Whoa! Slashing attacks in N.Y.C. seem to be spreading faster than , *ahem*, “Covid-19”! This particular incident occurred 2 years ago. However, I decided to discuss it because it has an interesting twist! The accused attacker, Shakema Young, may have been a self-defender who’s poor tactical judgement resulted in a deluge of legal problems. Watch the video below and listen very carefully:
Since I don’t know their names, I will refer to the two injured women as Woman 1 and Woman 2. In the video, Woman 1 clearly admits that the she was the instigator when she “touched” Shakema Young’s dog. She also said that she became angry in response to a remark made by Shakema Young and reacted by grabbing her and trading blows. During that struggle the slashing ensued and Shakema Young was arrested days later.
There are some very important self-defense lessons that can be learned from this tragedy which I will share along with my commentary about what I believe really happened.
Lesson 1: Don’t take take the liberty to touch another person or their property without permission especially in a place like N.Y.C. because you never know who you are dealing with and how he will react!
Woman 1 made the mistake of encroaching on Shakema Young’s personal space and “trouching” her dog. Unnecessarily encroaching on someone’s personal space is rude and could be considered threatening. I don’t know the manner in which the dog “touch” occurred but Shakema Young obviously took offense to it and an argument followed.
Lesson 2: It is very important to know how to control emotions, avoid arguments and deescalate them especially when you are interacting with strangers in a situation that could turn violent. Words like, “excuse me”, “I apologize”, and “please” can be very effective in conflict deescalation.
Shakema Young’s response to the dog “touch” angered Woman 1 and an argument broke out between them. I’m pretty sure that at that point Woman 2 was contributing her 2 cents to the discussion as well and they were having a battle royal of egos, with each woman hurling insults and trying to be the one to have the last word.
Lesson 3: Ego battles with strangers are a big no no and should be avoided at all costs!
Eventually the bus arrived at its next destination and Woman 1 and 2 begin to disembark. The conflict should have ended there, but Shakema Young chose to hurl an inflammatory remark at Woman 1 who reacted by turning around and grabbing her. As they scuffled, Shakema Young whipped out her blade to defend herself and blood was spilled.
Lesson 4: If you are in a conflict with person who decides to leave, let him leave! When an adversary is disengaging there is nothing to gain by making a remark or gesture that could reincite the conflict.
I bet Shakema Young wishes she kept her mouth shut when Woman 1 was leaving!
Lesson 5: Be responsible with self-defense weapons and have a well-thought-of self-defense plan for their use and potential consequences.
Shakema Young was conscious of the necessity of self-defense and carried a blade for that purpose. I think that’s a good thing. However, an edged weapon is lethal and in the eyes of the law you better have a rock solid justification for using one to injure or kill an attacker or else as a self-defender you may find yourself in more legal trouble than your attacker. This is the situation Shakema Young is in now.
I’m sure she believed her life was in danger but did the actual events warrant the use of potentially deadly force? This is a difficult question to answer in my opinionm because she did not know whether or not Woman 1 had a knife or a gun ready to use. A series of punches or even a single punch can be fatal. Who has the moral authority to condemn what she did?
With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight it is very easy for an outside observer to say that she should or should not have done this or that but ultimately Shakema Young was the one attacked and street conflicts can turn deadly in a flash. In the heat of the moment she did what she felt she needed to do to defend herself and was successful.
Unfortunately for her, the legal system in N.Y.C. is very hostile to self-defenders who cause serious injury to their attackers and it is definitely not going to view her use of a lethal weapon as justified.
Lesson 6: This situation exemplifies the need for savvy self-defenders to have less than lethal self-defense options at their disposal. Those options could be unarmed close combat skills or one of the less than lethal self-defense devices featured on this site, such as stun guns and pepper sprays. Pepper spray is legal to carry in N.Y.C. Shakema Young could have used it to repel her a attacker without the legal consequences she now faces.
Personally speaking, if I were on the jury to decide her fate, I would find her not guilty. What do you think?
To Your Defense,