Question of the Day: Savagely Beaten By 3 “Unarmed” Attackers. WWYD?

Most of us would probably agree this constitutes clear Disparity of Force. We’d be on solid legal ground, using lethal force in defense of ourselves and loved ones. Would it make any difference if two of your assailants were female? If they were family? This is the ugly scenario faced by an Arizona man in the fall of 2008, as originally reported by kold.com . . .

The Players:

Larry: Age 37. The 14 year CCW holder had experience as a corrections officer, and firearms trainer, among other professions.

Attackers: three adult neighbors; two women in their 30s and one man, 26

The Stage: The sidewalk in front of Larry’s home. Larry’s wife has just rolled out the garbage cans and he is sitting on his bicycle chatting with her. It is early evening.

Two days prior, an argument had taken place, via text message, between Larry’s wife and one of two sisters that lived across the street. This evening, first one, then both of the sisters cross the street, fists raised, implying that they intended to do great bodily harm to Larry’s wife.

Larry attempts to calm the situation down verbally. When the force becomes physical, he puts himself in the middle of it and employs the “Soft Hands” techniques he learned as a prison guard. This only serves to embolden the already enraged pair and they turn their fists on him.

Things go from bad to worse as he is blind-sided by the live-in boyfriend of one sister who has run across the street to join in the beating. A punch to the temple nearly knocks him out and he sees stars.

Experiencing the savage nature of this attack, and fearing for the safety of his wife and young son, he draws his Glock 19 and fires three shots from the “Retention Position” at near contact distance. One woman is hit in the leg and the man is hit in the hand and stomach. He retreats to his house with the sister who has not been shot. This fight is over.

As Larry attempts to call for police and medical services, he retrieves a trauma kit from the garage and renders aid to the woman. (Yes, the same person who, just seconds before, was probably willing to stomp his skull in.) He has unloaded his gun and set it aside. The police arrive and he is taken in to custody. Several hours later he is booked into jail on aggravated assault charges.

The fight for his life lasted only seconds; the ensuing fight for his freedom was just getting started. Click here to read the rest of the story by esteemed firearms trainer Gila Hayes.

Meanwhile, what would you have done differently to (perhaps) defuse this situation? Should he have drawn his weapon earlier? Your thoughts please.

comments

  1. avatar Dave says:

    Stories like this makes me glad I live in a “Stand Your Ground” state. Those of you who don’t, stories like this should make you want to contact your legislator.

  2. avatar 2yellowdogs says:

    I can’t see that he did anything wrong. I might – repeat might – have fired a warning shot into the ground. But not being in the victim’s position, there’s no way to know if he felt he had the luxury of dealing with the situation that way.

    1. avatar Sam Perkins says:

      This so called “warning shot” is NOT justifiable in ANY case. They are both immoral and illegal. If you have enough time to discharge a “warning shot”, you’re NOT in immediate danger. If you were, the shot would be placed exactly where it’s supposed to be in order to stop a threat, on target.

      Leave these fable “warning shots” to where they belong, in TV and other fictional media! Because even if your “warning shot” “worked”, you may wind up succeeding at stopping a threat, but now you’re still going to have to answer to an unlawful/reckless discharge! Not to mention you may still face assault charges (or similar) because a “warning shot” could very easily be construed as aggressive. You NEVER use a firearm to win a fight, IE: you never display or discharge a firearm to make someone back down from you. The ONLY time it’s appropriate, morally and or legally, is to actually stop an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.

      Put it this way, it’d be REALLY hard for you to convince me, okay it’d be downright impossible to convince me, that you felt you were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm if you wasted a round on some grass or other non-target!

  3. avatar DevsAdvocate says:

    In New Jersey, I prolly would’ve been curb stomped. I’m not a weakling, but there is no way I could keep more than one attacker from taking me down.

  4. avatar A Critic says:

    Thanks for posting this, it reconfirms a life lesson I already learned: avoid cities.

  5. avatar stateisevil says:

    The state is truly evil. And most prosecutors are real life monsters.

  6. avatar mikeb302000 says:

    That’s a tough one. Since I don’t carry a gun, irresponsible and unprepared dreamer that I am, I would have taken a beating, and as I was going down I would have turned to my wife and said, “I told you to stop with the nasty texting.”

  7. avatar TheDentalWarrior says:

    Apparently, this was in Arizona. I thought Arizona was 2A-friendly?

    1. avatar Travis Leibold says:

      The Tucson area is kind of like our San Francisco….

  8. First, his wife deserves to have been beaten up over her mouth writing a check her you-know-what couldn’t cash. I sympathize with him defending his wife, but it is her fault.

    Second, Mr. Hickey responded too softly. If he was going to stop the attack, he should have stopped it by taking at least one of the two women down quickly. Two attackers allow an unknown third to step in too quickly, or for one to distract and the second to come in from behind.

    Third, I think a small amount of tactical retreating was in order. Stepping away from the street and towards the front door makes it clear that you have no desire to be the aggressor. Also, doing this while accidentally printing or showing the gun gives the other side the “oh, crap, a gun” time. (*) This also lets him use the bike, trash cans, etc. as a tactical barrier, and possibly pick up a weapon of opportunity (porch chair, tree limb, etc.) along the way.

