Moral Low Ground


Florida Judge: ‘Stand Your Ground’ Not Applicable in Keenan Finkelstein Deputy Shooting Case

Keenan Finkelstein

Keenan Finkelstein

A Florida man accused of shooting an Escambia County Sheriff’s deputy cannot invoke the state’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law to dismiss the charges against him, a judge has ruled.

The Pensacola News Journal reports Circuit Judge Terry Terrell ruled Friday against a motion filed by 24-year-old Keenan Finkelstein, who shot Sgt. Shedrick Johnson in the leg outside a Scenic Hills home last March 20. Just before the shooting, Finkelstein had consumed alcohol and marijuana inside the home with 24-year-old robbery suspect Jonathan Chappell.

Deputies were searching for Chappell when the incident occurred. Judge Terrell rejected Finkelstein’s motion on the grounds he had at least reasonable notice that deputies might arrive at the home while searching for Chappell. Finkelstein knew that the robbery in question had occurred.

Terrell said he based his decision on previously unaddressed evidence, namely a phone call to Chappell from the man he robbed earlier that day. The judge said that during the conversation, the man told Chappell that police had been notified. Under the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, a person may not use deadly force when in fear of death or great bodily harm if they “knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer.”

Finkelstein will stand trial for the shooting on either April 7 or April 14.

The Reverend Al Sharpton, radio host Tom Joyner and the parents of slain teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis are among those gathering in Florida’s capital, Tallahassee, on Monday to protest the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

The Florida version of the law traces its origins to the Pensacola area, when 77-year-old Hurricane Ivan refugee shot and killed an intruder in the RV in which his family was sheltering. The intruder turned out to be a disoriented Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) employee. It took three months before Workman was cleared of any wrongdoing, too long for Republican state legislators, National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyists and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative corporatist lobby, all of whom worked together to enact the Florida law and export similar legislation to other states.

Supporters, which according to a July 2013 Qunnipiac University poll include a majority of Americans, say ‘Stand Your Ground’ empowers citizens to lawfully defend themselves and reduces crime.

Critics claim the law can be invoked by people who provoke confrontation and then resort to gun violence, and that it gives racists a legal excuse to murder.

‘Stand Your Ground’ laws are now on the books in 23 states, according to

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