Aftermath of Self-Defense
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David Katz Speaking:
Hello everybody. I’m David Katz. Welcome to the Katz & Phillips, P.A., presentation of the Aftermath of Self-Defense. This webinar has been written by Rommel Scalf and me, David Katz. Rommel will be with us in just a little while. Before we get the webinar started, however, let’s take care of the legal stuff.
First, the information provided should not be construed as legal advice. If you have a situation, please consult an attorney licensed in your state. Speaking of your state, this webinar is intended for Florida residents. It’s okay if you watch it if you live outside of Florida, but understand that the law we discuss is going to be Florida law, the law offices of Katz & Phillips, P.A., operate in Florida, and I am only licensed in Florida. So please, if you live in another jurisdiction, feel free to watch this, but understand that you are listening to Florida law, which may not be applicable in your state.
Further, your watching this webinar does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and I, or you and Katz & Phillips, P.A. All of the images that you see in this presentation have been licensed by the law offices of Katz & Phillips, P.A. through Filmstro, Shutterstock, Story Blocks, or other licensing organization, or they’re being used under section 107 of the copyright act of 1976, which allows for the “fair use” of materials for educational purposes. All right. So let’s get moving with the webinar.
To start out, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am David Katz, partner in Katz & Phillips, P.A. I’m co-author of Florida Gun Law Armed and Educated, the best-selling firearms book in the state of Florida. It is available at amazon.com or on our website at www.thefirearmfirm.com and in all of the best gun stores and ranges in the state of Florida. My firm acts as the statewide attorneys for U.S. LawShield, Legal Defense for Self-Defense. U.S. LawShield members can count on our firm to be there, if they ever need us, throughout the state of Florida. I’m also the immediate past president of the only Second Amendment association for lawyers called the American Council of Second Amendment Lawyers. I’m a proud life member of Florida Carry, a member of the NRA, and many other organizations that fight for our second amendment rights. I’m most proud about the last thing I want to tell you about today, that my law firm has been named the criminal defense firm of the year by U.S. Business News for three years running 2018, 2019 and 2020 in central Florida. We’re very honored by this and I’m very proud of our whole team. Well, that’s enough about me. Let’s get moving with the webinar.
One of the things that’s important to know today is the difference between facts and opinions. And it’s not what you might think. We learned that a fact is something that’s demonstrated or exists or known to have actually happened, and an opinion is a viewer’s judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. An example, a fact is that outlaw Bill Doolin was killed during the apprehension of the Dalton Gang by U.S. Marshals in 1896. An opinion was one of the Marshal’s said, “Doolin got exactly what he deserved; he didn’t give us no choice.” That’s what we learn is the difference between facts and opinions. But in the court system facts are whatever the jury believes, and those facts can be opinions. We’ll see later on when we’re talking about one of our cases, why this distinction matters.
We’re going to start today with the case of Joseph Amore. We’re going to play this video and then we’ll come back and we’ll talk about Mr. Amore’s case
FOX 13 News Video Plays:
Ybor city, but when it was all over, Amore was the one facing murder charges. But he used Florida’s controversial stand your ground defense and he won! Fox 13’s, Gloria Gomez talked to Amore today about his big victory in court. Gloria what did he tell you about this?
Chris, he is so happy to have his life back. He is a good kid, has never been in trouble before, but suddenly he was facing murder charges and possible prison time. What happened to Joseph Amore could happen to anyone.
Joseph Amore speaking in Video:
It sucks that a year and a half of my life was stuck on house arrest, trying to prove my innocence in trial court, but innocence did prevail.
He defended himself during a brutal attack in Ybor city three years ago. And yet he was the one in trouble.
He would have never lost his life if he wouldn’t have bullied me into defending my life.
Joseph says he was hanging out with his friends that hot August day, when out of nowhere, he was sucker punched by Josh Rankin. The attack was caught on surveillance video,
I was rendered unconscious. The sucker punch knocked me out.
After coming to, Joseph remembers being attacked again, this time by Josh and two other men. Detectives say, Joseph then pulled out a pocketknife, although suffering from a concussion. He didn’t remember it. A detective had to tell him.
He was like pretty much you killed somebody. And it’s just like, wow. It’s like, I didn’t know. It was like that serious through the whole interrogation.
Josh Rankin died of his injuries. Joseph used Florida stand your ground defense to fight the murder charges. His attorney, Eddie Suarez he was able to show Josh Rankin was the aggressor that day and was on bath salts, a synthetic drug that can cause violent, aggressive behavior, even hallucinations.
Attorney Suarez on News Report Video:
Which I think impaired his judgment and may have been why he was so aggressive and violent towards Joseph, which added to, to this mixture that, that led to this tragedy.
Hillsborough judge Gregory Holder heard the case and determined Joseph was justified in his use of deadly force to defend himself. And just this month, an appeals court agreed with Holder. After walking away from murder charges, Joseph is doing what he loves, hunting, fishing, even working and not taking anything or anyone for granted.
Thanks to Eddie Suarez and Judge Holder, which played a very big part in my case, and proving my innocence.
Joseph is also very thankful to his parents who helped pay for his defense. His mom telling me today that she would do it all over again to clear his name.
David Katz Speaking Live at Webinar:
So, Mr. Amore’s incident was August 17, 2013. The next day he was arrested and held on no bond. That no bond status will be until he sees the judge and the judge will typically set bond. A judge doesn’t have to set bond, but you know, in most cases you have a right to bond. On August 23rd, 2013, there was a bond hearing and bond was granted in the amount of $50,000. Three days later, his family posted the bond, with house arrest and a GPS ankle monitor. So not only did they have to post the $50,000 bond, but Mr. Amore was placed on house arrest with an ankle monitor to make sure he didn’t leave his home. Now, when you’re on house arrest, generally you can stay anywhere on your property and you can go to church, the grocery store, and doctor’s appointments on prescheduled arranged times. Which means that you have to be back by a certain time also. And if you’re not, then you’ll get arrested. When I say church, I mean religious services of whatever religion you’re a member of, okay?
Mr. Amore was released on August 26th, that’s nine days that he spent in jail and he was released to house arrest. Most people cannot successfully complete house arrest. Most people who are put on house arrest, I believe, violate that arrest at some point. But Mr. Amore didn’t do that. Now on September 23rd, less than a month later, the state filed a motion for pretrial detention to have Mr. Amore’s house arrest turned into actual jail arrest to return him to jail. The motion was denied by the Judge on October 4, 2014, so for over a year, Mr. Amore didn’t know if he would be going back to jail.
Then on February 3rd, 2015, his immunity motion was heard by the court and on February 27, 2015 immunity was granted. The judge heard the hearing and he reserved ruling. He didn’t rule right away, but about 24 days later, he granted immunity. Now, typically that’s where the case will end. Now please note that the immunity hearing was about a year and a half after Mr. Amore was arrested. So, for that year and a half, he didn’t know what was going to happen. And then after the immunity hearing three weeks, it took before the judge ruled in his favor.
When he ruled in his favor, the judge wrote that the defendant Mr. Amore, had demonstrated by a preponderance of credible evidence that when he stabbed Mr. Rankin and Mr. Medeiros, he was defending himself. The Judge further wrote after the initial attack, the defendant was rendered unconscious. The Defendant after regaining consciousness and getting up, proceeded to follow his friends, but was noticeably injured from the first attack. Mr. Stasio, Mr. Rankin, and Mr. Medeiros went toward the defendant. Mr. Medeiros threw the defendant against a car. And Mr. Bailey began hitting the defendant. At this point, the defendant had been attacked by three people. During this altercation, the Defendant stabbed Mr. Rankin and Mr. Medeiros three times each. After considering all of the circumstances and specifically given the second attack on the Defendant, and the Defendant’s state after having already been knocked unconscious once, the court finds that the defendant reasonably believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself. That’s what the judge wrote in finding in granting immunity.
An important thing for you to notice is that the judge wrote, “that the Defendant had demonstrated by a preponderance of credible evidence.” We’re going to come back to that when we’re talking about the law, but in this case, the defendant had the burden of proving himself innocent in the immunity hearing. Then, on March 5th, even though the judge wrote what he wrote in granting immunity and made it very clear that he thought that Mr. Amore acted legally, the state filed an appeal.
