In a case with echoes of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman incident, a Florida man concerned over a rash of neighborhood burglaries is reportedly claiming self-defense after he chased, confronted, and killed a young man who was wearing baggy pants and a hooded sweatshirt whom he found suspicious.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that Claudius Angloricardo Smith, 32, is charged with second-degree murder and is being held without bond for killing 21-year-old Ricardo Sanes last Thursday, at The Fountains at MetroWest, an apartment complex in west Orlando.
But Sanes who, from his facebook page, appears to be the father of a young son, wasn’t carrying a bag of Skittles and iced tea. Police found that he was armed, with a .40 caliber handgun in the crotch of his pants. He sustained bullet wounds to the upper back and back of his neck.
When police told Smith about the wounds, he reportedly claimed they must have been exit wounds. He also claimed he didn’t know Sanes had a gun before the police told him.
According to police reports obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, Smith’s girlfriend, watching a video surveillance screen, spotted someone in dark clothing “walking around his yard,” who “was last seen climbing over the fence into” the apartment complex.
Smith told police he had “a recent problem with burglaries at his house…and he was certain the unknown male was responsible, so he began chasing the unknown male.”
According to police, Smith, who has a concealed-carry permit, said he jumped a fence into the complex, armed with a .45-caliber handgun, and saw Sanes “looking into windows of apartments as he walked past them.”
Smith said he pulled his gun and confronted Sanes, who tried to walk away, so he grabbed Sanes’ hooded sweatshirt and tried to force him back to his house “so the police could be called.”
Smith told police Sanes “punched him in the mouth and grabbed for the gun, so he pulled the trigger. Smith said he was afraid Sanes was armed “because his pants were falling down and his hands were in his hoodie pockets.”
Smith’s sister reportedly claimed he was so distraught that he was “crying and vomiting” after the shooting, when he told her he had shot somebody. But not only did he leave the scene of the shooting, but he discarded the murder weapon, and couldn’t give a reasonable explanation for either action.
Smith also claimed to have surveillance video he said “would prove this was the second time Sanes had tried to break into his house” in 10 days. But when police got there, the video recorder was gone, and Smith claimed he didn’t know who removed it or why
The similarities to the Trayvon Martin shooting are obvious — both Martin and Sanes wore hoodies. And both shooters claimed concern over recent burglaries, both went after the victims, both said they were attacked first, and both said they fired their guns in self-defense.
Yet, Smith’s argument is weaker: Sanes was shot from behind; Martin was shot in his chest, and Smith reportedly admitted to physically restraining the person he suspected at gunpoint. Zimmerman didn’t.
UPDATE: Claudius Angloricardo Smith was ultimately convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison (with credit for having served 368 days without bond) on February 5, 2015.
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