    (*) Not sure this is 100% legal, but I’d be tempted to do this even if not.

    Fourth: go to the hospital after the fight. I agree with those who say not to ask for a hospital trip if you’re not hurt (that is BAD). However, if you’ve nearly passed out, they may have done something major to you. Seeing the white light means head trauma of some sort. Mr. Hickey should have said “I was hit in the head, and almost passed out. I still have symptoms X, Y, etc. I need medical attention.” The ER can take pictures if you are visibly bruised (claim it’s for a civil suit or for insurance, if you have to). This also helps with confusion if you don’t STFU; you can have the ER doctor testify as to the concussion you probably sustained.

    1. avatar James Felix says:

      First, his wife deserves to have been beaten up over her mouth writing a check her you-know-what couldn’t cash. I sympathize with him defending his wife, but it is her fault.

      That is complete, 100% unadulterated BS. I’ve lost count of the number of potential incidents I’ve walked away from while my would be opponent said an awful lot of things that called for a good ass kicking. The fact is though we live in a society, that society has laws, and the fault lies entirely with the person who initiates the physical violence.

      Second, Mr. Hickey responded too softly. If he was going to stop the attack, he should have stopped it by taking at least one of the two women down quickly. Two attackers allow an unknown third to step in too quickly, or for one to distract and the second to come in from behind

      Sound tactical advice if we’re talking about strangers demanding your wallet. But at the beginning of this fight the disparity of force was actually on Hickey’s side. If he were to ball up his fist and just drop one of the women right there he would undoubtedly have been booked for assault and would have had a much harder time getting out of it.

      1. That is complete, 100% unadulterated BS…. The fact is though we live in a society, that society has laws, and the fault lies entirely with the person who initiates the physical violence.
        As I’ve noted below, I thought Mrs. Hickey had incited the argument. That is not what the PDF said. Therefore, I was too strong in my language towards her.

        Legally and morally, the neighbor should not have attacked. She is morally wrong. The sister ganging up is wrong too. They cannot be excused from either their moral or legal culpability.

        This does not free Mrs. Hickey from her duty to her family to avoid trouble when she could. Perhaps there was no way to avoid this fight. Perhaps I’ve completely misread Gina Hayes’ summary, and the “argument” was entirely and utterly one-sided. In that case, there’s nothing Mrs. Hickey could have done differently. If, however, it was two-sided, then she unwisely incited this incident, and it helped get her husband in jail.

        “Fault” (responsibility for keeping X from happening, if you wish) is not a zero-sum game, and is also disconnected from legal responsibility. You can get more than 100% responsibility. Just because X shouldn’t have done Y doesn’t mean that Z shouldn’t have done some other action that allowed Y to occur in the first place.

        Had you beat up the loudmouths, they would be “to blame” for running their mouth and setting up the beating, even while you would not be relieved of any moral or legal responsibility for your actions. (The law still recognizes “incitement” and/or “heat of passion” defenses as mitigating circumstances, but you’re still guilty, just of less or deserving of a smaller punishment.)

        (I’ll hit the other issue momentarily.)

      2. If he were to ball up his fist and just drop one of the women right there he would undoubtedly have been booked for assault and would have had a much harder time getting out of it.
        Sorry, I wasn’t clear here. Let me try again.

        Mr. Hickey should not have been physical before the women started hitting. That would be assault.

        However, even during the screaming, he failed to take charge. He was reactionary. “… could you please go back to your side of the street?” IMHO, he should have been non-aggressive but firm “Do not step onto our property. We are going into the house. We will be happy to discuss the situation once you have calmed down.”

        Once the two women started hitting him, the situation is different. Instead of working on retreating pre-fight, NOW he’s in full retreat. To steal ideas from Game, he was being a submissive Gamma. Even Hickey says he probably encouraged them.

        I am not suggesting that he should have gone into full Seagal mode and snapped their necks or anything. Instead, ask “What would John Wayne do?” Act Alpha. Don’t duck your head and try to push a button. Put the women on the ground, with only as much force as needed. Do a fighting retreat towards the front door. Make it clear that you will make the fight even and painful, but that you are not the aggressor. If #3 joins, then you have to draw, but you do so under control and much more visibly.

        Mrs. Hickey should have either headed for the house or picked up something and entered the fight. A lot of Mr. Hickey’s indecision came from not knowing the tactical status of his wife or children. Most of all, she was in a position to know that man #3 was about to attack.

        Both Mr. and Mrs. Hickey failed to take control of the situation from the start. I don’t know if taking control would have stopped the three on one, but failing to take control ensured that it did escalate that far.

  9. avatar Magoo says:

    Mr. Hickey is extremely fortunate that he had a competent and fully engaged public defender (rare) and a technical team that included Mas Ayoob (rarer). And he still got two hung juries. He missed doing hard time by a hair’s breadth.

    I guess he and the wife should have gone in the house when they had the chance, if they had the chance.

