America’s Got Talent 12 Semifinal Predictions – Which 10 Acts Will Make The Finals?

America’s Got Talent is about to have two weeks of semifinals and then presumably one 10-act finals round. I say this because they sometimes suddenly have another week with about 5 or 6 contestants. So for this article, I am going to predict which 10 will make it past the semifinals, which start on September 5 and 6, 2017. The second week of the AGT 12 semifinals round is September 12 and 13.

I will be using the list of semifinal acts that has been published by Wikipedia. The lists for each week may not be 100% correct, and the lineups are subject to change. So this could affect my predictions. But this is all I can do for now. Word has it that 5 from each of the 2 rounds advance.

Week 1 Predictions

I believe that Darci Lynne Farmer and Chase Goehring are almost certain to make it. Beyond that, two guys that seem to have developed as strong favorites to make the finals are Johnny Manuel and Preacher Lawson. These are the 4 acts that I feel pretty strongly will advance in the first week of the semifinals. That leaves one more spot, and I don’t have particularly strong feelings about this last spot.

Of the remaining acts, the ones that did best in voting in the quarterfinals were Billy and Emily England, Mike Yung, and Sara & Hero. I say this because these three acts did not need to be saved by the Twitter Dunkin’ Save vote or the judges.

The acts that did need to be saved were DaNell Daymon & Greater Works, Evie Clair, Eric Jones, and Yoli Mayor.

It is certainly possible for an act to have to be saved but then easily sail through in the semifinals. So while it may be tempting to pick Billy and Emily, Mike, or Sara & Hero, it is not out of the question that the others could have a better round and make it. I’ll probably be in much better position to make this fifth pick after seeing the performances. But I will pick Eric Jones this time. He is due for a better trick and can hopefully pull one off.

Week 2 Predictions

Let me state that I do not know the wildcard yet that is reportedly supposed to compete in Week 2. It’s just about impossible to predict who it will be. But whoever it is, I am going to leave this act out. But it could mess up my predictions if this person or group does really well in the semifinals.

I feel that the Week 2 crowd is much weaker than the first week. Some of the acts in the first week should have been put in this round to even out the overall talent. Most of the acts with a good chance of winning are in Week 1, and I frankly think that only Angelica has a decent chance of winning among the Week 2 semifinal contestants.

I predict Angelica will advance, along with Mandy Harvey. This leaves 3 more acts, and it’s hard at this point because it’s not clear how well these acts will perform. A group like Diavolo must present something really unique, and it’s hard to know what’s going to happen. Before seeing the live performances, though, I am going to go ahead and predict that Diavolo will do something solid and advance.

This leaves two more acts to pick for the finals from Week 2. It gets harder at this point. Celine has not been very good in my opinion, but the voters seem to like her. Kechi, Light Balance, and Merrick also advanced without needing to be saved. Actually, In the Stairwell also did not have to be saved, and neither did Kechi. However, Christian Guardino and Colin Cloud had to be saved and were saved by the Twitter Dunkin’ Save vote.

I am going to predict that Merrick Hanna advances. Hopefully, he will have something unique and do at least a couple of new moves for his dance routine. Although his act has limitations, he is very good at what he does. And he showed artistry in the quarterfinals and will probably come up with another good story to tell with his dancing.

So that is Angelica, Mandy, Diavolo, and Merrick. This leaves one more. Now, it’s even harder to do this before seeming them all perform. But based on previous voting plus a prediction of who will seem the freshest, I think I am going to pick Light Balance. This leaves out Kechi, In The Stairwell, Colin, Christian, and Celine. But I would not be surprised if I am wrong here a couple of times. I am pretty good at predictions but far from perfect.

List of Week 1 Semifinal Predictions
Darci Lynne Farmer, Chase Goehring, Johnny Manuel, Preacher Lawson, and Eric Jones

List of Week 2 Semifinal Predictions

Angelica Hale, Mandy Harvey, Diavolo, Merrick Hanna, and Light Balance

America’s Got Talent Quarterfinals Predictions For August 29-30, 2017

These are my predictions for who will advance to the America’s Got Talent semifinals from this 3rd and final set of quarterfinalists. The predictions were made after the live performance show on August 29, 2017. The results show is on August 30, 2017.

Colin Cloud – definitely

Colin’s act was full of mentalism tricks. I’m not sure how he did all of them. It was an imporessive performance. At least one of the tricks looked ridiculously impossible. I don’t see how any human being could guess that a random person in the audience was going to figure out that a person was going to think about a time that a dog bit her on the butt. While I am not making any accusations here, that certainly appears to have either been staged unless the girl mentioned what she was thinking, and someone in the audience was able to hear it and get that message to Cloud. I did notice this time that he never showed whether he was wearing an ear piece, for example. That is one way he could have received the message.

On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like the girl on stage mentioned what was in her head about having Justin Bieber CDs stolen from her by Simon. And how Colin would have been able to get the plaque behind Simon Cowell (who was sitting on a bench) saying exactly what the girl thought is also a mystery to me. The knife trick probably was just a switcheroo type of thing. All in all, though, as a non-magician who understands some but far from all tricks, this was very impressive except for the knife trick, which seemed pretty standard. I predict that Colin will easily advance to the semifinals.

Kechi – probably

Kechi’s performance was the last of the night, which is usually good for voting. Although it was not really one of my favorite performances, it was better than many singers on AGT who advance to the semifinals. I know people complain about backstories, and Kechi’s is that she was the sole survivor in a plane crash. I predict that Kechi will probably at least make the top 7 and take one of the semifinal spots. It was a steady, emotional performance. The dynamics are probably not there for a finalist spot. But she has probably done enough to make it through this round.

