Florida Court Dismisses Stabbing Case Under The “Stand Your Ground” Law

Last night I was on Countdown discussing Florida’s “stand your ground law” and the recent shooting case of the Trayvon Martin case. We discussed yesterday’s ruling in the the case of Greyston Garcia and the dangerous ambiguity created by these laws. The second-degree murder charges against Garcia were thrown out by a Florida judge under the Stand Your Ground law despite the fact that he did not just stand his ground, but ran after a man who tried to steal his car radio and proceeded to stab the unarmed man to death.

As discussed previously, I have been a long critic of these laws and the earlier Castle Doctrine or “Make My Day” laws. These laws address a problem that does not exist. There are ample protections under the common law for individuals to use the privilege of self-defense, including reasonable mistaken self-defense. As I noted last night, I find it a bit maddening to hear Florida legislators now claim to have never anticipated abuses under these laws. Critics like myself have been vocal about the potential for abuse under these laws for years. Legislators have ignored those warnings because of the popularity of these laws.

The problem with both “Make My Day laws” (applying to the home) and “Stand Your Ground laws” (applying in “other places”) is that they facilitate or enable those who are inclined to use lethal force. The Horn case out of Texas is such an example where, as with Zimmerman, Joe Horn ignored instructions not to confront the suspects. Even cases that bordering on executions have been found protected under such laws.

In the latest case, Garcia, 25, saw Pedro Roteta, 26, trying to steal the radio from his truck outside Garcia’s Miami apartment. He grabbed a large knife and chased the unarmed Roteta down the street and proceeded to stab him to death. This week, the state judge threw out the charges under the state’s “stand your ground” law.

Legislators are now feigning complete shock at the potential for abuse under these laws after refusing to consider the warnings of critics in passing these laws. It is important to keep in mind however that it is not simply the “Stand Your Ground” law. That law is the latest variation of laws that began with the “Castle Doctrine” or “Make My Day” laws and then mutated into the “Make My Day Better” laws and “Stand Your Ground” laws. Each has a catchy title and popular theme — supporting people who fight off felons. Their titles capture the impulse buy nature of these laws where legislators vote without concern for the implications of injecting ambiguous standards into cases involving the use of lethal force. Consider the language of the Florida law:

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

The law reads like a stump speech where soundbites become elements of a criminal defense. Judges as in the Garcia case are left applying a standard of “meet[ing] force with force” and “stand[ing] his or her ground.” The result is soundbite justice — lacking depth or substance.


Source: NPR

66 thoughts on “Florida Court Dismisses Stabbing Case Under The “Stand Your Ground” Law

  1. Thank God Garcia was let go. These thugs had robbed his belongings before (as the accomplice told the police) It’s about time we fought back against this lawless crap!

  2. WOW REALLY READ THE LAW, A PERSON IS ALLOWED TO DEFEND THERE SELFS IF THEIR LIFE OR ANOTHER PERSONS LIFE IS AT STAKE. IF THE OTHER PERSON IS STEALING A CAR STEREO WITH NO WEAPON AND IS NOT ATTACKING YOU. YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO KILL THAT PERSON AND THE JUDGE IS WRONG. HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN FOUND GUILTY. THEY NEED TO STOP LETING STUPID PEOPLE CARRY GUNS. MAKE EVERYONE THAT OWNS A GUN AND HAS THIER CCW AND EVERYONE THAT IS GOING TO APPLY FOR THEIR CCW MINUS TAKE A MANDATORY CLASS THAT IS MORE EXTENSIVE AND LONGER THEN THE CURRENT REQUIREMENT WITH A GO/NOGO SYSTEM. MAKE A TEST THAT IS CHALLENGING, MAKE THEM QUALIFY WITH THE WEAPON THEY WILL BE CARRING AT A RANGE SO THEY KNOW THE WEAPON AND ITS ABILITIES BEFORE THEY ARE ALLOWED TO CARRY IT ON PUBLIC STREETS, I SUPPORT OUR 2ND ADDENDMENT 100% AND I DO CARRY MYSELF BUT THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE THAT NEED TO UNDERSTAND ALL ASPECTS OF GUN OWNERSHIP, FROM OBTAINING A LIC. TO FIRING IT, AND ALL THE LAWS YOU ARE REQUIRED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU ARE GIVIN A PERMIT TO CARRY A WEAPON. THE “STAND YOUR GROUND” LAW IS A GREAT LAW. BUT IT NEEDS TO BE I GUESS YOU COULD SAY TIGHTENED UP A BIT AND WEAPON SAFETY AND CCW CLASSES NEED TO ME MANDATORY EVERY TIME YOU RE-NEW YOUR PERMIT.

  3. In fact. once Zimmerman and Martin were on the ground struggling, if a cop had arrived on the scene and shot one or both of them himself, there would also have been an inquest.

