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Caught on Video: Vicious Group Attack by Thugs on Young Couple

Caught on Video: Vicious Group Attack by Thugs on Young Couple

Another Deadly-Force Self-Defense Lesson from Missouri

What timing.  Just last Sunday I put up a post exploring the question of “When can you legally use a gun against an unarmed person?”  In that post I explained that deadly force, such as a gun, can be used in lawful self-defense even against an “unarmed” attacker, where the “unarmed” attack nevertheless presents a threat of death or grave bodily harm.

Disparity of Force Can Justify Defensive Use of Gun Against Even “Unarmed” Attack

In determining whether a deadly force threat is presented by an attacker the law looks to see if there existed a deadly force disparity of force between the attacker and the defender, such that the defender would be unable to reasonably defend themselves without resort to a deadly force themselves (typically in the form of a firearm).

There are many circumstances in which a deadly-force disparity of force can exist.  One, of course, is where the attacker is himself armed with a deadly weapon, such as a gun or knife.

Such a deadly force disparity of force can also exist, however, even in the absence of an deadly force weapon wielded by the attacker. (It should be noted, of course, that anything can be a deadly weapon, if used in a manner likely to cause death or grave bodily harm–and this includes one’s hands/fists and feet.)

One of the most common deadly force disparity-of-force circumstances is where there is a disparity of numbers, such that the attackers substantially outnumber the defenders.

Another is disparity of gender, where the attacker is male and the defender female–a disparity further aggravated when the woman is dressed in a manner not conducive to physical self-defense (e.g., wearing heels and a dress).

In both cases, of course, before deadly force can be used in self-defense the defender’s must be facing an imminent threat of death or grave bodily harm.  Where such a threat exists, however, it may be defended against with deadly force, regardless of the weapons, or lack thereof, brought to bear by the attackers.

Caught on Video: Vicious Group Attack by Thugs on Young Couple

Missouri, that font of recent self-defense fodder, again delivers the goods, this time with surveillance video of an attack by a group of thugs on a young man and woman–Alex Vessey and Meredith Cole–out on a date in Springfield MO this past Friday (this attack was first brought to my attention in a post by Bob Owens at the always excellent Bearing Arms blog).  The video clearly illustrates both disparity of numbers–in this case an insurmountable six-to-one–as well as disparity of gender.

In addition, news reports (including the consistently superior British press–in this case, the Daily Mail, from which the video embedded below was obtained) report that both victims were treated for serious injuries, including both of them bleeding from the head, and the female victim suffering a broken ankle.

Such injuries are more than sufficient to meet the legal standard for “deadly force” attack, which requires that the attack be made with force “likely to cause death or serious bodily injury.”  It was only by good fortune that neither of the victims was killed or permanently maimed.

CAUTION: Some might find the video below to be graphic in its violence. There is little, if any, actual gore.

Clear Basis for Lawful Use of Deadly Force in Self-Defense

The video also demonstrates that the victims clearly met all five elements of self defense. Innocence: they were viciously attacked by behind, and were not the aggressors in the conflict. Imminence: the attack was actually occurring and continuing. Proportionality: they used no more force in self-defense then their attackers used on them.

Indeed, given their attacker’s deadly-force attack they would have been lawfully entitled to use deadly force in self-defense. Avoidance: There was never a safe avenue of retreat available to them, particularly with the female victim wearing high heels. Reasonableness: There was no way in which their conduct was unreasonable.

Further, because the attackers were acting as a coherent group in the attack, the defenders would have been equally justified in using deadly force in self-defense against each and every member of the attacking group, until the deadly force threat they presented had been neutralized.

Had either–or, ideally, both–of the victims here been lawfully armed and been sufficiently situationally aware to effectively bring those arms to bear, their attackers might have found that there can be a high cost, indeed, to launching vicious, deadly-force attacks upon innocent people.

Be careful out there, folks. Be alert, be prepared, and know the law.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

NOTE: It seems Amazon is running a “Kindle Countdown” on “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition.” Until 6PM today the Kindle version of the book is available for $4.99, half the usual price. 🙂  Also, if you’re in a position to do a quick review, now would be the time.

Apparently some “haters” decided to post several 1-star reviews, some of which Amazon has already taken down, given their clear malice.  Be nice to offset the remaining fake reviews with honest ones and maintain our >90% 4- and 5-star reviews. Reviews can be done at the same link, and needn’t be extensive–just honest. 🙂

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and (paperback and Kindle). He holds many state-specific Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and produces free online self-defense law educational video- and podcasts at the Law of Self Defense University.


