This came up as a discussion in the Interview and Investigation Management Class and deserves a blog post for discussion.
I will use Zimmerman as the "famous anecdotal example". Zimmerman as we recall, did not go into a deadly force event, he found himself there unexpectedly. We pick Zimm up when the question comes up, "are you the focus of the violence?" And in the end...true to the flow of events and the chart, Zimm was not convicted. But let's add a point of consideration that is not, nor should it be, in the chart.
Good Sense. This fits between legal standing (you have a right to be there and are not committing a crime) to preclusion (you are the focus of the attack). There is a great deal of ground between the two. Where the ambiguity came in with Zimm is that while he was in the right, legally speaking, he created that event himself...maybe unintentionally, but nonetheless.
So the point for discussion is this - every contact you make under unusual circumstances has the potential to become a fight, and since you have a gun, a gunfight. What do I mean? There is normal social discourse during the day. The man in line at the Starbucks that says good morning and comments on your karate t-shirt, the customer you speak with, the delivery driver who wants a signature, etc. Those are contacts under normal circumstances. Then there are unusual circumstances.
In class we had a question that began with a story. The story was of a local gun store owner (just a regular dude with a CCW...like Zimm) saw a man walking behind a gas station. The man had a rifle slung over his shoulder, something that is perfectly legal in the free state of Arizona, but not something you normally see in town. In fact, having lived here for some 15 years now, you may see an openly carried pistol now and again, but I have never seen a rifle carried that way in town. Unusual.
Our stalwart LGS/CCW dude agrees that it is strange and moves to contact. Weapon is holstered, but he moves cover to cover as if stalking a suspect in a scene from Training Day. Eventually he moves up a few feet away from the urban rifleman and with his hand on his holstered pistol, asks him what he is doing.
So my After The Last Bang brethren...what potential little bouncing balls of shit do we see here? And most important....what would have been the best option in this case for the LGS/CCW dude?
Now the other side of this, lest we fall into a "screw everyone...I am minding my own business" mentality that is beneath us all. What are the circumstances when you would NOT mind your own business? And there are many.
This is the mind gym where all these issues are analyzed, studied and where we determine what we will do...program our thinking long before the event. Remember - There are no magic words...but there is magic in properly used words.
My own "I usually mind my own business but..." rules are these -
I would intervene if
1). An innocent is about to be, or is being brutalized, seriously injured, or killed unless I intervene.
2). There is no rule two.
Innocent is exactly what it means. The scabby coke whore being slapped by her Huggy Bear pimp doesn't count. Yeah...I am going by appearance. If what looked like a scabby coke whore was actually an off duty gospel singer, I will feel bad...for about two seconds. I do judge by appearance because that is all I have. The two thugs beating up a third thug doesn't apply...I could not give three dried up puppy shits over that. But if I see a thug slapping what looks like your mom, yeah...I will make it my business because that is what men do.
Brutalized = being man handled, slapped around or physically abused. On FB there was a pic of a bunch of military aged males pushing an old woman around and covering her in filth. That may not be a deadly force event, but I suspect I would leave them with a few broken femurs and jaws as I save the old woman. And I will use the magic of properly chosen ewords to justify it as it is indeed justified.
Serious injury or death = that means what it means.
The key is to get the first responder's and investigator's heads nodding in accord with your actions as had they been there in your shoes, they would have done the same thing. It really is that simple.