Parents, Attorney Of Trayvon Martin Speak On Stand Your Ground 'Tweaks'

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

Statement From Sybrina Fulton, Tracy Martin and Attorney Benjamin Crump Regarding Tallahassee Hearings on Stand Your Ground

Today in Tallahassee the democratic process won out and a first compromise was reached,” said Attorney Benjamin Crump who represents Trayvon Martin's family.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-2 to forward a bill that made some important changes to Florida's Stand Your Ground law. This will ensure proper investigations are conducted even when Stand Your Ground is claimed, involve Police and Sheriff's Departments in training Neighborhood Watch Programs and most importantly tighten the use of the law when aggressors claim it.

"I see this as an important first step in making sure that Florida's Stand Your Ground Law properly protects victims and applaud the committee for taking this first step" said Crump. "In light of current events in Washington D.C., It is refreshing to see legislators compromising and working together so that Florida's citizens are protected."

"Tracy and I have said from the beginning that our hope is that the tragedy of Trayvon's death can be turned into real change so that other parents don't have to experience the grief we have endured" said Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin. "The work here is not done and we fear an uphill battle going forward to achieve real change in our son's name. We encourage everyone to visit and help us ensure that real change for Trayvon occurs in Florida and other states across the country."

Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Lawmakers are considering changes to the "stand your ground" law that came under scrutiny after a neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shot an unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to develop training guidelines for neighborhood watch groups.

The bill (SB 130) would also make it clear that law enforcement should fully investigate any use of force even when a self-defense claim is used.

It also clarifies that anyone who uses force against an attacker can still be responsible if they injure or kill an uninvolved bystander.

The bill was approved on a 7-2 vote. It combines legislation sponsored by Democratic Sen. Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale and Republican Sen. David Simmons of Altamonte Springs.

By: Mike Vasilinda
October 8, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground self defense law got its first legislative review today since first passed 2005. Even minor changes are being met with concern.

The original author of stand your ground made it clear: “It is an excellent common sense law, but it’s not perfect,” says Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs.

When neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, he was sent home under the belief that Police were powerless to investigate stand your ground claims. The compromise legislation fixes that. “We have, not only the obligation but a desire to get to the bottom… We are fact finders,” says Larry Ashley, Okaloosa County Sheriff, FL Sheriffs Assn.

The legislation also clarifies that aggressors and law breakers can’t assert Stand Your Ground. “You can’t rely upon self-defense if you are the person who provokes the use of force,” says Sen. Simmons.

The NAACP, which prefers an outright repeal told lawmakers. “It’s harder for black defendants to assert stand your ground defense if the victim is white, and easier for whites to raise if the stand your ground defense, if the victims are black,” says Kim Keenan, NAACP Legal Counsel.

The Committee voted 7-2 to approve the changes.

The NRA says the legislation misses its mark. “Yes, we’re Luke warm, we don’t think it does a lot of good, but in its current state, we don’t think it does a lot of harm, although there’s potential,” says Marion Hammer, Unified Sportsmen of FL.

Still to be worked out is whether law enforcement will be required to train for just-issued guidelines to neighborhood watch groups.

The legislation also limits immunity for someone using force, which signals trouble ahead for the proposed changes.

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