Sara Carson And Hero And Loki – probably

Last week’s dog act didn’t make it through for some reason despite actually being very good. If that act didn’t make it, I am not sure why this one should. Is the dog good? Sure, the dog definitely has some decent training, and that should be commended. And Sara also added another dog named Loki, which she said is a puppy. But it was not a tiny puppy. I have never understood the pacing of this act. The dog is too fast, and it all looks messy to me. Simon at least acts like he loves this dog act. He even gave it a standing ovation. I am not excited about this act because I have seen better animal acts. But the judges’ comments may really help her. It seems that Sara is likely to knock off one of the singers here.

Chase Goehring – almost definitely

He will almost definitely advance after performing another original song about a past girlfriend that broke up with him to date a friend. The name is called “Illusion,” and it was up to 798 on the main iTunes chart shortly after the show. And this is without AGT actively promoting his song as far as I know. Mandy Harvey’s song also got to the top 200 or so last week. As long as a contestant has good original songs, that’s a big advantage. And Chase has a similar style each time, which is good for branding, and has a way of writing songs in a catchy way. My prediction is that he will have no problem advancing this week.

Diavolo – probably

This is the dancing act that uses large stage sets and dances around on them. This time, they used what looks like a wheel with spokes. It started out really bland, with people basically just climbing through the spokes. While I think what they showed is an ability to create a show, it doesn’t seem like they were doing something impressive as far as dancing. It seemed like mid-level stunt work instead of dancing. This kind of thing doesn’t seem to have gotten many votes in the past. While the performance probably improves their chances of getting their own show in Vegas or somewhere, I was thinking as watching it that I can’t predict that this is going to get a lot of votes. Frankly, I would have buzzed it early if I had been there. But it did get better as they started spinning the wheel faster and jumping off of it. Some of those drops (the others were catching them) were dangerous to some degree. So by the end of the act, I was a lot more impressed than in the first 30 to 45 seconds. By the end of it, I could see how they act might get enough votes to advance. It’s a little hard to predict how voters will react to such an unusual act, but I rate them as having a decent and probably better-than-average chance of advancing. Of course, they will have to knock off a singer or two to do that. But the judges’ comments were glowing, and this will likely push them to the semifinals.

Angelina Green (probably) and Mike Yung (possibly, but not highly likely)

About the surest thing you can use when making predictions on America’s Got Talent is to look at who got the Golden Buzzer. And Angelina got Heidi’s Golden Buzzer in the initial audition rounds. Unless an act implodes badly, that Golden Buzzer usually sends him or her to at least the second live round. So even before seeing her perform, it was likely that Angelina was going to advance just from a general odds perspective. Her performance was not stellar but was pretty solid throughout. She has some beautiful notes and a fair amount of dynamics. This is one of the easier predictions tonight. She will likely advance to the semifinals. However, tonight is really tough in terms of predicting because a lot of favorites (either talent wise or sentimentality wise) got put here for some reason.

Will America pick all singers? Probably not, so some of these singers have to fall down even though they all sang pretty well. Mike Yung is one of those singers that could easily make it on his backstory as a subway singer and for having a pretty good performance. Simon said he hopes America votes for him, which suggests that Simon is not so sure. Howie said he was the best singer of the night so far. However, he didn’t really seem super excited. Mel B had lukewarm comments. Mike is on the bubble for me. I will have to think about it. But since some singer has to go down here, I guess I have to predict that Mike will be the one. Predictions are hard this week. I wouldn’t even be shocked if Angelina did not make it and Mike did.

Oskar and Gaspar (possibly but not likely)

This act uses some kind of visual technology to make it look like an invisible hand is drawing on the people. Although this is certainly a kind of talent, it kind of irks me when almost an entire performance is based only on technology. This is a talent that is relevant to the entertainment business, such as in making movies and TV shows. But it doesn’t seem like the kind of performance art that does well on America’s Got Talent. And it’s likely that a lot of people have this kind of graphic arts training, but that it just hasn’t been presented as a stand-alone kind of act on a big stage. They are basically just standing there the whole time while someone offstage works the light magic. It’s so visually cool that some people are likely to throw some votes their way. But they would have to knock off a couple of early favorites to do this. That is an uphill battle. I would put this act in the “possibly but not likely” category when it comes to predictions.

Oscar Hernandez (unlikely to advance)

Even before watching the performance, I predict that Hernandez will not make it. He is what the reality TV competition world refers to as “cannon fodder.” The only thing Oscar has is that it’s somewhat surprising that he can dance as well as he can for being such a huge guy. But even that is overcome by the fact that the skill level of his routines is very low. This is a joke act to anyone who watches the other dancing acts. It’s so obvious that he’s just doing standard cheerleading routines. And after watching this live performance, my opinion did not change one bit. It was another standard cheerleading routine. If this makes it, I will be shocked, but only mildly since nothing on AGT shocks me anymore.

Junior & Emily (unlikely to advance)

Before watching this performance, I put this salsa duo (they are also brother and sister) in the “probably will not advance” prediction category. They basically do one major thing every routine – having the girl spin really fast. That is more like an exhibition of one decent trick than a unique dance routine.

They seriously did an airplane spin in this performance. What is this? Professional wrestling? This act does not deserve to advance with that kind of choreography. Then, a good part of the act (not most of it, though) consisted of boring arm movements. And of course, the spinning moves were on display again. Although I would not give them zero chance of advancing, my prediction is that their odds of making it to the semifinals are very low.

DaNell Daymon & Greater Works (will probably advance)

I am not a huge fan of choirs because so many of them sound the same. It seems that a choir needs a really good lead singer. Then, you at least have the opportunity to judge that lead singer. It obviously adds to what is usually an otherwise non-unique choir sound. I am not saying that no choir at all can be unique. But this one is not special without the lead singer. So she must bring it home.

