Self-Defense in a Riot
This does not constitute, nor should be applied as, legal or professional advice.
The first rule to avoiding a riot is to stay away. Avoid riots at all costs; "protests" too. Don't participate, don't drive through or near them. Here is some information regarding self-defense during a riot.
Deadly force is not permissible to stop a non-violent crime, such as shooting a burglar running away with stolen property. Please note, robbery involves force or fear and is a separate crime from a burglary, which is entering an occupied structure with the intent to commit a felony, usually theft. This video and the armed citizen's commentary is a good example of how to handle a potentially violent property theft. Pointing a firearm to deter a violent burglar as in the video would generally be permissible, but shooting without a threat of death or injury in such a case would not be.
Brandishing is defined as drawing a deadly weapon in a threatening manner, not in lawful self-defense, in the presence of two or more people (NRS 202.320). It is also a crime to aim a firearm at someone (presumably outside of lawful self-defense) (NRS 202.294).
"Stand your ground" and "castle doctrine" are two similar, but different concepts. "Stand your ground" applies to any place you can legally be and "castle doctrine" protects you at home.
NRS 200.120* “Justifiable homicide” defined; no duty to retreat under certain circumstances.
1. Justifiable homicide is the killing of a human being in necessary self-defense, or in defense of an occupied habitation, an occupied motor vehicle or person, against one who manifestly intends or endeavors to commit a crime of violence, or against any person or persons who manifestly intend and endeavor, in a violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious manner, to enter the occupied habitation or occupied motor vehicle, of another for the purpose of assaulting or offering personal violence to any person dwelling or being therein.
2. A person is not required to retreat before using deadly force as provided in subsection 1 if the person:
(a) Is not the original aggressor;
(b) Has a right to be present at the location where deadly force is used; and
(c) Is not actively engaged in conduct in furtherance of criminal activity at the time deadly force is used.
3. As used in this section:
(a) “Crime of violence” means any felony for which there is a substantial risk that force or violence may be used against the person or property of another in the commission of the felony.
(b) “Motor vehicle” means every vehicle which is self-propelled.
Commentary: Under this section, there is a question if "habitation" includes a business. Someone breaking into your home in a "violent, riotous, tumultuous or surreptitious manner" implies they are there to do harm to you and you are within your rights to suppress the threat before they get in. This is "castle doctrine." The use of the word "habitation" seems to imply the section applies to a home.
This doesn't mean you can shoot at a hostile crowd that isn't forcing their way in. Someone shooting at you or someone throwing a Molotov cocktail is a different story.
In a business, "no duty to retreat" would apply. You are legally present at your business or workplace, and as long as you didn't start the fight or doing anything illegal, you have no duty to retreat. The question would be, can you shoot rioters as they try to force their way inside? That would depend on what your could articulate your belief was about what they were intending to do. Again, you can shoot to safe life, but not to stop theft/looting. See NRS 200.130.
You are permitted to shoot someone who is attempting to enter your vehicle to assault you (violently breaking through the window in a manner where you could be hurt; not someone breaking the rear window to mess up your car).
NRS 200.160 Additional cases of justifiable homicide.
Homicide is also justifiable when committed:
2. In the actual resistance of an attempt to commit a felony upon the slayer, in his or her presence, or upon or in a dwelling, or other place of abode in which the slayer is.
Commentary: A felony "upon the slayer" would mean the bad guy is committing a felony against your person (robbery, rape, attempting to kill or seriously injure you). This does not mean simply steal from you. "In your presence" would include anywhere you legally were present.
NRS 200.200 Killing in self-defense.
If a person kills another in self-defense, it must appear that:
1. The danger was so urgent and pressing that, in order to save the person’s own life, or to prevent the person from receiving great bodily harm, the killing of the other was absolutely necessary; and
2. The person killed was the assailant, or that the slayer had really, and in good faith, endeavored to decline any further struggle before the mortal blow was given.
In a Vehicle
Keep your doors locked and windows up. Keep your firearm in a secure, but easily accessible place. Consider where your gun is and what happens if you have to stop suddenly. Will it slide out of wherever and disappear under the seat?
Keep moving. Moving slowly is faster than most people can walk/run in a riot. Don't get out of your vehicle unless it is disabled. Take off your seatbelt in case you need to make a quick escape (or draw your gun). If your car is hit with a Molotov cocktail, if the road is clear, accelerate quickly to a high speed to try and blow the fire out. If the fire continues, drive to a safe place and abandon the vehicle.
Don't Run People Over
Don't drive into people in a crowd. Avoid the crowd altogether. Hitting people with a vehicle would be considered assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, manslaughter, or murder. A defense based on self-defense may be difficult to argue.
At what point are you in a bad spot and when are you in mortal danger? Watch videos of cars driving through riots. Usually, the crowd hits and vandalizes the car, even breaking windows. As the driver panics and tries to get out, they hit the gas and strike people. The crowd then gets more violent and starts trying to assault the driver or break windows with the intent to hurt the driver.
If the crowd comes to you or you take a wrong turn, keep calm and get out of there. If you must keep moving, go very slowly (less than 5 MPH—a fast walking pace). Anyone in the way will be gently pushed rather than serious struck. Hopefully they will just get out of the way. Going slow will look better than going fast in court.
People will probably be attacking your vehicle and will become more aggressive if you are driving through them. At this point, aggression may escalate to violence where self-defense would be appropriate. Example: if you car stops, rioters may force their way into your vehicle to beat or kill you.
If you push your way through the crowd, go no faster than necessary, hitting no one with no more impact that necessary. Don't just stomp the gas pedal and plow through. Reversing instead of going forward may be the safest and fastest way out of danger. Certainly do not swerve into and hit people in the crowd.
Difference Between Cops and Civilians
Only police officers can use lethal force in suppressing a riot; not citizens. Citizens in a riot can only use resistance sufficient to prevent the offense (ex. you can't start pepper spraying the whole riot; only someone attacking you). NRS 193.230
You don't get to be a "Roof Korean" and shoot rioters for looting or etc. You can only use force against a specific threat to yourself or another. Being a sniper shooting rioters who might be harming someone else is a stupid idea and may be illegal or get you killed by police who don't know what's going on. There is a huge difference between being overhead cover for a group of armed citizens providing security and shooting people from the roof.
Citizens cannot shoot a fleeing felon. Nevada Supreme Court in State v. Weddell found the use of deadly force to make an arrest was unreasonable without the threat of serious bodily injury to himself or others. The difference is that the public does not get to exercise the same benefit as law enforcement, because the statutes changed. State law had earlier been written (long repealed) to theoretically allow deadly force in the apprehension of a felon.
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Clayton E. Cramer
Gun Free Zone
The War on Guns
The View From Out West