Monday, December 22, 2008

Today In History: What not to do.

On this date in 1984, five four [d'oh! -ed.] youths attempted to intimidate the wrong nebbish on the Manhattan subway.

Although the media quickly dubbed him the "subway vigilante", all that did was prove that the media hadn't a clue what a "vigilante" was. Acting in self-defense does not a vigilante make. If Bernie had set out to seek revenge for past wrongs, then he would have been a "subway vigilante".

What Bernie Goetz actually was, however, was a textbook example of what not to do after a self-defense situation. Don't be a Bernie:

1) Resist the urge to make "Dirty Harry" quotes.

2) Do not flee the scene.

3) Do not ditch the weapon in question.

4) Keep your cakehole shut and call your lawyer.


Anonymous said...

I''m not familiar with the details of Bernies situation other than the most general scenario, tho recall Cooper mentioning it,..and him mentioning another guy a short time later that had a similar situation. Other guy simply got off at the next stop, and presumably went home. No other details of the event were forthcoming after that, since there wasnt much for anyone to say.

...Not that I'm advocating any particular course of action or behaviour.


Anonymous said...

Yeah he was a dummy. Even back then I thought he was a dummy for how he handled the situation.

What he should have done is made sure they were shot enough to not have controdictory statements and then sat there gun in hand saying over and over "they were trying to kill me" until he saw his lawyer.

Then he could relax, have a cig and talk behind closed doors quoting Harry and think about getting off with a decent lawyer.

May all the CCW holders learn from his lesson.

staghounds said...

I nitpick at your "if", a vigilante is one who sets out to do justice, not to take specific revenge.

Tam said...

Anonymous 9:10AM,

"What he should have done is made sure they were shot enough to not have controdictory statements...

Speaking of bad advice to CCW holders...

Anonymous said...

If you are innocent and are arrested, shut up. Unless the words involve wanting to talk to a lawyer, don't say them.

Also, be the person to call in the incident; don't let the other guy do it first.

Anonymous said...

There were four men, not five, but this is still a very classic case of what NOT to do in many cases if you're caught in a self-defense situation.

Of course, being batshit probably didn't help Goetz to keep his story straight or think properly.

Turk Turon said...

Yeah, Goetz was a bit of a kook, but even kooks have rights. Goetz's worst mistake was the long, rambling, videotaped (!) confession he made to, I believe, the New Hampshire police.

Goetz still lives in NYC and every four years he runs for mayor on the vegetarian party ticket.

The most important point (after calling a lawyer, calling the cops, staying at the scene and getting medical help for the wounded) is to shut the hell up. Say nothing. The cops will hang you with your protests of innocence, but nobody was ever convicted because he didn't say anything.

JimB said...

Bernie Goetz got sentenced for having an "illegal" gun.. not for shooting the four scumbags that attacked him. Jury found him innocent of those charges. His only mistakes were running his mouth and turning himself in. This was New York. If he had just walked away and kept his mouth shut it all would have gone away. The man on the street was behind him 100%

Matt G said...

"Of course, being batshit probably didn't help Goetz to keep his story straight or think properly."


Anonymous said...

The guy was toast any way you look at it. This being before the big cctv boom, as long as he was out of camera sight, he could've wiped his prints off the gun and ditched it on the tracks, ala the Godfather. Then fade away. But life's not a movie, and some pinko lib would've tripped him.

But this was still NYC, and no matter what the sensible public thinks of anything out there, they're drowned out by the so called intelligentsia, who did their best to make Curt Sliwa out to also be a kook. As long as you're a victim, they pity you, but if you're out to protect yourself from people who weren't hugged enough by momma or whatever excuse is in this week, then you're worse than the mugger.

Anonymous said...

Comment from cop son, "Sir, please put down the weapon (double tap, thump, thump)". "Sir, please put down........
Word verification babionni. Is that a really hot Italian chic?

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Not cogent to the conversation, I just wanted to say that yesterday a guy came into the store with a ~85% 1941 Johnson.

Capcha: Spentem. I sure would've, if I had $5K in my pocket :)

Mark said...


This is a wonderful time to link in LawDog's post on what to do when the dreaded moment occours.

His calm, dispassionate words on that most brain-and-gut-wrenching of moments really needs a to be read with this post.

Anonymous said...

this should be #1

1) Keep your cakehole shut and call your lawyer.

This would invalidate the current #1 and never be intimidate to excurse your constructional rights.

Anonymous said...

Our concealed-carry instructor here in Minnesota (who literally wrote the book) gives this recommendation for post-shooting behavior with the police:

1) "I was attacked."
2) "I will sign a criminal complaint." (But wait to do so until AFTER your lawyer is present).
3) "There is the evidence, and there are the witnesses." (Because a LOT of time the cops can overlook either or both).
4) "I want to talk to my attorney, and I do NOT consent to a search." (They'll search you anyway, but it's important to NOT give consent).

And then, most importantly, say NOTHING except to repeat the above until your lawyer is present. But our trainer also stressed just exactly how HARD it will be to keep your mouth shut after that kind of traumatic incident...people have a natural urge to explain their actions after an event like a use-of-lethal-force.

When my wife and I got our CCW's, we contacted an attorney to see if he'd be willing to represent us in the horrible 'event-of'. He said yes, and then asked who we had trained with. When I told him, he said, "You won't have any problems. But if something ever does happen, SHUT THE F%#@ UP until I get there. More people have talked themselves into prison than have been put there. So just keep your blankety-blank mouth shut!"

Sounded like good advice to me.

staghounds said...

Since you'll want to say something, PRACTICE.

You'll default to your training. So pick a phrase-

"I defended myself. My lawyer told me not to say anything."

That will at least point the investigators in the right direction. And if a jury ever hears it, there's the self defense claim right there.

Write it on a card and say it regularly- like, every time you put the gun on.

Andrew said...


Joel Rosenberg does say those four things in his book, but he correctly attributes them to Masaad Ayoob. :)