After The First Shot, Drive

Each individual in the crowd of protesters, or mob of rioters as the case may be, sees himself as an individual actor, responsible only for what he does and not for anyone else in the crowd. Should he choose, for reasons that are exceptionally unclear and moronic, to stand before an SUV, he certainly isn’t the person who made the choice to bring a gun to the protest, to pull it out, to aim the gun and fire it at the person in the SUV.

He’s just a nice guy trying to protest police brutality, or a statue of U.S. Grant, or whatever pops into his mind at the moment he decided that whoever is inside the SUV somehow deserves to be stopped, swarmed by the mob, for the offense to race of driving home for work, or maybe driving to the market to buy a quart of milk. What did he do to deserve getting run down?

According to a statement released by the city of Provo, the driver of the SUV pulled into the right turn lane to turn onto Center Street when “several protesters began crowding around the vehicle.” The statement from Deputy Police Chief John Geyerman does not mention the SUV driving into several protesters, but adds that the driver “hit the gas trying to leave the situation.”

According to Geyerman, “The same protester ran after the vehicle and shot a second round that went through the rear passenger window” before concealing the weapon. He “later approached another vehicle at 500 North and University Avenue, striking and breaking the window with the handgun.”

The guy who chose to put himself in front of the vehicle wasn’t the shooter. He probably didn’t even know the shooter, or that the shooter would shoot. The shooter was masked. Not so the guy in front of the SUV.

There were two groups on the street at the time, one protesting police brutality and the other supporting the police. But the guy in the SUV? I didn’t hear any pop of a gun on the video, but since the driver ended up with a bullet wound, I accept the representation that he was shot.

The driver’s wounds were not life-threatening and he was able to drive himself to Utah Valley Hospital, according to police.

The Provo police arrested two people for the shooting.

Jesse Taggart, a 33-year-old Salt Lake City resident, and Samantha Darling, a 27-year-old from Ogden, were taken into custody at the Utah County Jail, Provo Police reported on Twitter.

Who owns the streets? One of the chants of protesters is they do, they own the streets. They no more own the street than anyone else, including the driver of the SUV. Protests are peaceful until they’re not. When someone shoots a gun at a guy for being in an SUV, it’s no longer peaceful.

While peaceful protest is a constitutionally protected right, it’s not without limits. Time, place and manner restrictions are permissible, even if they fly in the face of the notion that the protesting is an act of disobedience toward such control. But dilemmas are created, such as who gets to use those streets that exist for all of us?

The police don’t seem particularly interested in exercising any control over the time, place and manner of protests. Indeed, efforts to do so don’t go well, and are at the core of the justification for the protest in the first place. Their methods are limited. If the cops tell the protesters to do, or not do, something, the protesters tend not to comply.

What mechanisms do the police have to compel protesters to comply? None that look good on video or are healthy for people to endure. But if protesters won’t heed commands, and don’t want cops to force the issue, the only alternative is to give up the streets to the protesters and hope they will tire out and not do any harm along the way.

If you happen to be a guy in an SUV and suddenly find yourself surrounded, swarmed by protesters, what do you do?

But I have heard 911 calls where dispatch tells the person they can’t run through them but police aren’t coming.

I haven’t heard these calls, but they make sense. What’s a dispatcher to do? The cops aren’t coming to save one person in the midst of hundreds, both to risk the cops’ lives and inflame the rioters. But the dispatcher can’t authorize anyone to run down anyone else. YOYO.

There’s no question that the preservation of property is not worth the taking of a life, so the fact that protesters might be banging on, jumping on, smashing windows on your SUV would not, under a strict legal regime, provide justification for pushing the car forward while there are people, human bodies, blocking your way.

If there’s time, as the car is swarmed, to call 911, it will prove unavailing. You know that property damage is happening, because it’s happening to you and before your eyes. What you don’t know is what will happen when they break through the glass. Will you be pulled out? Will you be beaten in the name of love, kindness and tolerance, for driving in an SUV when the protesters chose to make a turn onto that road on your way home?

There is one choice to be made before the window crashes in. At that moment, you ponder whether you are about to die or all these people who profess that words are violence will suddenly stop. The latter seems unlikely, but it’s almost impossible to wrap your head around the former such that you, just a regular person trying to make it home for dinner, have to decide whether to potentially take a kid’s life by running him down or die.

But when you hear the pop of a gun, the sting of a bullet entering your body, there is nothing left to question. Someone is about to kill you. You hit the gas and get the hell out of there. If some poor, misguided child thought his body was going to prevent you from driving away, then there’s a good chance he will die. He made a choice to stand where he did. You didn’t ask to be shot by the mob. And as usual, the police won’t be there to help, so you have to save yourself.

44 thoughts on “After The First Shot, Drive

  1. Iamcuriousblue

    I sympathize, because 10 years back, I was the target in a road rage incident in Berkeley, CA. A guy who clearly wanted to beat the shit out of me chased me down, pulled in front of me, fully blocked the lane, then got out of his car to come after me. At that point, I was seriously contemplating whether I was going to have to run him over – I’m not a good fighter. Thankfully, I had the option of a very sudden acceleration into the two adjoining lanes, nearly getting hit by other traffic in the process, and the road rager didn’t continue his chase. But as for my other choices – a vehicular manslaughter charge, potenially losing my license, etc would have sucked, but being beaten up or killed by a beserk idiot would have been worse.

