I’m not a lawyer, much to the credit of the legal system, but I do find it fascinating how laws are written, interpreted and applied. This week I was watching an episode of After The First 48, a television program that follows-up cases that had been featured on The First 48 from the time of arrest through trial and an end result, and I was struck by an interesting contrast.
In the episode a man in Florida was accosted and robbed while parked in his SUV. As the thief ran off the victim got out of his vehicle and, as shown on a CCTV recording, chased the thief onto an adjacent street and assaulted him with a knife. The thief, now a victim himself, was found dead several blocks away.
… he had the right to stand his own ground, even if that meant chasing his assailant and knifing him. It seems “your ground” is a very fluid concept.
The original victim was charged with second degree murder. Under the laws of the State of Florida, the accused claimed to be “standing his own ground”, a very broad self-defense law. After the evidence had been presented, and arguments made, the judge ruled that the CCTV video was not clear enough to be considered, and as the charged had been robbed he had the right to stand his own ground, even if that meant chasing his assailant and knifing him. It seems “your ground” is a very fluid concept.
Meanwhile in New York a case is making the news that also involves an SUV. This time a man and his wife are in their vehicle on the way to dinner to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Their SUV is engulfed in a “swarm” of motorcycles for no apparent reason. Panicking the driver takes off and in so doing runs over one of the swarming bikers causing him serious injury. The bikers give chase and succeed in getting the SUV cornered on a city street where they start smacking at it with their helmets and eventually pull the driver out and beat him.
Huh? Because he ran over a person who was accosting him he may face charges.
Some, including the injured biker’s wife, want charges to be brought against the driver of the SUV. Huh? Because he ran over a person who was accosting him he may face charges. Yet a man who ran after a thief and fatally knifed him got off because he was defending himself. Wasn’t the man in the surrounded SUV defending himself, or at least trying to get away?
Somewhere there has to be a happy medium between these two situations.