The law itself tends to be written, and applied by judges and juries, in such a way that use of non-lethal means to defend yourself should be lawful, but are they really ever your safest option?
I understand that if you can survive a lethal force encounter using only pepper spray or a taser you have a much better chance to survive criminal prosecution and civil liability, but that risk is still greater than zero and there are serious tactical risks incurred as a result of escalating a non-lethal encounter by using these tools. There is also a tactical disadvantage to having a non-lethal option in your hand when your attackers escalate to lethal force.
Should we be presenting the use of “less lethal” alternatives as if using them lawfully can’t cause death or serious bodily harm anyway?
There is risk of being put in jail for the majority of your working lifetime due to an involuntary manslaughter conviction after using what on its face fits in the non-deadly force bucket. A taser can cause a life threatening arrhythmia and result in death. Pepper spray can cause temporary blindness causing someone to step in front of a moving vehicle or fall off a ledge.
Isn’t it more a danger to a defender to escalate a non-deadly force encounter by using them instead of running away?
There is risk that your assailant understands how pepper spray works and turns their head away while you defeat the safety and spray the back of their scalp only to have them turn around and attack you anyway.
There is risk that your assailant is wearing a mask and sunglasses and can just remove them after you spray their face.
There is risk that your assailant is close enough to block the majority of the spray with their open hand.
There is NO risk that you are in contact with your assailant when you taser them, tasering yourself also. This is an urban legend and it doesn’t have any basis in fact. I originally had this in here and want to leave it with the correction.
There is risk that your attacker’s friends saw you temporarily incapacitate one of their own and now you have multiple attackers who keep you there while their now very angry friend recovers.
By drawing your taser or pepper spray you are incurring risk that you don’t have time to go to the gun if the non-deadly force doesn’t work and the assailant escalates to deadly force in response.
If a person or persons intend on unlawfully restraining you, are capable of doing so, and they are taking an opportunity to do so, is it safe to treat this as anything except a deadly force encounter?
This is more force than you are capable of producing on your own because they are successfully preventing you from retreating. There is by definition a disparity of force.
They aren’t just asking you for your money, they are after you as a person, by staying there you are incurring a risk of serious bodily injury or death.
I am suggesting two points here for genuine law-abiding citizens:
- Your best option in any unlawful encounter involving non-deadly force is to run away from it.
- There is no such thing as a non-deadly force encounter where your retreat is being successfully physically prevented.
Please someone provide me an example of an encounter which proves either of these two points incorrect in practice tactically, to survive without incurring serious bodily injury or death.
I can’t think of one. I’m looking for a situation where a private citizen is not breaking any laws and their safest option would be pepper spray or a taser.