Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Defensive Shooting in Florida

I saw news coverage of an incident in Florida where a 25 year old white Florida concealed handgun licensee shot a 17 year old black guy.  Unsurprisingly, the television coverage did its best to imply that the shooter was in the wrong, even though the police did not arrest the shooter--as would be done if they had any reason to suspect a criminal act.  This account from February 27, 2012 Fox News Orlando suggests that while it may not have been wise for the shooter to have confronted this stranger in a gated community (and 911 told him not to approach), the witness to what happened suggests that the shooter at least had an excusable homicide argument for what he did:

A man who witnessed part of the altercation contacted authorities.
"The guy on the bottom, who had a red sweater on, was yelling to me, 'Help! Help!' and I told him to stop, and I was calling 911," said the witness, who asked to be identified only by his first name, John.
John said he locked his patio door, ran upstairs and heard at least one gun shot.
"And then, when I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on the top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point."

Read more: http://www.myfoxorlando.com/dpp/news/seminole_news/022712-man-shot-and-killed-in-neighborhood-altercation#ixzz1p0wZ7zGf 
When in doubt, let the police come and resolve these differences.  They get paid to do this, they are better trained in resolving disputes and uncertain situations, and if they show up, they'll have backup.  Once the shooter got into a confrontation with this kid, he may not have had any choice but to use deadly force--but try not to get into these sort of disputes.

The evidence suggests that the kid was not a criminal, and perhaps he felt like he was being improperly accused just because he was black, walking through a largely white neighborhood.  A few years from now, this kid might have grown up to be a responsible adult who would not feel the need to get into a fight over a perceived insult.  (This is a common problem for teenaged males, white or black.)

When in doubt, retreat.

UPDATE: Here's the March 13, 2012 Orlando Sentinel coverage:

"Until we can establish probable cause to dispute that, we don't have the grounds to arrest him," the chief said.
Sanford police detectives were expected to finish their work on the case Monday, the chief said, and would forward the matter to the state attorney's office Tuesday, which would make a charging decision.

Zimmerman, the shooter, had a bloody nose and blood on the back of his head.  Based on what the witness said, it sounds like he was getting hit pretty hard by the 17 year old.  Regardless of how bad a decision Zimmerman made in confronting Trayvon Martin, once it reached this point, shooting was the right decision.

1 comment:

  1. Have you noticed that all the reports claim George Zimmerman is white? Do a search on the story and look at his picture. There is at least some reason to think he isn't.