Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law is what has allowed many people to literally get away with murder, as we saw in 2012 when George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager whose only crime was having brown skin. But now, the Sunshine State was doubling down on that law — referred to as a license to kill with impunity — by extending it’s courtesy to police officers, who were already heavily protected from criminal prosecution following suspicious shootings.
The Stand Your Ground law, which can be found in multiple states, is egregiously tilted in favor of white people, who make up 36 percent of the nation’s gun owners. And the legal wording describing it is quite troubling.
A “person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony,” the infamous self-defense law states. “A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in a criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.”
Given that description, the Florida Supreme Court thought it would be totally logical to include the state’s police officers in that protective equation, the Associated Press reported.
“Simply put, a law enforcement officer is a ‘person’ whether on duty or off, and irrespective of whether the officer is making an arrest,” Justice Alan Lawson wrote Thursday in the unanimous decision. “In common understanding, ‘person’ refers to a ‘human being,’ which is not occupation-specific and plainly includes human beings serving as law enforcement officers.”
The ruling in the case of a police officer who killed a Black man for having an air rifle (even though Florida is an open carry state) had immediate implications for the state’s cops under similar scrutiny for killing suspects who they claimed they were afraid of.
The news came as a video from 2016 surfaced online and showed an officer shooting Charles Kinsey, an unarmed Black man, in North Miami. While the cop involved was facing two felony counts of attempted manslaughter and two misdemeanor charges of culpable negligence, those charges could now be dropped with Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling.
With civilians who hid behind the Stand Your Ground law going free for shooting and killing unarmed Black people, the ruling all but eliminated the chance of ever prosecuting a police officer for shooting anybody, no matter what the circumstances are.
The attorney representing the family of Jermaine McBean, the shooting victim at the center of the Florida Supreme Court ruling, told the AP that the decision “sends exactly the wrong message to the country at exactly the wrong time.”
David Schoen continued: “Stand your ground is a bad law and it doesn’t allow a trial jury to hear the evidence and make a decision.” He added, “The entire premise of the decision is based on a lie that is absolutely and indisputably a lie.”
Florida law enforcement, of course, begged to differ.
“It’s a groundbreaking ruling,” Florida defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich said. “Every law enforcement officer in the state of Florida can go to work and do their job and not worry about being second-guessed.”