MIAMI (AP) – A man who won a controversial ruling under Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law three months ago was fatally shot when he got caught in the crossfire of a gang shooting, police and local reports said Wednesday.
Greyston Garcia, 26, was driving home from his convenience store job late Tuesday when gunfire erupted between gang members, The Miami Herald and local TV stations reported.
Officer Kenia Reyes said a bullet struck Garcia, causing him to crash. He appears to have been an innocent victim and died en route to the hospital, she said. Also killed was 16-year-old Ron Jones, who was found lying in the street.
Reyes wouldn’t confirm details of the shooting, but the Herald, citing investigators, said Jones had been involved in the gunfight.
Last January, Garcia was in his apartment in Miami’s Little Havana district when he saw Pedro Roteta stealing a stereo from his truck. Garcia grabbed a kitchen knife and chased after Roteta for about a block. When Garcia caught up to him, surveillance cameras caught Roteta swinging a bag containing the stereos at him. Authorities said Garcia fatally stabbed Roteta in the chest, picked up the bag of stereos and then went home and went to sleep. He then hid the knife and sold two of the stereos.
Arrested and charged with second-degree murder, Garcia claimed his actions were taken in self-defense as defined by Florida’s “stand your ground” law. That law came to national prominence after neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman invoked it in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
The 2005 law broadly eliminates a person’s duty to retreat under threat of death or serious injury, as long as the person isn’t committing a crime and is in a place where he or she has a right to be.
In March, a circuit judge ruled that Garcia acted within the law. The judge said Garcia could have been killed or seriously injured if Roteta had hit him in the head with the bag of stereos.
State prosecutors, who had been appealing that decision, declined comment Wednesday. The appeal will be dropped.
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