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I love plane flights, not because of how fun security check can be for a firearms instructor, but because it forces me to take perspective from 40,000 feet and reflect. Add in a cup of coffee and… read on!

A few days ago the video of an argument between a driver and a group of motorcyclists surfaced on the web. What can we learn from it? What questions are still unanswered? What assumptions did those involved make? What was done well? What could they have done differently? Scroll to the bottom to watch the video.

Courtney Campbell Causeway Incident 3

Act 1: A helmet mounted camera records as a motorcyclist and his buddies tear across the Courtney Campbell Causeway, which spans the bay from Clearwater to Tampa, Florida.  As the camera comes up behind a red BMW in the fast lane, you see the driver shift lanes to the right, thereby cutting off a second motorcyclist who is hauling ass to pass on the outside. This motorcyclist is visibly infuriated, and so the good part begins.

Questions: Was the driver of the red BMW moving over to politely get out of the way of the cameraman, or was he moving purposefully to cut off the passing biker? Does the motorcyclist have a right to be angry?

Courtney Campbell Causeway Incident 2

Act 2: The bikers speed off and all is well until stopped traffic brings the red BMW back up to the motorcyclists. If this is starting to sound familiar, you might refresh yourself on the recent Alexian Lien incident which happened in New York City. The camera watches as two bikers dismount to confront the driver, who has already exited his vehicle to meet them. The audio is poor, but the confrontation is easy to follow. The driver attempts to block the motorcyclists’ escape, at which time a third rider strides up and “manhandles” him out of the way. The three bikers proceed to beat the driver turned victim.

Questions: Did the driver purposefully drive up to the bikers to pick a fight? If so, how would that look in court? Who dismounted first? Unfortunately the video doesn’t show, and identifying the initial aggressor is an important aspect of your story. Can an initial aggressor still claim self-defense? Why did the driver want to block the exit of the bikers? Is that a confrontation worth making? In that instance, do the three attacking bikers meet the triad of Ability, Opportunity, and Jeopardy to warrant a deadly force response?

Courtney Campbell Causeway Incident 1

Act 3: As the three attackers knock down the driver, a woman emerges screaming from the passenger side of the car, pointing a small semiautomatic pistol, at which point the cameraman decides to exit the situation and the video cuts.

Questions: Is she justified in brandishing a firearm? Should she have her finger on the trigger? Notice her  grip and stance –do you think she could have shot and hit her intended targets effectively without injuring her husband or bystanders? Would you describe her tone of voice as “hysterical”? Can someone who is hysterical be acting under the Reasonable Fear necessary for a clean self-defense shooting? If she had shot one or more of the motorcyclists, would she have been justified?

Clearly the answers are not as simple as Hollywood makes it seem. Real life encounters are fast and confusing, and seldom is there a clear “good guy” and “bad guy”. In this example the players flip flopped roles of Aggressor and Victim several times. Watch the whole video below and tell me your thoughts! Check back next week for my video with a discussion on this case study and the use of Deadly Force in self-defense!

Want to find out the answers to these difficult questions? Are you prepared make this life or death decision in the blink of an eye, and suffer with the consequences for the rest of your life? Sign up for the next Deadly Force Reality and Responsibility class in Santa Clara California.

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About the Author:

Brian Wang is a full time firearms and self-defense 10869340_10103052337183671_18688557553797566_oinstructor who resides in the San Francisco bay area. He is trained under the Massad Ayoob Group to guide civilian students through the complex legal, moral, and social  ramifications of the use of Deadly Force in self-defense. He and his fellow instructors offer custom private and group classes for civilian students every week in an around the Bay area, with regular offerings in Houston, Tampa, and Los Angeles.  You can find more information about upcoming classes here.