At first watch, it looks like FL’s Stand your ground law might apply, but the situation deserves a closer look.
A discussion-provoking video posted by Instagram account @MiamiiRepo, shared to them by presumed repo agent @Vic_is_back19, shows the moment a Miami man, who failed to make payments on his car, shoot at a repo agent within seconds of the agent opening his gated yard to gain access to the vehicle.
@MiamiiRepo’s followers are split whether the man had the right to start blasting at the dude or not.
A screenshot of the video moments before it goes down is posted below, and you can check out the video for yourself (video linked here.)
The bodycam video shows the repo agent walking normally toward’s someone’s Miami property.
The property’s front yard is fenced off, only accessible through a swinging gate.
There are signs to the left that are hard to make out but if you guessed they read “Private Property. Keep Out,” you’d probably be right.
The gate is not locked and is easily openable by the repo agent, who simply lifts the front latch to enter.
I counted three Mississippi’s before the property owner audibly cocks his gun and fires at the repo agent.
“Eh!” the man can be heard saying before firing one off.
“I’m a repo agent,” the repo agent yells back as he runs to his tow truck.
You can hear the repo agent breathe a sigh of relief after narrowly escaping with his life.
The question is, did that property owner have the right to shoot back at the repo agent and claim that he was simply standing his ground?
Let’s see what Florida law has to say about that.
First, did that recovery agent have legal grounds to enter his property to recovery a vehicle in the first place?
In a nutshell, yes.
According to Florida Statues, a recovery agent may take possession of property without judicial process (read, no cops needed) ON private property as long as they don’t “breach the peace.”
That means they can’t break locks, force down any locked gates, or generally cause a public disturbance when repossessing a vehicle or other property.
Our repo agent didn’t break any locks and did not use any force entering this man’s yard.
Regardless, does the owner have any defense taking a shot at the repo agent?
It depends but, after the fact, probably not.
Florida’s Justifiable Use of Force statues can be found in Chapter 776 with 776.012, 776.013, and 776.031, which deals with uses of force and deadly force to protect your person, home, and property applicable here.
776.012 Use or threatened use of force in defense of person says you’re justified in using deadly force if,
“…he or she reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”
From the point of view of the car owner, seeing a stranger enter his property for all of three seconds before literally firing off a shot, do you think he felt that a situation of “death or great bodily harm” was imminent?
If I was a betting man and with just an OK lawyer, I’d argue he’d be able to convince a judge that no, he probably didn’t feel that death or great bodily harm was imminent.
776.031 Use or threatened use of force in defense of property says that a person is justified using deadly force if,
“…such conduct is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
Did that car owner think his car was subject to a forcible felony within three seconds of him opening the gate?
I’d argue it’s hard to justify using deadly force in defense of his car based on just that alone.
And, as it pertains to 776.013 Home protection; use or threatened use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm, it appears justification for use of deadly force does not apply here.
According to that statute, there is no mention of a yard (front or back) as part of a dwelling, residence, or vehicle as it pertains to the home, so, to the argument that the car owner was just defending his home, as mentioned, this statute does not apply.
The furthest this statue extends the definition of a dwelling is to a temporary or permanent front porch area.
Naturally, the law is often at odds with reality and, to a logical man, it doesn’t sound crazy for someone to defend their property from a stranger walking onto it.
However, in Florida (and other states, too,) the law doesn’t mean you can start blasting away at someone you don’t know and claim stand your ground laws in defense of yourself, home, or your property in light of the facts.
As illogical as it sounds, that repo man had every right to peaceably walk into that man’s yard and repossess his car.
If there was even the smallest lock on that gate, or it was obvious he was ready to use deadly force to carry out his duty, it’d be a different question.
But, as the video shows, he simply opened the gate and was barely there for all of three seconds.
I don’t think that car owner was justified firing a shot.
He also could’ve just made his car payments on time, too.
What do you think?
Let me know in the comments.