James Garcia said he was walking his dog, Delilah, outside his condominium on the morning of April 17 when a man later identified as Maurice Antwan Charles, 36, approached him, asked if he was gay, then punched him in the face, according to local TV station WPLG.
The alleged unprovoked assault resulted in two facial fractures and multiple wounds requiring 10 stitches to close.
Police later arrested Charles for the crime, but he was released on bail not long after, and Garcia told station WFOR he's concerned for his safety after he was denied a restraining order against his accused attacker.
"It appears Florida statute requires the attacker to assault me more than once before the judge approves a restraining order," Garcia told the outlet Monday. "So for me, that felt like another attack. This is where the justice system failed me."
Police have charged Maurice Antwan Charles
For people not in a relationship, Florida law requires at least two instances of stalking or an assault before a restraining order can be issued. In this case, the law provides little safety for Garcia since the two had no prior known contact.
"Never seen the person in my life," Garcia explained to WPLG last week, making clear the two were not romantically involved.
An attorney contacted by WFOR explained most temporary restraining orders in Florida focus on stopping cases involving multiple prior attacks rather than just a single instance. However, attorney David Weinstein did note Garcia doesn't have to suffer another physical blow to obtain the protective order.
"You would have to show that someone has been stalking you or harassing you, not necessarily physically attacking you," Weinstein said.
While Garcia is disappointed now, he said he hopes his experience can help change the law to help others.
"I'm hoping that elected officials hear my story and think about the current Florida statute that gives attackers more rights than the victims."
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