Consider this scenario, an ill-advised experiment:
Summary: Two co-conspirators stage a “murder in progress” in an elevator: when the doors open, people waiting on the platform are treated to the sight of one of these men strangling the other. The scene is such that it’s likely the victim will die if you don’t take prompt action of some sort.
What do you do? Do you run away? Do you call 911? Do you intervene forcibly? Do you intervene violently?
As I told my brother, everyone is bold behind their keyboard, and that includes me. Hard to say with certainty what I’d do, but knowing that calling 911 and waiting would result in a death, I imagine myself kicking the assailant in the face after a couple of verbal warnings to release his victim.
My brother says he would be leary of intervening physically:
A) You don’t know what other weapons might be in play, so you don’t know the risk. Maybe the assailant also has a gun, and you are taking a greater risk of injury than you might think.
B) You don’t really know who’s who here. Maybe the current strangler is the victim and has turned the tables on his attacker.
Well, he’s right about A); there are unknowns here, and physical intervention does put you at risk of injury or death. But B)? If the initial victim really has turned the tables, then by strangling his attacker to death he is not acting in self-defense anymore. People have been imprisoned for using a gun to stop a crime and then following up by fatally shooting the perp after he was no longer a threat. IMHO this would be the same situation, and so violent physical intervention on my part is warranted in order to save whomever is currently being strangled.
As a final note, this seems like a really dumb experiment, in that one or both of these guys quite possibly could have ended up taking a steel-toed boot to the head. I think they’re lucky.
So anyway, what would you personally do, and what range of responses would you find reasonable/acceptable?