Stand Your Ground Hearing For Cop In Theater Shooting Postponed – Again

Prosecutors and attorneys for a retired Florida cop who killed a man during an argument over the man texting on a cell phone in a movie theater have agreed to postpone a stand your ground hearing – again, and again, and now again – until next year.

A hearing on an immunity claim of self-defense under stand your ground law was originally set by Circuit Court Judge Susan L. Barthle for January 25, 2016, and postponed to May 26,  then postponed again to June 29, 2016. This time, Judge Barthle has set a date of February 20, 2017.

SEE: A Theater Shooting You May Have Forgotten About

RELATED: A Stand Your Ground Case Taking Too Long To Go To Trial

Curtis Reeves photo credit: Pasco County Sheriffs Office)
Curtis Reeves (photo credit: Pasco County Sheriff’s Office)

Retired Tampa Police Captain Curtis Judson Reeves, 73-years-old, of Brooksville, is charged with second-degree battery and second degree murder in the shooting death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson and wounding Oulson’s wife, Nicole. The incident, which some people call the “popcorn shooting”, occurred inside a movie theater in Pasco County on January 13, 2014.

Theater surveillance cameras captured multiple images from different angles of the venue seating areas and lobby, with one scene that appears to show popcorn, then what appears to be a cellphone being thrown by Oulson just before Reeves fires the fatal shot.

A stand your ground hearing would determine whether or not Reeves is immune from prosecution. If he loses at the hearing the case would then go to trial. If his plea is successful, he will not have to stand trial.

Defense attorneys earlier this year filed a successful request to have public access to possibly dozens of court depositions restricted amid repeated delays in proceedings during an era of calls for an end to gun violence and public scrutiny on law enforcement killings.

RELATED: Attorneys In Stand Your Ground “Popcorn Shooting” Want To Stop Access To Court Records (Updated)

 

Missouri Governor Vetoes Stand Your Ground Bill

SB656, a bill designed to change Missouri’s self-defense laws – and make Missouri the first state since the Trayvon Martin incident to pass a stand your ground law – was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon today (June 27). After sailing through the state’s Senate and the House, the bill had been awaiting approval or veto by Nixon since May 13.

It is possible for a gubernatorial veto to be overridden by the state legislature.

SEE: Missouri (Almost) Becomes A Stand Your Ground State

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (official state portrait)

Nixon, a Democrat, faced enormous pressure from the Republican-led Missouri legislature to enact the law. The bill has been widely considered “veto-proof”; however, a bill which faces opposition by the Governor after passing through the legislature can be challenged with a veto override in the next legislative session, and still become law in the future.

RELATED: 

Missouri’s current self-defense laws state that only the property owner or someone leasing it are allowed to use deadly force against an intruder.

SB656 would have allowed deadly force to be used by anyone who has permission to occupy private property, such as a house guest, and also make it a misdemeanor, and no longer a felony, for anyone carrying a concealed weapon into a place that has restrictions on concealed carry.

The bill also would have allowed open-carry without a permit, and expanded the state’s self-defense laws to include the words “does not have a duty to retreat from a dwelling, residence, vehicle, private property that is owned or leased, or anywhere else a person has a right to be – the very definition of stand your ground law – making Missouri the first state since Trayvon Martin incident to pass such a law.

 

 

Crazy Gun Laws That Put Our Lives at Risk

Did you know there is at least one municipality in America that requires the head of household to own a gun? It’s just one of the many “gun laws” that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has pushed to enact across the nation. In fact, Thom Senzee reports on Advocate.com that there are other “crazy” gun laws – like stand your ground – that put our lives at risk.

The NRA has been so effective at defeating just about every proposed gun control measure in the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, and in state houses across the country that it may be time to replace the term “lobbying” with a new one.

The NRA and its executive director, the unyielding Wayne LaPierre, have been working hard to enact pro-gun laws. For example, according to Mother Jones, LaPierre and company are bent on bringing stand your ground laws to all 50 states.

During the past four decades, the NRA has fundamentally changed the very meaning of the term “gun laws.” If you think “gun laws” refers to laws that limit the availability of guns, think again. This list of absurd legislation (and proposed legislation) shows how some are fighting to extend the right to bear arms to even schools and workplaces. See 7 Crazy Gun Laws That Put Our Lives at Risk on advocate.com

South Carolina Supreme Court Upholds Murder Charge Dismissal

South Carolina’s Supreme Court recently ruled that a North Charleston woman legally used deadly force in 2012 when she fatally stabbed her boyfriend at their home. The ruling on May 18, 2016 helps clarify how South Carolina’s “stand your ground” law applies to domestic violence.

