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Armed citizens and the "escalation" bugaboo

This is a discussion on Armed citizens and the "escalation" bugaboo within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; There are two aspects to this: the legal side, and the real-world consequences side - in other words, is it a good idea Legally, in ...

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  1. #16
    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    There are two aspects to this: the legal side, and the real-world consequences side - in other words, is it a good idea

    Legally, in neither of the scenarios you suggest has the person done anything likely to earn the ire of a judge or jury, as long as they're not verbally abusive.

    But is it a good idea? That depends on the particulars. If the people blaring vulgar music in a park are the kind of people I'd expect to blare vulgar music in a park, it's probably better to move elsewhere, or inform the police. For waving at the car - has that ever actually worked?
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoyVA View Post
    I have used my horn many times over the years for a number of reasons. To alert someone of a change in traffic patterns (think not moving when a light turns green), someone edging over into my lane while I am either next to them or coming up close to them, someone pulling suddenly in front of me and hitting their brakes (when it doesn't appear to be an antagonistic move), and a host of other reasons. I do attempt to avoid confrontations, especially when armed, which is nearly always. I doubt that blowing one's horn in these situations would be viewed as escalating an encounter, though in truth you never really know, do you?

    BTW, I have also used my horn to get someone's attention to a situation they are close to entering when it is obvious they do not know this (think playing with a stupid phone or doing something else instead of concentrating on their driving).
    There was a case in the Richmond area a few years ago. My daughter and son-in-law, who are local lawyers, knew the defense attorney, the prosecutor and the judge, so they followed the case as I did.

    Guy A, who is a CC permit holder, was described as small in stature and who apparently had not been drinking, attempts to pull into a parking lot of a bar, but his passage is blocked by Guys B and C whose car is blocking the entrance while they are chatting with someone. B and C are Russian competitive weightlifters who have been drinking most of the day. Guy A honks his horn. B and C get their backs up and start berating A. A argues with them, but B and C eventually move their car. All three go into the bar. A ignores B and C, but B and C decide to start harassing A in the bar. Guy A leaves and goes home.

    Unbeknownst to A, the two weightlifters follow him home to his apartment complex. They see A get on the elevator. One of the weightlifters goes up the stairs. The other takes the next elevator. The weightlifters corner A in the hallway on his floor and come at him in a threatening manner. A draws and shoots them both, killing one and wounding one.

    A is charged with second degree murder. The rationale for the prosecution is not excessive force. It is that A was a party to starting the fight by honking his horn and then engaging in the arguments, that both times were started by B and C. The story has a happy ending, with some cautions. The trial by judge went all the way to the verdict, which was not guilty. The judge said the prosecutor should never have pursued the case based on the facts. However, the judge said it turned on the fact that A had left the original scene and "retreated" to his home. If he had engaged with the weightlifters at the original scene, even though they were the aggressors, he could not have claimed self defense because he did contribute to starting the altercation. His "retreat" gave him back his ability to claim self defense.

    Of course, this whole thing probably cost Guy A a lot of money and many months of worry about whether or not he was going to prison. Another judge, or a jury, could have seen it differently. We can second guess all we want about carrying into bars, which is legal in VA as long as you don't drink. But the same scenario could have happened a lot of places.

    I think the lesson is that you have to show a higher level of restraint if you are carrying because of the possible consequences. The fact that SD is an affirmative defense means essentially that in an SD shooting, you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
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    Re Georgia law: Some examples: Amos v. State and Woodward v. State

    Both cases relate to sufficiency of evidence to support a conviction, and both touch on evidence relating to the appellants being the aggressor.

    The actions of the convicted go far beyond a toot of the horn or asking someone to turn down offensive music. Unless any of you have serious anger issues or self-control issues, I don't think you have a lot to worry about.
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  5. #19
    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmf552 View Post
    I think the lesson is that you have to show a higher level of restraint if you are carrying because of the possible consequences. The fact that SD is an affirmative defense means essentially that in an SD shooting, you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
    I agree with that, but I think one should practice a high level of restraint, regardless of whether one is carrying. Imagine the story you told, except "A" didn't have the gun. He probably would not have been prosecuted, but he may well have gotten the stuffing beaten out of him.

    The rule I'd suggest is: before getting into a confrontation of any kind, consider what you stand to gain by it. In the vast majority of cases, there's nothing to be gained and no reason to engage at all; but (as I said in the other thread) humans are wired to puff out their chests when they don't like what others are doing.
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  6. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmf552 View Post
    There was a case in the Richmond area a few years ago. My daughter and son-in-law, who are local lawyers, knew the defense attorney, the prosecutor and the judge, so they followed the case as I did.

