The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) self-defense protections extend to police officers, as well as civilians. I’m going to make two points about this.
Police officers are persons, too. Of course they’re entitled to the same rights as any other person. That’s a no-brainer.
2. This police shooting was not a SYG situation.
SYG — despite common mischaracterizations in the anti-rights media — is not a “shoot first any time you panic” defense. All it does is two things.
The first: If you are in a situation in which you would otherwise be allowed to use defensive force, you don’t have to try to outrun the bad guy — or his speeding bullets — before defending yourself.
The second: By invoking SYG, the defender no longer has to prove his innocence. It becomes up to the prosecution to prove his guilt. For those who slept through history and government classes, the latter assumption of innocence unless proven guilty is how every other “criminal” case works. It’s embedded in the American legal system, and hearkens all the way back to English common law which is the original basis of American law.
So why do I say this wasn’t SYG?
Deputy Peter Peraza claimed he was defending himself against Jermaine McBean. McBean had a rifle across his shoulders, which Peraza claimed McBean lowered from his shoulders and aimed at him, and McBean ignored orders to drop it. He specifically claimed that there was no reason for McBean to not hear the instructions.
The facts and witnesses say otherwise.
The “rifle” was an unloaded air gun. 911 callers merely said the person was carrying it, not brandishing. At least one witness to the shooting stated that the air gun remained across McBean’s shoulders and that he never pointed it at the officer.
The claim that McBean should have been able to hear instructions — and therefore he willfully ignored them — came into question. Police noted that McBean was not wearing the earbuds which were tucked into his pocket.
And then crime scene photos came out. Immediately after the shooting, pictures show the earbuds still in the deceased’s ears. His family said he was in the habit of listening to music as he walked. But somehow, the dead man managed to remove his earbuds and place them in his pocket, conveniently supporting the officer’s version of events.
Other officers also gave conflicting and contradictory accounts of the incident. The original judge who dismissed charges simply declared the police conflicting statements were due to a difference of perspective, but the civilian just wasn’t credible.
Apparently neither were the photographs showing that someone tampered with evidence to support the police shooting. If you have to lie about why you shot, and tamper with evidence to support the lie, the shooting was probably not good.
Stand Your Ground applies to valid self defense. This wasn’t that.
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