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Fatal Punch in Bar Fight: Self-Defense or Manslaughter?

We've all heard of these types of incidents happening through the years. Two guys exchange words, it ends up getting physical, and one guy throws a punch and knocks the other out.  He falls, hits his head and dies. That's just what happened between Standford Griswold and Brian Euston last year outside a Wesport, Mo., bar.

Griswold was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in Euston's death, and the case went to court last month.

Yesterday, Griswold was found not guilty on all counts. The investigation and trial focused on the self-defense question. Did Griswold respond appropriately with the punch? Griswold's attorney argued that her client threw the punch in self-defense and never thought he would kill Euston. That argument held up in court.

While many states view things differently based on their laws, it was ruled that Griswold did not commit involuntary manslaughter in this case. So, how do you prevent this from happening to you? Bottom line: It is vital to know your self-defense laws.


While in law enforcement, I received extensive training on the appropriate use of force in all situations; from the classroom to live action role play to real life tactics on the street. Most people that are not in law enforcement or the security field only have what they heard from their buddies, what they saw in an action flick or their own beliefs of right and wrong. This is unacceptable and most definitely dangerous.  If you value your freedom and your right to self protection, you must be up to speed on the law.  Even though Griswold was acquitted, this case was a stark reminder of how easily we can fall prey to poor decision-making. Being ignorant of the laws might just have you standing up when the bailiff says, "will the defendant please rise."

Do the research and train accordingly. What would you do in this situation?

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