One of the most infamous trials in modern history ended on July 13th, 2013. A Florida neighborhood watchman was acquitted in the murder of an unarmed high school teenager.
Now, five years later, a six-episode television series from Paramount Pictures – “Rest In Power: The Trayvon Martin Story” – is coming this July. Executive producers are Trayvon Martin’s parents, Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin, along with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, Chachi Senior, Michael Gasparro, Jenner Furst, Julia Willoughby Nason, and Nick Sandow.
The series is based on “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin” a book by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, and the network claims it will delve into the killing of Trayvon Martin with a “story about race, politics, power, money and the U.S. criminal justice system”.
Among the myriad of stories pouring in about dangerous Pokemon Go game experiences happening in the world of AR (Augmented Reality), along comes news from Florida (of course) about a real-world “stand your ground” type of incident which fortunately was not deadly – but could have been.
According to a report from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, on Saturday morning (July 16) about 1:30 a.m., a man fired several shots at the car of two young men who were playing Pokemon Go outside his home in Palm Coast, Florida.
The 37-year-old man said he was awakened by a noise, looked outside his home, and saw a white car. He thought that two teenagers, 19 and 16-year-old, were burglars ransacking houses when he reportedly heard them ask each other “Did you get anything?”
The man told police that he stepped in front of the vehicle and ordered the teens not to move. He said the vehicle accelerated toward him, causing him to jump out of the way. He then fired a gun several times at the vehicle because he thought they were trying to run over him.
The teens reportedly later told police that before the shooting they heard someone ask, “Did you catch him?” and one of the teens said, “Yeah, did you?”
They heard the gunfire as they sped off. They didn’t call police or tell their parents because they weren’t injured and had not seen any damage to the car.
But in the light of day, when the vehicle was found to have a flat tire and several bullet holes, they realized how deadly the encounter could have been, and the mother of one of the teens then called police.
Due to Florida’s infamous stand your ground law, it’s unlikely the unidentified homeowner will be arrested or face any charges, but it is possible.
law enforcement officials everywhere advise citizens to call 911 immediately with as much information as possible when you suspect someone is trying to break into your home, and avoid leaving the protection of your home to confront suspects.
Here are additional tips from Flagler County Sheriff’s Department:
Pokemon Go players are urged to follow these safety guidelines
Use common sense, be alert at all times and stay aware of your surroundings. In law enforcement, we call this situational awareness.
Watch where you are going.
Do not drive or ride your bike, skateboard, or another device while interacting with the Pokemon Go app. You cannot do both safely at the same time.
Do not trespass, go onto private property or into any area you usually, would not if you weren’t playing Pokemon Go.
Understand that people can use your location to lure you to “PokeStops” so they can victimize you.
Take a friend with you.
If you are a minor, check with a parent before going anywhere and tell an adult or law enforcement officer immediately if anything happens.
Parents of Pokemon Go players
Talk to your kids about strangers and set limits on where your kids go.
Be aware of third-party software apps claiming to enhance the gaming experience. Unfortunately, many of these apps allow access to sensitive personal data.
Curtis Reeves, Jr. will probably never again be a free man. He will likely die behind bars – or perhaps while out of prison on house arrest – in a stand your ground case that’s taking a noticeably long time to go to trial.
Reeves – a retired Tampa, Florida police captain and former SWAT leader – was charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault. But he asserts that he fired in self-defense and is claiming immunity under Florida’s notorious stand your ground law.
If convicted, he faces a life sentence. But at his age, even pleading guilty to a lesser charge could mean that he will die behind bars, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Now, almost three years, dozens of court sessions, and multiple depositions after the fatal shooting, it may seem as if Reeves’ defense team is trying to keep him out of prison as long as they can.
“(This case) should have gone a long time ago,” Pinellas-Pasco Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett told the Tampa Bay Times. “Factually, it’s just not that complicated. It happened in a movie theater, in a matter of minutes, and it’s over and done with.” Bartlett said the stand your ground phase of a case like this is typically decided within 18 months or two years at most.
A stand your ground hearing 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. Now, Judge Barthle has set a date of February 20, 2017.
Reeves’ defense attorney Richard Escobar denies any deliberate stall tactics and attributes the delays to the complexity of the case and a multitude of some 170 witnesses.
Escobar is hopelessly optimistic about what seems to be a clear case of murder, and once said he thinks Reeves has a “pretty solid stand your ground case.” He told the Tampa Bay Times, “We believe that when we go to trial, Mr. Reeves will be acquitted of all charges.” Read the Tampa Bay Times story.
NOTE: This article was edited after it was originally posted to include the third paragraph.
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.
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.
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 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.
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….
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Adele Bing will receive credit for 270 days already served, and be on probation for 10 years after she is released.
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.
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.
(Correction: This article as originally published incorrectly named Judge Susan Barthle as having granted the defense motion to not file depositions. This has been changed as of June 8, 2016 to correctly name Judge Anthony Rondolino. Apologies for this oversight)
Florida Sixth Circuit Court Judge Anthony Rondolino has granted a motion by the defense in the theater shooting that allows attorneys for retired Tampa police captain Curtis Reeves to not file depositions from witnesses and others who may be deposed in relation to the case. Judge Rondolino’s May 24 ruling ensures that any pre-trial depositions will no longer be available for public scrutiny.
