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Lawyers say sheriff’s comment about taking pictures residence intruders was ‘wildly irresponsible’


A Florida sheriff who inspired householders to shoot intruders in an effort to “save the taxpayers money” is being lambasted by Florida protection attorneys, who’re accusing him of providing “wildly irresponsible” recommendation that might trigger unnecessary lack of life and worsen racial tensions.

At a press convention final week, Santa Rosa Sheriff Bob Johnson was discussing the arrest of Brandon Harris, a person well-known to the sheriff’s workplace. Wanted on a number of warrants, Harris was leaping fences and breaking into homes earlier than finally leaping headfirst out a window the place he was apprehended.

At one level, Johnson famous that in one of many 4 homes Harris broke into, a home-owner shot at him — and missed. The sheriff had a message for that individual, who had not come ahead.

“I guess they think that they did something wrong, which they did not,” Johnson stated. “If somebody’s breaking into your house, you’re more than welcome to shoot them in Santa Rosa County. We prefer that you do, actually.”

“So whoever that was, you’re not in trouble,” Johnson added. “Come see us. We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday. And if you take that, you’ll shoot a lot better and hopefully you’ll save the taxpayers money.”

“Wildly irresponsible”

“I’m a cop, not a politician,” Johnson instructed Fox & Friends Tuesday. “If somebody breaks into your house in Santa Rosa County, and you shoot and kill him, the chances of them reoffending after that are zero. And we like those odds.”

Johnson’s recommendation is legally correct, a number of legal protection attorneys instructed NPR. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” regulation lets folks use lethal drive to forestall a forcible felony — together with residence invasion. And the intruder does not have to have a weapon. “There is no requirement that they be armed before someone can exercise their right to defend their property,” stated Fort Lauderdale legal professional Jason Blank, who chairs the Florida Bar’s Criminal Law Section.

But the attorneys have been aghast at how brazen Johnson was in seeming to thrill in probably unnecessary loss of life. “I cannot agree with the Sheriff that it is ever preferred to shoot someone,” Blank stated by e-mail.

“It’s wildly irresponsible, because it essentially encourages people to use deadly force without giving it more consideration,” stated Jude Faccidomo, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL). “There’s often times that somebody is not an imminent threat to you.”

Faccidomo says it was “reckless” for Johnson to make such a proclamation — and to quote the profit to the taxpayers in “shooting first and asking questions later.”

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And it is not the cheap Florida householders that Faccidomo worries will Johnson’s recommendation. It’s the “mythical ‘Florida Man’ — who is not known for his common sense,” Faccidomo stated. “Sheriff Johnson just turned Santa Rosa into the Wild West. Maybe one less Sheriff’s salary is a better way to save the taxpayers money.”

“Could be murder”

“Look, I’m the first guy to use ‘Stand Your Ground’ as a defense,” stated Andrew Metcalf, a legal protection lawyer in Indian River County, Florida, and a previous president of the FACDL. “I defend people for it. But I don’t encourage, you know, death. And what he’s actually encouraging could be murder.”

It’s straightforward to check a state of affairs the place Johnson’s recommendation might result in disastrous outcomes, Metcalf stated. For Johnson to place that notion in folks’s heads might result in a mother or father taking pictures their daughter as she sneaks residence late at night time. Or think about a young person who asks his pal to return on over and sneak into the home.

“Kids make mistakes,” Metcalf stated. “They go to the wrong house. And then someone’s listening to good old Sheriff of Santa Rosa County and then their kid gets their head blown off.”

“Deputized and weaponized”

Florida’s self-defense legal guidelines present that in case you’re in your house, you need to use lethal drive in case you fairly concern in your life. But quite a few research have proven that implicit bias may cause unfounded racial animosity.

In different phrases, what if the hypothetical teenager’s pal who tries to enter the home is Black?

There might “absolutely” be racial repercussions to what Johnson is proposing, Faccidomo stated. “When you could have someone in a uniform telling you that they like so that you can shoot, that remark lands within the ears of people that might have kind of implicit bias and could also be appearing in a vogue that’s associated to that fairly than widespread sense.

“Their subjective fear for whatever they’ve internalized has now been deputized and weaponized by the sheriff saying, ‘Go ahead and shoot. We encourage it.'”



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