This Is Why "Stand Your Ground" Laws Are Vital to Your Safety

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Last September, four teenagers entered a Dunkin Donuts in Norwalk, CT. At some point, three of them jumped the lone employee there, 21-year-old Jeffrey Sumpter. One person suffered serious injuries after being stabbed in Norwalk Saturday afternoon, police said.


Norwalk police Sgt. Sofia Gulino said officers responded to the Dunkin Donuts located at 195 Main St. for a report of an assault just after 4 p.m. Responding officers found an employee that had been assaulted by four suspects that fled the scene on foot.

The employee, Gulino said, was not assaulted with any kind of weapon. She said a weapon was not even displayed. The employee provided descriptions of the suspects and officers began to canvas the area.

Three individuals matching the descriptions were found behind Rainbow Plaza located at 205 Main Street.

“One of them was bleeding heavily, having apparently been stabbed,” Gulino said. “Medical aid was immediately rendered, paramedics came to the scene and the individual was transported to Norwalk Hospital with serious injuries.”

As you can tell by Sergeant Gulino’s statement, the police quickly concluded that the assailants were the actual victims.

From there things really went south for Sumpter:

A Bridgeport man who was assaulted by three juveniles while he was at work in Norwalk will have to spend 18 months in jail for stabbing one of the attackers.

“I was defending myself,” Jeffrey Sumpter, 21, told Judge John Blawie on Monday morning at the Stamford courthouse when he was sentenced for stabbing one of the males in the leg last October. Blawie told Sumpter that he understood and believed his version of events, but he said he had to follow the letter of the law.

Sumpter, dressed in a white prison jumpsuit with short sleeves, did not reply. His public defender Howard Ehring said unlike a state like Florida, which has a law allowing its residents to stand their ground, Connecticut law requires Sumpter to retreat from the beating he was given at the Dunkin’ Donuts where he worked. After being assaulted inside the coffee shop, Sumpter ran outside and stabbed one of the men.

Ehring said the fact that a search of one of the men turned up shotgun shells, showed the four were looking to hurt Sumpter. No shotgun was found.


That’s right. The guy who was jumped and beaten by three thuglets and, by the grace of God, escaped without serious injury is going to prison for 18 months.

As the article states, most state self-defense laws have a “duty to retreat” if you are defending yourself in any place other than your own home. In Sumpter’s unfortunate case, he had no way of knowing if the cretins who jumped him were going to a car to get firearms which might have rendered his retreat moot. He made a logical and costly decision to follow one of the first rules of fighting: you keep attacking until the other guy runs away…or can’t.

While the judge sounds like a real hapless putz here, the person who really needs to be called on the carpet here is the district attorney who elected to prosecute for a serious felony rather than offering a much reduced offense to Sumpter even assuming he felt he had to prosecute (and what with all the hoohah about “prosecutorial discretion” we know he didn’t have to, right?). I did a fairly thorough (or so I think) Google search and find no mention of the assailants being prosecuted which tells you they probably weren’t.

This demonstrates why the much-maligned “stand your ground” laws are essential. Often retreating makes an aggressor much more aggressive and if the aggressor knows that you can’t lawfully defend yourself so long as you have a means of retreat and the aggressor has already decided to kick your ass, or worse, you are at a distinct disadvantage. If you injure your assailant you will go to jail.


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