SANFORD, Florida — The shooting death of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has not been the first time a grown man has used Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law as a defense against a teenage boy.
In a press release, the City of Sanford City Manager Norton N. Bonaparte, Jr. set forth the reason to the question, “Why was George Zimmerman not arrested the night of the shooting?”
This is the City of Sanford’s official answer to that question:
“When the Sanford Police Department arrived at the scene of the incident, Mr. Zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self defense which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony. By Florida Statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time.
Additionally, when any police officer makes an arrest for any reason, the officer MUST swear and affirm that he/she is making the arrest in good faith and with probable cause. If the arrest is done maliciously and in bad faith, the officer and the City may be held liable.
According to Florida Statute 776.032 :
776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of
(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is
justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for
the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law
enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of
his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with
any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that
the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal
prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the
(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of
force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using
force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was
unlawful.” (Emphasis added).
Florida Statute 776.013 is the “Stand Your Ground’ law which provides:
776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.—
(1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
(2) The presumption set forth in subsection (1) does not apply if:
(a) The person against whom the defensive force is used has the right to be in or is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle, such as an owner, lessee, or titleholder, and there is not an injunction for protection from domestic violence or a written pretrial supervision order of no contact against that person; or
(b) The person or persons sought to be removed is a child or grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or under the lawful guardianship of, the person against whom the defensive force is used; or
(c) The person who uses defensive force is engaged in an unlawful activity or is using the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle to further an unlawful activity; or
(d) The person against whom the defensive force is used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who enters or attempts to enter a dwelling, residence, or vehicle in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person entering or attempting to enter was a law enforcement officer.
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
(4) A person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force or violence.
(5) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Dwelling” means a building or conveyance of any kind, including any attached porch, whether the building or conveyance is temporary or permanent, mobile or immobile, which has a roof over it, including a tent, and is designed to be occupied by people lodging therein at night.
(b) “Residence” means a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily or permanently or is visiting as an invited guest.
(c) “Vehicle” means a conveyance of any kind, whether or not motorized, which is designed to transport people or property.
Just last month, a Brevard County man used the ‘Stand Your Ground’ defense in the infamous video-taped beating of a teenage boy in Palm Bay, Florida.
After acquiring a video of the fight where Johnson is seen punching the teen, Palm Bay Police arrested 35-year-old Gary Leroy Johnson. Johnson faced two third-degree felony counts of child abuse, one first-degree felony count of aggravated child abuse, a second-degree felony count of aggravated battery, and three additional misdemeanor charges.
In that case, Johnson, through his attorney, had filed a motion to dismiss based on Florida’s 2005 ‘Stand Your Ground’ law which allows a Florida resident to meet force with force if that person feels it necessary to protect himself rather than first attempting to retreat from the scene.
However, a jury ultimately found Johnson guilty of 6 of the 7 criminal counts. The one count that the jury found Johnson not guilty was the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Below are the You Tube videos of George Zimmerman’s 911 call related to the shooting of Trayvon Martin along with the video of the teen beating: