Deadly shooting over business deal ruled justifiable

State Attorney's Office says May 2014 shooting was case of 'stand your ground'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The State Attorney's Office has ruled a homicide case justifiable use of force.

The incident happened in Jacksonville in May 2014 when a man was shot and killed near New Berlin Elementary School during an argument over a business transaction.

Officers responded to Moose and New Berlin roads after reports of a shooting and found Cecil Scalf laying dead in the road.

Police said three men -- Scalf, Jessie Vining and Jodey Vining -- met for business purposes and got into an argument over a job the Vinings had contracted Scalf to complete.

The three were fighting over money, police said.

Jessie Vining punched Scalf, who pulled out a gun and demanded money back that he had just paid the Vinings.

Then Jodey Vining, Jessie Vining's son, pulled out a gun and shot Scalf in the chest, killing him.

The State Attorney's Office ruled Jodey Vining was not in the wrong because it was a lawful case of "stand your ground."

“You can use deadly force in defense of another person or yourself, self-defense when the threat is deadly force itself,” Attorney Ed Birk explained.

Birk, who is WJXT's attorney, is not affiliated with the stand your ground case. He read the disposition and explained the findings from the State Attorney's Office.

“When the son said, 'Stop!' and pointed his own gun, the fellow who was shot turned and faced him with a cocked pistol, so that warranted the use of force to save himself and his father,” Birk said.

The Vinings remained at the scene and cooperated with police in the investigation.

Even though Jessie Vining threw the punch that started the physical altercation, the father and son can still be considered as standing their ground against Scalf, Birk said.

“The fellow who threw the punch started it, but throwing a punch isn't deadly force,” Birk said. “It doesn't justify a response with a gun.”

Florida's use of force in defense of persons statute states that a person is justified in using deadly force if he or she reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to oneself or another.

Birk suggested that if you're ever in a similar situation where a heated argument breaks out, it's better to just walk away and contact that person again after things have cooled off.

About the Author:

Lifetime Floridian anchors weekends and reports weekdays on issues in Nassau and Baker counties and beyond.