Monday, April 20, 2015

WV: Case Illustrates how Fisticuffs Justify Deadly Force

I have explained in previous articles how someone threatening to punch you is a potentially deadly threat.  People sometimes have a preconceived notion that a "fist fight" is  not a real threat.    Some of this may come from watching television and the movies.   Watching them, you can receive 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.

Another source may be a carryover of the "code duello", which was fairly common, even into the late 20th century, and is still practiced in some locations.  In this version of the code, a man is invited to "settle differences" outside.   Bystanders are recruited to assure that the fight is "fair" in that certain rules are followed.   Usually these include: no weapons, no stomping, kicking, eye gouging, or biting.  No hitting a person once they are down on the ground.   The point is that the fight is controlled, at lest nominally, by impartial parties, and that there are limits.

In a situation where one person is the aggressor, and the other is not a willing participant, the situation is far different.   First, a single punch to the head can be, and fairly often is, deadly.  This has been well documented.   In addition, everyone knows that a punch to the head can easily knock a person unconscious.  Then they are at the mercy of the person who knocked them out, and can be killed or maimed with little effort.  It appears that was the defense used in this case.   From
While being questioned by Kelley, Leggett said Bailey approached him with his fists up when he tried to leave the club.

Leggett said he had a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver for protection, and had not expected to see Bailey the morning of Dec. 8, 2013. He stated when Bailey came toward him, he did not see any weapons, but did not know if Bailey had anything in his fists. Leggett also said he feared Bailey could knock him unconscious, then take his gun.
Another interesting aspect of this case is that it involves a black man shooting and killing an "unarmed" white man.   It does not fit the approved template of racism that the old media has been pushing, so it was not pushed to the national stage.   In this case, the person shot was only threatening with his fists, and did not actually hit the person who had the gun, as happened in the Treyvon Martin/ George Zimmerman case.

The jury found Leggett's defense persuasive, and found him not guilty of first degree murder.   I was not on the jury.  I did not hear all the evidence in the case, and I believe that we should support jury verdicts.   Juries are far from perfect, they are just better than the alternatives.

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