Publix supermarket
Publix supermarket (shutterstock)
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Using force to protect third-parties poses all manner of dangers to a good guy with a gun.  Sometimes though, it’s clear to even most low-information types that force is justified against an attacker of a third party.

That’s exactly what happened outside a Largo, Florida Publix supermarket. A man stomped his pregnant girlfriend’s head and upper body after punching her in the face repeatedly.

A good guy with a gun and a concealed carry license saw the attack in progress and intervened. Cops say when the boyfriend figured out he was about to meet his maker to answer for his sins, he behaved in a more civilized manner until police arrived and applied a complimentary set of bracelets to the baby daddy.

From the Miami Herald . . .

A bystander drew his gun on a man accused of beating and stomping on his pregnant girlfriend outside a Publix super market, ending the “brutal” attack, Florida deputies say.

The incident occurred around 5:15 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, in the parking lot of the Largo grocery store, according to an arrest affidavit. The woman told Pinellas County deputies that her boyfriend, Cole Danisment, 27, got angry and punched her in the face repeatedly.

She fell to the ground, and Danisment is then accused of stomping on her head and upper body.

The woman told deputies that Danisment knew she was 14 weeks pregnant with his unborn child. A man who witnessed the attack said he feared for the woman’s life, prompting him to intervene.

Danisment didn’t stop brutalizing the woman until the witness pulled a gun on him, according to the affidavit.

Cole Danisment
Cole Danisment

This story brings back memories of a domestic attack I witnessed almost thirty years ago.  Wow, I’m getting old.

Back in the mid-1990s I worked at an office that overlooked the parking lot for a local park district headquarters. One evening around 6pm or so I saw a car pull into the lot in a rather reckless manner. The staff left at 5pm so the lot was almost completely empty.

A young woman in her late teens emerged from the passenger seat carrying a very young baby, maybe a month old. She looked scared from my vantage point, maybe 30 yards away. At first I thought maybe the baby wasn’t breathing or something.

Then from the driver’s seat emerged a big guy. He looked really angry. His body language provided plenty of clues, even to a then-novice at analyzing such things like me. And then there was him screaming “I’m going to (effin’) kill you.” That was clue number two.

He stomped around the car as I was dialing 9-1-1. The dispatcher picked up just as the male half slugged her with a powerful roundhouse punch to the side of her head. He nearly knocked her down, but she shielded the baby and the car propped her up as her legs wobbled.

I was processing what’s happening, feeling my adrenaline dump as the dispatcher asked for the location of the emergency.

“Park District headquarters on Kenwood in Champaign. Violent domestic. Guy just slugged a woman holding a newborn baby. White male, big guy, 20s, driving the car in the lot.  Send police. Hurry. He’s still hitting her.”

I hung up and grabbed my new cell phone which was about the size (and weight) of a small brick and ran downstairs and out of the building.

Screen capture by Boch via Youtube.

No, I didn’t have a gun. I didn’t know a lick of Krav and I didn’t even know how to throw a proper punch. Heck, I didn’t have a blade or know how to use one defensively, let alone offensively. In short, I didn’t have a clue.

At the same time, I knew I had to do something. I couldn’t sit by and let this guy follow through on his threat and do nothing.

As I emerged from the office at a near run, I saw the guy continuing to pummel the crap out of the girl as she’s trying to hold onto and shield the baby at the same time. He then heard me shouting at him from the curb across the street.

I had called 911 again to give them an update. Standing about sixty feet away, across the street from me, he heard me giving the dispatcher his description and it didn’t take a degree in bartending to know the police were on the way…and I was the reporting party.

So imagine my surprise when he stopped beating the girl and came after me with rage in his eyes that I could easily see from from across the not-so-busy street. I was now the focus of the guy who apparently liked his woman like he liked his chicken — battered. He clearly intended to tune me up as well.

Fortunately I had good tennis shoes and the Nike Defense™ worked well enough for the next sixty seconds or so. Good thing big guys don’t run particularly fast.

Of course, as I was still carrying a two-pound phone, I relayed the newfound urgency of a rapid police response for my own personal self-interest. To which the dispatcher said, “they’re coming.” Then he asked me if the girl needs medical attention as I’m running for my life. Jesus H. Christ.

What I didn’t know was my boss also called 911. Finally, I heard sirens and the sounds of an engine or two straining sans sirens. My pursuer had ears too, and ceased his efforts to punish me — now a hundred-some yards or more south of our original location — and he began returning to his car. He got there in time for the boys in blue (well, brown and green at the time) to give him a proper greeting.

If it hadn’t been for my boss also witnessing the attack, the cops told me they might not have been able to arrest her attacker/boyfriend/baby daddy. After all, the girl said he never hit her. She swore up and down the marks and bruises on her face and body were from her falling down the stairs or something equally preposterous. And the cops knew that without her cooperation, the odds of a successful domestic violence charge and prosecution were slim to none.

But with two impartial witnesses with a clear view of what happened, that trumped the girl’s claim (and her attacker’s) that the baby daddy never touched her.

