justification for lethal force with knife????

This is a discussion on justification for lethal force with knife???? within the Defensive Knives & Other Weapons forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Its going to take a few sentences to lay out the questions for you all. Not even sure this is quite the right forum, because ...

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Thread: justification for lethal force with knife????

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    justification for lethal force with knife????

    Its going to take a few sentences to lay out the questions for you all.
    Not even sure this is quite the right forum, because it is a little more about martial arts than knives.

    Scenario--you are unarmed and confronted by a knife wielder; or perhaps you are armed with a handgun and confronted with a knife wielder.

    You see an opportunity to disarm and after a one second encounter you are now holding the knife; maybe you've broken someone's finger too.

    In one martial arts style I was taught the instant follow through would be to use the knife you now hold and finish your assailant off.

    Today, I was taking some Krav lessons, not the art I started with, and the instructor made a comment along the lines of, " in some schools they teach to use the knife instantly on your opponent; we suggest you try to break it off while you are holding the weapon and leave."

    Well, that got me thinking. Lethal force is OK to stop the threat.

    Would the threat be considered over when you are holding the knife? I think not. Or at least not necessarily. The guy might just continue to attack with bare hands and brute force.

    With our handguns, the rule seems to be that if the opponent is holding a weapon, or there is a disparity of force, you can use lethal force to stop the threat. But in the scene I just outlined, the instant you gain possession of the knife, the disparity of force shifts in your favor, and the grave lethal threat against you has stopped, or at least diminished.

    So, what do you all think is lawful in these hand to hand situations--go ahead and plunge the knife in the split second you get hold of it, or
    what? What are you to do if you feel the fight is going to continue?

    I guess ideally you would want to use a martial art skill to so damage the assailant that he couldn't recover the knife; but that isn't something you can ever be sure of pulling off.

    What say you guys and gals? Is it lawful to use a knife you have just taken from an assailant on an "unarmed" and perhaps injured BG?

    (Answers should assume this all happens in seconds with no time to dance around and do a victory wave while holding the knife above your head yelling "I won.")

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    VIP Member Array miklcolt45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    What say you guys and gals? Is it lawful to use a knife you have just taken from an assailant on an "unarmed" and perhaps injured BG?

    (Answers should assume this all happens in seconds with no time to dance around and do a victory wave while holding the knife above your head yelling "I won.")
    Hopyard,

    As always, the answer depends on your state/laws, but IMO, and with the laws of FL (my state), I would say 'no' to finishing someone off. If he is subdued, and the threat is no longer imminent, walk away.

    If the fight starts back up, it's on until the threat is stopped.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliott

    The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by miklcolt45 View Post
    Hopyard,

    As always, the answer depends on your state/laws, but IMO, and with the laws of FL (my state), I would say 'no' to finishing someone off. If he is subdued, and the threat is no longer imminent, walk away.

    If the fight starts back up, it's on until the threat is stopped.
    couldn't have been said better.

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    VIP Member Array automatic slim's Avatar
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    Miklcolt45 is right, jurisdiction is the key. In Tuscon I would say finish him, in NYC I would say run like hell before HE calls the cops and charges you with larceny.
    "First gallant South Carolina nobly made the stand."
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    In Tx I would say finish the threat,you are in a life or death battle and during the dfight he was stabbed with his own knife
    "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
    --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    Its going to take a few sentences to lay out the questions for you all.
    Not even sure this is quite the right forum, because it is a little more about martial arts than knives.

    Scenario--you are unarmed and confronted by a knife wielder; or perhaps you are armed with a handgun and confronted with a knife wielder.

    You see an opportunity to disarm and after a one second encounter you are now holding the knife; maybe you've broken someone's finger too.

    In one martial arts style I was taught the instant follow through would be to use the knife you now hold and finish your assailant off.

    Today, I was taking some Krav lessons, not the art I started with, and the instructor made a comment along the lines of, " in some schools they teach to use the knife instantly on your opponent; we suggest you try to break it off while you are holding the weapon and leave."

    Well, that got me thinking. Lethal force is OK to stop the threat.

    Would the threat be considered over when you are holding the knife? I think not. Or at least not necessarily. The guy might just continue to attack with bare hands and brute force.

    With our handguns, the rule seems to be that if the opponent is holding a weapon, or there is a disparity of force, you can use lethal force to stop the threat. But in the scene I just outlined, the instant you gain possession of the knife, the disparity of force shifts in your favor, and the grave lethal threat against you has stopped, or at least diminished.

    So, what do you all think is lawful in these hand to hand situations--go ahead and plunge the knife in the split second you get hold of it, or
    what? What are you to do if you feel the fight is going to continue?

    I guess ideally you would want to use a martial art skill to so damage the assailant that he couldn't recover the knife; but that isn't something you can ever be sure of pulling off.

    What say you guys and gals? Is it lawful to use a knife you have just taken from an assailant on an "unarmed" and perhaps injured BG?

    (Answers should assume this all happens in seconds with no time to dance around and do a victory wave while holding the knife above your head yelling "I won.")
    It sounds to me like you have a smart Instructor.

