The issue of “Stand Your Ground” is in the news again. A man allegedly killed a moviegoer who was texting during a screening of a movie.
First of all, “Stand-Your-Ground” is not some new or parallel form of legal defense. It is best thought of as a “feature” you can take advantage of if you are actually engaged in legitimate self-defense to begin with. If you are NOT engaged in legitimate self-defense, “Stand-Your-Ground has NO application.
Second, even if you WERE engaged in legitimate self-defense, “Stand-Your-Ground” merely relieves of you of any existing duty to take advantage of a safe avenue of retreat before resorting to the use of deadly force (in some states, ANY force) in self-defense.
But such a duty NEVER exists unless a safe avenue of retreat actually exists in the first place. If there is no safe avenue of retreat, there is no duty to retreat, and “Stand-Your-Ground” again has NO application.
In this scenario the user of “defensive” deadly force was a career police officer who retired as a Captain after helping found the department’s SWAT team and serving as the Tampa Bay police department’s firearms coordinator.
Yet there appears scant evidence that the man was ever faced with a deadly-force threat that would warrant him drawing and firing his weapon. Certainly, getting struck by popcorn would not qualify, and so far the record shows no other physical contact between the two men. Granted, if blows had occurred (or reasonably threatened) the man might have had good reason to fear a beating at the hands of the alleged victim–but there’s no evidence that any such blows occurred (or were even threatened).
So from the very start we have an extraordinarily weak self-defense claim to begin with. And, recall, if the mans was not acting in lawful self-defense, then “Stand-Your-Ground” has no application.
But let us assume for the purposes of this discussion that the man committed SOME act that would have put a reasonable and prudent alleged victim, under those circumstances, in fear of imminent death or grave bodily harm, such that the man was, in fact, acting in lawful self-defense.
Even if the man’s use of deadly force was appropriate given the threat, there was never any safe avenue of retreat open to him.
That being the case, there would never have been a duty to retreat, whether or not “Stand-Your-Ground” had ever been adopted.
So, again, “Stand-Your-Ground” has no application to this case.