Seeing the story from Florida today, it’s good that things worked out well for the good guy Florida man. But if I’d had a gun back then and no other witnesses, it could have gone very badly for me if both the attacker and his victim both swore that I pulled a gun on him for no good reason.

That first-hand lesson in dealing with domestic disputes still lives with me to this day, obviously.

Be careful out there, folks. Thankfully there are many more cameras just about everywhere today. That can help if you act to the standard by which you will be judged. But coming to the defense of a third party, especially in a domestic violence situation, has the potential to become a real loser for the good guy.

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  1. When it comes to prison tattoos a butterfly or a dolphin on someone’s neck signifies that they are bottoms that can be abused. Getting the tattoo isn’t voluntary. No wonder the man was off his rocker, he probably has extreme PTSD caused by getting raped more times than he can count.

  2. Interesting tale Boch…good on you helping. I intervened in the subway( El) in Chicago several times on the 1980’s. I was big & strong and fearless. No weapons of any kind. Would I pull a gat now at 19 months from 70? If loved ones or woman/children involved probably yes. Man you had an early phone🙄

  3. I had one of those domestics show up in the car in front of me one day, been about five years ago. Stuck in traffic on the interstate ’cause of a big accident. The car ahead of me, male driving and female passenger. Through their rear windshield I saw the man reach over and start punching the woman. She manages to get the door open and is screaming for help but he has grabbed her hair and is still holding her partially in the car by the hair and is beating the crap out of her then from somewhere brings out this long object that I thought was a knife. Anyway, me and one other guy were out of our cars and went to help – this was a case of if we did not do something he was probably going to kill this woman. Now this is all taking place in a 30 second window of time from when I first saw it start to when we stopped it.

    The resolution to stop it; Me and the other guy (who it turned out was an off duty police detective in plain clothes on the way home) drew our guns and I went to the passenger side and when the man saw me aiming at him he let her go and dropped the knife and the other guy was at the drivers side and ordered him out of the car at gun point. The woman is being tended to by a couple in another car so I went back around to the drivers side where the bad guy in now on the ground face down. This almost-murderer got real docile with guns aimed at him.

  4. I will relay a story from the early 90s. Was that a country bar and saw a dude manhandling his girl. I wasn’t in uniform and since I was a varsity wrestler in college I was never afraid to put my hands on someone. I decided to teach the guy a lesson and really put a hurting on him. Right before I dislocated his shoulder though his girlfriend baby mama whatever decided to beat the crap out of me with a bar stool and anything else she could get her hands on. Lesson learned.

    • There’s an Eminim/Rhianna duet from a few years ago titled Love The Way You Lie that addresses the complicated relationship between an abusive man and the frightened woman who chooses to stay with him.

      Hint: Listen to the Rhianna version. The Eminem version is a bit too “rappy”.

  5. Fortunately, Publix has cameras *everywhere*, including the parking lots, so that can make a real difference when it comes to charges filed…

    • The camera’s birds’ eye view may not tell the story – if the assault was in a closed car, seeing him punch his woman may not happen. You have to be right on the money with your story and it better match or the DA will send you away.

  6. What are you guys complaining about? I was paid to go to that everyday for 25 years. And yes. I was that off duty guy more than once.

    • Yes, but if you were a cop you had “qualified immunity” that us ordinary citizens do not have.
      Big difference.

  7. It’s hard to feel sorry for a battered woman. Even a incredibly ugly woman can find a decent man to let in the sugar jar. Some of them seem to like it. As evidenced by refusing to press charges. Perhaps she should be more discerning about who gets some pie.

    • “Some of them seem to like it.”

      It’s not an issue of them “liking it”, it’s most often a symptom of their near-total lack of self-worth, and-or that they believe that they deserve the abuse… 🙁

      • low self esteem, no idea how to raise a kid alone, fear of retribution.
        “why do you go out with that sadist?”
        “beats me!”

        • It’s fucked-up, and the worst part is, there is just so MUCH of that crap out there.

          For some folks, getting abuse is better than being ignored.

          Some people really are human garbage… ;(

        • @Geoff … what’s amazing to me is the number of men and women who would rather live with someone they hate than live alone. I’ve got two neighbors now like that. One is especially bad — insults her with strangers around, sneers at everything she says, she obviously hates it, but doesn’t want to live by herself or find a new man. He’s just as bad — she’s deluded about her 32 year old criminal son, he’s come to me several times almost crying about divorcing her, but goes back and follows her line in pretending their son is not a criminal.

      • Can you imagine a woman like that’s upbringing? She was lost a long time ago, which parents that would treat her like that.

        • Maybe not a parent, but an early relationship where she (mistakenly) thought he ‘loved her’… ;(

    • It’s sad, but some women don’t know what a good man looks like. If all their male role models were garbage, it’s hard to imagine someone who isn’t.

      Our number one job is to be good male and female role models for our children. Once they know what a good man and a good woman looks like, they will not accept anything else.

      Good parenting would fix most of the problems in this world.

