COPS: Karate Assault


10:41 PM. Responding to an assault call, Officer Tim Hoffman takes statements from the two parties involved.

John’s story: “I just came down here to relax, man. So I was sitting at the bar, and I heard this man and woman arguing over there in the corner. I could see the situation was getting out of hand, so I walked over there, and calmly suggested they should lay off. The guy just blows up, gets in my face, starts swearing and threatening me. I knew I’d have to defend myself, right? I got into a defensive stance. He just sucker punched me and ran away.”

Ryan’s story: “I was talking to my girlfriend, having a conversation, when this prick walks over here. He said he knew Karate, and I’d better calm down. I told him to go back over to the bar and mind his own damn business. Then he starts trying to do some Karate move on me, so I hit him in self-defense. After that, I went with Crystal out to my car, just in case he tried anything else.”

Imagine you are the police officer. Which story do you believe, and why?


  1. Ryan, actually. John says he “has” to get involved, but after his utter failure, nothing happens. He uses rather exaggerated language, including labeling something a “sucker punch” when by his own admission he’d had time to drop into a “defensive stance,” because he “knew he’d have to defend himself,” then the guy “runs away.” Taking the woman John came to save with him, as well.

    Ryan’s on much better standing, he does not engage in any behavior that escalates the conflict (you can say “damn” in public,) until John makes it clear by physical preparation he is planning on engaging, uses a single context-appropriate technique, disengages immediately, gathers his loved ones, leaves the threat area, and awaits if not contacts the authorities. Ryan’s actions meet the definition of self-defense in most jurisdictions, John’s actions probably never do.

  2. I don’t believe either of them, not entirely. I suspect the truth lies somewhere in between. But it seems to me that it’s generally a sign of hubris and poor judgment to try intervening in an argument. Defending someone who’s actually under attack is one thing; tryin’ to get in someone else’s bidness is another.

  3. Ryan is telling how he felt, John is telling a story. Look at all the ways he is trying to sway the audience:

    just to relax (why did you get into a fight then?)
    I could see
    calmly suggested
    just blew up
    I knew I’d have to defend myself

    Ryan probably was a jerk — but you are much more likely to see someone at a bar trying to pick a fight than trying to end one, in my experience.

  4. By the letter of the law, the guy who actually threw the punch and hit the other guy is at fault.
    People can posture and call each other all kind of names, but when you lay your hands on someone, that’s when the law gets involved.
    The thing to start with would be to bring the altercation to the attention of the bartender. The bartender is leagally responsible for anything that goes on in a drinking establishment. When they put their eyes on the conflict, they are the ultimate witness the police will listen to, especially if you are in a situation where you have to resort to violence.

  5. Actually Dojo Rat, the law (in *almost* every jurisdiction) doesn’t require anything of the sort. Merely that the a reasonable person would have considered that a fight was imminent. Once it’s clear that you are going to be attacked, you can pre-empt it, and it’s pretty clear from John’s story that he was going to “defend himself.”

    Former Bouncer

  6. The random guy sitting down not doing shit i would believe him he did’nt do nothing he was’nt involved so he has no reason to lie he just sat there and watched sipping his drink wishing he had popcorn.

  7. Authorities enjoy getting involved so just notify the bar of a bar-room and allow the bouncers to earn their pay. Next that person that was does strike because of a perceived threat will also if enjoying fighting track down who ever told then multiple attackers can exist. Those attackers will consistently proclaim while attempting to maim or kill other people to be, just playing around.

    The routine will be to tell and be attacked later or ignore it and watch violence occur anyway. Most people are vain, lazy, and often short sighted so interfering can lead a person to getting shot. Better than three-quarters of people think in terms of short-term gain. If vices needed to die young were made highly fashionable then four out of five would quickly become dead. That would put bars out of business because the one in five remaining would not be drinking much alcohol.

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