Florida has had a history of deadly, racially tinged police confrontations, many involving unarmed men, which have led to riots, protests and a steady undercurrent of rancor between minorities and the police. In the past 20 years, not a single officer in Florida has been charged with using deadly force, says the New York Times. As a grand jury considers the case of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., Florida's experience points to both local and national factors making it extraordinarily difficult to convict, law enforcement officials for killing someone in the line of duty.
Police officers have the authority to use lethal force if they believe they or others are in danger. More often than not, that right is one of the factors that make going “beyond a reasonable doubt” a challenging task, prosecutors and defense lawyers said. “The system is incredibly biased in favor of the police and incredibly unfair to victims of police shootings and brutality,” said Jeff Weiner, a Miami criminal defense lawyer. “Of course the police are out there every day risking their lives and making split-second decisions, and nobody is taking that away from them.” Prosecutors say the slow pace reflects the need for a thorough, rigorous investigation, adding that cases involving police officers, who must quickly make life-changing decisions, are seldom easy to navigate.