    AND if a neighbor emerged from one of the houses, armed, and shot one of the combattants, there would have presumably been a full inquest. NOT a little “oh he says it was self defense so let him go now” charade.

    There is possibly (and I do not concede “probably” but NO case has a zero chance of being true) an excuse for what Zimmerman did but there is NO excuse for what the police and prosecutors did.

  4. Bob Kauten, thanks. In addition to the points you made, I’d like to point out that if an armed cop, paid by the public funds, had shot Trayvon Martin on 2/26/2012, whether he had shot him because he felt endangered, or because he thought Martin was committing a felony, or because he meant to do something else and it all went down wrong, STILL, there would have been a standardized way that the police department, UNDER LAW, had to deal with it.

    1. The cop would immediately have been relieved of his gun and placed on some kind of administrative leave pending full investigation by the Internal Affairs Division.

    2. The cops doing the investigation of the incident would not be those who had been with him that night when he killed someone.

    3. The cop would have had to undergo some kind of evaluation before he was allowed to return to active duty.

    4. The cop’s simple statement, “I did it in self-defense” would not be taken as true, but would, along with all other witness statements, be evaluated.

    In other words, if Zimmerman had been a cop, there would have been much MORE careful police investigation of the affair than there was in this case.

  5. Well I’m cynical enough to believe that the Grayston Garcia case was arranged specifically to help out the prosecutor and police chief in Seminole County who are in trouble over failing to charge George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin. They’re providing a case that says to the world: Hey look, we weren’t racist and we weren’t doing this on purpose. If we charge a guy who kills somebody because he thinks he [has to][ought to][is allowed to] and we bring charges anyway, we get our asses kicked by some judge. We can’t do that; it’s a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. It was extra convenient for them to choose a Hispanic defendant who killed a Hispanic offender so they can say, “hey, the law is the law!”

    I am also cynical enough to believe that a handful of Florida judges and DAs were involved in a “choosing the right case” game to have their “day in the press” supporting WOlfinger and Lee. They coudln’t choose one of those cases where a woman was charged with murdering her physically abusive husband; can’t have a bunch of women starting to “stand their ground” all over Florida. And they couldn’t choose a white man in some kind of altercation with another white man because then nobody would believe it really applied. They came upon just the perfect case. It worked for the prosecutor in the Garcia case (so he gave up one, he will get rewarded down the line and it was not a high profile career-busting case), and he gets to do a favor for another prosecutor, who will do him favors later); it worked for the defense lawyer in the Garcia case (he WON!); and it worked for the survivor of the Garcia stabbing encounter (he goes free and can never be charged for that crime again). Win win win!

    About the struggle in the legislature to defend the SYG law — which was not really applicable in either of these cases — that will be long, drawn-out, expensive, and won by the side that has power.

    Another thing: the charge that the police WERE using on their police reports on 2/26/2012, Florida 782.11, could have applied in Garcia’s case because he might have “accidentally” killed someone in the commission of a felony. But it would be a stretch to say that multiple stab wounds were ALL accidental.

  6. PepsiCo Ends Partnership With Right-Wing Front Group ALEC

    By Adam Peck on Apr 5, 2012 at 9:30 am

    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/04/05/458781/pepsico-ends-partnership-with-right-wing-front-group-alec/

    “PepsiCo, the world’s second largest beverage company, has ended its partnership with ALEC, the controversial right-wing group that lobbies for voter suppression efforts. Pepsi’s move, which actually came in January but was first reported this morning by NPR, may also have had a role in compelling Coca-Cola to drop its support for ALEC.

    Yesterday, progressive advocacy group Color of Change announced a boycott effort targeting several other corporations that are still members of the group, which for years has partnered with elected officials at a state level to draft and pass controversial, far-right legislation. Just a few hours later, Coke announced that they too are severing ties with the ALEC.”

  7. Shouldn’t have stolen the radio.. I’m not going to get broken up about a criminal getting stabbed because he was caught in the act.

  8. The Horn Case in Texas IS just like these cases of abuse and misinterpretation of the law. In the Horn case although the victims were stealing, they were fleeing the crime scene. Both were shot in the back and were not coming towards Horn’s home. Horn was in his house and left his house against the direction of the 911 operator and went outside to confront them, using deadly force. Horn’s life was not in danger.

  9. “Stand your ground” seems to mean that your ground is wherever you catch the person you’re pursuing.

  10. John F. Timoney is a former Miami police chief, Philadelphia police commissioner and deputy police commissioner in New York. He is now senior police adviser to the Bahrain Minister of the Interior.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/opinion/floridas-disastrous-self-defense-law.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

    “Trying to control shootings by members of a well-trained and disciplined police department is a daunting enough task. Laws like “stand your ground” give citizens unfettered power and discretion with no accountability. It is a recipe for disaster. “

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