    Guy A, who is a CC permit holder, was described as small in stature and who apparently had not been drinking, attempts to pull into a parking lot of a bar, but his passage is blocked by Guys B and C whose car is blocking the entrance while they are chatting with someone. B and C are Russian competitive weightlifters who have been drinking most of the day. Guy A honks his horn. B and C get their backs up and start berating A. A argues with them, but B and C eventually move their car. All three go into the bar. A ignores B and C, but B and C decide to start harassing A in the bar. Guy A leaves and goes home.

    Unbeknownst to A, the two weightlifters follow him home to his apartment complex. They see A get on the elevator. One of the weightlifters goes up the stairs. The other takes the next elevator. The weightlifters corner A in the hallway on his floor and come at him in a threatening manner. A draws and shoots them both, killing one and wounding one.

    A is charged with second degree murder. The rationale for the prosecution is not excessive force. It is that A was a party to starting the fight by honking his horn and then engaging in the arguments, that both times were started by B and C. The story has a happy ending, with some cautions. The trial by judge went all the way to the verdict, which was not guilty. The judge said the prosecutor should never have pursued the case based on the facts. However, the judge said it turned on the fact that A had left the original scene and "retreated" to his home. If he had engaged with the weightlifters at the original scene, even though they were the aggressors, he could not have claimed self defense because he did contribute to starting the altercation. His "retreat" gave him back his ability to claim self defense.

    Of course, this whole thing probably cost Guy A a lot of money and many months of worry about whether or not he was going to prison. Another judge, or a jury, could have seen it differently. We can second guess all we want about carrying into bars, which is legal in VA as long as you don't drink. But the same scenario could have happened a lot of places.

    I think the lesson is that you have to show a higher level of restraint if you are carrying because of the possible consequences. The fact that SD is an affirmative defense means essentially that in an SD shooting, you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
    I would like to see the trial transcript. Sounds like A did more than just a toot of the horn followed by "C'mon, man, give me a break!" Also, if I pissed off a couple of drunk Russkie weightlifters in a parking lot, I would not go into a bar with them...
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  7. #21
    VIP Member Array jmf552's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxwell97 View Post
    I agree with that, but I think one should practice a high level of restraint, regardless of whether one is carrying. Imagine the story you told, except "A" didn't have the gun. He probably would not have been prosecuted, but he may well have gotten the stuffing beaten out of him.

    The rule I'd suggest is: before getting into a confrontation of any kind, consider what you stand to gain by it. In the vast majority of cases, there's nothing to be gained and no reason to engage at all; but (as I said in the other thread) humans are wired to puff out their chests when they don't like what others are doing.
    Agree completely. I think a counterpoint to that is that escalations can happen quickly and out of nowhere. Even if you show great restraint, a gesture that seems innocuous to you might set someone off. This could include a polite "toot" of the horn, pulling around someone in traffic legally, but too close for their comfort, etc.

    I changed lanes on a four-lane not too long ago, following all the rules: I was paced with the traffic in the other lane, I was lined up with a space that offered plenty of room and I signaled. The driver behind me honked and flipped me off. He may have thought that I was too close, but my move was absolutely no threat to him in any way. If he had gone all road rage, followed me to my destination and came at me with a weapon, I wondered how the legalities might have turned out.

    I ride a motorcycle. It is well known that some people take great offense at anything a motorcyclists do that they perceive as out of line, much more so than they would with someone in a car. Some people are just looking for some reason to harass a biker. I don't know why that is, but it is well documented. Also, you don't have much protection against a road rager if you are boxed in at a light. There is no car around you. So if someone comes at you, you pretty much have to take some radical action or you are toast. I am not sure where I am going with that, but I think about it a lot.
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  8. #22
    VIP Member Array jmf552's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PEF View Post
    I would like to see the trial transcript. Sounds like A did more than just a toot of the horn followed by "C'mon, man, give me a break!" Also, if I pissed off a couple of drunk Russkie weightlifters in a parking lot, I would not go into a bar with them...
    Maybe he did more than toot his horn. Maybe he called them fat, drunken Russian arseholes, which technically would have been true. Maybe he flipped them off. No doubt the surviving weightlifter probably claimed as much. The way the case turned out, that is not what's important.

    The point is left the scene and went home before the shooting, he still got charged and it went all the way to an uncertain verdict. That to my mind, is cautionary.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmf552 View Post
    Maybe he did more than toot his horn. Maybe he called them fat, drunken Russian arseholes, which technically would have been true. Maybe he flipped them off. No doubt the surviving weightlifter probably claimed as much. The way the case turned out, that is not what's important.

