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The Supreme Court of Florida recently determined that police officers have the same rights as civilians to justify using deadly force and seek immunity through the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.
“Law enforcement officers are eligible to assert Stand Your Ground immunity, even when the use of force occurred in the course of making a lawful arrest,” the state’s high court wrote in its 7-0 decision on Thursday.
The controversial law, which was first passed in 2005, effectively eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using deadly force and is set to be reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court due to numerous issues, CNN reports
With the stand your ground shield for officers, judges could declare someone immune from prosecution if it is determined that certain facts are in support of the killer in pretrial hearings. That would allow for a loophole which circumvents a trial altogether in a disputed shooting.
According to reports, police had to prove it was a justified shooting through a police-specific self-defense law. If it was a disputed killing, those arguments had to go to trial.
Proponents of the law says it will support officers and they will have less fear of prosecution. On the other hand, many argue that it yields too much power to judges to dismiss cases.
‘Stand Your Ground’ case gets trial date
Michael Drejka was charged with manslaughter after he gunned down McGlockton in Clearwater, Florida in July just mere seconds after he shoved him during a confrontation with McGlockton’s girlfriend Britany Jacobs over a handicapped parking space.
Drejka claimed Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ defense and said in the interview that he was afraid.
Pinellas County (Fla.) Sheriff Bob Gaultieri said at the time of the shooting that he didn’t plan to charge Drejka since McGlockton pushed him down first sparking outrage around the country.
But the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office later announced that the State Attorney had finished reviewing the case and has decided to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter.
A trial date for 48-year-old Drejka, 48 was set for Aug. 19, NBC affiliate WFLA of Tampa reported.
Attorneys for McGlockton and his family have said that Drejka was the aggressor in the situation and confronted McGlockton’s girlfriend with their children in the car over the parking spot.