A person outside of a stopped car looking to “throw hands” isn’t in possession of a deadly weapon at that point…you arguably don’t have to retreat, but you don’t have carte blanche to beat another human to death…and you certainly don’t have the right to “win” the fight, just the right to use enough force to defend yourself, no matter who “starts” it.
Note: an automobile could be considered a deadly weapon if used in a grossly negligent or intentional manner, but only then.
*Car in park? Its not a weapon (generally) at that point.
*A u-lock in your fist? There is a good argument for a deadly weapon.
So, some driver cuts you off…you get pissed, pull up beside him with your u-lock in hand, and bash his car…that driver could run you over, with the intent of killing you, and have a damn good argument that he was merely defending himself. The point is through all of this is that traffic frustration leading to road rage isn’t a good look for any human and you are already way more vulnerable on a bicycle…So why even engage? Video, report, repeat.
I am going to pull these court records on Monday, because I suspect that there is a lot of information in there to refute the “valiant biker defending his life against the evil automobile driver” narrative…there are conspiracy charges, etc…
Two quick points. One, it’s quite possible that there will be an appeal. I don’t know what proportion, but many people who go to trial (as opposed to pleading guilty) and lose appeal, both in the civil and criminal systems, though possibly more in the criminal side since the stakes are so high (for instance, 15 years in prison). Two, sentences longer than two years are typically (if not always) served in the state prison system, not the local county jail, so frequent visits may not be all that easily accessible (except for SCI Pittsburgh on the North Side).
This whole thing is pretty messed up. It’s hard to defend what he apparently did (although of course we’re only hearing one side of the story in the paper) but even if he’s completely guilty, those sentences are really harsh and I have to wonder if he (and she) would have fared as poorly if they hadn’t been riding bicycles. How many regular cyclists were on the jury? I’d be willing to bet it was zero.
I guess he should have just commandeered the guy’s car and run him over with it because that’s guaranteed not to get you in any trouble. U lock, though?
– the docket shows the date of the incident as March 26, 2012
– to answer @reddan‘s question, I believe the conspiracy charge is because there were multiple people being charged.
The Castle Doctrine allows one to use force to defend against a threat to their life or grave bodily harm. It allows one to *stop* the threat, or more simplified it allows you to stop the “bad guy” from doing that thing you don’t want them to do. It does not allow you to shoot (or bash) someone without a threat. In this case it sounds like the instigation was on the cyclist.
As for one bullet… no, there is nothing about how many times you can shoot someone to stop them. Handgun bullets are not very effective at incapacitating a threat and most often, as shown in officer involved shootings, the “fight” ends when the “bad guy” gives up, not because they have been perforated too much. Handgun bullets are, in the short term, no different than punching holes in people. Long term is certainly different but at that specific instant only the next few minutes matter.
There is also some court case in PA that has been mentioned by a lawyer that has pseudo established a round count for “excessive”.
Long story short… Don’t seek an altercation and you are fine. Not that the U-Lock is my choice but it is hard, metal, and *something* better than nothing.