Philosophical question - use of force

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Hello all,

I have a question regarding a situation and how the law would apply. This stems from an encounter I had some time ago in Boston...

Basically, I understand the use of lethal force requires imminent and immediate mortal danger or threat of serious bodily injury (I am summarizing here).

I had a situation while traveling on the T with my wife and daughter some time ago. I happened to be carrying a very expensive camera, and I was taking pictures while waiting for the train. Whilst doing so, two thugs come up behind me and intentionally startle me. I laughed it off and they kept walking, but I could tell they were "in a mood and up to no good." I told my wife to be wary of these guys. I noticed them looking at us and talking. At one point, while we are moving on the train, one of them gets up and moves past us to the door just beyond us. I get the feeling they are trying to surround us so when we get off the train one will be in front and one behind us - not a good situation.

To make a long story short, when we started to disembark the train, I was able to maneuver us out of any immediate threat by using the crowd. However, I was very concerned they were going to come at me in what was a very large and empty late-night parking lot. At one point, I saw them looking back to find us. I knew they were contemplating something.

They never did come at us, but I am curious what my options would have been if they did. If they confronted me and my family in order to take our stuff and obviously use the threat of kicking my ass to do so, am I justified in drawing my weapon if there is no avenue for escape? In other words, would their unprovoked threat of attack and robbery be reason enough to justify drawing a gun and telling them to GTFO. Does one actually have to be physically assaulted to take such measures? Furthermore, if I had drawn my weapon and they proceeded to attack me or the family physically, is that considered justification for lethal force assuming I did not start any altercation or provoke them? Would the situation be any different if it was just me with my wife and daughter?

Sorry for the lengthy story...your thoughts would be appreciated.
 

scheming

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It's MA, the AG "really try and discourage people from self-help" (self defense/protection).
We have a limited castle doctrine, no stand your ground law. So you're very very likely to find yourself in a court room.
In order to "justify" shooting someone, you would have to prove you were in imminent mortal danger. How you prove that is...
[banghead]

Drawing your gun could be interpreted as brandishing.

Pretty much anything you do is potential to have your LTC yanked.

IANAL. Just what I've picked up from info here and news around MA.



PS: for the people who don't know history and like to call BS willy nilly, please refer to this thread
 
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PATRON

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Take out cell phone,and call police,if the cell phone is not working fake it, look around like your telling the police where you are.When carrying a gun you should also carry pepper spray,and as a last resort,well not the last more like the second. Give them the camera,or your wife whatever is worth more to you.
 

garandman

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OP, you had good situational awareness, that's the first step. The bad situational awareness is flashing expensive consumer electronics.

Call your attorney or go to one of the classes on self-defense law. Otherwise you get completely useless bullshit like:

It's MA, the AG "really try and discourage people from self-help" (self defense/protection).
We have a limited castle doctrine, no stand your ground law. So you're very very likely to find yourself in a court
From people who have never heard of products like pepper spray. You do not have to riddle someone with bullets to defend yourself.

BTW #1 my daughter took a "personal safety" class from BPD and part of the class was hoe to incapacitate an attacker with anything at hand: shoes, keys, thumbs, whatever. Not what you would describe as "Discouraging self help", a meme here.

BTW #2 I once slugged a perp (who beat his gf) to hold him until police arrived. I told the detective this. So you think his next words were "We discourage self help?" [laugh]

My number 1 safety tip for T riders is PUT DOWN YOUR DAMNED PHONE. My kids know if I ever see them walking down the street texting that phone is gone.

In OP's situation getting with people was a good idea and seeking out a Transit officer would be #2.
 
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OP, you had good situational awareness, that's the first step. The bad situational awareness is flashing expensive consumer electronics.

I appreciate your comments; however, it is kind of hard to take pictures as a photographer without using a camera. My particular camera weighs over 5 lbs and doesn't exactly fit in a pocket. It wasn't bad situational awareness. I was being a photographer :)
 

Woodstock

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Regardless of its cost, your camera is cheaper than a lawyer, especially if you drop the hammer on one of these yoots and land in civil or criminal court. On the other hand, if you give up your valuables and it looks like you're still going to get curb-stomped, do what you gotta do to save your family.
 
