Monday, September 24, 2018
Public safety

Polk man chases wrong car, fatally shot by Uber driver in ‘classic’ stand your ground case

Jason Boek didn’t have a gun, but the Uber driver did.

Boek uttered his last words in near-pitched darkness along a rural road in Winter Haven.

"You know I’ve got a pistol," he said, lifting his cell phone like a gun as he approached the car. "You want me to f—ing shoot you!"

The Uber driver, 38-year-old Robert Westlake, shot him once in the chest, then called for help as he tried to administer aid.

Boek, 34, of Winter Haven, died at the scene.

"This is justifiable homicide all day long," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "You have the right to protect yourself. This is a textbook stand your ground case. This is a classic. This was the intent of the law."

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Boek tried to run Westlake off the road as they drove down Dundee Road in Winter Haven just before 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Boek thought his girlfriend of two years, Skylar Mazzarella, was Westlake’s passenger. She wasn’t.

Mazzarella told the Tampa Bay Times that she and Boek had been drinking at the Grove Lounge on U.S. 27 in Winter Haven. She had just gotten off a 12-hour shift at Beef O’ Brady’s in Auburndale and wanted to have a drink to unwind. Boek, she said, asked to join. He said he had a surprise for her. He’d been working as a barber, more so lately, and wanted to give her money to help with bills and taking care of her children. Mazzarella said Boek often stayed with them.

"If he saw me struggling or he saw me in need of anything, his nature was to come to me as quick as he could to help me," she said. "He did the same with his son and mother. Those were the three most important aspects of his life."

Boek had a good heart, but was fighting demons, Mazzarella said. He was struggling with an addiction to meth. That night, she wanted to know if he was on anything. As they sat at the bar, they argued. Eventually, Boek left angry and the argument continued through text.

Some of the text messages, released by the Sheriff’s Office, show what Mazzarella said was the end of a heated exchange.

In the messages, Boek said he left the bar to watch and see what she’d do. She told him she didn’t need a ride and he said he was still there watching, sitting outside in a Ford F-250 he was buying from a friend. Boek told Mazzarella he’d cause "mayham" if he saw her with another man.

He threatened to beat the Uber driver up in his last text. But she wasn’t in the Uber and she didn’t see the message until it was too late.

Boek didn’t know it, but after he left, his girlfriend and a bartender were helping Jasmine Meazel — who had been drinking — get home from the bar, according to the Sheriff’s Office. They called Meazel an Uber and Mazzarella walked her outside.

It was Meazel who got into the back of Westlake’s Hyundai Elantra, not Mazzarella, like Boek thought.

Nevertheless, Boek followed the car, driving erratically behind it as they passed Carl Floyd Road, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He pulled up next to the car, then cut it off before forcing both cars to a stop.

He got out and took his final steps.

Again, Judd said, what Boek didn’t know hurt him. Judd said Westlake is a concealed weapon permit holder and licensed armed security guard. He also recently completed certification to become a police officer.

Westlake’s dash cam video shows how the incident transpired in just a few seconds.

"That’s how quick you have to decide if you want to live, or die, as the victim," Judd said.

Mazzarella is still shocked. Confused and sick, she wishes there was more she could have done to help the man she watched give free haircuts to neighborhood kids so he could coach them out of repeating his own mistakes.

They fought hard, she said, but they loved harder. She is planning a memorial for him at the Cherry Pocket, a restaurant in Lake Wales near a lake he loved, next Saturday.

"He had addictions, but that wasn’t all of him. He had one of the best hearts I’ve ever seen in my life," Mazzarella said. "Despite his addiction, he was an amazing person. He was very much my boyfriend that I loved."

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Mazzarella, the Uber driver and his passenger didn’t know each other before the incident.

The Sheriff’s Office said the case has been passed along to State Attorney’s Office. It’s expected to release its findings sometime next week.

Deputies found marijuana and a pipe with meth residue in Boek’s truck. He had previously been arrested for battery, burglary, marijuana possession, forgery, larceny and resisting arrest. He was on probation at the time of his death.

Westlake has no arrest history in the state of Florida.

Daniel Figueroa IV can be reached at [email protected] Follow @danuscripts

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