Sunday, July 29, 2018

Practice 2018--Understanding Your Target

During your shooting practice, your target will normally tell you what you are doing whether its right or wrong. These targets were the result of a practice session where Steve and I were shooting the IDPA 5x5 classifier. 

Each target shows the results of six classifiers and we only taped the shots that were outside the zero-down scoring ring. Steve was shooting an XD(M)® 4.5" Model for all six classifiers. I shot my SIG P365 for the first two and a P320 Carry for the next four classifiers.

The 5x5 is shot on a single target placed 10 yards from the shooter as follows:

String 1: Draw and fire 5 shots freestyle.

String 2: Draw and fire 5 shots using primary hand only

String 3: Start with only 5 rounds in your pistol. Draw and fire 5 shots, emergency reload (slide lock) and fire 5 additional shots freestyle

String 4: Draw and fire 4 shots to the body and one shot to the head freestyle

Steve’s target on the left shows a relatively normal distribution of shots around the zero-down scoring ring. Some of the down three and misses were a result of speeding up to ensure we were shooting master times while doing our best with points. Steve fired one String #1 in under 2 seconds—really quick; however, points not so good. Steve’s target shows that he probably is executing the fundamentals correctly and just needs to tighten up his stance and sight alignment.

My first two classifiers with the P365 were Expert runs. I am getting better with the P365 and beginning to shoot Expert on demand without a warm up. I still do not have a proper holster (working on it) and that is causing a few issues with my draw.

I then switched to the SIG P320 Carry. Most of the shots on my target (on the right) show a distribution to the lower left of the zero-down scoring ring. Although some of the down threes were also a result of me speeding up to ensure I was shooting master times, the target indicates that I am tending to jerk the trigger. This is a problem that creeps up on me when I have not been practicing as often as I should and practicing with a deliberate focus. Out of four classifiers, the first was a Sharp Shooter (its been a long time since I put one of these in my shooting log) and three solid Experts for the next three as I applied a more deliberate focus.

During a practice session, your target will tell you what you are doing right and wrong. You must learn to read your target and then correct the errors to progress. Your goal of course is to do the Same Thing, the Correct Way, Every Time.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Thugs on Computers--Cyber Sextortion

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               FBI Video
Incidents of "cyber sextortion" are increasingly common with likely thousands of victims across the county. Sexual extortion, or "sextortion" is a cybercrime in which a criminal typically poses as an attractive man or woman and contacts the potential victim via social media, dating websites, or text messages. The online relationship quickly builds and eventually the victim and their online “friend” exchange explicit images and/or videos. An accomplice then contacts the victim and claims they have been interacting with an underage teen and that they now possess child pornographic material.

The sextortionist threatens public exposure and police notification if the victim does not send a specified sum of money via Western Union or similar companies. The amount extorted typically ranges from $50 to $1,000+ often with follow-on demands for additional payments. The victim may also receive a demand appearing to come from a police agency stating that an investigation will be launched unless the victim pays.

Sophisticated organized criminal networks often operate these online blackmail schemes with many operating out of business-like locations similar to call centers. These criminals often target hundreds of individuals around the world simultaneously in an attempt to increase their chances of finding a victim. 

Luis Mijangos
However, the sextortionst may be a lone individual as well. In 2011, the Federal Government prosecuted Luis Mijangos, a 32-year-old paraplegic hacker who had sent trojan emails and instant messages (“IMs”) embedded with malicious software and infected the computers of hundreds of victims. The malicious software gave him complete access to and control over the victims’ computers.

Investigators discovered that Mijangos had tricked scores of women and teenage girls into downloading malware onto their computers. The malicious software he employed provided access to all files, photos, and videos on the infected computers and allowed him to see everything they typed on their keyboards. The malicious software also allowed him to turn on any web camera and microphone attached to the computer whenever he wished. This capability allowed him to watch, listen, and record his victims without their knowledge. Mijangos kept detailed files on many of his victims and obtained information he would later use to threaten his victims.

