Teenager shot by police at Reno high school: Lessons to learn

I just got sent this link to a video of a teenager shot by the police at a Reno high school:

You can view another angle here.
What seems to be known so far.
The predictable response here.

What is likely to happen now:

  • There will be the usual outcry along the lines of “Why did he shoot him, the kid only had a knife?” from those with no understanding of the dynamics involved in such an encounter.
  • Then there will be some more outrage as the journalists, pundits and professional rabble-rousers do their thing.
  • In the end, nothing will change and it’ll be waiting for the next incident.

In the mean time, I suggest focusing on the lessons we can learn from this. There are several things to take away form this video:

  • Disarming somebody with a knife without hurting him is not easy, nor is there a guaranteed technique you can use to pull it off. What’s more, a knife represents lethal force. Such a threat is typically responded to with lethal force, such as a firearm. Why? Because when you don’t and things go wrong, they can go wrong in catastrophic fashion (fast forward to 7min15 for the attack):

  • If the officer didn’t stop the kid and went down himself like the officers in the previous video did, the kid could have slaughtered several of students who were standing there. It’s the officer’s duty to avoid that, along with not dying himself. So if you brandish a knife and threaten others with it, act erratic and refuse to drop it when ordered, you should expect a definite response from law enforcement.
  • For those who don’t understand this, here are some realities about violence, about knife vs. gun and also this article. As an overall strategy, when faced with a knife and you have the option: run. Run for your life. Which brings us to the next point.
  • Look at the other students. They refuse to leave and even come closer as soon as the kid is no longer looking right at them or moving in their direction. There is no way to emphasize enough how monumentally stupid this is… If you have kids, teach them to flee when an event like this happens. I teach this to my children and repeat the lesson regularly: being an innocent bystander doesn’t make you safe. On the contrary, you can become a victim in an instant or become collateral damage when law enforcement takes action. Here’s an article with many examples. Here’s a video that shows exactly how fast bystanders can become victims, even when they think the fight is over…
Teenager shot by police at Reno high school - Lessons to learn

Teenager threatening with a knife in Reno high school

Early reports claim the kid was bullied and lashed out like this to protect himself. I have no idea if this is true, the investigation is ongoing and should reveal more. If true, is this enough to give him a pass on pulling a knife like that? That discussion is beyond the point of this article. The point is to learn from this incident and avoid becoming a victim.

Good luck and stay safe.

How to block a knife attack

As you know, I’m working on a book on self-defense against the knife. By the way, I’m still looking for people who want to share their story about that (anonymous if they prefer.)

What often comes up in my research is that people fall victim to some misconceptions and myths about the techniques you can use when somebody tries to stab you with a blade. One of these is that you should try to “block the knife attack”. I’m not claiming it’s impossible because I know people who’ve done just that but I am going to say that there are good and bad ways of going about it. Not to put a fine point (hahaha) on it, do you want to know how to block a knife attack? Not like this guy did..

how to block a knife attack

How to block a knife attack? Not like this...

 

The irony of this picture is of course the tattoo on his chest. Seems like somebody wanted to test that theory…

Back on track.

There are numerous ways of defending against a knife attack and they all have their value. Some are better than others. Some are worthless in my opinion. And then there’s everything in between. That said, however “bad” you may judge a technique to be, there is only one factor that determines its worth in the end: did it work or not? [Read more…]