A Florida teenager in a stand your ground case who shot two people in what police called a road rage incident won’t be tried as an adult, and last week had charges reduced from two felony counts of aggravated battery with a firearm to a misdemeanor charge of minor in possession of a firearm, after prosecutors determined he acted in self-defense.
On this past New Year’s Eve, 17 year-old Cody Pope, of Deland in Volusia County, Florida, was riding in a car with an older and younger brother as the older brother’s 18 year-old girlfriend drove to a fireworks show at Daytona Beach. The group pulled into the drive thru at a local McDonald’s restaurant.
The driver of a vehicle in front of theirs, 47 year-old Kevin Robinson, and his female companion Michele Smith, 41 years-old, had placed an order. As Pope’s group placed their order, Robinson allegedly got out of his car and approached the group, claiming they had bumped into the back of his car, which they denied. They said Robinson demanded money but got back into his car as his food order was delivered, then drove off.
When Pope’s group had their order and left the McDonald’s, they alleged that Robinson soon was following them, riding their bumper and swerving toward them for several miles, until they pulled into a service station. It’s unclear why they did not call police during this time.
Surveillance video shows that as Pope’s group pulled up to a gas pump, Robinson pulled up next to them, then he and Smith got out of his vehicle yelling and cussing. Pope’s group claim Robinson approached the passenger side of their car, then reached in and struck the passenger, Pope’s older brother, Michael Mahoney, reportedly knocking him unconscious.
“And with that, the 17-year-old in the back (Pope), who is high on weed and who probably drank half a gallon of vodka with his friends, pulled out his trusty rifle and fires three shots, at least three shots, probably four,” said Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood.
Police reportedly found marijuana and alcohol in the car Pope was in. Chitwood, who pushed for the teen to be charged as an adult, called Pope a “thug” after the shooting and said, “It’s a matter of time before we’ll be footing his bill in state or federal penitentiary.”
Kevin Robinson was shot three times with a .22 caliber rifle – once in the face and twice in the stomach. Smith was hit once in the hand. Police said Pope’s group left the scene and were stopped miles away.
Pope was charged as an adult, and in January his mother, Selena Hillman, started a fund-raising campaign at fundedjustice.com to help pay for legal fees. On the campaign page, she described Robinson as “a 47 year-old, 6’2″ man weighing 240 lbs.”
Pope’s group had claimed they feared for their lives. The state Attorney General’s office reportedly dropped the adult felony charges after determining that Robinson had committed a felonious act himself by reaching into the car and striking Pope’s brother, which would justify use of force. A hearing is scheduled this week (April 27) on the misdemeanor charge of minor in possession of a firearm.