Investigators found that Mijangos often sent malicious software disguised as popular songs or videos to his victims' computers who then unwittingly sent the malicious software to their friends and family. He read their emails, watched them through webcams without their knowledge and at times discovered nude photos they had taken of themselves on their computers. He also posed as some of the victims' boyfriends to convince them to send him nude pictures. Mijangos then threatened to post the images online unless his victims were willing to provide more racy photos or videos to him or if they went to police.

Mijangos’s threats were not idle. In at least one case, he posted nude photos of a victim on the Myspace account of a victim’s friend which Mijangos had also hacked, after she refused to comply with his demands. The 35-year-old woman spoke at Mijangos’ sentencing, describing the torment Mijangos inflicted upon her. The victim said Mijangos threatened to release more photos to her employer and that each time she signed onto her computer at work, he would harass and threaten her. "He haunts me every time I use the computer," she said. "You don't have to be in jail to feel trapped."

In all, federal investigators found more than 15,000 webcam-video captures, 900 audio recordings, and 13,000 screen captures on Mijangos’ computers. He possessed files associated with 129 computers and roughly 230 people. Of those, investigators determined that 44 of his victims were minors. The videos he surreptitiously recorded showed victims in various states of undress, getting out of the shower, and having sex with partners. In addition to the intimate material he seized from victims’ computers, federal authorities also found credit card and other online account information consistent with identity theft. Mijangos sometimes passed this information along to co-conspirators around the world.

How can you prevent being targeted?

Do not open attachments from people you do not know.

Turn off your electronic devices and web cameras when you are not using them.

Keep your anti-virus software and operating system up to date.

What to do if you believe you are being targeted?

Immediately cease all contact with the individual. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to do this forever?” The answer should be no. Additional contact just serves to keep you in the manipulative grasp of your abuser.

Report the matter to your local police or call your local FBI office or the FBI toll-free at 1-800-CALL-FBI

Do not pay the money which is being demanded.

Don’t delete anything: Evidence is absolutely necessary to measure the scope, length, and timeline of the exploitation. You may feel the urge to rid your computer of any memory of the situation out of embarrassment, but don’t. Keep it all. It’s no longer your shame to bear—it’s now your ammo to go after the creep.

Sextortionists often lurk on social media and look to target young victims. Warn your children to never send compromising images of themselves to anyone, no matter who they are—or who they say they are. Assure them that it is OK to talk to you about it if they received this type of contact.

Irony: Just as I was finishing this article, a senior government official with whom I work (in my day job) received a sextortion e-mail demanding a payment of several thousand dollars. It is likely that this e-mail was simultaneously sent to hundreds or thousands of people in the hope that someone would respond. However, in this case he sent the extortion demand to a federal government e-mail account and the amount he is demanding makes it a felony.  Not too smart.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Thugs in the Dark--A Low Light Scenario

HOUSTON 17 July 2018 – Police say a husband opened fire on two home invasion suspects as they tried to hold his wife at gunpoint as she arrived home around 10:30 p.m. According to the Houston Police, it started when the man’s wife pulled into their driveway. Two armed suspects ran up and tried to rob her. They took her purse and then tried to force her into the house. However, her husband heard the commotion from inside the house, grabbed his gun, and ended up exchanging gunfire with the intruders. Fortunately, the couple weren’t hit; however, the husband shot one of the suspects in the head, the other suspect took off running. 

Damn—I wish this guy was one of my students. This almost perfectly describes one of our low light scenarios. In part 1, I discussed some of the drills and a decision-based scenario we completed in our final low light practice session for 2017/18. This completes the 5th year for our low light curriculum and the shooters who have taken these classes and continued with practice sessions have noticeably improved in most low light shooting tasks.

One of the participants requested some decision-based scenarios for the last practice of the season so we conducted two. The decision based-scenarios we use are a surprise where proper target recognition, flashlight techniques, movement, and marksmanship are critical to success. We use photo realistic targets with a mix of threats and non-threats.

