The mother of a U.S. Air Force airman serving 25 years in a Florida prison for firing a gun during a wild altercation outside a nightclub in 2010 is petitioning for her son’s release, saying he should have been acquitted under the “Stand Your Ground” law that became widely publicized during the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case.
On Feb. 6, 2010, Michael Giles, then on active duty with the Air Force, fired one shot from his legal handgun during a brawl that involved between 20 and 40 people. One man, whom the petition describes as “Michael’s attacker” was struck in the leg but not seriously hurt.
The attacker had reportedly been in several altercations earlier that night, was angry and acting erratically. Giles was initially not involved in the mayhem and had been separated from two friends, the only people he knew at the scene.
When the attacker came at him, he fired what was described as a warning shot.
Police initially reported that Giles fired three shots and hit three people outside Club Episodes on West Pensacola Street in Tallahassee. But only one bullet was found matching his gun and Giles was acquitted on the other two charges.
However, he was convicted on the single count and sentenced to 25 years in prison, the mandatory sentence, even though the judge stated that she found the sentence excessive and police had reccomended only a sentence of probation.
Giles had no criminal record or history of violent incidents.
“Our family just does not understand how a man who proudly fought for his country, and spent 6 years proudly serving as a U.S Airman, could lose the right to live his life for defending himself,” wrote Phyillis Giles in the petition. Giles’ mother says that she and her husband are also bith military veterans.
After Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Martin, the case of Marissa Alexander gained considerable publicity. Also in Florida, Alexander fired a warning shot when her husband was attacking her. She now serves a 20-year prison term.
Both Giles and Alexander are African-American.
SOURCES: Change.org, Black Youth Project, WCTV, Justice For Marissa