People seem to like the idea of fighting like you’re in the Alamo, until they are actually surrounded.
Let us first approach this situation from the other direction.
There is a small element of well trained, motivated, extremely violent hostiles in a building. What do you do?
First answer is usually level the building. Most groups out there won’t hesitate to do this. Look at Waco. Most superior forces would not hesitate to watch you burn to death in a building.
Second answer is respond with overwhelming firepower. Look at Hadatha, Iraq. During that string of events, Marines took fire from a building. They responded with fire and grenades. When it was over, it was found that they had killed a number of bystanders.
If, for some unknown reason, they decide to use proportional force, and attempt to flush you out, they will do two things. First they will cordon off the building with a security force. That means if you attempt to escape, they have you. Then they will systematically sweep though the building looking to find and secure you. That is not an easy to win fight.
An even smarter, professional force, would have their cordoning force stay a little farther back and out of sight. They would assault the structure from the top down. This would let the defending force think they could escape. Instead of fiercely fighting to the death in a hallway or corner, these enemies might try to fight and evade away. Then as they attempt to escape, they will get caught or killed by the cordoning forces.
By the book, what sort of process would you follow to get ready to fight a superior enemy from a structure?
You would probably use a process like the acronym “SAFESOCR”.
You need to start observing the area around your structure. If the enemy gets up to you with out you knowing you might have already lost.
At the end of my deployment in Iraq, our platoon was using a house as a patrol base. We would keep 4 to 5 Marines on the roof providing watch and security. The unit that relieved us cut that number to 2. I’d be that is the reason the baddies were able to drive a truck VBIED right up to the building and detonate it.
AUTOMATIC WEAPONS & FIELDS OF FIRE
There is a reason militaries use machine guns. They are a massive force multiplier. They can be harder to employ in urban environments. Even if you don’t have automatic weapon, deciding on how you will employ the weapons you have to achieve the greatest effect and making kill zones to funnel the enemy is critical to your success.
The Chechens found that if you employed a machine gun for a low position like a ground level window or sewer opening you could firing upon military vehicles that were close to you and those vehicles were unable to depress their guns enough to hit you. Also, since they now had the advantage, they could shoot anyone who attempted to dismount the vehicle.
While I put these two parts of the acronym together, you don’t need to. If an enemy needs to close distance with you, they will have to move. That gives you the opportunity to funnel them into an area where you can better engage them.
This seems to get associated with digging fighting positions, but it should apply to ever aspect of a fortification. Constant improvements need to be made while you have the chance.
Ugh, this is a long acronym. I’m going to rush though the rest, then going into more details.
SECONDARY AND ALTERNATE POSITIONS
This becomes even more critical in urban warfare. Staying stationary allows the enemy to destroy you. They will either bring in heavier firepower, precision, or flank you in order to beat you.
The harder it is for the enemy to get to you, the harder it is for them to kill you. I hope that is simple enough.
It is not just face paint and fake plants. Simply firing from far back in a room out small holes in the walls can make it very hard to spot where you are firing from.
Officers like to pretend that this doesn’t exist. We are human, we need rest. Exhausted individuals do not fight well.
If you and/or a few other fighters were to have to fight a super force from a building. First you have to be so lucky as to be fighting a group that won’t just level the building you are in.
One option you have is to attempt to engage an enemy force from longer distances. An individual firing from a window could fire several shots and then escape and evade. I seem to recall a story of someone doing that. They weren’t so good at the evade part.
Doesn’t mean you can’t be effective up close. There is a story I’ve heard a few times of an insurgent taking out a USMC squad. Story goes that they started moving down an alley way that had no cover or concealment. Once the entire squad was in the alley way, the insurgent engaged the radio operator, then proceeded to shoot the Marines one after another.
Keeping the enemy from knowing your firing position is a major increase in survivability. If they know you are firing from a particular window, they will shoot there. You might get suppressed, or even worse, taken out with precision enemy fire.
If there are several windows, it can make a major difference in the enemies ability to identify where you are firing from if you move from room to room and fire from different windows.
That kinda touches on fields of fire and secondary and alternate positions.
Obstacles are limited to your imagination. Buildings in use tend to be full of them. Shoot houses tend to be barren wastelands because the trainers don’t want you tripping over a couch as your moving and shooting.
Classic military example is that a coil of concertina wire can easily be sprung open in a room or hallway to make a rather nasty obstacle.
