Court Rejects “Stand Your Ground” Defense in SWAT Raid

We just published an article concerning a man who is using a “stand your ground” defense after assaulting and killing an iguana. Now, another man is using a “stand your ground” defense to avoid charges of firing at SWAT officers during a raid. The judge has rejected this argument, meaning he will not be able to use it at trial and the argument will not be considered in order for the case to move forward. Below, we’ll discuss what this means.

The case

Andrew Coffee IV is accused of firing at SWAT members during a raid. He told police that he believed the men were home intruders. The defendant raised a “stand your ground” defense to the charges, but a judge has denied his motion to receive immunity under the statute. However, it’s not entirely clear that the defendant doesn’t have a point.

One officer was killed in the raid. Coffee IV is charged with his death. He is also facing three additional counts of attempted first-degree murder, among other charges. The charges of attempted first-degree murder and second-degree murder would have been dropped had the defense been successful.

It’s a good idea, in theory

Stand your ground is a response to “duty to retreat” laws in other states that require that an individual retreat from a lethal threat if there is an opportunity. Many states have “stand your ground” statutes that lift this requirement. Essentially, someone defending themselves from an armed gunman can be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter if they defend themselves with lethal force. Stand your ground was supposed to solve all that, but what about police officers executing a no-knock raid?

The stand your ground law clearly states that anyone who has a credible threat to their life can use lethal force. That would, by the necessity of law, include police officers. However, if the officers identify themselves as officers, and the defendant has good reason to know that the invading people are officers, then a stand-your-ground defense should not work.

However, that is a matter of fact that should be determined by a jury. Also, it is the prosecution’s burden to prove that the defendant knew that the SWAT officers were not home invaders. When someone breaks into your house in the wee hours of the morning, what are you supposed to think? However, the judge ruled that law enforcement did announce their presence, so it is unclear if the defendant will be able to raise a self-defense argument in court. Likely, he won’t, meaning he will face charges for the death of the SWAT member and shooting at the other SWAT members. It is also useful to know that the defendant was a felon in possession of a weapon and did not have the legal authority to wield a gun.

Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing serious criminal charges, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today to discuss your situation in more detail and allow us to begin preparing your defense.


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