HENDERSON, NEVADA — You may have already seen this video of an altercation in Nevada during which a biker had a gun pulled on him by an angry guy in a truck.
If not, be forewarned that the language is coarse and not safe for work or children.
Also know that there is another video, which shows the events leading up to those in the video above. That video shows some general unsafe and illegal driving, but nothing that can directly justifies the events in question. That’s not to say that it did not occur; it’s just not shown.
Regarding the video above: While it may seem clear, even with just a cursory viewing, that the biker did not deserve to have a gun pulled on him, he is not without fault in the situation. Both parties bear equal responsibility.
Here are the issues of concern, listed by time-stamp, and a brief expansion of why:
0:56 — The first indication that there is a problem in the video above occurs when the driver of the truck, 54-year-old Ricky Thornton of Texas, appears to give the middle finger to someone in the group.
Though it’s common, giving someone the middle finger serves no positive or constructive purpose. It in no way promotes a more productive end to any situation in which you may find yourself and serves only to escalate it. And if you ever need to use your firearm in self-defense, the prosecutor will most certainly consider whether or not your actions previous to the shooting helped create the need for it. It can be the difference in whether or not your case goes to trial.
1:25 — Having perceived that the middle finger was intended for him, the biker, who has asked to remain anonymous, proceeds to pull up to the driver’s window and engages him by asking him, “What’d I do?”
This time, it was the actions of the biker that escalate the situation. Contrary to popular belief, receiving the middle finger is not a call to arms. Not every situation requires a fight or an argument. So, a guy flipped him off… so what. Had the biker simply continued about his business, it’s likely the gun might never have been drawn.
1:55 — The biker clearly thinks there is more to say. So he advances on the truck’s passenger side and knocks on the window. The biker already knows that Thornton is upset and should have had the foresight to realize that there was nothing to be gained from continuing the altercation.
As the biker is pulling up and knocking on the window, Thornton is telling another biker on the driver’s side, who has also chosen to escalate the situation, that he has a gun (this is seen in the longer version of the video).
2:02 – Thornton pulls a gun and, with his finger on the trigger, points it directly at the biker.
The first problem with this is, what I perceive to be, the lack of legally defensible situation.
Because he was in Nevada at the time of the incident, Thornton was bound by Nevada’s firearm laws, which state that the “threat of bodily injury is justifiable, and does not constitute mayhem, battery or assault, if done under circumstances which would justify homicide.” (NRS 200.275) And homicide is “justifiable when committed … in the lawful defense of the slayer … when there is reasonable ground to apprehend a design on the part of the person slain to commit a felony or to do some great personal injury to the slayer … and there is imminent danger of such design being accomplished.” (NRS 200.160)
I am not a lawyer and do not offer anything I say here as legal advice. But based solely on what is shown in the video, I see bikers that are clearly annoying and riding in a manner that is likely illegal. But I don’t see a threat so great that it justifies Thornton’s display of a firearm.
The second problem with this is the finger on the trigger. Some might argue that, because the driver felt the need to draw his firearm, his finger should be on the trigger. While that is not a completely invalid argument, it – along with Thornton’s overall attitude – shows a dramatic lack of concern law and safety.
2:18 — The biker, though not doing anything that justified the drawing of a firearm and for his safety and the safety of those with him, should have immediately ceased his part in the altercation and physically distanced himself from the situation. Instead he chose to further engage Thornton by questioning him about the middle finger.
2:29 — Thornton verbally threatens the biker, saying, “You’re all about to get f*ing shot.”
Again, it could be argued that, because Thornton felt the need to draw his firearm, the threat is valid. However, because no situation existed which justified the production of a firearm, the threat of deadly force is also unjustified. Further, the threat to “all” of the bikers is also inappropriate.
Thankfully, though the situation proved overwhelming for Thornton and the biker chose to escalate it at every turn, no one was injured and everyone walked away.
Most of the poor choices in this video take the form of unnecessary escalation of a potentially dangerous situation. Let this serve as a valuable object lesson of the importance of avoiding verbal and physical altercation whenever possible. Whether you are armed or not, it is always best to attempt to deescalate a situation or retreat from it altogether, if possible.
And let it further show the importance of knowing and adhering to the law regarding what justifies the production of a firearm and what does not.
Though Thornton says he would “Do it again,” it seems the biker has learned his lesson: “This was literally the first and last time that I will ever go up to somebody’s window and confront them … I could have ended up dead. I have a wife and kids that I want to come home to.”
Share your thoughts below.