Ethics, Florida, Politics

Murder and Stand Your Ground

Tuesday, 9th February 2021

https://www.orlandosentinel.com/opinion/scott-maxwell-commentary/os-prem-op-modell-killing-stand-your-ground-florida-scott-maxwell-20210209-ym6iu5odvjdc3hob3kzi3ygpou-story.html

New developments in the case of a former student of mine. His son was killed on a night he was drunk and confused, and tried to get into what he thought was his house but wasn’t. The resident argued with him, and this guy wandered off down the street. The resident of that house called the police and was told to stay in his house. He didn’t. He pursued him down the street and shot him in the driveway of another house, killing him on the spot.

No charges were ever brought in this case, even though this looks like a murder, because we are in Florida, and we have the Stand Your Ground law, which basically allows you to kill anyone if you feel at all threatened. Ok, that’s an overstatement, I know, but that’s how it seems to be working out in practice. And that’s the issue here. The father, my former student, wants the case to be tried. That’s what he is asking for. He believes the facts stand on their own, and this should at least have its day in court. I agree with him. And, so apparently does the homicide detective who worked on the case.

Not that it matters to the case, but my student, the young man’s father, also lost his wife to cancer right around the time this happened (a little before). So, it’s been a hard road. I’m hoping that this case can cause the politicians to rethink the reasonableness of having a law that allows this to happen. The current state government won’t change anything (being enthusiastic Trumpians, especially the governor), but that doesn’t mean that there can’t be other kinds of pressure.

I’m aware that any misstep in this place could result in serious things happening. It’s far, far worse if you are black, or trans, or poor, or a member of any other group that routinely is targeted by those who are self-appointed lawkeepers. If the person killed had been in one of these groups, there would have been all sorts of ways to brush it under the rug. He’s white, male, well-off (his father was a hedge fund manager). He’s not so easily brushed under the rug. That’s why this story is getting press. But if it can change this law in Florida, that would be a good thing.

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