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Stand Your Ground Law: How Has it Been Used in Florida?

by John Spritzler

July 25, 2013

 

Has the Stand Your Ground law actually been used to preferentially let whites who kill blacks get a pass while convicting blacks who kill whites? Decide for yourself. Here are the actual details of how the law was invoked or not invoked in Florida homicides involving a black victim and white killer or vice versa, culled from data online here:

Here are some details for all cases when a white was either not charged or acquitted in the killing of a black person.

#1. Location details: Apartment parking lot in Jacksonville, Duval County, on April 07, 2010

What happened: Moore and his friend were walking at night when a black male jumped from a slow-moving car and tried to rob them. The robber, Eric Scott, had his hand down the front of his pants as if he had a gun, but no gun was found. He and Moore's friend starting fighting and Moore stabbed Scott in the back with a Gerber penknife. Moore told police he was afraid the robber and his friends in the car were armed. One of the men in the car with Scott told police Scott intended to rob the men when he jumped out of the car. The car and the other men had proceeded on during the incident and Scott's friends were not involved in the robbery. Moore and his friend both fled the scene but later called the police.

The outcome: Assistant state attorney cited F.S. 776.012 in part as reason for not charging Moore. "a person does not have a duty to retreat if he or she believes that force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another."


#2.

Location details: The shooter's convenience store in the Pine Hills neighborhood in Orlando, Orange County, on Sept. 14, 2007

What happened: Worried after break-ins, convenience store owner Anup Patel was sleeping in his shop when Lucious Carroll broke in. Patel fired 14 shots and killed Carroll.

The outcome: The case was referred to State Attorney's Office to see if it met the requirements of stand your ground. No charges were filed.

Investigating agency: Orange County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Prosecutor


#3.

Location details: Outside the defendant's home in Pensacola, Escambia County, on Oct. 10, 2011

What happened: Tabbatha Nussbaumer, a 36-year-old reserve Florida Highway Patrol trooper, came out of the shower to find a stranger with a bow and arrow in her house. He asked where the money was, and she lured the man outside to her truck, away from her 9-year-old son. As he followed her outside, she told police, he took off his clothes. She said she fetched a gun from her truck and told him to get on the ground. Instead, he advanced toward her and she fired once, she told police. Sean Thomas Harris, a neighbor, died. He was found to have had cocaine, cannabis, opiates, methadone and amphetamines in his system.

The outcome: State attorney did not charge and ruled it was a justifiable homicide.

Investigating agency: FDLE

Case decision made by: Prosecutor


#4.

Location details: Shot fired from second-floor window of Niemeyer's townhouse into the street in Royal Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, on Dec. 29, 2011

What happened: Damian Niemeyer, 37, was standing at his second-floor bedroom window late at night/early morning when he heard three men outside in the parking lot. When he saw them trying to back his motorcycle into a truck, Niemeyer called 911, then yelled at them. Niemeyer said one of the men responded by pointing a gun up at the window. Niemeyer then fired his gun at the group, fatally shooting Benjy Young, 19. The other men fled the scene. The pickup truck they had been using turned out to have been stolen that evening.

The outcome: Palm Beach County Sheriff's detectives declined to charge Niemeyer saying he shot out of fear for his life.

Investigating agency: Palm Beach County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Police


#5.

Location details: Outside the defendant's home in Navy Point, Escambia County, on Aug. 12, 2006

What happened: Rhonda Eubanks, a 57-year-old nurse at Baptist Hospital, shot a man who tried to get into her home at about 7:45 p.m. The man, 29-year-old Vincent Wesley, tried and failed to get in once, then tried to steal several cars, including an occupied vehicle, witnesses said. Then he returned to Eubanks' home and charged at her while she stood near her doorway with a gun. That's when Eubanks fired. Wesley was found face down under her carport, a few feet from her door. The shooter and victim did not know each other, investigators determined, even though he lived nearby. He was unarmed. Police later found drugs in his home, which had been ransacked. Investigators said at the time that Florida's "stand your ground" law did not impact their decision not to arrest the shooter.

