I’ve been on a kick the past few days watching First Person Defender, a series that examines the response of average citizens with limited firearms training when placed in force-on-force scenarios using Simunitions guns.
The most recent one, involving an Army veteran named Raven, is the first where I’ve substantially disagreed with the conclusion drawn by the instructor/host. He approved of her actions in the first scenario as defensible.
I disagree, and think she’d probably end up being charged with a felony charge, probably assault with a deadly weapon or manslaughter.
Let’s go to the film, and I’ll explain my reasoning.
In the first scenario, there is confrontation between two men, and while they are arguing, one shoots the other.
The man on the left has his gun already out, and he fires as the man on the right blades his body and appears to be reaching behind his right hip, possibly for a weapon of his own. The man on the right goes down after he is hit. Raven then draws her gun and takes aim at the man on the left.
He turns slowly towards her, with his gun lowered and finger off the trigger, his left hand raised, as he tells her, “Listen, calm down.”
She then shoots him as he’s standing there, and says after the fact, “You’re raising your gun at me.”
I didn’t see him raise his weapon. I didn’t see him being confrontational with her. I saw him trying to explain his position to her when she fired a shot into his upper torso. She then justified shooting him to herself after the fact.
It’s not a clearcut defensive shooting. Her justification of her decision to shoot is now paramount.
It’s in her debriefing where the wheels really come off.
When debriefed after the incident, she said that she shot him because, “I thought he had the advantage and was the aggressor, but I was not paying enough attention to what they were saying to one another to necessarily know. I was going off of the body feel?”
That she had no idea what was going on when she interjected herself into the situation would not go over well with investigators or prosectors if this was a real shooting.
The instructor/host then prompts her again, asking her a second time why she shot him. “I thought he was still aggressing,” and that “he must be the problem. I don’t know…”
She confessed that she didn’t know what was going on between the two men, and didn’t have any idea why the man on the left shot the man on the right. She didn’t know if it was a crime, or if it was justified.
Then, she could not reasonably articulate why she fired her weapon at the man on the left. Other witnesses (if this was a real world scenario) may likely note had at least one hand up and was trying to talk with her, that he was not making any obvious aggressive motions towards her, and that she shot him without any clear warning or provocation.
If she made these same statements to law enforcement, without being able to articulate a clear and compelling reason for shooting him, she’d be in deep, deep trouble. She would likely to end up with criminal charges filed against her in very short order, facing a very expensive criminal trial, and possibly a civil trial.
One thing that many untrained people like Raven don’t grasp is that you must not only be in the right when they use a firearm defensively, you must also be able to reasonably articulate why you felt the other person was an immediate deadly force threat.
“I don’t know” is never an acceptable answer when an investigator asked you why you put a bullet into a fellow human being.
That’s the reason that the best firearms instructors ask “Why did you …” as much or more than they tell people how to do things.