Scenario #2 is an attempted carjacking that turns into a kidnapping—a police officer sees the commotion and stops to intervene as well. Prebrief: I ask the participants the name of their wife, mother, or other family members to personalize the scenario.

Situation: The participants were at home expecting their spouse or other family member accompanied by a young child to arrive soon. Headlights appear in their driveway; however, their family members do not come in the house. The participant steps outside to determine the cause for delay; but, cannot see past the headlights. The participant calls out to their family member who immediately responds with cries for help.

The first participant quickly scanned the scene using his flashlight from cover and sees the bad guy holding his wife hostage. He engages this individual and the individual attempting to enter the driver’s side of his wife’s car. He continues to fixate on these two individuals despite the fact that other bad guys are threatening to kidnap his grandson. He does not continue to scan with his light and therefore does not see nor does he engage the other bad guys.

The second participant quickly scanned the scene using his flashlight from cover and sees the bad guy holding his wife hostage. He engages this individual and the individual attempting to enter the driver’s side of his wife’s car. He continues to scan in response to other bad guy’s threats to kidnap his son and sees the bad guy holding his son hostage. He engages this individual and the individual to the hostage taker’s left. He then sees the police officer; however, fails to recognize her even though she is yelling police.  He engages the police officer as well with a nice shot to the head. Oops.

The third participant quickly scanned the scene using his flashlight from cover and sees the bad guy holding his wife hostage. He engages this individual and the individual attempting to enter the driver’s side of his wife’s car. He then pauses and does nothing. In response to another bad guy’s threats to leave with his son, he scans and sees the bad guy holding his son hostage. He does not engage this individual however, and instead begins trying to negotiate with the hostage taker. As the hostage taker states he is departing with the boy, participant three shifts his pistol to his left hand, digs his phone out of his pocket, and attempts to call 911.

The fourth participant quickly scanned the scene using his flashlight from cover and sees the bad guy holding his wife hostage. He engages this individual and the individual attempting to enter the driver’s side of his wife’s car. He then pauses, in response to other bad guy’s threats to leave with his son, he scans and sees the bad guy holding his son hostage. He does not engage this individual however, and also begins trying to negotiate with the hostage taker. As the hostage taker states he is departing with his son, he keeps trying to talk the hostage taker out of departing with the boy until the scenario ends.

I determined that participant five’s initial techniques were unsafe and likely to cause him injury so I stopped the scenario before he engaged any bad guys.

This was the first decision scenario for one participant (#5). The other 4 had completed decision scenarios previously; however, not for 2+ years. For all of the participants, low light tactics, techniques, and procedures went completely out the window. Several shooters managed to avoid hitting targets that were well within ten yards even though they fired several rounds. Others misidentified non-threat targets and engaged them with enthusiasm. The stress associated with the scenario was a challenge as well with all semblance of good tactics drifting away as soon as the scenario began.

Participants found the decision scenarios very demanding with the two biggest challenges for the shooters were identifying and then hitting the threats—something the husband mentioned in the introduction did very well. 

As we start the 2018-19 Low Light season, I plan to do more of the low light decision-based scenarios.  These are challenging and I had gotten out of the habit of including them because they were so difficult for most students. However, I see their value and plan to do more.  I also plan to add force-on-force with airsoft for the more advanced students to add a little more realism. 

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

What is “Reasonable?" Messing Up by the Numbers

Frank Magliato
The State of NY v. Frank Magliato is often cited as an example of the application of the reasonable person criteria in judging a person’s actions and provides several important insights including: what constitutes reasonableness (i.e. reasonable behavior), how training can be a double-edged sword, and how flight is perceived as equaling guilt. 

What is a reasonable person? “Reasonable person” is a phrase frequently used in civil litigation and criminal law to denote a hypothetical person in society who exercises average care, skill, and judgment in conduct and who serves as a comparative standard for determining whether one’s actions are proper. A Westlaw search (reasonable /2 man) conducted on December 3, 1991 revealed that the term had appeared 23,320 times in the different state courts of America. 