The outcome: Eubanks was not charged.

Investigating agency: Escambia County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Prosecutor


#6.

Location details: outside victim's duplex in Ocala, Marion County, on Feb. 04, 2012

What happened: Dan Daley went to Willie Chester's duplex to complain about Chester's dog barking too much. A verbal altercation ensued, but Daley turned and walked away. According to Ocala.com, Chester ran into the street, confronted Daley and began beating him. Daley shot Chester as many as six times, fatally wounding him.

The outcome: State attorney's ruled that Chester was the aggressor and that the shooting was justified.

Investigating agency: Marion county

Case decision made by: prosecutors


*********************************************************

Here are the details for all cases when a black was either not charged or acquitted in the killing of a white person.


#1.

Location details: During party at victim's home in Fort Myers, Lee County, on July 17, 2009

What happened: Demarro Battle fatally shot Omar Bonilla after an argument at a party. Earlier in the dispute, Bonilla had fired his gun into the ground and beaten Battle in the head. Then Bonilla ran inside his apartment, gave his gun to a friend, telling him to hide it, and returned unarmed to confront Battle. Battle, meanwhile, had retrieved his gun from his car and fatally shot Bonilla.

The outcome: Battle was arrested by police and charged with second-degree murder. But charges were dropped by the state attorney. "Under current Florida law the defendant had no duty to retreat," an assistant state attorney wrote.

Investigating agency: Fort Myers Police

Case decision made by: Prosecutor


#2.

Location details: Defendant's home in Pine Manor neighborhood in Fort Myers, Lee County, on June 09, 2009

What happened: Adeirean Carey heard a noise outside the window of his house and told the intruder to stop. He said he fired a warning shot, not knowing it hit anyone. Marcos Santiago died, and police later found evidence that he was trying to break into a window.

The outcome: The charge of manslaughter was dismissed under stand your ground, with no opposition from the state. The assistant state attorney said, "The stand your ground law has ramifications that the Legislature did not envision. It oft-times slaps the face of grieving families."

Investigating agency: Fort Myers Police

Investigating agency: Lee County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Judge


#3.

Location details: Defendant's car in Pompano Beach, Broward County, on Sept. 15, 2010

What happened: Patrick Lavoie, a passenger in his girlfriend's Honda Civic, felt Cleveland Murdock was tailgating them as they drove in Pompano Beach. Lavoie told his girlfriend to stop the car, then he jumped out and angrily approached Murdock's black Toyota Tacoma truck. When Lavoie, who had a cigarette lighter in his hand, tried to reach through Murdock's passenger window Murdock shot and killed him. Murdock had a concealed weapons permit.

The outcome: The Broward County Sheriff's Office spoke with witnesses and interrogated Murdock, then let him go, turning the case over to prosecutors to decide if murder charges were warranted. In November 2010, a grand jury decided no charges would be filed.

Investigating agency: Broward County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Grand Jury


#4.

Location details: At a street intersection in Deerfield Beach, Broward County, on Dec. 13, 2007

What happened: Hygens Labidou was confronted by two men who yelled at him for his driving then stopped their pickup truck in front of his and threatened him. Labidou, who is black, told police the men pounded on his truck and yelled racial slurs. He said one of the men, Steven Lonzisero, carried a knife. Labidou stayed in his car and fired his gun, striking both men and killing 28-year-old Edward Borowsky. Sheriff's detectives initially arrested Lonzisero on murder charges for his role in his companion's death, but prosecutors declined to pursue those charges. Labidou, who had a concealed weapons permit, was not charged. He called 911 after the shooting.

The outcome: Not charged

Investigating agency: Broward County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Police

If you see a pattern of racism in how this law is being used, please point it out to me by making a comment here. I don't see it. The most wrongful acquittal seems to be case #2 of a black person being acquitted in the killing of a white person.

 

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