    You were justified in using lethal force to stop the attack, but scenarios are dynamic and change. You now have the "upper hand" so to speak and are giving the badguy a chance to change his or her mind. I say her because I was attacked by a woman in her 70's with an 8" knife.

    Knives are thought of as weapons of hoodlums and hooligans, not the law abiding good guy or gal. While we may use one out of necessity, there can be and has been a lot of "political" baggage that can come with using a knife.

    Attempting to break off the fight when you hold the "upper hand" is a good thing to do. Not from a "tactical" standpoint, but rather from a courtroom survival standpoint. You can equate it to issuing a verbal challenge to a home intruder from a position of cover. If the challenge works, great you now get to hold a badguy for the responding LEO's or he flees. If not, you at least gave him the opportunity to correct his erroneous ways.

    Biker
    Last edited by BikerRN; July 21st, 2009 at 01:50 AM. Reason: typo

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    Senior Member Array highoctane's Avatar
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    Great question. Ill be watching this thread. I would guess that if the threat stops when you get the knife its over. If he continues to attack then you have to do what you have to do.

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    Scenario--you are unarmed and confronted by a knife wielder; or perhaps you are armed with a handgun and confronted with a knife wielder.
    If attacked, I believe anything to survive it is justified, up to the point the threat is eliminated. If that involves "plunging" the knife into the attacker, so be it. Though, if the threat has terminated prior to that point, so be it. Depends on the situation's flow.
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    Senior Member Array PaulG's Avatar
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    I guess I feel a little differently about the legalities.

    The laws in my jurisdiction will have very little to do with what my reaction is.

    My rule is that I will use lethal force ONLY when I judge that it is ABSOLUTELY unavoidable.

    If I feel that I am going to be seriously injured or killed, I certainly am not going to break off the attack because the state says I can't continue.

    Also, just because the state says that I am justified in killing someone, I am not going to do it unless there is no other way.

    Appying this to the original question: if after I disarm the guy, I feel that he is strong enough, skilled enough, etc to retake the knife AND it appears to me that he will try to do it, then I will try to reduce his ability to do so with what ever means I have, including using his knife on him.

    If I feel fairly confident that I am in a superior position, i.e. skill, strength, ability, etc., I will definitely back off and give him a chance to break off his attack.
    fortiter in re, suaviter in modo (resolutely in action, gently in manner).

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    Having had a brief stint in Corrections, and talked with many officers who survived shanking attempts, the most significant difference is the obligation to subdue.

    If you successfully disarm a mugger and he breaks contact, it will be pretty clear they are escaping. If they are facing you and not running, an/or are holding on to you, they want to finish you off.

    One officer I worked with was asked in trial, on an "excessive force" complaint, why she had bitten off one of the convict's nipples and ruptured one of his testicles. Her response: "Your honor, I was fighting for my life. I bit, wrenched and hit anything he put close to my body."

    Clear 'nuff?

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    This is another excellent point to repeat the mantra, "Officer, this person made me fear for my life and I had to defend myself. I'm not trying to be some punk pleading the 5th here, but we both know that I shouldn't say anything else without an attorney present."

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    Senior Member Array 2edgesword's Avatar
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    The threat is not over simply because you are holding the knife.

    If the attacker takes off after you have gained control of the knife then you're not justified in chasing him down and stabbing him.

    But what if the attacker continues the fight he could very well be attempting to regain control over the knife? Would the attackers attempt to regain control of the knife be considered a further attempt to use deadly physical force against you?

    Are you justified in shooting someone if they are attempting to disarm you of your firearm? I believe the answer to that question is yes and I would imagine the same would hold true with respect to a knife you have taken from a knife welding attacker.

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    In PA, if he is no longer a viable threat then you are not justified. I know 2 people that have done jail time for going beyond what the law interprited as a justified response. Nobody died in either incident and I believe they were both probably in the right for what they did but the DA didn't see it that way.
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    Senior Member Array 2edgesword's Avatar
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    "In PA, if he is no longer a viable threat then you are not justified."

    This could become the difficult issue when in the middle of an altercation versus during a discussion of what occurred at trial. If the attacker is running away then it is absolutely clear that using deadly physical force against them (chasing them down and stabbing them in anger) is not justified.

    On the other hand if the attacker continues the attack it could be difficult or impossible to determine what their intentions might be. Yes, they are unarmed at the moment but the continued struggle may be an attempt to retrieve the knife to finish the job they started. Or maybe they are looking to take possession of what they perceive as there property (the knife) and run.

    The person attacked, who is pumped up with adrenaline and fear, doesn't have the luxury of quiet contemplation to consider all the potential possibililities. What may seem reasonable and apparent during a discussion of the incident a year later during the trial may not have been so apparent during those seconds when you are in jeapardy of losing your life.

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    Distinguished Member Array MinistrMalic's Avatar
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    IMAO, if he has attacked you with a knife then he is using deadly force against you. You can't know if he has other weapons on him, or whether his intent has changed. If he attacked you with a knife, at least in my jurisdiction you would still reasonably be in fear of your life and justified in using lethal force against him.
    "...whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one." (Luke 22:36)
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