A Florida man is dead after a road rage incident that police are calling a “classic Stand Your Ground” case.
In the early hours of August 28, Jason Boek’s girlfriend called an Uber for another women who had gotten drunk at the Grove Lounge in Dundee, Fla., and helped her get into the vehicle, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. At around 2:20 a.m., Uber driver Robert Westlake, 38, picked up a female passenger from a bar and was driving her home.
Boek believed his girlfriend had gotten into the Uber, but she actually returned to the bar. Soon after, the couple got into an argument over text messages, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. Judd described Boek as an “explosive” stalker who was threatening to “eff up the Uber driver” via text message. Boek then got in his truck, tailgated Westlake’s car and forced the Uber driver off the roadway, police said. The deadly confrontation was caught on dash cam footage. Police said Boek, who was unarmed, told Westlake “You know I got a pistol? You want me to f-cking shoot you?”
Police said Westlake then pulled out a gun and shot Boek, killing him with one shot. Westlake currently faces no charges in the shooting. Polk County police said Westlake was within his rights to defend himself. “This is a justifiable homicide all day long,” Sheriff Judd told reporters at a press conference Wednesday. “You have the right to protect yourself. This is a classic Stand Your Ground case. This was the intent of the law.”
After the shooting, Westlake called 911 and tried to contain Boek’s bleeding and performed CPR, according to authorities. When officers arrived, Westlake cooperated with officers. Police said the investigation is ongoing. It was not immediately clear if Westlake has retained a lawyer.
According to police, Westlake is a concealed weapon permit holder and had recently graduated from the police academy. Boek had previously been arrested for aggravated battery, burglary and drug charges, police said, adding that on the night of his death, Boek was driving the truck on a suspended license.
Jason Boek’s family told NBC News they are angry with the sheriff’s handling of the case and that Westlake had plenty of time to leave the scene. “He’s not a bad person. He needed help.” mother Michele Boek, told NBC.
Uber, which prohibits drivers from carrying firearms, released a statement on the incident and said they are working with police.
“We are saddened by this unfortunate incident and will continue to work with police on their investigation.” the company said in a statement.
This is not the first Florida Stand Your Ground case to make headlines. The law was famous when George Zimmerman was acquitted using the defense in the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. And this year, on August 13, prosecutors charged Michael Drejk, 47, with manslaughter over the fatal shooting of Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed black man who got into a confrontation with Drejka over a parking spot in Clearwater, Fla. The July shooting was caught on surveillance footage.
Police had initially declined to charge Drejka, who claimed he shot McGlockton in self defense. Police cited Stand Your Ground laws. In 2017, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law changed to put the burden of proof on prosecution. Previously, defendants had to prove they were in fear of bodily harm. It is now the state’s responsibility to provide clear and convincing evidence the defendant is not entitled to Stand Your Ground immunities.