I started a new thread, because while my thoughts were spurred from the "c'mon people" thread I felt my story warranted its own discussion. I say this because it was another one of those situations where at first sight a more forceful response appears justified - at first. I'd encourage others to share their experiences with situations that remind us "things aren't always what they seem", and when force might seem reasonable at first, but truly wasn't.
Please forgive the length; if you bear through it I think you'll find the lessons learned and questions worth while.
First the background. This occur prior to my CC days, in a town of about 20k. There is a high level of domestic abuse, but little violent crime beyond that. (A homicide once every few years, usually by drunk cowboys.)
Few years ago I went for a walk in the afternoon. On my way back home I heard a young male voice yelling from somewhere out of sight. Some of it was profanity, some just screaming. The three words I distinctly remembered hearing was "Get off me!". Being who I am, and having worked in domestic abuse situations I followed the sound around to the back of a house. No fence, no one in particular that I knew and as I walked back my expectation was abusive dad and I was going to encounter trouble.
[Pause: At this point I imagine many would be on an extreme heightened alert. I was. However, there are many justifiable reasons for what I'd heard up to this point. Brothers wrestling for one.]
Here is what I see as I round the corner. Black scrawny teenager (14ish) face down in the ground. Larger white man in his late 40's knee on the kids back and twisting his arm pinning the kid to the ground. The man had a bloody lip. A white woman standing off in the back crying, but seeming unhurt.
[Pause: What would be going through your mind at this point? Do you take charge? Do you feel threatened enough to ponder your gun? Do you say something like "WHAT THE F is going ON?" .. I mention skin color because the town this occurred in is 99.8% white, so the sight of a big white guy on a scrawny black teen was out of place given the context]
I'm a fairly mellow in personality. In a calm voice I ask what's going on. The man explains the kid is his son, that he threw something at his mom and was getting violent. The mom doesn't say anything or acknowledge my presence. The boy keeps cussing, and begging me to help him. The dad tells the teen to shut-up and hold still.
[Pause: Same question as above. It appears I have an abusive dad holding beating up a kid and coming up with a story that I've heard many abusive dad's tell me. The mom is shell shocked and no help. Do I take charge and order the man off the kid. Do I attempt to appeal to the wisdom of the dad to resolve this differently? I already know I'll be calling the cops soon, but I'm concerned for the safety of the boy.]
The kid thrashes around more, the dad puts more weight on the back and arm of the kid, slamming into him yelling at him to hold still.
I've not said anymore but am standing there watching. The dad addresses me and says they adopted the boy a few years ago and this type of behavior is common - that they've had a lot of violent problems with him. The dad seems coherent as he talks to me. He said his wife already called the police and they are on the way. I address the wife and ask if its true, which she confirms.
For about 5 minutes the dad and kid struggle, at which time two officers walk into the back yard. The Sgt, says something like "Hey, Charlie. Having a bad day?". The other officer walks over to the father and son, have the dad get up and restrains the teen himself placing hand-cuffs on him.
The sgt. asks who I am. Give him name, explain how I got there. He nods, and says I can take off. No statement is needed they've worked with charlie and his family before.
Here is why I think the story is relevant for the board. At first sight the situation clearly looks like an abusive father taking it out on a teen. While IMO it is not justified to draw a gun, it is a situation that I could see some people doing so. At the least, I see it being a situation where a person of a different personality might be more aggressive about ordering the dad off the kid, etc.
However, the dad was fully within his rights, and obligations as a parent, and had I responded with any level of force I could have likely found myself in a pickle when the police arrived.
Merits of getting involved in any 3rd party situation aside, things are not always what they seem. What situations have you encountered and found that to be true?