California Armed Robber Who Stabbed Good Samaritan Will Now Reportedly Sue The Victim For Stabbing Him In Self Defense

download-1Ryan Flores, 30, is reportedly planning a tort action against Cregg Jerri, 58, for stabbing him in a California Starbuck.  Such a battery lawsuit would make perfect sense after being stabbed 17 times. The problem is that he was stabbed in the course of an armed robbery and Jerri was credited as the hero who ran forward to protect the staff from the gun-touting Flores. The filing would presumably not contest the right to use the privilege of self-defense but argue that Jerri somehow exceeded that authority.

A still from surveillance video shows a man thwarting a would be robber during an incident at a Fresno Starbucks in July, 2017.

Flores is shown on surveillance video wearing a Transformers mask and threatening a barista. Jerri then springs forward and hits him with a metal chair.  Flores then reportedly cut Jerri in the neck, but Jerri was able to take away the knife and stabbed Flores.

Flores’ mother has come forward to announce a lawsuit, saying that “The guy, in my opinion, went from a good Samaritan to a vigilante. Stabbing somebody that many times, it doesn’t take that many stab wounds to get somebody to succumb to you.”

Since Flores was still alive and had already stabbed Jerri with the same knife, the lawsuit would be, in my view, frivolous.  However, the claim of exceeding the privilege of self-defense is a long-recognized basis for liability.  California courts emphasize that this is a question for the trier of fact:

“The right to use force against another has long been limited by the condition
that the force be no more than ‘ “that which reasonably appears necessary, in
view of all the circumstances of the case, to prevent the impending injury.”
‘When the amount of force used is justifiable under the circumstances, it is not
willful and the actor may escape liability for intentionally injurious conduct that
is otherwise actionable. But if force is applied in excess of that which is
justified, the actor remains subject to liability for the damages resulting from
the excessive use of force. . . . When an alleged act of self-defense or defense
of property is at issue, the question of what force was reasonable and justified
is peculiarly one for determination by the trier of fact.”
Calvillo-Silva v. HomeGrocery (1998) 19 Cal.4th 714, 730–731.  One can claim both a privilege of self-defense and defense of others under the common law.  Indeed, in this case, Jerri began in defense of others and ended up with self-defense.
Some states have “Stand Your Ground” laws or “aggressor doctrines” that can come into play in such cases. Under the aggressor doctrine, a plaintiff is barred from recovery if he acted in such a way to provoke a reasonable person to use physical force in fear or anticipation of further injury.  Louisiana recently got rid of that doctrine but retained the self defense privilege.  Landy v. Bellanger, 2002-1443 (La. 2003).
Our common law rule is derived from England which applies a similar rule for the using of force in self-defense.  As Chief Justice Lord Parker explained in Chisam 47 Cr App Rep 130 (1963) “…. where a forcible and violent felony is attempted upon the person of another, the party assaulted, or his servant, or any other person present, is entitled to repel force by force, and, if necessary, to kill the aggressor ….”
The authority for self defence, of course, doesn’t stop with defending oneself from attack. It is perfectly permissible to use reasonable force to assist another person who is under threat of attack. For example, in Rose (1883) 15 Cox CC 540 the accused was acquitted of murdering his father, whom he shot dead, whilst the father was launching a murderous attack on the accused’s mother.
There is also a common law right to perform a citizen arrest in cases like this. While that right has been curtailed by statutory law, it generally still applies to felonies (like this one) and often misdemeanors committed in your presence.
Jurors tend not to draw the line too narrowly for those responding to lethal threats.  You are allowed to use lethal force in seeking to defend yourself from a lethal threat.  Here Flores was not killed but obviously seriously injured. The standard jury instruction asks if the defendant “used only the amount of force that was reasonably necessary to protect himself.” Watching this video, a jury is likely to conclude that Jerri would have been perfectly within his rights to kill Flores in the course of defending himself.
 It would be hard to imagine a jury finding Jerri to be excessive after being stabbed and thwarting an armed robbery.  With adrenaline and fear surging, most jurors would like view themselves as likely to continue to stabbing the assailant until he is unconscious or dead.

Flores would be much wiser to focus on his next court appearance in October for armed robbery.  Indeed, I am still unclear why he is not charged with attempted murder.

 

 

 

74 thoughts on “California Armed Robber Who Stabbed Good Samaritan Will Now Reportedly Sue The Victim For Stabbing Him In Self Defense

  1. I also find it curious that the assailant was not charged with (attempted) armed robbery. On a personal note, I don’t draw a distinction between whether the robbery was just attempted, or whether it was attempted and succeeded. Both cases have all the elements of the crime, and both should be treated the same under the law.

    Regarding the defense by Mr. Jerri, I don’t think he overstepped the boundaries of defense, either of himself or others. He saw a threat, and he made a reasonable effort to defuse that threat. His use of force did not result in death or dismemberment of the assailant. In my observation of the video, the amount of force was enough to stop the assailant and prevent any harm to other patrons. These statements only reflect my opinion if I was eligible to sit in a jury for either of these trials; that won’t happen, since I am outside the jurisdiction of Fresno and the State of California.

  2. If I was on the jury I’d be in favor of the defendant – Jerri.

    I think this is something we’ll see again play out with Fields/Charlottesville.
    Reaction and self-defense.
    I also hope there are big law suits against the media.

  3. If the victim shot the robber in the head and killed him the amount of force would be justified. In this case, the robber lived. How was this force excessive when the plaintiff is now alive where he would be deep sixed by a headshot?

