It's fairly rare that I comment on law enforcement related issues, and perhaps I should more often. One question that I get asked quite a bit is how much force you can use to defend yourself. Where is the line between self defense and assault?
The simplest answer I can give that basically applies to most laws in North America, and I assume overseas as well, is that you can use as much force as is necessary to stop the threat. When the threat is over, or you are out of danger, or you can get out of danger, you must stop. It's really that simple.
Take the following video that's been circulating the Internet:
Wim Demeere has an interesting break down of the video. Here's the link.
I won't go into it too deeply, but the, I'll call him the winner, clearly steps over the line from self defense to down right assault. There is no excuse for the kick that you see near the end. That was purely to punish the initial aggressor for getting in his face. The guy was down, he wasn't even trying to get up. He was essentially helpless and the other guy kicked him in the side, probably breaking a bunch of ribs.
The threat was over when the guy went down. The first punch put him down. I might even be convinced that the second punch when the guy was on the ground might have been justified. After all, who knows what the initial aggressor was capable of. He might have popped back up and the fight could have been on. So I won't discuss the first hit when the guy was down.
I take issue with the kick. There is no way that anyone could say there was still a threat. I have a big problem with anyone who kicks someone when they're down.
You have a right to defend yourself, but when the threat is over and you don't walk away, it's you that's breaking the law.