Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Case Study of an Attack


Canadian paraplegic tourist beaten with parts on his own wheelchair and robbed in a train station in Sidney, Australia.

It is not enough to know what happened, we need to learn how to prevent it from happening to us or someone else.

From reading about the attack and studying the available video, I have made the following observations:

The victim tries to use the elevator to get away from the attacker. This is a valid strategy against a lowly-motivated attacker. But a wheelchair user is simply not quick enough to get away from a high-motivated attacker.

The attacker walks after the victim. Notice he is walking not running. He knows he can catch up to his victim.
The attacker approaches the victim. He appears to be relaxed. This is the point where the victim must use LOUD verbal boundary setting to DETER his attacker. He must prepare both his body and mind for immenient attack.
The victim has positioned himself with the attacker on his side with his hands on his wheels. This is a highly disadvantageous position to execute a physical defense. The body language of the victim and attacker suggests that the victim is still unaware of the attacker's malicious intentions.
The victim is assaulted (punched). He is flipped backward and falls into the elevator. It is very easy to knock a wheelchair user backwards out of his chair. Many standing people have been killed from an unconcious fall from a punch.
The attacker is studying the effect of his attack. He leaves and comes back with another. The concealment created by the elevator is providing confidence to the attacker.
The victim attempts to get back into his wheelchair after the initial attack. The return of the attackers is evidence of the highly motivated nature of this assault. In this situation, self-defense from multiple highly motivated attackers means the ability to mimimize injury, attract attention, and outlast the attackers while on the ground.
While not shown on the video, the attacker and accomplice use the metal arm rests of the wheelchair as clubs to beat the victim on the head. In addition, they take valuables from his bag.

The attackers leave the scene after the attack, beating, and robbery. Notice that they just walk quickly - not run away. It appears they were not worried about being spotted.

Victim is helped back into his chair after receiving severe head injuries.
The goal of self-defense is to minimize the consequences of aggression. In this case, the major consequence is the head injuries not the robbery.

Unfortunately, this type of predatory attack happens all the time. It happens to all kinds of people and it happens all over the world. While the circumstances of each attack varies, the attacks usually follow the same general pattern of (1) Attacker's motivation to commit a crime (2) Selection of Victim (3) Physical Assault (4) Completion of the Crime (5) After-effects.


  1. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.wheelchairs

  2. We need to realize that attacks on the disabled are often lethal force situations. Due to the disparity of force and our inability to make a quick getaway we are placed in a position of great disadvantage. Attacks like this happen all to often and highlights the need for situational awareness and the willingness to do greater harm to those who would harm us. I know that some people are squeamish about the use of lethal force but we should maintain the ability to use ultimate force as part of our self defense toolbox.