By Suevon Lee
The Stand Your Ground law is most widely associated with the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old killed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who claimed he was acting in self-defense.
But as a recent Tampa Bay Times investigation indicates, the Martin incident is far from the only example of the law’s reach in Florida. The paper identified nearly 200 instances since 2005 where the state’s Stand Your Ground law has played a factor in prosecutors’ decisions, jury acquittals or a judge’s call to throw out the charges. (Not all the cases involved killings. Some involved assaults where the person didn’t die.)
The law removes a person’s duty to retreat before using deadly force against another in any place he has the legal right to be — so long as he reasonably believed he or someone else faced imminent death or great bodily harm. Among the Stand Your Ground cases identified by the paper, defendants went free nearly 70 percent of the time.
Although Florida was the first to enact a Stand Your Ground law, 24 other states enforce similar versions. Using the Tampa Bay findings and others, we’ve highlighted some of the most notable cases where a version of the Stand Your Ground law has led to freedom from criminal prosecution:
By Dara Kam
Palm Beach Post Capital Bureau
The stage is set for a possible showdown Tuesday over Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law in Central Florida, not far from the Sanford community where neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February.
Gov. Rick Scott’s Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protectionwill hold its public meeting debut at a church in Longwood while Martin’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, lead a rally and deliver hundreds of thousands of petitions demanding that the law be changed.
The task force will hear from law enforcement officials and lawyers in the morning before breaking for lunch, when Martin’s parents and organizers of Second Chance for Shoot First, a national group led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are slated to rally outside.
Representatives from police chiefs and sheriffs associations, criminal defense lawyers’ and prosecutors’ groups who deal with the law “on an almost daily basis in the real world in Florida” will make presentations in the morning, said John Konkus, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, the task force’s chairwoman. Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Krista Marx will also give an overview of the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling on the law, Konkus said.
After Trayvon Martin’s last moments were captured on a 7-Eleven surveillance video last week, it didn’t take long for Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera to put his foot in his mouth and say something stupid.
On Friday, Rivera appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s O’Reilly Factor and proclaimed that in Trayvon’s 7-Eleven tape, taken moments before he was fatally shot, the 17-year-old was wearing a large hoodie, a.k.a. “thug wear.”
After the comments, Trayvon’s family attorney Ben Crump went at Rivera for suggesting the shooting was somehow Trayvon’s fault because of what he was wearing.
By Marisol Bello, USA TODAY
The attorney representing Trayvon Martin’s parents said Wednesday a medical report detailing injuries sustained by the man who said he shot Trayvon was leaked to bolster his claims of self-defense.
Lawyer Benjamin Crump said he has not seen the medical report but questions who leaked the information and why.
“It was leaked for a beneficial purpose,” he said, “certainly to help George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.”
The medical report detailing George Zimmerman’s injuries after he shot and killed Trayvon was first reported by ABC News on Tuesday.