OPD Chief Meets on Stand Your Ground
It is a state law getting national attention after the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
And just as it did in Sanford, it could create headaches for police.
As a result, Ocala's Chief of Police took up the question of "Stand Your Ground" with city council.
"This law was not controversial in the legislature in 2005," State Representative Dennis Baxley told TV20.
He says he'll stand behind the Stand Your Ground law which allows a person to use deadly force if they feel threatened.
"We need to stand behind law abiding citizens to protect themselves from harm," Baxley said.
But the law is being widely criticized after the death of Trayvon Martin.
"Our country has not valued black life like it has other life," Former Marion County NAACP President, Withfield Jenkins told TV20.
Tuesday's meeting was organized by Ocala's new Chief of Police, Greg Graham and was meant to educate council members on the law and how OPD would be bound to act.
Sergeant Matt Bos told leaders that according to the law, if police suspect it applies, they cannot make an arrest. Otherwise they can be held responsible and the aggressor may walk if there is not enough burden of proof.
"If we start realizing that it's stand your ground law, that person has to be told that they are free to go because there's consequences," Bos told the council.
While many criticize the law, many others support it as well.
"I'm concerned with the law, the stand your ground law, because i think it's a good law and it needs to stand," Bernie DeCastro said.
But Jenkins contends this law can disproportionately affect African Americans.
"It has a connection to 300 years, over 300 years, of racial discrimination and disparities and it's tied to that."
But Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn said the meeting was just informational.
"It's specifically for council to address and brief council on what the police department's position is on it, and that's all, nothing more, nothing less," Guinn said.
Meanwhile, members of the Marion County NAACP told TV20 that more than 100 people from Ocala traveled to Sanford last weekend to rally in support of Trayvon Martin.
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