Stand Your Ground laws came under intense national scrutiny in the wake of the 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. A neighborhood vigilante, Zimmerman was acquitted in his murder trial after claiming he shot the unarmed teenager in self-defense.
Although the tragedy of Trayvon’s murder occurred in Florida, states across the county—including Kansas—have similar laws on the books regarding the right to defend yourself with deadly force if you believe you are at great risk of bodily harm. The application of these laws has been called into question across the board, especially where—as in Kansas—the law shields law enforcement officers from accountability when they use deadly force against people in custody.
More recently—and more locally— Sedgwick District Attorney Marc Bennett cited Stand Your Ground laws in his announcement that he would not seek charges against county employees in the death of C.J. Lofton, even after it was medically ruled a homicide. Lofton was a Wichita teenager who had been handcuffed—bringing about more questions about the wisdom and application of Stand Your Ground laws.