Saturday, July 28, 2018

Another Black Man Dead: Florida's Stand Your Ground Law

I don't have a problem with people using deadly violence to defend themselves anywhere from the threat or reality of deadly violence. Whether you are in your home, car, or walking the street I don't think that you must let someone initiate and continue felony violence on you and wait and see what their intentions are. I have little sympathy for the carjacker who gets shot in the face by his would be victim, for the rapist who gets stabbed in the yarbles by a woman armed with a knife, for the burglar who gets ripped to pieces by the homeowner's trained Rottweilers, for the mugger who makes the mistake of trying to assault an unassuming kung fu expert. Those criminals knew the risks of their trade; they paid the price. So it goes.

But "Stand your ground laws", at least in the case of Florida, seem to be something different. Self-defense should be about using defense proportionate to the attack AND making sure that there is an attack. If someone steps on my shoe, depending on both our moods that day, I may just keep moving and say nothing. I may say something. The offender and I both may end up yelling obscenities at each other or worse. Stuff happens. But whatever happens most people would agree that even if the person deliberately stepped on my shoe I would be (no pun intended) jumping the gun to pull out my firearm and shoot him dead. 


Even if I thought that this person might be a later threat at the time that I used deadly force against him he was no threat. So self-defense doesn't apply. Also I shouldn't be able to go around deliberately stepping on people's shoes and shooting the first person who responds physically, claiming I was standing my ground. In practice however, Florida's stand your ground law gives the benefit of the doubt to the shooter, regardless of the circumstances, especially if the shooter is white and the decedent is black.


LARGO — Prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump stood in front of the Pinellas County Justice Center on Thursday and demanded justice for the family of Markeis McGlockton.
Flanked by the slain man’s parents and girlfriend, Crump told reporters that McGlockton’s shooting death last week was "cold-blooded murder ... by the self-appointed, wannabe cop Michael Drejka."

The July 19 incident started when Drejka, 47, confronted the girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, over why she had parked in a handicap-reserved parking space without a permit outside a convenience store near Clearwater. McGlockton, in the store with his 5-year-old son, got wind of the argument and walked outside, where he shoved Drejka to the ground. Drejka then pulled out a gun and fatally shot McGlockton, 28.

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced last week that he would not arrest Drejka because his claim that he was in fear of further attack met the criteria under Florida’s "stand your ground" self-defense law for using deadly force. 
The sheriff’s investigation will soon be sent to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office, which will make the final determination whether to file criminal charges. Prosecutors had not yet received the case this week.

Crump, whose law office is in Tallahassee, drew comparisons to two previous controversial self-defense cases, both of which he provided legal counsel in: Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was shot and killed in 2012 by a neighborhood watch volunteer, and Corey Jones, a 31-year-old stranded motorist who met the same fate at the hands of a plainclothes officer in 2015. All three cases share this trait, Crump said: The shooter "is the initial aggressor, starts the confrontation and then kills the unarmed black person and claims it’s self-defense. LINK



Now given that the execrable Florida Attorney General Pam Biondi is an avid Trump supporter I wouldn't expect much from that quarter. But time will tell. The problem with this law is where does it stop. What if Brittany Jacobs had been a licensed gun owner in the state of Florida. She watches as an unhinged Michael Drejka shoots her boyfriend Markeis McGlockton. Doesn't she have the right to protect her life and stand her ground? So let's say she shoots Drejka, just as Drejka's friends and/or relatives arrive at the scene. They are also licensed gunowners who see their friend/relative shot. So they stand their ground and open fire on Jacobs, who speed dials her friends who are licensed gun owners...

Well you see where this could end up. The only way to stop it is for Black people to start carrying guns in states where that is legal. That's the only thing that's going to make an armed person looking for confrontation back off. Right now it appears that some white people feel emboldened to initiate or escalate confrontations with unarmed Black people secure in the knowledge that if things get heated they can shoot said Black people without any physical or legal repercussions. Black people need to change that calculus.


It's worth pointing out, obviously, that parking in a handicapped area and shoving someone aren't smart moves. But the law doesn't require the death penalty for those actions. And even if the law did require such sanctions, Michael Drejka isn't a law enforcement official. But Drejka wanted to shoot someone. And so he did. Once the gun is pulled, McGlockton is backing up and turning away. He's not a threat. There is no reason that Drejka shouldn't be arrested and tried.
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