Here’s a tip for anyone thinking to use Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law as a defense in a murder trial: shooting someone who is running away is not standing your ground, it isn’t self-defense, and it’s going to land you in prison for murder.
Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn found this out when he attempted to use the infamous “Stand Your Ground” law after he shot a man that he said shoplifted a hatchet from his Navy surplus store.
According to CBS News:
‘According to an affidavit and the store surveillance footage, Dunn left his office at the Vets Army Navy Surplus store when he saw Lopez take a hatchet from a shelf and stick it in the waistband of his pants. Dunn grabbed a handgun and stuck it in his waistband and cut off Lopez from leaving the store. The two got into an argument, according to the affidavit, before the hatchet fell out of Lopez’s pant leg and onto the floor.’
— Dan Sullivan (@TimesDan) October 19, 2018
According to a combination of surveillance video footage and Dunn’s testimony, Lopez then offered to pay for the hatchet and walked to the checkout counter to do so. As Dunn walked back to the counter to collect the money, Lopez attempted to dart back out the door. Dunn grabbed Lopez by his shirt and attempted to prevent him from leaving. At that point, if his testimony is true, he had followed the law.
BREAKING: Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn is taken into the Polk County jail in handcuffs. Police say Dunn shot and killed a suspected shoplifter at his gun store on October 3. pic.twitter.com/EJJ3h8MJK0
— Grady Trimble (@Grady_Trimble) October 19, 2018
However, Lopez was able to twist out of Dunn’s grip and attempt to flee. Video shows that he was turning away from Dunn to run when he was shot.
‘One shot struck Lopez in the left upper torso and another hit him in his back, according to the affidavit. He died on the scene.’
Florida now has citizens (or in this case, politicians) issuing the Death Penalty for petty shoplifting. You can’t get more #Florida than this. | Surveillance video of fatal shooting by Lakeland City Commissioner Michael Dunn https://t.co/3X9drUI6Yv
— ✈️ Roy Drones Jr ✈️ (@chiweethedog) October 16, 2018
That’s not standing your ground. That’s murder, and a judge in Lakeland charged Dunn with murder.
In his affidavit, Dunn admitted that Lopez had made no verbal threats and had not made any moves toward him, with or without a hatchet, that he found threatening. Police wrote in their report:
‘The suspect stated he was in fear, but when he was asked what would have happened if he let go of the victim, the suspect replied, “It might be fair to say, that if I just stepped back and let somebody come in and take what they want, that there would be no issue!”‘
Shooting death of Lopez ruled homicide; Lakeland City Comm. Michael Dunn's lawyer says client was justified in killing outside his military surplus store. When confronted shoplifter resisted & picked up stolen hatchet after dropping it #DeadlyForce #Weapon https://t.co/abvpMU5Teg
— Firearms Lawyer (@firearmslawyer) October 17, 2018
Shoplifting is illegal and wrong. However, a hatchet that, at most, was probably worth around 40 dollars is not in any way more valuable than any human life.
Featured image via video