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Thread: FL Man says he shot officer in self-defense

  1. #1
    State Researcher HankT's Avatar
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    I can't figure out if Cutaia is a bad shot, a good shot, or just a goof with a gun.

    But walking away from an LEO who wants to talk to you (if no RS or PC) is suggested all the time.Such wasn't a good idea for Cutaia.



    July 18, 2007

    Man says he shot officer in self-defense
    By JAY STAPLETON Staff Writer


    DAYTONA BEACH -- A Miami man who fired 10 shots at a Daytona Beach Shores police officer in 2005, hitting him once, said Wednesday he was acting in self-defense and just trying to send the officer scurrying.

    "He didn't identify himself," Thomas Cutaia, 44, told jurors during his opening statement in Chief Judge J. David Walsh's courtroom. "I never stopped. I just continued to retreat."

    Cutaia is fighting for his freedom. With no formal training in the law, he chose to represent himself on charges that include attempted second-degree murder for the Nov. 1, 2005, shooting. If convicted, Cutaia could get a life sentence.

    Lawyers who observed Cutaia representing himself in the first day of the trial said he appeared to hold his own, to their surprise. "He did pretty well," Assistant Public Defender Bryan Park said. "He was making his argument."

    Cutaia has been prone to outbursts in court since last April, when he was found incompetent to stand trial. His competency was later restored, the court ruled. Cutaia, who has claimed organized crime members were trying to kill him, didn't want to be represented by the Public Defender's Office.

    In court Wednesday, fitted around the waist with a shock belt that a nearby deputy could activate remotely if Cutaia got out of control, he acted professionally and drew few of the warnings from the judge about his behavior that he heard before the trial.

    Cutaia has claimed Shores Public Safety Officer Michael Gavigan was a hired hit man.
    "Were you paid to come at me?" he asked Gavigan on the stand. "Just my hourly rate," the officer answered.


    During his opening statement, prosecutor Dennis Craig laid out what appeared to be a simple case. Cutaia was standing on the sidewalk, wearing dark sunglasses at night. The officer "just wanted to see if everything was all right," Craig said.

    The officer's radar went up when Cutaia walked away out into the street. He refused to take his hands from his pockets and made furtive movements.

    Gavigan, who was saved from lethal wounds by his bulletproof vest, suffered great bodily injury from being shot, Craig said.

    Cutaia pointed out the officer played softball weeks after being shot, questioning the injury. He deferred his opening statement until after the state rested its case, showing a degree of strategy.

    Using a posterboard placed far from the jury, the accused man explained his side. Cutaia was visiting for two weeks, staying in a hotel, he explained. He was walking back to the hotel from a store when he was approached on the sidewalk by the man he later learned was an officer.

    He said the officer didn't identify himself as such, but pulled a gun after Cutaia said he didn't want to talk to him. Cutaia said he tried to get away, but admitted firing the gun when he saw the officer pointing his weapon.

    Officer Gavigan had testified he pulled his department-issued handgun because Cutaia refused to show his hands. But Cutaia argued there was no probable cause for the officer to stop him.

    "He created a deadly situation," Cutaia said of the officer, whose vest was hit in the lower back area as he turned from the second shot Cutaia fired.

    He suggested the officer was hit from a ricochet, adding that he aimed for trees and "flower pots" along the street to avoid injuring anyone.

    "I fired, but I fired off to the side," Cutaia said. "I didn't want to hurt the guy for being stupid."


    While Cutaia did OK from a defense perspective, attorney Park said the claim that he fired to scare the officer so he could continue his retreat might weaken the self-defense claim. Using deadly force is justified when a person thinks they are in danger of death or great bodily harm. The trial is expected to wrap up today with closing arguments.

    Cutaia has prevailed in court before. In early 2005, a Miami-Dade County judge ordered his gun be returned after it was seized by Miami Beach police.

    It was the same gun, police say, that he used to fire on Gavigan.

    http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/Local/newEAST02071907.htm






  2. #2
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    Any man who would act as his own lawyer has a fool for a client. Reminds me of Collin Furgerson, the long island railroad rampage shooter. Hopefully this guy spends the rest of his days behind bars.

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    DT4E31 wrote:
    Snip... Reminds me of Collin Furgerson, the long island railroad rampage shooter. Hopefully this guy spends the rest of his days behind bars.
    Why?

