Use of Deadly Force against Rioters and Protesters

I am not sure if this topic was already raised in this specific context, so I apologize if it has already been addressed.

However, we read about a man in Portland, Oregon who was surrounded by BLM protesters, tried to escape in his truck, crash, and then was ripped from his truck and beaten.

I am worried that, one day, one of us may be presented with a similar situation. This man probably did not wake up thinking this would happen to him. He was probably driving down the road and was simply stopped by the mob, in a surprise fashion, as they are want to do. Of course, we can not simply step on the gas and keep going, as we have seen in other news stories.

My question is “When, if at any time” would this man have been justified in using deadly force?"
In my mind, I believe a mob of people threatening you is something akin to “aggravated assault” since there is more than one other person. Ten people using their fists against you should be adjudicated as deadly as a gun or a baseball bat or a knife, etc.

I live in Texas, and the law says this (in part) about Deadly Force:

Sec. 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PRSON. (a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:

(1) if the actor would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31; and

(2) when and to the degree the actor reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:

(A) to protect the actor against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or

(B) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

(b) The actor’s belief under Subsection (a)(2) that the deadly force was immediately necessary as described by that subdivision is presumed to be reasonable if the actor:

(1) knew or had reason to believe that the person against whom the deadly force was used:

(A) unlawfully and with force entered, or was attempting to enter unlawfully and with force, the actor’s occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment;

(B) unlawfully and with force removed, or was attempting to remove unlawfully and with force, the actor from the actor’s habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment; or

(C.) was committing or attempting to commit an offense described by Subsection (a)(2)(B);

As you might be able to see, there is no use of deadly force authorized against assault or aggravated assault. That strikes me as odd.

This is problematic because the BLM mob was not trying to kidnap, sexually assault, rob, (or so we are aware of) murder the guy. Even under the regular use of force laws of Texas - that I could find - the use of force is not authorized to defend assault. Since the guy was in his vehicle, it looks like 9.32(b)(1)(B) would apply since the mob attempted to remove him from his vehicle, but if none of the mob were holding guns or weapons, then the use of a firearm does not appear to have been justified.

The trick is that nobody may use deadly force (in any jurisdiction of the U.S. that I am aware of) until it becomes obvious that it is necessary against death, or severe injury. However, how would a person not reasonably be afraid of death or severe injury from a large, angry, and/or violent mob?

In this case, it would only be the very moment someone stuck their hand in the car, to rip him out, or opened his door without his consent, or some other unclear moment where he would have had the slim opportunity to use a firearm. After this, he was beaten by a number of people and kicked unconscious, rendering him unable to use his weapon.

I am afraid because this appears to be how many of these mob interactions go for many people, nothing happens, nothing happens, nothing happens, and then BOOM suddenly they are ganged up on and savaged. There are other interactions where people are not attacked by the mob but simply screamed at. In those cases, deadly force would not have been reasonable, but things can turn in a moment and the law asks people to be right on the money, accurately predicting or being “cool hand luke” and pulling the firearm exactly in the nick of time when moment for deadly force makes itself apparent.

I am afraid because it takes some people some time to process, maybe minutes or maybe moments, but that is enough time to have something bad happen and the person would be punished in court for attempting to do the right thing. However, the use of a firearm may have prevented this severe injury to this man and his wife this way, as the mob jackboots would likely scatter when the gunshots rang out.

I am not sure how the different and various regional laws in the U.S. address being attacked or threatened by a mob in the use of deadly force, so I am interested to see or find out what known resources there are for this.

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There are a number of threads about similar topics already going in the Community (one is Should you shoot? Riot edition) so definitely check those out as well.

In most states, the criteria for the use of deadly force is imminent, unavoidable danger of death or grave bodily harm of an innocent party. The use of lethal force is often based on the “reasonable person” test. What would a reasonable person do in a similar situation?

If you are in a car surrounded by an angry mob who is beating on your car and breaking windows, do you know what their intention is? Do you know if they’re planning on killing you? Hurting you? Abducting you? You can’t know for sure.