SC Supreme Court Asks Lawmakers To Help Them Understand Stand Your Ground

In October, 2014, a trial judge in Charleston dismissed a murder charge against 26-year-old Whitlee Jones, who claimed immunity from prosecution under the state’s Protection of Persons and Property Act. The law allows people in certain situations to use force when faced with serious injury.

Whitlee Jones (photo: Cannon Detention Center)
Whitlee Jones (photo: Cannon Detention Center)

                                   Whitlee Jones (photo: Cannon Detention Center)

Jones was the first of three North Charleston women charged with murder during a two-year span in the stabbing of a boyfriend or a roommate. Judges dismissed charges against all of them. Read the full story at postandcourier.com

White Barber Refused Service, Pulled Gun On Black Man

A South Carolina barber with a history of altercations told police he “felt threatened” when he refused service and pulled out a gun on an African-American man who walked into his barbershop for a shave, according to reports.

Rock Hill barber Larry Thomas, 65-years-old, who is white, allegedly pulled out a gun when Arthur Hill, of Fort Mill, a 37-year-old African-American, walked into Thomas’ barbershop on May 11 asking for a quick shave on his way to work.

Instead of offering a chair, Hill said that Thomas responded by holding a .38 caliber revolver in his hand saying, “I don’t do black hair.” Hill retreated from the shop and called the York County Sheriff’s Office.

When police arrived, Thomas reportedly led them to an outside shed and to the gun Hill had described. Thomas is out on bond after being charged with pointing and presenting firearms at a person. In South Carolina the crime is punishable by a fine or up to five years in prison.

Larry Thomas
Larry Thomas (York County Sheriff’s Office booking photo)

“I told him I did not do black hair and he kept coming towards me and I stepped back here and I always keep a gun right here and I just picked up my gun and put my gun at my side,” Thomas told WBTV. The news station found several other reports from the past of Thomas presenting firearms at potential customers.

Thomas also told the station he doesn’t do flat tops or women’s hair styles. He added, “I’m just not good enough to do black hair cutting at all. Being an autistic individual, I pretty much stick to my routine.”

Hill told WCNC, “I was shocked. I was shocked for my life, because I’m thinking that could’ve been me laying on the floor dead. “He did not point it at me, but it was clear in [hind]sight like he meant business. He said, ‘I don’t do black hair.’ I asked him does he shave, can he shave me, and he said, ‘I don’t do black hair.’ ”

Hill says he asked Thomas to clarify why he couldn’t get a cut. “I  said, ‘Are you referring to African-American hair?’ He said, ‘Yeah,’ and at the time I noticed he already had his hand gripped on a .38 snub nose chrome revolver.”

SEE: South Carolina’s “Protection of Persons and Property Act”

 

Stand Your Ground Top Tweet: In Florida, It’s Glock Time All The Time

Updated: July 14, 2016

Time for another treat with a top tweet about stand your ground laws. It’s summertime and Florida recently began a “#SummerStartsNow Visit Florida” tourism campaign.

Unfortunately, the murder of singer Christina Grimmie and massacre at the Pulse nightclub have occurred two weeks after this tweet was posted. We all truly grieve with Orlando. Yet incidents like these may only serve to help the state promote it’s NRA-led gun agenda.

So, why not celebrate the season in a place where guns are not so prevalent and promiscuous? What better time to give California oranges and juice a try, or skip the Southeast corner of the U.S. to visit Hawaii, which has one of the lowest rates of gun ownership (7%) and gun deaths (7 in 2010).

In case you missed it, or don’t use twitter, here’s a tweet by the Movement to Change or repeal Stand Your Ground Laws that got the most attention over the past few weeks to earn a spot on the top tweet list.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, also tweeted about the Gunshine state’s tourism campaign. Shout out and thanks to whoever created the graphic:

Man Gets New Trial In Murder Of Neighbor On Basketball Court

In November 2012, Trevor Dooley, now 75-years-old, was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 8 years in prison for the September, 2010 murder of a neighbor, 41-years-old David James, on a basketball court – as James’ 8-year-old daughter watched. Dooley was convicted in 2013, and served three years and three months of his sentence in prison.

Dooley’s first appeal was denied, but the Tampa Bay Times reports a second appeal has been granted because of an ineffective appellate lawyer and “erroneous” wording in the jury instructions on the justifiable use of deadly force. In Florida, that’s known as the “stand your ground” law.

