Perception and Reality
From the Killing Within The Law Course –
“You can be totally wrong in your perception, but still be completely legal in your deadly force actions”.
The important point is that those “perceptions” – your reality of the moment based on the information available to you at the time - must be conveyed to the investigating officers after a shooting, or the only thing the have to operate on is the reality of hindsight.
Example: Officer receives a radio call of an armed robbery in progress. He responds to the scene but the suspect is gone. He proceeds to search for the suspect in the area. He sees a man that matches the description of the suspect and challenges him. The suspect turns toward the officer and reaches behind his back. The officer shoots him. The suspect was not armed, and the victims never saw a firearm, relying on the statement made by the suspect that he was armed.
Reality shows the suspect is unarmed, but the officer’s perception at that moment, based on the information he had access to, caused him to believe that he was facing an armed suspect reaching for a weapon and that his own life was in danger. The shooting is justified.
Example: As you are locking up the office two men suddenly appear from the shadows and demand your wallet and keys…or they will shoot you. You move smartly out of reach and draw your pistol, shooting both men. You shoot the first one three feet away from you and then the other one as he stops fleeing to look back at you.
Officers arrive and find no weapons on either of the two men. The officer’s reality is quite different from your perceptions of the moment. If you do not share those perceptions, their after-the-fact reality does not place you in the best light. But your perceptions of reality at that moment paint a vastly different image.
An alternate conclusion might also be this. You shoot the first one three feet away from you and his pistol falls through a gap in adjacent shrubbery and is not visible without a thorough and direct search. And the only person that saw the robber’s weapon fall there was you. That weapon will never be recovered without your statements.
Here is yet another example. You and your wife go out to dinner after a long day at work. As the food arrives you notice a middle eastern looking man walk into the restaurant. He is acting differently than one would normally act in a restaurant. It is summertime and many of the patrons are wearing t-shirts and warm weather gear, whereas the man is wearing a down jacket and carrying a backpack. He appears nervous and is muttering to himself in an unknown language. You are now greatly concerned and tell your wife that the two of you should leave.
Then the man stands on a chair, yells “Infidels Must Die”, reaches into the backpack and continues, “Allahu Akhbar!”
Realizing that you and your wife will never reach the door in time, you draw your pistol and shot him in the face, killing him instantly.
When the officers arrive to investigate they find a backpack filled with college text books and the man is a mentally disturbed local known to them.
Do you think that sharing your state of mind, your belief that you and your wife were about to be killed is important? Will the other witnesses have seen what you saw? Will they corroborate you immediate fear of death?
The understanding that your perception of the event, as it is unfolding, based on the information that you have in that given specific situation, is your reality, and is far more important in justifying your actions than anything else…even actual reality.
In events that are so crystal clear and perfect in the definition of good and evil are easy. Everyone will know what happened, and how you saved the day and everyone’s lives. Those happen. But just as often are those grey area events that can be made crystal clear and perfect once your perspective is made known. And only you can do that.
Hoping an attorney will do all your explaining is like hoping a police officer will do all your shooting.