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Dos Gatos fatal shooting: What constitutes self-defense?

A First Coast defense lawyer says if deadly force is used, there must be an imminent threat of deadly force against you or someone else.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — First Coast News has learned the person who shot and killed 37-year-old Adam Amoia outside the Dos Gatos bar last Saturday is now saying he shot Amoia several times out of self-defense.

Luis Casado, 30, hasn't been charged with a crime, and according to a police report, he told officers Amoia punched him in the face several times and broke his glasses.

This has many of us wondering what constitutes self-defense?

“Self-defense, which also incorporates stand your ground, just basically says you had a reasonable fear that your or someone else’s life was in danger, and you had to respond," Janet Johnson said. 

Jacksonville-area defense attorney Janet Johnson is not involved in the case but says if deadly force is used, there must be an imminent threat of deadly force against you or someone else. 

“What is incredibly unique about Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law is it actually puts the burden on the police to rule it out," Johnson said.

“They will defer not charging anybody, but they will collaborate with the state, and let the state make that decision going forward," Mark Baughman said.

First Coast News crime and safety expert Mark Baughman has 35 years experience in law enforcement and says under Florida law a person of interest or suspect claiming self-defense can't be charged with a crime until it's been ruled out. 

“What has to be ruled out is was there intent to do harm? Was the person the aggressor in this case?” Baughman said.

“Is there a gap between the perceived violence or threat and the self defense or the alleged self defense?” Johnson said.

Johnson says the amount of physical distance between the shooter and person being shot, as well as the location of wounds, can also play a factor in self-defense claims. 

“Obviously, if somebody is six feet away, it’s in his back, and he’s running away, that’s going to be a tough self defense," Johnson said. 

Baughman also says just because a person of interest isn't charged right away doesn't mean he or she won't eventually face charges. Investigators must determine if the person did in fact act in self defense, he says. 

A spokesman from the St. Johns County State's Attorney's Office said Friday investigators are still reviewing evidence and listening to interviews. 

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