    LoveMyCountry

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    DT4E31 wrote:
    Hopefully this guy spends the rest of his days behind bars.
    yeah, why?

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    DKSuddeth wrote:
    DT4E31 wrote:
    Hopefully this guy spends the rest of his days behind bars.
    yeah, why?
    Not to sound like a broken record, but why?

    Perchance the cop helped to create a potentially deadly situation where one did not need to exist?

    Let us see how this thing plays out before we condemn the shooter out of hand.

    Tragically, one fears that this kind of incident may become all too commonplace if the cops do not begin to act sensibly and professionally during their encounters with armed citizens. One has only to consider the unconscionable way in which our comrade Chet was treated by the Norfolk cops recently to know that some of these PDs are badly lacking in training and manners.

    TrueBrit.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    I assure you that if I faced the circumstances that I have seen here i.e. a stranger wants to talk to me on a dark street, pulls a gun when I refuse, does not ID himself as a LE that all hell is going to break loose ! I realize that all facts are not available and I am not literally walking in his shoes. I agree that we should wait and see how this plays out.


    BTW TrueBrit I like your "knight" and location - small world isn't it!

    Yata hey
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training. Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Grapeshot wrote:
    I assure you that if I faced the circumstances that I have seen here i.e. a stranger wants to talk to me on a dark street, pulls a gun when I refuse, does not ID himself as a LE that all hell is going to break loose ! I realize that all facts are not available and I am not literally walking in his shoes. I agree that we should wait and see how this plays out.


    BTW TrueBrit I like your "knight" and location - small world isn't it!

    Yata hey
    I appreciate the compliment, Sir, it would appearfrom the substance of your post that we have similar mindsets also!The Terrible Twins from Richmond!

    Best wishes,

    TrueBrit.

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    The two Chessmen of the apOCalypse?
    -Unrequited

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    unrequited wrote:
    The two Chessmen of the apOCalypse?
    Nicely put, Sir!

    TrueBrit.

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    DT4E31 wrote:
    Any man who would act as his own lawyer has a fool for a client. Reminds me of Collin Furgerson, the long island railroad rampage shooter. Hopefully this guy spends the rest of his days behind bars.
    He probably feels he can make his case better alone -- I hope he does have someone to consult with though.

    This man should have drove the the nearest police station while the officer followed him, or called the police while driving to verify the officer was legitimate before stopping if he was indeed, this worried about it.

    I don't know if he should be behind bars for the rest of his life, certainly a lot of prohbation after jail time. He sounds mentally ill, and I hope he gets a lot of rehab in jail.

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    openryan wrote:
    DT4E31 wrote:
    Any man who would act as his own lawyer has a fool for a client. Reminds me of Collin Furgerson, the long island railroad rampage shooter. Hopefully this guy spends the rest of his days behind bars.
    He probably feels he can make his case better alone -- I hope he does have someone to consult with though.

    This man should have drove the the nearest police station while the officer followed him, or called the police while driving to verify the officer was legitimate before stopping if he was indeed, this worried about it.

    I don't know if he should be behind bars for the rest of his life, certainly a lot of prohbation after jail time. He sounds mentally ill, and I hope he gets a lot of rehab in jail.
    I'm not sure what account you are referring to, the story states he was walking from a store to his motel not driving, while it was stated that the officer approached him for the clearly suspicious activity of wearing sunglasses at night. the story doesn't address whether the officer was uniformed or not (he was wearing bulletproof vest) and whether conditions made visual identification possible. it was stated that the officer never identified himself. the man attempted to walk away avoiding confrontation.

    now for myself... if I'm accosted by a stranger that I cant identify at night, I too will retreat. i will not turn my back to him, and hand will be in my pocket if CC and close to my gun if OC. this may look furtive to LEOs, but will increase my chances if TSHTF. by the way when I see the weapon pointed at me my shots will be to stop the threat. I will not shoot at non-threatening trees and flowerpots no matter how much they deserve it.


    "He said the officer didn't identify himself as such, but pulled a gun after Cutaia said he didn't want to talk to him. Cutaia said he tried to get away, but admitted firing the gun when he saw the officer pointing his weapon."

    this statement is biased. if at this time he didn't know it was an officer , it should read "but admitted firing the gun when he saw the unidentified man pointing his weapon."