Xena is following this case and posted this update on her website at We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

by Xena

(l) Trevor Dooley booking photo (credit: Florida Dept of Corrections); (r)David James (family photo)
(l) Trevor Dooley booking photo (credit: Florida Dept of Corrections); (r)David James (family photo)

When I heard that Trayvon Martin was killed, and that his killer was claiming Florida’s stand your ground defense, that law piqued my interest.  I had not heard of stand your ground and wanted to know of other cases in Florida where the defendant claimed that defense.

Among the cases I found was that of Trevor Dooley.  On January 23, 2013, I wrote an article on the significance of the Dooley decision.  It is a Florida case where the defendant claimed self-defense….

Read full story at We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident

 

 

Why Stand Your Ground Laws Won’t Stop A Mass Shooting

After each mass shooting in America, a voice is heard somewhere in the wilderness of the gun control debate preaching the myth that “nothing stops a bad guy but a good guy with a gun.” This worn-out statement has been used in support of stand your ground laws, but it’s unlikely stand your ground laws would stop a mass shooting.

The good guy myth is repeated by the gun lobby – like a sales pitch for a reliable car – almost every time there’s a high-profile murder of innocent people, or a vigilante kills a perp, and it’s simply not true.

In the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, at the Pulse night club in Orlando, we heard it again. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, an NRA supporter, is likely to have said it again by the time you read this.

Stand your ground is dangerous

Some gun owners may argue that engaging a threat is the best solution. In Florida – the birthplace of “stand your ground” laws – it’s highly possible that several patrons or employees of the night club were armed, and reports are that an armed security guard fired back at the gunman during the frenzy. It’s unclear if the club had a system to check for weapons at the entrance.

Scene of Pulse nightclub shooting
Scene of Pulse nightclub shooting (photo credit: Orlando Police Dept.)

Chances are, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, like any other mass shooter, probably didn’t bother to make a normal entrance on his hours-long rampage, as he killed 49 people and wounded 53 others. it was only when police fired on him that the shooting ended.

Stand your ground law relieves a person of a duty to retreat. That means there is no obligation to try and escape any danger or call police in the face of a threat. It allows for the use of deadly force to meet deadly force.

SEE: About Stand Your Ground Law

It means the law may be on the good guy’s side even if he’s not the intended target of a gunman. There have been several cases where the “good guy” saved the day. A Good Samaritan can also be killed while trying to come to the rescue of others, as what happened outside a Dallas, Texas store last month.

No warning, lots of firepower

But without any warning or firepower to match, who can stand their ground against an AR-15 assault rifle firing 45 rounds a minute – a weapon designed for war – wielded by a crazed gunman intent on carnage?

Mass shootings in U.S.
Mass shootings in U.S. (graphic credit: L.A. Times)

Some research suggests that a “good guy with a gun” may not even be aware of a threat until it’s too late. In a mass shooting, there is usually no warning, in which case the good guy role is dangerously ineffective at least.

At it’s deadliest worst, there is also an increased chance during an active shooter situation that any number of innocent people may be hurt or killed by “friendly fire” from an untrained civilian – who happens to be a “good guy with a gun”. There could also be criminal or civil legal repercussions.

To successfully meet force with force, there must be some type of warning and an equal or better effective and accurate amount of force used to stop a bad guy with an AR-15. In almost every mass shooting of recent years (including the Newtown school shooting, the movie theater shooting in Aurora, and the San Bernardino  shooting) it was the shooter’s weapon of choice.

Yet the NRA, the AR-15’s most avid supporter, has opposed any efforts to keep assault weapons out of the hands of bloodthirsty maniacs. In the immediate aftermath of the worst mass shooting in our memory, the organization was unusually quiet and offered no expressions of sympathy for the victims.

Manufacturers of these high-powered weapons of war are facing lawsuits from some families. Families of Sandy Hook victims have filed lawsuits against gun manufacturers they say made a weapon that shouldn’t be sold to civilians. In response to the Orlando shooting, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said “It reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets.”

There should be state and federal bans on assault-type weapons designed more for war than for hunting, such as was in effect from 1994 to 2004. It’s estimated that there are millions of these weapons in circulation. Efforts to reinstitute the ban have been underway but encounter resistance from the gun lobby.

Only lawmakers can help

Unfortunately, it appears that mass shootings do little to change state gun laws, even when we say enough is enough. Many politicians only use phrases like “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting, when action is what’s needed.

It’s up to lawmakers in each state who recklessly feed into NRA rhetoric and NRA money to act now – with urgency – and address the epidemic of gun violence by enacting gun laws for safety that may protect us. Anything less will continue to diminish our pursuit of happiness.

