We begin a case that all martial artists should be aware of. It involves most elements of self-defense, which alone makes this case for that reason alone a must for MA's to follow. The trajedy is that both the victim and the defendant, were up to that point, your every day working family men, who supported their sons and were watching a game of hockey, but ended in the death of one, all over something that neither had a right to get invloved in.
In the great self-defense forums hosted by Van Canna, sensei, we constantly are aware of well thought out scenarios, and the effect of the "chemical cocktail" in most cases, being controlled in self-defense or defense of others. This case involves men who were not criminals or street fighters.
This well may be the province of social scientests and behavioral experts, but here we must deal with the law:
Hockey Game Fight Between Spectators-Murder of Self-Defense?
It is a most unfortunate blemish for the sport, the players and the law abiding spectators in a sporting event, when a fight breaks out between spectators. When these spectators are the parents of players it is outrageous, and is almost always a punishable crime by one or more of the participants.
A trial begins this week in Cambridge, Massachusetts charging a parent of a hockey player with the crime of Manslaughter of the parent of another hockey player.
The defendant is charged with brutally beating to death the father of one of the players.
Both the victim and the defendant were spectators in a hockey game in which both their sons were on opposite hockey teams.
The defendant claims that the death occurred while he was defending himself.
Those of you who have read this forum know that we have had many discussions on the law of self-defense, the right to have the judge deliver instructions to the jury on the law of self defense, and we have examined many leading cases on the subject.
When we received news of the trial as it progresses, we do not have an actual transcript of the record, but we can get a pretty good picture of highlights as the case goes on.
Martial Artists should always be aware of the elements of self-defense as applied by the law as a guideline in the event that one needs to invoke his training if attacked or in defense of another.
A case of this magnitude will get the full attention of local and national media.
This one should be particularly interesting because the event was viewed by a large number of people and took place in a hockey arena.
Some of the elements of self-defense which will be presented and evaluated are.
1. What were the facts leading to the confrontation prior to physical contact?
As an example, was it true, as reported by the press, that the defendant charged across the ice and became aggressive?
2. As to both parties, did either or both have a documented predisposition to violence of aggressive behavior?
3. What were the facts relating to the first instance of physical contact.
4. Can the utterance of inflammatory language justify physical action.
5. If the defendant was in the process of defending his person, was the force used reasonable or excessive, justified or not permitted.
6. Facts to be weighed would involve the skill of the participants and their physical size or strength, such facts to go to the determination of “reasonable conduct” or necessity of the force used..
7. Even if self-defense was plead and allowed as a jury instruction, what about the charge of manslaughter where both parties were involved in a mutual melee and the other party was killed accidentally. Could this nevertheless be manslaughter. Or was the conduct and action of the victim so egregious as to permit the use of force to the degree that the victim died, and even though this was a melee or affray, the defendant had to invoke his action for self-preservation.
There is nothing cut and dried about this case and it is salad bar for elements of manslaughter, and self-defense. The law reviewed will even be more interesting if it goes to appeal and the appellate court renders its judgment.
I did note last week that GEM, sensei, in a discussion of IUKF and the Uechi Ryu championship events presented together with a list of concerns, the subject of control of spectators in these events.
Even in well sanctioned martial arts events you see interference from spectators, and yes even the so called soccer moms types who disrupt events and become or promote belligerence.
I make this statement not out of moral judgment but for concern about the liability of the sponsors and promoters, as well safety of the players and spectators.
I think the standards can be met if incorporated in written sets of rules designed to promote safety and protection are promulgated; having designated persons watching and observing the events such as I have seen in the NHB events, and a police presence.
I certainly have not read every case of self-defense or manslaughter, but I do believe that this case will be one of first impression of a fight between two hockey dads and the tragic conseqences.
What are your thoughts about this case and its possible effect on all types of sports and MA activities?