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They’ll be charged with a hate crime if they’re caught, right? I’m sure Eric Holder is on a plane this morning, seated next to Jesse and Al.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to windbag. | September 7, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I think the point you are making is that this was a black on white crime, and if the laws were applied evenly, the DoJ would treat this as a hate crime. But racist Eric Holder beaning AG means that this is unlikely.

    Exiliado in reply to windbag. | September 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    Ha! Ha!
    That’s a good one.

    Think38 in reply to windbag. | September 7, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Sorry, blacks cannot commit hate crimes on whites. Don’t you know? It’s in the definition.

PersonFromPorlock | September 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Don’t overlook ‘when the perp is trying to grab your gun’. Works every time for the cops.

Phillep Harding | September 7, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Why women should carry, even on a date.

    I just showed the video to my wife. She has always been kinda scared of guns.
    Her response, best translation from Spanish:

    This is so … disturbing … horrible … what do they have in their hearts … you have to always, ALWAYS carry.

The headline writes itself.

Democrats want women to be perpetually pregnant, taxable commodities, and defenseless to high capacity mobs.

High cost, yes. Criminals should not enjoy a legal advantage over their intended victims. Also, the first responders are the intended victims.

This is what a courageous woman looks like — not that Wendy Davis abortion narrative.

    Davis is an immoral coward. At the very least she is known not to accept responsibility for her actions. Furthermore, she exacerbates this personal character flaw by promoting the same cowardice and immorality in others.

    Davis is an immoral cowards. As are the opportunistic man who support the “choice”. The first requirement for liberty is women and men capable of accepting responsibility for their actions. This is probably a good criterion for political representatives, too.

I LOVE the part where the cops come running by about 30 seconds AFTER the assault has ended! What was it someone said about “when seconds count, cops are only ……… away”?

    The thing that lefties don’t get is that the issue isn’t *catching* the offenders, it’s *preventing* the offense. Hopefully, the cops caught those thugs, but the injury has already occurred. On ounce of prevention…

    from the article: “Vassey and Cole left the club to try and identify the men who Cole said assaulted her when they were set upon by a group of six young black males.”
    So I’m guessing that the reason the police arrived so quickly is that they were already on the way, having been called about the initial assault.

Humphrey's Executor | September 7, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Would the cops have been justified in sending a fusillade of lead at the fleeing pack?

    Justified? No. But if you put me on the jury, I wouldn’t convict them.

    Depends on a very narrow reading of the law in that jurisdiction, I think.

    Also, that appears to be a pedestrian tunnel or hallway, so there’s no telling what’s down-range.

    I also make it to be 5-6 seconds…not the “30” claimed by .22caltx. The surprise is that the LEOs were so prompt in getting there. Nothing you can count on in real life.

    Probably not, but it would have given me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Mr. Branca: Thanks for the commentary. How about an exploration of another aspect of self-defense: The known history of similar attacks–The more vicious these attacks are known to be, the greater the justification of deadly force?

This disparity crap bothers me a bit.

What about the fact that one person has an intent on harm and agression while the other is on the defensive and did not provoke these circumstances? That to me should be disparity enough regardless of what people sit back and over-analyze in the comfort of their chairs casually watching a screen.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to healthguyfsu. | September 7, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    You still have the right to defend yourself, however, just facing an attacker who is about your size may not lead to justification for deadly force. That’s what this article is really about showing a clear example where deadly force would have been completely justified against an “unarmed” attacker. But just being attacked physically may not be enough to justify that level of force.

      Exiliado in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 7, 2014 at 6:28 pm

      It should.
      Some of us just want to live peacefully.
      We should have the right to stop thugs, as soon as their intentions become evident.

        Gremlin1974 in reply to Exiliado. | September 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm

        I am not sure I can agree with a policy that does not have some differentiation between non-lethal and lethal force. Sometimes lethal force just isn’t justified, as a matter of fact I would say most of the time.

          I concur. Non-lethal offense, non-lethal defense.

          Deadly force attack, deadly force defense until the deadly force threat is neutralized.


          I know there are many folks who wish to settle a non-deadly offense with deadly force.

          We simply don’t live in that world. Sorry, but that’s how it is. Do that, go to jail.

          And, yes, that’s exactly what happens. Rarely a week goes by that I’m not involved in a case where EXACTLY that happens. Disproportionality of force is the single greatest reason otherwise law-abiding people do jail time (or plea away their gun rights forever to avoid jail time) acting in what they honestly believe is self-defense.

          I know I’m beating a dead horse, but I’ll say it again–know the law, know the legal boundaries, stay well within them. It is STILL entirely possible to tactically defend yourself effectively, and stay well within those boundaries.

