I had a couple of questions regarding the appropriate time to deploy pepper spray. Last year I was at the Texas state fair. I was there with my girlfriend a buddy of mine and his girlfriend. On the way home, we took the DART train to get to where we had parked our car. It was the last train of the night and the train was packed. My buddy made a comment about how the train was taking forever to get going and then some guy (who I am 99% sure was heavily intoxicated) started screaming at my buddy. He was shouting things like “you motherf… let’s step off this train and fight” among other verbal obscenities for a good while. Basically out of nowhere… My friend literally made an observation out loud that the train was taking forever, did not use any obscenities, or say anything directed towards anyone.
I was legit scared he was about to start swinging on my buddy. I was directly between both of them along with my girlfriend. I told my girlfriend to retreat/swap positions with my buddy in case hands did start flying. We were unable to immediately retreat as we were packed in a good distance from the doors. I was also concerned if we just left, he was going to follow us outside the train. We ended up just standing there awkwardly letting this guy get up in our faces and yell. About 15 mins later the train conductor evacuated everyone off the bus for an unrelated reason.
With that said, if I hypothetically had a less than lethal means of defense like pepper spray, would I have been justified in using that to diffuse the situation and give us a better window to retreat? I was indeed in fear for my safety and the people around me even though it was just verbal.
What would you have recommended in that situation? Would you have done something differently? What is the appropriate time in general to deploy pepper spray? Can it be used in a threatening verbal altercation?
I legitimately thought with what he was saying it was going to escalate. The guy was bigger than both my friend and I combined so he had size on his side. While watching his hands, he would from time to time clench his hands into a fist. I just felt like and was a completely helpless victim. Hated that feeling and never want that to be a situation I deal with again…
Lessons I learned:
- NEVER ride the train if you can avoid it, especially at night. Use Uber, Lyft or whatever else. Even if the cost is greater. Your life is well worth the few extra $$$.
- Always be vigilant of your exits and always have an out in mind.
- Specific to my case, I should have had the DART app installed so I could have reported the incident without having to call the police while the dude was looking right at me.
- Watch the hands… He kept clenching his fists like he was going to swing
- Immediately separate your loved ones from the danger zone if at all possible.
- Do not further aggravate the aggressor. I stayed mostly silent as I was immediately in front of the guy. My friend who was right behind me was doing most of the diffusing even though we did nothing that warranted an apology.
- It’s better to leave with a bruised ego rather than on a stretcher. Thankfully when the train was evacuated we were able to blend into the crowd and separate ourselves from the aggressor.
Edited some things to make the story more clear.