Facebook buddy Jonathan B. contacted me with this case. There is an online petition to commute his 25 year sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon that carries a mandatory 25 year sentence in the State of Florida. We will not discuss here the wisdom of mandatory sentences but what he apparently did right after the shooting when the police arrived. Warning: There is very little in the way of information online so everything said here predicates we are getting a somewhat accurate description.
According to Opposing Views:
On Feb. 6, 2010, Michael Giles, then on active duty with the Air Force, fired one shot from his legal handgun during a brawl that involved between 20 and 40 people. One man, whom the petition describes as “Michael’s attacker” was struck in the leg but not seriously hurt.
The attacker had reportedly been in several altercations earlier that night, was angry and acting erratically. Giles was initially not involved in the mayhem and had been separated from two friends, the only people he knew at the scene.
When the attacker came at him, he fired what was described as a warning shot.
And that is the crux in this case. The moment you lay your hand on your sidearm, you have escalated the situation. As from what I have seen in other cases, Florida is very strict on warning shots and they are seen as evidence of you not really being in fear for your life or fear of grave bodily harm. And if you actually shoot and injure somebody, you will probably be prosecuted for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and sentenced under Florida Statute 775.087 (3):
3. Any person who is convicted of a felony or an attempt to commit a felony listed in sub-subparagraphs (a)1.a.-q., regardless of whether the use of a weapon is an element of the felony, and during the course of the commission of the felony such person discharged a “firearm” or “destructive device” as defined in s. 790.001 and, as the result of the discharge, death or great bodily harm was inflicted upon any person, the convicted person shall be sentenced to a minimum term of imprisonment of not less than 25 years and not more than a term of imprisonment of life in prison.
Again, I am going on this with very little on the way of information and focusing on the keywords warning shot. It could be more out there, but simply there is no information available.
What should we take from this case? Marty Hayes in his booklet What Every Gun Owner Needs to Know About Self-Defense Law makes it clear:
And finally, it is your responsibility (as Gun Owner) to understand the laws regarding use of deadly force in self defense and to be aware of what happens within the legal system when a citizen uses deadly force in self defense.
Download the booklet in the conveniently given link above. Also, do yourself a favor and buy Andrew Branca’s The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen, 2nd Edition, a great book on the basics and nuances of Self-Defense laws and please, please, go online and print the laws of your local state regarding self-defense and weapons. If there is a book that also covers your state specifically, buy it such as Florida Firearms Law, Use & Ownership 7th Ed. by Jon H. Gutmacher.
I will say this: Your training for Self-Defense situations has to be not only trigger pulling but also book reading. If you don’t, you will find yourself behind bars and that is not a pleasant experience.