Back in 2011, the then 26-year-old former member of the United States Air Force, Michael Giles, was convicted of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and sentenced to 25 years in Florida prison.  Although the shooting occurred in 2010, the recent cases of George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn being found "not-guilty" of the murder of two 17-year-old Black boys, Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, has stirred up attention in Mr. Giles' case regarding the racial overtones within it. 

At the time of the shooting, the father of three was on active duty stationed in Tampa after having just finished two tours in the Middle East.  He was invited by a friend to a Tallahassee nightclub during one February night, but got entangled in a serious case of group violence upon entering the club.  A huge brawl that consisted of 30-40 young men of opposing fraternities from Florida A&M University, engaged in a massive fight which Giles unfortunately got caught up in.

After he got separated from his friends, Giles retreated to his car outside of the club and retrieved his gun which he had a concealed carry permit for.  He began searching for his friends back inside of the club as he carried the gun in his pants pocket.  During his search, Giles was suddenly struck so hard with a sucker punch which he didn't see coming, that he was actually knocked to the floor.  Fearing for his life, he pulled out his firearm and let off just one shot to his assailant's leg.  Bullet fragments wound up injuring three men aside from impacting the man's leg who punched him, Courtney Thrower.  

Thrower actually admitted to police that his reasoning for initially punching Giles was random.  He told police that he remembered thinking, "The first person I get to I'm going to hit," which wound up being Giles.  Other witnesses of the assault on Giles even supported the fact that it was a random attack and that Mr. Thrower was pacing outside of the nightclub with his fists clenched before going back inside and getting directly involved with the violence.  One witness testified that Thrower "leapfrogged" at Giles and hit him.

Giles had no prior criminal background, and despite the fact that he argued that he used the "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law as his reason for pulling the trigger, he was charged with second-degree attempted murder which resulted in him being hit with 25-years in prison for the aggravated battery with a deadly weapon conviction.  

His defense attorney Don Pumphrey argued that Giles only had to fear "imminent death or great bodily harm" in order to be justified for shooting his gun.  

"He doesn't have to think he's going to get killed, even though people looking in from the outside thought someone could get killed.  If the defendant was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, where he had a right to stand, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force."

The judge who handed down the long sentence on Giles even felt as though it was extreme, but he was left with no choice but to "follow the law" which demanded such a harsh punishment.  Given the recent "not-guilty" verdicts of George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn for shooting and killing two unarmed 17-year-old Black teenagers, do you think the fact that Michael Giles having utilized the "Stand Your Ground" defense as a Black man in Florida, heavily impacted the harsh sentencing he was given?