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Another Shooter Gets Away With Murder Thanks to Stand Your Ground

Another Shooter Gets Away With Murder Thanks to Stand Your Ground

Written by Nicole Flatow

In 2008, what started as a confrontation in a South Florida Chili’s restaurant ended with a shooting that left two 24-year-old men dead, after Gabriel Mobley went to his car and retrieve a gun. While the trial judge found that Mobley was not immune from prosecution using the state’s Stand Your Ground law, a 2-1 appeals court overturned that finding last week, holding that Mobley was justified in using deadly force.

If the ruling stands, Mobley will be immune from all criminal and civil charges, thanks to the Stand Your Ground law that gained notoriety after the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

The incident started, when two men approached Mobley’s female coworkers sitting at the restaurant bar. Mobley’s friend asked the men to leave, but Mobley later approached them to make peace and explain that there had been a misunderstanding. Later, Mobley became worried when he saw them staring with what he thought was a “mean, cold [look] on his face” and then later banging on the window while standing outside the restaurant. Mobley told his friend he thought they should leave the restaurant. At this point video surveillance footage shows that he went to his car, retrieved his gun, and returned to the front of the restaurant to smoke a cigarette. A few seconds later, one of the two men, Jason Jesus Gonzalez, approached and punched Mobley’s friend, although the details of the scenario are in dispute. Then his friend Rolando Carrazana approached. Mobley said he saw Carrazana reach under his shirt and believed he was pulling out a gun. He began firing shots, delivering critical injuries to both men, who later died. No guns or weapons were found on either man, although two knives were found on the ground nearby.

Mobley was later charged with second-degree murder, but requested a hearing under the Stand Your Ground law to argue that he was entitled to immunity. The trial judge found that he was not, in part because he had returned to his car to get a gun, and fired without issuing any warning that he had a gun or attempting to mitigate the situation first.

But on appeal, two judges disagreed with this finding. “It may have been more prudent for Mobley and Chico to skitter to their cars and hightail it out of there when they had the chance; however, as even the State concedes and the court below recognized, Mobley and Chico had every right to be where they were, doing what they were doing and they did nothing to precipitate this violent attack,” the judges wrote.

The dissenting judge, Vance E. Salter, pointed out that appeals court judges typically overturn rulings to correct legal errors, not to re-interpret the facts. He lamented that his colleagues had in this case made their own independent determination about facts that were in considerable dispute, without the benefit of having heard the 13 witnesses who testified before the trial judge, or viewing the surveillance video. The surveillance footage, for example, calls into question whether Carrazana even appeared to be reaching for a weapon, Salter said.

The ruling will likely be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court and stands as the latest test of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which authorizes the use of deadly force with no duty to retreat if they reasonably fear imminent death or great bodily harm. In another Florida case last month, a judge granted immunity to a man who shot an acquaintance for threatening to beat him up.

In Stand Your Ground cases, judges and prosecutors frequently interpret the absence of a duty to retreat as eliminating any duty to mitigate the harm. The trial judge, for example, pointed out that Mobley did nothing to warn the two men that he was about to fire, or to fire a warning shot. But the appeals court ruling countered, “The statute contains no warning requirement.”

In fact, while moves to limit or repeal the Stand Your Ground law have failed, the Florida legislature is now advancing a bill to expand Stand Your Ground immunity to warning shots.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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152 comments

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2:00PM PST on Jan 20, 2014

SUSAN T: I've not got a "mean, cold look on my face" so I suggest that your re-read the Post. A call to 911 rather than going to his vehicle to retrieve a weapon would have solved the problem(s). Don and WE CAN! :-))

11:07AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

"Stand your Ground"; for the most part, is a good law when utilizie and interrupted properly. In this case, as in another recent case in Florida, it was not. Mobley and his friend could have left the scene - taken a step backwards so to speak (which is something 99 out of 100; so called men, are afraid to do) but his "ego" prevented him from doing so.

