TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The current and previous Hillsborough County state attorneys decided not to seek criminal charges in the fatal shooting of a Navy SEAL, citing the stand your ground law, but the judge in the family’s lawsuit offered a different opinion that set up another debate about the statute.
Tim Martin was 37 when he was killed outside The SoHo Backyard in South Tampa on November 29, 2015 after a fight over a girl with the restaurant’s co-owner Jeffrey Glenn.
Martin’s younger sister Hannah Fager cried as she remembered seeing her brother in the hospital on the day he died, only hours after the shooting.
“To see somebody that you just love so much in so much pain and you can’t even say, ‘are you ok?'” Fager recalled. “He can’t even say what happened.”
Martin had served multiple missions in Afghanistan after enlisting following 9-11, hoping to “protect and serve his country,” Fager said.
“And the likelihood of him coming home was so slim,” she said. “Explosions. Gunfire. He faced death all the time.”
He came home alive to raise his son, only to face death again that November night in 2015.
Investigators said after the fistfight ended, Glenn walked about 100 feet away back into the bar while Martin stayed outside.
But Glenn returned with the handgun and shot Martin in the head, claiming the retired SEAL ran toward him before he fired the fatal shot. A filing in the family’s civil case alleges, “Glenn gave various versions of the shooting.”
According to investigators, Martin had threatened Glenn in text messages to a mutual friend, fueling Glenn’s fear for his life.
“She’s dead…so is Jeff,” one text read, referencing Glenn, and Martin’s former girlfriend who Glenn was dating at the time of the fight.
About seven months after the shooting, now-former State Attorney Mark Ober decided not to prosecute, citing self-defense under stand your ground.
In a letter to the Tampa Police Chief, Ober discussed other confrontations at The SoHo Backyard involving Martin and referenced his issues with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression as contributing factors to his decision.
Martin’s family focuses on the final seconds of his life when he was unarmed, after a fistfight seemed to be over, face to face with Glenn and a handgun.
“He didn’t lock the door of the bar. He didn’t call the police. He shot my brother,” Fager said. “He came out and pursued my brother. How is that stand my ground?”
In a civil case ruling, Judge Emily Peacock agreed, denying Glenn’s motion to dismiss based on stand your ground, pointing out “there were no weapons used” in the fistfight.
“There was not a reasonable basis for Mr. Glenn to believe Mr. Martin could cause deadly or serious harm,” Peacock wrote in her decision. “Particularly when Mr. Glenn has disengaged from the initial physical confrontation.”
Neither Glenn nor his attorney have responded to requests for comment.
Fager, who’s thankful for the ruling, said she hopes the civil case gives her brother a voice.
“Tim didn’t get a chance to say what happened. Jeffrey Glenn did,” she said. “There’s nothing more devastating than to lose somebody that you really, truly love and trust. It was really traumatizing.”
Current Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren also decided not to prosecute Glenn, blaming the law itself.
“The family is not the only one frustrated. We see cases like this far too frequently where we are legally unable to prosecute violent and questionable conduct because of stand your ground,” Warren said. “And like so many others in the same situation, we are extremely frustrated that this misguided law obstructs our pursuit of justice.”
A hearing in the civil case is scheduled for next week.