In the 25+ years since that search it has undoubtedly appeared many more times. The decision whether an accused is guilty of a given offense might involve the application of an objective test in which the conduct of the accused is compared to that of a reasonable person, under similar circumstances, knowing what the accused knew at the time of the event. Understanding the concept of the reasonable person (man) is important to the citizen carrying a concealed weapon and one who finds themselves facing a court and answering for their actions resulting from a use of force or use of deadly force incident.

Background: During an altercation over a minor traffic accident, a passenger in one car (Giani) brandishing a club attacked Magliato. Magliato’s actions prior to the shooting, his actions during the incident, and his flight from the scene set the stage for Magliato being convicted of murder. Although his conviction was reduced under appeal, Magliato still served several years in prison. Some have speculated that had he remained on the scene and immediately contacted law enforcement, Magliato would likely have never been prosecuted. Let’s look at the court records of these events and the lessons we can learn from them.

First Encounter: On September 6, 1983, Donald Schneider and his friend Anthony Giani, (the deceased), drove to Washington Square Park. After a short stay, they departed and proceeded west on Houston Street when a rented red Ferrari driven by Frank Magliato, the defendant, came on the scene. Apparently, the station wagon Schneider was driving clipped the rear of the Ferrari; however, Schneider did not stop. Magliato followed the station wagon until it stopped for a traffic light where Magliato got out of his car. As he did so, Giani emerged from the station wagon carrying a nightstick. Initially, both men stood by their vehicles, facing each other and hurling curses. Giani then started toward Magliato and threatened to kill him and directed him to "get out of here."

Magliato returned to his car. In the interim the light had changed and Schneider drove off to find a parking spot, leaving Giani behind. Magliato followed the station wagon and Magliato’s passenger in the Ferrari, Edward Klaris, recorded the station wagon’s vehicle license plate number. After Schneider had parked his vehicle, Magliato drove past it and continued down the street where he spied Giani, who, apparently, was searching for Schneider. Court records show Magliato drove his car past Giani, barely missing him.

Magliato then went looking for a police officer. Failing to find one, he drove to his home, parked the car, and went to his apartment while Klaris remained in the Ferrari. Magliato returned to the Ferrari a few moments later. Now, however, he was wearing a holstered revolver.

Observation: Magliato has now had time to cool off. In the initial confrontation with Anthony Giani, Giani brandished a weapon and threatened to kill Magliato. Magliato could have called the police from his house (no cell phones in 1983) and reported the accident and Giani’s threats. However he chose not to do so and instead armed himself, departed his home, and returned to the area where he believed Schneider and Giani were located.

Second Encounter: After arming himself, Magliato drove back to where the Schneider vehicle was parked and stopped across the street, near a phone booth. While Klaris called 911, Magliato left his car and started toward the station wagon, again shouting profanities. Giani emerged from the station wagon, holding the nightstick in a threatening position.

According to the prosecution, the two men faced each other across a distance of some 45 feet (15 yards). Suddenly, Magliato cocked his revolver and assumed a firing position, crouching with both feet planted apart and arms outstretched. The revolver in his hand, he took deliberate aim and fired at Giani striking him in the forehead and causing such massive brain damage that he died two days later.

The defense version differs somewhat. Magliato did not dispute that he drew his revolver and cocked it. However, he contended that his revolver could fire under the slightest pressure and that immediately prior to the firing of the revolver, a car passed close to Giani, brushing him back. This incident so unnerved Magliato that he accidentally exerted pressure on the trigger (his finger was on the trigger) sufficient to discharge the revolver.

Immediately after shooting Giani, Magliato walked back to his Ferrari and, together with Klaris, drove the car to a garage across the street from his apartment and hid the car in the garage.