Unfortunately, like these acts seem to do again and again, they switched out the lead singer this round (for the first part of the song) for someone who is not nearly as good as the lady who sang lead in the earlier rounds. That was a big mistake. The group sang the Grease song, “You’re The One That I Want.” This was fun but did not have the vocal impact of the previous rounds. Whoever made this strategic decision to change out the lead singer may have doomed this group to elimination. Nonetheless, I am predicting here, not ranking the acts for myself. And I believe that, based upon judges’ comments and the like, they have been set up as a favorite to advance out of this round. So while it’s not a total lock, DaNell Daymon & Greater Works will probably advance. Since I am predicting, there is a good chance they will take Mike Yung’s spot. I would pick Mike over them, but it seems this group is poised to advance.

Note that the lady who led before did come out and sing the second part of the song. Unfortunately, the song choice turned out not to be right for her. They changed the song up so she could take it to church. But the impact was not what it could have been with a different song. And you don’t want to save your bread and butter for the last half of a song, anyway.

Final Draft (not likely to advance)

It is strange that I initially thought this boy band was so good. Their first performance seemed excellent to me. But they have just gone downhill since then. Final Draft didn’t even get picked in the judge cuts, but they are back here as a wildcard. And tonight was not that good. The guy who started out singing the song has a really thin voice, so the performance got off to a bad start. There are a couple of soul singers in this quartet, but this song did not allow them to shine. This group has unfortunately fizzled in my eyes. They are not likely to advance.

7 acts from these 12 will be advancing to the semifinals. This week seems like the hardest to predict, and those predictions don’t seem to be much easier after watching the performances. Based on what I have written above, my predictions for the 7 advancing acts are as follows:

1. 3 acts that will almost certainly advance (no particular order here)

a. Colin Cloud
b. Chase Goehring
c. DaNell Daymon & Greater Works

2. 4 more acts likely to advance but with less confidence

d. Angelina Green
e. Kechi
f. Diavolo
g. Sara & Hero & Loki (dog act)

3. acts that have a decent chance but not likely to make it

h. Oskar & Gaspar
i. Mike Yung

4. acts that have a low chance of advancing

j. Oscar Hernandez
k. Final Draft
l. Junior and Emily

America’s Got Talent Predictions – Quarterfinals – August 22-23, 2017

On August 22, 2017, NBC’s America’s Got Talent held its second quarterfinals live round for Season 12. The results will be announced live on August 23, 2017. After watching all of the performances, I made some predictions on who would advance. Below, I will include the acts that performed and my thoughts on how they did, and some thoughts on their odds of getting through to the semifinals. In all, 7 of the 12 acts advance. Last week, I predicted 5 of them only, as I felt that Puddles Pity Party and especially Just Jerk would advance.

Mandy Harvey:

This is the deaf singer. Although a lot of people moan about sob stories on AGT, the truth is that Mandy proved tonight that she deserves her spot. She sang well, and we found out that she is also a pretty good songwriter. Mandy wrote a song for her cousin’s wedding called “Mara’s Song.” It was written perfectly for her voice, and she hit a lot of beautiful notes that reminded me of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” I’m not saying it was that good. But Mandy earned her keep, and I believe she will easily advance to the next round.

Merrick Hanna:

The next act I believe will advance is Merrick Hanna. Although his robotic dancing moves are starting to get a little repetitive, Simon duly noted that he is a creative artist that keeps things fresh. His idea of playing a boy without a family worked great for a show like America’s Got Talent. Hanna is good, but he’s a few steps below Kenichi Ebina, who won the whole show a few seasons ago. Nonetheless, his storytelling and overall talent should be enough to at least get him to the semifinals. And when Simon says you deserve it, that usually means you are going to advance.

Johnny Manuel:

Johnny is very close to a surefire lock to advance from the quarterfinals to the semifinals and probably also to the finals. He sang “And I’m Telling You,” the song made famous by Jennifer Holliday and then more famous by Jennifer Hudson. This was a solid performance from a pure vocal perspective. I didn’t find it to have the kind of booming power as when a lot of others sing it. So from that perspective, I didn’t think it quite had the punch that the judges seemed to think it had. Nonetheless, this is a performance that is clearly deserving of a semifinal spot.

Pompeyo Family:

The Pompeyo Family has a dog act that is quite similar to Olate Dogs. Olate won the show and the million dollars a few seasons ago. I believe that it’s pretty objectively clear that Pompeyo’s dogs are not quite as good as the Olate bunch. Nonetheless, they are pretty close. And I think they have a great chance of advancing out of this round. My prediction is that they will advance. The dog tricks are some of the best I have seen. It just so happens that Olate is the best I have ever seen. So you can’t expect them to rise to that level. But a lot of voters probably won’t be comparing, anyway. Judged individually, which is probably what most voters do, I’d have to say that Pompeyo Family will probably advance to the semifinals.

The 4 that I strongly predict will make it are the acts mentioned above: Johnny Manuel, Mandy Harvey, Merrick Hanna, and Pompeyo Family.

I am going to put 5 in the Maybe category, so to speak. But when added to the 4 above, that adds up to 9 acts. Only 7 are going to make it. So I will have to predict which 2 of these won’t make it.

The acts in my Maybe category are Celine Tam, Evie Clair, Light Balance, Eric Jones, and The Masqueraders.

Celine Tam:

Celine sang “When You Believe.” It got good comments from all judges with a mix of negative from Mel B. She made the overused comment that the song was “too big” for Celine. I disagree with this. They always mindlessly say this with Whitney Houston songs. But the difficulty level on this song isn’t that high. The fact is that Celine is a soft singer, not a power singer. But she’s consistently good and gets the most she can out of the voice she has. That voice doesn’t appear to be as good as the other 9-year-old girl, Angelica Hale. Angelica advanced to the semifinal from last week’s live show.

From a voting perspective, not all kids make it just because they are kids. So Celine is not a lock based on the “cute kid” vote. This is a factor in voting, but it’s not always the deciding factor. Because Celine didn’t knock it out of the park, I am on the fence here. But because she got the Golden Buzzer in the second round, I am going to predict that she advances this week but may be in big trouble in the semifinals.

