Tampa, Florida -- The State Attorney's Office has chosen not to charge a man who allegedly stabbed a stranger with an ice pick last month.
Prosecutors say the evidence supports 62-year-old Al Polanco's claim that it was an act of self-defense, and that he did it to protect himself.
On November 21, 20-year-old Wathson Adelson and 62-year-old Al Polanco were driving south on Manhattan Avenue when the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says Polanco cut in front of Adelson, then Adelson cut off Polanco and hit the brakes. Their verbal fight turned physical, and that's when Polanco allegedly stabbed Adelson with the ice pick.
Under a six-year-old Florida law called "Stand Your Ground," self-defense that potentially includes deadly force is allowed if there's reasonable fear that a person's in danger. The law applies anywhere that someone is legally allowed to be.
"The law itself allows for interpretations of what it means to stand your ground and what it means to retreat," says Anthony Rickman, an attorney not affiliated with the case. "And the big thing is - is the force you use 'reasonable' for the threat you perceive?"
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But family of the man who died in the stabbing, 20-year-old Wathson Adelson, says no one ever got to hear his version of the story, because his injuries were so severe. They say it's unfortunate that this is being considered an act of self-defense.
"Even if I was attacked by a dog, it would be seen as over-aggressive to wrestle the dog down and drive an ice pick through its head so that the tip of the ice pick comes out through the middle of its eyes," says Spencer Scott, a close friend of Adelson and his family.
"Wathson's death to us is a wake-up call," he says. "We have to be careful of how we react to things."
Donations for the Wathson Adelson Justice Fund will be accepted by the Tampa First Seventh-Day Adventist Church, located at 822 W. Linebaugh Ave in Tampa.
Scott says the money will be used for "legal expenses to help bring justice to the situation."