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As it was explained to me in Concealed Carry I at Mass Firearms School, to avoid being guilty of a crime you must be able to convince the Cops, DA and/or jury that the following circumstances existed when you used deadly force:

1) You were reasonable in your belief that someone was being attacked or about to be attacked and that person was in danger of death or serious bodily harm.
2) The force you used was reasonable and proportional to the threat.
3) You did all you reasonably could to avoid combat.

In the situation as described, I would feel concerned that you would face prosecution if you or your wife was not at least attacked first. However, once attacked, the size and strength differential between your wife and you vs. two large men could be reasonably thought of as life threatening, in my opinion, especially if they both attacked only one of you.

I am not a lawyer.

Also, as others have mentioned, it's worth considering that you are going to probably spend thousands and thousands of dollars on your defense if your shooting goes to court.
 
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swatgig

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Call your attorney or go to one of the classes on self-defense law. Otherwise you get completely useless bullshit like:
It's MA, the AG "really try and discourage people from self-help" (self defense/protection).
We have a limited castle doctrine, no stand your ground law. So you're very very likely to find yourself in a court
This is not useless bullshit.

You can take all the classes you want, and talk to all the attorneys you want. If you pull a gun in self defense, you're going to end up in court.

I know two people who have pulled guns in self defense. Both ended up charged with assault with a deadly weapon.

One admitted to sufficient facts to a reduced charge of simple assault, case was continued without a finding and dismissed. His chief suspended his LTC the day of the incident, but returned it the day the case was dismissed.

Second case is still pending. I hoped to get it thrown out at the clerk's hearing, since the other guy was charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, but the clerk went forward with the case.
 

garandman

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I appreciate your comments; however, it is kind of hard to take pictures as a photographer without using a camera. My particular camera weighs over 5 lbs and doesn't exactly fit in a pocket. It wasn't bad situational awareness. I was being a photographer :)
I appreciate that, and it saddens me that you have to be concerned in the first place.

I think pepper spray and crowds are about the best preemptive measures you can take.
 

garandman

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This is not useless bullshit.

You can take all the classes you want, and talk to all the attorneys you want. If you pull a gun in self defense, you're going to end up in court.

I know two people who have pulled guns in self defense. Both ended up charged with assault with a deadly weapon.
Bringing a gun to a pepper spray fight is bad tactics. Some of you need to get out from behind the keyboard and get out in the real world.

I live in Dorchester and ride the T regularly, to different areas and at all hours. IMHO carrying a concealed firearm but not pepper spray seems really dumb.
 
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I appreciate your comments; however, it is kind of hard to take pictures as a photographer without using a camera. My particular camera weighs over 5 lbs and doesn't exactly fit in a pocket. It wasn't bad situational awareness. I was being a photographer :)

Lots of photographers are making world class portfolios with $500 point and shoots. Matt Black, Alex Majoli, Moriyama, etc.
 
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2) In the situation as described, I would feel concerned that you would face prosecution if you or your wife was not at least attacked first.

QUOTE]

I absolutely hate this train of thought. I'm not going to wait to be attacked, one punch or one slice with the blade you don't see and it could be game over for me, then my wife and kids are left alone to defend themselves.

Call the police if you are approached, speak loudly so they hear what you are saying, make an attempt to get away. Remember the 21' rule, once they are closer than that your options and time are limited. Toss the camera or whatever they want to them but I for one am not letting them get much closer than 20-15' before I draw in your situation, dark secluded parking lot.
 
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when I was a kid me and two of my older sisters were coming home from ice skating. We were walking and two older kids - older them me as I was 10 - came up to us and pulled knives and threatened us for our money. I was 10 so I was kind of scared to say the least. My sister said give it to them and we did and they took off and we all ran home. My oldest sister told my father what happened. He had been drinking and just lost it. He took me in the parlor and gave me the beating of my life....to that point anyway. Then he took my skates and swung them once over his head and threw them. one blade hit the door and stuck in about a half an inch. the pair of skates just hung there. Then he said to me....if you ever get in a situation and you don't defend yourself....don't come home.

Pretty tough stuff for a ten year old....but at that point I knew that anything I had or that was in reach can be used as a weapon.

Anyway, nothing escalated with you and that was good. But if your camera is truly 5 lbs.......you are armed sir.
 

garandman

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My son got robbed of his bike by three dudes with a knife. He threw down the bike and took off. I only faulted his response with running home rather than into the nearest store. BPD caught them a week later.
 