You have to make the best judgement you can - can you get away? Are you safer not moving? There isn’t a one size fits all answer to this hypothetical as there are too many possibilities.

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@Andrew104 Welcome to the community. It is easy to over think on such a serious subject.

Texas is a Castle Doctrine and “stand your ground” state. Texas law presumes you acted reasonably and justifiably if you use deadly force to protect yourself against an unlawful, forceful intrusion into your occupied habitation (structures that are detached from where you sleep at night are not considered to be your habitation), vehicle or place of business or employment; or to prevent an unlawful, forceful attempt to remove a lawful occupant from the occupied habitation, vehicle or place of business or employment; or to prevent certain serious felonies such as burglary or arson. There is no duty to retreat if faced with a situation where you have to use force or deadly force to protect yourself or another.

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I am not sure if you saw the same version of the video I did. I saw a pretty strong kick to the head, which rendered the guy unconscious. This is attempted murder, feel free to disagree with me.

But you answered your own question here. A person surrounded by angry, violent mob is obviously at the risk of death or severe injury. The video you cited, along with a myriad of similar videos is a testament to this.

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Welcome to the family brother!

The use of deadly force can be used if there is a threat of imminent serious bodily harm or death. I am unsure of the circumstances in this case, as I wasn’t there. However, I am curious of the course of events that led up to the video. What you don’t see is why, if there’s a reason, he was pulled out of the vehicle, and how it ended up wrecked. If he attempted to run down “protesters” for no cause, he is in the wrong. I’m not saying what happened to him was right, by any means, but if he provoked the attack, the use of deadly force is unlawful. Your vehicle is a deadly weapon, and if you come under attack in your vehicle, drive away and call the police. Side note…I believe under Texas Castle doctrine, the use of force to prevent you being removed, or to otherwise protect your vehicle, ends when you exit the vehicle.

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Oh yes, I agree in practice that that there is a risk of death or severe injury. I guess I’m pointing out - in a legal sense - whether or not there is a PRESUMPTION of death or severe injury simply based on the fact that there is an angry mob.

There are protests where people do not get kicked or assaulted, only shouted at, so I’m wondering what kind of defense it is to pull your weapon just because a large mob is shouting at you.

To your first point, I think you are right and that it is easily arguable to be attempted murder, but the guy was already downed by the time that happened. The point where he could have pulled the gun had passed. It raises the question about whether or not a group beating presumes murderous intent.

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I would hope that the court system looks upon the “reasonable person” standard here in Texas. I will look at those resources you pointed to.

You may be familiar with this story, in which a BLM protester had an AK47 at a protest and he approached a car stopped by the BLM mob with the weapon. The details about whether or not the weapon was drawn at the driver were obscured, but video seems to indicate he may have pointed it at the driver causing him to shoot.

I think any reasonable person would shoot Mr. Garrett seeing an armed assailant approaching their vehicle. Even if the weapon wasn’t drawn, or pointed at the driver, having a weapon brandished at a protest seems “meanacing” in a way that indicates its immediate use if the holder doesn’t like how the interaction is going. Further, the situation is aggravated by there being a mob of other (non-weapon) holding individuals apparently siding with Mr. Garrett.

Since we are allowed to open-carry, and if a weapon is not pointed at a person, we have to assume no ill-intent. However, if we wait until they draw the weapon on us… it’s too late to pull mine out in response. I suppose my post is an effort to highlight the “quickness” with which a person who desires to defend themselves is expected to make decisions. A quickness that is not fair and is not in their favor when it comes to the legal side of defense.

You’re either dead, severely injured, or in jail for making a miscalculation or not knowing the law. I know owning and using a gun demands great care out of the wielder, but it’s like asking every gun owner to be an attorney and a green beret.

Thank you for your response.

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Thank you, and yes, somebody else mentioned the Castle Doctrine. I did read a bit into that and see that I’m not under any duty to retreat, so I think that solidifies my position a bit better as far as being ripped out of my car.

After more consideration, my car is also considered my property, but if protesters are damaging it with bats, or just their feet or hands, I’m not sure there’s much I can do about that. Just hope that insurance would pay for repairs.

