Meet "Caliber Training Group," Samuel R. Hayes III





So, THIS happened.

A couple of days ago I was reaching out to various training schools to ask if they'd be interested in hosting a Law of Self Defense Seminar, a routine task in our office. I'm pleased to say that several of the schools got back to me and seminars are in the process of being scheduled--more on those later.

One of the schools contacted initially expressed interest in hosting, then followed up with a rather bizarre email. There was no request for privacy of this communication, and the nature of the email was sufficiently, well, crazy, that I thought the training community and those who pay that community for training, ought to be aware of this particular school's interesting perspective.

That school is the "Caliber Training Group," based out of Atlanta and apparently run by Samuel R. Hayes III. Mr. Hayes returned my initial inquiry with an expression of interest in hosting, and as usual I responded by offering to send him out a complementary copy of our recently published book, "The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition." So far so good, and completely typical for these types of initial contacts between myself and a prospective host.

Then this morning I awoke to find a most curious, and extremely lengthy, email from Mr. Hayes. I replied to him in detail, and below I reproduce my email to him. This naturally includes portions of Mr. Hayes email, which have not been changed in any way from what he sent me (except for the occasionally added paragraph break so that I could insert a response). I found particularly interesting Mr. Hayes' statement that "I've had more than my fair share of rides in the back of police cars while handcuffed..." I've spent much of my life around self-defense instructors, and I don't recall hearing such a statement from any of them. Curious.

In any case, before I share my email to Mr. Hayes I want to make clear that I am not attempting to either encourage or discourage anybody from attending or not attending "Caliber Training Group" or taking or not taking instruction from, or in any other way to do or not do business with, Mr. Hayes. It's your time and your money, do with it as you will. Indeed, I've provided links to Mr. Hayes' web site specifically so you can click over and take a look for yourself.  I myself have no personal experience with Mr. Hayes or his training, other than what I describe in this post.  As when considering any instructor, however, it pays to know what you're getting into. Perhaps this exchange will help you make a more informed decision, either pro or con, depending on your personal preferences.

Personally, I wouldn't waste either my own time or my own money, but that's just my own opinion. :-)

Again, the exchange below shortly follows my offer to send Mr. Hayes a free copy of my book, "The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition," and him providing me with a mailing address for that purpose.

Mr. Hayes comments are in red, and my responses are in blue:



Just for the record, my responses to your rather inane tirade:


I just saw a Facebook post of yours about the Freddie Gray case. In the thread there was an exchange between you and Andrew Rothmanin which he posed the question "Is it possible that Gray was a shitstain drug dealer, AND that he was mistreated by cops?"

You responded..."Medical Examiner says Freddie's injury akin to "shallow dive injury." Meaning, while van was in transit Freddie--shackled wrists and ankles--decided to stand up in a moving van. Anybody who has ever stood on a moving vehicle knows that if you're not holding onto something when it changes vector (speed or direction) you're likely to fall. Most likely scenario is that while Freddie was on his feet the van slowed for traffic or a stop light or any other innocuous reason, and Freddie fell forward onto his head. In other words, Freddie Gray was killed by his own idiocy and Newton's First Law of Motion. There you go: a theory of the case consistent with all the evidence, and also consistent with absolutely no criminal conduct by the police. What's YOUR theory of the case consistent with the evidence that proves ANY of the six officers guilty of ANY crime beyond a reasonable doubt?"

When I was in college, I attended a pool party. A female party attendee who had way too much to drink, dove head first into the shallow end of the pool. She hit her head on the bottom and floated to the top unconscious. I saw this and immediately threw a plastic folding table in the water and told a buddy of mine to help me lift her out of the water, using the table as a back-board to immobilize her spine. This, as you should know, is standard protocol for any potential injury to the head, neck or spine. She regained consciousness as we set the table down and I immediately began my trauma assessment to determine if there had in fact, been any spinal damage that was immediately available. She responded to stimulation on the bottom of her feet, could wiggle her toes and responded to being poked in the lower legs, thighs and arms with a fork. 911 was being notified as I continued my assessment and the person who made the call needed me to come to the phone to give EMS more detailed info so I went in the house to speak to them.

