4 Times Someone’s Hands Were Legally Considered Deadly Weapons
When it comes to combat, there’s one pervasive urban legend so fun it’s almost a tragedy that it’s not true — the idea that any trained fighter has to register their newly destructive hands with the government as a deadly weapon. Boy, I wish it was, because of the sheer amount of delightful bureaucracy it would entail. Who decides once you’ve crossed the threshold? Is it the equivalent of a black belt for boxing, a day when your coach proudly informs you he’s taking you down to the courthouse? Do you need to keep a card in your wallet?
It’s easy to see why the tale persists, even if it’s not true anywhere within the U.S. or its territories (outside of, weirdly, Guam). Maybe one thing that can help is that people have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon when using nothing but what their chosen God gave them. It’s very rare, though, and it’s something that’s decided in court, not by some ill-mannered worker at the DMV (Department of Martial Violence). It may not be likely, but if you’re a trained fighter deciding whether to pulp the asshole at your local bar, you might want to think twice before letting the legal system decide just how deadly you are.
Here are four people who had their body considered a deadly weapon…
If there was a single guy who probably shouldn’t wail on an untrained civilian willy-nilly, Fernando Rodrigues would have a strong argument. He was trained in pretty much every discipline you can think of in terms of doing serious damage to someone else’s skeleton. Not only was he a three-time Iraq war veteran, with all the close-quarters combat training and experience in bodily harm that entails, but when he returned home, he started competing in martial arts and founded a mixed martial arts gym as well. His two preferred styles were Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, the two best ways to shatter someone’s joints and face, respectively.
So when Rodrigues, consumed with the classic American rancor that is road rage, went up to the car in front of him and proceeded to go full Punch-Out on the two passengers (including a pistol whip for good measure) the judge decided that his ass-kicking was, legally, calculated to do more damage than your usual sidewalk tussle. Michael Caccavella and Juan David Uribe, the passengers, were left in pretty dire straits from the neck up, with Caccavella’s nose broken via pistol butt and Uribe’s eye socket fractured via good old fashioned fisticuff.
Rodrigues’ lawyer tried to argue that even a trained martial artist couldn’t kill someone with a single punch (which is, by the way, extremely not true, martial arts aside) but the judge wasn’t swayed.
Jamual Parks, a mixed martial arts fighter from Texas, was another case in which the court escalated his assault charge thanks to the perceived deadliness of his hands. Now, given that, in the course of his crime, he assaulted not only his friend (ex-friend, I assume) but also a police officer, things weren’t looking great from the jump. That’s a pretty awful starting point to try to curry any sort of pity in a court of law. The police officer in question also happened to be female, which, regardless of thoughts on gender norms outside of the most putrid corners of Reddit comments, is not going to help.
When the case came to trial, the judge didn’t need much convincing to rule that Parks’ hands could be considered deadly. As a result, his charges were escalated, and when all was said and done, he was sentenced to six years in prison. To be honest, I think I’d take six years as a win. Personally, I assume any time you so much as make a sudden movement in the general proximity of a police officer, you’re leaving with either a couple decades of jail time or a thoroughly aerated thorax.
The next incident is one that actually occurred in the ring, in a sanctioned fight, that ended with one fighter permanently disabled and the other charged with assault and sent to jail for two years. At first, that might be confusing, as, even when the outcome is that unfortunate, you’d assume that when two people agree to a physical fight, any injuries sustained during it would be part of the deal. What brought this far above any sort of honorable boxing match and into an illegal, horrific beating was one of the worst instances of cheating in boxing history. In particular, it involved “loaded gloves.”
You might think of a Looney Tunes-like shot of Bugs slipping an anvil into his glove, but the real act is more subtle — and a lot less funny. Luis Resto, in a fight against Billy Collins Jr., wore hand wraps dusted with plaster of paris. As the fighter sweats, the plaster sets, and by the end of the fight, they’re battering their opponent with solid plaster casts hidden in each glove. Resto and his trainer Panama Lewis were banned from boxing, and Resto went to jail for two and a half years. Both got off plenty easy compared to his opponent, whose face and head were brutally battered, including suffering a torn iris in his eye, an injury so gross it sounds completely made up. He had blurred vision for the rest of his life, which ended at 22 due to a car accident that many think was a suicide due to the loss of his ability to box and see.
An Arm Straight Out of an Anime
For the other entries on this list, the consideration of the hands becoming deadly is something decided in a court of law, or on further review. For one mysterious ancient man, though, he made a conscious decision to make his hands a deadly weapon, very literally: by replacing one with a sword. Now, they don’t think he decided to trade a hand for a blade straight up, but that he first lost the hand, starting at the forearm, in combat. A pretty believable hypothesis for the type of guy who, on losing a hand, would go, “Just strap a sword on it and send me back out there, sarge.”
Not only was this absolute legend walking around with a knife for an arm like a Silent Hill enemy, they found that the teeth on one side of his mouth were worn down, which they think is from him using them to tighten his deadly prosthesis. I’m not sure he ever would have gotten a chance to use it, since as soon as someone tightens the leather straps of their arm-blade with their teeth, I think the other side is surrendering posthaste.
We can only hope that before he perished, he got what he was clearly looking for: revenge.