When I think about my son, the last thing I hope he ever does is have to fire a gun in self-defense. It’s not that I think bad people should be given a pass, but it’s more of the case that I hope he never finds himself in that position.
Unfortunately, sometimes, people end up in that spot. Regardless of age, though, they have a right to act in self-defense.
In Panama City, Florida, a teen who fired a weapon toward another person at the tender age of just 14 has been found to have acted in self-defense. Don’t get me wrong, the kid was into some bad stuff, but self-defense is still self-defense.
A teenager accused of fatally gunning down a man in a parking lot last year had a murder charge against him dismissed because he was defending himself, according to official reports.
Tyree Maddox, 16, recently pleaded no contest to a drug trafficking charge tied to the shooting. He also had been charged with second-degree murder with a firearm after gunfire erupted late March 19, 2017, in the parking lot of the Shoppes at Edgewater Plaza, 473 Richard Jackson Blvd., leaving 27-year-old Ples Robinson dead. However, Maddox had the murder charge dismissed after his defense attorney argued he was immune under the “stand your ground” law.
“Tyree Maddox was justified in his use of deadly force and had no duty to retreat because he reasonably believed that his use of deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself,” defense attorney Kim Jewell wrote. “Maddox was in the front passenger seat of his car, which is a place he had the right to be. Even if Maddox had a duty to retreat, his duty was fulfilled as soon as Robinson stepped inside the open door of the vehicle, blocking any exit Maddox may have had and pointed a firearm in the face of Maddox.”
Jewell argued the combination of circumstances left Maddox with a reasonable, well-founded fear that he was in danger of death or great bodily harm. The State Attorney’s Office and Circuit Judge Brantley Clark Jr. both agreed and dismissed the murder charge. Maddox had been trafficking methamphetamine at the time of the shooting, though, and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Maddox shouldn’t necessarily have been doing any of that nor should he have been armed, but this raises the question of whether Stand Your Ground laws should cover lives taken while committing other crimes. I could see an exception being carved out of future laws to prevent someone like Maddox from being covered because he was breaking other laws that led to that situation in the first place.
On the same token, though, self-defense is self-defense. If self-defense is a basic human right (hint: It is), then how can you deny it to someone just because they’re breaking other laws?
It’s an interesting discussion that I’d like to have with someone over a few beers.
Regardless, it should be noted that despite claims that Stand Your Ground is a racist law, Maddox was a black youth involved in criminal activity. If anyone should be discriminated against, wouldn’t it be him? Yet, the law applied to him just as it does to any other individual in Florida.