Via Charles, ThinkProgress has the story of a Florida man who will escape prosecution for fatally shooting an unarmed man in the back, under the state’s dangerously stupid “Stand Your Ground” law:
In early July, 20-year-old Colt Thriemer shot dead a one-time friend in a Wal-Mart parking lot, saying he feared for his life. Witnesses gathered for a truck meet that night say victim Thomas James Brown, 21, was walking away toward his car when Thriemer fired ten shots. Some say Brown had threatened to kill Thriemer over the course of several weeks. The story as told by prosecutors in a detailed legal memo suggests drug transactions, addiction, and monetary debts all played a role in the scenario leading up to Brown’s death.
But these facts will never play out in a trial, because prosecutors have decided not to charge Thriemer citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
“The Stand Your Ground statute makes no exception from the immunity because Brown may have been walking away from Thriemer at the time the deadly force was used,” the memo from the State Attorney’s office states. “The Stand Your Ground law does not require Thriemer to wait until Brown in fact retrieved a gun before he fired. Under the current state of the law and the facts of this case, Thriemer was legally allowed to use deadly force based on a reasonable belief that his life was in danger and that he was about to become the victim of an armed robbery.”
Okay. So let’s play this legal standard out to its logical conclusion. If, under Stand Your Ground, a reasonable belief that your life is in danger gives you the right to shoot an unarmed man—say, me—in the back, then my reasonable belief that you believe that I present a mortal danger to you, should give me the right to stand my ground and preemptively shoot you first. Note that your belief that I present a danger doesn’t even have to be reasonable—I just need to reasonably believe that you believe it reasonable, to give me a reason to shoot first under Stand Your Ground!
Of course, if you were to believe that I might act upon a belief that you believed that I posed a mortal threat to you, then that might be all the reason you need to shoot me before I preemptively shoot you. And so on.
In this scenario, the very belief that the other party might stand their ground becomes a reasonable defense under Stand Your Ground. And if you don’t believe that the “I believed he believed I was going to shoot him” defense won’t inevitably be tested in court, then you don’t know Florida.