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I had to pull my weapon - Questions regarding my decision and legal rights


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1 hour ago, Swamp ash said:

The Finger is Free Speech and protected by the 1st Amendment. No one has the right to physically assault you for making Free Speech. Period.

And you only have to convince a carefully selected jury, comprised of people who certainly won't be your actual peers and whom were chosen with great care by the prosecuting attorney in order to maximize the odds of them working against your favor, of this little matter in order for flipping to bird to go from "He started it" to "He was exercising Free Speech".

Should be easy!

I Know Right GIF by memecandy

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12 hours ago, MarkS said:

If posted in wrong area, please move accordingly, as I could not determine which area would be best.

On Christmas Eve, at Opry Mills, a very real and tense moment occurred.  As my wife and I were about to pull out of Bass Pro, a car coming up the secondary lane slammed on their horn.  I had the right away, and in the holiday spirit, I wished them a one finger holiday greeting.  The car then cut over to the opposite lane of traffic and cut in front of me, blocking me in.  Within seconds, the passenger was out of the car, and attempted to break the driver window with his elbow.  I immediately pushed the car into park, as I went to draw my sidearm.  Upon putting the car in park, my Camry automatically unlocked the doors, never realized that little detail before. The man was grabbing for the door already, and when it unlocked,, he slung the door open, and lunched at me. He was immediately hit in the face with my pistol, which startled him.  He took a couple of steps backward, looked me in the eyes, then reached for his waist.  At that moment I screamed stop or I will shoot.  He looked at me for what felt like ten seconds, then literally jumped in the other car, and they sped off.

Over the past few days I have wondered what legal grounds did I have, and not the "you would be fine", but would I have had to spend years fighting this in court?  Did I use good judgment not firing, or was this a case that I could have been killed myself, and should have pulled the trigger?

I have trained with guns for over 30yrs, literally started as a child.  I have been to class after class, and never thought I would question a decision.

The outcome was fortunate as neither my wife or I were hurt.  But was this a scenario of being cool headed or was this hesitation that could have gotten myself, wife, or both killed?

 

Mark,

First and foremost, thank you for the courage to share your story and for doing so with incredible transparency.  Self-awareness is something a lot of people lack.  Kudos to you for thinking back through the event with a critical mind and considering what you might have done differently or not at all were you forced to repeat it.

Hindsight is, as they say, a bitch.  I won't kick you for flipping the guy the bird because despite my greatest intentions I still reflexively issue it from time to time.  I always seem to regret it the instant I find myself doing it, but so far have only regretted it due to self-awareness and not because someone escalated the situation in response.  I need to do better.

That said, I applaud you for keeping your wits and not putting holes in that guy.  As others have said, when he entered the car you had what most experts would agree was reason to fear for your life.  Shooting him then would have likely been justified, albeit it often leads to a trial in court where we hope that the jury agrees.

I second the motion of obtaining carry insurance.  Chances are great that you will never, ever, need it again.  But it's worth having in case you do.

And, really, damn those moronic automobile manufacturers that make the default setting for modern cars to unlock the doors once in park, or unlock all of them at once, or unlock them once the ignition is turned off.   I guess they all live with their heads in the sand or in utopic societies.   One of the first things I do with any vehicle I rent or buy is disable that garbage.

 

I'm glad you're still among us and not having to hire a good attorney.  🙂

 

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7 hours ago, Omega said:

Somewhere I bet there is another driver rethinking his actions, and hope he also has seen the light of not escalating a non event into a life changing one.  I recently drove back from Denver, and am heading back there tomorrow, and have encountered some very rude drivers.  One passed into my lane, on purpose, within inches of my vehicle even though traffic was light.  I almost honked at him but decided not to as I did not want to escalate the situation even though I was well armed.  You never know what the other guy has going through his head, they may be looking for any excuse to be confrontational, it's best not to indulge them with any actions unless there is no other choice.   

When the guns in restaurants issue was still in question a few years back I had a discussion with people against it.  They talked about people getting mad and disagreements escalating etc.  Having a gun I think makes things more apt to be let go.  At least for me.  I realize that getting too heated can lead to things that I don't want to happen.  My wife tends to let her finger and horn get a lot of use.  I don't care for it at all.  She forgets how crazy some people are.

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This discussion made me think of one of the statutes TN has about self defense. Would flipping off a person be considered provokng the other person's use of force? Is being flipped off grounds for LEGALLY inflicting serious bodily harm or death against another person? I guess what I'm asking is by giving a gesture, expletive, etc, would that person be considered the aggressor? I would like to think not but IANAL. Below is what I found.

e)  The threat or use of force against another is not justified:

     (1)  If the person using force consented to the exact force used or attempted by the other individual;

     (2)  If the person using force provoked the other individual's use or attempted use of unlawful force, unless:

          (A)  The person using force abandons the encounter or clearly communicates to the other the intent to do so; and

          (B)  The other person nevertheless continues or attempts to use unlawful force against the person;

Edited by lock n' load
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16 hours ago, MarkS said:

If posted in wrong area, please move accordingly, as I could not determine which area would be best.