          You just need to know how.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Exiliado in reply to Gremlin1974. | September 7, 2014 at 7:47 pm

          Andrew, I said “it should.”

          That’s how I feel, but I know the law is clear and I can abide.

          But you know there are troublemakers. For example, those animals in the video.
          There’s no way on earth I can see fairness in forcing somebody to be in a fight against their will.

        And I understood your use of “It should.”

        I’m not saying I disagree on a moral level.

        But I’m not invited to post here on moral matters. Just legal matters. 🙂

        I see the attractions of “a polite society” as clearly today as when I was a pre-teen.

        But that’s simply not the law, at least today.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

My prediction: Sharpton, Obama, Holder, et al. will be dead silent on this.

Wow! She was walking pretty well for having suffered a broken ankle.

    Ragspierre in reply to sjf_control. | September 7, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    I once played three quarters of a basketball game with a broken left arm.

    Than I drove home with a manual transmission. My wife made me go to the hospital about five the next morning because I kept waking her when I moaned in my sleep.

      sjf_control in reply to Ragspierre. | September 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Were you putting your body weight on that arm? I have no doubt you did what you said. But I don’t think a person can physically walk with a broken ankle. Not to minimize what she went through.

        “But I don’t think a person can physically walk with a broken ankle. Not to minimize what she went through.”

        Not all breaks have the bone completely broken through and instantly unable to bear force.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          gregjgrose in reply to Andrew Branca. | September 7, 2014 at 7:32 pm

          Oh, so now you’re a doctor, too?! (Insert smiley)

          “Oh, so now you’re a doctor, too?! (Insert smiley)”

          Of course. Juris doctor. 🙂

          Worked an ambulance crew a couple of years w/ the typical (I guess) frequency of trauma events, broke a bunch of my own bones, and some years of graduate molecular biology work at Harvard. That’s it.

          Why I don’t profess any particular expertise in that area. 🙂

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          LibraryGryffon in reply to Andrew Branca. | September 7, 2014 at 8:07 pm

          I know someone who’s child broke his thigh bone falling off a jungle gym mid-afternoon. She checked him out, he seemed fine, and he walked and did normal little-kid-stuff for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until after he fell asleep and the muscles relaxed that the break became evident. I’ve read documented cases of people walking with broken vertebrae and I walked for a week with a dislocated pelvis (though I wasn’t walking well by the time it was diagnosed.)

          And never discount the effect of the adrenalin which can make one not notice the non-lethal injuries until after the danger is gone.

          Spiny Norman in reply to Andrew Branca. | September 8, 2014 at 12:50 am

          The LA Rams’ Jack Youngblood played Super Bowl XIV (and the entire 1979 playoffs) with a broken leg. Jus’ sayin’…

        Ragspierre in reply to sjf_control. | September 7, 2014 at 5:56 pm

        I once badly sprained an ankle jumping off a drag-line into a pit.

        The doc told me my sprain was much worse than if I had broken the damn thing.

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Ragspierre. | September 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm

          Very true actually. A break will heal in 6 to 8 weeks were a bad sprain or a strain can take as long as 6 to 18 months to heal.

          LibraryGryffon in reply to Ragspierre. | September 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm

          That’s assuming the damaged tendon or cartilage heals at all. I was rear-ended in May of 1990, and was thrown forward so hard that I sprained both wrists bracing on the wheel and separated my ribs on the seat belt. The wrists never recovered enough for me to get back into archery, they reinjure incredibly easily, and the ribs are aching as I type this. Break vs sprain, pick the break every time.

          healthguyfsu in reply to Ragspierre. | September 7, 2014 at 11:09 pm

          Add to this discussion of break vs. sprain look up the List-franc foot sprain.

          I’d rather have every single toe bone broken one a a time than that…it hinders your mobility for life.

          Last note on breaks…They “heal” in a few weeks but they aren’t really replaced by solid bone mass for 1 year. The temporary heal bone is called woven bone and it can be re-injured more easily than regular bone.

    I’ve walked all afternoon on an ankle broken in a lunch-time basketball game. It was very painful, but could bear my weight, and I was a “tough” 17-year-old.

    When my Dad asked at dinner why I was limping, I pulled up by pants cuff and my ankle was the size of a small melon. That’s when we went to the ER, x-ray confirmed break.

