The law of unintended consequences

The nature of many people is to want to help. In general this is a good thing, however – when people do not have the skills and knowledge and try to help bad things happen. This story is an example of that. “51-year-old Ralph Nimmons died over the weekend at a Stop & Shop in Flatbush when he was held down by employees. Witnesses say he pleaded for them to get off.”.

We have had this happen with police in the past, despite the fact that they have at least some training (many are not trained nearly as well as most believe) they can have this happen. There are a number of factors involved. As someone who has multiple instructor certifications in law enforcement control / combatives / arrest, martial arts experience and over two decades in emergency medicine I know enough to be able to state that there are ways to control without much risk of injury to any party, and there are ways that are quite likely to injure or kill. Sadly, this is not a focal point of many trainers even in law enforcement.

So imagine a group of completely untrained people restraining someone over a relatively minor incident from just the physical perspective. They are not used to performance under combat stress, adrenaline and other drugs in play, they likely have no training in anything related to what they are doing. A bad outcome is already too likely.

As someone who trains private security for some of the largest companies in the world, I can tell you that the liability of this is something no smart employer or security firm would condone. The risk of injury to an employee alone would be a terribly expensive matter, and they know a candy bar is not worth it. They just write it off on their taxes and call it a day. I don’t know of a single security company that would make physical contact over shoplifting at this level, and most have strict orders to not do so.

The next hard reality these folks didn’t know anything about is you are responsible for the outcomes of your actions. I will keep an eye out, but would be surprised if these folks were not charged criminally for this. The force used was not necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. Now a man is dead over what, a candy bar?

So while we need to try to be good citizens, help others, and be a force for goodness and right in the world, it’s best you take a hard look at yourself and know your limits.

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