A Hillsborough judge will decide within the next two weeks whether the state’s case against Jimmy Cruz, accused of shooting a man last year during a Tampa bar brawl, will be dismissed under Florida’s “stand your ground” law. Cruz is charged with second-degree murder in the May 2011 death of Walter “J.J.” Revear.
Cruz’s defense attorney argued his client should be protected under the “stand your ground” law because Cruz was trying to defend his brother, who fell to the ground after Revear hit him. Cruz’s position is that he had reasonable belief that his brother was in imminent danger of great bodily harm.
According to witnesses, Cruz threw a drink into a crowd outside of a Tampa bar, splashing Revear and his friends. Cruz’s attorney told the judge that Cruz had “seen weapons, been targeted by threats. He’s already seen a brawl. Maybe he shouldn’t have thrown the drink. But when Mike Cruz got struck, he had the right, according to the law, to protect his brother from great bodily harm.”
Prosecutor argued “this is not a stand your ground case.”
Florida’s “stand your ground” law was highly publicized after Trayvon Martin’s February 2012 death in Sanford, Florida. The law, passed in 2005, says anyone not committing a crime can use deadly force if he feels threatened with death or great bodily harm. Legal precedent indicates that someone is allowed to use that force even if the threatening person is unarmed. “Stand your ground” expands on an earlier law that allowed people to use deadly force to defend themselves in their own homes. The newer law allows for the defense in any place.