Responsible Use of Force (Part 1)

By on April 23, 2013

As someone who teaches self defense, intends to defend myself if need be, and a good person, I need to use force responsibly, reasonably (i.e. legally), and ethically.  There are many cases that show how the use of excessive force was used and people are going to jail.  We, as responsible good people, need to be able to escalate and de-escalate force very quickly.  We can’t give someone an extra punch, kick, shot, or whack in the head just because he deserves it.  No doubt that if someone attacks you, they deserve it, but we are good people and hold ourselves to a higher standard than those who would attack us.

There are two famous cases that show escalation and de-escalation of force is necessary for our survival.  The latest one was in Oklahoma.  A pharmacist was robbed by 2 men that appear to shoot at him during the robbery attempt (video here).  The pharmacist shoots one robber to the ground and then chases the other robber out the door.  The jury said everything was good until this point.  The pharmacist then went back and got another gun and then shot the robber that was on the ground 5 more times.  The prosecutor said it was murder because the medical examiner said the first shot knocked the robber out and then the 5 shots from the other gun are what killed him.  The pharmacist said it looked like he was still moving and a threat so he fired at him.  Unfortunately the robber is off the video when the final shooting took place.

The end of the story was that the pharmacist went to prison for 1st degree murder.  He’ll be eligible for parole in 38 years.  Not the way we want to have our self defense situation play out.

The other famous case was the Rodney King incident that sparked the LA riots.  In 1991, King drove a car that fled from police.  After a high-speed chase, he stopped the car.  Two others got out of the vehicle without a problem.  King was the driver and refused officers commands.  A fight broke out (King was on parole at the time for a robbery conviction and didn’t want to go back to jail for a DUI) and the officers had to beat King into submission.  The courts first ruled that what happen was not excessive force except for a misdemeanor on one officer.  Then, the riots broke out, after which, the Feds came in and prosecuted the officers on the same offense (double jeopardy doesn’t always apply I guess), and the officers were found guilty.  Insiders I know from the case say a lot of information was blocked from the second trial to ensure a conviction.  The judge would simply not allow evidence in favor of the officers to be showed to the jury.  Either way, the verdict came down the same way as the Oklahoma pharmacist, everything was okay until this one point.  Once that happened, everything else was against the law. A couple of officers got a vacation at Club Fed for those hits afterward.  All 5 officers lost their jobs.

I’m not debating the Rodney King incident, just pointing out that these things could happen to you.  Make sure that you study excessive force and escalation/de-escalation of force so these things don’t happen to you.

We are the good guys, when the bad guys give up, we need to stop and let them.  Tomorrow we’ll look more at the force continuum.

Stay Safe,


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  1. Responsible Use of Force is what we should strive for | Modern Self Protection - [...] I talked about the bad things that could happen to you if you use excessive force.  Today, let’s talk …

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