The requested modifications to the Self Defense Laws of Florida are important to ensure that the intent is not misused, abused or lost. In Florida, we believe A DUTY TO AVOID HARM does exist and should be recognized as public policy. At the very least, every citizen of the State of Florida has a moral obligation to avoid harm for the benefit of all citizens.
1. An individual who uses deadly force should not be allowed to claim self defense where they had prior actual or perceived knowledge or notice of a threat of harm, including possible death or great bodily harm, which they ignored without need. Effectively, we don't want to see individuals unnecessarily enter into any threat of harm that could have easily been avoided and then claim self defense should they resort to the use of deadly force. As with George Zimmerman, he stated that while he was still in his vehicle and on the phone with the Sanford Police Dept., he felt Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old, appeared “confrontational” and to be attempting to "intimidate" him, at one point reaching into his waist band as if he had a weapon. Perceiving a threat of harm and without need, Mr. Zimmerman left the safety of his vehicle to intentionally follow Trayvon when Trayvon retreated. Mr. Zimmerman then placed himself in a location which allowed for a confrontation with Trayvon which resulted in Mr. Zimmerman shooting and killing Trayvon.
2. An individual should not be allowed to claim self defense when they unnecessarily remove themselves from any type of safety buffer that would have separated them from any actual or perceived threat of possible death or great bodily harm and a confrontation ensues resulting in their use of deadly force. As described by George Zimmerman, even after he witnessed Trayvon allegedly acting in a "confrontational" manner, he exited the safety of his vehicle to follow him when Trayvon retreated. Mr. Zimmerman could have maintained his safety by simply remaining locked in his vehicle until law enforcement arrived following his call to them.
Or, in the alternative, we petitioners would like provisions added which are in keeping with the following judicial findings found in Montijo v. State of Florida.
"We understand how a jury could reject the self-defense claim because Montijo knew the police were on their way but returned to the parking lot, leaving the buffer of a locked door separating him and Rosier."
We feel that the jury members in State v. Zimmerman were not allowed the opportunity to more fully consider what we believe were the possible intentional acts of Mr. Zimmerman to allow for a confrontation with Trayvon after, as acknowledged by Mr. Zimmerman, he was put on notice of Trayvon’s obvious desire for no contact and the alleged threat of harm directed at Mr. Zimmerman. We feel that by adding a duty to keep oneself safe from the threat of death or great bodily harm, lives will be saved. Furthermore, we feel that by adding these additional provisions to jury instructions, it will provide more clarity to avoid a jury once again being confused over the law and the facts. Unfortunately, when the jury asked for clarification, the Court was unable to address possible ambiguities in the law relating to justifiable homicide/self defense.
Ultimately, the signors of this petition are requesting the aforementioned changes in order to thwart the misuse and abuse of the law of self defense by individuals with ill intent or otherwise. We believe that everyone owes a Duty to Avoid Harm to oneself and others.