On the other hand, you can make new passageways in building by putting holes in the walls and floors/roofs. I never felt comfortable jumping down a floor, but most of the guys I served with didn’t seem to have any issues.
Use the structure it self as a way to funnel and engage the enemy while minimizing the risk to your self.
Let us take a moment to talk about shooting. We have traditional marksmanship. Then there are alternative aiming and firing techniques.
While we, Riflemen, tend to frown upon techniques like the “Vietnam Rice Paddy Prone” they do have a legitimate place.
I find my self struggling to put a couple of these concepts in words. In combat, there is momentum. Like that tyrant Newton with this unjust rules of, “An object in motion will stay at rest, an object in motion will stay in motion, unless acted upon by a third party.” In this case you are the third party.
The vast majority of people will tend to stop moving when fired upon. It takes a fair amount of discipline/confidence/hubris/or ignorance to do otherwise. This means that the shots you (and your team) fire at the enemy will almost always slow or stop their forward advance unless they are very good or very stupid.
Ideally, an engagement with the enemy would decisively destroy them. Unfortunately a superior force will be harder to destroy in a single engagement so you may need to make several. Sometimes, firing a quick few shots at an enemy by sticking your gun through a doorway or firing around a corner might stop or slow that enemies advance. Even better, you might reduce the enemies force in the process.
Let’s talk examples. On second thought I think this post has gotten unwieldly long. I’ll give examples in part 2.
I’m sure you’ve seen the video below by now.
Political activists/bullies, encroaching on people’s space to make their point, and, more importantly here, trying to intimidate the people into giving up their freedom to give the rioters their way.
The first thing I want to say about this is it is a difficult situation. Especially the more middle class you are, or the more formal the setting you are in.
The first difficulty is overcoming your upbringing and being able to shift gears out of the dining mindset into the confrontation/defense mindset.
As I wrote about earlier, mindset is your friend here. You are just there to do the job at hand.
Doing the job, however, requires a few things to find the proper response.
You really need to be able to read the crowd, both the other diners and the thugs demanding your obeisance to their worldview. Can you count on help from others in the diner crowd? Maybe, but “hope” is not a plan, and you cannot count on it. The most important read you can do is on the thugs/activists.
You need to assess, rapidly, their dedication to their cause. Look for obvious clues to how violent they might be:
- Are there any weapons visible?
- Are they patterned in a way that provides you a more clear route to exfiltrate?
You need to be able to do this unobtrusively, quickly, and be able to process the information to make a plan of action.
There are a few basic courses of action you can take.
The first is to sit there and take it. This may sound glib, but it is not. If your threat assessment determined that they are just going to yell and scream, you can just wait it out. Obviously, threat assessment must be ongoing, because it can change at the drop of a hat.
Always be looking for routes of escape, and don’t limit yourself to the obvious ones. If it gets bad enough, people make wonderful objects to break windows or drywall to make an emergency exit with.
Sitting there and taking it was the course of action the lady in the video chose, and in this case, it worked.
The next thing you can do is to get up and make your way inside the establishment and use that changed environment to get to the exit and leave. Unfortunately, you need to stay aware of the crowd you are escaping from. A mob is very susceptible to prey drive.
As my friend Rory Miller says, they can and will escalate to violence for several reasons, including to prove they belong to the group, and you are an outsider.
Using your cell phone to call the police is an option but seems to be a low return option at this point. Due to the civil unrest/riots everywhere, they may not have resources available to help you.
What if none of these options work? Move to “desperate options”
The next options are for when your threat assessment determines that it has the potential for violence, or it is now, actively, becoming violent. Beware, these options are hard and dark.
Aggressive Escape is the first “desperate option” we will cover. Using this option, violence comes first but is not the main point of the exercise. Basically, what you are doing is picking one of the opposing crowd, and attacking them violently to make a hole you can get through.
If you hurt one of the crowd, you need to make your escape as fast as you can, as the thugs will try to get payback on you for the damage and pain you have caused. If possible, use a weapon. If you do not have one on you, a restaurant is chock-full of useful tools. A water glass driven into an eye socket or the bridge of the nose. A dinner plate, edge first to the throat, or salt/pepper shakers to the temples, candles into the eyeballs.
I’m sure you get the picture.
The crowd has turned into a violent mob, what NOW?
