Derek Michael David. CONTIBUTED

A Louisiana man who was convicted in 2018 of a 2016 shooting on Duval Street will get a new trial, according to a June 10 appeals court ruling.

Derek Michael David, who had a concealed carry permit for a gun, was sentenced in 2018 to 18 years in prison for three counts of attempted manslaughter with a firearm, one count of aggravated assault with a firearm and five related misdemeanors.

David and his defense attorney, Donald Barrett, had repeatedly invoked Florida’s self-defense, or Stand Your Ground, law that protects people from prosecution if they are defending themselves or others from imminent harm. David and Barrett told the jury David was protecting his wife from a physical altercation with three tourists that had started on Charles Street and moved to Duval Street in the early-morning hours of March 21, 2016.

A three-judge panel from the Third District Court of Appeal on June 10 ruled that the jury in David’s case was not sufficiently instructed that the self-defense law also extends to the protection of someone else. The Florida law also protects a defendant from prosecution if the defendant injures or kills a bystander while legitimately defending themselves and/or others. 

Specifically, the appeals court found that the “reference to ‘defense of others,’ was omitted” from the jury instructions.

“Because unintended injury to a bystander is indeed justifiable if resulting from shots fired in the proper and prudent defense of another, and, here, there was sufficient ‘evidence in the record to support (his) theory of defense,’ David was entitled to the requested instruction.” 

The ruling ends with the judges’ final decision to reverse the conviction and order additional proceedings. “We cannot be confident he ‘received a fair trial consistent with the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.’ Thus, reversal is warranted. Reversed and remanded,” the June 10 ruling states.

How it happened

The appeals court ruling describes the shooting as follows: “Two unidentified men approached the couple, apparently concerned that a domestic incident was unfolding. One of the men pushed David away from his wife and David attempted to strike him with a closed fist. Predictably, an affray ensued. David fell to the ground and sustained a physical attack. Upon regaining his footing, he began to walk away. However, one of the men struck him in the back of the head. David again stumbled and was subjected to another physical overture. Jodi simultaneously struggled with the other stranger. The video shows the wife refusing assistance from the intervening bystanders. A physical fight ensued, prompting David to pull his handgun and fire four shots. Three shots hit the three tourists, who suffered non-lethal wounds. While hastily departing from the shooting scene, Derek purportedly brandished his firearm at both a tavern security guard and a barkeeper. He was subsequently apprehended and taken into custody. During the arrest, law enforcement officers observed that David was combative, and his speech was slurred, loud, and laced with profanities.”

The prosecution had argued at trial that the shooting victims were walking away from David when he began firing shots. They also told the jury it is illegal to carry a gun while intoxicated, with or without a concealed carry permit. 

The new trial date has not been set.

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