It took more than a year, another year and three months, almost four months for the District Court of Appeals to uphold the granting of immunity. The case began on August 17, 2013 and ended on June 23rd, 2016. That left Mr. Amore living 1,041 days of uncertainty, 9 of which he spent in jail, 549 days of which he spent on house arrest with a GPS ankle monitor.
Like he said, “a year and a half of his life.” I am told that he lost his job. My understanding is that he had $50,000 in legal fees. I’ll be honest with you. That sounds incredibly low to me. Honestly, our firm probably would have quoted him twice that to handle a murder case, with two other victims and then another person having been stabbed. This case was easily a hundred thousand dollars in legal fees. So, it seems to me that that number is very low, but I’ve been told that he paid $50,000. I’ve also been told that he paid $10,000 fee to a bondsman, $2,000 in fees for the GPS ankle monitor, which in Florida, anything you’re ordered to do you pay for. So, the total that we’ve been told that he spent was $62,000 in his defense for something he shouldn’t have been arrested for, that he was completely innocent of and was found immune.
Let’s talk about immunity. At the time of Mr. Amore’s incident, the relevant Florida Statute was § 776.032, which at the time said that a person who uses force is permitted in Florida Statute § 776.012, which is our self-defense justification law, 776.013, which is our castle doctrine or home defense statute or 776.031, which is our defense of property statute, is justified in such conduct and is immune from criminal prosecution, including arresting, detaining and custody and charging, or prosecuting the defendant for the use or threatened use of such force. The statute goes on to allow a law enforcement agency to use standard procedures for investigating the use or threatened use of force as described but prohibits them from arresting a person or detaining them in custody, unless they have probable cause to believe that the force used or threatened was unlawful.
Our old immunity statute did not mention a burden or level of proof needed before a court were to decide to grant immunity. It also didn’t specify who the burden was on. Court decisions interpreting this statute, determined that the burden of proof in an immunity hearing was on the person asking for immunity, the defendant, and they decided that the standard was “preponderance of the evidence,” which if you picture lady justice, she’s always holding a scale. Preponderance of the evidence is represented by that scale. Each side piles their evidence onto one side of the scale and whatever side of the scale goes down, just ever so little, has the greater weight of the evidence. It’s more likely than not. So, in this case, because of when his incident occurred, Mr. Amore had the burden to prove that he acted lawfully under Florida Statute § 776.012, our justification statute, our self-defense statute and he had to do that by a preponderance of the evidence. He had to present more evidence that showed that he acted lawfully than the state showed that he acted unlawfully. Since then, our immunity law has changed.
Our new immunity law now covers those same three sections, Florida Statute § 776.012, 776.013, and 776.031. The new law says that a person who uses force in accordance with those sections is immune from prosecution and the part about arresting has remained the same, but what the legislature did, is that they wrote the burden into the statute and they clarified who had that burden. Subsection four now says in a criminal prosecution, once a prime facie claim of self-defense immunity from criminal prosecution has been raised by the defendant at a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is on the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution provided in subsection one.
What does that mean? It means the legislature has said that not only is the standard, not preponderance of the evidence, it’s actually a higher standard called, “clear and convincing evidence” and the burden isn’t on the defendant, it’s on the state. So now, if you’re asking for immunity, all you have to do is you file a motion and set it for a hearing with the court. In that motion, you claim that it was self-defense laying out all of the required elements, legal elements of self-defense and you file that. You then have no burden to put any evidence on whatsoever. The entire burden is on the state to overcome your claim of immunity, and they must overcome it by clear and convincing evidence, showing that your actions were not legal under Florida Statute § 776.012, 776.013, or 776.031.. And if they can’t show you acted illegally, the court must grant immunity.
It’s actually gotten easier to have immunity granted these days. So why were those changes made? Well, this article was from 2015 and basically, the Florida Times- Union looked at immunity and said the stand your ground law wasn’t working as intended. Immunity wasn’t being granted. Let’s look at the facts. In 2015, there were 64 total cases in which immunity was asked for in Duval County. In 81% of them, immunity wasn’t granted and the person went to trial and was found guilty or they entered a plea deal before trial. Now I will tell you that, that 81%, the overwhelming majority entered a plea deal. This was not 81% of the people were actually guilty and therefore immunity wasn’t granted.
Why would somebody enter a plea deal? If they felt like they didn’t do anything wrong? Well, if you’re facing murder charges, for instance, and you’re facing maybe a mandatory 20 plus years in prison, and the state makes you an offer where they’re going to drop it down to maybe a manslaughter charge and offer you something under what you score on, you know, the, the required, uh, prison sentence. If you enter a plea and they give the judge a reason, and the judge is willing to go along with it, and maybe you do two years, well, there’s not a lot of people who are going to risk another additional 18 plus years, possibly their entire life in prison. Instead of taking a two-year deal, even if they feel like they didn’t do anything wrong. And remember the attorney doesn’t make that decision, the attorney can only provide legal advice, but the client themselves make the decision as to whether or not to accept a deal. Okay. Immunity was granted and only 6% of cases and 13% of people were found not guilty at trial. Okay. Uh, the 81%, the overwhelming majority of those people took a deal. Immunity just wasn’t working like it was intended to.
Next, we’re going to look at the gentleman who stopped a deputy from being beaten to death in the middle of the highway in the Fort Myers, Lee County, area.
Reporter from News Report:
Armed good Samaritan sneaking up on a man who was pummeling a deputy on the ground. This just happened a few hours from here near Fort Myers. CBS 4, Anchor, Vanessa Borge walks you through this intense encounter.
Rutabaga, this video was just released, but the shooting happened back in November. Lee County, deputy pinned to the ground and being beaten by a suspect who was attempting to grab the deputy’s gun. It was an armed bystander that came to his rescue.
Cell phone video shows the attacker on top of a Sheriff’s deputy near Fort Myers, Florida. Deputy first-class, Dean Bardes had been in a high-speed chase with 53 year old Edward Strother. When the chase ended and the deputy tried to subdue the suspect, he was tackled to the ground. Kimberly Jenkinson was a witness.
Witness speaking on news report:
They threw the officer to the ground so violently, I mean, it just, it was awful. And they would just start punching him and hitting and hitting and hitting. I thought he was going to kill him.
Reporter speaking on news report:
As Strother straddled Deputy Bardes, investigators say Strothers went for the deputy’s gun. Bystander, Ashad Russell, that’s him in blue, pulls the weapon and approaches the two men. The deputy begged Russell to shoot the attacker and investigators say, Russell told the suspect he would shoot him if he didn’t stop beating the deputy, then gunfire.
After the shooting, Russell drops his weapon. As you see him walk away, appearing, dazed.
The good Samaritan had a permit to carry the gun. The state attorney ruled he was not only justified in the shooting, but that he had every right to stand his ground.
David Katz Speaking Live on Webinar:
The state attorney ruled that he had every right to stand his ground and that he was justified in the shooting, but did they rule the day of the shooting? No, they didn’t. They ruled that three months later. The good Samaritan here has to attend multiple interviews with authorities. He takes time off of work to attend those interviews. I’m told he had out-of-pocket legal expenses of $30,000. Now, remember I told you, Mr. Amore’s 50,000 sounded really low to me. This sounds pretty high to me, for somebody on a pre-filing investigation. But that’s what I’ve been told. Mr. Ashad Russell has public figure status forever, which means that his name can get brought up in presentations like this or on the news, or people can write what they want on social media about him. And, you know, people call him names, look, what’s happening with Kyle Rittenhouse. We don’t know how that case is going to turn out, but you see all the things people are saying about him, right? This incident was November 14, 2016 and it took three months for the state attorney to clear this hero.
Similarly, in our beginning presentation, we show a video about Jack Wilson, the man from Texas who saved his church congregation when a shooter came in and opened fire on the congregation, killing two people. Jack Wilson acted immediately. That case was open for more than eight months. It actually just closed when a grand jury decided that charges shouldn’t be brought against him. But even in Texas, even though there was video of what was going on and he saved the lives of hundreds of people in his church, it took eight months for the state to decide that charges weren’t going to go forward.