A day or two later the police located Klaris through the 911 phone call which he was in the process of making at the time of the shooting. Initially, he refused to cooperate. However, after the police had departed he called Magliato and informed him that he was ready to tell the police "the whole truth." Magliato then consulted an attorney and six days after the shooting surrendered to the police. His attorney, who accompanied him, turned two guns, both owned by Magliato, over to the police. A ballistics test indicated that the bullet which had killed Giani had been fired from one of them, a Colt .38 Detective Special.

Trial and Appeal Results: The state charged Magliato with a two-count indictment charging intentional homicide (Penal Law § 125.25 [1]) and "depraved indifference" murder (Penal Law § 125.25 [2]). The jury returned a verdict of not guilty of intentional murder and manslaughter in the first degree under the first count; however, Magliato was convicted of depraved indifference murder. The NY Supreme Court subsequently reduced this conviction to manslaughter after determining that Magliato’s recklessness was not such that it demonstrated "a depraved indifference to human life" [thereby] creating "a grave risk of death to another person" and [as a result] caused the death of another person.

A Dissenting Justice’s view: One justice had a dissenting view: “When defendant went into a shooter's crouch, cocked and aimed the gun at Giani's head, he was acting in such a reckless manner as to evidence a depraved indifference to life. Defendant's own witnesses testified that once the Colt .38 was cocked, even the slightest movement over a distance as short as .012 inch would cause the gun to fire. The owner's manual for this gun warns that cocking the revolver is extremely dangerous since (once cocked) it easily can be accidentally discharged.

Defendant's experts also testified that they had witnessed or investigated numerous incidents where an accidental application of a very light touch discharged this type of revolver. One of the witnesses even testified that this risk is so serious that numerous law enforcement agencies, including the New York City Police Department and the Secret Service, do not allow officers to fire in this fashion.

The evidence before the jury showed that defendant was aware of the substantial and unjustifiable risk in cocking his gun and consciously disregarded that risk (Penal Law § 15.05 [3]). He had access to the owner's manual and underwent individual training, although brief, from a professional instructor in handling, firing and safety. He had practiced at least half a dozen times on the firing range with the same Colt .38, usually with the weapon cocked. Thus, defendant must have been aware that when he cocked and aimed the gun, there was a grave risk of the gun discharging with the slightest pressure exerted on its hair trigger. He consciously disregarded that grave risk.”

Magliato—messing up by the numbers.

Through the course of the trial and subsequent appeal, Magliato variously claimed that his drawing of the revolver was a reasonable and therefore justifiable act; however, he also maintained that his actions did not constitute the use of "deadly physical force" within the meaning of the law. Magliato also claimed to have panicked and stated that he did not recall pulling the trigger.

One can only assert the defense of justification against a charge of some kind of intentional act. If Magliato was claiming that the revolver went off accidentally, then he could not claim that his firing of the revolver was justified. In another case, the court stated that “justification does not make a criminal use of force lawful; if the use of force is justified, it cannot be criminal at all.” McManus, 67 N.Y.2d at 545, 496 N.E.2d at 204, 505 N.Y.S.2d at 45 (1986).

If in Magliato’s mind the use of deadly force was an accident (i.e. he did not intend to shoot Giani), then he could not claim that it was justified. If Magliato had been justified (in the eyes of the law) in drawing his revolver and pointing it a Giani (i.e. using deadly force) then his “intention” was immaterial. The court saw Magliato’s cocking of the revolver as going beyond creating an apprehension that he would use deadly force to creating a reckless risk that he could unintentionally cause the revolver to fire.

Lessons: The Magliato trial is informative in that it addressed the question of what constitutes the behavior of a “reasonable person.” In Magliato’s case this worked against him in that the court found that a reasonable person, knowing what Magliato knew at the time of the encounter (i.e. cocking a revolver and placing your finger on the trigger creates substantial and unjustifiable risk of firing it unintentionally) would not have cocked the revolver and pointed it a Giani with no justification to immediately fire.

