The incident occurred in September of 2016. The shooter was convicted of Aggravated Battery with a Firearm at a bench trial in November of 2017. This month, the Appellate Court reversed his conviction. He’s been in prison ever since his arrest.
Bottom Line Up Front:
A woman invites a man she’s never met in person over for sex. While they are in the midst of the act, her boyfriend shows up. The naked man grabs his pistol from under the bed and shoots the boyfriend because the man feels threatened. He is eventually arrested, tried, convicted, and sent to prison. Four years later, his conviction is reversed on appeal.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. ROBERT D. WILLIAMS, Defendant-Appellant.
Although the case has some lurid traits, it’s also very interesting from both the legal and tactical perspectives. I’m summarizing it on my Patreon page https://www.patreon.com/TacticalProfessor but the Appellate ruling provides a lot of detail you can read for yourself.
As always, should you or your loved ones be interested in learning to use your equipment better during the American Insurgency, my books are available at the menu at the top of the page.
I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.
When discussing Standards, we should keep in mind that Standards come from several sources.
- Ourselves (personal standards)
- Private Sector (social values and employment criteria)
- Public Sector (legal requirements)
Of those, the standards we set for ourselves are the most important. For instance, I don’t drink if I’m driving. I enjoy having a cocktail but I either have one at home or in the company of a designated driver. That’s my personal standard. In most cases, I could probably ‘get away with’ driving home after I’ve had a drink. However, even if I wasn’t close to the legal limit of intoxication, alcohol consumption reduces the margin of safety I consider acceptable for operating a two ton potential manslaughter machine. Not only is my personal safety at stake but the safety of others. It’s the same reason we accept not handling firearms after consuming alcohol as personal and community standards; to maintain an acceptable margin of safety.
What are some other personal standards that might apply to aspects of personal protection and shooting? A few come to mind immediately:
- Know the rules (law) of where we live and places we travel to.
- Shoot only at positively identified threats.
- Shoot only in a manner we can make 100 percent hits on a threat, thus not endangering innocents downrange. Factors affecting this include:
- Personal skill
- Cadence (rate) of fire
- Relationship of the weapon to the eye-target line
My presentation at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference last week was titled Strategies, Tactics, and Options for Personal Protection (STOPP). Since many of us were not from Arkansas, I asked the audience how many of them from out of state had researched the Arkansas statutes about the Use of Force and Deadly Force. Not everyone had. Researching this piece of information took me less than 30 seconds on my phone before I entered the State. Was it a prudent decision to do so? I think so.
Arkansas Code Title 5. Criminal Offenses § 5-2-607. Use of deadly physical force in defense of a person
I’ve harped quite a bit about Identifying Friend or Foe already so, for the moment, Point 2 requires no further elaboration . Please remember that the Flashlight Practice Session of Indoor Range Practice Sessions is available as a free download.
Let’s consider point 3. My colleague Darryl Bolke’s presentation at the Conference included an important tidbit about the rate of shooting. The LAPD SWAT Team, one of the most highly trained and experienced shooting units in the world, practices to shoot at .5 (½) seconds per shot, no faster. They do this regardless of whether they are on the square range, in the shoothouse, or in actual confrontations with criminals. Why? Because that’s the rate they can identify threats and make decisions about using or continuing to use (follow up shots) deadly force.
The Force Science Institute has found that it takes about .3 seconds or more for the ‘stop shooting’ decision. That’s considerably longer than the splits we consider important in the world of competition shooting. There is a tension inherent between those two situations.
We all like to consider ourselves to be responsible gunowners. Is it prudent for us to practice shooting faster than we can guarantee a hit and whether it’s necessary to shoot at all? That’s an open question in my mind. I shot the Match at the Conference very deliberately and relatively slowly. I’m okay with that. All my hits were exactly where I wanted them to be and nowhere else. In the measured environment, that’s now become my personal standard.
Claude, I’m haunted by that last shot because I don’t know where it went.
–A friend who is both an Expert competitive shooter and a practitioner of personal protection.
Going to public sector standards, a fear is periodically raised that the standard will be set too high for gunowners to meet. The State of Illinois was the last State in our Nation to allow concealed carry because its political elite has a pathological fear of firearms (hoplophobia) in the hands of private citizens. Consequently, that State makes an interesting case study regarding Standards for private citizens. Let’s compare the standards Ill-Annoy has established for police officers v. private citizens.
|Strings of fire||12||3|
|Furthest distance||15 yards||10 yards|
|Time Limits||6 – 10 seconds||None|
|Target||8.5″ x 14″ (119 sq. in.)||Entire B-27 (~700 sq. in.)|
|Hit Requirement||23/30 (77%)||21/30 (70%)|
Strings of fire is a useful criterion to include because less skilled shooters tend to ‘walk’ their rounds into the center of the target during a longer string. Having more strings reduces the effectiveness of this technique and makes a given course of fire more difficult for an equal number of rounds fired.