These things don’t end quickly, even when you’re clearly the victim, even when you’re clearly a hero, there’s going to be an investigation. People end up spending a lot of money on legal fees. Even if charges aren’t pressed when there’s a shooting. Why does this happen? Well, you have to remember not everyone is pro-gun, including prosecutors and law enforcement. There are law enforcement officers that believe that private citizens shouldn’t have guns. There are prosecutors who don’t believe in your right to keep and bear arms. And if you get an anti-gun prosecutor, maybe they want to make an example of you. There’s lots of different beliefs about firearms and we’re going to look at a couple of videos now that show how different people feel about your right to self-defense.
Reporter on news video:
Names of the two men who were shot to death after allegedly robbing that store.
I spoke to each of their families today. Relatives say they are heartbroken by what happened. And they want justice for the men. Now near the scene with more on that part of the story, Liz.
Reporter on street:
Rob and Wendy, well many have described the citizen who shot the alleged robbers as somewhat of a hero. That is certainly not as you can imagine the way families view what happened here. In fact, loved one of 24-year-old William Medina and 18 year old Robert Dakar have, as you can see here, set up this Memorial. It’s continued to grow even in just the last several minutes.
Relatives speaking on news report:
It’s not fair. It’s not fair.
With loved ones by her side, Virginia Medina is mourning for 24-year-old son, William Medina.
One of the alleged Kricks Korner robbers shot to death Monday alongside 18-year-old, Robert De Car. Family members say the two were close friends and good men.
Family members speaking:
My brother was a good kid. He hung out with the wrong crowd. He’s not going to get a chance to really make up for it.
He’s not no thug or no big hard criminal or nothing like that. People painted the picture like, oh, he’s a bad person. He’s not a bad person. He was never a bad person. He’s a good boy. He really was.
And she says, he’s being denied justice. While investigators say the unidentified gunmen who killed the men did so out of self-defense, Medina and her family want him charged.
Family members speaking:
He took the law into his own hands and walked away scot-free.
How about if people just start running around here, policing the city on their own? How much worse is it going to get? Just because they have a gun license.
Both families described the alleged robbers as family men and while Medina admits her son was a drug user, she believes he would have maybe attempted this robbery only to pay child support of his young daughter. We are live tonight in Reading, Liz Kilmer 69 News.
David Katz Speaking live at webinar:
So it’s wrong to defend yourself against somebody with a gun, and it’s okay to take a gun and rob a store if you’re only doing it to pay your child support. Look, I understand that this is a grieving family and that the mother doesn’t think her son was a bad person, but if you’re going to take a gun and try and rob people with it, one of the consequences of those actions is you may be shot. In Florida, you would absolutely have a right to defend yourself against somebody who’s armed with a firearm, robbing you or somebody else. But people don’t all believe that we have a right to defend ourselves.
Here’s one more example:
Shooting and killing a would-be-burglar. Police say she shot and killed the teenage thief while he was climbing out of her window. CBS 4, Gabby Fleischman is live at the scene with the latest, Gabby.
Vanessa, neighbors tell me that this home has been burglarized in the past, which is why the homeowner set up these surveillance cameras. Detectives say the security system actually alerted the homeowner of the break-in last night. We did get a chance to speak with the sister and the cousin of the young man who was killed, and they say they don’t understand why that homeowner had to take matters into her own hands instead of waiting for police.
I don’t care she had her gun license, her rights or any of that. That is way beyond, way beyond law. Way beyond.
Relatives of 17-year-old Trayvon Johnson are angry. The teenager was shot and killed last night by a homeowner who police say was protecting her property.
He was not close to a guy like this. He had a future ahead of him. Trayvon had goals. And he was a very funny guy. He was very big on education. He loved going to school. He loved learning.
Last night, Miami Dade police say the D.A. Dorsey Technical College student, burglarized a home South of 79th street near I-95, just blocks away from where he lives. Detectives say the 54-year-old homeowner was alerted of the break-in by her security system. With officers already on their way, she rushed home to check things out and police say she was armed. She observed a subject exiting the home through the rear. According to detectives, there was a confrontation, and one shot was fired. Johnson was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Like what’s wrong with her. She did not had to shoot him.
It’s no reason. She should have waited and said, I think he walked out the yard. It’s already there. If she called the police already, they why would she shoot him?
Relatives say they don’t believe Johnson stole anything from the home. But detectives would not confirm that.
You have to understand. You have to look at it from every child’s point of view that was raised in the hood. How he going to get his money to have clothes, to go to school.
While the investigation continues into whether the shooting was justified or not, detectives want to remind the public that if possible, it’s best not to take these types of situations into your own hands.
David Katz speaking live at webinar:
According to the family there, if somebody is in your home and whether or not they’ve taken your stuff, if they’ve only broken into your home to get money for clothes to go to school, you don’t have a right to defend your home or your family. I don’t really know what people are thinking. Well, I do know what they’re thinking. This is their relative and they want him to be alive. And I understand that, but if you’re going to break into other people’s homes, the law here in Florida allows those people to protect their home and their property. It’s Florida Statute § 776.013 our Home Protection Act. It’s also known as the “Castle Doctrine” and it applies in three different kinds of places, dwellings, residences, and vehicles.
The law defines a dwelling as a building or conveyance of any kind that has a roof and is designed for people to sleep in at night. That’s very important. It depends on what it’s designed for and not its actual use. It can be temporary or permanent, mobile, or immobile. A tent is designed for people to sleep in at night and the castle doctrine would cover a tent. But if you are sleeping in a large refrigerator cardboard box that you found, just because you’re sleeping in it doesn’t mean that the castle doctrine is going to cover it. It is not designed for people to be sleeping in at night. It’s designed to transport refrigerators. So, the castle doctrine wouldn’t apply.
A residence is a dwelling in which a person resides either temporarily, permanently, or visiting as a guest. If you’re staying at my house tonight, well, my house becomes your residence. When you go home to your own house tomorrow, your house becomes your residence, but it’s the place you’re basically sleeping in tonight. Hotels are covered by the castle doctrine. As long as you haven’t defrauded, the innkeeper. If you’ve stolen the room you broke in, in the middle of a rainy night because you had nowhere else to be, the castle doctrine doesn’t protect you. But if you’ve paid for the room, then it’s covered by the castle doctrine.
And that really should be occupied vehicle because your car sitting in the driveway empty is not covered by the castle doctrine. But if there’s somebody in the car, it is. And a vehicle is a conveyance of any kind which is designed to transport people or property. Okay. Think motorized, that’s not a hundred percent correct, but your bicycle is not covered as a vehicle. Your golf cart, your car, uh, you know, your motorcycle would be a vehicle. W
What does the castle doctrine do for us? It gives us two very strong presumptions. The first presumption is that a person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself, herself, or another when using or threatening to use defensive force that is likely or intended to cause death or great bodily harm to another. That presumption applies if you know, or have reason to believe, that an unlawful or forcible entry is occurring or has occurred into a dwelling residence or occupied vehicle, or where someone is attempting to kidnap somebody, removing them against their will from a dwelling residence or occupied vehicle. The presumption does not apply if the intruder is a lawful resident of the dwelling, residence, or vehicle. Or the person who the intruder is seeking to remove is a child, grandchild, or is otherwise in the lawful custody or guardianship of the intruder, or if the defender is engaged in criminal activity and using the dwelling residence or occupied vehicle to further criminal activity.
If you want to learn more about the castle doctrine, please attend our Gun Law 101 webinar, which goes into depth on these laws further. Here is just not what this webinar is intended or designed for, nor do we have time to do it, but I will finish with the second presumption.
The second presumption under the castle doctrine is that a person who unlawfully and by force enters or attempts to enter a person’s dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so with the intent to commit an unlawful act involving force. In other words, presumption #1, you are in fear of death or great bodily harm. Presumption #2, the person that’s broken into your house by force or an occupied vehicle by force has done so to destroy your world to cause harm by force. Those are the two presumptions. And when you add them together, you get the right to use deadly force. Now presumptions are a starting point, not an ending point. If the prosecutor can present evidence to show that you weren’t in fear of death or great bodily harm, these presumptions can be overcome, but they are a very, very strong defensive weapon for a person who has been forced to defend their family, their home or their occupied vehicle to use in that situation.
Now we’re going to see the story of Mr. Banks,
News Report announcer:
Now from WPTV. This is news channel five at five.
