Three years ago my son Michael was attacked outside of a club in Tallahassee, FL. His attacker admitted in open court that he attacked Michael with no provocation.
Michael's attacker admitted he was angry that someone had interrupted his dance, and wanted to hurt the next person he saw. That next person standing to the side, not partaking in the violence, was Michael. His attacker was not fighting alone, state witnesses testified that there were between 30-40 people involved in the brawl. The state’s own witnesses also testified that the aggressor instigated several other fights that night, and was acting erratically and violently. His attacker’s own friend testified she was worried the aggressor would kill or seriously injure someone. In comparison, state witnesses testified that Michael, was calmly standing to the side, and did nothing to provoke the attack.
My husband and I are proud military veterans, with a combined 40 years of service, and we were proud when our son also chose to serve his country. Michael completed a tour in Iraq and Kuwait and was looking forward to furthering his career in the military, but now all of that has changed. We believe that we have raised a good man. He had no prior criminal offenses, no history of violence, and was a outstanding father and Airman. So we do not understand how the state of Florida could sentence him to a mandatory 25 years for defending himself.
Michael has been trained to analyze threats and believed at that moment he needed to defend himself. He realized that his attacker and his attacker’s friends had the upper-hand in numbers and he could have been seriously injured or killed. In his desperate attempt to gain the opportunity to get to his feet and flee, he fired his legally registered weapon and accidentally struck, but did not seriously injure, his attacker in the leg. His only intention to returning to the vehicle was in hopes of finding his friends and leaving, all the while trying to avoid the aggressors in the crowd. While waiting for his friends at the car he became uncomfortable waiting alone, and was worried he would be singled out because he had no one with him. The parking lot where they parked was extremely small and various groups were walking between the cars arguing and yelling. He decided at that point it might be best to try to find his friends and convince them to leave as soon as possible. He did not return to the club and did not interact directly with anyone; he was simply defending himself in an extremely hostile environment.
Despite overwhelming evidence from state witnesses that Michael was attacked first and without provocation, the fact that he did not continue firing, and removed himself from the immediate area as soon as he could. Michael was not offered a plea from the state. He was thus charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon causing bodily harm & sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. His Judge stated “Frankly, I think the 25-year mandatory is overly harsh based on the facts of this case, but that’s what the law requires I do and I intend to follow the law.” The officer who prepared Michael's sentencing recommendation, recommended Michael be given probation due to her investigation. She felt that Michael would be an ideal candidate for probation, thus saving tax payers money. The state rejected her professional recommendation and pushed for the 25 years.
Michael is a good man, he is honest, he is hard working and through all of this he is our rock and confidence we need to keep fighting. He is afraid that he will miss his children grow up.
Our family just does not understand how a man who proudly fought for his country, and spent 6 years proudly serving as a U.S Airman, could lose the right to live his life for defending himself. The fact is, Michael was attacked, and he was afraid the group fighting would kill him. He fired his legally registered weapon to gain the opportunity to run, from somewhere he had the legal right to be. His attacker not only attacked him but he admitted to attacking others that night.
This sentence has destroyed our family and we hope you will sign this petition to ask Governor Rick Scott and the Clemency Board to commute the sentence of Michael Giles.