GRAPHIC VIDEO: A Two-fer: Unarmed Deadly AND Excessive Force

Hey folks,

Just came across this video (courtesy of Caleb at Gun Nuts Media) of a street fight between a black man and a white man (and then two white men) in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York City. (NOTE: the video is both visually and audibly graphic, including brutal violence and use of racial epithets. NSFW.)

(For those of you who are, like me, old and historically minded, Far Rockaway is on the southeast corner of John F. Kennedy airport. On the northeast corner of the airport is Howard Beach, Queens, the site of the 1986 killing of black man Michael Griffith, who was chased onto a highway by an angry white mob. Seems the blue cities continue to have difficulties with their race relations.)

I’ve split the video into two segments. In the first, we see what appears to be the black male instigating a fight with the white male. It’s hard to see who initiates actual physical conflict, but the body language of the black male is clearly aggressive. For purposes of our discussion, we’ll assume the black male was the initial physical aggressor in the fight, and the white male responded with defensive force in response.

For the first 30 seconds the fight appears largely balanced between the two, ending on the ground with the black male on his back and the white male astride him. This clearly puts the black male at a considerable tactical disadvantage, and is essentially the reverse of the Zimmerman case in which Trayvon Martin attacked and “mounted” Zimmerman “ground-and-pound MMA style,” as testified to by an eye witness.

Nevertheless, the black male is still swinging or at least wrestling, and the white male is responding in kind.

Up to this point, a solid argument could be made that the white male is using force in lawful self defense.

Until, that is, the white male’s friend joins the fight, and begins kicking the black male–on his back–in the head. He delivers several kicks to the head. By the last of these the black male is clearly out of the fight, and mostly likely unconscious. It appears to me that in fact the black males ability to conduct offensive action ceased with the first kick to the head.

Here’s the video up through the kick-fest:

Had the white mail stopped his use of force at this point, with the threat presented by the black male neutralized, he would still have a reasonable claim of self-defense. (His friend, the field-goal kicker, would have a more problematic self-defense case, but that’s a different matter.)

Unfortunately, even after the kick-fest, when the black male is clearly incapable of either offensive of defensive conduct, the white male continues his use of force. Indeed, he increases it to a deadly force level–both because he is now smashing his fists into a literally defenseless victim and he begins to make use of the physical environment (e.g., the street) as ad hoc deadly force weapons (much like Trayvon Martin did in smashing George Zimmerman’s head on a sidewalk). Especially when he lifts the apparently unconscious black male’s head off the street in both hands, then smashes it back down on the asphalt, that’s a killing blow (although I do not know if death resulted).

Here’s the second portion of the video:

Note that this second video of the “fight,” during which the black male is for all apparent purposes helpless and no longer a threat of any sort, actually lasts twice as long as the first video.

That entire second video is classic “excessive force” for self-defense purposes, and not justifiable as necessary self-defense.

Even if the first 30 seconds of the fight by the white male was justifiable self-defense, every blow struck after the black male ceases to present a threat is simply an unlawful use of force, arguably even deadly force.

Should the black male die, I would anticipate a conviction of the white male on a charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Note also that this fight rose to a deadly force level without any traditional weapon (e.g., a knife, gun, club) being brought to bear.  All of these parties would be described by a lay person as being “unarmed.”  In fact, of course, they were armed with their fists, their feet, and the planet Earth.

About the Author

Andrew Branca
Andrew F. Branca, Esq. is currently in his third decade of practicing law, and is an internationally-recognized expert on the law of self-defense of the United States. Andrew is a Guest Lecturer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, a former Guest Instructor at the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-Benefactor Member, and an NRA Certified Instructor. He also teaches lawyers how to argue self-defense cases as a certified instructor with the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) system in numerous states around the country. Andrew is also a host on the Outdoor Channel’s TV show “The Best Defense” and contributor to the National Review Online. Andrew has been quoted as a SME (subject-matter expert) on use-of-force law by the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and many other mainstream media, including nationally syndicated broadcast media. Recently, Andrew won the UC Berkeley Law School debate on “Stand-Your-Ground,” and spoke at the NRA Annual Meeting Law Symposium on self-defense law. He is also a founding member of USCCA’s Legal Advisory Board. In addition to being a lawyer, Andrew is also a competitive handgun shooter, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.

2 Comments on "GRAPHIC VIDEO: A Two-fer: Unarmed Deadly AND Excessive Force"

  1. Andrew, I dont believe the attacker nor the victim are white. they both appear black. i dont wish to come off as prejudiced but this does not appear to be a racial attack.

  2. So how much force is too much?

    Scenario: You’re a good guy just minding his own business and some punk invites you to play the “knock out game.” You situational awareness is good, however, and after a few touch-and-go moments you have them on the ground, under your control, and they stop fighting you.

    Question: So do you just stop right there and perhaps let the threat jump back up and take another crack at you? OR – do you MAKE SURE the threat is not going to jump back up and take another crack at you?

    Neutralizing the threat, in my mind, means NEUTRALIZED to the point that I can breath again, and not be wondering if the punk is gonna jump back up and maybe get lucky and kick MY ASS the next go-round.

    However, I’m a neophite at any of this, and I’m really just here to learn.

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