Reeves is claiming self-defense under Florida’s stand your ground law, saying he fired on Oulson after the younger man threw an “unknown object” at him, which turned out to be a box of popcorn, and presumably a cell phone.
The defense motion, filed April 29, asserted that the case had become a matter of public interest, and that news reports had contained incorrect, mischaracterized and/or otherwise inadmissible information. State prosecutors had responded by filing motions of their own against the defense motions.
Reeves’ attorneys had claimed that public access to depositions would violate the privacy of those who are deposed, and that media coverage leading up to any trial could potentially prejudice any prospective jury or harm Reeves, so he wouldn’t get a fair trial.
They also claimed that forcing them to file the depositions would cause a “wholly unpredictable and potentially devastating chain reaction in the media,” because the depositions contain “prejudicial, inadmissible, inflammatory, irrelevant, inaccurate, unreliable, demonstrably incorrect & false statements.”
Reeves’ attorneys argued that there was there was no possibility of media outlets not publicizing these things, which could possibly prejudice any potential jurors should the case go to trial.
Attorneys for the former cop charged with killing a man & shooting the man’s wife in what is called the “popcorn shooting” have filed a motion to stop public access to court records as a stand your ground hearing approaches. They claim that media coverage leading up to a trial may prejudice prospective jurors.
Retired Tampa Police Department Captain Curtis Judson Reeves, 73 years-old, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree battery in the shooting death of 43-year-old Chad Oulson and wounding of Oulson’s wife, Nicole. The incident happened inside a movie theater in Pasco County on January 13, 2014 during an argument.
Reeves is claiming self-defense under Florida’s stand your ground law, saying he fired on Oulson after the younger man threw an “unknown object” at him, which turned out to be a box of popcorn, and presumably a cell phone. Circuit Court Judge Susan L. Barthle has set the stand your ground hearing in the case for May 26.
As part of preparation for any trial, attorneys for both sides must usually take depositions from witnesses and any other parties involved. Florida’s courts require the attorneys to file transcripts of such depositions.
Reeves’ defense attorney, Richard Escobar, has requested authorization to not file depositions with the court, asserting that the case has “become a matter of public interest.” The attorney’s motion states that news reports of the case “containing incorrect, mischaracterized and/or otherwise inadmissible information have already been published.” The request contends that media coverage leading up to this “high-profile” trial may prejudice any prospective jury, and cause “actual and irreparable harm” to Reeves, therefore he would not get a fair trial.
Escobar maintains that the forced filing of depositions from witnesses, law enforcement, & others will “cause a wholly unpredictable and potentially devastating chain reaction of media coverage, and that the deposition transcripts contain “prejudicial, inadmissible, inflammatory, irrelevant, inaccurate, unreliable, and demonstrably incorrect and false statements,” and that there is “no realistic possibility that news media will refrain from publicizing this,” prejudicing potential jurors.
The attorney claims that public access to court records, which contain numerous depositions, would also violate the privacy rights of those who are deposed.
State prosecutors have responded by filing motions requesting that the court not grant Reeves’ attorneys the request to not file depositions with the court. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 19, one week before the scheduled stand your ground hearing.
In the U.S., Florida’s “stand your ground” law is only promoting brutal murder and is disguised as self-defense there and in many other states nationwide. Instead of Americans just running away from danger, they face it and pull the trigger, claiming that the person they shot dead was killed because they feared for their life, using the gun in self-defense.
Ever since the groundbreaking incident happened between shooter George Zimmerman and now deceased Trayvon Martin, Americans have been acting quite differently after the court ruled in Zimmerman’s favor, claiming that the “stand your ground” law protected him from being convicted of murder.
In fact, the controversial law has been in place for at least 10 years in 26 states. After the ruling in Trayvon’s case, aggressors took note of how to get away with the harshest crime yet – murdering someone in cold blood during an altercation, then claiming to be in fear for their life, and that it was in self-defense.
Taking into account all of the incidents in which people have invoked stand your ground law, it becomes clear that an unarmed person can be shot dead in America, just because somebody thought the other person might possibly be armed.
To make it even less of a blur to understand, Florida’s self-defense statute states that, “A person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”
Sadly but true, “stand your ground” defenses have been on the rise in Florida in recent years. Research found that it has happened over 200 times since the introduction of the policy in 2005 and has been used 70 percent of the time. Unsurprisingly enough, a Tampa Bay Times 2012 study pointed out that not only have “stand your ground” cases been on the rise in Florida, but so have gun sales.
Americans could be on the brink of losing their lives if they make a naturally aggressive person angry, who also happens to be in possession of a firearm. If a person disagrees with the manner in which someone else is acting, they can shoot them, as maybe many think irrational or unexplainable behavior must mean violent, deadly behavior.
Sadly enough, it is unknown how many more states will introduce a type of “stand your ground” law or how many Americans will take advantage of this “free pass”, allowing them to get away with murder, granted they fear for their lives.
Unfortunately, we cannot ask people killed by someone invoking the law if he was in fear of his life and knew what the person using the law – who got off the hook – really had in mind. Society will never know their accounts of the day they were killed.
So, one matter remains clear: as long as the notorious “stand your ground” law stands strong in America, more innocent lives will be lost due to someone else’s exaggerated fear.
This article was originally published on March 26, 2014 by Voice of Russia, and is used according to terms set forth by Voice of Russia/Sputnik News. It has been edited and condensed from its original version for literary, interpretative, grammatical & timely relevance.