Braswell’s testimony was met with strong push-back by members of the panel, including Miami defense attorney Mark Seiden.
Seiden, whose wife was murdered in 1982, noted that in many of the cases distraught family members cited, an arrest was eventually made. He said the panel also needs to hear from people who successfully used the law to fight an unfair conviction.
“I don’t think the law can cover every single instance, every single situation,” he said. “The law is to protect law abiding citizens from violent attack.”
A Tampa Bay Times review showed a majority of people killed in Stand Your Ground cases were not committing a crime when the incident occurred. Most of those killed were unarmed.
The newspaper’s review also showed people were more likely to prevail in Stand Your Ground hearings if the victim was black.
The bill’s cosponsor, Rep. Dennis Baxley of Central Florida, acknowledged that the data suggest “embarrassing inequities” in the application of the law.
“We didn’t intend it to adversely or disproportionately affect individuals. Whatever their makeup is, their backgrounds, they’re Americans,” he said. “They are citizens of Florida. I am willing to work on that.”
Many of the local people who attended the public hearing portion of the meeting complained that task force organizers seemed to have gone out of their way to hold the meeting in a location where victims of inner city violence could not attend. The meeting was held 35 miles south of Trayvon’s neighborhood, an area besieged by crime.
State Rep. Barbara Watson, who represents Miami Gardens, said her district was some 400 blocks away, reachable by traveling two hours on four different buses.
She vowed to have the law repealed.
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who chairs the committee, said the task force was doing the best it could without funding.
The meetings are streamed live on the Internet and posted, and emails are welcome, Carroll said.
“We are taking this seriously and truly want to hear input,” she said.
Supporters of Kijuan Bird say the only reason Miami-Dade police arrested the security guard who shot Byrd 11 times was because the family hired Benjamin Crump, the lawyer who helped Trayvon’s parents.
“A change must come,” said Byrd’s mother, Arlene, whose son died two months after she organized “hoodie” rallies in support of Trayvon. “Otherwise, will it be your child next? A family member? Or will it be you?”