He held a gun to a woman serving him a lawsuit. Today a Port St. Lucie man is free of any criminal charges. Now that a judge found he was protecting his home. It’s a win for stand your ground supporters, but his fight isn’t over. Now, he wants to show why this case should have never gone to court and wants others to learn from his experience. News channel five’s Megan McRoberts is live now with his story, Megan.
Kelly, Darrell Banks said he was protecting his family, his two children and his wife. When he held a gun up to a stranger at his house, he thought he was acting within his rights, but the case still went to a criminal trial. Now he won his stand your ground case in February, but still moving forward. He thinks there are changes that need to be made on how these stand your ground cases are handled.
It was July of 2015 when Katrina Banks says a woman her family didn’t know, approached her young son in the front yard and walked to the front door. She asked for his parents, but Katrina in the shower, told her son to tell the woman to come back later.
And then he came back to me and he said, um, she told me she couldn’t let me shut the front door. I reached for it. And she reached for my hand and then she blocked the door and wouldn’t allow me to shut the door.
Worried for her son’s safety. She rushed out of the shower. At the same time, her husband Darryl Banks was returning home from a business trip.
We both looked and saw a woman in our threshold, throwing something.
Darryl felt threatened and started hollering.
Are you trespassing? Did you break into my house? That person not identifying themselves, took another step towards me and then started coming and reaching into my house.
He pulled out a gun.
She still didn’t respond, picked up whatever she had thrown into the house threw it again, turned around, flicked me off, and hollered you’ve been served.
He thought he was protecting his home, but a prosecutor saw otherwise. The prosecutor did not believe that Mr. Bank had reasonable need to use the force that he used to protect his castle. His legal team now calling for change.
Mr. Banks lawyer:
There’s a lot more, uh, in the way of training of our local law enforcement officers, and we need more training for our prosecutors so that they recognize, uh, what cases should be, uh, prosecuted, and which ones shouldn’t and stronger laws to help people feel safe in their home.
Now, the woman in this case told police at the time of the incident that she was just doing her job. She felt threatened for her safety and she was the one who called 911. Bank’s attorneys tell us that she is still working in the area as a process server. Reporting live in Port St. Lucie, I’m Megan McRoberts, WPTV news, channel five.
David Katz speaking live at the webinar:
Okay, so let’s talk about Mr. Bank’s case. Remember earlier we talked about facts and opinions? Well, I want to read something to you here. This is according to the process server. She says on July 21st, when it says the victim, we’re talking about the process server, on July 21st, the victim, a process server for the 19th Judicial Circuit went to the home of Daryl Banks. While at the home, the process server witnessed Bank’s ten-year-old son outside and asked him to tell his parents that she was from the courts. Police said the child went inside the home, leaving the door to the courtyard pool area open while the victim was waiting by her car. Police said Banks came home and parked his car in the garage. The victim said that she called out to Banks, but he didn’t respond. She approached the front doors of the courtyard to leave the paperwork. Banks approached the worker, pointed a gun at her and demanded that she leave. Those sound-like facts. But if those were the facts Mr. Banks very likely would have been convicted. The jury didn’t believe that, which doesn’t make those opinions, it makes them false statements really. That’s what I wanted to point out to you. Facts are whatever the jury believes in our court system. Just because a person says it like they mean it doesn’t mean it’s true and doesn’t make it a fact. The victim says she quickly walked back to her car and Banks followed her. Mr. Banks was interviewed, he claimed he was fearful for his life and the safety of his family. He did admit to pointing the gun at her and telling her to leave.
If her story was true, would we have that picture? We saw during the video of her standing in the doorway, she said she didn’t do that. According to the wife’s testimony that she was in the doorway and she refused to leave and wouldn’t let the kid close the door. All of that didn’t happen. Well, thank God they had a video surveillance because I think if they didn’t, Mr. Banks would have been in a lot more trouble. Now this incident occurred on July 21st, 2015. Mr. Banks was arrested seven days later after cooperating and being interviewed multiple times by the police. He bonded out the same day on $20,000 bond. His attorney had a stand your ground hearing for him in August of 2016, a year and a month after he was arrested. The Judge denied that immunity motion. Now, unfortunately here I used the term that the news media uses also and called it a stand your ground hearing. It’s really an immunity hearing. That immunity hearing was denied. This case went to trial. Mr. Banks didn’t take a plea offer. The jury found that he was not guilty in February 2017.
We want you to understand that self-defense has to be the last resort. If you are forced to use deadly force, you are going to end up most likely in the court system. Self-defense generally is the necessary use of force to prevent or stop violence against you or another, and to prevent injury or a death. You must use like force. You cannot up the ante. If somebody threatens you with a punch, which is non-deadly force, you can’t pull out a gun and threaten them with deadly force. You may not retaliate, punish, or get even. that is not the purpose of self-defense. You must stop when the threat is ended. You can’t continue to prove a point or to teach a lesson. I remember I mentioned to you, immunity applied in one of the places was Florida Statute 776.012. Well, 776.012(1) is our non-deadly force statute. It says a person is justified in using or threatening to use force except deadly force against another when, and to the extent that person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against the others imminent use of unlawful force. A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force. If you’re using non-deadly force, you don’t have to retreat. You can stand your ground but remember that that is non-deadly force.
Deadly force is the use or threat of use of such force, likely to cause serious bodily injury or death. Deadly force may be used in the context of self-defense if the circumstances warrant such a response to preserve life or prevent serious bodily injury. If you use deadly force, realize there will always be a police investigation. There may not always be an arrest, but there will always be a police investigation.
The purpose of self-defense is to survive the violent attack. So that you can continue with your life and provide for your family. Ego cannot, should not, must not ever be the motivator for the use of deadly force or self-defense at all. Property cannot ever be the motivator for the use of deadly force in Florida. We have a deadly force statute, just like a non-deadly force statute. That’s found in 776.012(2), which says a person is justified in using or threatening to use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. Imminent means immediate. If you didn’t act right now, somebody would have died or been seriously injured, or if you didn’t act right now, a violent felony, a forcible felony would have been committed. Again, we have stand your ground language here, but it’s a little bit different. A person who uses or threatens to use deadly force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat and has a right to stand his or her ground as long as if the person using or threatening to use the deadly force is not engaged in criminal activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be. If you’re somewhere you don’t have a right to be, or you’ve been engaged in criminal activity, you cannot use deadly force unless you first attempt to retreat if you can safely do so safely. If you don’t attempt to retreat first, if safe to do so, your claim of self-defense or justification will not be heard. It won’t matter if somebody was threatening you, if you had a way out, okay, because you were engaged in criminal activity.
We need you to understand this about self-defense. Self-defense doesn’t stop. It doesn’t end after you’ve ended the threat. After the physical attack has ended, there’s going to be physical injuries that must be addressed. There’s going to be criminal justice issues that must be addressed. There’s going to be civil litigation. There’s going to be physiological issues and there’s going to be sociological issues. Again, I’ll point to the Kyle Rittenhouse case. Look at what he has to go through in the media and social media. Many people think he acted in self-defense and I think that’s what’s going to come out ultimately. I think he’ll be acquitted, but he’s been called a murderer by just about everybody. All of these issues are going to have to be resolved. Everything he’s being put through. He’s going to have psychological issues likely going forward also. You have to understand that using deadly force is got to be the last resort.
Also understand that the police are not your advocates. They are impartial agents of the state sworn to provide equal service to all. When they arrive on scene, they don’t know you. Their role is to respond and restore order. That’s the first thing they’re going to do. They’re going to identify those involved and they’re going to preserve evidence if they can. But first they’re going to restore order. Evidence is going to come second. They’re going to document the scene. They’re going to collect any evidence and witness statements for future reference and potential criminal action. They’re not going to take sides unless it appears that a crime has been committed and that they have probable cause of who committed the crime. Then they’re going to make an arrest.
We always tell you to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Report all acts of self-defense as soon as it is safe to do so. Please understand that a failure to report an act of self-defense may be perceived as trying to conceal your improper or illegal actions. Often times the police will arrest the second one to call 911. If you’re the first one to call you’re the one who’s believed. So, if you are ever involved in a self-defense incident, even if you don’t have to pull your gun or don’t fire a shot, as soon as it is safe to do so, call the police.
