The analysis, however, is supported by numerous studies showing disparities in the way whites and blacks are treated by the criminal-justice system. Studies have found that all-white juries are more likely to convict black defendants. Someone who murders a white person is more likely to get the death penalty than someone who kills a black person.
Adora Obi Nweze, state president of the NAACP, said she was not surprised that people claiming Stand Your Ground escaped penalty more often when the victim was black. But she sharply questioned whether Stand Your Ground really helps black defendants.
“It’s very difficult to isolate the data on one law,” she said, “when we have so many laws where blacks are disproportionately not released, not given the kind of equity you want in justice.”
Through news reports, official records and interviews with dozens of prosecutors, public defenders and attorneys, the Times compiled a database of 192 Stand Your Ground cases that includes the race of every victim and defendant.
It is the first effort to determine how race affects the outcome for those who invoke the 2005 law.
The review found many cases in which people went free after killing a black victim under questionable circumstances.
A Miami man stepped out of his home and shot his ex-wife’s boyfriend at least 12 times as he sat in a car. A Jacksonville man standing in his garage shot to death an 18-year-old burglary suspect who was running away from his house. A West Palm Beach teenager shot an unarmed man he thought was demanding drugs.
But the Times found similarly questionable cases in which the victim was white or Hispanic. It also found that mixed-race cases — like that of Trayvon Martin — are relatively uncommon.
Of the 88 fatal Stand Your Ground cases that have been decided, about one-fourth involved defendants and victims of different races — including six cases in which a white killed a black, five cases in which a black killed a white and six in which a Hispanic killed a non-Hispanic.
No charges were filed in most of those mixed-race cases.
Often, the self-defense circumstances were evident: A person was being robbed or beaten.
In other cases, the type that critics of Stand Your Ground consider questionable, people killed and then went free when they might have avoided a conflict:
Damian Niemeyer was standing at the bedroom window of his Royal Palm Beach townhouse in December when he saw three men trying to back his motorcycle onto a truck. He called 911, then yelled at the men. When one of them pointed a gun at the window, Niemeyer, who is white, fatally shot Benjy Young, a black teenager.
Hygens Labidou, who is black, was driving in Deerfield Beach in 2007 when two white men jumped out of their pickup, pounded on his truck and yelled racial slurs. Labidou, still inside his car, fired his gun, striking both men and killing 28-year-old Edward Borowsky.
In Pompano Beach in 2010, Patrick Lavoie, a white man, jumped out of his girlfriend’s car and accused Cleveland Murdock, a black man, of tailgating. When Lavoie, who had a cigarette lighter in his hand, tried to reach through Murdock’s passenger window, Murdock fatally shot him.
Among the few people to be charged in a mixed-race case: Gabriel Mobley, a black Miami Lakes man.
Four years ago, Mobley and some friends started arguing with two white patrons at a Chili’s restaurant. When the bar closed, the dispute moved outside, and one of the men punched Mobley’s friend in the face. Mobley shot and killed both men.