  8. Officer bill I can’t feel sorry for him, if you are a small guy don’t be fouling up. Not wanting to be Rufus Johnson’s bitch is part of the deterrent.

  9. I would help a stranger who was getting a beat down in front of Publix, but definitely not if it was in front of Winn-Dixie.

  10. Gotta be careful. I watched a guy kicking his girlfriend(?) in the head and when I intervened she jumped on my back and tried to scratch my eyes out.

  11. Neck tattoos are a very visible sign that someone has poor judgement.

    Yes – I do judge books by their covers. That has served me well in life.

    • Damn good thing there was never a law like that at the founding of our Nation.

      I expect it will pass, and likely be nuked as unconstitutional before it’s future implementation date…

  12. Domestics are f*ed up situations. The cops I’ve spoken to socially say they are some of the most dangerous situations they’ve encountered. Some women will attack cops for interfering, even if the guy is beating them to a pulp. High emotion and irrationality rule. I hope I never encounter one.

    • Cops answering a domestic disturbance call found the guy trying to drown the gal in the bathtub. They pull him off and start to cuff him when one cop feels a blow on his back. The gal was trying to stab the cop to keep them from arresting “her man”.

  13. I was in my apartment one evening about 30 years ago when someone knocked quietly on the door. Long story short, an abused woman wanting me to hide her or protect her, I forget now. She came just inside, door still open, her boyfriend came in, looked at me, said “we don’t want any problems” and hauled her out. She turned to me at the last minute and mouthed “help me”. I immediately called 9-1-1, but it was an apartment complex, I didn’t know where they lived, and I never saw either again or heard what happened. I had the slight hope that since she had found out a stranger, she might have the gumption to press charges or escape again.

  14. My story isn’t nearly as cool but…..I had just graduated high school and I was a baseball player. Still had dreams of playing ball after HS, so I was always going to batting cages, usually 4-5 times a week. All that to say that I always had my bat in the car. Anyhow, driving in a not so nice part of town one day, I see two guys harassing a girl at a phone booth (yes, I’m old now). Anyway, one of them that turned out to be her BF was smacking her around and the other scumbag was watching and laughing. I looked as I went by and one of them saw me looking and said something to the effect of what are you gonna do about it. So I whip a shitty, pull into the parking lot, grab my bat out of the backseat and ran up on them. The “tough guys” decided they didn’t want to take a bat to them so they turn and run off. My adrenaline is pumping and I yelled that’s what I’m gonna do about it thinking I sounded tough but it came out really cheesy. Good times.

    • That was then, now you’d have probably been shot.
      There he lays, ball bat in hand, car parked over there.
      Be careful, as I remind everyone who buys or owns a gunm, the bad guys more then likely have one too.

  15. Deputies said there was a no contact order against Danisment after his arrest on a domestic battery charge a week prior, but it did not stop his “pattern of violence” toward his girlfriend.

    He didn’t abide by the no contact order? He looks like such a fine upstanding citizen. I’m shocked!

    • “no contact” (“protective”, “restraining”) orders are just, basically, legal ‘fences’, not actual protections. They are things that if violated gives the law an excuse to prosecute, like a fence is a ‘demarcation’ that one must pass around or over to be considered as trespassing or for some other legal justification of prosecution or action.

      These orders don’t actually provide ‘protection’ per se’ like people think they do. And I doubt the view of reality of people that think they are really ‘protective’ as the person so ordered is able to ‘violate’ them at any time and its only strength is in the willingness to obey the order, like the law where its true strength lies in the willingness of society to obey the law.

      Its common for such orders to not keep violent people from enacting violence against the person the order is suppose to ‘protect’. For a violent person they are a joke.

  16. I am now retired. I do not inject myself into situations that do not affect my family or me directly, not my circus, not my clown. If a person gets physically abused and stays with their significant other /abuser, well they are just stupid or have some dependancy issue. Again, not my problem. I used to care, but as I got older it became clear that most people are there own worst enemy usually based on their behaviour. Interjecting yourself into their issues never turns out very good for you, but then again some people just thrive on drama in their life. I live a drama free life and it serves me well. Just my opinion based on experience from almost 30 years on the job. Your mileage may vary.

  17. “I knew I had to do something.”

    And folks that’s where problems often start.

    if you’re not Johnny Law don’t act like Johnny Law.

  18. Your personal account demonstrates the hazard of intervening in a DV scenario.
    How often has the battered victim claimed that the rescuer just point a gun at them for no reason?

  19. Probably wouldn’t intervene. I have no problem stopping the attacker to defend a third party but if he comes at you unarmed afterward, I’m not risking a beating. Cap the dude and the Pigs and the local DA are comin after you. Sorry lady, I’m not punishing my family because you made poor partner decisions. Fix the demon government and sure, I’ll risk more for a stranger.


  21. this is a good story. Don’t intervene unless you have a another witness to the attack. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t go up to the person and say ‘excuse me, do you have any Grey Poupon?’. This should throw them off their stride. But seriously, unless the person is within an inch of their life, don’t intervene, especially if it appears to be a domestic incident.

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