When you call the police, stick to the facts. You’ve been the victim of a crime and you need help. Advise if anyone is injured, even if they ran away. If you shot somebody and they are bleeding, you’re not going to say I shot somebody. You’re going to say, “somebody here was shot.” Somebody here was shot doesn’t admit any involvement in the incident. It doesn’t admit you did anything wrong. You’re going to tell them where you’re located right now. If the incident occurred somewhere else, you’re going to tell them where it occurred. If bad guys are still in the area, let them know that. Don’t bring the police into an active shooting situation where they don’t know that there’s bad guys with guns in the area.
Don’t provide any details about what happened but get the police and medical care on the way and call your attorney immediately. Once the police come, you’re going to keep your mouth shut. You’re going to tell them you’re going to be happy to cooperate with them once you’ve spoken with your attorney. I know Rommel is going to go over that with you a little bit more in this presentation. We do what we call an “after the bang” presentation in our other webinars, but in this one we don’t have that. So, I will just end my portion by telling you the most important thing you can do is call 911, stick to the facts, call your attorney, then keep your mouth shut. We all know we have a right to remain silent. Most of us don’t have the ability to do so. With that, I’m going to turn this over to Travis with U.S. Law.
Travis Arnold speaking live at the webinar:
Hello. My name is Travis. I’m the area manager for Tampa Bay region for U.S LawShield. I have 27 years in law for experience. And 25 of those years spent as a firearms instructor as well. Today. I want to tell our members about a great new add-on that makes this program a complete package. We are now proud to offer our members, the bail bonds and expert witness option for your packaged self-defense plan. U.S. LawShield will provide up to $50,000 towards the bail bonds and expert witnesses. Also, part of this, add-on, if you need an expert witness to testify on your behalf, U.S. LawShield will cover this expense. Again, bail bonds and expert witness is a combined add on which is only $2.95 a month or $35.40 per year. And don’t forget about our other add-ons as well. Multi-state if you plan on doing any traveling in the near future; Minor children, if you have 17-year-olds and younger living in your home; Hunter Shield for you avid hunters and fishermen and gun owner identification theft coverage, to protect you in case your guns are ever stolen or used in a crime. After this webinar, you will be directed to a page for members to sign on. If you want to go to that page, sign on, manage your account, and add on that bail bonds and expert witness coverage if that is something that you would like. I want to thank each and every one of you for being here with us today, if I can be of any assistance to you, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rommel Scalf speaking live at the webinar:
Welcome back. My name is Rommel Scalf. I’m a retired law enforcement officer paramedic, and I’m here today to do the law enforcement portion of the Aftermath of Self-Defense. Um, you might be the person who defends your family. You might defend yourself. You might defend another person but understand that if there is going to be an investigation you cannot stop that investigation. There are some critical things you need to know about that investigation, that is going to set up whether or not, you put yourself in a bad situation or if you possibly can help make yourself in a better situation so that your attorney can do the job that he needs to do for you. Most people don’t understand that regardless of the circumstances, there’s going to be an investigation. They think that they’ve done the right thing and they know in their heart, they’ve done the only thing they could do. They don’t understand what’s getting ready to happen because that investigation is going to look at them as a suspect. You have killed someone and while your allegation is that you had to do it, that fact needs to be checked and verified by the physical evidence, the witnesses that may be available, the circumstances of the alleged crime or the circumstances of the crime you’re saying was taking place. What actions you took to instigate that crime, or to defend yourself against that crime. All those angles have to be looked at. You’re not guilty until proven innocent, but you are a suspect in a criminal investigation. Most people have never been in that situation. It can be very frightening from the very moment that you report an incident things are not going to be happening in the way you think they might be happening.
News Report Playing:
911 calls reveal the frantic scene at a home in Boulder, after a homeowner shot and killed an intruder. The homeowner says he feared for his life. Monday night, police say 19-year-old Roberto Zamara tried to get into several homes near Pima Court. At least two neighbors called 911 saying they saw the intruder charge through the homeowner’s front glass door. The homeowner’s wife called 911 right after the shooting.
So we’re watching TV and somebody is booming on our door. I thought it was a shotgun. I thought somebody shot us.
Okay. And then your husband got a gun and shot him?
And there was blood all over the floor and he’s dead in our house.
Okay. And you’re sure he’s dead? There’s nothing we can do to save him?
I don’t know if he’s alive or not. I don’t care.
He almost killed my husband!
Police continue to investigate the shooting. Prosecutors will decide whether the homeowner is protected under Colorado’s Make My Day Law.
Rommel Scalf speaking live at the webinar:
Now in Colorado, they call it the Make My Day Law. In Florida, it’s commonly referred to as Stand Your Ground, but I’m sure Mr. Katz has gone into that in great detail. The Stand Your Ground is a claim of self-defense, but just like these people in Colorado, there’s going to be an investigation. Multiple people called in. That 911 call is admissible. She basically provided details that she didn’t need to provide. What else did she say? He’s on the ground. He’s dead and I don’t care. You think that might come up in a civil trial? Do you think that might paint her in a callous and, you know, disregard for human life light? Is the jury going to understand her emotions at the time? That’s a coin flip. Juries are individual people, and they all have their own experiences, their own individual belief systems, their own moral values. Everything you say can, and will, be used against you at some point. You need to rehearse your 911 call. You need to know what to say, what not to say. Situations like that are, are fraught with emotion, uh, adrenaline. You don’t want to put yourself in a bad light.
News Report Playing:
There’s a man at my back door. He’s trying to get in. He’s hollering and yelling.
Okay. And do you have a gun?
Yes. Yes, I do. I do not have it out.
Okay. Just, I want you to tell…
…, and I will use it.
I want you to stay on the line with me.
I will. He is banging on the door hearing. I can hear him banging. He looks like an older man, but I don’t know. I don’t understand what’s going on. He’s getting close to the door. I’m going to go and get the gun out with the shotgun. It’s large.
Can you understand what he’s saying at all?
He’s crazy. (Banging) He’s crazy. I’m taking the safety off the gun, ma’am. He’s acting crazy.
Okay. Do you have a way that you can go inside your house and lock yourself in a room?
Not really. I’ve got a big shotgun. I’m not going into a tiny bathroom. Oh, crap. It’s at the back.
Okay. County 13 is advising me that you can defend your property if you need to.
I don’t want to have to kill this man, but I’ll kill him graveyard dead, ma’am.
All right. He’s breaking in now. He’s breaking in. I have the gun on him. He’s, he’s an older man. I don’t want to kill him. God, I just don’t want to kill this man.
They need to hurry. He’s going to break this thing open. Oh I have to kill him. Ma’am I don’t want to kill him.
I understand ma’am. You have to protect yourself.
I will. Ma’am he got through the house. I’m going to shoot.
(Sound of gun shooting)
Can you? Oh my God. (Sound of gun shooting) Ma’am is your …
I shot him going out front the front. I hit him. God, help me please. I’ve killed him. Please God. (Crying)
It’s okay. Ma’am it’s okay. You, you have to protect yourself. Okay.
Rommel Scalf speaking live at the webinar:
Now at first she was doing very well and she was detailing what was going on, but did you hear that little last part? I shot him going out the front. So, he was actually running away when she shot him. Is he still a threat to her? Uh, could that come back to be an issue in court? The jurisdiction where this incident took place, that’s going to be up to them and their investigation on whether or not her actions were justified. This is the problem that people get themselves into and they don’t think about what they’re doing or what they’re saying because of the emotions involved. Once you’ve stepped into that, you’re tracking tar across everything, and you really, really need to rehearse your 911 activity because all of that is admissible. On a side note. You’re talking to a dispatch center. The dispatch center are usually civilian personnel. Even if they’re a law enforcement personnel, the other person on the other side of that phone cannot prohibit you from doing something. They also cannot enable you to do something. So that dispatcher said, you have a right to protect yourself. Well, that’s great, but that’s not legal advice. If it doesn’t fit the circumstances, that person isn’t there. Okay? So, they can’t tell you what you can do, what you can’t do. They can make suggestions, but you’re not under their power or control. You have to do what you have to do to protect yourself and your families.
