I have been thinking and learning about an imaginary case which has somehow come up in the news. I cannot possibly imagine which case that might be, but it brings up some interesting questions about distance and safety.
I could be wrong, but it seems to me that police and security trainers and persons in the martial arts studios view distance and distances, between opponents or hostile persons, differently than do some untrained adults.
Police, security trainers and some or all persons in the MA studios often think of certain people, especially if they are known or suspected of having hostile intent, as being in a danger zone or a safe zone. Of course, from martial art to martial art and from police school to police school, the phrasing may be different.
A guy in the Gracie family who teaches Brazilian jiu jitsu says there is the green zone, the red zone and the green zone.
Green zone #1 is far enough away from each other to not be able to touch or hurt each other without moving inwards.
Red zone is where a person can kick or swing and hit the other comfortably, perhaps unexpectedly.
Green zone #2 is where you are so close that you are in fact touching and any blows have much less force in them.
Anyway, from the point of view of a practitioner of bjj, there is a red zone, meaning, a danger zone if a person with hostile intent is in it.
And, for the police, in police training, there is a zone of 1 to 15 to 20 feet, in which a guy, if he has a knife or is suspected of having a knife, is considered quite dangerous and perhaps able to stab the officer. There is another zone of perhaps lesser size of danger from hostile persons who are not armed with a knife.
Of course, one problem here is that the effective knife attacker may refrain from revealing his knife till he is much closer in than 15 or 20 feet.
There is a zone of danger and a zone of safety. Of course, to be more precise, there may be gradiations of danger at certain points in the zones.
But there is a large area called danger and another area called mostly safe.
Now, out in the general public, there are persons who have not been attacked at all and others who have not been attacked much and others who have been “attacked” and the attacks were so minor or distant in time that they do not regard the world of people around them as containing people able and willing to attack sufficiently to require their attention. Such persons either change their view (and/or never become police officers), or maybe they are lucky for the rest of their lives or maybe they get attacked in attack they could have prevented by keeping distance.
The Bible has a proverb, the wise man foresees danger and avoids it, or words to that effect. The wise man recognizes that there are dangerous people “out there” and that some of these dangerous people must or should be kept a certain distance away from him, except when or as needed to accomplish an important purpose.
Anyway, last week it was in the news that a city judge alleged that the city attorney’s office had made a complete disregard of public safety. There was a guy who was a repeat violent criminal and the guy used derogatory language and stepped in a hostile way, with hostile intent, towards a victim or bystanders.
The guy was not charged with assault . . .
But here is the problem. Stepping towards a guy with hostile intent endangers the safety of the guy. It is a crime and it should be regarded as a crime. Ordinary walking on the sidewalk is fine and we seemingly approach and get farther from others all the time. Having hostile intent and stepping towards a person endangers his safety.
Now, in the case of the violent repeat criminal, the guy was not charged with assault, but he did plead to obstruction and has a sentence of 4 months, beyond the recommendation of the prosecution.
In the case of the woman and her dad on Father’s day heading to the Cinerama, we don’t know exactly what, if anything, she did with her expandable baton while it was in her hand and before the hostile man grabbed her.
But if you somehow, for no good reason, other than neglect or lack of training, refrain from regarding a person stepping towards you with hostile intent as quite bad, then, 1) you may refrain from prosecuting it when done by a career criminal or 2) you may avoid swinging the baton at an approaching hostile man, one who has verbally expressed hostility and is following it by getting close.
And, there are some persons who, on seeing or hearing a hypothetical interaction, would say, “No harm, no danger, no crime,” and others who say, “Hostile man closing the distance, danger, red alert!”
Now, one interesting thing is that I am presumably to be on trial in the next few months in a situation that may or may not have included such elements.
The jury instructions for self-defense are morally bad, because the jury instructions should focus on whether a reasonable person reasonably believes that his safety is being endangered, and because the reasonable response to one’s safety being endangered is to reduce that danger by stopping the advance and not merely the case of being about to be attacked.
The morally misleading and faulty jury instructions are not in the rcw but are commonly used.
I might be convicted and regard the verdict as unjust, because of its being based on a wrong standard. Now, I believe I will win, but there are various possibilities.
I might get convicted and be a martyr for a different view of safety than held by untrained people, if the case ends up hinging on fine details.
What an interesting thought and along the way, I and you have learned a lot, or so we hope!
Think of the career criminal in the news last week . . . man approaching with hostile intent leading others to fear . . . Is that a crime? The answer should be an obvious yes but the attorney’s office under Pete Holmes was not charging it as a crime.
You can either have more or fewer versions of Stephen Watts, the lunging career criminal, at times scaring people and at times hitting them . . .
So, my question for Dori Monson is, when a man with hostile intent is approaching you, is that a crime?
My question for Dori Monson is, when a man with hostile intent is approaching you, does that endanger your safety?
Dori Monson, defender and advocate of persons oppressed, victims, injured . . . crickets . . .
Crickets . . . crickets.