Control your emotions, just let it go--something many people find very hard to do. In this incident, Magliato was driving a rental car, presumably with insurance. By going to his apartment, obtaining the revolver, and returning to Giani’s location, Magliato turned what would have been a report of a minor traffic accident and insurance claim into a life altering (for Magliato) and a life ending (for Giani) event. It was totally unnecessary.

Documenting your training can be a double-edged sword if you cannot control your emotions and do something stupid. In this incident, the fact of Magliato’s training worked against him because it supported the prosecution’s assertion that he knowingly was reckless and negligent. It could have worked in his favor had Magliato properly presented his revolver and held his fire until/if Giani pressed home his attack against him. Of course, if he had not gone back in the first place all of this would have been moot.

Flight equals guilt. In the eyes of the law, an innocent person will stand their ground and justify their actions. This was seen in the Magliato case where the dissenting justice cited Magliato’s conduct (his flight from the scene) as indicative of his depraved indifference to human life. “He left Giani dying in the street, and deliberately interrupted a 911 call which could have brought medical aid to the victim.” Another case from Louisiana (2009-Ko-0160 State of Louisiana v. Willie Reed), Reed claimed a fatal shooting was an accident; however, immediately after the shooting he fled the scene. The court saw Reed’s flight as further allowance for an inference of guilt.

Summary: Proper training can help form the basis for proving that the actions we take in defending ourselves against force and/or deadly force are reasonable. Establishing that you know the potential dynamics of a deadly force encounter can serve as a shield against criminal or civil claims that your actions resulted from recklessness or negligence. In Magliato’s case his minimal training did not serve him well. Although he had some training, he clearly had never trained for situations that would have enabled him to control his emotions, use proper tactics, and to make good decisions within the framework the law provides. 

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Saturday, July 14, 2018

SIG P320 -- Zero and Carry Ammunition

Although I have not completed all of the modifications I plan, I have now placed my SIG P320’s fully into service. This will complete a process I began several years ago when I started evaluating what works best for me. I started with the Springfield XD family and I could shoot them well; however, I am not a big fan of the XD grip safety and the inability to easily mount a carry optic. I tried the Glock family once again (I carried Glocks officially at one time); however, after struggling with Glock for a number of months, I relearned a lesson I had discovered many years ago—the Glock grip angle just does not work for me.

I also tried S&W’s M&P and shot it well. When S&W introduced the M&P Pro Series C.O.R.E. I thought I had finally found the right combination. Not quite. No issue with grip angle; however, my goal is to have two pistols as close to identical as possible, with effectively indistinguishable trigger pulls. Although my M&Ps are close, there is a subtle, but very noticeable difference in the trigger pulls. The trigger pulls on my P320 Carry and Compact are almost exactly the same and I can always simply swap the trigger modules if I want the identical pull.

I just finished zeroing my SIG P320 carry pistols for my carry ammunition, the Hornady Critical Duty 9mm 135 grain FlexLock standard pressure round. I have a P320 Carry and a 320 Compact pistol each set up with Trijicon RMR06 Red Dots. I zeroed the optics for the Critical Duty round, confirmed the iron sights, and then confirmed that my reloaded 135 grain rounds shot close to the same point of impact as the Hornady Critical Duty. Always zero your sights for the carry round and then work the reload to match the carry round.

I have always had good results from the Critical Duty standard pressure round in every pistol in which I have tried it. In my pistols, the standard pressure round is typically a little more accurate than the +P version. The SIG P320 is no exception. The fact that the FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety (state police) also use a similar round is a happy coincidence. For several reasons, you should carry the round a national law enforcement agency or your state or local police carry, if possible.

As an aside, always use factory ammunition for personal defense carry. When you purchase this ammunition, try to buy several boxes from the same lot. After you load your magazines for carry save at least five rounds in the box. If you ever find yourself in a short range defensive situation, the forensics examiner can use the ammunition sample from the lot that you have saved to verify distances with powder testing. Large ammunition makers keep samples for each lot for exemplar testing for 10 years as well. The forensic examiner cannot verify distances with handloads because there is no un-biased sample to measure it against. Never use handloads for self defense.

