The Palm Beach Post reported that Thomas Kalka was arrested this week for aggravated assault, carrying a concealed firearm and displaying a firearm in public. It is alleged he pointed a gun at a man during an altercation outside the Brass Ring Pub in Royal Palm Beach. Two witnesses say Kalka got upset with a man, walked to his car and pulled a gun out of a box inside the vehicle. He then pointed the gun at the man.
There is always a story to tell in these kinds of cases. The most likely explanation for Kalka’s actions, that is consistent with innocence, is that Kalka believed he was in danger and attempted to stand his ground. The stand your ground law permits you to stand your ground and defend yourself, rather than requiring you to retreat before resorting to violence, as long as you were acting lawfully at the time. The law expanded the right of citizens to defend themselves. Before the law went into effect, the rule in a public place was that you had to retreat before using deadly force if you could do so without putting yourself in more danger. The law got rid of that requirement.
There are some obvious problems for Kalka if he tries to use this defense. The most difficult to overcome is the fact that he went to his car to get the gun. Even if legal for him to do so, a jury will have a difficult time getting past the fact he could have left and chose to return. He will need a pretty good explanation for that decision to be successful.
The other concern I would have if I were defending him is the possible use of alcohol. Good jurors for self-defense cases involving firearms are gun owners because they understand the need to use force to defend. But those same jurors are usually pretty unforgiving when defendants mix alcohol with their firearms.
It will be interesting to hear what Kalka attempts to argue here.