Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has stated that in enacting Florida’s stand your ground law, the legislature “created a standard, that is a largely subjective standard” for the use of deadly force by a shooter. The good Sheriff also stated that his agency and his deputies could be civilly liable if they arrested Michael Drejka.
“My decision not to arrest is not condoning or approving,” Gualtieri told Bay News 9 of the shooting.
For those who don’t know, Sheriff Gualtieri is no friend of the 2nd Amendment. When open carry was being considered in the legislature a few sessions back, Sheriff Gualtieri said that law abiding Floridians in his jurisdiction who carried openly would “At a minimum, [sic] they’re going to be thrown down on the ground with a gun pointed at them or worse.”
Sheriff Gualtieri’s attitude towards the Second Amendment and armed self defense amongst the citizenry is one of contempt and scorn. He believes that stand your ground gives shooters criminal immunity, makes an arresting agency civilly liable, and law inforcement impossible.
“Nothing in either the 2005 law or the 2017 law prohibits a Sheriff from making an arrest in a case where a person claims self-defense if there is probable cause that the use of force was unlawful,” said Marion Hammer, Tallahassee’s NRA lobbyist who helped shepherd “stand your ground” through the GOP-led Florida Legislature.
“Nothing in the law says a person can sue the Sheriff for making an arrest when there is probable cause,” Hammer added in an emailed statement to POLITICO.
Even fellow Florida Republicans are turning on Sheriff Gualtieri.
Sen. Dennis Baxley (R), who sponsored the law in 2005 when he was a member of the Florida House said the law clearly says a person using deadly force in self-defense must “reasonably” believe it’s necessary.
“’Stand your ground’ uses a reasonable-person standard. It’s not that you were just afraid,” Baxley said. “It’s an objective standard.” – NY Times
Sen. Rob Bradley (R) who sponsored the 2017 legislation that says authorities must show with “clear and convincing evidence” that there are grounds to prosecute a Stand Your Ground defendant stated;
“An individual using a gun in self-defense in Florida must have an objective, reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily harm. This idea that Florida law is concerned about the subjective perceptions of a shooter is wrong.”
Even more shocking, the members of the Florida legal system stating that Sheriff Gualtieri is wrong.
Former Broward County prosecutor Fausto Sanchez said standard jury instructions for these cases, he said, say the defense is appropriate if a “reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could have been avoided only through the use of that force.” Sanchez said “that’s the objective standard. When the sheriff says he’s taking the shooter’s word for it, that’s incomplete. That’s not the standard.”
What’s more, Sanchez said, the sheriff failed to take into account another part of the self-defense statute that says a person can use or threaten “force, except deadly force” if “the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.”
Echoing those comments, Alachua County Public Defender Stacy A. Scott said: “I just don’t agree with the sheriff’s assessment at all. … This is a guess, but I wonder if this is a political tactic on his part because it sounds like he doesn’t like the law.”- POLITICO
In the end, it appears that the Sheriff is sensing which ways the political winds are blowing in Pinellas County and he wants to stay in office. So he is once again, he’s blaming the Second Amendment.