The qualification requirements of some States are so low that a reasonably skilled shooter can literally pass them blindfolded. For instance, the State of Michigan requirement is to hit an 11×25 inch target (three sheets of paper) at four yards with five rounds, two times out of three tries, starting from a ready position. It should be noted that although this seems like a large target, it has roughly the same area as the FBI ‘Q’ target; 281 square inches v. 275 square inches, respectively. The fear of established marksmanship criteria being excessively high seems unfounded in reality.
It should also be noted that reflexively firing a number of rounds can be a legal liability. In the Mike Kimball case in Maine, the first shot was deemed by the medical examiner to be deadly. The two additional rounds fired by Kimball were raised as an issue by the Judge in his trial. Kimball was ultimately convicted of murder and will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison. There were additional factors in his conviction, but the number of shots was definitely a question.
A lawyer friend pointed out recently an aspect of the California jury instructions regarding self-defense cases. The wording can be interpreted to mean that shots fired after the threat has ceased could be viewed as excessive force and no longer reasonable self-defense. Whether we like it or not, the rules are the rules. We need to be cautious about parroting and then internalizing memes such as ‘shoot him to the ground.’
When you start [and continue] shooting at someone, you have to assume you’re going to kill them. That’s why we call it ‘deadly force.’ Doing so needs to be a decision not a reflex.
–The Tactical Professor
Should we settle for having mediocre personal standards and being able to only do the bare minimum? It’s true that ‘getting better is not for everyone.’ Especially if that is the case, having an objective benchmark of how we can and cannot perform is worthwhile information. That’s the main reason there is a benchmark test included in Indoor Range Practice Sessions. link to purchase all 24 Sessions
A friend of mine emailed me the following question.
Claude, what device do you use to make a digital audio recording? How do you transfer the digital recording to your computer?
I had mentioned to him the recording I recently made for an Enhanced Standard version, i.e., not so easy I could pass it blindfolded, of the State of Ill-Annoy Police Qualification Course. I made the recording for dryfire practice but I could use it for livefire, too.
One of the few apps I have on my phone is an audio recorder called Mini Recorder Free. I have a Windows phone but the app is also available for Android. It’s very easy to use and records the input as MP3 files.
First, I look at a course of fire and write a script for the recording. When I’m happy with the script, I record the narration of the course of fire, usually as one file. Where the beeps are supposed to go, I say ‘beep beep’ as a place marker.
Then I record the beeps from my CED 6000 timer by putting the microphone next to the timer. Each of the different times is recorded as a single set of beeps. I can insert each beep file multiple times into the narrative, where that’s appropriate.
I connect my phone to my computer and copy the narrative and beep files to the computer. Finally, I edit them together with Wavepad Sound Editor, which I downloaded from the Internet. Undesirable noises get edited out and I standardize the spacing between the stages so there’s enough time to re-holster, change hands, or do other preparatory work for each string.
Since I don’t have a 15 yard range in my apartment, I create reduced scale targets to use for dryfire. I create the targets by scaling them with Excel.
A reduced scale target also allows me to conceal my target when I’m not dryfiring, which is something I believe in very strongly. The 12 shot drill is on the back of my wall hanging.
On some of my recordings, I substitute a gunshot sound for the start beep. It just depends on how involved I want to make the recording. For my dryfire recording of the LAPD Bonus Course, I downloaded an audio file of the actual course being shot on the LAPD range. I had to clean that one up a lot but it’s fun to dryfire to because there’s all the range noise, LAPD Rangemaster commands (which sound like a subway conductor), sounds of empty magazines hitting the ground, and gunfire in the background. That’s as close as I can get to an actual range experience in my living room dryfire practice area.
A few of the recordings stay on my phone to use when I’m traveling. I also keep a PDF of the target on my phone so I can print it if I forget to take one along. It fits on one page so it’s easy to print in a motel business center. ISP 7 foot target
At this year’s Rangemaster Tactical Conference, someone mentioned wrapping a zip tie with a piece of colored duct tape on it as a safety insert. It’s a great idea and I’m using that now along with the Rogers Tap-Rack-Trainer. A round can’t be chambered with the tie in place. No disassembly of the gun necessary to put it in and it’s easy to take out, too. A bag of 8 inch ties costs about $2. The zip tie isn’t a snap cap, though, so keep that in mind.
The audio recording of the ISP Course I created is available as a download for 99 cents on my CDBaby store if you don’t feel like doing all that. There are a number of other recordings of interest, too.