Florida's "stand your ground" law has taken a political beating this year, and its involvement in a shooting over pizza is not helping.
On Sunday, Randall White was at Little Caesars in St. Petersburg, Florida, waiting to enjoy his pizza. When his pie took too long to arrive, he started complaining. Another man named Michael Jock was also waiting in line, and told White to stop whining.
White then raised his fist and in response Jock pulled out a gun. A struggle ensued, and Jock shot White twice. When police arrived Jock tried to defend his actions.
The two men were waiting outside when police arrived, according to NBC News. Jock told officers that his actions were justified under Florida's "stand your ground" law.
Police weren't buying it and arrested Jock. He was charged with aggravated battery using a weapon and released on $20,000 bail. He'll still have a chance to plead his case in court, but his chances don't look good.
Florida's stand your ground law allows people in danger to react with force rather than requiring that they first try to retreat from danger.
But it isn't a free pass to use deadly force against any threat. The regular rules of self-defense still apply.
Under most state laws, self-defense can be used to defend against a charge of assault or battery. The person raising the defense must prove that he acted in response to a physical threat and that the response was proportional to the threat.
That means deadly force can be met with deadly force. But if you're attacked with non-deadly force, like a fist, responding with deadly force, like a gun, will generally not qualify as self-defense.
Florida's stand your ground law only permits the use of deadly force if necessary to prevent death, serious bodily harm, or the commission of a forcible felony.
That's the problem Jock seems to have here. Police just didn't believe that deadly force was necessary when they arrived at the scene, reports the Tampa Bay Times.
Michael Jock did have a concealed-weapons permit but he'll still have to explain to a court why he felt it was necessary to open fire. As his case proceeds, he'll want to have a good lawyer by his side.
- Michael Jock, Florida man, invokes 'stand your ground' law after shooting man at pizza restaurant, police say (CBS News)
- Stand Your Ground Laws May Fuel Crime (FindLaw's Blotter)
- 'Stand Your Ground' Laws: State by State (FindLaw's Blotter)