Military and Police

Tampa Bay Parking Lot Shooting Results in One Dead, No Arrest Under ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law

While some shootings are well within the letter of the law, some need not have happened at all. This is one of those shootings. Although legal, it could have easily been avoided by both parties. A woman pulls into a handicap parking space illegally, her son and boyfriend get out and go into the convenience store. Another man pulls up, sees no handicap decal or hangtag, then thinks he should say something to her about it. While he is talking to her, the boyfriend comes out of the store and attacks the man, shoving him very hard to the ground. The man on the ground pulls his legal concealed-carry pistol and shoots the man three times in the chest. He dies a short time later.

In context, does the shooting meet the state’s “stand your ground” law? According to the sheriff, yes it does, and I agree. But you also have to ask: Why did this happen? What led up to the shooting and did someone’s life have to be ended over a handicap-parking issue? To that, I say no. So where does the blame lie? Well, it lies with all of the parties involved.

The woman who parked in the spot knew full-well it was not legal and that she should not have done it. The glaring part is, from the video of the incident, it seems like there were many other open (legal) parking spaces. Had she parked in any of those, this would not have happened. But does parking in a handicap spot deserve confrontation and someone getting shot? No, of course not.

The man who confronted the women about parking there is at fault also. He represents neither the police nor parking enforcement. It is not his place to address parking violations and confront the driver. If he was upset about it, his responsibility is to call the police and let them handle it. Had he done so, the result would have been zero deaths.

The man who came out and saw someone talking to his girlfriend about the parking issue and decided to roughly shove him to the ground is at fault also. He turned a simple parking issue and verbal confrontation into a physical one and, ultimately, into a deadly force one. Laying hands on the person was neither legal nor was it warranted. He committed a crime by doing so. The only crime up to this point was a parking violation, amounting to nothing more than a non-criminal violation. It did not have to become physical and deadly.

In the chain of events we have things that should not have happened:
1. Parking violation (not a big deal, but illegal nonetheless)
2. Confronting the driver about it (not his job and only invites an increase in hostility)
3. Physical contact (in Florida it’s Battery, a crime, and can escalate quickly to more serious uses of force like it did this time)

So what should have happened? Nothing. Was it a legal self-defense shooting, yes, by the letter of the law. Did it have to happen? No. Part of being a responsible concealed-firearm carrier is to know you are not the police, and you should avoid confrontations at all costs, except when it is unavoidable.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Chris Wagoner

Chris Wagoner is a U.S. Army Veteran and has been in law enforcement the last 35+ years. He specializes in LE Firearms Instruction, and is in charge of a large Police Academy in North Florida. In his spare time Chris is a freelance writer and posts his articles on "Down Range with Chris Wagoner".

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