How A Florida Case Undermines Attacks on Stand Your Ground Laws

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

Stand Your Ground laws are controversial, but they shouldn't be.

Much of the controversy extends not from what the laws do but from what some people think the laws do. Many opponents of such measures claim they basically sanction murder. All you have to do is claim that you were scared and you can get away with killing anyone.

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That's not remotely true. Just ask Michael Drejka if that defense works.

Spoiler: It doesn't. Drejka was convicted of manslaughter.

Yet a lot of people may not believe that even with that example, so here's another one, also in the super-evil, Stand Your Ground state of Florida.

A Florida man facing charges in the shooting death of his mother, when she broke up a fight between him and his father after the three had been out celebrating his 28th birthday, unsuccessfully tried to argue self-defense under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

The Sun Sentinel, which has been covering the case, reported the defendant spoke in court on Friday, saying his father was also armed during an argument that escalated to a fight on Dec. 14, 2019.

“He raised his fist at me like he was going to punch me,” Deltoro said in court, the paper reported. “He had me pushed against a wall. I saw his hand go into his pocket. I pretty much knew what he was going for.”

The judge rejected the self-defense argument and ordered the case to go before a jury, the newspaper reported.

Cindy Deltoro was killed at the family’s home in Margate, according to a complaint and affidavit. The killing happened when the son and father got into an argument in the car on the drive home after celebrating, the document said. The son allegedly hit his father in the face with his arm during the ride and when they got home, the argument continued to escalate, and the two began pushing and shoving each other, the affidavit said.

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Deltoro's argument is that he figured his father was carrying a firearm as well and that he was in fear for his life.

Only, that argument doesn't fly because there was no evidence supporting the claim, for one thing. For another, his mother was the victim of the shooting, not his supposedly armed father.

We also have reason to believe he's lying about his father being armed because, frankly, after shooting his mother, he didn't get shot in turn. That kind of undermines the idea that he had a reasonable fear for his life.

See, the thing to remember about Stand Your Ground laws is that there actually has to be a reason to fear for your life. You can't just claim that you thought someone had a gun or that they said mean things and you were scared they were going to kill you. I get digging in internally and preparing yourself to use lethal force at that point should it be necessary, but it's not actually necessary absent some means to do so.

And shooting the person trying to break up the argument? That's never going to fly in the first place, no matter how scared you were.

This is still more evidence that Stand Your Ground doesn't give anyone license to do anything. All it does is prevent good, decent people from having to face prosecution for defending themselves. We've seen that happen, particularly with a bodega clerk in New York City.

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So people need to stop pretending the law leads to outcomes it most definitely doesn't.

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