I think states probably need to create new “mob” laws, which directly address what people are allowed to do in these situations, given that the mob is not usually trying to rob, murder, kidnap people. It’s generally just assault, aggravated assault, or battery, which makes the gun thing a bit hairy if the person is supposed to reasonably determine what the mob’s intent is.

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Thank you for your response,

I did not consider this, but that certainly strengthens the use of force or deadly force against a person (who is part of a mob) who is trying to remove me from a vehicle.

The other interesting hypothetical would be what if i was not in a vehicle or my house, but I was in a public place that I was allowed to be, such as a part or an intersection.

Believe it or not, I went into a coffee shop in Washington D.C. once and when I came out I was inadvertently in the middle of a street protest. It was some years ago, and I forgot what it was for, but I left quickly. Had I been wearing anything indicating my political affiliation, the members of the protest could have turned on me.

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Protesters at a 2A rallies carry firearms. Having a firearm isn’t in itself brandishing in a way that intimidates. It’s the interpretation of intent perceived. IMO a lot of the perceived information comes from what we see in the news. If you see a bunch of “protests” on the news such as this one, it is easy to believe one would assume they are all this way, when in reality they are not. So our brains put us in a precarious position out of the gate. It is up to us to put that aside and give the situation a fair shake. The best way to prevent this scenario from happening is to avoid the area in the first place. We all know the area in which we live, and alternate routes to take if there is a problem with the normal one.

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This is not different from, e.g, home invasion, like, maybe they just want your TV and some cash, or maybe they will just break the door and step inside, realize there is people in the house and leave. It all depends on luck, but I cannot recommend asking yourself “Do I feel lucky?” as a prudent survival step.

You connected two separate independent questions. One is the murderous intent. A jury of our peers may or may not think so. IMHO, when a person is down and receives a strike that can end his life, it is called an execution.
The other is avoiding that state when you are down and defenceless. As @Dawn pointed out, there are other topics where tactics where discussed, and folks who worked Diplomatic Security opined.

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Well, there’s the whole issue isn’t it!
Ask any cop today…

For me, the trick is to simply NOT GO where this sort of thing is or has been happening recently. If you go into Seattle or Portland this last couple of months, you’re de facto looking for an altercation.

Just my opinion.

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Not sure about Texas, but in my state, an occupied vehicle is covered under our castle doctrine. I can’t use lethal force to protect my unoccupied car, but lethal force is justified if someone (me) is in the car and someone else is trying to get in, pull me out, or even damage it (which could render it inoperable).

Please check your state laws and case history, but look for that specific type of scenario with occupied vehicles.

Also agree that “best defense no be there” (Miyagi Doctrine), but I had a situation like yours last month in the suburbs. I was just walking with my kids when we found ourselves in the middle of a protest march. Luckily they were protesters and not rioters, but the new reality is that it could happen anywhere, any time. I’d still avoid downtown at night, though.

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I am just waiting for this to happen to a CCP carrier to put down some of these people. I also hope he has done a lot of practice with his hand gun. I do not want this to happen to anyone but maybe he/she can lay down 2 or 3 before they back off. It is just a matter of time before this happens.

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You will not have time for a front sight, which is the reason for learning to point shoot.

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I totally agree, at the same time what guy doesn’t carry a knife? There were a lot of femoral arteries as soon as his knees hit the ground. This is war!


I’ve seen this video 1 too many times! So legally at what point does this guy have the right to defeat his aggressors, that’s plural, is it when he is ripped from the vehicle or when he looses consciousness! Law be damned, when my life is at risk. This guy has no recourse and the offenders will never feel the handcuffs. We are on our own!

It’s obvious we’re just going to sit here and take it! Where is the outrage! Or is this the new normal?

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The current state of this country will never be my “new normal”. I despise that phrase. My wife and I will not be victims.

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image
At least he had a choice!


I’m choosing to win! I saw no lawyers or law enforcement choosing to help this guy! There’s only one (1) law on the books that could have saved that guy in a FREE COUNTRY…”the RIGHT of the PEOPLE to KEEP and BEAR ARMS, SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED.”

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New information about the story out of Portland.

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