    Cutaia, who has claimed organized crime members were trying to kill him,

    we also need to consider even if he is a nutjob ??? it still might be justifiable self defense.

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    openryan wrote:
    This man should have drove the the nearest police station while the officer followed him, or called the police while driving to verify the officer was legitimate before stopping if he was indeed, this worried about it.
    Well, I doubt he would have an easy time getting into a car and driving to the police station with an unidentified man POINTING A GUN AT HIM.

    I mean, I don't seem to recall Dan getting back into his car, which he was right next to, and driving to the NPD station when the cops rolled up and drew on him...

    And let's face it, with all the incidents we've been hearing lately, I'm going to take Cutaia's word over the LEO's, in this case.

    You'll also notice it never says the LEO ID'd himself.

    And so what if the guy's crazy, or at least a little loopy? Doesn't mean he's not in the right.

    I mean, how would YOU react if some guy came up, started following you, and pulled a gun on you? Especially at night, and ESPECIALLY in Florida?
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    openryan wrote:
    DT4E31 wrote:
    Any man who would act as his own lawyer has a fool for a client. Reminds me of Collin Furgerson, the long island railroad rampage shooter. Hopefully this guy spends the rest of his days behind bars.
    I don't know if he should be behind bars for the rest of his life, certainly a lot of prohbation after jail time. He sounds mentally ill, and I hope he gets a lot of rehab in jail.
    He is probably one of those guys who "would rather be alive and in prison or fighting a gun charge, than shot, or dead."

    Looks like he got his wish. He got convicted.

    As a sidenote, he wasn't legally licensed to carry a gun. No matter...he was safe!

    I wonder if his carrying illegally had any impact on his conviction?? Hmmm. No biggy.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19857947/


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    Looks like he really does have a fool for a client.
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    something similar happened to me once. I ended up with stupid bastard's gun and he and the uniforme officer that arrived on the scene were at my mercy.

    Fortunately this happened when some cops still had some sense. I explained to the uniform what had happened. He asked me to return the other cop's gun. I said "no way unless you promise not to give it to him until I am out of line of sight."

    Bear in mind, I am the only one holding a weapon and the uniform was seated in his vehicle with a standard carry holster. I told him how lucky he was that I wasn't the guy they were looking for, because had I been the rude stupid non-identifying cop would have been responsible for the death of both of them.

    He gave me his word, I took it. Handed the gun to the uniform and went on my way. No way would I trust one of them now, some 35 years later, to use his head or keep his word. He even offered me a ride. Which I refused.

    The overall quality of law enforcement personnel has plummeted to levels never imagined. Today, I would probably just have assumed that my life was over no matter, even though I wasn't the one they wanted when I was attacked. I would probably have made sure those two didn't get to enjoy my downfall. That is how far they have sunk and how far my respect for LE has sunk, with a few notable exceptions.

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    DT4E31 wrote:
    Any man who would act as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.
    How then do YOU feel about somebody that regurgitates cutesy catch phrases that were originally designed to discourage citizens from being resolute? Speaking as somebody wrongfully accused, if I heard somebody was representing themselves, I'd picture somebody that is innocent and believes good triumphs over evil. Perhaps that's not concentric with present day law, but it speaks to me nonetheless.

    Want further proof that the guy is likely innocent? See the phrase "furtive movement?" Today, that's a wild card kept handy in case a policeman has to explain his own shady behavior.

    openryan wrote:
    This man should have drove the the nearest police station while the officer followed him, or called the police while driving to verify the officer was legitimate before stopping if he was indeed, this worried about it.
    "Rely on anybody but yourself for your own safety." I never know how to react when I hear somebody dispensing this kind of advice. That aside, let's look at it. Turning your back to a possible threat could be it's over. Not to mention the time and tactically unsound process of opening a car door, seating yourself, starting, and usually backing out of your spot before being able to drive off. If somebody looked like they were following you and when you wouldn't give them the time of day, they drew a gun, YOU are the victim. You can take the bullet, turn your back and take the bullet, or level the playing field so that you at least have better odds. It's why we carry in the first place. If you're not prepared to deploy when all signs say you should, take the gun off. Otherwise, it will just be used against you.

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