Wrongful Death in Florida Convenience Store Parking Lot Shooting
Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has received a significant amount of attention in the press lately, especially surrounding the well-publicized incident in late July that involved one man being fatally shot in a convenience store parking lot.
While the sheriff has already decided that he cannot arrest and charge the shooter because he was (according to the sheriff) complying with Florida law when he shot the victim, the question of whether the victim’s family can sue the shooter for wrongful death remains.
The incident reportedly started with one man pulling up next to another man’s car to confront his family about parking in the handicapped space of the Circle A convenience store in Clearwater. When the second man came out of the convenience store to find the first yelling at his family, he reportedly pushed the first man, who then pulled out his gun and shot the second man as he was backing away.
Does This Fall Under Stand Your Ground?
The sheriff assigned to the case claims that the shooter was operating within Florida’s stand your ground law because he subjectively believed that the other man was going to harm him, and law enforcement cannot substitute its own judgment for that of the shooter.
However, many people would disagree, as the law arguably calls for police and prosecutors to; first and foremost, determine if the shooter was acting “reasonably” within the bounds of the law in deciding to use lethal force against the other person.
The state law specifically dictates that, in order to threaten to use defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another; you must have a “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm.” The law is not supposed to provide a “free pass” for anyone to shoot anyone else and then claim that it was done in self-defense–Any “belief” that gives rise to shooting someone must first be found to be “reasonable” before that shooter is exempt from charges under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. It doesn’t just matter what the shooter was thinking, but rather, whether a reasonable person would have taken the same action (i.e. what matters is what others would do in the same circumstances).
Florida Wrongful Death Lawyers
A claim for wrongful death brought by the deceased’s family against the shooter could very well be successful here because surveillance video shows the deceased backing away when the shooter drew his gun. In other words, even if Florida law does not require that this shooter retreat, he could not have reasonably felt that his life was in danger if the other man was retreating.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s willful, dangerous conduct or negligence, discuss your options with our personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Friedland & Associates today. You have rights, and we can help you exercise them.