Next, we get to the most serious scenario. Your threat assessment has determined violence is imminent or the crowd is becoming a violent mob. This is the time to become very matter of fact and know what job you need to do.
In my classes, I simply call these things ‘maiming’, and it is only for very serious situations. This is where you begin taking people apart. We have all heard the jokes about throat punching… This is what it is for. Steak knives, gouging eyes, ripping noses, fish hooking, vile things made to make your attackers back up so you can keep making your way to escape.
There is no way to make this nice, and I want to reiterate, this is for the worst-case scenario, and it can be nasty. This is where you only do things if your life is truly in danger, and you are doing this to escape and get your people to safety.
I’d like to close this by addressing things and questions that have come up in classes or emails.
What about stun guns?
I think they are worthless. My friends and I would play tag with them when we were younger. The only thing they are good for, in my opinion, is to make a quick hole to get through in a crowd. They are not a good choice.
What about pepper spray?
Pepper spray should be thought of as an eye jab in a can, a quick distraction to either escape or launch a stronger attack with a better weapon. It is a bonus that you can beat people with the can when it is empty. If you are going to use it to make an escape opening, please use 15% or better, and spray it either directly in to the face of one person, and make sure they get all of it, or, spray in a wide ‘S’ pattern too get more people.
Is a gun the ultimate solution?
Well, maybe. It depends. That would be a giant can of worms to discuss here. Suffice to say that during a mob encounter, there are some things you need to think about and practice. Be prepared for serious legal ramifications in our current climate.
Mob violence is becoming more of a normal feature of modern life in the US.
Unfortunately, the dynamics of crowd violence and mob mentality make dealing with or planning for this type of encounter difficult at best. There are no good options, and you must be able to switch tactics on the fly.
As always, awareness is your best friend and primary warning system.
By ARFCOM user Austrian
(External Video Link: 5MB .mp4)
As Rittenhouse runs North on Sheridan, word among the street-roving groups spreads that he has shot someone and is to be detained (at least in the most charitable interpretation). Soon after, as Rittenhouse approaches reaches 61st street, at least a dozen individuals are seen pursuing Rittenhouse in multiple videos.
The group in pursuit includes a figure wearing a blue cap, and a backpack with red trim with a yellow, apparently cylindrical object in the left side. As the man runs he appears to be holding his hand inside the rear waistband of his [khaki]? capri pants as if to hold them up or secure an object from bouncing due to his gait. It will later become apparent that this is Grosskreutz, and that he appears to have been carrying a concealed handgun in a rear-waistband CCW rig.
Just prior to 61st street Rittenhouse passes an individual wearing a white face covering and a bright red backpack (hereinafter “Red Backpack”). As Rittenhouse runs by Red Backpack points at him.
An individual wearing a white shirt (hereinafter “White Shirt”) and catches up to Rittenhouse and strikes Rittenhouse in the back of the head, knocking his hat off. Rittenhouse stumbles but recovers and continues running. Immediately after the blow in the background of two videos dialogue can be heard:
Individual 1: “What did he do?”
Individual 2: “Shot someone.”
Individual 3: “Get his ass!”
At this point a figure wearing faded jeans and apparently carrying a skateboard can be seen just behind Rittenhouse gaining on him. The individual throws the skateboard at Rittenhouse and can later be seen retrieving it.
(External Video Link: 21MB .mp4) WARNING: VERY GRAPHIC
Just after crossing 61st street, immediately after the skateboard throw, but not apparently due to it, Rittenhouse loses his footing and falls face down on the pavement in the middle of Sheridan Road. He begins to roll over into a sitting position facing south, just in time to face a series of four attackers, all of whom are charging the sitting Rittenhouse.
Just as Rittenhouse is recovering the first attacker, Red Backpack, appears ready to tackle or strike Rittenhouse as Rittenhouse brings his rifle to bear. Red Backpack thinks better of it and, from less than a meter way retreats backwards.
(External Video Link: 15MB .mp4) Full Size Video @ 50% Speed
The second attacker wearing light colored pants (hereinafter “Light Pants”) approaches Rittenhouse’s right front flank and looks ready to kick or stomp Rittenhouse but once Rittenhouse brings the rifle to bear he flinches. Just as Light Pants appears to make contact with Rittenhouse, Rittenhouse fires what is apparently the first shot in the second encounter.