    Maybe he did avoid the afore-billed savage beating by drawing his firearm and shooting his neighbors three times. Or maybe just a Housewives of Pima County catfight, we’ll never know. It is mildly curious to me that he and the wife decided to hold a family discussion out by the curb at the exact moment her arch-nemesis in the Neighborhood Drama (including nasty text messages) was sitting on her front porch. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be able to stand in your own driveway without being viciously assaulted by three hardened criminals, with no warning or provocation whatsoever. If that’s what happened.

    1. It is mildly curious to me that he and the wife decided to hold a family discussion out by the curb at the exact moment her arch-nemesis in the Neighborhood Drama (including nasty text messages) was sitting on her front porch.

      I should have included this in my previous post:

      Zeroth: Do NOT get into a fight with your neighbors. If you even so much as disagree with them, settle it quickly and yield what you have to as quickly as you have to.

      This man is lucky that the sisters only wanted to stomp his wife. Their house or car could have burned under mysterious circumstances one day while at work, or one night while everyone is home asleep.

      If you can’t be friendly with your neighbors, at least keep the peace.

      1. avatar Joshua says:

        I seemed to have missed any place that gave you insight into the manner of the disagreement between the women. Where did you see any indication that this incident was a result of the defendants wife “her mouth writing a check her you-know-what couldn’t cash”

        It seems like you are jumping to a conclusion I just didn’t get.

        1. Too late to do an edit.
          From the PDF:
          On the 15th, the women had argued – not in person, but by cell phone texts that included nasty name-calling. Mrs. Hickey filed a police report alleging telephonic harassment and threats.
          At first read, I thought this section meant that Mrs. Hickey had been doing the nasty name calling too, but I misread it. The author is ambiguous as to whether one or both parties were in the wrong. Therefore, I have to mostly withdraw point 1. I still fault her for her lack of discernment over allowing the argument to fester, but this is a less serious charge than incitement.

  10. avatar Joshua says:

    I read that when The Armed Citizen did the piece on this in December.
    He is very fortunate to have received the support he did. It is a great reminder that as a CCW or CHL holders. If you are going to use your weapon you better remember that they will likely cost you $100,000. It had better be a matter of life or death for you.

  11. avatar James Felix says:

    Once the violence started I don’t see how he could have meaningfully improved his performance.

    What I do think he could have done better would be to retreat into the house the moment he saw the women coming across the street in an aggressive posture. Go inside, call the cops and let them sort it out.

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    Had he shot only the male attacker, he probably wouldn’t have been arrested. But he also shot an unarmed woman who could not have been all that dangerous to a former corrections officer who has both firearms and hand-to-hand combat training. In Arizona or anywhere else, a man who shoots a woman is going to have a hard time establishing self-defense. A woman who shoots a man will often skate.

  13. avatar Nate says:

    This story is a great argument for some kind of less-lethal weapon, like pepper spray or even a baton. I agree that morally he was in the right, but as we can see, even in Arizona he got in legal hot water.

    1. avatar NeonCat says:

      Indeed. I read on some other site about how it looks a lot better for you if you’ve used a baton and a couple cans of mace before escalating to deadly force.

  14. avatar Blake says:

    I don’t see what Mr. Hickey could have done differently.

    Obviously, the case should never have come to trial.

    Were it me, I’d look for a way to leave the community. If a community is basically going to prosecute you because you used a gun to protect yourself, it’s community I don’t care to live in.

  15. avatar Aaron says:

    Do a Google search for “killed with one punch.” Pretty shocking that sometimes it only takes one good blow from *one* attacker to inflict lethal damage.

  16. avatar Blake says:

    I have to amend my earlier statement.

    Ayoob covers an incident similar to this one which I studied in my CCW class.

    Anyway, Hickey, rather than shutting up when the police arrived, should have immediately pressed charges against the people he shot. Or, at least told the cops that he wanted the three arrested for assault

  17. avatar A Critic says:

    Question of the Day: Savagely Beaten By 3 “Unarmed” Attackers. WWYD?

    No way to know unless it happens…but I think I would kick the guy in the balls, hit or elbow him in the throat, and proceed from there. I don’t think I’d draw my gun and if I went for a weapon it’d probably be the knife.

  18. avatar Magoo says:

    Question: When the first woman arrived and things started to get ugly, as in when or before the first blow was struck, why didn’t Hickey take his wife and go in the house?

  19. avatar Daniel says:

    Fashionably late, but here’s my take.

    A few years back, the downtown area where I live was the scene of a rash of muggings. A group of thugs were wandering around, beating people senseless and taking their cash. My brother was among the victims. The only reason he didn’t lose his money after being knocked down (and later hospitalized) was because he had a knife on him which he proceeded to plunge into one of his attackers before they all realized he wasn’t worth the trouble and fled. (It is worthy of note that he was not charged for stabbing one of his attackers.) He did this because it was reported that one of this group of thugs’ victims died from the savage beating he had sustained.

    Only a person who is skilled in administering beatings can know how far is too far before he delivers what can turn out to be fatal blows. And even then he may misjudge. If this man was indeed being savagely beaten by three people, his force response was completely appropriate. It is entirely possible that he may have died that day had he not made a show of force that was sure to end his beating.

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