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Florida stand your ground law cases

The controversial stand your ground law that police initially cited in their decision not to charge the man who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin has been invoked nearly 200 times statewide since 2005. A Tampa Bay Times survey, compiled from Florida newspapers and public records, shows that police and prosecutors continue to apply the self defense law unevenly.

 

Is this self defense?

Florida's stand your ground law was supposed to protect law-abiding citizens whose lives were threatened. But in some cases, it has forgiven killers who started fights, chased down their victims or pulled the trigger under dubious circumstances. Read the story

The Trayvon Martin case

Trayvon Martin

What happened: George Zimmerman was driving in his gated neighborhood went he spotted Trayvon Martin, 17, walking on a paved path between two sets of townhouses. Zimmerman, head of the Neighborhood Watch, called the police to report a suspicious person and began following Martin, first in a car and later on foot. Zimmerman's father said his son said Martin then threatened him, punched him in the nose and knocked him to the concrete. Zimmerman pulled a gun from the holster on his waist and shot Martin. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense.

Trayvon Martin at 17 years old. Courtesy his family.

Read the case file

 

Similar cases

Here's the Trayvon Martin case and other similar cases where the stand your ground law was invoked. Click on the "What happened" description to get more details about a case.

Year City What happened Weapon Fatalities Outcome
2008 South Beach Argument turned violent knife 1 pending
2008 Thonotosassa Argument turned violent Gun 1 granted immunity
2009 Wesley Chapel Trespassing Gun none not charged
2012 Miami Robbery Knife 1 granted immunity
2012 Sanford Pursuit Gun 1 pending
2012 Palm Harbor Road rage Gun 1 pending
2009 Fort Myers Argument turned violent Gun 1 not charged
2009 Homosassa Argument turned violent Gun 1 not charged
2006 North Fort Myers Neighbor dispute gun 1 not charged
2008 New Port Richey Shooting outside bar gun 1 acquitted
2011 Royal Palm Beach Vehicle theft gun 1 not charged
 
 

About these cases

The Tampa Bay Times used newspaper reports, police records and court documents to examine more than 140 cases in which Florida's Stand Your Ground law was considered or invoked. Many involved defendants whose lives were clearly in jeopardy. But these cases share similarities with the Trayvon Martin shooting and show Florida's controversial law has not always worked as elected officials intended.

Background stories

Previous stories

 

More coverage of the
Trayvon Martin case


Travon Martin died Feb. 26, shot by a George Zimmerman, neighborhood crime watch captain patrolling a suburban gated townhouse community in Sanford.
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