Florida Stand Your Ground: Uber Driver Fatally Shoots Man Threatening to Shoot Him

In what Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is calling a clear case of Florida's "stand your ground" law, an Uber driver fatally shot a man who had run him off the road and threatened to shoot him after he mistakenly thought his girlfriend was in the car.

The fatal confrontation occurred on Tuesday and during a Wednesday morning press conference, Judd explained the series of events that led to the shooting, including outlining the people involved:

  • A female patron in the bar named Jessica
  • An inebriated woman named Jasmine
  • Jessica's boyfriend named Jason Boek
  • Uber driver named Robert

While at the bar, Judd said Jessica and the bartender noticed that Jasmine had too much to drink and wanted to make sure that she didn't drive under the influence so they ordered an Uber. When Robert arrived, Jessica helped the woman into the car and off the driver went towards Jasmine's home in Winter Haven, Florida.

At the same time, Boek, who thought Jessica was in the Uber, was texting his girlfriend, who was still at the bar, volatile messages including, "I'm gonna f up the Uber driver."

Judd explained that all of this was going on without Robert's knowledge until a Ford F-150 pulled up on his bumper with his lights glaring. After tailgating the Uber for a bit, the truck pulled up beside him and then came to a stop in front of the car, forcing the Uber to pull over.

Judd told reporters that as Boek walked towards the car, he yelled to the Uber driver that he had a pistol and asked if Robert wanted him to shoot him.

"That was a terrible mistake on Jason's part because the Uber driver not only happens to be licensed to carry a concealed firearm in the state of Florida but he just finished the police academy so he understands the law," Judd said.

A camera that was on the Uber driver's dashboard shows Boek getting out of his car, walking towards Robert, threatening to shoot him, and then Robert shooting him within seconds.

Boek was shot one time in the chest, according to Judd, and immediately following the shooting placed a call to 911. He used language that a police officer would use and requested emergency responders. Robert administered CPR to Boek and attempted to stop the bleeding, but the 34-year-old died as a result of his wounds.

No firearm was found on Boek's person or in the truck during the investigation, but Judd added that Boek was holding a cell phone in his right hand while saying he had a pistol, so in a split-second decision, the Uber driver could have easily mistaken it for a gun.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd Uber Driver Shooting
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd holds a photo of Jason Boek, who was shot after threatening to shoot an Uber driver. Polk County Sheriff's Office

The text messages Boek sent before the encounter show intent, according to Judd, and combined with the threat he made, the sheriff told reporters this is a clear case of the Uber driver being protected under the "stand your ground" law.

"This is a justifiable homicide all day long. You have a right to protect yourself," Judd said. "This is a classic 'stand your ground' case and this was the intent of the law."

Judd explained that the shooting was justified because the Uber driver, who had no idea of what happened between Boek and Jessica, was just doing his job when he was forced off the road and threatened with a firearm.

In a message to the "hotheads" of the community, Judd reminded them that "good people carry guns and they will shoot you," so he advised everyone to "leave people alone."

Judd concluded the press conference about the shooting with the declaration that in a situation where he only had seconds to make a decision, Robert "unequivocally" did the right thing to protect himself and his passenger, who was in the back seat at the time.

Florida's "Stand Your Ground" justifies the use of deadly force if a person believes that using that force is necessary to prevent imminent death or immense bodily harm.