Married Florida resident, Keegan Von Roberts (the “Decedent”) 22 years old, was shot to death on July 20, 2017, during an alleged fight with Michael Centanni, IV (“Centanni”). The decedent and Mr. Centanni were allegedly neighbors in Jacksonville, Florida. On October 5, 2017, the States Attorneys Office released its findings wherein it found that Mr. Centanni’s version of events were corroborated by the physical evidence.
It is alleged that Centanni taped trash to the decedents SUV and a purported note saying “Pick up your trash“. The decedent, rightfully upset by the clear unequivocal disrespectful and unneighborly note; confronted Centanni. While the two allegedly argued, Centanni allegedly used racial epithets toward the decedent, allegedly to add fuel to the intense fire he created. At some point during the argument, the decedent was shot three times by Centanni. The decedent was pronounced dead. Homicide detectives noted that they found purported drug paraphernalia in the decedent’s vehicle, however, failed to note why a search of the vehicle was necessary in the first instance, in light of the killing occurring outside of the vehicle. Interestingly, media outlets reported that neither the decedent, nor Mr. Centanni have significant criminal records, thus no media attack on the decedent’s character could materialize. As is customary when young African American males are killed either by the police or in this case by a private citizen, they are vilified for their past by mainstream media in an effort to attack the victims credibility, to bring them into disrepute and to give credence to the shooter. This is regrettable. Mr. Roberts was a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew, a brother-in-law, son-in-law and friend. His life mattered and the way he died was senseless, repugnant and shocking, to say the least.
Mr. Centanni will not be charged, according to news reports. The decedents family, through their attorney, John Phillips, were notified previously that no charges would be filed.
News reports stated that the family is considering bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against Centanni, however, due to the unfair and unconstitutional way that the statue is written, they may be prohibited from pursuing a cause of action for wrongful death.
Under Florida Stand Your Ground Law, a shooter claiming self-defense is immune from criminal prosecution under Florida law and cannot be arrested or detained unless police have probable cause to believe that the shooter was not acting in self-defense. After being charged, the shooter is entitled to a pre-trial immunity hearing in which a judge must make factual determinations typically left to a jury. If the shooter wins, the [case is dismissed]; if the shooter loses, the case is heard a second time, this time by a jury.
The same Florida statute also [immunizes the shooter] from all civil suits, including those brought by innocent bystanders. If a person, including an innocent bystander, does bring suit against a shooter who is immunized, that person is required to pay the shooter’s attorney’s fees and court costs and must compensate the shooter for lost income and other expenses.
This case is another of example of the flaws in the Florida Stand Your Ground Law. In Florida, unlike most other states, a shooter does not have a duty to retreat. He or she can confront the danger and use lethal force.
In Florida, the shooter has:
NO DUTY TO RETREAT ANYWHERE:
NO DUTY TO RETREAT IN DEFENSE OF PROPERTY:
PRESUMPTION THAT USE OF DEADLY FORCE WAS LAWFUL:
IMMUNITY FROM ARREST OR PROSECUTION:
IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL SUITS
Absolute immunity is somewhat unprecedented, especially without a peer determination. Even sovereign immunity is not absolute. Even the government must answer to the citizens of this country- to the victims’ peers. So how come someone unreasonable can get away with killing if even the government cannot?
SupaButterfly has not found any cases, at least filed in Federal Court in the 11th Circuit, challenging the constitutionality of the Florida civil immunity statue. Fed. Rule. Civ. P. 5.1, provides a vehicle for challenging the constitutionality of a State statue, such as the Florida Stand Your Ground Law. We are hopeful that able counsel for the decedents family will review all legal avenues, so that the ends of justice can be furthered and that this family can receive the relief they so desperately deserve. Although, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a Stand Your Ground Defense will not preclude a civil lawsuit, the statue, as written, however, awards attorneys fees, cost, lost wages and other damages to a Defendant that prevails.
May Mr. Roberts rest in peace and may his family get the justice that they so desperately deserve.
“The Casual Killing Act 1669 to present”