What a lot of people don’t understand is how the dispatch process works. When you make the 911 call that 911 call goes into a call center. That call center asks you, “911, what is your emergency? Police, fire, or medical?” Depending upon your response, it’s then routed to another communicator. That other communicator may be in charge of EMS response, fire response, or they may be in charge of law enforcement response. Maybe you need all three. So, now you have two communicators on the line. And that initial call taker is operating in modern dispatch centers. They’re operating off of a computer assisted dispatch system. Which is a computer system that prompts certain questions to be asked based on a previous response. If your call is, dealing with someone who’s choking, it may prompt up how old are they are? When’s the last time you saw them breathing? How long have they been unable to breathe? Are they still coughing? Are they trying to choke? Are they making any sounds, all these questions to give the dispatcher the information they need to help talk you through CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver or whether or not you need law enforcement response or an ambulance or fire rescue, or who’s the closest to it could provide any kind of aid for what your circumstances are. Is it a crime in progress? Do you need multiple officers? Is there a hazard? So, all those questions are being asked off of a computer system and that dispatcher is working down through that as quickly as possible to try to categorize your call so that they can get the appropriate people to you. You are not talking to the police officer in the car. You’re not talking to a person who’s actually talking to the police officer in the car. That message is being filtered through two or three other people. So, that police officer in the car is now getting information from the radio dispatcher and the radio dispatcher is passing on information that was passed to them by the call taker and the call takers passing on information that was made by the call center, the taker, not the person calling 911. Have you ever played that game telephone where you go around the room and you whisper in each other’s ear? It starts off on one end of the room as a fast-food order, say two cheeseburgers and a milkshake. By the time it passes around the room and goes through 15 people, it’s a large pizza and a two liter of soda because every time that message is retransmitted, it gets garbled just a little bit. It gets muddied up. Quite frequently, police officers respond to calls. I know my myself have responded to calls that are dispatched as one thing and are totally something else when we get there and it kind of catches us off guard.
The other thing you need to think about is who else is calling 911. Is somebody calling 911 who saw what happened, but they didn’t see your angle on it? They think you’re the bad guy. There’s a crazy person with a gun, chasing a kid through a parking lot. When what really happened was this kid had a knife and he was trying to rob you and you pulled your gun and he ran away. But they’ve identified you as the bad guy, or is it the bad guy making the 911 call? Because he knows he messed up and he’s trying to get you in trouble. He knows the system a little bit better than you do. So, if he’s the first one to tell his tale, they might believe him and be tied up with you while he makes a getaway. So, the dispatch center process doesn’t work quite like people think it does. And a lot of times that gets people confused also. And they think I said everything I needed to say, why doesn’t this cop know what’s going on? Why don’t these people understand what’s happening? I told everybody on the dispatch line, what was going on? Well that all information doesn’t come through. You’re telling the story for 10 minutes. It’s like a bad foreign movie being interpreted. The speaker talks for 10 minutes and the interpreter says, “yes.” You know the message is very filtered down. You’re trying to explain everything. You’re telling how many people are involved. And the dispatcher says, “there’s a disturbance involving three people.” A disturbance! You’ve detailed what has happened. There’s no reason to do that. It’s not helping you. I need police and ambulance at this location. Someone has been injured. I’m the victim. I need help. That’s all you need to say. And they’ll fill in the rest later after the officers get there and your lawyer gets there, and things can get a little bit calm.
The other thing is, who’s coming that day? We’re going to get there as soon as we can. I guarantee it. But who’s going to be the one that arrives? Police officers are human beings. They have bad days. Are you getting officer “angry?” Are you getting officer “I don’t care?” Are you getting officer “I’m not sure what’s going on?” Are you getting officer “first day on job” and he’s really inexperienced, never dealt with this kind of call before, but he’s off the FTO program and this is the first serious thing of this nature that he’s dealt with? Or you get in the officer who just wants to go through the motions? He knows everything. He really doesn’t want to hear the drama. He just wants the facts. Or are you getting the gung-ho guy who wants to run around and throw flash bangs and everything and put on his helmet and his body armor and do Hondo rolls? I will admit that throughout my career I have been every one of these guys at some point. I will also admit that at some point I’ve been every one of these guys in the same day. Cops are human beings. They’re going to have a bad day. Did they get passed over for promotion? Did they find out that their spouse is having an affair with somebody? Did they find out that their kids are in trouble? Did they find out that they’re going to a shift they really don’t want to go to? Is it 10 minutes before the end of shift, and they’re looking at multiple pages of paperwork and dealing with drama that you say has been going on for months and is finally escalated to a situation? So, just understand they’re human beings. Also, they’re not machines. You don’t want a machine. You want another human being, but that other human being has faults, just like you do. Nobody’s perfect.
How do things get mixed up? Well, we used to call it fight or flight, but technology has come along, and we understand now that there’s more than just fight or flight. There’s freeze and posturing. And there’s a lot of things that happen during a critical stress event. Misunderstandings of how the dispatch process works, miscommunication during the dispatch process, and mixed signals from yourself and your own body. Fight or flight response, all right, is going to kick in. You’re going to have auditory exclusion. You’re not going to hear things that you should have heard. You may have auditory hallucinations. You may have heard things that didn’t really happen, or you may be so hyper, excited, that you hear things far, far away. That doesn’t make sense. How did you hear that? Your eyes are going to go to tunnel vision, or they’re going to go to wash out and you’re going to lose color discrimination.
I can’t tell you how many times people tell me he’s a 26-year-old white male and he ran that way, and you ask them, what were they wearing? And they cannot tell you. Well, how do you know he was a male if you can’t even tell me the color of the shirt he was wearing? Was he wearing pants? You know, it’s really, until you’ve dealt with people who have experienced this extreme stress, it’s kind of, it doesn’t make sense how they could not know something. Also, what’s going to happen is your heart rate is going to increase. Blood is going to shunt away from your extremities. You’re going to have reduced sensation in your hands. And these are all things that we know from science are going to take place. Your heartbeat is going to dramatically kick in and that’s going to affect every other part of your body.
Chemicals are going to be released. Adrenaline. Corticosteroids are all going to be released because your body’s going into survival response and it’s anticipating serious injury. All right? And it’s trying to set you up so that you’re able to survive. You may be injured during the confrontation and not even realize it. We teach police officers to do a self-assessment to make sure they’re not bleeding after a violent confrontation, because they may be stabbed or injured in a way that they don’t know at the time. And then when they’re checking themselves out, they find out, hey, I’m bleeding from this location. What happened? Don’t know. I want you to listen and understand that when these things happen, your body alarm reaction kicks in. You aren’t in control of your body anymore. Your brain is, and your body is trying to survive. You’re going to have problems with cognition, understanding, comprehension, all that’s going to go out the window. There’s a video coming up that if you have any problems with seizure disorders or anything like that, don’t watch the video, just close your eyes and listen to the words. And this is a real confrontation that took place.
Conversation on police Radio:
10-98 Give us the channel for a second.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
All units emergency traffic for 45 and 98 on Huntington Street. Do you need additional units?
10-4 42 copy.
49 Everyone goes.
Everyone stay on the channel. 49 are you on the way? Copy. Go ahead.
We have an officer, we have an officer down shot at least twice.
Copy. Let’s get rescue rolling.
Uh 45, where’s the suspect?
We’re in the front yard
45, where’s the suspect?
He’s on the ground.
40 central, I don’t how many units we have? But whatever units we have available just make sure we started this way and we get extra help too.
Is this the Huntington street address?
1545 Huntington. 1-5-4-5 Huntington Street.
We definitely need…Brandon has been hit at least twice and I don’t know if I’ve been.
Ambulance on the way
The house is not secured. Mom’s in the house somewhere. I’ve got one gun secured here.
John, where are you?
(inaudible) you are.
Just get up here and secure the house, please.
49 do we have a suspect?
I haven’t been able to ascertain that. I I haven’t gotten word on that yet.
John, if you’re able to tell me where the suspect is. Do we know?
Do we know all I’ll say…
Brandon is laying on top of him. I need a couple of deputies to secure the house. There was a white…his mother, I noticed she did not have a firearm.
Ok John, where’s the suspect?
Brandon is lying on top of him. He is secured in handcuffs.