    Thankfully, it was my left ankle, and I happened to have an automatic transmission car at the time, so I could still get out to the GF’s house. 😉

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | September 7, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Ah, the recuperative power of…erm…amour…

      sjf_control in reply to Andrew Branca. | September 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm

      Ok, I concede to Dr. Branca. At least your girl friend was not inconvenienced. That’s the important thing! 🙂

      I’ve had small bones in my foot that were “chipped”, painful, but I could get around with a limp. I suppose she could have had a similar injury in her ankle that was masked by her adrenalin rush at the time.

        “I’ve had small bones in my foot that were “chipped”, painful, but I could get around with a limp.”

        I’ve had those injuries, too. It’s not uncommon where the tendons attach to the metatarsal bones to actually have the tendon pull so hard it rips out its attachment point along with a chunk/splinter of bone.

        Can DEFINITELY walk with that, at least until the inevitable swelling effectively immobilizes the whole joint via pain. And its still a 4-6 week calf-high cast (at least it was in the late 1980s).

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Andrew Branca. | September 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm

          “the metatarsal bones to actually have the tendon pull so hard it rips out its attachment point along with a chunk/splinter of bone.”

          Ouch, this even looks painful on an x-ray.

          “Ouch, this even looks painful on an x-ray.”

          When it happens it feels like a railroad spike has been driven through that spot of your foot. You’re going down, no question, not even a thought of trying to put weight on it, you just sit down. (Usually you’re moving downward anyway, from a fall or a jump, so you just continue the motion.)

          After a few minutes you test things out, painful, but can bear weight. Feels kind of like a sprain at that point.

          Over the next 3-4 hours it keeps swelling. If you’re wearing high-ankle boots doesn’t look too bad until you take off the boot. Then–POP!–not getting THAT boot back on.

          From that point on there’s no putting weight on the ankle, mostly from the incredible swelling rather than from the break itself.

          Hey, at least it’s not compound. THOSE are no fun AT ALL. 🙁

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Gremlin1974 in reply to Andrew Branca. | September 7, 2014 at 7:01 pm

          The good news is that now I think they pretty much just go in and screw it back down with a “small” surgical procedure. 🙂

        have broken and set my own feet (day before basic training started) few times before.
        sucks marching on broken foot.
        had xray saturday (showed old break I set too) and found cracked cuboid bone that I had wrapped and splinted friday.
        have constant plantar fasciitis issues in both feet due to having to set bones myself.
        ER dr said may need operation, said give me few anti inflammatory (relefen) and I’ll be fine.
        need to work off a ladder today, may have to put that off until it heals.

        I digress, just the timing of me breaking/cracking and these replies were pretty ironic.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to sjf_control. | September 7, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    As a Nurse I have seen many broken bones get used just like normal. As Andrew points out below no all breaks go all the way through the bone, as a matter of fact most don’t.

    In a complex joint like the ankle and wrist where you have multiple small bones there really isn’t a place to “break all the way through” because it is made up of so many small bones, even with a major break these two joints don’t lose a lot of structural integrity. So most likely her Ankle fracture was a fracture of one of the small bones in her ankle and would be more than capable of supporting her weight.

    Also, realize that she is still under the effects of a HUGE endorphin dump, she probably couldn’t feel anything less than major fracture.

    There also isn’t a great deal of video of her walking around so she probably realized she was injured a few minutes after the video cuts off.

    Char Char Binks in reply to sjf_control. | September 7, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I guess she had it pretty good.

Andrew, is there any chance that, should these guys be caught, that thew would be charged with Attempted Murder for a mass assault? Also, would you see them being charged with a hate crime?

For me the truly scary part of this video is that I fully believe that the only reason either of these folk are still alive is because the thugs were warned the cops were coming. I am betting the guy in black with the red shoes was the lookout and came running and screaming that the cops were coming that is why the pretty much took off in mass.

Char Char Binks | September 7, 2014 at 6:32 pm

One sad part is, even if they go to prison, only white boys get raped there. They’ll probably spend their time in the big house raping pot-smoking honkies. And these savages will be treated like heroes by their fellow thugs for attacking whites.

JackRussellTerrierist | September 7, 2014 at 6:53 pm

I wish they’d both been armed and shot every one of those upstanding members of the black “community” to death. The only reason they gave up was because the lookout heard or saw the cops – who ARE armed – coming.

God only knows what would have become of these two. Death? Permanent brain injury? Rape? Disfigurement?

Without the cameras, it would have been a “I didn’t do nuffins” and “My son a good boy. He wouldn’t do dis. You jus’ raciss”.

    Without the cameras, it would have been a “I didn’t do nuffins” and “My son a good boy. He wouldn’t do dis. You jus’ raciss”

    Do you use phonetics when describing the criminality or negative actions of a white person?

