Friday, January 23, 2015

FL: Judge rules; Fists are a Deadly Threat

Jason Kinsey, found justified in self defense shooting.

I have written about the concepts of disparity of force before, and of the fact that a punch to the head is a deadly threat.   Disparity of force can come into play in a number of ways.  The assailant can be much younger, stronger, bigger, faster, there can be multiple assailants, the element of surprise, or, an assailant with known martial arts skills. 

The concept is that the attacker or attackers are a serious threat to a person's life or bodily integrity because of factors that give them unequal power outside of their having a commonly identified deadly weapon, such as a knife, club, or gun.

Known martial arts/fighting skills seem to be one of the deciding factors in this case from Florida.   From the
But when Smith felt insulted and began shouting at neighbor Jason Kinsey, the confrontation did not end in fisticuffs. Instead, Kinsey, 20, fatally shot the unarmed teen — claiming he was defending himself against the martial arts expert.

A judge agreed. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge William Thomas last month ruled Kinsey indeed acted in self-defense, saying prosecutors are “discounting the enormity of Smith’s rage and the level of physical skill that Smith possessed as compared to Kinsey.”
Disparity of force has long been upheld by the Florida legal system.  It is a well understood and applied concept in the law.   A case that was pushed to the Third District Court of Appeals is that of Gabriel Mobley, who, with his friend, was attacked by surprise as they sat outside of a restaurant.   The attack was caught by surveillance video.

Gabriel Mobley

The judges on the Third District Court of appeals watched the video as part of the evidence presented.  It was clear that Mobley and friend were attacked by surprise, and that Mobley's friend was seriously injured in the initial attack.  The case was so clear cut that the Court of appeals granted Mobley immunity rather than waste state and local resources on the case.

The Kinsey and Smith case discussed at the start of this article occurred in 2013, but the legal decision finding that Kinsey was justified happened just last week.   Video also exists in this case, showing Smith threatening Kinsey.   Smith was known in the neighborhood as a proficient fighter who studied karate and who taught neighborhood kids how to defend themselves. 

Those who claim that fists are not deadly weapons have not considered the facts or the dynamics of street fights.   There are numerous cases every year where people are killed with one punch to the head.   Here is one example from Washington State.  Even if a person is not killed, serious brain injuries are common.  If a person is knocked unconscious, the victim is left to the mercy of the attacker, who can then kill, mutilate, or otherwise disable the now helpless victim.  To claim that a fistfight is not potential deadly force is simply to show an ignorance of reality.  

If you wish to look at a list of hundreds of people that have died from one punch to the head, you can look at the site created by Steve Kokette of Madison, Wisconsin,

There is no need for anyone who wishes to avoid the dangers of hand to hand fighting to submit to a beating, hoping that they will not be hurt severely.  We are not a society that establishes a pecking order based on mutual combat.

One of the fundamental precepts of civil society is the right to be left alone.  When a person attacks another without justification, they forfeit their rights, and sometimes, as in this case, their life.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

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