News stories of civilian self-defense seldom receive adequate media coverage. After all, armed good guys stopping violent felons does not make headlines like the lives of innocents being taken. Bias and agendas play their part, but the media does not cover an event that did not happen, such as a case where a good guy stopped a violent event before it resulted in the loss of innocent life. However, these are exactly the type of stories we need to highlight to educate non gun owners before they head to the voting booth.
Meth Dealer Did Not Have Duty to Retreat
Last week’s Armed “Good” Guys included a use of self-defense that, while legal, raised the ire of many readers. In fact, many sounded off by leaving a comment and setting the stage for some controversy. This week, we have another story that does not truly fit under the “Good Guy” banner in the literal sense. However, the court ruled it was a justified use of the Stand Your Ground law where the drug dealer did not have a duty to retreat (Actually, he was cornered and did not have the opportunity.).
Panama City, Florida – A teen who fired a weapon toward another person at the tender age of just 14 has been found to have acted in self-defense. He was involved in dealing drugs and properly sentenced for that crime, but he was found to not be guilty of murder, claiming his right to self-defense.
The teenager was accused of fatally gunning down a man in a parking lot last year, and had a murder charge against him dismissed because he was defending himself, according to official reports.
Tyree Maddox, 16, recently pleaded no contest to a drug trafficking charge tied to the shooting. He also had been charged with second-degree murder with a firearm after gunfire erupted late March 19, 2017, in the parking lot of the Shoppes at Edgewater Plaza, 473 Richard Jackson Blvd., leaving 27-year-old Ples Robinson dead. However, Maddox had the murder charge dismissed after his defense attorney argued he was immune under the Stand Your Ground law.
“Tyree Maddox was justified in his use of deadly force and had no duty to retreat because he reasonably believed that his use of deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself,” defense attorney Kim Jewell wrote. “Maddox was in the front passenger seat of his car, which is a place he had the right to be. Even if Maddox had a duty to retreat, his duty was fulfilled as soon as Robinson stepped inside the open door of the vehicle, blocking any exit Maddox may have had and pointed a firearm in the face of Maddox.”
Jewell argued the combination of circumstances left Maddox with a reasonable, well-founded fear that he was in danger of death or great bodily harm. The State Attorney’s Office and Circuit Judge Brantley Clark Jr. both agreed and dismissed the murder charge. Maddox had been trafficking methamphetamine at the time of the shooting, though, and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Maddox shouldn’t necessarily have been doing any of that nor should he have been armed, but this raises the question of whether Stand Your Ground laws should cover lives taken while committing other crimes. I could see an exception being carved out of future laws to prevent someone like Maddox from being covered because he was breaking other laws that led to that situation in the first place
Regardless, it should be noted that despite claims that Stand Your Ground is a racist law, Maddox was a black youth involved in criminal activity. If anyone should be discriminated against, wouldn’t it be him? Yet, the law applied to him just as it does to any other individual in Florida.
On the same token, though, self-defense is self-defense. If self-defense is a basic human right (hint: It is), then how can you deny it to someone just because they’re breaking other laws? On the flip side of this issue, what if a SWAT team was entering and the suspect made the same claim? Or a drug dealer sees a member of a rival gang with long history of violence against each other when a fight breaks out? There is following the letter of the law which has to be contrasted against the spirit of the law. Where do you fall on this issue?
Do you have a story of armed good guys with guns that shows the importance of firearm ownership for self-defense? What about when an otherwise bad person claims a good guy defense? Share your answers or opinions in the comment section.
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