Eric Jones:

Jones had some good tricks that may have been good enough to get him to the semifinals. But his delivery was a bit choppy because his instructions to Howie were a bit confusing to Howie. This caused the performance to drag a little. What I didn’t like so much is the fact that the last two tricks were based largely on not being able to see what he was doing. It’s impressive to “walk through glass.” But it’s old-style magic. Once you put a curtain up there, it’s obvious that you are just using some kind of trick glass wall. And whatever he did to pull the card through the glass was hidden from camera view. This is not as impressive as it should be to win the whole show. But this season needs some magic at least in the semifinals. Based on the needs of the show, Jones will probably be picked if it comes down to a judge choice. So I predict he will advance this round.

Light Balance:

It’s hard to say what effect the technical problems will have on Light Balance. What happened was they got set to go live, and the equipment for the light show malfunctioned. Luckily, they had completely recorded the dress rehearsal. So AGT played the recorded dress rehearsal, and it was very good.

This kind of act (a dance-based light show in the dark) is visually impressive, and the dancing was pretty good. However, this kind of act has always come up short in the actual voting for America’s Got Talent. Some similar acts have made the top 3, but none has won.

Despite the technical problem, which may or may not have been the act’s fault, all 4 judges gave glowing comments. Based on that, my prediction is that they will advance to the semifinal. But they have an uphill battle to win it all since American TV voters don’t seem to prefer this kind of act.

So these are my other 3 picks to advance. To recap, they are Celine Tam, Eric Jones, and Light Balance.

I have 2 more in the Maybe category. They are Evie Clair and The Masqueraders.

Evie Clair:

Evie played the piano this time, showing a little bit more overall musician skills than before. But with a similar style of song as Mandy Harvey in this quarterfinal round, Evie’s voice just didn’t have the same level of clarity and emotion. she is competent but not brilliant at this time, pretty much putting her on a level that is very comparable to Celine Tam. I don’t know if her backstory, which is about her dad’s battle with cancer, will be a strong factor in voting. I would not be surprised if Evie makes it, but my prediction is she falls short this time.

The Masqueraders:

I would also not be surprised if The Masqueraders advance to the semifinals. However, I am predicting that they will fall a little short. The lead singer has flashes of being very soulful. But the other two seemed like random backup singers, at least this round. The group just didn’t really stand out, and their original song, “I’m Just an Average Man,” wasn’t very catchy in my opinion. I have nothing against them. But the lead singer just wasn’t quite exciting enough to push this trio to the top tonight. Again, though, I would not be surprised if they advance. But they would have to do something very different to have a chance of winning.

So my Maybe acts that I predict will not quite make it are Evie Clair and The Masqueraders. But both are worthy, and I would not mind seeing them in the semifinals.

My bottom 3 acts are Demian Aditya, Mirror Image, and Brobots & Mandroidz. I definitely don’t think that these acts will advance, although it would not be shocking if Brobots & Mandroidz somehow managed to squeak into the 5th, 6th, or 7th spot.

Demian’s act had a technical failure. He did escape from a box that was suspended over fire and some sharp objects that presumably would have stabbed him right through the box if it had fallen with him in it. But the box somehow got stuck on the metal scaffolding-type structure as it was falling. This caused Aditya to get a couple of Xs from the judges. Those who get Xs on a live show rarely ever advance to the next round. I don’t know if the glitch was intentional to create water-cooler talk or not. But it’s likely sealed Demian’s fate.

Mirror Image and Brobots & Mandroidz just didn’t stand out with their dancing or, in Mirror Image’s case, their singing, either. I have never liked these acts yet. It’s not like they have no talent. But both seem to be about something other than talent. Mirror Image is more about personality than pure talent. They could definitely succeed as actors, which is probably where they will end up. The Brobots group seems to be more about flash over substance. Their dancing moves really aren’t that hard. I was thinking I could do a lot of those moves, and that’s just not something I should be able to say when watching a dance crew in the quarterfinals of America’s Got Talent. This group’s choreography is for the birds.

So my prediction is that the following 7 acts will advance: Mandy Harvey, Merrick Hanna, Pompeyo Family, Johnny Manuel, Light Balance, Eric Jones, and Celine Tam. I figure I’ll get at least 5 of these right.

Improving The Law Of Self-Defense With The “Reasonable Expectation” Standard


One of the areas of needed improvement that I see in America when it comes to law enforcement is a clearer system of self-defense. I am not a liberal and not a conservative. I am an independent thinker, and fairness is my only goal. I won’t stoop to using race for any argument, and race has literally nothing to do with my opinions. You will see below that I believe that Darren Wilson was innocent, but some other cops in recent cases are probably guilty, although subject to a presumption of innocence until trial. The self-defense rules govern all citizens, not just segments of society. Problems with law enforcement affect everybody, and they are not primarily race issues. The simple fact is that self-defense statutes are problematic, but they can be better. And that is my only goal, with zero ulterior motives.

The Problem With Self-Defense Statutes In America:

One of the major reasons people so often disagree with self-defense claims in law enforcement shootings has to do with ambiguities in existing statutes.

A typical self-defense statute says that a person may act in self-defense if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent an imminent use of unlawful force. If the defending person is to use force likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, then he must reasonably believe that the unlawful force will also cause death or serious bodily injury. For example, if you are an able-bodied 200-pound guy, you could not use a weapon like a gun if a 70-pound woman tries to slap you. But you could use the force reasonably necessary to halt her attack, which would usually mean not seriously hurting her since you have a big physical advantage. But if that 70-pound woman comes at you with a large kitchen knife, you could usually use a lot more force, including using your own weapon if necessary under the circumstances.