    • Darren, at a party long ago an inebriated attorney friend advised all that if they ever run their car over some one to back up over the person again and make sure the job is done. It’s less expensive that way. It was said as a joke to demonstrate that sometimes doing the right thing can be an expensive proposition.

  4. Victims are robbed of all their rights the moment a violent crime is INTENTIONALLY COMMITTED. The victim’s rights are apparently transfered to the perpetrators.

    These days its best to assume the fetal position and beg for your life when robbed.

  5. This happened in Fresno off the 99. CA is a state of two different worlds. There is San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Diego – very urban, Liberal, high cost of living in a lot of areas. And then there is everywhere else. I often take the 99 up north. It’s hundreds of miles of oleander, eucalyptus trees, and farm/ranch land. I drive 10 hours (mostly) on it and the land all looks the same. There’s occasionally dust from farm machinery working the orchards, and trucks hauling everything those urban areas need. Plus there’s often smoke in summer from the ubiquitous man made fires that constantly burn CA. (So sad to hear about the Sequoia fires. Honestly, why do we bother with air quality when car thieves are going to set cars on fire and push them over a cliff, burning red woods, or pot farms using butane to make hash oil blow up dry brush? But I digress.) The north has the water, but the south is thirsty and takes it. Aside from San Francisco, Central and Northern CA is rural and conservative, cheek by jowl with pot farms and druggies. Unfortunately drugs have infiltrated the rural areas, too. There are signs for water hungry pot farming as well as the farm and orchard water wars (“Is growing food wasting water?”) along the 99.

    If anyone is going to throw a chair and kick the snot out of a gun andknife wielding robber, it would be in a cow town like Fresno. The metro sexuals in LA would never be able to move that fast in their skinny jeans, plus they’d have to Tweet and Snap Chat about it first. I wouldn’t be surprised if Flores was one of the no account druggies that the rest of the residents complain about.

  6. Of course this happened in CA, where the state loves criminals more than the law abiding.

    I am unclear when or if the perp lost his firearm. It also seemed kind of stupid that he at one point was holding the knife in the same hand as the gun. If he’d already chambered a round, all that jostling with both weapons could have accidentally fired the gun.

    A 58 year old won a fight against a 30 year old, both physically and in terms of moral fiber. The table blocked the view of the end, but it looks like they were still struggling. Flores stabbed or cut Jerry in the neck, and had a gun, so Jerry was in a fight for his life. I do not think he was morally required to jump back, and ask Flores if he yielded, and then wait to see if he had any other weapons, all while Flores was continuously grappling for the knife. At no point did I see Flores stop fighting, but the table did block the view at the end. Who knows, maybe he was wrestling for the knife all while shouting he gave up.

    If anyone uses a deadly weapon to threaten others, there is no expectation of their safety. They are engaging with strangers who do not want to die.

    There is no way to tell if he planned to kill everyone there, and no reason why anyone should be required to do nothing and passively hope they survive.

  7. It’s Kalifornia komrades, where the kriminals have more rights than the victims. Latest Vegas odds are 2:1 in favor of the perp.

  8. The standard for this case where “under the circumstances” is the key operative phrase of the applicable law should be: “What would a police officer do under these circumstances?” A citizen should not have less right to protect himself under the circumstances than a police officer would. And, if we apply that standard, no reasonable person would argue that the police officer should not have taken lethal action under the circumstances. And in this case, the criminal was not even severely injured, let alone killed as a result of the citizen’s actions. I would be amazed if this case gets any legal traction. But then again, this is California, so anything–no matter how outrageous–can easily happen.

  9. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Crime rises. Police are restricted in the ways they are able to maintain order. Courts, which are too concerned with overcrowded jails, free too many offenders who might need to spend a little time behind bars. The public sees all of this and concludes (rightly or not) that the criminal justice system is broken. People begin taking action, themselves, against the perpetrators of crime. Is outright vigilantism far behind?

  10. Guy completely bungles a coffee shop robbery, gets his ass kicked by a much older guy and now his mother is screeching in his defense. How’s that dating life, Flores?

    • And many times, the amount necessary to subdue the assailant is deadly force. Go out riding with a cop some night, Gary. Or maybe go sit through a session in a large city’s criminal court. You’ll see the kinds of people that cops have to deal with every day of their working lives. Perhaps, then, you’ll pause before replying to an article that has nothing to do with police brutality with your self-righteous cop-bashing.

    • Police do have training to use appropriate force, but…adrenaline and testosterone often overrule it. Can a civilian be held to the same standard as a trained officer? Were fewer wounds just enough? Stay tuned.

    • Not a dime. Instead consider suing the attorney for a frivilous lawsuit. One might not win such a case, but it ties that attorney up and speaks volumes to other attorneys.

      As far as the mother: “Flores’ mother has come forward to announce a lawsuit, saying that “The guy, in my opinion, went from a good Samaritan to a vigilante.” sue her for raising a criminal that had no problem injuring others. That of course is fantasy, but it would make me feel good.

  11. Only in California could an armed robber actually expect to have any chance in hell of suing the person that subdued them and winning. Only the worst of the worst ambulance chasers would take on a case like this. It just goes to prove the old joke that goes, “Why did New Jersey get all of the toxic waste dumps while California got all of the lawyers. New Jersey got first choice.” Thankfully for Cregg Jerri the Fresno area is more conservative than other areas like Los Angeles or San Francisco.

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