Documentary “State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith” proves that “Stand Your Ground” is only for white men

There is arguably no more important reason for American conservatives than gun rights, and yet State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith argues convincingly that there are limits to such beliefs, particularly when it comes to women. The story of a single mother from Alabama who tried to defend herself against murder charges with the state’s Stand Your Ground law, the true crime documentary from director Ryan White is a succinct and compelling look at institutional misogyny and the double standards that endemic to both legal systems and a culture that only grants the benefit of the doubt to certain individuals.

White’s latest Netflix effort from 2017 The guardians, was a seven-part project, while his latest entry for the streaming platform (available now) clocks in at a compact 40 minutes. Nonetheless, it’s as impressive as anything he’s done (including, most recently, the feature film Good night Oppy), who is picked up with Brittany Smith while awaiting a Stand Your Ground pretrial hearing.

In Alabama, this statute states that “the accused has no obligation to retreat and has the right to assert himself so long as he/she has the right to use lethal physical force and is not engaged in any illegal activity and is engaged in one Place where he/she has a right to be.” In other words, if you are at home, doing nothing criminal, and in grave danger, you may use violence to protect yourself and others.

That certainly seems to be the case in Brittany. As her mother, Ramona McCallie, explains, Brittany was an honor student and “clever as a whip.” She married at the age of 19, but after a tumultuous few years, she followed in her mother’s footsteps by raising her children on her own. After losing her newborn son to a genetic disorder, Brittany turned to meth, which led to a “hell descent” that cost her custody of their children.

However, by January 2018, she had successfully gotten clean, convincing a home evaluation representative that she was ready to be reunited with her offspring. Things were finally looking up, and to celebrate the occasion, she acquired a pit bull puppy for her family – which, as it turned out, would be one of the biggest mistakes of her life.

To get the pooch, Brittany turned to Todd Smith, a high school friend who raised pit bulls. Todd was willing to help Brittany, but on January 15, 2018, her world was turned upside down when he called and asked her if she could pick him up from a local park and let him sleep on her couch. On the brink of finally being with her kids again, Brittany let Todd know he could only stay one night. He agreed, but inside the house, Brittany claims that “something is broken in this man”. Jumping up and screaming, Todd reportedly headbutted Brittany. She fled to her bedroom and he forced open the door, grabbed her on the bed and began choking her. When she woke up, she was raped, and Todd warned her that if she even breathed wrong, he would kill her.

Faced with fewer options, Brittany convinced Todd to let her call her mother to get cigarettes (since they shared a single car). Exhausted and uninterested in trekking through the snow to help her daughter, Ramona instead sent her son Chris, who dutifully drove Brittany and Todd to the local gas station, where a battered-looking Brittany secretly informed employee Paige Painter that she was abusive was held prisoner.

Chris then dropped the duo back home, after which Brittany encouraged Chris to return to the gas station. Upon hearing from Paige what was really going on, Chris ran back to his sister’s house and confronted Todd with his gun drawn. A fight ensued and to stop it, Brittany grabbed Chris’ gun and fired repeatedly, killing Todd.

State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith claims that many stand-your-ground cases are dismissed on the spot by law enforcement officers who respond. In this case, however, Brittany complicated her situation by making two misleading statements to the 911 operator: first, that Todd had only tried to rape her; and second, that it had been Chris who had fired the gun to save her from being strangled. Chris agreed to this deception because “Women in Jackson County are generally not treated fairly. So I thought, ‘If I don’t take the blame, she’ll never get her kids back.’”

Still, Brittany quickly recanted and came out on top of her own role, and while she was out on bail, she and her mother — along with court-appointed public defender Ron Smith — put up a Stand Your Ground defense as the details of the incident perfectly matched it agreed the law.

As White points out, it didn’t matter — clear evidence of abuse still available, multiple witnesses supporting Brittany’s version of events, or Todd’s long criminal record, which included domestic harm and aggravated assault. Because of her on-record inconsistencies, Brittany lost her Stand Your Ground hearing and, facing a trial that could result in life imprisonment, decided to plead guilty to murder — which, in an amazing twist, earned her a lighter sentence when she was charged with one would have been convicted of manslaughter. To everyone involved State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smiththe message sent out by the judge and prosecutor was clear: “The stand-your-ground law applies only to white males.”

White’s text codas explain that studies suggest that most women who kill their abusers choose pleading rather than face a jury, and that women are twice as likely to be convicted as men when engaging in self-defense in their homes assert. As such, Brittany is portrayed not only as a victim of Todd Smith – who was so drugged out that even his cousin believes Brittany was entitled to take his life – but of a system that tries hard , to keep up gunfights. first gun laws when they apply to a select segment of the population. As this efficient, insightful nonfiction short demonstrates, Brittany’s story is not unique; on the contrary, it is just another sad example of the criminal justice system’s prejudice against the most vulnerable members of society. Documentary “State of Alabama vs. Brittany Smith” proves that “Stand Your Ground” is only for white men

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button