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Professor Says Florida Self-Defense Law Not At All Crazy

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - The police decision not to charge a man who fatally shot an unarmed teenager in Florida last month has sparked national outrage, including rallies in Oakland and Los Angeles on Monday.

But a Sacramento law professor says the self-defense law isn't any different than in California.

George Zimmerman told police 17-year-old Tayvon Martin punched him and slammed his head on the ground, which prompted Zimmerman to shoot.

Police cite Florida's "stand your ground" law for their decision not to arrest Zimmerman.

McGeorge law professor John Myers says the outrage against the law is misplaced. Myers read directly from the law, which states "a person is justified in using deadly force, and does not have to retreat."

Myers says Zimmerman would be free in California as well if indeed he was protecting himself from an attack.

"The law in Florida is not any different then the law anywhere else," he said. "I've heard all kinds of wild statements about the crazy law in Florida. Florida is completely mainstream when it comes to the law of self-defense."

The deadly shooting of the black teen in Sanford, Florida has led to claims of racial injustice and comparisons to civil rights abuses in Birmingham and selma the 60s.

"If a black vigilante shot a 17-year-old white child near his father's house, he would be in jail today," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said.

But Myers says the national narrative is all wrong.

"The press often gets the law wrong, and commentators often distort the law to try and make some political point," he said.

Professor Myers, whose office art includes a poster of Martin Luther King, says he is sensitive to racial inequalities in this country but that civil rights leaders speaking out against Florida law now are not following the facts of the case.

"It's terrible no matter what happened, no matter what the facts are, but the problem is with these events people do jump to conclusions," he said.

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