The shot is directed almost completely vertically. [A possible second shot can be heard just after]? as White Pants tumbles over Rittenhouse, and it is not clear if White Pants is hit, but he apparently thinks better of the encounter, gets up, and runs off with no immediate signs of injury.
Having retrieved his skateboard, the third attacker, Huber, arrives a split second later having attempted to flank Rittenhouse from the rear. He kneels down on Rittenhouse, and the skateboard held in Huber’s right hand makes at least incidental contact with Rittenhouse’s left shoulder. Tangled somewhat with Rittenhouse, Huber attempts to control Rittenhouse’s rifle with his left hand and pull it away. Rittenhouse maintains control of the rifle and can be seen holding it with both hands as Huber pulls on it from [the back of the magazine]?. Rittenhouse ends up flat on his back. The rifle momentarily comes away from Rittenhouse’s body with Rittenhouse’s arms fully extended while retaining but the muzzle ends up aligned neatly with Huber’s body. Rittenhouse gets off a shot apparently center mass. Huber lets go of the rifle, drops the skateboard, staggers four steps, and collapses.
[Edit Aug 28:
On Huber’s wounds from the complaint:
“Dr. Kelly also conducted an autopsy on Anthony Huber. Dr. Kelly indicated that Huber had a gunshot wound to his chest that perforated his heart, aorta, pulmonary artery and right lung.”]
Just as the shot is fired the fourth attacker, Grosskreutz arrives. It seems clear that Grosskreutz is holding a handgun in his right hand as he approaches Rittenhouse. He reacts to the sound of the shot by flinching, stopping short of Rittenhouse, and protecting his head with his hands and forearms.
[Edit Aug 28:
Some Twittersocialtubes user named Jacob Marshall claims “…so the kid shot gaige as he drew his weapon and gaige retreated with his gun in hand. I just talked to Gaige Grosskreutz toohis [sic] only regret was not killing the kid and hestiating to pull the gun before emptying the entire mag into him. Coward.”
I don’t think this is correct. Just to be sure I’ve looked again but from two different angles it seems clear to me that Grosskreutz already has the weapon drawn when he approaches Rittenhouse.
The clearing a malfunction comment is interesting. Looking close at the timeframe after Huber is center-massed, it does appear that Rittenhouse turns his rifle sideways and looks at the weapon for a split second and maybe even cycles the charging handle with his right hand. If so, that is an unbelievably smooth clearing of a malfunction. Looking at the two high-resolution photos I see three in sequence. Huber attack prior to the shot. Grosskreutz arms up 1 right after the Huber shot. Grosskreutz arms up 2 just before his bicep is red-misted. There appears to be a casing on the ground before the Huber attack. Two after. But not three. So if there was a malfunction it was a failure to feed, not something more serious (good thing too). Rittenhouse appears to be looking at his rifle in arms up 2.]
When he recovers from the initial flinch Rittenhouse has rolled into an upright sitting position and brings his rifle to bear on Grosskreutz. At this point Grosskreutz puts his hands up. In two photos the handgun in his right hand is clearly visible.
After a pause of a second or so Grosskreutz charges Rittenhouse again. Rittenhouse fires and “red mists” a significant part of Grosskreutz’s right upper arm. Grosskreutz hops once, grabs his wounded arm and begins to scream “medic” over and over while retreating.
In a later photograph Grosskreutz can be seen still clutching the handgun with a severely damaged arm. The hat he is wearing clearly reads “Paramedic.” Much interwebsocialtube ado has been made about a “Paramedic” carrying a firearm. It seems prudent to note that Rittenhouse, representing himself as an “EMT” was also armed.
Two other would be attackers, one with a large blunt instrument, back off, one with his hands up.
Rittenhouse comes to kneeling, turns, and continues north towards the Ultimate station and an apparent line police set up on 60th street.
As Rittenhouse approaches police he is apparently asked on the PA of an armoured vehicle if “someone [is] injured straight ahead?” Rittenhouse directs the officers towards the scene, and tries to approach a patrol car. A voice can be heard yelling [at Rittenhouse]?: “Get out of the way.” Rittenhouse ends up backing off to the sidewalk.
In a later video Rittenhouse appears and seems to try and approach police again. A voice on a PA can be heard yelling [at Rittenhouse?] “Don’t come this way. Don’t come this way.”