Carry ammo is expensive; however, reloading your ammunition can provide a more economical practice round for matches and training if you can match the point of impact for your carry ammunition.

I load the Xtreme 135 9mm-135 round nose, flat point plated bullet; Winchester primers; 3.6 – 3.8 grains of Universal Powder (more on this below); and typically do not sort my brass. I found that a load 3.7 grains of Universal worked well in my XD’s, my Glocks, and in my S&W M&Ps. My SIG P320 carry loved this load as well (see pictures--the squares are 1 inch.).

However, my P320 Compact and 320 X5 hated the 3.7 grain load and were less than stellar with a load of 3.8 grains. The P320 Compact preferred a load of 3.6 grains while the X5 loved the 3.6 grain load. I shot all groups over a rest at 15 yards. The Critical Defense (labeled CD) were generally 5 shot groups while the reloads were 10 shot groups.

Being able to match your reloads to your carry ammunition is one of several advantages reloading offers. Reloading can be very satisfying and can save you money as well. Of course, safety protocols are always important to consider and follow. If you are completely new to reloading, there are a variety of books and online information that can help you get started. Click here for an article that discusses some reloading tips and tricks I've learned over the years through my own experience and that of others.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Thugs Assaulting Police: The Dangers of Intervention

Kystie Jaehnen
On February 20, 2017 Justin Holland, 25, died after Kystie Jaehnen fired a single round in defense of a police officer whom Holland was assaulting. A 911 call concerning a suspicious person who was parked in an elderly person’s yard for an extended period of time prompted a response from Officer Michael Powell. When Officer Powell tried to handcuff Holland he began to resist and both fell to the ground.

During the altercation, Officer Powell stated that he felt Holland applying pressure on his retention holster and attempting to draw his duty pistol. Kystie Jaehnen who was standing nearby on her property ran to help Officer Powell. Kystie could see that Officer Powell was losing the fight as Holland reached for Powell’s gun. Kystie was armed and shot Howell one time which ended the fight. Toxicology results from Holland’s autopsy found meth, benzodiazepines, marijuana, methadone, and dextromethorphan in his system.

Justin Holland
The Indiana State Police conducted an investigation, that the Dearborn County Prosecutors Office subsequently reviewed, and the findings were that Kystie’s actions were justified and merited no criminal charges.

Did Kystie Jaehnen see herself as a would-be hero?  I doubt it; however, many people do. Over the years I’ve heard numerous discussions about some fantasy “gunfight” where the good guy steps-in, stops some atrocity, and then rides off into the sunset as a hero. Anyone who thinks that getting involved in a deadly force encounter that does not directly affect you will bring certain glory, gratitude, and universal praise is delusional. Imaginary scenarios have none of the blood, suffering, untidiness, and ambiguity that exists in the real world which often lands on the would-be hero’s head like a ton of bricks. 

If the person you rescued doesn’t make life miserable for you in the courts, they just might try to kill you. Many years ago a friend of mine stopped at a somewhat seedy bar for a drink. As he entered, he saw a man beating a woman. Without thinking he stepped forward and tried to intervene to protect the erstwhile victim. Within moments, he found himself the focus of an attack by the man and (to his shock) the woman he thought he was rescuing. It seems that she did not allow someone to hit her man and made that fact very clear when she kicked him in the face after she had knocked him down with a surprise blow to the head from behind. My friend was lucky he did not receive severe permanent injury—they could have literally beaten him to death. 

If ingratitude isn’t enough we need to understand that in many instances things are not what they seem. What appears to be a kidnapping may be a father’s attempt to exercise legitimate parental authority over a child reluctant to leave the mall. Intervening may not only be ill advised but we may be inadvertently injecting additional chaos into an otherwise manageable situation. 