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2) In the situation as described, I would feel concerned that you would face prosecution if you or your wife was not at least attacked first.

I absolutely hate this train of thought. I'm not going to wait to be attacked, one punch or one slice with the blade you don't see and it could be game over for me, then my wife and kids are left alone to defend themselves.

Call the police if you are approached, speak loudly so they hear what you are saying, make an attempt to get away. Remember the 21' rule, once they are closer than that your options and time are limited. Toss the camera or whatever they want to them but I for one am not letting them get much closer than 20-15' before I draw in your situation, dark secluded parking lot.

I can sympathize with your concerns but you're probably going to have to prove in court that you were reasonable to think that you were about to be attacked with such force that you or someone else might die. At the point described in the original post there was no knowledge of a weapon and the only thing reasonably provable was two people were acting in a way seemed shady and suspicious. Now, perhaps "waiting until someone is attacked" is a bad way of putting it, but there needs to be something more than what was described so far to justify possibly taking someone's life.

I agree with the people that mentioned creating distance (which OP did successfully) and using pepper spray at the slightest provocation. Then if you have to shoot someone you can truthfully say that you used all reasonable measures to avoid lethal combat.
 
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Salyeica

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The threshold for justifiably using a firearm in self defense is extremely high. Situations in which you may personally feel as though your life is in imminent danger may not seem so to the justice system. Even if some roided up meathead is running at you screaming, that doesn't necessarily mean you can choot 'im. As others have said, you're rolling the dice as soon as you draw. Best to carry an OC spray or other deterrent with you as well.

This was really helpful for me in understanding self defense.

http://lawofselfdefense.com/the-five-principles-of-the-law-of-self-defense-in-a-nutshell/

Worth a read.
 
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I can sympathize with your concerns but you're probably going to have to prove in court that you were reasonable to think that you were about to be attacked with such force that you or someone else might die. At the point described in the original post there was no knowledge of a weapon and the only thing reasonably provable was two people were acting in a way seemed shady and suspicious. Now, perhaps "waiting until someone is attacked" is a bad way of putting it, but there needs to be something more than what was described so far to justify possibly taking someone's life.

I agree with the people that mentioned creating distance (which OP did successfully) and using pepper spray at the slightest provocation. Then if you have to shoot someone you can truthfully say that you used all reasonable measures to avoid lethal combat.

Agreed, otherwise you're just profiling
 

drgrant

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I happened to be carrying a very expensive camera, and I was taking pictures while waiting for the train. Whilst doing so, two thugs come up behind me and intentionally startle me.

Was one of the guys giggling?

 
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drgrant

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Hello all,

I have a question regarding a situation and how the law would apply. This stems from an encounter I had some time ago in Boston...

Basically, I understand the use of lethal force requires imminent and immediate mortal danger or threat of serious bodily injury (I am summarizing here).

I had a situation while traveling on the T with my wife and daughter some time ago. I happened to be carrying a very expensive camera, and I was taking pictures while waiting for the train. Whilst doing so, two thugs come up behind me and intentionally startle me. I laughed it off and they kept walking, but I could tell they were "in a mood and up to no good." I told my wife to be wary of these guys. I noticed them looking at us and talking. At one point, while we are moving on the train, one of them gets up and moves past us to the door just beyond us. I get the feeling they are trying to surround us so when we get off the train one will be in front and one behind us - not a good situation.

To make a long story short, when we started to disembark the train, I was able to maneuver us out of any immediate threat by using the crowd. However, I was very concerned they were going to come at me in what was a very large and empty late-night parking lot. At one point, I saw them looking back to find us. I knew they were contemplating something.

They never did come at us, but I am curious what my options would have been if they did. If they confronted me and my family in order to take our stuff and obviously use the threat of kicking my ass to do so, am I justified in drawing my weapon if there is no avenue for escape? In other words, would their unprovoked threat of attack and robbery be reason enough to justify drawing a gun and telling them to GTFO. Does one actually have to be physically assaulted to take such measures? Furthermore, if I had drawn my weapon and they proceeded to attack me or the family physically, is that considered justification for lethal force assuming I did not start any altercation or provoke them? Would the situation be any different if it was just me with my wife and daughter?

Sorry for the lengthy story...your thoughts would be appreciated.

Get your wife to carry a gun. It's 1000x cheaper if she shoots them. (no I'm not kidding).

-Mike
 
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