Rittenhouse would later turn himself into the Antioch, Illinois authorities, having apparently left Wisconsin for home. According to court records, Rittenhouse appeared at Lake County Circuit Court Wednesday and will appear in court again on Friday for an extradition hearing.
During the two Engagements Rittenhouse was presented with a series of “shoot/no-shoot” situations. While it is difficult to be certain about the number of shots fired by Rittenhouse in the first Engagement, as near as I can tell he fired his weapon only when cornered or on the verge of being in a close physical contest with assailants larger and apparently stronger than himself. If anything he seems to have been too hesitant to fire in the first encounter. Absent a headshot at extreme close/near contact range (a very low probability shot in intense CQB) Rittenhouse likely would have been overcome by prison-hardened and clearly aggressively disposed Short Bald Subject.
In the close in photos depicting the Second Engagement Rittenhouse can even be seen exhibiting proper trigger discipline when confronted by the “hand-up” fake surrendering Grosskreutz. Having fired on Grosskreutz it would have been a simple matter to finish the job with a second center-mass shot, particularly given that Grosskreutz was still carrying his handgun (had I personally been in such a situation and seen the handgun I likely would have fired at least a quick follow-up and perhaps until the threat was all the way down rather than hopping around with a firearm still in hand). Rittenhouse, however, declines to do so (perhaps he did not even see the handgun) and instead recovers to kneeling and then his feet and departs to the north. At least in the second engagement Rittenhouse’s fire discipline is surprisingly controlled given the apparent stress of being pursued and battered by an angry mob.
Rittenhouse prevailed in at least four physical encounters, at least one if not two of which involved contests for control of his weapon by larger, presumably stronger assailants. Rittenhouse’s use of a tactical sling would seem to have been of enormous help in permitting him to retain control of his weapon in the physical contest with Huber.
To the extent Rittenhouse made tactical mistakes the most obvious would seem to include:
1. Entering an (Kenosha) environment alone and without apparent support. While Rittenhouse may have been casually associated with some of the groups on the ground it seems to be the case that his association was struck up on his arrival, not a pre-existing one.
2. Allowing himself to become physically isolated and surrounded at the scene of Engagement 1. It is not clear what precipitated the initial conflict with Short Bald Subject, but in this Rittenhouse appears to have been rather unlucky to become entangled in a dispute with one of the more volatile individuals on the scene. This said, it should be entirely foreseeable that volatile individuals would be at the scene of a riot or civil unrest.
3. Failing to remain as situationally aware as possible, particularly to threats behind him, and permitting himself to be repeatedly overtaken from the rear in between Engagements 1 and 2. Prior to going to the ground at the beginning of Engagement 2, Rittenhouse allowed no less than three attacks from the rear which resulted in physical contact. Rittenhouse was lucky that none of these attacks disabled him or rendered him helpless in the face of the pursuing mob. The first battery to the back of Rittenhouse’s head, in particular, had the potential to take Rittenhouse out of the fight for good. If, in fact, Huber and Short Bald Subject were associated, it isn’t hard to imagine Rittenhouse would have come out badly on the wrong side of Engagement 2 if Huber was the vengeful type.
Legal Analysis (Note: I am a lawyer but certainly not yours, and not in Wisconsin):
Possession of Firearms in Wisconsin and Illinois:
Wisconsin firearms law provides for open carry of loaded rifles and pistols for those 18 16 and older not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms. Unless Rittenhouse’s age has been incorrectly reported he would be in violation of these statutes. Similar statutes exist in Illinois.
[Edit Aug 28:
Further analysis of Wisconsin’s § 948.60 suggests this interpretation is incorrect.
That section provides, in rather plain appearing language:
“Any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.”
The term “dangerous weapon” is defined:
“In this section, “dangerous weapon” means any firearm, loaded or unloaded….” (emphasis mine)
The section is modified via:
“This section applies only to a person under 18 years of age who possesses or is armed with a rifle or a shotgun if the person is in violation of s. 941.28 or is not in compliance with ss. 29.304 and 29.593.”
Among other irrelevant provisions § 941.28 restricts possession of Short-barrelled rifles which it defines as: “‘Short-barreled rifle’ means a rifle having one or more barrels having a length of less than 16 inches measured from closed breech or bolt face to muzzle or a rifle having an overall length of less than 26 inches.”
§ 29.304 pertains to “Restrictions on hunting and use of firearms by persons under 16 years of age.”