    The point is left the scene and went home before the shooting, he still got charged and it went all the way to an uncertain verdict. That to my mind, is cautionary.
    Agreed. There are opposite ends of the spectrum in behavior that could be deemed "aggressive," and it's always best to do as much as you can to avoid escalation. That being said, if someone cuts in front of me at the grocery store check out line, I'll still probably say "Excuse me??!!" Unless they are two drunken Russian weightlifters - then I would just smile.
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  10. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    If I feel the need to honk my horn, I will honk my horn. If someone desires to take offense at that--it is upon them. The horn, required by law to warn vehicles and pedestrians, is there to be used for that purpose.
    And in my state, if your horn is inoperable at your yearly safety inspection, your vehicle will fail. The law requires that your vehicle has a functioning horn.
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  11. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmf552 View Post
    There was a case in the Richmond area a few years ago. My daughter and son-in-law, who are local lawyers, knew the defense attorney, the prosecutor and the judge, so they followed the case as I did.

    Guy A, who is a CC permit holder, was described as small in stature and who apparently had not been drinking, attempts to pull into a parking lot of a bar, but his passage is blocked by Guys B and C whose car is blocking the entrance while they are chatting with someone. B and C are Russian competitive weightlifters who have been drinking most of the day. Guy A honks his horn. B and C get their backs up and start berating A. A argues with them, but B and C eventually move their car. All three go into the bar. A ignores B and C, but B and C decide to start harassing A in the bar. Guy A leaves and goes home.

    Unbeknownst to A, the two weightlifters follow him home to his apartment complex. They see A get on the elevator. One of the weightlifters goes up the stairs. The other takes the next elevator. The weightlifters corner A in the hallway on his floor and come at him in a threatening manner. A draws and shoots them both, killing one and wounding one.

    A is charged with second degree murder. The rationale for the prosecution is not excessive force. It is that A was a party to starting the fight by honking his horn and then engaging in the arguments, that both times were started by B and C. The story has a happy ending, with some cautions. The trial by judge went all the way to the verdict, which was not guilty. The judge said the prosecutor should never have pursued the case based on the facts. However, the judge said it turned on the fact that A had left the original scene and "retreated" to his home. If he had engaged with the weightlifters at the original scene, even though they were the aggressors, he could not have claimed self defense because he did contribute to starting the altercation. His "retreat" gave him back his ability to claim self defense.

    Of course, this whole thing probably cost Guy A a lot of money and many months of worry about whether or not he was going to prison. Another judge, or a jury, could have seen it differently. We can second guess all we want about carrying into bars, which is legal in VA as long as you don't drink. But the same scenario could have happened a lot of places.

    I think the lesson is that you have to show a higher level of restraint if you are carrying because of the possible consequences. The fact that SD is an affirmative defense means essentially that in an SD shooting, you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
    The law in Virginia regarding retreating from a confrontation in which the victim is part of the problem was partially evident in what you have related here. The part that is missing is that the man did not tell his antagonizers that he did want to fight as he was leaving. If he was in the business and retreated outside while the two aggressors continued to move towards him, he would have to voice his wish not to fight them as he retreated. Once he reached a point where he could no longer retreat safely and/or his aggressors became attackers, he could then use deadly force legally to protect himself. His actions would not be viewed as justifiable but rather as excusable. Yes it is a good thing that the judge viewed the victimís action of going home as retreating rather than escalating the confrontation.

    You can consume alcoholic beverages in a business that sells such for consumption on the premise while armed as long as your sidearm is carried openly, unless you are employed by the Attorney General's office. Then you can do this for both open and concealed carry. (can't say for certain if this is still law).

    As for an affirmative defense, what that means is that you freely admit to doing what you did and that under the same set of circumstances, you would do so again. Effectively, you are admitting to a justifiable or excusable homicide. It is the job of the prosecution to prove that you didn't have sufficient reason to use deadly force.

    Lastly, there are no bars in Virginia. May seem like a small or strange thing, but it is true.
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  12. #26
    Ex Member Array Doogie's Avatar
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    I CCW because when I go out in public I take the risk of running across crazy unreasonable people that I am unable to retreat from. That said, I will always retreat whenever possible no matter who is right or wrong. My CCW is only for those very few instances where I am unable to retreat from a deadly threat.

    As for the two Russian guys in the bar.......I would have bought them a both a drink and chatted them up. I have been in similar situations and found that checking your ego at the door is usually the best policy. No harm no foul.

