One man is dead and his cousin is in jail after a test to determine whether a flak jacket could stop a bullet went tragically as expected.
According to Tampa police, twenty-four year old Alexandro Garibaldi fired a single shot at Joaquin Mendez, who was one year his junior. Witnesses at the scene are quoted as saying that the pair were seated on the porch of a Palmetto Beach home last Saturday discussing whether the flak jacket Mendez was wearing would protect him from a firearm. Garibaldi subsequently declared that they should put the garment to the test, say the witnesses, and he produced a firearm and shot Mendez.
Police say they arrived shortly after the shooting to find Mendez outside the residence with a mortal gunshot wound to his upper torso. Within the home they say they found blood and a bullet-pierced flak jacket.
Mendez expired at an unnamed Tampa hospital, and Garibaldi was apprehended a few blocks away. Upon his arrest, Garibaldi told investigators that he was inside the residence when he heard the report of a firearm and discovered his wounded cousin outside.
Garibaldi was booked into the Hillsborough County Jail in the pre-dawn hours Saturday on one count of manslaughter with a weapon, and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. He posted a bond on Sunday night and was released.
Although garments designed to resist piercing weapons have been described throughout recorded history, the flak jacket as it is known today was developed by a British personal care company in World War II. Intended to protect against shells from German Fliegerabwehrkanone (anti-aircraft guns whose name became shortened as “flak”), such jackets have been rendered obsolete by ballistic vests containing Kevlar and similar synthetic materials.
Bjorn Brunvand has been defending individuals against capital murder charges in Florida for over two decades. If you have been charged with murder in Tampa or surrounding areas, contact us immediately