§ 29.593 establishes a “Requirement for certificate of accomplishment to obtain hunting approval.”
So to generalise, what the Wisconsin legislature wrote was: “You can’t possess a firearm if you are under 18.”
What the Wisconsin legislature apparently meant to SAY was: “Any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with means any firearm, loaded or unloaded is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor except we didn’t mean under 18, we meant under 16 and not complying with hunting restrictions and not properly certified. Oh, and if the ‘firearm’ is a SBR or sawed off shotgun.”
Shameful rookie mistake on my part: Underestimating the ability of a legislature to restrict that which has been unrestricted in part and restricted in part and excepted from plain meaning by subsection before being generally modified in the definitions of an entirely separate statute. I cannot bring myself to explore the legislative history of these statutes in detail but this sort of twisted language usually is the result of sneaky efforts by later sessions (when the legislature is controlled by a different party than the drafters) to blunt a statute that rubs them the wrong way. “Shhhhh…. let’s just change the definition in a late night session at the end of the term by attaching the amendment to the roads and sanitation authorisation.”
Great catches here by fellow victim of the bar @Esqappellate and new member @gjomas. Also, @45custom read the legislative history so I didn’t have to:
“(3)(c) was not added until 2005 which would explain the clumsy ordering of the text.” He goes on to say: “It’s unclear whether the general restrictions on possession and control outlined in 29.304 are relevant for 16 year olds, but 17 year olds are clearly out of the framework.” Which now appears like the correct statutory analysis to me.]
Further, in Wisconsin and Illinois, providing an underaged individual [not entitled to have one] with a firearm is a felony [edit in some circumstances]. It seems safe to assume that Rittenhouse’s enthusiasm for firearms was supported at least in some measure by his legal guardians. If they knowingly lent him use of the AR he carried in Kenosha they may face charges under these statutes.
Transportation of Firearms between Wisconsin and Illinois:
Federal law pre-empts the prosecution of illegal transportation via 18 U.S.C. ?926A which provides:
“Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.”
Any number of state statutes in Wisconsin or Illinois may govern the illegal importation or exportation of firearms where the “peaceable journey” exemption of 18 U.S.C. 926A does not preempt. Rittenhouse is in jeopardy here if his age is reported correctly as he is not legally able to possess the AR platform he possessed in Kenosha in either Wisconsin or Illinois.
In general, and Wisconsin is no exception, a “self-defence” defence to homicide (i.e. “justifiable homicide” or “excusable homicide”) or the use of deadly or potentially force requires several elements. Those claiming self defence must:
1. Have the reasonable belief that…
2. …they or another person…
3. …are in imminent…
4. …danger of death or great bodily harm, and…
5. …that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent said harm.
Key elements of the defence to hone in on are:
Reasonability. It is not reasonable to claim that you feared for your life when your snotty eight year old cousin charged you with a Star Wars Lego Imperial Star Destroyer at Christmas dinner (even if the Turbo Lasers appeared to be charged because of the flickering of the dinner table candlelight in the translucent plastic).
Imminent. You cannot pop Jimbo next door in the head with your Barrett M82 because he is planning to poison you tomorrow. Well, technically you can, but your self-defence argument might be somewhat weakened by the non-immediacy of the threat (no matter how real the threat is and how deadly the poison).
Wisconsin incorporates these elements in its excusable homicide statute thus:
“A person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force against another for the purpose of preventing or terminating what the person reasonably believes to be an unlawful interference with his or her person by such other person. The actor may intentionally use only such force or threat thereof as the actor reasonably believes is necessary to prevent or terminate the interference. The actor may not intentionally use force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless the actor reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.” (Wisconsin Updated Statutes 2019 939.48(1))
Further, many jurisdictions do not permit defendants to use self-defence as an argument if deadly force was used in a confrontation the defendant him or herself precipitated. Wisconsin is one such jurisdiction, terming the restriction “Provocation” providing:
“A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defence against such attack, except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defence, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.
The privilege lost by provocation may be regained if the actor in good faith withdraws from the fight and gives adequate notice thereof to his or her assailant.