As I finished the phone call and was going back outside, I saw two guys holding her up by her arms, helping her walk into the house because she told them she wanted to go inside (they complied with the orders of a drunk). Her legs were functional but a bit "wobbly" and they sat her on the couch, when they did I saw something change in her eyes. When EMS arrived, they did their own assessment and she was non-responsive to all of the same stimuli that she was responsive to when I did it, prior to her being moved. They called for and emergency air evac and she was taken to the hospital. She was paralyzed from the neck down and it was determined that the damage to the vertebrae was likely caused as a result of the impact at the bottom of the pool, but based on my initial assessment, her paralysis was caused by her being moved and the damaged vertebrae caused damage to her spinal cord, causing the paralysis.

If you look at the Freddie Gray video, evidence of this type of injury is obvious to anyone willing to look at it with unbiased eyes. Freddie Grays previous criminal record, as was also the case in the Eric Garner death...not relevant to his injuries. To imply that it was, is intellectually dishonest and disingenuous.

Your personal anecdote is entirely irrelevant to the the Freddie Gray case. No one—NO ONE, not even the prosecution—is arguing that Freddie Gray's neck injury took place prior to his placement in the van. Indeed, the prosecution's OWN medical examiner testified under oath in the William Porter trial that Freddie Gray's injury took place only AFTER he was placed in the van. Given that the video you reference WAS taken PRIOR to Gray's placement in the van, there is NO party to the case who is claiming the video is relevant to Gray's injuries, and thus to the charges based on those injuries.

It is YOU, sir, who is being intellectually dishonest.

You also state "Anybody who has ever stood on a moving vehicle knows that if you're not holding onto something when it changes vector (speed or direction) you're likely to fall." Well Mr Branca, I've been in the back of the exact style of police van Freddie Gray was transported in. It's actually a standard Chevy Econoline van and is not tall enough to stand-up in. I've ridden in one that was equipped as a police transport vehicle and I worked out of the back of them expensively throughout my years of employment installing security and telcom systems. Had I not been strapped in while riding in the back of the police van, I would most certainly have fallen off the bench and fallen to the floor, possibly injuring myself…that's why the vans have seatbelts and body restraints in the first place.

A crouched or kneeling position would be more than sufficient to result in the same type of neck injury. Having been in such vans myself, I know from personal experience that while standing perfectly upright is not possible, a crouched or kneeling position certainly is.

Further, for the entirety of the Baltimore PD's history there was no requirement to use seat belts in vans until days before Gray's arrest. To suggest that the failure to use a seat belt constitutes criminal negligence is to say that the Baltimore PD—and hundreds of other police departments around the country—have been engaged in criminal negligence on this basis for decades, yet somehow nobody recognized it as such until days before Freddie Gray's arrest. The claim is intellectually dishonest.

Again, it is YOU, sir, who is being intellectually dishonest.

You then go on to state "Most likely scenario is that while Freddie was on his feet the van slowed for traffic or a stop light or any other innocuous reason, and Freddie fell forward onto his head. In other words, Freddie Gray was killed by his own idiocy and Newton's First Law of Motion." What makes this the "most likely scenario", your obvious disdain for his criminal past or your apologist attitude towards police misconduct?

Freddie Gray's criminal past is irrelevant to the charges against the officers, other than to be a factor in their establishing reasonable suspicion upon Gray's flight from the scene, so I don't know why YOU (not I) keep bringing it up—except, perhaps, if you're simply engaging in yet more intellectual dishonesty.

As for my "apologist attitude towards police misconduct," first you have to SHOW me the police misconduct. Where is the evidence of police misconduct in this case? That's the whole point of these trials, and so far the prosecution has failed to meet its burden. And so have you.

