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Exonerated 'stand your ground' defendant faces Hillsborough lawsuit

TAMPA — The mother of a man whose death was ruled justified under Florida's "stand your ground" law filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday against the man who shot her son.

A civil complaint in Hillsborough Circuit Court says that Charles Podany, 49, acted "with reckless disregard" when he shot 24-year-old Casey Landes on Feb. 29, 2008, in a neighborhood dispute.

Landes' mother, Ruby Landes, seeks damages in excess of $15,000 from Podany as well as the condo association of Bay Hills Village in Thonotosassa, where the incident took place, and its managing authority, the Vanguard Management Group Inc.

A judge tossed out a manslaughter charge against Podany in September, siding with his attorneys, who argued that Podany fired in self-defense and therefore was immune from prosecution under the law.

Podany had been bicycling through the neighborhood near his Bay Hills Circle home on the night of the incident when he asked a man in a fast-driving pickup to slow down, according to sheriff's and court records. After Podany and the driver spoke with each other, Landes, who was a passenger in the truck, approached and began beating Podany.

Podany fell to the ground. Landes jumped on top of him. That's when Podany retrieved his .40-caliber Glock and shot Landes in the head, killing him, according to records.

A toxicology report showed Landes had a blood alcohol level of 0.28 at the time of his death. Florida law presumes a driver is impaired with a level higher than 0.08.

"I was really a victim in this whole thing," Podany said in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times on Monday. He expressed dismay that the incident was being portrayed as a "wrongful death."

Podany added that he was unaware the suit had been filed, and declined to discuss the details of the fatal encounter until he had a chance to review the civil complaint.

The complaint says that Podany was known to never leave his home without a firearm, and had previously brandished the weapon in a threatening manner. It also says that Podany posed a danger to the general public and that Bay Hills failed to prevent or eliminate the danger.

Ruby Landes could not be reached for comment. A message left with her attorney Monday was not returned.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this story.

Exonerated 'stand your ground' defendant faces Hillsborough lawsuit 02/08/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 9:31am]
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