No Action Expected on Request for ‘Stand Your Ground’ Special Session

Mar 28, 2012

The following article was published in The Sunshine State News on March 28, 2012:

No Action Expected on Request for ‘Stand Your Ground’ Special Session

By Jim Turner

With an investigation under way into the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and a legislative task force in the wings, a requested special session on the “Stand Your Ground” law isn’t going to be an immediate priority for state leaders.

Spokespeople for Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R- Merritt Island, said Tuesday that as facts about the Feb. 26 shooting continue to roll out, state and federal investigators should be allowed to first complete their work.

A number of black Democrats in the Legislature on Tuesday called for a special session to review the 2005 “Stand Your Ground” law.

Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, said the only way to find how the Republican leadership will react to their request is to make the request.

He says the law needs to be changed to provide guidelines on how law enforcement implements the law, rather than an officer acting as the judge on the scene.

“When a law enforcement officer uses deadly force, he is immediately taken off patrol. His service revolver is taken from him. FDLE is called in to investigate. State attorney investigates to determine if deadly force was justified,” Taylor said.

“You have a dead child, you have a man with a smoking gun. That alone, you’ve got to make an arrest. Let the evidence vindicate you or prosecute you.”

Martin, 17, of Miami, was shot while walking through a gated community in Sanford on Feb. 26, returning from a 7-Eleven where he’d bought Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea.

Sanford police have said they cannot arrest George Zimmerman, the gunman, because he claims self-defense — under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law — and evidence backs that up, including witness accounts and what officers saw when they arrived: Zimmerman with a bloody nose.

Scott also has announced that Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll will head a task force to conduct public hearings on “Stand Your Ground.” The task force awaits appointments from the House speaker and Senate president.

During Tuesday’s House meeting on redistricting, several members placed bags of Skittles and cans of Arizona iced tea on their desks. Rep. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, wore a hoodie in honor of Martin while a moment of silence was held for the teen at the request of Taylor.

Florida House Minority Leader Ron Saunders, D-Key West, said he didn’t expect the request to move ahead of the state’s investigation and task force review.

“By the time all this (the investigation and task force work) gets finished, it will be almost the elections,” Saunders said. “So I assume you’d wait until after you get a new Legislature, because they’ll be the one deciding it.”