After the tragic shooting this week in Florida, of an unarmed youth, debate is focusing on Florida Law. Critics point out that no one has been charged in the case, and it has been blamed on a poorly written Florida self-defense law. Further adding to the controversy are statements attritbuted to the local Police Chief in Sanford Florida,
regarding the shooter’s claim of self defense. The Police are hanging their hat on not having to make an arrest, if they can reasonably argue a defense for the shooters action. The Florida Law in question prevents the arrest if the Police reasonably believe the shooter was in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm. Now they will have to explain their conclusion.
The Florida statutes on self defense do have limits, which necesitate that the shooter’s fear be reasonable. He is not required to retreat, however nothing in the statute negates the laws against following someone and killing them. The shooter also is not defending his home from an intruder. Other aspects of the Florida law which permits the use of deadly force relative to stopping someone from commiting a felony have been addressed by the Federal Courts (U.S. Supreme Court case – Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985) although that case involved Law enforcement, the Tennesse Law which was ruled unconstitutional as a result, smells similar to the Florida self defense Law which appears to permit the violation of civil rights. It is almost certain that the Federal Government will be looking at this case on behalf of the victim’s rights, and looking at the Florida Statute as to its inconsistency with Federal Law.
The Police Chief involved and prosecutors will be hard pressed to explain how they concluded it was reasonable to believe that the victim posed a threat to the shooter with a bag of skittles and an iced tea. Justice will eventually prevail in this case, as The Federal Government will intercede, unfortuantely it will be too late for the victim.