On Christmas Eve, at Opry Mills, a very real and tense moment occurred.  As my wife and I were about to pull out of Bass Pro, a car coming up the secondary lane slammed on their horn.  I had the right away, and in the holiday spirit, I wished them a one finger holiday greeting.  The car then cut over to the opposite lane of traffic and cut in front of me, blocking me in.  Within seconds, the passenger was out of the car, and attempted to break the driver window with his elbow.  I immediately pushed the car into park, as I went to draw my sidearm.  Upon putting the car in park, my Camry automatically unlocked the doors, never realized that little detail before. The man was grabbing for the door already, and when it unlocked,, he slung the door open, and lunched at me. He was immediately hit in the face with my pistol, which startled him.  He took a couple of steps backward, looked me in the eyes, then reached for his waist.  At that moment I screamed stop or I will shoot.  He looked at me for what felt like ten seconds, then literally jumped in the other car, and they sped off.

Over the past few days I have wondered what legal grounds did I have, and not the "you would be fine", but would I have had to spend years fighting this in court?  Did I use good judgment not firing, or was this a case that I could have been killed myself, and should have pulled the trigger?

I have trained with guns for over 30yrs, literally started as a child.  I have been to class after class, and never thought I would question a decision.

The outcome was fortunate as neither my wife or I were hurt.  But was this a scenario of being cool headed or was this hesitation that could have gotten myself, wife, or both killed?

Please take a minute to consider your response, as a week ago I thought my reaction would have been different.

Secondary factors and additional details:

1. Weather was clear

2. It was around 3pm in the afternoon 

3. I did not have the "adrenaline" spike, in fact it was one of the clearest moments I have ever had.

4. Pistol I had was a Beretta APX Centurion 9mm

5. I never stepped out of the car

6. Driver of the other vehicle was a woman, and I had clear sight of both, upon drawing. 

7. Yes I filled police report, but they seemed to chalk it up to holiday road rage, and didn't really seem to care.

This was not a fear issue, as I drew my weapon, just as I have always trained.  This is a "If this ever happened again, should I have neutralized the threat"

Thank you for your time. 

 In my opinion if everything was exactly the way you say and no other evidence to the contrary I would suggest you would have been fine and declared self defense. You have no duty to retreat and you were in a lawful place and anyone could assume you were about to get carjacked or worse. The biggest issue is where you said this was not a fear issue, were you in fear of serious bodily injury or death? That typically is the standard for using deadly force. I definitely don't want to be put in a self defense shooting scenario now and especially in Davidson County with the current environment. Luckily it worked out well and no-one got hurt.

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For me, I do a pretty good job of not responding to dumba$$ery out in the world.

Nice job using your pistol as a striking tool to create distance and the time to not have to shoot.

Dude opens my car door to breach the cabin seems very similar to walking into my house. 

I checked, my doors do not unlock automatically.

I'd report as well, just in case dude called 911 on me.

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Flipping someone off can bring into question ‘innocence’.  Who knows how a DA or jury will interpret it.  That is putting your future in someone else’s hands.  Don’t leave that crack open.  Also, we are talking about the risk of your life savings.  That is why one should be very tolerant, and be very well versed in the legalities involved.  

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I wholly agree that the finger did escalate matters, and lessons can be learned here with regards to it. That said, I can’t see how it escalated matters to the point where the other party blocking MarkS and attempting to enter his vehicle and assault him would be in any way foreseeable when dealing with a rational individual. I wouldn’t see how a jury would really hold it against him. 

Edited by Chucktshoes
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10 hours ago, Mike1000 said:

This is a good example of why carry insurance is important. You would have immediate access to a lawyer experienced in such instances for advice (and representation should it be needed).

I agree but wonder if after reviewing the case, the attorney just says, "Sorry, can't help you with this. Take the plea deal".

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1 hour ago, lock n' load said:

I agree but wonder if after reviewing the case, the attorney just says, "Sorry, can't help you with this. Take the plea deal".

I guess it would depend on the circumstances. An attorney is duty bond to give you the best legal advice. How good that advice is does depend on the particular attorney for sure. It's important to ensure your insurance allows you to choose your own attorney. 

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I belong to the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Net. 360-978-5200. They have a good program (IMO the best benefit for the money)for those who join and the cost is much more likeable. 

Call and talk to them. It is not insurance but they do the same as others insurance companies. I pay 85.00 per year and I think the first year is a little higher. I been a member for years, and consider it just like homeowners insurance. 