Even if the situation is exactly as it appears and you are acting within the letter of the law, does that mean you cannot be arrested, indicted, and tried for your actions? No, it does not—ask George Zimmerman. Do you really want to spend every penny you have and potentially several years in jail waiting for an appeal to be heard and your conviction overturned?

Even if you are not prosecuted criminally, you could still face civil litigation as Kystie Jaehnen is now. On 6 April 2018, Kystie received a summons from Blake R Maislin LLC, (Thomas J Dall, Attorney at Law) regarding a wrongful death lawsuit for the assailant, Justin K. Holland. Ohio County Superior Court Case No.:58C01-1802-CT-00001.

The suit among many other things alleges that Defendant Michael C. Powell and Defendant Kystie Jaehnen reached an understanding, engaged in a sequence of events or course of conduct, and otherwise agreed and conspired (conspired!!) together to violate Holland’s constitutional rights. Read the entire suit here. 

Officer Powell is covered by his department and has the Fraternal Order of Police Legal Defense Fund to defend him in court. Since Kystie was acting as a private citizen, this suit potentially subjects her and her family to decades of poverty just to pay attorney fees. Situations that involve significant injury or death can be extremely expensive and just defending such a suit can easily top $100,000. See below to donate to a fund for Kystie’s legal expenses.

Should you be willing to jeopardize your home, your cars, your retirement, and your family’s security for a total stranger? To spend the rest of your life in jail? Perhaps—that is your decision. However, understand the potential consequences. If you screw up, you will go to jail. Even if you do everything right, you may end up being sued for everything you own and will ever own.

If the only safety device you are carrying is a pistol, you have severely limited options. I typically carry a pistol, pepper spray, a cell phone, a flashlight, and a Freebore (shameless plug: order one here).

I carry these safety tools to protect myself and the people I love from the thugs that roam our streets. Is there a circumstance where I would intervene to help a stranger? Perhaps—an active killer situation comes to mind. However, this would be on my terms with an understanding of the potential consequences and after a careful evaluation of the totality of the circumstances as they appear. 

Once I was certain that I understood what was really going on (to the degree that you can in an unfolding situation) I would respond with the minimum amount of force necessary to resolve the issue whether that required drawing my cell phone, pepper spray, Freebore, or my pistol.

I’ve written about this before in Not my circus, Not my monkeys. That particular article received some remarkable comments from readers. Among them was a gentleman who said the following: “I think as a man. Anyone defenseless is your business. I have been to court four times and not once have my actions been questioned. Twice a man was beating his girlfriend. MY BUSINESS, one his wife. You just made your wife MY BUSINESS. And one his own daughter. Sorry I just adopted her until she's safe MY BUSINESS.” His opinion, his choice. 

Not my circus, Not my monkeys. The time to think carefully about who you are willing to defend is now. The time to become proficient in all of the safety tools at your disposal including your pistol, pepper spray, a Freebore or similar tool, and basic hand to hand techniques is before you find yourself facing a violent confrontation.

While I applaud and admire Kystie’s courage, I cannot in good conscience recommend such actions to my students. The potential consequences are simply too great in today’s litigious society. A quick look at the website of the law firm mentioned above (Blake R. Maislin, LLC) leads me to believe that the civil action against Kystie Jaehnen and Officer Powell is likely on a contingency fee basis for a percentage of the settlement or judgement. 

Is there justice in this civil action? That is certainly debatable; however, there is no question that the emotional and mental strain on Kystie likely immense. While Kystie is forced to pay for her representation, the Holland family is unlikely to suffer monetary consequences for filing the suit. 

Sergeant William Halbig with the Aurora Police Department has set up a fund for Kystie’s legal defense. Per SGT Halbig: The donations will not be used to settle the case - they are only to pay for Kystie's defense counsel and to protect her from an adverse verdict. Any excess funds will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the FOP Police Benevolent Fund.

I donated one half day’s salary from my day job and I encourage you to donate as well. Every bit helps. To donate, go here: Kystie's Best Defense. 

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