Rommel Scalf speaking live at webinar:
Now you had a situation there where two officers were going to serve a civil pickup order and the suspect pulled a gun and shot the officer closest to him. The other officer pulled his gun, shot the suspect. That officer who only moments before had said, give us the channel for a minute, was the next officer you heard who was out of breath. It sounded like he just ran a four-minute mile, but he didn’t run anywhere. The incident took place in a space of 20 feet and there was no running involved. But the adrenaline kicked in and he couldn’t control what was happening to his body. He’s trying to render aid. He’s worried about another person loose in the area. And you heard the supervisor who was also under stress, trying to get information on the radio. He has two officers in trouble, one’s been shot. You heard the officer say John’s been shot at least twice. I don’t know if I’ve been, that’s what I’m telling you about. You may be injured. You may not know it. His body went numb. He couldn’t tell. And then the supervisor is trying to get the information. Where’s the suspect? Where’s the suspect? He asked multiple times. Where’s the suspect? He responded to it. John’s laying on him. We’re in the front yard. We’re here at the house. We’re in the front yard. John’s laying on him. That’s not the normal response. The normal response is he ran this way. He ran that way. He’s in a car headed south or north or whatever. The fact that an officer was had tackled the fellow, the fellow who, the officer, who was shot, tackled the fellow to the ground, tried to disarm him. They managed to get him handcuffed. That’s not the normal response the supervisor’s looking for. So, his brain wasn’t understanding what they were saying. Cognitive disruption due to stress. Now those are trained police officers. How well are you going to do? Are you ready for that level of stress? Have you rehearsed? Have you practiced under stress? These are the things that people they just don’t understand.
News Report playing:
It’s 8:00 AM from Fox 35. This is good day Orlando. A man accused out of a deadly road rage incident in Port Orange is waking up in jail again this morning. A judge set Robert Gellis’ bond at $100,000 yesterday. But so far, he has not posted that bond. He’s charged with second degree murder for killing Joseph Bailey III at the corner of Ridgewood and Dunlawton in Port Orange. It happened Sunday about five in the evening. Gellis says that he shot him in self-defense when Bailey got out of his car and threatened him. But witnesses say that Bailey had his hands in the air in a non-threatening manner. Bailey’s father spoke to us about what happened.
My prayer is that justice will be served. This guy will spend the rest of his life, looking out gray bars and regretting what he’s done.
Gellis has one prior weapons charge. Bailey has several arrests for DUI, driving on a suspended license, and reckless driving. His father though, says regardless of his past, he did not deserve to die.
Rommel Scalf speaking live at webinar:
Now this incident took place in central Florida and the shooter stated that he felt intimidated because there was a vehicle involved in some type of a street race. Gellis is driving a work van, like a locksmith’s truck or something like that and the guy in the little race pickup truck got in front of him, did a hard brake check and he tapped the back of his car. The younger fellow gets out approaches the gentlemen sitting in his work truck, shouting epithets saying, I’m going to kill you, according to Mr. Gellis. Gellis said he feared for his life. And I’m sure you’ve all heard the story that all you have to say is that you feared for your life. Well, that’s not true. What you have to do is say you feared for your life and you got to describe the circumstances and make people understand and the jury has to agree that they too would have feared for their life under the same set of circumstances and that they would have done what you did. He asked for a stand your ground hearing. Witnesses said that they saw the gentleman who got shot with hands in the air, backing up at the time of the gunshot. We know perceptions are a little bit off. How many times have you seen somebody jump out of a car, run back, talk to the people in the car behind them and then run back and get in their car? We’ve all seen that. We’ve all done it. And we usually don’t pay much attention to it. Right? Something was different about this one. Suddenly, there’s a gunshot. Everybody looks and the fella is moving backward with his hands up. Well, could it have been that when they looked up because of the gunshot, they see the hands up and the moving back and they misinterpret that as being the hands up, moving back, and then the gunshot?
It’s something unusual that they weren’t anticipating. While the Judge listened to the claim, he rejected the stand your ground hearing said, you know what, it’s a great thing for a jury to decide and he put it before the jury. When he put it before the jury, the jury convicted Mr. Gellis and sentenced him to 25 years in prison for second degree murder. It is not simply enough to say you feared for your life at the time. Bailey the man who approached him, remember, this happened early in the morning, Bailey had a blood alcohol level, twice, the legal limit. You heard that he already had reckless driving charges and DUIs. So even though the other fellow was the one who instigated, Mr. Gellis is the one who pulled the trigger. Simply saying, I was in fear for my life was not enough. Could he have driven away? Could he have avoided the situation? Could he have done anything else besides taking a human life? That’s what the jury wants. That’s what the courts want. That’s what society wants. They don’t want people just willy nilly killing each other.
If you think you’re ready to talk to the cops and you are going to tell them the truth and the truth is going to set you free, I want you to watch this next video. Alright? And the instructor talks very low, so I’m going to tell you what he wants you to do. All he wants you to do is count the number of times the persons in white passes the basketball to each other. The number of times the persons in white, pass the basketball to one another.
This is a test of selective attention. Count how many times the players wearing white pass the basketball?
How many passes did you count? The correct answer is 15 passes. But did you see the gorilla?
(Video rewinds and replays)
This video is from research by Daniel Simons and Christopher Sabree and is copyrighted. It is available for use in talks, training and teaching on DVDs from Viscog productions. Learn more at www.theinvisiblegorilla.com.
Rommel Scalf speaking live at webinar:
Now, if you thought you counted right? How many people got 15? When we do this live presentation, we’ll usually have a show of hands. We’ll have about half the room. We start off at 10, people hold up their hands. They drop their hands. When we get to their number, we’ll usually end up with four or five people out of a group of 20 or 25 or so, that have the correct count. And we’ll have one or two people who saw the gorilla. Now you just watched it and be honest. Did you see the gorilla? You’re not under any stress you’re sitting in your living room, or you’re sitting at your office. You’re taking a video seminar. You’re in a comfortable area. And you missed a very, very significant event that took place. Now imagine putting yourself under stress, and now you have to make a statement to the police. That statement is going to be written or it’s going to be recorded. And if you’re going to try to add something later, you’re going to try to change a detail, it’s going to look like you’re altering your statement. Why do people alter their statement? Because they’re trying to explain a lie. That’s what most people think. You have to understand the stress that is involved in one of these encounters. Please, please practice. What are you going to say? What are you going to do? Officer, thank you for coming to help me. I have nothing to say until my attorney shows up. I’m the victim. I do want to prosecute, but I got nothing to say until my attorney gets here. Thank you very much. It’s what police officers do.
The other thing to remember is that the police officers, when they get there are not your friend. They’re not your advocate. They are, they are responding to a call of a man with gun shots fired. They arrive on scene, who are you? You’re a person with a gun. There may be a body laying at your feet. I’m not going to trust you. I’m not going to listen to you or believe your story. You’re going to put the gun down. I am going to secure you. I am going to make sure that you are actually that person and you’re not the bad guy who suddenly got over on the good guy and picked up the gun. I’m not going to turn my back on you. I’m not going to let you hold onto the gun and just walk away. It’s not going to happen. You’re going to put the gun down. You need to understand that when the uniformed officers get there, I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you used to do. You can be a retired cop. You can be an on-duty cop right now in plain clothes. Undercover officers are taught to comply to the uniformed officers because they don’t know who they are. The guy in the uniform is in charge. You do what he says without hesitation or explanation. You simply shut up, do what they say, follow their commands. You’re going to be restrained. You’re going to be disarmed. And then when everybody’s calm and everything’s secure, you’ll have an opportunity to explain yourself, but you don’t want to go too detailed. You want to wait for your attorney.
Make no sudden moves, follow their commands. Don’t do anything until you’re told to. Follow their commands. I don’t want to see your id. I don’t want to see your concealed carry card. None of that. You start reaching for stuff and It’s going to be a bad day. Put the gun down. Keep your hands where I can see them. Don’t move until I tell you to do so. Yes, you’re going to get cuffed up. All right.
Be aware. Be prepared, have a plan, act when necessary, and without hesitation, if you have to protect yourself, you’ve got a few seconds to do it. Get as much training as you think the life, your life, and that of your loved ones is worth. You’ve got a hobby? You spend thousands of dollars on fishing? take half that money, go spend it at the range with a competent instructor, teaching you some stress techniques. Going to the range and shooting paper is not the same as dealing with stress. If you think it is dropped down, do 20 pushups, roll over, do 10 sit-ups, jump up, do five jumping jacks, pick up the gun, fire five shots at a playing card at 10 feet. Do it in five seconds! When you’re there, move the card a little farther away. Fire, fire, eight shots. Keep practicing! Sweat more now so you bleed less later.
