Unarmed Man Shot By Clerk
20 November 2015, Cincinnati, Ohio
According to reports, William Comer was unarmed…technically. Unarmed in the sense that he carried no firearm and probably no knife, at least.
However, he wound up shot, anyway.
When he walked into the Marathon Gas Station tonight, he didn’t have a firearm. When the clerks asked him to leave, he pulled out a pellet gun.
Now, some people (mostly internet commentators), would have you believe that this man didn’t deserve to be shot for pulling a pellet gun. The problem is that he was the only one who knew it was a pellet gun and it was his intention that his pellet gun be perceived as a real firearm.
It was, indeed, perceived as a real firearm and was reacted to as if it was a real firearm: He was shot by one of the clerks.
It is a generally accepted principle that is doesn’t matter what the criminal knows to be true. It’s what the victim perceives that counts.
The victims’ perception of this man’s violent assault was that he had pulled a pistol on them and that their life was under threat.
While there are no real tactical lessons to be taken from this, there IS a survivor’s lesson in this:
Perception is reality.
This comes into play for you before, during, and after a Defensive Gun Use (DGU).
In a state such as Texas, if you start an incident, you lose the presumption of self-defense. If you are out being an obnoxious little brat, then the witnesses to your DGU will relay that fact to the investigators.
Further, in the moments leading up to a DGU, you should be trying to prevent violence. If it’s not going to cost you blood, walking away is the way to go.
We live in a civilized society and part of being civilized is to be able to let words and gestures wash over you and beyond you.
Sometimes, though, the confrontation follows you when you try to walk away.
Having done your best to defuse the situation, there are times when the situation refuses to be defused and you need to stop what has become a threat, but pulling the trigger should still be your last option.
While not the subject of this blog entry, we recommend highly getting with your local police department or sheriff’s office and learning their policies on “The Continuum of Force”. This will detail to you what the local authorities consider to be the best methods of de-escalation and use of appropriate force without using excessive force.
Ultimately, though, you may have to resort to lethal force.
Ok. You’ve used force to stop a threat. Now what?
Is the scene secure? Are there still threats? If not, then you need to become not-a-threat as soon as possible.
You’ve called the police and dispatch has said that they’re on the way. You’ve hung up and called your lawyer and he’s on his way, too.
The officers who roll up may not be the officers dispatched in response to YOUR 9-1-1 call. The first officers on the scene may be responding to a different call. One in where a witness described you only as someone who “just shot some guy”.
The responding officers may not know that you’re the “good guy”.
DO NOT BE HOLDING A GUN IN YOUR HAND AT THAT TIME.
Be polite, be respectful. Follow the script that your lawyer has given you and do NOT deviate.
Good luck out there.