Having a stand your ground law can’t help stop a mass shooting, but sensible gun laws can help. We must hold state lawmakers responsible if they want our votes. We must demand that they take action to make America SAFE again.

Vietnam Vet Kills Young Man Who “Verbally Threatened” Him

Gun empowerment continues to give others an excuse to use gun violence. A 69-year-old Indiana man was charged with murder after he shot and killed a 27-year-old man who he said “verbally threatened” him on a downtown South Bend, Indiana street.

Police say Michael Young, of Mishawaka, Indiana, who is white, fatally shot Markest Flowers, an African-American, in the face about 10:30 p.m. on May 31, after the younger man allegedly uttered some threatening words to him during an altercation. Police have not said whether or not the incident was racially motivated.

Michael Young
Michael Young booking photo

It’s unclear what was said, but witnesses reported that Flowers, wearing a backpack, was walking back and forth holding a plastic cup as Young followed, when Young, a small man who stands at 5′ 7″ and weighs 150 pounds, grabbed Flowers by the backpack, spun him around, then without hesitation fired a shot point-blank into Flowers’ skull.

Young reportedly told police he was surprised when the gun went off but said he had experience firing the weapon, and admitted Flowers had not displayed a weapon or tried to physically attack him, but had “verbally threatened” him.

At a preliminary hearing on June 2nd, Young, who appeared without legal counsel, told a judge he is a Vietnam veteran who suffers from PTSD, and said he plans to hire a private attorney. He entered a plea of not guilty. No bond information was available. Young is due back in court June 16. It’s unclear if he will pursue a claim of self-defense.

Lawyers Seek New Trial For Michael Dunn In Jordan Davis Murder

After receiving a fourth extension of time to file initial appeal briefs, attorneys for Michael Dunn finally did so, and asked a panel of three judges at Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals on June 7 to throw out his conviction in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis.

Dunn fatally shot the teenager at a Jacksonville gas station on November, 23, 2012 after a confrontation over loud music coming from a vehicle Davis was sitting in with three friends.

Michael Dunn
Michael Dunn (photo credit: Bruce Lipsky, Florida Times-Union)

Dunn was originally convicted on February 15, 2014 of the attempted murders of Davis’ friends, but a jury deadlocked on whether Dunn was guilty of Davis’ murder. A new jury convicted Dunn of first-degree murder on October 1, 2014.

Dunn is serving a life sentence (with no chance of parole) for the shootings at an undisclosed Florida prison. He was not present at the appeal hearing. It could be weeks or even months before the appeals court issues a ruling. Read the full story at jacksonville.com

 

Mom Who Killed Daughter Holding Baby Is Sentenced

In the final chapter to a heartbreaking story, a Florida mother was sentenced on yesterday (June 6) to serve 13 years in jail for fatally shooting her daughter a few days before Thanksgiving in 2013.

Adele Bing, 54, of Winter Haven, Florida, had been charged with second degree murder, shooting a deadly weapon, domestic violence with aggravated battery, and child neglect without great bodily harm. She entered a plea of guilty on May 25 to the lesser charge of manslaughter with a deadly weapon for the death of her daughter, 25-year-old Ruby Bing, and to aggravated battery (without firearm) on her boyfriend.

SEE: Mother Shoots Through Door, Kills Daughter Holding Baby

Adele Bing will receive credit for 270 days already served, and be on probation for 10 years after she is released.

Adele Bing
Adele Bing (Polk County Fla. Police booking photo)

On November 25th, 2013 Adele Bing had a fight with her boyfriend, during which she hit him in the head. Bing told police he left, telling her he’d be back to kill her. He instead went to a hospital for treatment of his injury.

While he was at the hospital, Adele Bing claimed she heard a banging and kicking at her apartment door, and, thinking it was the boyfriend, went to the door holding a baseball bat in one hand and a .22 caliber pistol in the other. At the door was her daughter, 25-year-old Ruby, who was holding Adele’s 4-month-old grandchild.

Ruby Bing (facebook photo)
Ruby Bing (facebook photo)

Bing told police that as she opened the door, the gun accidentally went off, hitting Ruby with a single shot to the chest. She died at the scene. Luckily, the baby wasn’t hurt. Police arrived to find Adele Bing cradling Ruby’s body, begging her to wake up.

She reportedly made a statement to police that it was a “f–up accident” and stated, “How can I look my grandkids in their face and say I killed their mother? Y’all can lock me away for good.”

This and other recent incidents underscore the importance of gun safety and dangers of approaching a door in supposed “fear” while holding a gun, and of banging on a door at night, heightening the likelihood that a deadly encounter or a self-defense incident may occur.