    1. SHG Post author

      Road rage is a different dynamic, though the choice of how to deal with it has some similarities.

  2. Chris Van Wagner

    This has by default become the family Sunday brunch conversation. There are simply no good answers. A police Officer may have more reason to drive right through and over, given the chants of the crowd. But the ordinary citizen has less training and less intestinal fortitude to simply hit the gas. Even without the gun, fear for one’s personal safety and, indeed, mortal fear make the only choice to keep going. Or quarantine at home for reasons unrelated to viruses.

      1. Jake

        Blocking the road isn’t my protest style and threatening the lives of people who have inconvenienced me while exercising their 1a rights also isn’t my style. You and I must just be different that way.

          1. Jake

            Sorry, I didn’t realize we were pretending hordes of murderers are taking advantage of the civil unrest to randomly select otherwise innocent and blameless people driving through protests and shoot them. Now I totally understand your POV.

          1. Onlymom

            Bingo! We have a winner. Yes it is legal to be a peaceful protester. You fail the test for that when you block roads or any movement of others. Your right to protest ends at others right to go about their lives.

        1. Guitardave

          Cool. I didn’t know that ‘exercising my 1a rights’ included allowances for me to break laws about blocking public roads, and to violently attack folks using that public road during our little 1a ‘workout’.

          Looks like that kid down the road in the boom box car with the lead foot and excessively loud exhaust better get his shit together, cause me and my neighbors just might have to ‘exercise our 1a rights’ someday soon.

          1. SHG Post author

            Just because Jake calls it 1A rights doesn’t make it so. Protesting, as a concept, is very much protected. The devil is in the details, as usual. Jake isn’t good with details. Or law. Or reason. Or presenting a comprehensible idea. But he’s trying. Leave the boom box kid alone.

        2. Nyx

          America’s a big place, there are plenty of places to exercise your First Amendment rights that don’t have cars driving through them.

    1. Jake

      Around here the privileged olds like to point to the statistical insignificance of being murdered by a cop while sharing their outrage about the demands of the BLM protest movement.

      1. Miles

        Does it ever occur to you that if you posted a comment that wasn’t flagrantly ridiculous and infantile, you might actually contribute a worthwhile thought to a discussion? You don’t have to always play the fool, Jake. Try it. Just once. Pretend you have a brain and you’re not just a joke.

        1. Jake

          It might be hard for you to notice, dear Miles, being so ensconced in the target audience SJ’s observations so often seeks to warm, but treating commenters around here who poke holes in the overarching narrative is consistently reflexive derision. With a little bit of insight, you may eventually realize some contrarians have pretty thick skin.

          1. Guitardave

            I guess calling it ‘thick skin’ sounds better than, ‘being gilded with the armor of stupidity’.

          2. SHG Post author

            What he’s trying to tell you is that you’re not poking holes, even when there might be holes to be poked. Think of it this way, sometimes there may well be a fair argument to be made against a point. Instead of making you, you spew something snarky, stupid and childish. Try making an actual non-idiotic argument sometimes. It might get people to stop thinking I’m paying you to comment for comic relief.

            Edit: And I knew as I wrote this that you wouldn’t be able to control the impulse to reply.

            1. Jake

              Anyhow, just to show I am capable of taking criticism about my chosen style of criticism, I’ll take one last shot at a thoughtful response. You’ve given me an inch today, might as well go for the mile. I won’t be hurt if you choose not to publish.

              Your ultimate point is: If you find yourself in a situation where you are forced to choose your own life over the lives of others who are only guilty of not knowing the legality of protest, you should pick your own life. The decision you have framed is a variation of the trolley problem set against the backdrop of the current civil unrest.

              My point is, life isn’t a trolley problem. Protests are not secrets. It is entirely possible to know when and where they will take place. Unless you want to protest or are intentionally looking for trouble, avoid them. If you have found yourself inconvenienced by a protest because you failed to plan, pull over, and turn off your motor. If you have found yourself forced to decide between running over a protester or be shot by someone trying to stop you from running protesters over, you have made such a grievous series of bad decisions, you should just take the L and die. Society will be better off.

              I am also disappointed in you for believing it was anything but irresponsible to share your conclusion. In the current climate, we do not need more eggheads thrusting themselves into situations where it’s necessary to make such a horrible decision because some law blogger insinuated it would be the right choice to take a life. Sometimes I don’t think you understand you can not control who reads this blog as it is currently configured. Perhaps I am still here after all these years to keep reminding you.

            2. Nyx

              “It’s possible” to anticipate all potential danger and avoid it, just as “it’s possible” to avoid situations where a cop might see a choice between their life and your life. But clearly, as the dead bodies in the streets would tell you if they could still speak, it’s never that easy. People make mistakes; they take wrong turnings, or visit unfamiliar cities, or simply forget. They don’t deserve death for pissing off the mob, any more than a black kid who fails to placate a police officer deserves death.

