Yesterday, I had an opportunity to ask a close relative, who has trained for several years in Taekwondo, about choke holds. It was a very interesting chat.
Val has not been following the Duke case. She knows virtually nothing about the case, other than hearing the name mentioned on TV.
She didn't really know what it was about or who was involved. Perfect. That meant that she wouldn't have any pre-formed opinions.
I explained a bit about the case, about the accuser having admitted to combining both alcohol and Flexeril, and the witness reports of her stumbling around.
I told her about the choke hold which the DA demonstrated on TV, the approximate heights and weights of the accused, and of the accuser.
She has been employed in the veterinary field for 20 years. Since veterinary medicine and human medicine are similar in many respects, she has a very good understanding of Anatomy & Physiology, medical terms and conditions.
" Considering the accuser's supposed impairment, under the influence of alcohol and Flexeril combined," I said, " I believe she would have been rendered unconscious almost immediately. Do you agree?"
"Oh, absolutely!" she replied, "I've seen opponents in training go down in three seconds flat!"
Three seconds flat. That's while sober.
She also agreed with me that it would have been almost impossible for the accuser to have fought against her attacker's choke hold while significantly impaired.
She added, " A person can get out of a choke hold by turning their head into the attacker's elbow to break the hold, but you have to be sober in order to do that."
One interesting comment she made was about the effects from this type of choke hold.
" You can tell immediately when a choke hold has been applied correctly", she said. " Their faces are beet red and their eyes are blood shot. You can see it!
They'll tap their opponent, he lets go, and they start coughing a lot right away. If he doesn't let go quick enough, they're down!"
OK, so I wonder if anyone at the Duke party happened to notice if the accuser's face was beet red after the alleged rape that supposedly occurred in about 5 minutes? Were her eyes blood shot? Was she coughing a lot before she was photographed smiling, then passed out on the back porch?
I keep going back to the alleged choking incident because it's very important in my view. The accusation was listed on the initial police report (as noted on The Smoking Gun website).
The DA went so far as to demonstrate the choke hold on TV, supposedly as a way of explaining why there were no marks.
Of course, not much has been mentioned of it since. This was a very serious accusation, one which helped to rile a community. It's not something that can be explained away as a mistake due to traumatization or memory trouble.
It either happened or it didn't. It's either factual or it isn't. If it is, just because there were no visible injuries, doesn't necessarily mean there should be no signs. And if it isn't ... well, then that could, and should, reflect on the whole accusation.
There are several reasons why I seriously questioned that this choking occurred. The first, as I've stated, is the fact that she, admittedly, was impaired by the combination of the alcohol and Flexeril.
Both of these drugs are central nervous system depressants - which means they can depress the respiratory system as well.
If you add a choke hold on top of this, I believe that the accuser would have been rendered unconscious almost immediately.
I do not believe she would have even had a chance to fight or break her false nails. That belief was confirmed to me last night by my relative, who is very experienced in martial arts.
If that was the case, if the accuser actually did pass out immediately, then how could she describe what went on next - who did what and how? How would she even know how long it had gone on?
I do not believe that was the case.
The second reason has to do with the accuser's statement that she fought back - enough to break her false fingernails. OK, suppose this was the case. Suppose she did fight back. I'd like to explore that scenario a bit:
Pathophysiologic Response To Choke Holds
Our bodies must maintain a balance within in order to maintain life. Our organs must do the work they're supposed to do, our electrolytes must be balanced, a neutral Ph must be maintained, we must maintain a fluid balance, etc. This is called Homeostasis. Without Homeostasis, we can't survive.
In order to maintain Homeostasis, our bodies will react to any insult or injury - whether it be an infection, a disease, or an injury caused by trauma - in an attempt to regain that balance again.
I'd like to try to walk readers through what would probably have happened (medically speaking) if what the accuser claimed is true:
First, let's say that the alleged perpetrators were actually able get the accuser up on her feet. From all reports and photos, that in itself would have been a feat.
Anyway, one of the accused puts his arm around her throat, from behind, as Mr.Nifong demonstrated on TV, pulling with his opposite hand to close in around the throat.
It appeared to be either a bar arm control or sleeper hold. It's purpose is to stop struggling of a violent person or render the person unconscious.
The carotid arteries supply fresh oxygenated blood to the brain. The Jugular vein carries old blood away from the brain to be re-oxygenated again.
