Stand Your Ground? Yes or No.

The Florida State law, often called the “Stand Your Ground Law”  is one that has been needed for years.  Prior to the new law, if someone broke into your home that laws at the time stated that you must retreat, and that you could only defend yourself if you were backed into a place from which you could NOT retreat, such as a closet, or bathroom, that had no other exit.  Then, fearing for your life, you could defend yourself.

If someone attacked you, such as a fight that you did not start, you could defend yourself, though if they then broke off the attack and attempted to flee, you would be the aggressor if you continued to fight and you could be the one charged.

As I understand it the main change is that you do NOT have to retreat if attacked.  For example, if someone breaks into your home you no longer are required to flee them, and can “Stand Your Ground”.

The recent death of Trayvon Martin, in the City of Sanford, Fl., is putting the Stand Your Ground Law under public scrutiny, and raising question about the the law itself.

George Zimmerman admits to having shot Martin but claims he did it in self-defence.  The Sanford PD claims they did not arrest him at the scene because, at the time, circumstances seemed to agree with Zimmerman.

I would hate to be the person charged with making the determination of whether it was a justified act on the part of Zimmerman.  Sure he was supposed to be some kind of Captain, or whatever, with a Neighborhood Watch group, though reports say he was NOT on duty at the time of the shooting.

I have a number of questions:  what did Zimmerman think he was doing by chasing Martin?  Did Zimmerman ID himself as part of a neighborhood watch?  Did Martin confront a suspicious person, who was following hm for no apparent reason?  If Zimmerman was injured, Sanford PD says he had blood on his lip and the back of his head, which of the two started the scuffle.  As a neighborhood watch member he had the legal authority of the average citizen, the right to citizen’s arrest, though there did not appear to be an apparant offence to arrest for.  The would most likely have resulted, saying that he had detained the person, in his arrest for either “false arrest”, “unlawful detention”, or even impersonating a police officer, if he had given the impression that he acted in such a capacity.

I have never been in a neighborhood watch program but, I had worked for about 20 years in the Security field, both in the Air Force, where I got out as a Security Police SSgt.  Now Mr. Zimmerman might have had a concealed weapons permit but, that would not give him the legal standing to carry it as part of his neighborhood watch.  When I did private security, after 7 years in the Air Force, I worked for a number of private security companies.  Mostly with an unarmed security license, where state law said that even if I had a carry permit, or other authorization, that, unless I had an armed guard licence, I was still not allowed to carry the weapon.  Basicly that would mean that, say I was a Deputy Sheriff and wanted to do security work while off duty, I would have to have a Guard License and and Armed Guard License.  So why was he carrying?  Did the Law Enforcement Co-ordinator for the group know he carried?  If so why didn’t they expel him from the program.

From what I have seen of this story, so far, I would have to say that I do NOT think it was a justified shooting.  The “Stand Your Ground Law’ might protect him from an aggressor but, if it turns out he was doing something he had NO legal right to be doing, or if he was the aggressor, then he has no protection under the law, even this one.

To me the law is clear.  He has to have a reasonable belief that his life is in danger.  The keyword would be “reasonable belief”.  At this point I don’t see it.  What I do see is poor judgement on the part of a gung-ho wannabe cop, who charged in where he had NO training, or legal authority.

What we have here is a mess, and what we don’t need is the Rev. Al Sharpton stirring up the pot.  Sometimes the question is not “black or white” but “right or wrong”, and this is a question that must be answered by law and not because some publicity seeking Rev. Al Sharpton says so.

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