            3. Jake

              @Nyx – Because I addressed your ‘point’ in the very next two sentences after the one you cherry-picked in the comment you are responding too, I’m forced to assume you either have the reading comprehension of a 7-year-old, or you are intentionally dishonest. Either way, all I can say is reread my comment. Maybe try it slowly this time.

      2. Dan J

        I am not an old, so can I point out the difference in likelihood of being beaten by a mob for imagined infractions compared to being killed by a cop?

  3. VICKI

    Makes sense AFTER the first shot, GTHO of there. What about BEFORE the first shot? What about being surrounded by these ravings lunatics doing violence on behalf of peace and justice, and your window is about to come in? As you said, cops are NOT LIKELY to come to your rescue. Of course we’ll ALL call 911 anyway… What if it’s me, a 5’3′” middle age woman who can’t fight her way out of a paper bag? What if it’s a 20-something mom and her kids? What if it’s your grandpa driving grandma to the clinic? Must you WAIT for the first shot? My state (WI) has a castle doctrine, which helps protect me legally if someone tries to enter my vehicle while I’m in it. That law protects me if I must use deadly force on the person trying to break in. However rolling forward and injuring the other rabble standing in front of my car –or gunning it doesn’t seem to be covered by our law. After all, those peace & justice warriors weren’t the ones trying to break into my vehicle, were they? They were just blocking my exit, scarring the sh*t out of me, and giving some bat-wielding ANTIFA thug (or whatever) the chance to bust into my car and do…WHATEVER. When I do I get to decide that “whatever” is a risk too high?

    So what to do…before the shots are fired? THAT’S the answer I can’t seem to find…

    Thanks for your blog.

    1. SHG Post author

      While I’m not familiar with WI law, and don’t plan to look it up, I would be rather surprised if the Castle Doctrine protected your car. Nonetheless, the point is that the law often fails to address situations it wasn’t written to anticipate, and being attacked by protesters whose ultimate goal is such a situation. The legal outcome will, as it so often is, depend on the particulars of the case. Then there’s the practical question, would you rather be tried by 12 or carried by 6? If you don’t survive the encounter, the question of who was right will only be of interest to your heirs.

      1. Chris Van Wagner

        Sounds like my cue. The Wisconsin “castle doctrine” law does indeed cover one’s home, office/shop and vehicle. We spent a lot of time on the road. There is no duty to retreat and a presumption of legality, as noted:

        “939.48 (1m) … (ar) If an actor intentionally used force that was intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm, the court may not consider whether the actor had an opportunity to flee or retreat before he or she used force and shall presume that the actor reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself if the actor makes such a claim under sub. (1) and either of the following applies:

        1. The person against whom the force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcibly entering the actor’s dwelling, motor vehicle, or place of business, the actor was present in the dwelling, motor vehicle, or place of business, and the actor knew or reasonably believed that an unlawful and forcible entry was occurring.

        2. The person against whom the force was used was in the actor’s dwelling, motor vehicle, or place of business after unlawfully and forcibly entering it, the actor was present in the dwelling, motor vehicle, or place of business, and the actor knew or reasonably believed that the person had unlawfully and forcibly entered the dwelling, motor vehicle, or place of business.
        But again, better to be tried by 12… every time.

  4. The Real Kurt

    “There’s no question that the preservation of property is not worth the taking of a life”

    Depends on the circumstances. I can imagine any number of situations where the value of the property is worth making the malefactor pay the ultimate price.

    After all, property *is* life. If peacefully garnered, it is the embodiment of life spent by the owner, and its loss could mean disaster for the owner.

    Stealing a matchstick or a toothpick probably wouldn’t qualify – the response must be proportionate and/or reasonable. But that should be something for the jury to decide.

    The Real Kurt

    1. SHG Post author

      Your imagination doesn’t really matter. You no more get to reinvent the law to suit your feelz than anyone else.

  5. Matthew Scott Wideman

    I fear if we keep allowing the protestors to own the streets as they see fit, then we are going to see real battles in the streets. Especially when the police do not stop or help the people who are set upon by an angry mob. Regular people only have so much patience until there is a breaking pont.

  6. Lee Keller King

    I will always remember the video of Reginald Denny. I’m wondering now if I need to turn in my Civic for an SUV.

  7. George

    “This makes it Lawful for a Man to Kill a Thief, who has not in the least hurt him, nor declared any design upon his life, any farther then by the use of Force, so to get him in his Power, as to take away his Money, or what he pleases from him.: because using force, where he has no Right, to get me into his Power, let his pretense be what it will, I have no reason to purpose that he, who would take away my Liberty, would not when he had me in his Power, take away every thing else. And therefore it is Lawful for me to treat him, as one who has put himself into a State of War with me, I.e. kill him if I can; for to that hazard does he justly expose himself, whoever introduces a State of War, and is Aggressor in it.”

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