A Florida Senate committee has approved a bill that tweaks the state's controversial "stand your ground" law. According to the Associated Press
, the adjustments include local law enforcement setting guidelines for neighborhood watch organizations, clarifying immunity and who can use a "stand your ground" defense, and allowing law enforcement to conduct its investigation even when "stand your ground" is being used.
The bill is being co-sponsored by Senators David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) and Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale), and is being supported by Broward County sheriff Scott Israel, who says that the amendment makes clear that "the statute should prohibit people from later claiming self-defense if they started or unnecessarily escalated a conflict when safe withdrawal outside the home was an option."
You might recall that shortly after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman innocent in his trial for killing Trayvon Martin, the Florida Sheriffs Association issued a press release
proclaiming their support for the controversial "stand your ground" law. And at a hearing in Tallahassee last fall, Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley.said, "Florida sheriffs unequivocally support this, the right to stand your ground."
But that clearly isn't the case.
One sheriff making sure that everyone knows where he stands on the issue is Israel, whose law-enforcement career spans three decades in the Fort Lauderdale area. In an op-ed made available to Florida media sites, Israel dispels the notion that the Martin case had nothing to do with SYG.
"In February 2012, when Zimmerman shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, the police who were called to the scene, unable to refute Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense," Israel writes. "By law, they were unable to file charges and follow through with normal procedures, thus compromising the investigation from the start. Sanford city officials stated: “By Florida Statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time.”
"The Stand Your Ground law effectively tied the hands of law enforcement in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, and will continue to do so until this law is fixed. In the case of Mr. Zimmerman, the threat was not immediate. He should have been obligated to get in his vehicle, leave the area, and avoid that confrontation. If the law had read differently, maybe he would have."
Israel also writes that the Michael Dunn's shooting death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis in Jacksonville was "facilitated" by "this broken law."