A person who provokes an attack, whether by lawful or unlawful conduct, with intent to use such an attack as an excuse to cause death or great bodily harm to his or her assailant is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defence.” (Wisconsin Updated Statutes 2019 939.48(2))
Use of Deadly Force By Rittenhouse
[Edit Aug 28:
Wisconsin Courts online provides the following charing summary of Rittenhouse:
940.02(1)1st-Degree Reckless Homicide Felony B
Modifier:939.63(1)(b)Use of a Dangerous Weapon
941.30(1)1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety Felony F
Modifier:939.63(1)(b)Use of a Dangerous Weapon
940.01(1)(a)1st-Degree Intentional Homicide Felony A
Modifier:939.63(1)(b)Use of a Dangerous Weapon
940.01(1)(a)Attempt 1st-Degree Intentional Homicide Felony A
Modifier:939.63(1)(b)Use of a Dangerous Weapon
941.30(1)1st-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety Felony F
Modifier:939.63(1)(b)Use of a Dangerous Weapon
948.60(2)(a)Possess Dangerous Weapon-Person < 18Misd. A]
The complaint (thanks to @HMCS who somehow found a digital copy when all I could manage was horrible phonecam images) can be found here.]
My own review of the Engagements suggests that it is difficult to argue that Rittenhouse was not of the reasonable belief that deadly force “was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”
In the initial encounter with Short Bald Subject, Rittenhouse can be seen turning at least once to face the pursuing Short Bald Subject after Short Bald Subject hurled an object at Rittenhouse. In that quick turn it is possible that Rittenhouse brought his rifle barrel to bear. Short Bald Subject seems to hesitate, but continues to come on just as strong thereafter, charging Rittenhouse at full tilt. I would be at pains to articulate an argument that Rittenhouse did not reasonably believe that force was necessary to avoid a physical confrontation.
..that he faced imminent…
You don’t get a lot more imminent than an adult male charging you at full tilt, especially as close as Rittenhouse permitted Short Bald Subject to approach (1.0-1.5 meters from the look of it).
…danger of death or great bodily harm…
It is entirely reasonable, within the context of civil unrest, mob action, and a lack of any real police presence, to expect that a full on physical fight with a determined adversary will result in your great bodily harm. I would expect that Rittenhouse’s own exposure to police cadet programs and training would make this reasonable belief by him easy to establish based on what he may have learned in such programs, but anyone watching the news or even vaguely aware of the propensity for mob violence in cities facing unrest (and Kenosha in particular) would be reasonable in fearing great bodily harm or death if they are jumped in that context. Ironically, Rittenhouse’s own words in the prior video interview, that he was armed because he might have to go “into harm’s way” is a good piece of evidence vis-a-vis his state of mind at the time.
…and, that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent said harm.
Again, Short Bald Subject was not stopping for anything. Given the video evidence of Short Bald Subject’s disposition at the Ultimate station earlier, I suspect any third party will be able to safely infer that the prison-hardened Short Bald Subject did not intend to give Rittenhouse an over-the-knee spanking.
Effect of Provocation:
As I was unable to locate video or audio of the events immediately preceding Engagement 1, it is entirely possible that Rittenhouse somehow provoked Short Bald Subject within the meaning of 939.48(2):
“A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defence against such attack…”
It is not impossible to argue that Rittenhouse’s illegal possession of a firearm, and perhaps some “assault by pointing” behavior not visible on the available video might have “provoked others [Short Bald Subject] to attack him….” This “assault by pointing” trigger concept isn’t a terrible theory given Short Bald Subject’s dialogue at the Ultimate station, which seems to describe the origins of his animus:
“Don’t point no motherfucking gun at me [homes.]?”
Even allowing this provocation argument, it would seem to be obviated by two caveats:
First the language that follows in the statute: “…except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defence, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.”
Given what we do see on video, Rittenhouse retreating, turning, retreating again with Short Bald Subject giving chase until Rittenhouse is cornered, the provocation argument would seem to be defused. More so by the next clause:
“The privilege lost by provocation may be regained if the actor in good faith withdraws from the fight and gives adequate notice thereof to his or her assailant.”
Whatever preceded the video we do have of Engagement 1, it seems obvious that Rittenhouse was withdrawing with every means available to him.
In the video of the chase immediately before Engagement 2 Rittenhouse can be clearly seen looking behind him, obviously registering the number of pursuers he faced. If he had any doubts about their intentions the blow delivered to the rear of his head by White Shirt (a Misdemeanor Battery in Wisconsin) should have made them clear. When Rittenhouse fell to the ground and turned to face his attackers he had a view of at least a dozen individuals approaching him, including the four primary assailants.
