John DeRossett, a 68-year-old accused of starting a shootout with Florida police in 2015, is not protected under the state’s ‘stand your ground’ law, a judge ruled Thursday
A Florida man who said shot at undercover sheriff’s deputies because he thought they were kidnappers is not protected by the state’s ‘stand your ground’ law, a judge has ruled.
John DeRossett shot and wounded Agent John ‘Casey’ Smith during a shootout with Brevard County police on August 20, 2015, after officers arrived at his home to arrest his niece Mary Ellis for prostitution.
When Ellis opened the door an agent allegedly grabbed her to make the arrest, startling her and causing her to call out for DeRossett’s help.
DeRossett claims that he panicked when he saw the unfamiliar men grabbing his niece, so he fired a warning shot on instinct.
The now-68-year-old was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder of a law-enforcement officer as a result of the subsequent shootout.
DeRossett shot and wounded Agent John ‘Casey’ Smith during the shootout with Brevard County officers who had come to his home to arrest his niece Mary Ellis (right) for prostitution
Ellis is pictured in an ambulance after the incident on August 20 at the home where she was running a prostitution business
DeRossett’s defense team filed a motion for dismissal last month, arguing he should be protected by Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law, a self-defense statute which authorizes the use of deadly force in response to a perceived threat from an attacker.
His lawyers said he ‘was under no obligation to sit back, let Mary Ellis be kidnapped by strangers in the night, and do nothing to save her’.
That motion was dismissed Thursday by Circuit Judge Robin C Lemondis, who concluded DeRossett had ‘used deadly force in response to a non-existent threat’.
‘As there was no imminent threat to [DeRossett], the firing of [DeRossett’s] gun was completely unprovoked and therefore unjustified,’ the judge ruled.
The case will now move forward to a trial, wherein DeRossett could still claim self-defense.
Ellis testified on her uncle’s behalf on Monday, telling the court he had been unaware of her criminal activity.
‘I told people I lived with my uncle, and he didn’t know,’ she said.
Prosecutors disputed her claims, though, arguing that Derossett knew about Ellis’ problem with prescription drugs and was aware of her criminal activity, so he shouldn’t be entitled to immunity in the case.
On Monday, 48-year-old Ellis testified that her uncle was unaware of her criminal activity