Although it can be a problem, the amount of force used is usually not the issue in police shootings. The problem lies with ambiguity about what it is that the defending person must reasonably believe before shooting. Some people interpret the statute as saying that the actor must reasonably believe that an imminent use of force MIGHT occur, and that it is reasonably necessary to use force to stop that aggression if it occurs, even though it is not necessarily likely to occur. But others will interpret the statute as saying that the actor must reasonably believe two things:

1. that the imminent use of force WILL or is at least likely to happen, not just that it might happen; and

2. that the force used to counteract that imminent use of force is necessary.

Thus, some people believe that self-defense is appropriate even if the actor only believes that an attacker might use unlawful deadly force, even if the likelihood is small. But others say it should be more difficult to prove self-defense. They believe that the person claiming self-defense must reasonably believe that the aggressor will actually use such unlawful force.

Note: By the way, the vast majority of police shootings are justified. Thousands of cops thousands of times a day interact with the public in America. Most shootings involve armed suspects, with many of them committing suicide by cop, attacking a victim, committing a violent felony, or using a weapon when trying to evade capture. But the small percentage of cases that do present a problem are important enough to call for some positive changes. These are still human lives. And while most cops do the right thing when it comes to use of deadly force, we need to do more than simply prosecute those trigger-happy police out there. Instead, we need to try to stop some of these shootings from happening in the first place.

Let’s look at an example in real life. As I am writing this, Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer, has just been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old teenager, Laquan McDonald. Laquan was holding a knife and walking in the street. Police had him at least partially surrounded. Although his behavior appeared erratic, it seemed that he was trying to get away from the police, not to attack anyone. Several police were within feet of him, but he did not approach them. Suddenly, Van Dyke shoots McDonald multiple times, with some of the shots allegedly coming when the teen was already on the ground.

Van Dyke’s case appears particularly troublesome because McDonald was clearly on the ground and barely able to move when the final shots appeared to occur. He will have a very hard time defending those shots. A causation defense might work, although that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Let’s only assess the situation before he hit the ground, not after. Were the initial shots self-defense? Well, the answer to this is precisely why the law of self-defense needs to be less ambiguous. The answer to this is that it depends on how the trier of fact interprets the statute.

Argument That Van Dyke Acted In Self-Defense:

Keeping in mind that we are talking about the first shots only, it is really not hard to construct a theory of self-defense if the law means that McDonald MIGHT imminently use unlawful force. If the statute is interpreted that loosely, Van Dyke would only need to show that McDonald, who did clearly have a deadly weapon in his hand, may have been able to quickly run towards and stab one of the officers. And he was acting strangely enough to justify a reasonable belief that that might happen. After all, he clearly was not interested in surrendering. And if he does decide to run or lunge at an officer with the knife, said officer may be stabbed before he can act in self-defense.

Indeed, this line of thinking is precisely what police officers have used for decades to evade prosecution or get acquittals in homicide cases.

In essence, they argue that an armed person (or physically dominant unarmed person) presents enough of a possibility of imminent use of force, even if not necessarily likely, that the cop should not have to second-guess and take the chance that he waits too long to defend himself. This is the “I was in fear of danger” defense. I am not going to dispel this interpretation of the law. Rather, I consider it preferable to change the law to partially eliminate this kind of self-defense argument. Of course, any change in self-defense law would fairly apply only to future cases, not past cases. This is because ex post facto criminal prosecutions are unconstitutional in the United States.

Argument That Van Dyke Did Not Act In Self-Defense:

Now, let’s interpret this statute as saying that Van Dyke must reasonably believe that McDonald will or is at least likely to attack with the knife. Now, the argument for self-defense is substantially weaker. McDonald was not approaching any officers, and he appeared to be trying to get away. And it doesn’t appear that he is even holding the knife in a threatening manner or otherwise making threats that he will use the knife. At least from the video, there is simply no evidence that McDonald will or is likely to imminently use that knife.

Those who argue that Van Dyke is guilty are clearly using this interpretation of the self-defense law, assuming they believe the very first shots were not self-defense. Surely, there was some reasonable fear of danger. McDonald did have a knife, and he was not surrendering. But to say that imminent use of deadly force was likely is not supported by the obvious evidence (other evidence not obvious from the video might or might not change this analysis).

Eliminating Generalized Fear of Danger As a Defense
“Fear of a Reasonably Expected Use of Force” As Proper Standard

There are two types of fears of danger that I will discuss here, only one of which I believe should be valid for self-defense. One is a generalized fear of danger. Certainly, Van Dyke and the other officers did have this. Any person holding a knife is going to give you some fear of danger. After all, that person might get aggressive and try to use it. In my view, that is simply not enough. Instead, a person claiming self-defense should need to prove a fear of a reasonably expected use of force. The fear of a reasonably expected use of force is true self-defense, while a generalized fear of danger is just guesswork.

What I seek to do is make the law clearer while providing for true cases of self-defense. I am a firm believer of self-defense when it is necessary. But in my opinion, juries are given too much leeway in interpreting the statutes. It makes it very easy to acquit a police officer or civilian (especially women and physically smaller victims) who was really just guessing that deadly force might be used, not that it was actually likely to be used.

Note that, if there were evidence that McDonald already attacked an individual, and that Van Dyke was aware of that fact, then he possibly could reasonably argue that he believed deadly force was imminent. Nothing about the “fear of a reasonably expected use of force” standard precludes the use of a comprehensive threat assessment and the use of information beyond the instant circumstances. For example, if an officer knows that an armed suspect has a long history of violent crime, then that can absolutely be used in deciding whether an attack is expected.

As an aside, in no way am I saying that McDonald was not grossly negligent in endangering his own life. He should have dropped the knife immediately upon realizing that the police were approaching him. But being on drugs is also not a good way to help in making rational decisions. Nonetheless, the fact that a suspect was negligent is not a legal defense in criminal court.

Proposed Change In Self-Defense Statutes:

Of course, each state will have a somewhat different statute or set of statutes for self-defense. But what I propose is adding language that clearly requires a person to have two different kinds of reasonable beliefs:

1. the reasonable belief that imminent use of force will or is likely to happen; and
2. the reasonable belief that the force used is necessary to stop the imminent use of unlawful force.