..that he faced imminent…
While Red Backpack is deterred by the sight of the barrel of the rifle coming to bear and therefore receives no fire, in each of the cases where Rittenhouse used deadly force (Light Pants, Huber, Grosskreutz) Rittenhouse fires when contact is either imminent or already initiated.
…danger of death or great bodily harm…
An attempted drop kick to the head (White Pants), a skateboard-wielding assailant fighting for control of Rittenhouse’s weapon (Huber), and a handgun carrying assailant that fakes surrender to try and gain tactical surprise (Grosskreutz). Nearby an individual with a blunt instrument held upward. A group of pursuers who had chased Rittenhouse two or three blocks already shouting out things like “Get his ass!” and who swarmed on him when he fell.
…and, that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent said harm.
Rittenhouse’s attackers were undeterred by the presence of and then even the discharge of his weapon. Still two of them (Huber and Grosskreutz) attacked.
Legal Effect of Illegal Possession of Firearm on Rittenhouse’s Self-Defense Arguments
A number of webytubeintermedia sources make much of Rittenhouse’s apparent criminal conduct in bringing an illegally possessed weapon into Wisconsin and staying out past curfew. While criminal acts do have an effect on self-defence arguments in Wisconsin I do not believe they apply here. Specifically, Wisconsin statutes provide:
“A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defence against such attack, except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defence, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.”
The only seeming effect of illegal action on the defence of excusable homicide is to strengthen the defendant’s duty to retreat. Specifically until he or she: “reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.”
In this instance Rittenhouse’s amazing restraint, while tactically dangerous, would seem to easily satisfy the additional exhaustion requirement that might be imposed by illegal activity by Rittenhouse.
In fact, among use of force cases I have had any detailed familiarity with, Rittenhouse’s is one of the most clear cut in terms of “exhaustion” of alternatives short of the use of deadly force and restraint I have encountered.
Do not enter a zone of civil unrest alone and/or without support. If you find yourself separated from a group return to it immediately. Rittenhouse was vulnerable to Bald Short Subject because he was alone and without any support at the Car Source garage.
[Edit Aug 28:
From the complaint.
“McGinnis stated that as they were walking south another armed male who appeared to be in his 30s joined them and said he was there to protect [Rittenhouse].”
If Rittenhouse was there with someone he was nowhere to be seen in the videos by the time of Engagement 1.
It has also been suggested by @Granzka and others that Rittenhouse left his initial location where he was guarding a property with others and interacted with police, and that he was then denied re-entry there by the police. This is consistent with other video of Rittenhouse (with hat still on and therefore before the Engagements) being turned back by someone on a PA despite insisting he was guarding a business “over there.” It would also explain why Rittenhouse was isolated when he came to Car Source.]
Check your baffles. Check it again. [Edit Aug 28: i.e. “Check your six.”]
Even when you check your baffles, and check it again, expect you are missing something in your baffles.
Effective slings are essential elements of weapon retention in CQB and the correct setup is a huge equaliser even against melee encounters with larger adversaries. This is a lesson for me in particular. I have resisted sling systems in the past.
Don’t rely on firearm discharges or pointing to deter opponents determined to close distance with you.
Not that you needed reminding, but rifle stopping power is far superior to handgun stopping power. All three subjects Rittenhouse scored clear hits on were out of the fight immediately. One (Grosskreutz) melted down even though he had ample means to continue the fight. Grosskreutz is only alive today because of Rittenhouse’s amazing (perhaps even naive) restraint. I don’t know of any tactical instructor that wouldn’t counsel a follow-up shot to center mass on Grosskreutz immediately after the arm-strike.
If attacking an individual armed with a firearm do not flinch no matter what. If you commit to grappling with a rifle or pistol holder you have to see your attack through. Four larger, assailants, one armed with a blunt instrument (skateboard) and one with a handgun were unable to subdue a nearly prone Rittenhouse because they shied from the muzzle blast at key moments. Had Grosswreutz followed through with his initial charge after the fatal center mass hit on Huber, Rittenhouse would likely have been subdued.
[Edit Aug 28:
Interview with McGinnis by Detective Cepress:
“McGinnis stated that he had handled many ARs and [Rittenhouse] was not handling the weapon very well.”
Based on the videos I’ve seen Rittenhouse is one of the best weapons handlers under pressure I’ve ever seen. So much for McGinnis’ credibility.]