Friday, June 16, 2006

Shooting people in Florida

Remember the law that Florida passed last year allowing someone to shoot somebody if they felt the other person was threatening them?  It was a National Rifle Association (NRA) project and the Legislature went along with it.

Gee, guess what?  They're now finding out that people can just shoot someboday and get away with it under that law!  Gosh, who would have figured?

This article gives an idea of how things are going:  Gun law triggers at least 13 shootings: Cases involving the new deadly force law are handled in a broad range of ways by Henry Pierson Curtis Orlando Sentinel 06/11/06

The law is known as the "Stand Your Ground" law because one of its features was that it eliminated the previous legal requirement that included a requirement that a shooter attempt to retreat from the situation before shooting and killing someone.

This is another feature of the law from Curtis' report:

The new law requires claims of self-defense to be investigated but prohibits police from detaining or arresting a suspect without clear evidence of another motive - such as anger, frustration or malice.

Whether the new law has added too much gray area for investigators is unclear. But there is a wide range in how investigations of self-defense claims have been conducted. Some have involved more than 20 hours of detectives' time, while other cases were never reviewed by detectives.

This is one where a detective didn't even bother coming out:

And a detective did not respond after a teenager was shot in March. Instead, the agency's on-call detective told deputies at the shooting scene to forward their reports to the State Attorney's Office for review. Carlos Avilez, 15, was suspected of attempting to steal a car near Orlando when the owner's husband opened fire with a 9 mm pistol, hitting the teenager in the back of the leg. A witness told deputies the teen may have been shot as he was fleeing.

"I don't see how he could have been afraid of my son when he had a gun and shot him running away," said Carlos' mother, Maria Avilez. Her son pleaded guilty to breaking into the car.

The only account from the shooter, Michael Graham, 34, is a brief, barely legible statement saying he felt threatened by the teen.

Let's see:  trying to break into a car, you get shot in the leg and have to plead guilty to a crime

Shoot somebody who's trying to break into a car and the cops don't bother with you.

The shooter is named Graham.  The shooting victim is named Avilez.  I'm guessing if it had been the other way around the cops might have shown a tad more interest.

Here's another case of how it works:

The shot that killed the stranger in Michael Brady's front yard upended his life and worsened a neighborhood dispute he blames for the shooting. He claims the man - a friend of a neighbor - began taunting him after drinking for hours and then threatened to punch him.

Friends of the man Brady shot to death, Justin Boyette, are angry that a grand jury cleared Brady. They say Boyette, 23, was a friendly bear of a man at 6 feet 2 and 270 pounds. They claim Boyette simply wanted to shake Brady's hand.

"A lot of people are going to die as soon as people figure out this law," said Eric Wagner, who hosted Boyette that day and has not stayed at the home across the street from Brady since then. "All you have to say is, 'I was afraid,' and you can blow someone away."

Brady and his wife, who tried to resuscitate Boyette, have received hate mail and angry telephone calls since the shooting. Brady keeps a rifle at hand.

Referring to the Sentinel article, the St. Petersburg Times editorilized in Flaws exposed in self-defense law 06/16/06:

Few laws are as reckless as the one Florida legislators approved last year that makes it easier to kill, claim self-defense, and get away with it. The "Stand Your Ground" law removed the requirement that a person threatened in public retreat before responding with deadly force, and now the predictable result is coming into sharper focus.

... Having the right to possess a gun carries with it the responsibility to exercise reasonable judgment - something the new law doesn't require.

The editorial also took note of a couple of problems encountered in trying to enforce the law:

Victims who are killed deprive investigators of another side to the story. ...

... [T]his law sends the wrong message to armed individuals with quick tempers and quicker trigger fingers. It doesn't make the streets any safer. It makes them more dangerous.

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