My advice on your incident, forget the one finger salute next time. You did well except for that one item. glad it turned out for the best. A lot of hotheads out there who are wearing a chip on their shoulders this-day-in-time. "Best to turn the other cheek", if possible, then go on your way. 

Edited to ADD; Call ACLDN 360-978-5200 and ask them for a copy of a short booklet, "What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law." They will send it to you at NO charge to you, and with NO obligation. The book is one of the best I have seen to be a short education on self defense law. ITS FREE GUYS. 20 pages of great info. 

MarkS, you can weigh your incident with true knowledge on the S D Law.  You can see why your salute could be detrimental to your case. Get the book guys. FREE

Edited by pop pop
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On 12/30/2020 at 6:45 AM, Darrell said:

Just a thought here. Had you not flipped the guy off, would the rest of the scenario have played out as it did?  I'm generally a pretty calm man, but having someone say "FU" to my face, through words or gestures, really, REALLY ticks me off. Frustrations can be high in heavy traffic, and sometimes a simple thing like waving the guy on by, right of way or not, can diffuse a situation such as you describe. FAR better, in my opinion, to avoid the confrontation in the first place. A honked horn is one thing, a bullet in the chest another.

Mind you, I am NOT excusing the passenger's actions. If someone tries to get into my car my reaction will be similar to yours, but what I am saying is that your gesture contributed.

I had a guy a few weeks ago tailgate me pretty bad. Don't know if he was in a big hurry or what. We were in the middle of town and they have something called a "speed limit". When I turned on my signal to merge in turning lane, he sat down on the horn for a few seconds. I flipped him off and kept it up there for awhile too. I know he saw me and I don't care. This could've turned into something real too.

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21 hours ago, Moped said:

Once the other person opened the door, then the threat was real, in my book. He had intent to do bodily harm.  You had the right to draw and do what you did.  However, I do think flying a bird was the wrong thing to do. That being said,  I have to admit that I have done the samething a time or two in the past.  Now I tend to wave at people, with the whole hand. Which, when you think about it, isn't very smart either.  Better to not show any reaction at all.

My daughter calls the wave in a situation like that, a flock.

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Thank you all for the discussion, as I have learned from the group.  I hope this never happens to any member, and can now from experience say, "Turn the other cheek", as legally I might of been justified, the reality would have set in that my one finger salute set in motion the events that took a life. Even though the other party played a part, and had no business trying to come into the car, I am responsible personally, even if not legally, for my actions, and testament.

I hope this experience, can be used as a lesson, and maybe save a member from being put in a similar situation, or having to live with a decision.

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This may be one of the best threads on TGO I've read in over six and a half years hanging out on this site.  Very cool to be able to read the vignette and replies presented.

@MarkSas others have said, thank you for being so open and self-reflecting on the incident.  We're learning from the benefit of your experience and the conversation it sparked.  It's a great benefit to all of us.

I think you handled it as well as can be expected when presented with a threat.  I also think you have a lesson learned on flipping people off,  But these are two separate points in my mind since your actions don't lend any sort of justification to the person's actions in response.  Giving the guy a warning may well have had a butterfly effect that kept him alive, and you out of legal hell.  I hope for their sake it was a wake-up call about how to live with others...but I'll not get my hopes up.

I'm also grateful to learn about these what you experienced with the vehicle lock...I'm still driving a Ford Ranger I bought in 2002, so that a door will unlock after putting the vehicle in park is (disturbing) news to me.  Glad there is a way to fix that after purchase.

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Hate to say it but if you kept that middle finger holstered the whole situation could have been prevented. Sure I’ve done it. But in today’s day and time ignore the idiots and be like a duck and let it roll off a bit. 

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I’ve read and have made the statement myself on this forum more than a few times that the last thing I’d ever want to do is to have to shoot someone. I really feel it would change many things about our/my immediate life and also thereafter. I do carry though, deep concealment always and at other times I carry in other various ways. I carry not to show the world that I have a gun, or to make me a badass in my own mind, but purely to be prepared to defend the life of my wife, myself and any loved ones I am with should a major threat arise to our lives. I think for the statement I started with to be true, It’s my duty to overlook the hotheads, the stupid drivers that cut me off or blow their horn at some short sighted event they perceive I caused in their life. If they take it upon themselves to “teach me a lesson” physically, well then it’s game on.

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14 hours ago, MarkS said:

Thank you all for the discussion, as I have learned from the group.  I hope this never happens to any member, and can now from experience say, "Turn the other cheek", as legally I might of been justified, the reality would have set in that my one finger salute set in motion the events that took a life. Even though the other party played a part, and had no business trying to come into the car, I am responsible personally, even if not legally, for my actions, and testament.

I hope this experience, can be used as a lesson, and maybe save a member from being put in a similar situation, or having to live with a decision.

I thank you for this excellent post. You have made a lot of us here think about and discuss a potentially life altering event that could happen at anytime to anyone of us.

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