      Do you use phonetics when describing the criminality or negative actions of a white person?

      Heaps of people use phonetics &/or exaggerated dialect when recounting (either verbally or in writing) what are seen as negative/stereotypical actions of Southerners. I also had an Australian-American half brother with somewhat of a hybrid accent, and when he was in Australia people mocked his “Seppo” accent and when he was in America people mocked his “Aussie” accent.

      You need to stop seeing everything through the prism of “racism”. It’s ugly, not to mention not very good for your soul.

A Branco–

Disproportionality of force is the single greatest reason otherwise law-abiding people do jail time (or plea away their gun rights forever to avoid jail time) acting in what they honestly believe is self-defense.

Assign this somewhere between left field, the twilight zone, and the philosophy of law, if there’s such a thing, but that accusation, D of F, is thrown at Israel, too… Essential difference being status as sovereign? domestic monopoly of force? who knows?

(BTW, no direct reply button on some posts?)

    Ragspierre in reply to gregjgrose. | September 7, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Lemme see if I can hep…

    The issue is NOT disproportionate force in the micro sense. That is, if someone comes at me with a baseball bat, do I have to respond with another blunt club of some kind.

    The issue is in the macro sense; is the totality of the situation I face one in which I have a reasonable fear for my life and/or limb?

    Like with Israel, nobody is morally or legally required to calibrate their use of deadly force precisely to the capability of their adversary. They open the ball, they dance the dance, and have to face whatever you brought to the party…to badly mix metaphors…

    If they are capable of killing you or inflicting serious bodily harm, you use what you have in your defense. Until such time as they stop.

First, if you’re actually seeking to communicate with A. Branco, you have the wrong guy.

He’s the very talented illustrator. I’m just a meandering commentator on legal stuff.

If you were seeking to communicate with me on the issue of Israel, I’m not a deep thinker on the matter. I consider them an invaluable ally and I support them 100%. That’s as complicated as it gets for me.

For a more nuanced analysis, I suggest the many other excellent posters here at LI. I doubt the bottom line will differ much from mine. 🙂

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    gregjgrose in reply to Andrew Branca. | September 7, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    I apologize, I do confuse the names, and that’s my own damn fault, insufficient memory buffer, yeah that’s it…

    And it was a left field or worse question, essentially (rhetorically, not to you) why does a nation get to determine when force is disproportionate or not, but an individual doesn’t? On the other hand, to ask the question this way does seem to answer it…

    (It wasn’t meant to be a slam on Isreal, just a corkscrew notion of sympathy for your clients.)

Wow. All this talk about broken bones and nobody cares that this victims girlfriend jumped in the fray and was mixing it up? That, my friends, is one awesome babe!

“(It wasn’t meant to be a slam on Isreal, just a corkscrew notion of sympathy for your clients.)”

Oh, I didn’t mean to suggest that. Was only speaking for myself.

And I almost never act as lead counsel these days. I’m best thought of as an advisor to the lawyer who IS lead counsel. And in most of those instances I decline the case in the first few minutes of discussion, because it’s simply clearly not self-defense.

I won’t take the money if I don’t have a reasonable prospect of affecting the outcome.

And, of course, believe in the defendant. I am a most fortunate attorney to have THAT luxury.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Andrew Branca. | September 8, 2014 at 12:26 am

    Just kind of an off the cuff question, do you ever testify as an expert witness?

      There’s no real role for a lawyer as an expert witness in court.

      The lead counsel is himself (or herself) supposed to be their own “expert witness” on the law–that’s what they’re there for. 🙂

      Of course, in ensuring their expertise they consult many resources, and a substantial portion of my business is being such a resource.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Mr. Branca, have you seen this one yet?

Somewhat similar situation, although far from identical. Different outcome.

Here is also an instance when deadly force would’ve been appropriate.

At least Detective Walker didn’t have to suffer the bruises that Mr. Dieuphine Hyppolite had to endure. An off duty auxiliary cop not bothering anybody,not committing a crime ,just walking his dog.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to m1. | September 8, 2014 at 12:36 am

    OMG, your still here and still beating this dead horse?

    Yea, that officer was probably actually in or near his jurisdiction and in the same state that he is a LEO too.

    Give it up you are no longer making a point now you are just trolling.

    I believe that Walker should have been convicted of murder, period. You will not change my mind and his skin color has nothing to do with my feeling that he should be convicted. Give it up.

In a Perfect World: Several Baa-Daa-Bings, coroner multiples and commendations for the cops delivering Baa-Daa-Bing to the despicable homeboys,’Yo.