Tensions multiplied in the courtroom on day two of former Lee County deputy Sergio Perez’s hearing asking the judge to dismiss the case entirely based on the “stand your ground” law.
The defense asked Judge L. Frank Porter to ignore the fact that Perez is a former law enforcement officer and treat him like any other human being.
The judge denied the motion, sending the case to trial on a manslaughter charge.
Perez, 60, took the stand Tuesday, speaking about the good and bad that was his son Ramon. He said Ramon, 33, was really good at playing opossum, good at acting, so he didn’t want to release him the day they got into a fight that ultimately cost Ramon his life. The medical examiner said Ramon died from vascular neck constraint after his father held his neck down for too long, a tactic taught to law enforcement officers like Perez to knock someone unconscious to allow time to restrain them.
The state used that against him, saying that if Perez said his son was like a opossum, that means he was unresponsive, and as a law enforcement officer, he should have known when someone is unresponsive, that means you stop restraining and apply aid.
The state asked again, was Ramon unresponsive the day he died?
Perez said yes.
During his testimony, Perez said he stopped by his mother’s house in Cape Coral, where his son lived, on that fateful day, Aug. 13, 2019.
“He gets up in my face and he’s like, ‘M-F (sic), I’m not gonna use a gun on you, I’m not gonna pull a gun on you today, I’m gonna f****** kill you with my bare hands,’ and he back slaps me in the stomach.”
Perez said he continued to urge Ramon to stop.
“With his left hand, he’s going like this, trying to gouge my eyes out.”
The state used his own arguments against him.
“According to your testimony today, that he wasn’t going to use any guns, he was going to use his fists. So you weren’t concerned about the guns, correct?”
Perez said no.
Prosecutors questioned that with all of Perez’s decades of continuous training in law enforcement, how did he not know to release his constrain and render aid?
“I didn’t know Ramon was dead, sir,” Perez replied.
“You didn’t know he was dead?”
“The first thing you say to the officer after you’re yelling for help was ‘I don’t know if he’s alive or not,'” the prosecutor said.
The state continued to push.
“You knew at some point he wasn’t moving? Correct?”
“He wasn’t fighting? Correct?”
In closing, the state pointed out that the scene of the crime was in perfect condition, with no furniture pushed around and Ramon still in his flip-flops. If this was really an all-out fight for his life, why did the scene not match the defense?
The defense in its closing reiterated that it was Perez who was defending himself.
Witnesses testified to what Ramon was like when he started drinking and that any reasonable person would have done what Perez did. The judge said that will be up to a jury to decide.