Again, I've had more than my fair share of rides in the back of police cars while handcuffed with no shackles on my feet and each time, I would end up laying on my side by the time we arrived at the police station.

How curious. I don't know many respected self-defense trainers who have had their "fair share of rides in the back of police cars while handcuffed." I've personally never had a ride in the back of a police car while handcuffed. On what charges were you arrested, and how often, and what was the outcome? Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Of a felony?

On one occasion, I was actually having trouble breathing and was at risk of blacking out due to positional asphyxia. It was next to impossible for me to remain upright as the car was being driven and making turns and the back of a police car is far more confined than a van. In the van there's ample room for an unsecured body to be thrown about when ones hands and feet are shackled and rendered useless in controlling momentum.

Again, your anecdote is of no relevance to the Freddie Gray case. The police transport literally thousands of prisoners in police vans without using seat belts every year, and the overwhelming majority of prisoners arrive at their destinations safely. Obviously, then, the means of transport is not inherently deadly.

In your own words "There you go: a theory of the case consistent with all the evidence" is exactly what's been presented and why the officers were charged criminally.

So here's where the problem with a lack of ethics and morality are solidified for me. "and also consistent with absolutely no criminal conduct by the police." As an attorney, you know just as well as I do that it's not about what actually happened, it's about what can be PROVEN by the prosecution.

Indeed, a criminal trial IS about what can be PROVEN. So where IS the PROOF? That's the POINT of a criminal trial. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If it doesn't exist, the prosecution has failed and the defendant is found not guilty and acquitted of the charges. SO WHERE IS THE PROOF OF POLICE MISCONDUCT?

Geoffrey Alpert, a University of South Carolina professor and an expert in use of force by police, who has been called as an expert witness on the case to discuss retaliatory prisoner transportation practices." Legal experts said that refers to what is colloquially known in Baltimore as a "rough ride. That is a retaliatory, sort of 'teach the guy a lesson' move," Alpert said that proving a rough ride in Gray's case — or in any criminal case — can be extremely difficult, he said. "Without video, without audio, without other testimony, there's no expert in the world who can say, 'This is what happened.' You can say, 'There is a history. There's a pattern. There's a trend,'" Alpert said. "How you convince a jury that there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt is going to be tough."

Where is the evidence that Freddie Gray was subject to a rough ride? ANY evidence? Even a SINGLE witness? There is NONE.

Legally allowed or no criminal activity proven by the prosecution is often miles apart from the line of morality.

I'm a lawyer, not a priest or pastor. I deal in the law, not morals. Criminal trials also deal in the law. Deal with it.

That doesn't mean nothing illegal was done, it simply means one side was better at presenting their case than the other. A human being is dead and regardless what you think about him and his criminal history, he deserved his day in court. For you to diminish his death to a string of malicious and tasteless attempts at humor for a few laughs on FB, is in poor taste and shows a lack of integrity that I have no interest in associating with my business.

Poor taste is a matter of, well, taste. A lack of integrity is what you demonstrate above with your intellectual dishonesty, and your deliberate refusal to differentiate between the law and the evidence in this case and what you'd personally like to believe happened.

There's no need for you to call to discuss me hosting you.

No kidding.

I could not do so in good conscious and have no interest in foregoing my integrity for "up to $400"…which I make far more when I host.

How nice for you.


Samuel Hayes.


If you've not already shipped the book, keep it. If you have, I'll return it unopened as soon as it arrives.

No worries, I don't have a graphic novel version, anyway.


So there you go. No one can say the training community isn't interesting. :-)

If Mr. Hayes is the kind of trainer you're looking for, I'm sure he would be happy to take your money and provide you whatever kind of training it is that he provides.

Good luck.

UPDATE:  Was Samuel R. Hayes III of "Caliber Training Group" Charged with Multiple Criminal Felonies?