When...and how...to use deadly force - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported By Andy Wise

When...and how...to use deadly force

His military training taught him to protect both his identity and his personal safety.

"Bob," a retired Marine from Shelby County, is a walking arsenal.  He carries all the tools of self-defense, and he's trained to use every one of them.

"If you carry anything, you should have the proper training," says Bob, who requested that we keep his real identity confidential.  "If they don't have the training, then they are not upholding their responsibility."

Knowing that the police can't be everywhere, Bob carries pepper spray, a fighting knife, a flashlight with a beveled end for striking and a .40-caliber pistol (with a Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit).  Each is concealed in certain areas of his clothing.

A potential attacker would never know.

"You want to get them to stop to give you time to get away," he says.

Bob follows what's called the Deadly Force Continuum, a sort of "rules-of-the-road" that police recognize as the steps citizens can take to engage a potential threat. 

First, citizens should avoid circumstances that can get them into trouble -- going to the ATM after dark, jogging with your IPod so loud that you don't pay attention to your surroundings, etc.  But if you're faced with a threat, here are the steps of the Deadly Force Continuum:

1.  PRESENCE (PERSUASION) -  Make eye contact with that person watching you withdraw cash from the ATM.  Walk and maintain a cool, confident demeanor that shows you can take care of yourself.  Don't engage the person.  If he/she talks to you, be cordial, but curt.

2.  VERBAL COMMANDS -  The person has become a threat, either verbally or physically.  With a loud, clear voice, order him/her to back off and leave the situation.

3.  "HANDS ON"  -  Things go from bad to worse.  The person has made physical contact with you.  Now you can use your hands (or feet) to diffuse the threat and get away.

4.  O/C SPRAY (PEPPER SPRAY) -  The person threatening you gets the upper hand.  Time to whip out the pepper spray, but you better know how to use it and what it feels like to be exposed to it.  "If they are not presenting you with the threat of your life, you still have to stop them," says Bob.  "You should be as trained on how to use pepper spray as you would with using a gun."

5.  IMPACT TOOLS -  If pepper spray doesn't work - or if you don't have pepper spray - you can use anything at your disposal to stop the attacker:  Bob's beveled flashlight, his knife, your car keys, a windshield wiper, a rock, etc.

6.  DEADLY FORCE -  If the threat has escalated to where you believe your life is in danger, time to pull the pistol or anything to kill your attacker.

The level of force can rise quickly, even instantly.  Lt. Mike Rallings, chief instructor of the Memphis Police Firearms Training Unit (FTU), says a good guideline is always match the level of the threat.

"If you are threatened with a weapon, then you can respond with a weapon," says Rallings.  "You have to be in imminent fear of death or serious bodily harm, and you have to ask yourself, 'Has my fear really risen to the level where I would be justified in using deadly force?'"

Action News 5's Andy Wise recommends Range USA (www.rangeusa.com) and Rangemaster (www.rangemaster.com) for handgun permit and advanced firearms training.  Andy also  recommends Krav Maga (www.midsouthkravmaga.com), Memphis Aikikai (3109 S. Mendenhall, (901) 795-0349), USA Karate (www.karatememphis.com) and Memphis Judo & Jiu Jitsu (www.memphisbjj.com) for self-defense classes.

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