In a bit of cosmic timing, the state panel commissioned to give political cover to the state’s egregious “Stand Your Ground” law issued its endorsement of the law at the same time it was being abused in Palm Beach County to let a wannabe judge escape a battery charge.
Beautiful timing like this needs to be savored.
The law that functions as the Florida legislature’s ongoing attempt to promote gun sales at all costs, gives a full-throated endorsement to the idea of using lethal force during street confrontations if you imagine your life is in danger.
Last year, Gov. Rick Scott empaneled a stacked-deck panel to go through the motions of investigating this law after the regrettable shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford. The unarmed Martin, 17, was mistaken as somebody up to no good, and shot after being confronted by George Zimmerman, an overzealous community watch volunteer.
The shooting created an outcry that a Stand Your Ground law just encouraged needless bloodshed like this.
Clearly, we must have a panel to study this, and being that this is Florida, let’s make it a panel controlled by the legislators who backed and promoted the law in the first place.
So it wasn’t much of a surprise last week when this yearlong search for justice resulted in an airy report that essentially says how blessed we all are to have this Stand Your Ground law in place.
“All persons who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be,” the report says.
Meanwhile, an actual Stand Your Ground case was being decided in a Palm Beach County courtroom.
The guy standing his ground was Ken Lemoine, 51, a three-time failed judicial candidate, who was charged with battery for punching a 17-year-old boy along the waterfront on Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach five months ago.
In his younger days, Lemoine was a West Palm Beach police officer who got removed from the walking beat because he got into too many street confrontations.
“Officer Lemoine’s patrol file indicates a propensity for him to become quickly agitated,” Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who was Lemoine’s assistant chief at the time, wrote in his file. “We should also consider the possibility of some type of professional counseling.”
I wrote about Lemoine 21 years ago after the chief corrections officer at Glades Correctional Institution complained to the West Palm Beach department that Lemoine had made the correction chief’s 10-year-old grandson cry by roughly grabbing the boy’s collarbone at a pro-wrestling match at the West Palm Beach Auditorium.
Lemoine, who also got some commendations while on the force, left it two years later to go to law school, and eventually practice law locally while making a few unsuccessful attempts to be a judge, most recently last August.
One month after that defeat, phone cameras of bystanders showed the middle-aged Lemoine and a few other men getting into a sidewalk dispute with a bunch of teenagers in downtown West Palm Beach. One of the men initiated the physical contact by pushing a 17-year-old boy.
And then Lemoine punched the boy, calling him a “fat little titty boy.”
Police charged Lemoine with battery, and he pleaded not guilty. His lawyer argued that the Stand Your Ground law protected Lemoine from prosecution because “it is proper for people to protect their families from attackers without fear of prosecution for acting in defense of themselves or others.”
Palm Beach County Judge Paul Damico dismissed the charge against Lemoine a few days before the state’s Stand Your Ground panel issued its glowing endorsement of the law.
Like I said, beautiful timing like this needs to be savored.