Sheriff’s office requests new case review on 2016 Stand Your Ground shooting decision

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:
Ryan Modell

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office asked the State Attorney’s Office to review new information obtained concerning the death of Ryan Modell.

Modell was killed by James “Steve” Taylor outside a south Fort Myers townhome in a stand your ground shooting.

Modell tried to enter Taylor’s home in March 2016. Taylor then shot and killed him in the driveway of an adjacent property.

The State Attorney’s Office declined to bring charges against Taylor, agreeing that he acted in self-defense.

Modell’s father, Sandy, has been asking the Governor’s office for years to assign a special prosecutor to do an independent review of the shooting. So far, he’s been unsuccessful.

He filed a civil lawsuit against Taylor in 2018. As part of that suit, attorneys for the Modell family deposed Taylor.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office felt those depositions provided additional information on the case and sent them to the State Attorney’s Office for review in June.

The Sheriff’s Office also provided a series of text messages that Modell said Taylor sent him in 2019.

“It’s not what you would expect to killer to say to his victim’s family unless he liked what he did and he was proud of himself,” Modell said.

One message read: “Your son lived for nothing and died for even less.”

Modell said another text proves Taylor’s true motivation for leaving his home with a gun in hand that night.

It reads: “Your son was so drunk he couldn’t identify his own woman. He can’t…. Have mine.”

“He didn’t go outside because he was afraid. He went outside because he was angry,” Modell said.

Ryan Modell had been living with his girlfriend at a townhome in the same complex and was intoxicated when he wandered to the Taylors’ door that evening. Sandy Modell said the only time his son would have interacted with Taylor’s wife would have been at the door, and if he was drunk and confused, he might have said something to her.

Taylor did not mention any encounter between Modell and his wife in his original statements to police in 2016.

However, the state attorney’s office did not feel the text messages or the depositions from the civil case outlined anything new.

“Therefore, there is no additional evidence or information which would change our decision to not file criminal charges related to the shooting of Ryan Modell by James Taylor,” wrote Assistant State Attorney Dan Feinberg in an email to the Sheriff’s Office.

The State Attorney’s Office declined WINK News’ request for an interview.

“Assistant State Attorney Dan Feinberg did review the text messages provided that were written at least two years after the shooting. There is no additional information in the text messages that would impact his decision,” wrote Samantha Syoen, communications director for the State Attorney’s Office.

Taylor also declined WINK News’ request for an interview.

“(Mr. Taylor) reasonably believed at the time that his life and the life of his spouse were at risk. As a result of defending himself, he has been subjected to what has already been years of financially ruinous litigation,” said Matthew Toll, Taylor’s attorney.

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