Five years ago this week (March 20, 2016), my son, Ryan Modell, was shot and killed in Fort Myers.
He had knocked on the wrong door after drinking too much at a party and coming home late. There was an altercation in the doorway and the door was 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 instructed to stay inside. That should have been the end of it.
Instead, the owner waited several minutes, then got his gun, went back outside and pursued my son. He found him two houses away, seated on the ground facing the other way. He yelled and provoked him. When my son stood 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.
Inexplicably, the State Attorney’s Office called it a Stand Your Ground case before it was even requested by the killer’s attorney. They awarded it as a “Hall Pass” even though the killer’s actions are in violation of the SYG criteria. Under SYG, you can’t re-engage, or be the pursuer, or create the interaction that you claim to fear so much you had to use deadly force. In this case the killer did all three. He even pointed a loaded weapon at an individual who wasn’t a threat, which is Felony Assault in Florida, and you can’t claim Stand Your Ground during the commission of a crime. That’s 4 strikes!
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office has an expert homicide investigation team. They have thoroughly reviewed the case twice, and have clearly stated that they believe this to be a murder case that needs to be charged. Further, they see no possible way that SYG applies, yet they’ve been ignored by the State Attorney’s Office. Legal experts from the Attorney General’s office, former prosecutors, former State Attorney’s, and criminal defense experts have all agreed that this is not a SYG case. Yet the State Attorney’s Office refuses to file charges or present the facts of the case to a Grand Jury. Even worse, they are absolutely unable to explain or defend their position. That level of unacceptable behavior borders on malfeasance.
My family deserves the justice that has been needlessly delayed, and the people of Lee County have the right to know that serious crime will be handled responsibly. Please join me in asking the State Attorney’s Office to finally act responsibly and follow the recommendation of the investigative professionals at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and file murder charges or put the case in front a a Grand Jury. We all deserve no less.