Hypothetical Situation

This situation is based off of a video I saw on Active Self Protection. I won’t post it here since it would probably get taken down due to language.

Situation: you’re on a busy street, walking with another person. There’s a crowd of people slinging curses at a lone man, african American. As you watch you can see this man is not quite right, whether it’s drugs or alcohol you’re not sure. He’s taunting the crowd as he walks and if someone who seems timid gets within arms reach he will hit them, hard. You see it happen to two separate people. You also realize that the nearest exit yo get off this street has become blocked by a crowd of onlookers. As they draw closer the man has now hit two women and one man.

What do you do?


Observe and call 911. With someone start getting video, but I’m gonna keep my distance. Simple assault isn’t grounds for self defense.


Thanks! Trying to keep the language clean for the huge variety of people is sometimes challenging. I appreciate the effort, @Spence!

Yes - and I would definitely be ready to act if the man who is attacking starts getting more abusive or going toward someone who is more fragile, I may step in - there are a lot of things to consider.


The urge to step in would be there. But that could agitate the situation. I would certainly be higher alert and be preparing to defend myself.

For me it boils down to what fight is my fight. And to what level am I willing to take things if they go south.

For instance in this scenario obviously using deadly force would be a possibility if it escalated. So to streamline my decisions I would ask myself. Has he done anything worth him dying over. If the answer is no then it’s clearly not my fight. I would render assistance to the injured avoiding the disturbed individual.

If he escalates his aggression say continuing to attack an unconscious person. Now he’s causing grave bodily harm and possible death. So at that point if you’re going to intervene you have to commit with every bit of fight you have in you. You cannot hesitate or hold back.

I know these seem very simplistic but in the heat of the moment you don’t have time to think of every scenario.


Report it to the police, then get out of there. If the nearest exit is blocked, keep going to the next one. Just keep moving and try to get away from the area. If there’s a crowd of onlookers, then there’s enough witnesses. You don’t need to get involved, stay safe.


Totally agree that you first report it to the police and try to stay out of the way, maybe get out of there. Just because you carry doesn’t mean you have to use your weapon. The weapon is the last resort and the police definitely need to get involved. Sounds like an ambulance may be in order, too. If the situation escalates and the guy starts threatening lives, that’s another story, but hopefully the police will be there by that time.


Yeah, I think this one comes under the heading of “not my circus, not my monkeys”. I would stay out of it unless someone was getting seriously hurt.


Actually it is, just not the use of deadly force.

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So in the video the only exit from the street i could see was blocked by onlookers. Anyone who seemed timid or looked like they might be unable ir unwilling to fight back got decked. He stayed well clear of anyone who looked like they were willing to fight or who confidently stood their ground.

I didn’t find what city, I’m thinking New Orleans, they named a Bourbon street and cautioned tourists awat from that area.

Im not fast, so going backwards probably wouldn’t help me much. One way was blocked by onlookers, the other was straight through the guy who I’m assuming was drunk or high.

Taking my cues from what i saw would leave me 2 options. Look tough, or be tough.

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Could you just post a link to the video. It really helps when we’re all on the same page.

We may not use the same language here but we’re all adults and realize that there is a world of filth out there.

If we’re going to post such a video we can always put a strong language warning with it and those who don’t want to hear it can mute the audio.

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I’m not following you here.

I see numerous opportunities for anyone that wanted to, to get out of the AO.

The only dangerous person I see here that I’d try to avoid would be the black guy who is the attacker. He is apparently “Altered” at least to some degree.

NO is a haven for drug addicts, pimps, aggressive panhandlers, and scammers and late nigh ton Bourbon St is where and when you’ll find all of them.

As John frequently states, most crime is tied to stupid people, doing stupid things, at stupid times and this is a good example of all of it.

I don’t see any of the attacks there warranting a third party intervention although you’d be legally justified to use force, but not deadly force to prevent or stop his attacks.

The lady with the camera/phone is putting herself at risk by following him but she appears cognizant of that risk and is willing to take it to document the charges.

You also hear on the audio her saying that the police have already been called and are en route.

I would probably stay close enough to intervene if someone was being seriously harmed and to of course be a good witness.

One of the most frustrating things for cops and prosecutors is that when they do get bad guys in custody, a lack of witnesses makes it very difficult to successfully prosecute them.

Be wise, avoid harm and be a good citizen by being willing to be a good witness and get trash like that off of our streets.

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“Hypothetical based off of a video i watched”
Combine that with not being a city person in the slightest. Kind of like how you can take a city slicker out to the woods and have them lost in 5 minutes. :thinking:

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I’m still lost. Either you are in danger or you aren’t, either you are trapped or you’re not.

Maybe your hypo is just to vague or you have overlapping hypo’s I’m not sorting out right.

Can you be more specific?

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I guess I’m a selfish guy, but there aren’t a lot of circumstances where I would engage with a nut on behalf of a stranger. I’d call the police, the people who’s job that is. The ones who have protections against the fallout that would most likely come. Since you mention race, remember the Zimmerman case. That was actually a clear cut justified use of force under law from what I hear. That didn’t turn out well for him. Call police and I’m out! I’m going home to my loved ones tonight. Priority number 1,

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I took the situation from the vid and added “no real exit” as a hypothetical. With the way some of the crowds were moving it would be easy for an exit route to get blocked. I think you’re just over thinking the posted situation, not that you aren’t understanding it.


Ok then what’s your question? If you are in such a situation and have a reasonable fear of grave bodily harm or death from a crowd of attackers deadly force is perfectly reasonable.

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It’s a hypothetical what would you do in this scenario. That’s the only question. These are for giving people something to think about.


In a lot of states, you must be in fear for you life to defend yourself. In some states you have to exhaust alll means of escape to defend yourself. In some states you can defend others in fear for their life, in other states you can not.
I haven’t seen the video, but from your description I get there is a man randomly hitting people and there is a mob of onlookers blocking your exit, yet you are on a street. That makes no sense to me. Streets have two sides to them don’t they ? Maybe join the mob of onlookers and put people between you and them. Or, are you asking if you should intervene or not ? Remember, if you just use your fists, you are still armed, it does not matter if you pull your firearm out or he fights you and gets your firearm out, you are introducing a firearm into the altercation.
Perhaps you could go into a building? I probably need more information.


My whole philosophy on this changed after reading “the law of self defense” by andrew branca. That’s also when I joined the USCCA.


Great book, @Brian1! I’ve taken a class from Mr. Branca as well and it was very illuminating!