Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Twarting The Furtive Movement

"A furtive movement in such cases is a movement reasonably consistent with going for a weapon and not reasonably consistent with anything else under the circumstances.

"The law does not demand that your perceived antagonist have a real weapon in order for you to employ lethal force in self defense. It only demands that his actions create in your mind a reasonable and prudent belief that he has a weapon. If he is close enough to employ such a weapon, and if his actions are consistent with an armed person trying to kill you (Diallo turned suddenly and thrust the hand with the black object toward the officers), then the requirements have been met for you to justifiably use deadly force in order to defend your own life."

"Skulking in the Vestibule" by Massad Ayoob

A couple of notes on the furtive movement:

1. It cannot possibly be construed as an innocent gesture;
2. Nervousness alone does not constitute furtive movement. "Furtive" means means secretive or concealing. "Suspicious" is not the same as "furtive".
3. The way you need to think about it and articulate it is that the attacker is trying to conceal or hide a movement toward a weapon or to otherwise set up an attack. This can include the famous "pretend-to-walk-away-and-throw-the-big-haymaker-punch".

Unfortunately, there is a large grey zone here. The movement toward drawing a gun from a back pocket or the back of a waistband is exactly the same movement someone would make toward their wallet. The movement toward drawing a knife from a front pocket is exactly the same movement one would make in pulling out their keys.

Be careful on your instruction here. I actually had someone tell me their instructor taught that the palm position of someone reaching toward their back pocket determined if they were going for a wallet or a weapon. Meaning, while reaching toward their back pocket, was the subject's palm facing in (toward his own body) or facing out.

This instructor's theory was that, if the subject reached back with his palm in, he was reaching for a wallet. If he reached back with his palm facing out, he was reaching for a gun.


First, if you can actually tell which way the guy's palm is facing during your encounter, you are awesome.

Second, when reaching for a gun in the back waistband, it is entirely dependant on how the grip is facing as to whether the guy is going to reach with his palm in or out.

The infamous case in point for this argument would be the Diallo case noted by Ayoob in his quote at the start of this section. On February 4, 1999, four NYPD Street Crime Unit cops mistakenly shot and killed Amadou Diallo, firing 41 shots and hitting him 19 times. Diallo ran from cops and suddenly whirled around a pulled out a black object. The cops "saw" him pull out a gun and opened fire. One cop, Ed McMellon, began backing away from the danger and fell, convicing the three others that he had been shot.

After Diallo was down, Officer Sean Carroll checked him and found -- to his horror -- that Diallo had simply produced a black nylon wallet.

The officers were acquitted because the totallity of the circumstances and the way in which Diallo turned and thrust out the wallet which would be consistent with a fleeing criminal turning and pulling a gun.

The training key here is to practice with your partner drawing and presenting a variety of weapons or to attack with a strike. You should practice being the attacker and the defender. It will become more apparent that -- as the attacker -- you'll have to maneuver yourself into a certain range or posiiton to attack. As the defender becomes more and more practiced to the various attacks and his radar is up, you'll find it more and more difficult to successfully attack him.

The successful defense against a weapon is to interrupt the presentation (the draw) before the weapon is out and pointed at you. The successful interruption of the presentation will be dictated by knowing what a furtive movement looks like so you can instantly react to it.

These defenses are part of the Defend University weapons defense module which are currently being taught to security and executive protection operators. Plans are underway to present them in an instructional DVD format in the future.


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