A Florida judge ruled that Keenan Finkelstein, 24, will not be able to use the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law to get charges dropped for shooting a deputy, reports PNJ.com.
On March 20, 2013, Officer Sedrick Johnson was responding to a robbery call when he approached the home of suspect Jonathan Chappell, 24. Finkelstein admits to smoking marijuana and drinking with Chappell right before the shooting.
Johnson claims that he walked from behind a tree and announced that he was a police officer when Finkelstein exited the garage. Police claim that Finkelstein then pulled out his gun and shot Johnson before attempting to flee. But Finkelstein tells a different story.
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Johnson said that he saw someone, later identified as Finkelstein, come out of the home’s garage. Johnson said he came from behind the tree with his weapon drawn while announcing himself to be an employee of the Sheriff’s Office and for Finkelstein to show his hands.
Johnson said that Finkelstein then ducked, reached for his waistband, drew a pistol and shot him in the left leg.
On Friday, Gaddy said Finkelstein — gripped in paranoia from smoking marijuana — shot Johnson, who then returned fire as he ran back across the yard toward a porch for cover.
“The last thing Sgt. Johnson wanted was to get shot that night,” Gaddy said. “There’s no evidence that shows Sgt. Johnson goes around firing his gun at unarmed people.”
But Finkelstein attorney Ralph Parnell III said that story was flawed.
Johnson, he said, had not announced that he was a law enforcement officer when he told Finkelstein to show his hands. Parnell backed his argument with discrepancies between Johnson’s testimony, deposition and another deputies’ depositions.
The lack of notification combined with the fact that Johnson was wearing his dark green deputy’s uniform in a poorly lit area at night and that he was pointing a flashlight — attached to the barrel of a gun no less — at Finkelstein’s face made it impossible to identify him as a law enforcement officer, Parnell said.
He said Johnson was simply a “disembodied voice in the dark” at that point.
“I would argue at that point (Johnson) has committed an aggravated assault himself,” Parnell said. “He was in a dicey situation of his own making.”
Finkelstein’s trial is set to begin in early April.
Read more at PNJ.com.