  13. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by CR Williams View Post
    Not necessarily. If the gun is not employed or even introduced, it's not a gunfight. Ain't buyin' this concept.
    I think the point being made is that whether you are fighting with the gun or to protect it, as soon as you get involved it is a gunfight.

  14. #28
    Ex Member Array WildRose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmf552 View Post
    There was a case in the Richmond area a few years ago. My daughter and son-in-law, who are local lawyers, knew the defense attorney, the prosecutor and the judge, so they followed the case as I did.

    Guy A, who is a CC permit holder, was described as small in stature and who apparently had not been drinking, attempts to pull into a parking lot of a bar, but his passage is blocked by Guys B and C whose car is blocking the entrance while they are chatting with someone. B and C are Russian competitive weightlifters who have been drinking most of the day. Guy A honks his horn. B and C get their backs up and start berating A. A argues with them, but B and C eventually move their car. All three go into the bar. A ignores B and C, but B and C decide to start harassing A in the bar. Guy A leaves and goes home.

    Unbeknownst to A, the two weightlifters follow him home to his apartment complex. They see A get on the elevator. One of the weightlifters goes up the stairs. The other takes the next elevator. The weightlifters corner A in the hallway on his floor and come at him in a threatening manner. A draws and shoots them both, killing one and wounding one.

    A is charged with second degree murder. The rationale for the prosecution is not excessive force. It is that A was a party to starting the fight by honking his horn and then engaging in the arguments, that both times were started by B and C. The story has a happy ending, with some cautions. The trial by judge went all the way to the verdict, which was not guilty. The judge said the prosecutor should never have pursued the case based on the facts. However, the judge said it turned on the fact that A had left the original scene and "retreated" to his home. If he had engaged with the weightlifters at the original scene, even though they were the aggressors, he could not have claimed self defense because he did contribute to starting the altercation. His "retreat" gave him back his ability to claim self defense.

    Of course, this whole thing probably cost Guy A a lot of money and many months of worry about whether or not he was going to prison. Another judge, or a jury, could have seen it differently. We can second guess all we want about carrying into bars, which is legal in VA as long as you don't drink. But the same scenario could have happened a lot of places.

    I think the lesson is that you have to show a higher level of restraint if you are carrying because of the possible consequences. The fact that SD is an affirmative defense means essentially that in an SD shooting, you are guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
    The prosecutor should have been fired and perhaps even charged for abuse of his office.

    Glad the guy got a walk but I sure hope he was well insured with NRA Carry Guard or Law Shield.

  15. #29
    Ex Member Array WildRose's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SouthernBoyVA View Post
    The law in Virginia regarding retreating from a confrontation in which the victim is part of the problem was partially evident in what you have related here. The part that is missing is that the man did not tell his antagonizers that he did want to fight as he was leaving. If he was in the business and retreated outside while the two aggressors continued to move towards him, he would have to voice his wish not to fight them as he retreated. Once he reached a point where he could no longer retreat safely and/or his aggressors became attackers, he could then use deadly force legally to protect himself. His actions would not be viewed as justifiable but rather as excusable. Yes it is a good thing that the judge viewed the victimís action of going home as retreating rather than escalating the confrontation.

    You can consume alcoholic beverages in a business that sells such for consumption on the premise while armed as long as your sidearm is carried openly, unless you are employed by the Attorney General's office. Then you can do this for both open and concealed carry. (can't say for certain if this is still law).

    As for an affirmative defense, what that means is that you freely admit to doing what you did and that under the same set of circumstances, you would do so again. Effectively, you are admitting to a justifiable or excusable homicide. It is the job of the prosecution to prove that you didn't have sufficient reason to use deadly force.

    Lastly, there are no bars in Virginia. May seem like a small or strange thing, but it is true.
    I think in leaving the premises he met the retreat requirements as per the laws of just about every state that still has such an archaic law/set of laws on the books. He did everything he could to quit the scene and avoid a physical confrontation.

  16. #30
    VIP Member Array SouthernBoyVA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WildRose View Post
    I think in leaving the premises he met the retreat requirements as per the laws of just about every state that still has such an archaic law/set of laws on the books. He did everything he could to quit the scene and avoid a physical confrontation.
    I agree. It's just that here you have a duty to inform your antagonist that you do not wish to fight while retreating IF you are part of the problem. The case the other gentleman related met that requirement as far as I'm concerned because the victim left the scene before things got out of hand. I would bet that if it had have been a jury trial, the verdict would have been the same.
    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

    America First!

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