State Attorney Declines Prosecution of Shooter

State Attorney Declines Prosecution of Shooter of Epic and Samson

The State Attorney announced this morning that he will not be charging the shooter of Epic and Samson. The full memorandum from the State Attorney can be read here.  It is obviously disappointing to the owners that the criminal justice system cannot "prove a crime was committed."  They can take some solice in the fact that the investigation was re-opened.  But the fact that the shooter, who by all accounts shot the second dog while running away, will walk away without penalty is difficult to bear.

 

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The State Attorney' justification for not filing, is in part based on the fact that the shooter had a right to be outside under Florida Law, despite being told to stay inside by the 911 operator.  The memo "not to file" concedes that the shooter's rationale for going outside because of children was not borne out by the evidence. "The testimony is clear that the only children in the area were inside a screened in porch and were in no danger." However, according to the report, this makes no difference because the shooter had the right to be outside whether children were there or not. The decision not to file is based on F.S. 776.013 which states in part:

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself

The bottom line of the memo? Because the shooter says he was in fear for his life, and his next door neighbors say they were also afraid of the dogs, the shooting was justified. 

The report fails to address in any way, the issue of the shooting of Epic as she ran away. Nor does it even mention there is evidence of this in terms of the witnesses. This is significant, because in the Orlando shooting of the two Huskies by Mr. Comins, the state attorney charged the shooter on the final shot only, where the dog was already down and he turned around and fired.

And, of course, the report fails to address the tone of voice of the shooter as he calls in to announce he will shoot the dogs to the 911 operator, or the chuckling when he calls back and ensures 911 that his gun is put away after he has killed them. The actions taken by the shooter, from the 911 call to the the shooting of Epic in the back, all serve to show the lack of a reasonable fear.  

In any case, the no charging decision has been made, and there is nothing more that can be done at this point to change it.  I am unhappy but not surprised by the State Attorney's decision.  The burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, and none of the lawyers I talked to in Ocala who were in public service would have wanted to go forward with such a case.  There is no upside to a prosecution - if you win it is probably a misdemeanor crime, and if you lose, you have spent prosecutorial resources to no avail.

The owners are considering their options.  

Dangerous Dog Law

Helping to defend our best friends. Dangerous Dog Law (DDL) focuses on the legal defense of allegedly dangerous dogs. DDL is a member of the Pit Bulletin Legal News Network.

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