And to clarify, a statute should ideally have the following or similar language:

“The belief that imminent use of force is merely possible is not sufficient to invoke the right of self-defense or defense of others. The quality of the threat must be such that it creates the reasonable belief that imminent use of force is reasonably expected to occur. A reasonable expectation that use of unlawful force is imminent is more than reasonable suspicion. It means a person reasonably believes that an actual attack is more likely to occur than not, plus that the attack is imminent.”

In other words, a “preponderance of the evidence” standard is required to establish that the actor reasonably expected an attack to occur. This is certainly not a perfect standard, but it is less ambiguous than the current language, and it provides better guidance.

Also, to cover law-enforcement situations, the following language should be used:

“An attempt to elude police, by itself, is not grounds for a reasonable belief that imminent use of force will or is likely to occur. But this rule does not preclude the use of force against a knowingly dangerous fleeing felon so long as the requirements for self-defense or defense of others are otherwise met.”

“A mere refusal to comply with police orders is not grounds for a reasonable belief that imminent use of deadly force will or is likely to occur. But this does not preclude the use of reasonable non-deadly force necessary to subdue a suspect.”

“Attempts by a suspect to remove the wires of a Tazer or similar device from hisĀ  body or to prevent the attack of a police dog or other animal or attacking device shall not be grounds for a reasonable belief that use of force is imminent. However, this rule does not apply when a suspect is attacking the officer at the same time. This rule does not preclude the use of force against a suspect who attempts to take possession of a weapon away from a police officer.”

“A mere refusal to show hands shall not be grounds for a reasonable belief that use of deadly force is imminent. However, reasonable non-deadly force may still be used to subdue a suspect who refuses to show hands.”

“Placing of hands in a pocket or concealment of hands, by itself, shall not be grounds for a reasonable belief that use of deadly force is imminent, even if the police order the removal of the hand or hands. However, reasonable non-deadly force may still be used to subdue a suspect who continues to place a hand or hands in his pocket or otherwise conceal his hands.”

“Encountering a suspect in the dark, by itself, shall not be grounds for a reasonable belief that use of deadly force is imminent, even if the suspect fails to comply with orders by running into or refusing to leave a dark place.”

Are these changes good or bad for cops?

I believe, first and foremost, these changes are good for society as a whole. Law enforcement, as a whole, is only a segment of society. And they do sometimes form opinions and act out of self-interest, rather than doing their job, which is serving the best interests of the public.

I believe the changes will cut down on unnecessary shootings while also preserving the opportunity to defend in legitimate cases of self-defense. Any attempt to use a weapon or intimidate with a weapon or to use physically imposing strength to attack an officer still gives rise to the right of self-defense. Any attempt to take an officer’s weapon can also be met with self-defense force. Similarly, use of a car to ram other cars or hit or try to hit someone is clearly an actual danger and would give rise to justifiable self-defense. These changes simply remove cases where a cop is simply guessing that deadly force might be used.

An added benefit to these changes is that police will have a clearer set of guidelines as to what constitutes and does not constitute self-defense. They know a simple refusal to show hands is not going to give rise to justifiable self-defense. They know that placing of hands in a pocket, by itself, or running or driving away will not provide the opportunity for self-defense. In short, under my proposed rules, a police officer may absolutely act in self-defense any time a suspect attacks him or attempts to take his weapon. But a police officer who doesn’t see actual aggression can’t simply guess his way into a self-defense scenario.

There should be no such thing as a preemptive strike in self-defense. If you are under attack, then by all means defend yourself. If you are not clearly under attack, then you have to wait even if that entails some level of danger.

The following should NEVER be considered an adequate claim of self-defense:

“Well, he didn’t comply with my orders, and I couldn’t see his hands. So since it’s POSSIBLE that he could have a weapon, I felt scared and shot him just in case.”

Similarly, this kind of defense should never be accepted:

“I ran into a dark alley. Since it was dark, I knew I wouldn’t know for sure whether he had a weapon. So I went ahead and shot him to be on the safe side.”

Yes, that kind of bogus defense has worked before. And this is what happens when the statute is so open-ended that people interpret a MERE POSSIBLE threat as grounds for self-defense. The statutes must be rewritten to address these trigger-happy cops who shoot first and ask questions later. They need to know they can’t use an “it was dark so I was scared” or “I thought he might have a weapon, so I was scared” defense.

These are the exact kinds of fanciful claims of self-defense that have been working for decades. And it should not be allowed anymore. There is a reason it’s called self-DEFENSE, not self-offense. And for far too long, police have offensively shot suspects with impunity over and over again. All too often, they seek to find justifications to use force instead of withholding fire until the facts show them it’s clear that an attack is imminent. This should stop now.

In most cases, these changes would not affect the outcome of recent cases. Using my standards, here is how I predict things would shake out in recent highly publicized cases:

Michael Brown:

The result would be the same in the Michael Brown case. Even the feds, under Obama and Holder, said this was self-defense. Brown was not unarmed. His body was his weapon, and the evidence shows he used it.

George Zimmerman:

Zimmerman should have never been prosecuted. And under my proposed rules, there would be no change. It was self-defense, and my rules would not allow the twisting of facts and attempts to railroad someone for political reasons. You can’t just ignore one side of the evidence (including corroborating physical evidence and witnesses), accept the damning side without question, and presume guilt. That’s exactly what happened on a wide scale in this case.

Albuquerque/James Boyd Case:

This is another case caught on video that is actually similar to the Jason Van Dyke case. But it doesn’t fit the current media-driven narrative because the victim is white. So you don’t hear about it as much.

