Five years ago this week (March 20, 2016) my son Ryan Modell was shot dead in Fort Myers.
He’d knocked on the wrong door after drinking too much at a party and coming home late. There was an argument in the door and the door slammed. My son left and the owner was safe in his apartment behind a locked door. He and his wife called the police and were told to stay inside. That should have been the end.
Instead, the owner waited a few minutes, then got his gun, went back outside and chased my son. He found him two houses away, sitting on the floor facing the other way. He screamed and provoked him. When my son got up and approached, he shot and killed him with a 10mm gun that had a laser and a flashlight. The police described it as a hunting weapon.
More:Lee’s detective calls the 2016 shooting “murder,” but prosecutors say it was “Stand Your Ground.”
More:Opinion: The Stand Your Ground case deserves a fresh review to ensure justice for the dead son of a family
Inexplicably, prosecutors called it a Stand Your Ground case before it was even brought in by the killer’s attorney. They awarded it a “Hall Pass” even though the killer’s actions violated the SYG criteria. Under SYG, you cannot re-engage, be the pursuer, or create the interaction you claim you fear so much that you have had to use deadly force. In this case, the killer did all three. He even pointed a loaded gun at a person who posed no threat, namely Felony Assault in Florida, and you cannot claim to be Stand Your Ground while committing a crime. That’s 4 hits!
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has an expert team dedicated to homicide investigations. They have thoroughly examined the case twice and have clearly established that this is a murder case that must be charged. Also, they don’t see any way how SYG is applied but have been ignored by the prosecutor. Attorney General legal experts, former prosecutors, former prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys agreed that this is not a SYG case. However, the prosecution refuses to bring charges or to bring the facts to a grand jury. Worse still, they are absolutely unable to explain or defend their position. This level of unacceptable behavior borders on misconduct.
My family deserves justice that has been unnecessarily delayed, and the people of Lee County have a right to know that serious crimes are handled responsibly. Please join me in urging the prosecution to finally act responsibly and to follow the recommendation of investigators at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to file murder charges or bring the case to a grand jury. We all don’t deserve less.