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Shooting in Miami Raises More Questions with "Stand Your Ground"

By: Eyewitness News Email
By: Eyewitness News Email

Tallahassee, FL -- June 11, 2012 --
by Lanetra Bennett

A shooting in South Florida is adding fuel to the fire in the Stand Your Ground Law debate.

It's at a time when the governor-appointed task force is set to hold public hearings on the self-defense legislation.

Governor Rick Scott created the task force after neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The task force is holding its first public hearing tomorrow morning in Central Florida, near where the shooting happened. The Martin Family attorney says there have been more quote, "bogus" claims of Stand Your Ground since Martin's shooting.

Kijaun Byrd was shot and killed June 1st...

Attorney Ben Crump says Byrd was sitting in a car with a friend outside of a nightclub in Miami...when security guard Lukas Kendle said he heard something and feared for his life...

Crump says when the men opened the door...Kendel shot the driver, Michael Smathers multiple times... then shot Byrd in the chest.

Crump says, "Kijaun opens the door crawls out of the car. The security guard then goes around the car and shoots him multiple times again at least two shots came in the back, possibly more. He then claimed he was standing his ground."

Kendle was arrested a week later after public outrage...

Neighborhood Watchman George Zimmerman said he was acting in self defense when he shot and killed unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February in Sanford, Florida.

Rev. R.B. Holmes is the vice chairman of the Task Force says, "We don't want to have from this law is the Wild Wild West where folks literally shoot first and ask questions later. We got to look at the intent of the law, and the spirit of the law."

Holmes spoke to WCTV by phone en route to Sanford for the board's first public hearing Tuesday.

Crump says, "It just makes no sense how you can say you're standing your ground and you shoot somebody in the back."

Trayvon's Martin's parents will testify at tomorrow's public hearing. Rev. Holmes says the task force will review all Stand Your Ground cases since the law's inception in 2005. He says they expect to have recommendations by the next Florida Legislative session.

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The Florida task force formed to look at the controversial "Stand Your Ground" law will meet Tuesday.

The group, lead by Leiutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, will now have more to discuss.

Last week, two Miami men were shot at an exotic club - the shooter claims "he feared for his life."

Officials say 26-year-old Lukace Kendle admitted to shooting 29-year-old Kijuan Byrd and 31-year-old Michael Smathers.

Kendle is a security guard at the night club and says he shot at the two fearing they were armed. He was arrested a week later.

Byrd died from the shooting. As of Friday, Smathers was in the hospital with critical injuries. Attorney Ben Crump is representing the families.

"You just look at these facts and say how can you be standing your ground when you're the aggressor," Crump said.

"You can't be the aggressor, go and agitate the confrontation, shoot and kill the person and say I was standing my ground, it makes no sense to anybody."

We'll continue to bring you more information about this story and the "Stand Your Ground" task force meeting on Tuesday.


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