Police officers attempted to arrest James Boyd in Albuquerque, who was mentally ill and would not leave the mountainside where he was being kicked out. He was camping outside and did have a couple of small knives on him, which were there already because they were apparently part of his camping equipment. He was there a long time (about 3 hours) and never approached a single officer, at least as far as what has been reported. When police used a flash bang or similar device on him, Boyd appeared to freak out from the sound of the bang. He put his hands up and turned around, and this is very obvious from the video. You can’t say for sure whether he was trying to surrender or run away. But there is zero credible evidence that he tried to attack anyone. Suddenly, more than one cop shoots him while Boyd is freaking out over this flash bang thing.

Even under current rules, it would be hard to describe Boyd as an imminent threat, at least to the extent that deadly force was necessary to stop him. Boyd was too far away to attack with such speed that a locked and loaded gun would not have stopped him if he had been stupid enough to make such a foolish attempt. And we are talking about multiple police officers with locked and loaded weapons, bearing down on Boyd in case he tried something silly. But Albuquerque is notorious for never prosecuting its cops. After months and months of dragging her heels, the district attorney finally indicted two of the cops – Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy.

Under any standard, I don’t see how Boyd would be considered an imminent threat who had to be shot to death. Rubber bullets were already being prepared to aid in arresting him. In fact, those bullets were used after the police shot him. Now, that’s something special, isn’t it? They shoot the guy with real bullets first. Then, they decide it’s time to use rubber bullets.

The only difference my rules would make here is that it would be even more obvious that the prosecution is justified. But the end result is the same. These cops need to be prosecuted. And a jury will decide if that tape is lying to all of us, as it clearly shows he is dead even though he never approached a single cop.

Eric Garner:

This was not a case about self-defense at all. It was a case about what qualifies as reasonable force used to arrest a resisting suspect. So my rules would not apply in this case. The same goes for McKinney, Texas, and similar cases of non-lethal force in connection with making an arrest or dealing with crowd control, such as the Freddie Gray case. I am dealing only with self-defense here.

Lisa Mearkle:

This female officer would absolutely be guilty under my proposed rules. She GUESSED that a suspect might have a weapon and shot him in the back just to be on the safe side. Not surprisingly, he was unarmed. The suspect was lying on the ground. Even if he did put his hands in his pocket, there are several reasons why someone might do that and not have a weapon. The bottom line is Mearkle did not see a weapon, and the entire contact with the suspect consisted of his trying to escape, not attacking her. What Mearkle did should never suffice as self-defense. It was the exact kind of “generalized fear of danger” that should not be justification to kill a fellow human being and citizen. I am not saying she is guilty under current rules. The whole problem with current statutes, though, is that an officer can dream up just about any possible threat scenario, claim she was scared, and then claim self-defense.

Mearkle was acquitted. The jury foreman said that they found a reasonable doubt. They just weren’t sure whether she was legally guilty based on the wording of the self-defense rules. My rules would make it clearer that you can’t simply guess that someone has a weapon and shoot him.

Note, though, that an officer who receives proper training in my rules and acts accordingly would have never shot the suspect in this situation in the first place. And isn’t this the point? The main idea is to save lives, not to make it easier to convict a defendant.

Jason Van Dyke:

As explained above, Van Dyke would likely be found guilty under my proposed rules. He is likely to be found guilty of some crime, anyway. But the clear reason for this is the decision to shoot an obviously disabled suspect who is on the ground and not posing an imminent threat.

University of Cincinnati Case (Ray Tensing)

This one is a no-brainer under any self-defense standard. This was highly unlikely to be self-defense, as the suspect, Samuel DuBose, was simply trying to drive away. He was not endangering anyone because the cop was standing next to the car, and he was not hung in a door, etc. But my rules would not change anything here since the case is so obvious on its face even under the current ambiguous self-defense statutes. If Tensing had said from the very beginning that he accidentally pulled the trigger, he might have had a believable defense. But since he claimed he was in danger, and the video puts the big lie to that, he is in big trouble now.

Michael Slager (Charleston, South Carolina)

Slager shot Walter Scott in the back as Scott tried to escape. The act of shooting someone for simply trying to escape would not be allowed under my rules. There would likely be no change here under my rules. The officer shot an unarmed suspect in the back. Under any self-defense standard, I don’t see that passing muster without some good explanation of why he thought that was necessary. While Slager claims Scott tried to take his Tazer, Slager seems to have been caught planting the Tazer next to Scott after the shooting. Nonetheless, this defense that “he was dangerous because he tried to take my Tazer” would be allowed under my proposed rules, as well. Then, it would be up to the jury to decide whether they believe the officer and whether the threat was imminent since Scott was clearly running away. Considering what appears to be a planting of a Tazer, it’s not likely that a jury is going to believe anything he says.

Derrick Stafford and Marshal Norris Greenhouse, Jr.

Stafford and Greenhouse shot and wounded a motorist during a traffic stop and killed a 6-year-old autistic boy in the car. The video has still not been released, and it is not clear what defense the cops are preparing to present. There is woefully little info in the media on this case. It does not fit the white cop/black suspect narrative. Without the video, it is going to be hard to say how my proposed rules would change this case. So it can’t be analyzed at this time.

Also, any time you have more than one defendant, you must look at the facts and circumstances from the vantage point of each defendant on an individual basis. So you could possibly have one guilty and the other not guilty. Also, we don’t know for sure yet whether they even saw the child. Finally, if the shooter or shooters in this case had a reasonable basis for shooting the driver, then the child would be an innocent bystander who just happened to be hit. And the shooting of an innocent bystander who was not targeted in the self-defense act is usually not considered a crime. But again, this comes down to whether the driver posed an imminent threat. All I have heard is that he may have been backing up since he hit a dead end.

Tamir Rice

While an extremely sad case, the officer might still be not guilty under my proposed rules. The officer saw a gun, and it is reasonable to assume it is a real gun. Unlike a knife, a gun can be used from a good distance. So if a cop believes that the gun is likely to be used, then the use of force would reasonably be perceived to be imminent. While we don’t know exactly what the cop was thinking, the “reasonable doubt” standard in criminal cases would likely come down in his favor. Yes, it happened only in about 3 seconds. But there is simply no “waiting period” requirement for self-defense. it’s not a clear-cut case, but it appears to have a reasonable doubt.

