Today, almost every state that had Jim Crow laws from 1876 to 1965 now has some form of “shoot first” or stand your ground law. In the history of the United States of America, no practice of law has caused more controversy, grief, injustice, and shame than Jim Crow laws, which were state and local laws enforcing racial segregation in the South.
The practice existed for 75 years, until 1965, after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Jim Crow laws followed the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and liberties of African-Americans.
During it’s time, Jim Crow law encouraged prejudice, enabled discrimination, and deprived Black Americans of even the most basic qualities of life.
Segregation by race affected everything from the U.S. military and federal facilities to all public places, including schools, restrooms, restaurants, housing, and public transportation. Even drinking fountains were segregated.
The goal of this tweet posted on twitter was to show the irony of having stand your ground laws in today’s racially charged society, and many tweeps noticed it. I didn’t do the graphic. Props to the creator.
A paradigm of just how badly stand your ground can go wrong is when a Black man brutally attacked by a group of White men is charged with murder, testifies that he didn’t intend to kill one, but did, and then a judge decides he is not immune from prosecution – because the self-defense was unintentional.
It happened in Georgia, and the story of Jesse Murray, as revealed in media and police reports, goes beyond blatant disregard for the stand your ground law he tried to use, after becoming the victim of a brutal racist attack.
It reportedly all begins at a sports bar in Clayton County, Georgia, where 33-year-old Murray met with his estranged wife, Traci, for a meal, to discuss their relationship and children. The couple had once been regular customers of the business and were known by employees there.
After their meal, the Murrays tried their hand at a game of pool while having a few drinks, as a party was taking place nearby. Nathan Adams, a White male who was allegedly drunk, along with a woman, stumbled into Traci, and Murray, who is Black, tried to stop them from falling.
Adams – who just happened to be an ex-cop – offered no apologies, but allegedly warned Murray not to touch him again, as Murray stood between Traci and Adams and told him to get away from his wife.
A drunken Adams reportedly told Murray, “You need to f*cking leave” as four other White men, apparently Adams’ friends, appeared to surround Murray, and Adams pushed him in the chest.
Murray said he walked away from the men, went outside to his car, grabbed his licensed handgun and headed back toward the entrance to go back inside to bring his wife Traci out. He put the gun in his pocket.
As he tried to go back into the bar, Adams’ group blocked the door. Murray told the men to let his wife come out of the bar, but they refused, and instead moved toward him into the parking lot.
Several men accused of attacking Murray reportedly claimed they were concerned Murray was going to get a gun, had made threatening statements, and had called the woman who was with Adams an offensive name.
WSB-TV reports that Murray testified, “I was scared. I was definitely, at that moment, I was in fear. I was scared,” He also said, “They just made trouble happen for no reason.”
Adams threw a punch at Murray and all four men jumped in, kicking punching, and tackling Murray to the ground, then choking him as Adams held him by the arm.
In chilling court testimony, Murray testified that, “As he [Adams] was pulling on me I just remember him grunting.” Murray said soon after that Adams appeared to reach for (or his hands got close to) the gun in Murray’s pocket.
“At that point, when I pulled back, that’s when my gun discharges.” Murray was then able to escape – as one of the men shot at him – and run to a nearby business, from where he called police.
When police arrived, Murray surrendered his weapon and tried to explain what happened, but was handcuffed by the responding officer. While Murray was cuffed, one of Adams’ friends allegedly ran up and punched Murray in the head.
Responding officers didn’t arrest the man who punched Murray, who was then placed into a patrol car, as a white officer (off-duty and out of uniform) – who was another of Adams’ friends – arrived on the scene, and shouted, “Do you know who we are? We’re going to fry your black ass!” reports rollingout.com.
Adams was pronounced dead at a hospital. Murray was transported to jail, where he was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated assault. No one else was charged with a crime that night.
After a stand your ground hearing in June, Clayton County Superior Court Judge Albert R. Collier denied stand your ground immunity for Murray, stating that Murray was not in fear for his life. If convicted, he now faces up to 15 years in prison.
The judge responded that it doesn’t appear to the court “that the other men in the vicinity were acting in such a way that would cause the defendant to reasonably believe that deadly force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or a third party.”
The Judge’s ruling also states that, “The court cannot reconcile the defendants asking for immunity under a self-defense statute, by stating that the use of deadly force was justified, and then also stating that the use of deadly force was unintentional.”
Murray’s defense attorney Mawuli Mel Davis plans to file a Motion to Reconsider.
As the trial of Michael Dunn gets underway on February 3, Lucia Mcbath, the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, is making the rounds of network interviews, preparing for Dunn’s trial and telling the story of her fight to change or end stand your ground laws to anyone who’ll listen.