Choke holds can prevent blood from going to or coming from the brain (think beet red face and blood shot eyes) by compressing the carotid arteries and Jugular veins on both sides of the neck.
This is called Hypoxia. When Hypoxia occurs, Homeostasis is challenged. There is no longer a balance.
When it's done correctly, the victim should become unconscious very quickly. If the hold is released, the circulation returns and the victim awakens unharmed within about 10 seconds.
The problem is that most untrained or ill-trained people don't know how to apply a choke hold correctly. If the choke hold is held too long, done too forcefully, or the "victim" struggles, the "victim" can die. This is why the use of choke holds are banned in police departments.
OK, let's say the accuser started to struggle, as she claimed. In most cases, struggling will cause more serious harm, even death.
As the person is resisting, he will start to go into a panic mode. He will twist or turn which can cause his airway to be blocked. If I recall correctly, the accuser stated she had trouble breathing.
This will cause several things to occur:
An inability to breathe (causes) ------> Hypoxia -------> Heart arrhythmia -----> A build up of lactic acid ----->(also causes) a release of Catecholomines -------> slowing down of heart rate + lowering of Blood pressure + additional arrhythmic effect -------> Death
- Hypoxia occurs when we can't breathe. It's caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.
- Hypoxia sensitizes the heart to arrhythmia (Irregular heart beats).
- When we can't breathe, we can't exhale carbon dioxide. When CO2 builds up, lactic acid is produced.
- When lactic acid builds up in the body, the body becomes more acidic.
- Our bodies can't survive in an acidotic state.
- Pressure on the neck can cause stimulation of the Carotid Sinus located in the Internal Carotid Artery.
- Stimulation of the Carotid Artery Sinus by pressure to the neck can cause bradycardia(low heart rate) and/or a fall in arterial blood pressure.
- Struggling can cause Catecholamines to be released (Epinephrine & Norepinephrine).
- Catecholamines have an arrythmogenic action on the heart.
- The combined actions of hypoxia, catecholamines, and the bradycardia produced by the Carotid Sinus stimulation, may result in a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.
OK, so you've got a woman who's supposedly already in a very impaired condition, fighting against a choke hold which, in turn, would depress her respiratory system even more, cause Hypoxia, increase lactic acid, trigger arrhythmia, low heart rate, and low blood pressure. The more she'd fight, the more harm would have been done.
Her struggling may also have caused fractures of the Hyoid bones and Larynx in the front of the neck. A condition which is fatal.
This type of choke hold can also cause Plaque build up, in the arteries of the neck, to be broken off. The plaque would then go to the brain, potentially causing a fatal stroke.
During this type of struggle, it is common for the "victim" to lose control of bladder and bowels, soiling themselves. It's also common for the "victim" to vomit, which goes into the lungs, causing Aspiration Pneumonia.
I believe that had this scenario really taken place, serious harm or death would have occurred.
I may have missed it somewhere, but I don't recall reading anywhere, that any of the three Duke Lacrosse players were trained in martial arts or experienced at correctly applying choke holds.
See "Deaths Allegedly Caused By Choke Holds..." (Excellent!)
This was supposedly a very violent attack with strangulation, beating, kicking, and raping vaginally, orally, and rectally, over a period of about 5 minutes.
It defies logic to think that in this type of frenzied, horrific scenario, with four over-sized adults crammed into a tiny bathroom, that the untrained person - whoever applied the choke hold - would have done so correctly, or carefully, so as to ensure that the accuser would not suffer fatal injuries.
It also defies logic to think that any one of these students would have been willing to risk committing murder.
In gang rapes, which are usually pre-planned, there is always a leader and a reluctant participant. At the point that this woman was supposedly being choked, don't you think that the reluctant participant would suddenly have spoken up saying, Hold on, I didn't bargain for this! ?
What would have even been the purpose of this kind of attack anyway? The vast majority of rapists will only use the amount of force necessary to subdue the victim. Most use only voice, telling the victim to shut up and they won't get hurt. Most victims don't fight.
Since this type of choke hold is used primarily with men against men, why would these three six foot something, two hundred pound, very strong, athletic males need to use a choke hold on a seriously impaired woman, half their size, in order to subdue her? Once subdued, why would they need to continue to beat and kick her?
And how would the accuser be able to stand, smiling, on the back porch just a few minutes later?
Does that make sense to anyone???