The main problem with this case is that the dispatcher’s instructions may have been incomplete. It is not clear whether it was the dispatcher who did a horrible job, or if the training provided to the dispatcher was terrible. But a dispatcher should say that the gun might be a toy in this situation since that is the information that the dispatcher reportedly received. I am not attesting to this, but that has been reported. If this claim is true, the failure to give police that information while also simply saying they were being sent on a gun run was gross and extreme negligence. But that would not be a crime on the part of the cop.

Summary of effect the “reasonably expected use of force” standard would likely have on high-profile cases:

Out of all these high-profile cases, I really only see one case where the outcome is likely to be different. That is the Lisa Mearkle case. However, it is too early to say what is going to happen with the Albuquerque case. Under my rules, Mearkle would likely be guilty. This is not an anti-cop self-defense scheme. Even under my rules, Lisa Mearkle and Michael Slager would clearly be alive today even if they had not used deadly force. Ray Tensing (University of Cincinnati) would still be alive today. It is extremely likely that all Albuquerque officers would be alive today. Any attempt by Boyd to approach with a weapon would have been easily squashed by a hail of bullets from multiple cops. He simply approached no one, and the fact that the other officers are staunchly defending these shooters makes me want to stay as far away from Albuquerque as possible.

Darren Wilson (Michael Brown case) would be allowed to use self-defense under my rules. He was in actual danger of a real attack, not just guessing that something might happen. So my rules would not change this situation at all. The same goes for the much-maligned George Zimmerman. Hate him or don’t hate him, the evidence is that he was being attacked. Nothing in my rules would prevent legitimate self-defense.

While we don’t know enough about the Stafford and Greenhouse case yet, we do know the driver did not have a weapon. So they would be alive today, as well.

Out of all these cases, there is not one credible example where the cop would be dead if he or she chose not to shoot the suspect. Self-defense is fine when it’s actually defensive, not a proactive offensive strategy to remove every conceivable threat.

Note On Comments:

If you decide to comment, do not make personal attacks against anyone, including the author. Attack his or her opinion only. Personal attacks will be rejected or deleted.

Crash News Links – Andrew Larsen Killed In Edens Expressway Motorcycle Accident In Skokie, Illinois

Andrew Larsen has been killed in a motorcycle accident in Skokie, Illinois, which is a Chicago suburb. It was on the Edens Expressway, on Tuesday, October 6, 2015. At least one other vehicle was involved, and the Illinois State Police are still investigating to determine the cause and circumstances.

Follow the links below to find more articles on Larsen’s crash:

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Source: (no video coverage)

Crash News Links – Rachel Welch Killed In Accident In San Bernardino, California

Rachel Welch has died in a car accident in San Bernardino, California. Something suspicious might have happened here. Welch was reportedly on the phone with police to report a vehicle that might have almost run her off the road. But when she crashed, a witness said it was actually Welch who appeared to be trying to either catch or at least keep up with another vehicle. To learn more about this North E-West 8th Street Monday accident, you can use the search-engine links below to find articles:

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Source: (no video, but photo is posted)

Crash Video Files – Lester Rice Killed In Accident In Frederick, Maryland

This fatal accident was in Frederick, Maryland, on Wednesday, September 30, 2015. Lester Rice died when allegedly failing to yield the right of way to Andy Tressler, at Route 15 and Fish Hatchery.

To find articles on this crash, click on any of the links below:

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Source: (no video)

Crash Video Files – News Links For Fernalbiz Albizu Accident

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fernalbiz Albizu has been killed in an accident in Foxborough, Massachusetts. It was on Route 95, at about 3:30 in the morning.

I have some handy links below to help you find articles on this accident. Just click on one, and you will automatically get search results:

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Source: (no video)

ScribeFire Test For Sending To Multiple Blogs

I am currently using this post to test the ScribeFire add-on (Firefox extension). It is used to publish to various different blogs. It also works if you have WordPress on your own domain. But it also works for Currently, it apparently does not work with Tumblr due to an API change in 2014.

I’d like to use ScribeFire to post the same message to multiple blogs. I am still trying to work out how to do this. So far, I added two blogs. But when I truy to select both blogs so I can send to both, it is only letting me pick one of the blogs. So I am going to have post here in Writing Shares first and then see what happens on the next page after publishing the post. In the ScribeFire options, it said you can see a list of other blogs to publish to after publishing a new post.

Update: Yes, after publishing on the first blog, you will see a list of your other blogs, with a checkbox by each blog name. You can then check off the boxes and click a button to publish. What I am not sure about is how many blogs you can add. I haven’t found that information yet.

Crash Video News: Dillon Stewart, Steven Watts, And Tabitha Blankenship

1. Dillon Stewart
2. Steven Watts
3. Tabitha Blankenship

1. Victim Dillon Stewart has been killed in a car-truck accident in the Coopertown area of Robertson County, Tennessee. It was on SH 49, on Tuesday, April 14, 2015. Troy Ricks was not injured.

Use these sources to get more information on this crash:

2. Steven Watts has been killed in a 3-vehicle crash in Sacramento, California, at the intersection of Elder Creek Road and Florin-Perkins Road. This was on Sunday, April 12, 2015. Watts allegedly ran a red light to cause the accident. The sources below have some additional information. The two other drivers were injured.

3. Tabitha Blankenship has been killed in a West Virginia car accident, in Fayette County. Brian Withrow, her passenger, was critically injured. Blankenship allegedly drove through the intersection at CR 9 and CR 16 at a high rate of speed, causing another vehicle to broadside her car. Click on the sources below for more details on Tabitha’s accident. (includes video coverage)