Yet, Mcbath and Jordan’s father Ron Davis have been tirelessly and emotionally sharing their story across the country since the tragedy, to gain support and awareness in the struggle for gun control and against stand your ground laws.
It’s happening all across America. Whether by a gun, a knife, or other means, far too many people are killed every year by others who have the option to invoke “stand your ground” immunity to try and avoid prosecution.
These amended self-defense laws can allow someone to manipulate a scenario that allows them to cause great bodily harm or take another’s life.
The Movement to End Stand Your Ground is releasing a new 35-second video, “All Across America” today, with images of unarmed “stand your ground” victims, to help call attention to this. Check it out, then share it with everyone you know:
2013 was the year stand your ground law became a national controversial issue. A case could fall into this category if a person who takes a life claims self-defense under stand your ground laws or may have the option to invoke the law. Here are some of the most shocking incidents that made headlines:
CLICK THE VICTIM’S NAME FOR MORE DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT
On November 27, 2013 Ronald Westbrook, a 72-year-old man with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, wandered four miles away from home with his dogs in the middle of the night. He jiggled the doorknob and rang the doorbell of a home in Walker County, Georgia, alerting the resident, Joe Hendrix, 34, who went outside.
Hendrix said that he saw a figure walking toward him in the darkness, ordered the man to stop several times, and fired his weapon, killing Westbrook, who was not armed. Hendrix was cleared of all charges on February 28, 2014.
On November 2nd, 2013 Renisha Mcbride, a 19-year-old woman fresh out of high school, had wrecked her car in predominately white Detroit suburb of Dearborn Heights. She may have been confused or impaired, but walked into the neighborhood. She didn’t come out alive.
Theodore Wafer, a 46-year-old resident, claims he heard banging on his door, went to the door with a 12-gauge shotgun, and Mcbride, who was unarmed, was shot in the face. Wafer said the gun went off accidentally. He was found guilty of second-degree murder, manslaughter with intent but without malice and felony use of a firearm on Aug. 7, 2014 and received a sentence of 17 to 32 years in prison.
After getting off from work at a restaurant on October 6th, 2013, 22-year-old Jandei Cherry and a couple of co-workers go to the beach in Hollywood, Florida for a pre-dawn swim. While there, Jandei got into some kind of argument with one of the others. When he came out of the water after skinny-dipping, his clothes, cell phone, and other belongings were gone.
Jandei started a ten-mile trek home without his clothes on. A motorist, Duke Laguerre, 29, driving with his girlfriend, saw him, turned around, and claims that after asking the naked man if he was OK several times, Cherry, who was not armed, held on to the window as Laguerre tried to roll it up. Laguerre said he fired a shot, shattering the window and striking Cherry, who later died at a hospital. Laguerre has never been arrested or charged.
Jennifer Alfonso, 26 and Derek Medina, 31, appeared to be a loving married couple, from the content smiles they posted in facebook pictures. But on August 8th, 2013 something went terribly wrong in Miami, and friends found a picture Medina posted on facebook of Alfonso’s dead body.
Medina had shot Alfonso several times, then posted a rant saying his wife was punching him, and “I’m not going to stand anymore with the abuse.” Neither could Alfonso; she was lying dead face up on the kitchen floor. Medina claims Alfonso had pulled a kitchen knife on him minutes before he killed her.
On July 22nd, 2013 Shanequia Mcdonald, a 23-year-old Houston woman pulled into a gas station and was approached by 58-year-old Lewis Daniel, who she claims made unwanted sexual advances toward her.
In surveillance video Daniel can be seen approaching Mcdonald, who claims he had a knife in his hand. She backs up, he takes a few steps back, and she is seen going into the trunk of her car, taking out a shotgun, then, as Daniel moves toward her, she fires a shot, killing him instantly.
What happens next is equally shocking: Mcdonald calmly walks back to the trunk, puts the shotgun inside, gets a camera out of her car, takes a photo of Daniels’ body, gets back into her car, and drives off.
(This article was updated on 5/6/2016 for timely reference, then again on 5/31/2016 to include the outcomes of each case if available)
[UPDATE: January 16. 2014 – Ted Wafer entered a plea of not guilty on January 15, and a trial is scheduled to begin June 2nd]
A man charged in the shooting death of 19-year-old Renisha Mcbride last month after she banged on his door will face trial on charges of second-degree murder after two days of testimony before Judge David Turfe to decide whether the case should go to trial.
Mcbride, a 5′ 4″, 2012 Southfield High School graduate, had wrecked her car in the early morning hours of November 2nd. Toxicology reports show she had a blood alcohol content of 0.218%, more than twice the legal limit, and a trace amount of marijuana in her body.
Mcbride walked up to the home of Theodore Wafer, 46, in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Wafer fired through his door, and reportedly claimed he thought it was a burglar and that his shotgun discharged by accident. He has been free on bond since he was charged with second-degree murder manslaughter, and felony firearm on November 15th. The families of both Wafer and Mcbride attended the hearing.
