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Judge rejects self-defense claim in Miami car wash killing


It started off with a parking dispute at a Miami car clean. A male in an SUV pulled a gun. Then, so did the enterprise operator.

It finished when SUV passenger Said Silwany strode towards 64-year-aged John Haugabook, firing a fatal flurry of bullets into the upper body of the car wash proprietor — a shooting depicted on surprising surveillance video clip.

Not remarkably, Silwany claimed self-protection less than Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” regulation, arguing that Haugabook was about to position his weapon at him — yet one more circumstance of armed citizens in Miami confronting each and every other in a public area. A Miami-Dade decide, on the other hand, has refused to dismiss the second-degree murder demand, ruling that Silwany was the clear aggressor.

“Silwany was a mere feet from his car whilst Haugabook held the gun pointed down at his side. Silwany could have taken the couple measures to enter his car and travel absent,” Miami-Dade Circuit Decide Miguel de la O wrote in a decision unveiled late very last thirty day period. “Instead, he made a mindful final decision not to do so, escalated the problem by aggressively approaching Haugabook, and now seeks to be excused for killing Haugabook.”

Silwany, 32, continues to be in a Miami-Dade jail when awaiting a demo by jury. His protection attorneys, Pat Dray and Abe Laeser, say they will discover no matter if to enchantment.

“He’s self-assured that a jury will reach the right result,” Dray mentioned of his consumer. “The movie is incredibly crystal clear — Haugabook was the aggressor.”

Stand Your Ground

Florida’s Stand Your Floor regulation, initial handed in 2005, has lengthy been a lightning rod for controversy — it eliminated a duty to retreat when confronting an aggressor threatening demise or fantastic bodily damage. It also gave judges the ability to grant “immunity” to someone they deem acted in self-defense, and afterwards forced prosecutors at these hearings to shoulder the burden of proving a defendant did not act in self-defense.

Above the previous 17 years, the law has figured in a continuous stream of controversial shootings involving confrontations in public areas, such as the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford. Whilst gunman George Zimmerman did not talk to for a pretrial immunity hearing, the jury that acquitted him heard the legal directions that Zimmerman experienced “no obligation to retreat.”

In Silwany’s situation, the judge ruled, he did truly have a duty to retreat mainly because he was the initial aggressor.

Like Silwany, quite a few other high-profile defendants have sought immunity right before trial, and dropped.

That involves Kendall’s Omar Rodriguez, who shot and killed an unarmed person in a dispute in excess of pet dog poop 4 young men accused of beating up homosexual men at a Delight Parade on South Seashore and Tampa’s Curtis Reeves, who shot and killed an unarmed movie theater patron after the guy threw popcorn at him (Reeves was acquitted at a jury trial).

In one more notable case at a Miami-Dade car clean, prosecutors cited Florida’s Stand Your Floor legislation in not submitting costs versus an worker who shot and killed a would-be car thief at South Seaside Finest Hand Car Clean in 2018.

The shooting

Haugabook’s taking pictures took location on Oct. 22, 2021, all around 4 p.m. at the hand car wash up coming to a liquor retail store at 9125 NW 22nd Ave.

That afternoon, a Dodge Durango driven by Silwany’s sister parked in the car wash’s space. Haugabook approached and questioned them to shift the SUV, considering the fact that they ended up not obtaining a car clean.

The sister moved the SUV to a distinctive place, in the exact same location. Silwany, a person of the travellers, got out and walked into the liquor keep. As he walked out, video showed, he was noticed keeping a gun “without any provocation,” in accordance to an arrest warrant.

Online video confirmed Haugabook then pulled his have pistol, leaving it pointed down. The two “exchanged words” ahead of Silwany stepped ahead and the two appeared to argue. Then, as the argument escalated, Silwany fired 11 pictures at the car wash proprietor, who appeared to attempt and return hearth prior to crumpling to the ground.

Silwany, on the video, is observed selecting up the mortally wounded man’s gun. According to law enforcement, Silwany bought again into the SUV and the group drove off.

All through a Stand Your Ground hearing past month, the video clip was parsed in element.

Silwany, his lawyers claimed, opened fire since he observed Haugabook — who was a convicted felon and shouldn’t have possessed a weapon — had loudly racked his significant pistol with a 30-round journal. Silwany thought he was in the process of raising his arm, attorneys reported.

“Quite basically, he responded to a clear and active lethal menace by an armed gentleman who was attempting to level his loaded handgun specifically at him,” Dray wrote.

But the judge agreed with prosecutor Justin Funck, stating the online video doesn’t again up the declare. In his 13-site purchase, de la O usually takes pains to place out that, in a put exactly where both of those males experienced the ideal to have a gun, Silwany went too significantly.

He mentioned Haugabook racked the weapon a entire 5 seconds prior to Silwany “strode” towards the guy — and “racking the gun is not an objective foundation for believing an individual is imminently going to hearth their weapon.”

And Haugabook appeared to be lifting his hand to place at a parking spot but never pointed the weapon at Silwany, the choose claimed.

De la O pressured that “nothing Haugabook did could guide a fair person to believe they were being in imminent hazard of currently being shot,” introducing: “Possessing and displaying a gun, standing by itself, is not plenty of to justify murdering a human being.”

This story was initially printed June 2, 2022 6:00 AM.

David Ovalle covers criminal offense and courts in Miami. A native of San Diego, he graduated from the College of Southern California and joined the Herald in 2002 as a sports reporter.


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