Going to your vehicle, retrieving a weapon and going back to the scene, is definitely NOT STANDING YOUR GROUND. Don and WE CAN1 :-))

10:37AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

What's the point of owning guns if you can't shoot them in public, kill people and stay out of jail?? That's the real reason behind stand your ground laws.

10:19AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

After thinking about this, the situation does not meet the definition of the "stand your ground" law as far as I can tell....

11:13PM PST on Jan 18, 2014

so why is what he did wrong? These 2 guys were being a$$holes, assaulting a person...if this guy did nothing then you all would be bitching that he stood by and let 2 thugs harrass a woman and assault someone.

get your priorities straight folks. How about criminals learn if they do something bad they may get shot. so be nice, polite law abiding citizens and you don't get shot.
whatever

4:28PM PST on Jan 12, 2014

Jenny S.. Perps occasionlly listen to police officers commands but typical not a general civilian.. Asking thugs to stop taht shows how niave some are around violent people... I am stating by you writing it is rather obvious you personally have never been involved with or on the receiving end of people hell bent on hurting others.. The majority of legal law abiding people that chose to excercise their 2nd ammendment rights do so with a great deal of responsibilty heaped upon them.. They aren't running around playing wild west cowboys and go out looking for people to kill/shoot with their sidearms. They carry just as police to to use in the extreme case of being forced to resort to its use to protect themselves or others as a last resort. For others to armchair quarterback people that are involved with a shooting as gun toting wannabe murderers goes to show how twisted and poisoned some have become from the lies the general media outlets shovel out in buckets full. Whenever one carries you have many laws and rules you have to obey and follow when and where you can or else suffer the consequences witch normally means confiscation and loss of CCW and most likley a record and legal penalties. In my case that would mean loss of lively hood. Soceity don't want or need felons dispensing narcotics and other important meds.

2:00PM PST on Jan 12, 2014

Del R- Read my statements again. Slower this time, so YOU can make some realistic, common sense reasoning. I did not say anything about civilian commands anywhere in my statement. Read them again. You know so much about me. Gosh, you are so right.

11:39AM PST on Jan 10, 2014

Jenny S.. While I sure don't wish violence on innocent law abiding people BUT.. I can easily tell you have never been around let alone the recepeint of severe physical beating type of violence.... If you had that experience in your life you would temper your statement with more realistic common sense reasoning. Thugs don't obey civilians commands and they sure don't respect locked doors.

8:32AM PST on Jan 10, 2014

While I'm here, I, too, believe one has the right to defend their lives, homes, family, etc. Absolutely. What I do not agree with is these people LOOKING for trouble (i.e. Zimmerman)and an opportunity to shoot. So far, I really haven't heard of anyone using this law to actually protect themselves from harm yet! THis law is an abuse of the right to bear arms. Pure and simple.

8:09AM PST on Jan 10, 2014

OK, kids, here's the thought for the day. Listen up, gun-totin', gun-slingin', vigilanty wannbes standing up for this insane law that is simply making people STUPID! "oh, I bet if I get my gun out, nobody will get hurt." Nobody carries a gun without the inent to use it. Period. This law simply gives gun owners an excuse to use their toys. Period.
If I am in a restaurant and I see two or three thugs outside who look suspicious to me, I'm going to call the cops, stay inside until they arrive and take said thugs away to another location. Simple. I am NOT going to go outside to smoke a cig where they are standing. I am not going to go confront several people who look scarey to me just because I know I have a gun in my car and I can handle this. You can try to justify this law and the absolute MURDER of unarmed individuals looking for a fight on a Saturday night. Get real. The guy killed two people. Innocent or not, two people are dead at this man's hands. If he was scared, he should have stayed inside and made a phone call. It wouldn't have mattered how long it took cops to arrive to a public restaurant being plagued outside by two unarmed thugs. Stupid is as stupid does.

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