JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A biker who shot and killed another biker outside a Jacksonville Beach restaurant in June was justified in doing so, State Attorney Angela Corey announced Friday.
Corey said Kristopher Stone was attacked by 40-year-old Zachariah Tipton and suffered great bodily harm before he pulled his gun and shot Tipton while in the parking lot outside Nippers Beach Grille about 8 p.m. June 26.
Corey said several motorcycle clubs were at the restaurant, including Stone's club, Iron Order, and Tipton's club, the Black Pistons.
Corey said Stone was standing in the parking lot minding his business when Tipton and two other members of the Black Pistons surrounded him in a coordinated attack. Corey said two of them attacked Stone and one attacked another member of Stone's club.Nippers surveillance video
Corey said the entire episode lasted 10 seconds and was caught on surveillance video.
She said investigators spent countless hours interviewing more than 200 witnesses, some of whom saw what happened from different angles.
"Stone had every right under Florida law to defend himself," Corey said. "Our heart goes out to Mr. Tipton, but it looks like this was a coordinated attack on Mr. Stone, who was just sitting out there minding his own business, lawfully possessing a firearm, who was attacked by individuals from the front and the back. Witnesses say he was getting worked very hard."
DOCUMENT: State attorney's review in Tipton case
Corey said Tipton (seen below walking toward Stone) approached Stone from behind and immediately threw a punch. Corey said Tipton spent the next 10 seconds, as witnesses described, "raining down punches" and kicking Stone.
Stone's nose was broken and he suffered other facial injuries, Corey said.
She said Stone pulled his gun out of its holster and shot Tipton once. Stone, who is an Army combat medic, had a permit to carry the gun, Corey said. She said Tipton's fellow members then fled.
She said Stone never left the scene and was injured and needed medical treatment. Stone gave his gun to a friend, who unloaded it for safety purposes and immediately turned it over to police, Corey said.
She said Stone stayed at the scene for several hours and answered investigators' questions.
Corey said while police were initially interviewing witnesses, they found out there was surveillance video of what happened. They reviewed it briefly, but witnesses didn't know about the video, so their statements were given to police based on what they saw, not based on what the police had seen in the video.
Corey said she and other members of her office met with Tipton's family Friday afternoon and explained their decision of justifiable use of deadly force.
She re-emphasized that Stone was in imminent danger that night, was being beaten by more than one person, suffered numerous injuries and was in fear for his life, so much so that he urinated on himself.
Corey said the great bodily harm on Stone had already occurred when he fired his gun.
Cassie Carter, Tipton's sister, spoke later Friday afternoon and said this has been a very painful process.
"I lost my brother and now they're trying to say it's justifiable. I'm appalled," she said. "Did it sound justifiable? No. And that's all I'm going to say about that."
Carter said her family plans to hire an attorney to fight the decision of the State Attorney's Office, saying they will only get justice if Stone is charged with a crime.
"Oh, we're not gonna' let it go, not letting this go," Carter said. "That was my brother, and I loved him, and I wanna' see justice."
Investigators said the deadly confrontation was the result of an ongoing rivalry between the Black Pistons and the Iron Order. Police said the Black Pistons are a feeder gang to the Outlaws, which is known for organized crime.
"Make no mistake about it, the Outlaws don't gather their name the Outlaws because they want to be known as something other than that," said Jacksonville Beach Police Chief Pat Dooley. "They are a criminal organization."
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