIP Member Array David in FL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janq View Post
    Yep, this happens as a criminal case result. :|

    What would I do?
    Get the absolute best attorney I can find regardless of cost.
    If it takes me 15 yrs. to pay off the attorneys fee debt then so be it. It's better than losing and spending 15 yrs. in the pen _and_ still owing attorneys fees.

    Another example of how having pepper spray on hand to simma down an ape can be better than leaping straight to lethal force measures/tools.
    If it doesn't work then well okay you tried and the jury will recognize as much too.

    - Janq

    I couldn't agree more. I always say, when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem tends to look like a nail. This is a perfect example.

    I also think it's important for a lot of people to understand how tenuous a disparity of force defense can be.....even in a very pro self-defense state like FL.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

    Theodore Roosevelt

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    Distinguished Member Array GWRedDragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David in FL View Post
    I also think it's important for a lot of people to understand how tenuous a disparity of force defense can be.....even in a very pro self-defense state like FL.
    What I would take from this would probably be more that if you have a prior criminal record, your actions will always be viewed with higher suspicion. Not that in theory you wouldn't have the same right to self-defense, but perhaps for people who have such a record it needs to be taken into account when choosing a response to an attack.

    Also, I don't think defense with a knife looks good to a jury. I don't carry one (they are mostly illegal to carry in VA anyway). In this situation I would almost certainly attempt to retreat if possible, even though I am not technically required to do so...any fight in a bar immediately brings 'bar brawl' and thus 'mutual combat' into the minds of jury members.
    "Trust in God with hand on sword" -Inscription on my family's coat of arms from medieval England
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    VIP Member Array David in FL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GWRedDragon View Post
    What I would take from this would probably be more that if you have a prior criminal record, your actions will always be viewed with higher suspicion. Not that in theory you wouldn't have the same right to self-defense, but perhaps for people who have such a record it needs to be taken into account when choosing a response to an attack.
    This was a jury trial. The jury had no knowledge of any criminal record or character issues whatsoever. The judge chose to impose the absolute minimum sentence allowed by law after the jury convicted.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

    Theodore Roosevelt

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    Distinguished Member Array TerriLi's Avatar
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    At 115 pounds myself I have learned that even if the guy tops 300 pounds and has a weapon that he's swinging you still are on the wrong side if you go to lethal force. Still, I think when the size difference and weapon are thrown in its pretty clear they mean great bodily harm/death.
    I know not what this "overkill" means.

    Honing the knives, Cleaning the longguns, Stocking up ammo.

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    Distinguished Member Array GWRedDragon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David in FL View Post
    This was a jury trial. The jury had no knowledge of any criminal record or character issues whatsoever. The judge chose to impose the absolute minimum sentence allowed by law after the jury convicted.
    Yes, but if someone with felony convictions attacked someone like me (a couple speeding tickets is the extent of my 'record'), I'd think the prosecutor would give more benefit of the doubt.

    Still, the fact that it happened in a bar was probably the deciding factor for the jury.
    "Trust in God with hand on sword" -Inscription on my family's coat of arms from medieval England
    ---Carry options: G26/MTAC, PF9/MiniTuck, PPK/Pocket, USP40/OWB---
    ---NOTE: I am not an expert. If I ever start acting like a know-it-all, please call me on it immediately. ---

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    VIP Member Array David in FL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GWRedDragon View Post
    Yes, but if someone with felony convictions attacked someone like me (a couple speeding tickets is the extent of my 'record'), I'd think the prosecutor would give more benefit of the doubt.

    Still, the fact that it happened in a bar was probably the deciding factor for the jury.

    Sadly, I think you're missing the point here.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

    Theodore Roosevelt

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    VIP Member Array Patti's Avatar
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    He should file an appeal
    Socialism is the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy. Winston Churchill

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    Senior Member Array highoctane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GWRedDragon View Post
    Yes, but if someone with felony convictions attacked someone like me (a couple speeding tickets is the extent of my 'record'), I'd think the prosecutor would give more benefit of the doubt.

    Still, the fact that it happened in a bar was probably the deciding factor for the jury.
    The jury wont have any knowlege of prior felony convictions or your speeding tickets. They will only be presented the facts pertaining to this specific case. I just sat on a jury for a drug selling charge. His attorney was trying to say he was set up. He was a good kid that made one bad decision, etc. Come to find out he was one of the leaders in a local gang and they had been after him for years. The jury had NO clue. Didnt find out until after their decision was made.

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