A medical examiner, a crime scene reconstruction expert, a police detective, firearms expert, witnesses to the car accident, and friends of Mcbride were called to testify during the hearing. The defense appeared to try and sway blame for the incident to Mcbride, using her state of mind that night to display aggressive behavior that would justify Wafer’s actions.
Evidence included the 12-gauge shotgun used to kill Mcbride on his porch, the screen door through which the fatal shot was fired, an NRA pamphlet, shotgun shells, and photos of Mcbride’s damaged car showing airbags deployed as well as a cracked windshield.
The screen door had smudges allegedly caused by Mcbride.The windshield appeared to have a web pattern as though hit from a center point that spread out. Det. Sgt. Stephen Gurka said it’s possible her head hit the windshield.
Assistant Wayne County Medical Examiner Kilak Kesha testified that a person could be incoherent, confused or more aggressive due to any brain damage.
He said they have not been able to establish whether Mcbride had any head injuries from the car accident that could have affected her state of mind, since the gunshot wound to her head caused damage that eliminated any brain damage determination. He said that there was no exit wound.
David Balash, a firearms expert, said the fatal shot was fired from close range, and it may have been from as close as two feet away.
A witness, Carmen Beasly, who called 911 after hearing “a loud boom” outside her house, testified that she went outside and saw McBride holding her head and staggering as she walked away from a 2004 Ford Focus that had crashed into Beasly’s husband’s car.
She said Mcbride came back 5 or 10 minutes later. She said she talked to Mcbride, who had blood on her hands, possibly from her arm, but that Mcbride didn’t know where she was.
Beasly asked if she was OK, and Mcbride said yes, then searched for her cell phone but couldn’t find it. Beasly described Mcbride as “discombobulated” and heard Mcbride say more than once that “I just want to go home”, but that the young lady walked away again as Beasly was calling 911 a second time. Beasly and another witness testified that Mcbride was never hostile.
No one knows Mcbride’s whereabouts from 1:30 a.m. until about 4:42 a.m. that morning, when Wafer called police to say he had shot someone.
A friend who was with Mcbride earlier in the night said she had left Mcbride’s home after they drank half a bottle of vodka and got into an argument. Another friend said she was supposed to pick him up from work, and they had spoken by phone, but that Mcbride’s voice was slurred, as if she was drunk.
He said he wondered if someone had slipped something into a drink she may have had. Both friends testified that Mcbride’s actions that fateful night were uncharacteristic.
In ordering the case held over for trial, Judge Turfe said Wafer could have avoided the confrontation. “He could have not answered the door. He could have called for help. He chose to shoot rather than not answer the door,” Judge Turfe said. He said the defendant made a bad choice when there were other reasonable opportunities.
Based on testimony and reasoning, Judge Turfe said that he believes the prosecutors met the burden of proof showing probable cause to go to trial on charges that Wafer committed the crimes of second-degree murder and manslaughter. The trial date is set for June 2, 2014.
In a case that could have stand your ground implications, a young man running home naked after his clothes were taken died after being shot by a motorist who has never been charged.
Jandei Cherry, 22, a Pembroke Pines, Florida man, had been skinny-dipping on a beach with co-workers after getting off from work at a restaurant, and got into some type of argument with one of them, who took off with his belongings, leaving Cherry to take a ten-mile run home with no clothes on.
Cherry was spotted running down a Hollywood, Florida street naked sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. on October 6th by Duke Laguerre, 29, and a female passenger, who circled back and stopped to ask if he was OK. Police said there is no indication the two men knew each other. There are few details of what happened next, since there were no other witnesses.
But, according to documents obtained by The Sun-Sentinel, Laguerre told police he asked several times if Cherry was OK, and that Cherry grabbed the car window, pulling on it as Laguerre tried to roll the window up.
Laguerre said Cherry then reached into his car and grabbed his shoulder. Laguerre reached into his console, grabbed a Glock 9 mm handgun and fired. shattering the window. Laguerre drove away, called a friend, and then his stepfather, who told him to call 911.
Cherry was shot in the stomach. A passing policeman found him on the ground in the pre-dawn darkness. He was awake and talking but later pronounced dead at a hospital. Laguerre returned to the scene.
His passenger corroborated his story and said she recorded some of the incident on her cellphone. Cherry’s co-worker brought the victim’s clothes, wallet, a skateboard, and other belongings to the restaurant the next day.
He leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter and a distressed mother. Now, his family wants answers, and someone held accountable. They wonder why Laguerre has not been arrested. The family has started a facebook page, Justice4Jandei, and a petition on Change.org calling on Florida authorities to charge Laguerre in the case.
UPDATE: This article has been edited to include the words “never been charged” into the first sentence.