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Thread: Homeowner had 'a right to resist'

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    Homeowner had 'a right to resist' Judge acquits John Coffin on 5 felony charges; Coffin gets time served on 6th.
    By TODD RUGER
    todd.ruger@heraldtribune.com
    SARASOTA -- John Coffin won't spend any more time in jail for beating up two sheriff's deputies inside his house, striking one in the head with a Taser gun he took from the other.

    Circuit Judge Rick De Furia said at Coffin's trial Tuesday that he doesn't condone the violence against the deputies.

    But Coffin, 56, had a right to defend his family and property because the deputies had no right to be in Coffin's house in the first place, De Furia said.

    "Law enforcement was responsible for the chain of events here," De Furia said. "I think in situations like this, officers become so frustrated they go beyond what the law allows them to do."

    The fight started when Coffin heard his wife screaming in pain, went into the garage and saw two deputies arresting her on the floor.

    The deputies were trying to serve Coffin with civil papers that had been given five days earlier. They had entered the garage even though they did not have a search warrant or arrest warrant.

    And they arrested Coffin's wife, Cynthia, 50, on obstruction charges even though she had no obligation to follow their orders to bring her husband outside.

    "The most critical is the fact the officers broke the law by stopping the garage door from going down," and then entering the garage, De Furia said.

    A jury was picked for the trial Monday. But the judge granted a motion by Coffin's attorneys, Derek Byrd and Brett McIntosh, and acquitted John Coffin on five of six felony charges Tuesday morning.

    Coffin pleaded no contest to the remaining charge of taking a Taser gun from one of the deputies during the fight.

    Before handing down the sentence, De Furia asked how long Coffin spent in jail after his initial arrest.

    "You spent eight days in the Sarasota County jail," De Furia said. "That's your sentence. No probation."

    Relatives applauded, and Coffin walked out of the courthouse with only a $358 bill for court costs. The sentence surprised even defense attorneys, who had suggested De Furia sentence Coffin to probation.

    Prosecutors had asked for more than a year of prison time because of "the totality of the case" and the injuries to deputies James Lutz and Stacy Ferris, whose name is now Stacy Brandau.

    The two deputies testified about their injuries Tuesday -- three blows to the head with the butt of the Taser gun knocked Lutz unconscious.

    "I just ask that he doesn't get away with this," Brandau told the judge.

    Assistant State Attorney Jeff Young told the judge the case "could have been over in five seconds" if the Coffins "had simply come out and cooperated."

    "That is a man who took it upon himself to beat up two police officers," Young said.

    De Furia said that while he believed the deputies' mistakes were not intentional, the Coffins had every right to lock doors, try to close their garage door and not cooperate.

    "What took place in the house was unfortunate," De Furia said, "but Mr. Coffin ... had a right to resist."

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    Amen to that! Thank GOD we still have judges with a stable realistic view of the law and the Constitution! I think I'm gonna write Judge Rick De Furia a letter to thank himfor standing up and doing the right thing, even if it was unpopular with the police.



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    Another Amen from this pew. And an attajudge.

    But one thing (in this case's description) mystifies me. How is it that the deputies, or at least the one left conscious, didn't put a few big bang holes into Coffin?

    Based on their perspective, it was a clear case of felony attackon police officers.( I don't share this view.)An attack which might've been fatalto Deputy Ferris and which could clearly call for the use of deadly force. Yetsomehow Deputy Lutz didn't do that.

    Could it have been a smidgenof good judgment and training snuck in there ... after Lutz and Ferris had bumbled everything else? I guess that Lutz wasjust focused on getting control of the situation (as bad as it was already) and didn't feel the need to shoot an unarmed man even though the unarmed "attacker" had just knocked out his partner.

    That was fortunate for Coffin, I think. Ordinarily, an impulsiveandaggressive guy with a gun is gonna shoot ya, given half a chance.

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