Man acquitted of shooting, acted in self-defense
MIAMI (WSVN) -- A South Florida man who thought he was not going to see his daughter for a long, long time has been cleared of a crime.
Carlos Rodriguez has spent the past few years behind bars, but an attorney has proved his innocence, and now he has finally found freedom. Rodriguez was facing a lifetime behind bars until he was acquitted by a Miami-Dade jury this week for shooting Tariq Smith in the parking lot of a Miami Lakes club in February of 2009. The shooting victim would survive.
"Sometimes you're put in a predicament that's either do or die," Rodriguez said. "You know what I'm saying? If you don't do what you have to, then you die," he said.
Surveillance video from the club shows Rodriguez in a white shirt leaving the club, which has since closed. Then, a large group follows him. Moments later, there would be a shooting, and you will see people running back into the club.
The defense for Rodriguez argued that he was beaten, surrounded by a large group and felt his life was in danger. Criminal Defense Attorney Andrew Rier said, "He had been beaten, he was bleeding from his mouth, nose and head. He was blocked in. His truck could not pull out. He has no criminal record."
His acquittal could send shock waves through the South Florida legal community. In 2005, the Florida Legislature passed the Stand Your Ground law, which gives people the right to shoot and kill if they feel they are in danger. "Lethal force does not have to be used against you. You have to reasonably believe that your life is in danger," said Rier.
This is an historic case in South Florida, as this is one of the first not guilty verdicts where the Stand Your Ground law was used by the defense. It is also an important personal victory for Rodriguez whose little girl was just three weeks old when he was arrested.
But even his own attorney has concerns about the Stand Your Ground law. "You don't want a situation where Miami becomes a Wild West show," Rier said. "You really don't want that, but the way this law is written, you can shoot somebody if they're unarmed, if you reasonably believed they were."
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