GLORY kickboxing and Bellator veteran Joe Schilling won’t be facing charges for his 2021 altercation with a bar patron. That’s all thanks to Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, which essentially seems to have justified Schilling’s actions as self-defense.
‘Stand Your Ground’ grants Joe Schilling immunity from lawsuit
Joe Schilling’s altercation with Justin Balboa went viral shortly after it happened at a bar in Fort Lauderdale. As seen on video that spread far and wide across the internet, Balboa was standing on Schilling’s path, causing the two to bump into each other.
The two had a short exchange before Schilling unloaded a two-punch combination, instantly dropping Balboa. The civilian—who claimed to have suffered a head injury from the incident—filed a battery charge. Schilling, meanwhile, claimed that Balboa “flexed” on him, urging him to act in self-defense because he was “scared” for life.
Per a decision released to the public via records request, Broward County judge Fabienne E. Fahnestock ruled in favor of Schilling in an April 19 filing. Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law was used for the ruling, which states that an individual can use deadly force if he or she “reasonably believes that using or threatening to use such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
“The court further finds that Schilling used only such force necessary to neutralize the threat, and is therefore entitled to immunity,” Fahnestock wrote in the court order.
Fahnestock also broke down the incident and how they came up with the ruling.
“The video … shows that Balboa apologized without looking at Schilling, and Schilling acknowledged the apology while continuing to walk back to his table. For some undetermined reason, Balboa calls out to Schilling.
“Schilling turns around and looks at Balboa in an unaggressive stance. Schilling’s feet were shoulder width apart and his hands were at his side. Balboa makes a feinting gesture towards Schilling.
“Schilling, who testified that he learned to anticipate punches as part of his training, instantly responded with two quick punches. Balboa fell to the floor unconscious.
“The Court further finds that Schilling used only such force necessary to neutralize the threat, and is therefore entitled to immunity pursuant to §776.032, Florida Statute.”
Vindication for Joe Schilling
For the 39-year-old Schilling, the recent ‘Stand Your Ground’ ruling is a huge win, especially with claims of threats from Balboa’s legal team.
“I’m glad it’s finally over. For the last two years, my name and character has been disparaged in the media,” Schilling wrote to MMA Fighting in a statement. “Seem like everyone loves the narrative that a professional fighter just beat up an innocent person, which was sooooo not the case.
“Most people told me to just settle it and pay off as that would be easier. I don’t like bully’s (sic) and I refuse to be bullied by anyone. The ambulance chasing bum of a lawyer he hired threatened to ruin me financially and well the only person he financially ruined was his client.”
Schilling also blasted the media for what he believes as character assassination through written pieces about the incident.
“I just hope that all of the news outlets that were so quick to post click bait articles assassinating my character have the same energy now that the truth is out. Justin Balboa will always be a f—ng loser.”
Schilling’s attorney David Katz also told MMA Fighting that Balboa must pay for his client’s legal fees.
“Balboa now stands liable for all of Schilling’s costs and fees for defending this lawsuit, including the trips he had to make from California and the hiring of investigators and experts,” he said.
Joe Schilling’s fighting career
Schilling’s kickboxing and MMA career almost coincided, with the latter happening two years later in 2008. He holds a 23-9 record as a kickboxer, competing in organizations like GLORY and Bellator Kickboxing.
As for his MMA career, he holds a record of 4-6. Schilling’s most recent fight happened in 2019 at Bellator 229 against Tony Johnson. He lost via third-round knockout.
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