Monday, December 01, 2014

A Punch to the Head is Potential Deadly Force

If you watch television and the movies, you might get the impression that a punch to the head is no big deal.  That is not true.  A punch to the head is a very serious attack.  It can disable.   It can maim.  It can kill.  The head is a vulnerable target, which is why an attacker aims for it.  I first became aware of  the deadly potential of one punch to the head in the 1970's, from a long forgotten news story.   Later, the son of a close friend killed a man with one punch.  He was eventually found not guilty of manslaughter, but only after a long and expensive legal fight.

We owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Kokette of Madison, Wisconsin for producing One Punch Homicide, which documents the surprising numbers of one punch homicides that occur in the United States and around the world.  From simple Internet searches, he has compiled a list of 114 one punch homicides in the United States.  I am sure that the list is far from complete.

Everyone understands that a punch is more likely to knock you out rather than kill you.   But there is little practical difference for someone who is intent on defending themselves.   Once you are knocked out, you are at the mercy of your attacker.   They then have the choice of killing or maiming you at their leisure.  From
Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg of King County, which includes Seattle, Washington, says King County has four to six one punch homicides every year. If King County's one punch homicide rate is average for the U.S., which is impossible to tell because no one in the U.S., including the FBI, keeps statistics on the subject, then the U.S. has between 500 and 1,000 one punch homicides every year. Although this isn't a huge number, it has other implications. Most single punches don't result in a death, but for every death by one punch, how many other people experience serious injuries, including brain damage, because of one punch - 10, 20, 50, 100, or more?
 Here is a well known case of one fatal punch from July of this year (2014):
LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) — A well-respected veteran soccer referee’s life was cut short by a punch delivered during a Detroit-area men’s league game.

John Bieniewicz, 44, died on July 1, two days after a player struck him at a community park in Livonia.
The standard for the use of deadly force is that you reasonably believe that you are defending yourself from force that can kill or severely injure you.   Once you know that a punch can kill or severely injure you, you can explain to a jury why, as a reasonable person, you were forced to threaten or use deadly force to defend yourself or others.

You do not have to allow yourself to be beaten before you defend yourself with deadly force; but you have to be able to reasonably explain why you understood that you were under the threat of potentially deadly force.

 ©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch


Unknown said...

"then the U.S. has between 500 and 1,000 one punch homicides every year. Although this isn't a huge number, it has other implications."
It has GREAT consequences if you are one of thrr 500-1,000!

Wireless.Phil said...

Yes, I remember a story in the news, a guy punched the other man who fell, hit his head and died, not so much from the punch, but from hitting his head.

Sluggo said...

It is usually not the punch that kills. It is what happens immediately afterward when the victim falls stunned or unconscious and his head bounces off the pavement. Anytime an assailant attempts to lay hands on you on a hard floor or pavement it is a deadly threat as there is a deadly weapon present.

Anonymous said...

A young girl just died last month from a single punch to the head:

I think it is very important that the threat of physical violence from another can quite easily justify lethal self-defense.

Anonymous said...

When will this be common knowledge? It seems like a firearm is a crutch rather than an asset with some people's use of force definitions. Unarmed does not mean not dangerous.

People watch to much TV and UFC and don't realize a street fight has no honor and that size is not an indicator of genetic abilities.

Even if I have a 80% success rate of winning without a firearm what will the criminal do if I am the 20%? What if i am winning and he pulls out a weapon and ends it? Even if I do win why should I play by a criminals rules and who will compensate me for my potential injuries and loss of quality of life?

Fighting in the ring is fine and respectable for sport but it is a primitive art. I don't take my horse to work or make fire with rocks, why use a fist when I have a gun. Humans are on top because of our brains not brawn. A criminal has no right to do any damage to my body.