Talk to your family. Know what each of your family member’s role would be in an emergency. Somebody is going to call 911. Somebody is going to render first aid. If you’re out in somewhere and you give the code word, when I go with my family and we go somewhere and we’re all having a great time and I see something that’s unusual, or I want to leave the area, I say, “hey guys, we’re going to leave.” My son started, “well, we just got here.” I say the code word, and we’re gone. There is no discussion at that point, leave the stuff and go stick to the plan. One of you might see something critical that you don’t have 10 minutes to sit there and try to explain to the other members of your family, why you need to run.
Call 911 as soon as it’s safe to do so. Even if you don’t fire the weapon, all right, somebody tries to rob you in a parking lot. You pull your weapon. They run away. That’s still a bad guy. He still loose in the area. Report it. Again, who saw you pull the weapon? Who saw that guy run away? Are they going to pick you out as the bad guy or give a description of your car and your tag number? You’re going to get pulled over on a felony stop going down the road three miles away from the scene. You be the 911 caller. I’m the victim of a crime. I’m here at the Walmart parking lot. I need police. A man just tried to rob me. I pulled my gun. He ran away. I’ll be waiting across the street at the gas station. I’m in a silver SUV. When they get there, make sure your hands are open and exposed because that message may get garbled. Remember the officers might be looking for a guy in a silver SUV, armed with a gun. That may be the call they get because of the dispatch process garbling the message. So, make sure your hands are clear and open so that they can see you and approach you and talk to you. Call your attorney!
Be prepared to be challenged at gunpoint by nervous people. Disarm, if it’s safe to do so before the officers arrive. Follow all the commands given without argument. Make no sudden unexpected or aggressive moves. Do not turn toward the officers with a gun in your hand. Do not turn toward the officers with a gun in your hand. If they tell you to stop moving, you stop moving. You do not need to look at them. They do not want you to look at them. If you’ve got a gun in your hand and you turn to look at me, you’re getting ready to shoot me. That’s the training. That’s what they’re taught to watch for. When we’re shining a flashlight at somebody it’s so we can identify a target. You shine a flashlight at me, you’re identifying the target. And that’s how we’re going to respond. Be prepared to be taken into custody and restrained, even if it’s for a brief period. Don’t freak out. That’s going to happen but do whatever you have to do to avoid a situation like this.
These officers are responding to a call of a home invasion. Man armed with a gun who is now attempting to drown a child in the bathtub. Now, details beyond that we don’t know. This could be a bad domestic violence situation. This could be a jilted lover trying to take it out on the child. I’m going to murder the child and I’m going to murder you. Whatever it is. The 911 call comes in, armed home invasion, man, drowning a child in the bathtub. That’s what these officers are responding to.
Police Body Cam video plays:
Is this the guy?
He got guns.
Is this the guy? Who are you?
Oh shit. This is 13, we got shots fired.
What do you got? What do you got?
Officer Sees gun and yells:
Gun! Gun! Drop the gun.
Lift your hands!
Drop the gun! Hey! Get your hands in the air! The guy in the robe’s got the gun.
Guy turns toward officer with flashlight:
Officers speaking with each other:
You got it. You got it?
Drop the gun! Drop the gun!
Guy in bathrobe who was just shot:
Is he down? Is he down?
He’s down. He’s down.
Don’t reach for that gun. Don’t touch the gun! Alright somebody else glove up. Somebody get some rubber gloves on. I got you.
Hold on. Hold on.
I got him.
Hey, who’s bleeding? Check yourselves.
Nobody’s hit. He’s down.
We have a baby, and supposed to have a baby inside.
Hey, cover me. Got it.
Anybody else in the building make yourself known! Who else is inside?
Guy in bathrobe who was shot:
My son and my grandson are in the bathroom with the perpetrator.
Rommel Scalf speaking live at webinar:
Did you hear what the gentleman on the ground said? My son and my grandson are in the bathroom with the perpetrator. The gentleman in the bathrobe was a grandfather. The perpetrator had the child, was drowning the child. The son was in the bathroom, fighting with the perpetrator. The grandfather went in and shot the perpetrator. The son is trying to resuscitate his child. The grandfather is shot on the floor by the officers. An investigation was done. The officer’s shooting was ruled justified because the gentlemen, for whatever reason, under stress was using cover and concealment, he had a flashlight and a gun in his hand, the officers are identifying themselves multiple times. They’re telling him to drop the gun. He’s peeking around the corner. Finally, when he steps out from around the corner, he shines the light at them, and he still has the gun in his hand. They responded as they had been trained. Don’t put yourself in that situation. Don’t put officers in that situation, follow their instructions. Do what they’re telling you to do. Suing the agency, a settlement check; doesn’t bring anybody back to life. All right.
Identify yourself. As the victim politely realize that a patrol officer cannot make a decision on whether or not what you did was justified. You’re going to wait for an investigator. It’s going to be a while and you’re not going to want to talk until your attorney is there. There is nobody coming to your house with a badge in a marked car who can give you a blessing on the forehead and send you on your way and say, good job. It doesn’t work like that. There’s going to be involvement of investigators, State, Attorney’s investigators, District Attorney’s investigators, whatever jurisdiction you might be in, they might call them something different. If you’re outside of Florida, if they’re here in Florida, it’s going to be the state attorney’s investigators. Homicide task force may show up. All these people that you’re going to have to talk to. They’re going to want to get a sworn statement on camera, on tape, having you write out what you can. It’s not going to be, “hey, this is what happened. See you guys later.” It’s not going to work like that. Get that fallacy out of your head, that false belief. I’ve heard other instructors say, “all you have to tell them is, ”you know” and it’s not. That is not the truth.
What you should say is something like, “I understand officer, that you have a job to do and I respect that. I’ve said all I can. I will not answer any more questions or make any further statements until my attorney is present. I will be wanting to press charges. I just need to wait for my attorney. Thank you for coming to help me.” In today’s world of body cameras and everything like that, ask the officer, his name. “Officer, I’m sorry, what was your name?” And when he says his name, say,” thank you very much. What time is it?” What does that do? That puts a time and date stamp on the video that they’re going to use as evidence saying at this time to this officer, I said that I didn’t want to answer any more questions. All right. And that is about the best advice I can give you. Everybody understands that they have the right to remain silent. Very few people have the capacity. You want to try to explain this terrible thing that you were just forced to do and that’s understandable. I get that, but don’t put yourself in a situation by saying something that may be misinterpreted. You might use the wrong terminology. You might use a slang term that’s insulting to someone, but you didn’t mean it in that way. It flavors the whole rest of the investigation. Imagine if you will, a road rage situation and on the back bumper of the car that you’re in, that you’re driving is a bumper sticker that says, kill them all, let God sort them out. Keep honking, I’m reloading. Nothing in this car is worth your life. And you’re wearing a flag shirt of Lynyrd Skynyrd or a Marine Corp shirt that says, “death from above.” Now you’re trying to explain to the jury that you really didn’t want to take a human life, and you really didn’t want to hurt anybody, but you were forced into a situation and you had to do what you had to do. You think that story is really going to resonate with that jury who is emotional, who are seeing a blown up picture of a 23 year old man, but the picture they have, that the family’s holding up, is a three foot by three foot blow up of his 12 year old graduation from middle school, with his football Jersey on, with his all American Heisman pose. Is that really going to resonate? People set themselves up for things sometimes. But understand this. When police officers are doing their job, they’re going to do whatever they have to do to win.
Video with no spoken word plays:
Some things are just that important. Now, I like to end with a little bit of comedy because we talk about some very tough subject. We talk about some very, serious subjects where we’re talking about the Aftermath of Self-Defense wherein somebody might lose their life, or you’re in legal trouble. We just try to put a little of levity into it so that everybody doesn’t walk out of here, you know, bummed out. So I’m going to turn you back over to Katz & Phillips, P.A. If I’ve been any use and provided you any insight, I hope you’ll take these words to heart and please, please get some training. Sweat now so you bleed less later. Everyone have a good day and God bless.