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A woman pulled a gun in a dispute over a Fort Lauderdale beach parking space. Now she’s saying she was standing her ground

Sun Sentinel logoSun Sentinel 3/25/2023 Rafael Olmeda, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Metered street parking near Fort Lauderdale beach. A dispute over parking spaces will land in a Broward County court in April. © Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/TNS Metered street parking near Fort Lauderdale beach. A dispute over parking spaces will land in a Broward County court in April.

A Sunrise woman stood in a parking space on Fort Lauderdale beach and pulled a gun to keep someone else from taking it. Now she wants a Broward judge to dismiss her case by saying she was acting in self-defense.

Earlisha Harris, 24, is set to go on trial next week on one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. In a motion filed last Tuesday, her lawyer is arguing that Harris had a right to be at Fort Lauderdale beach on May 2, 2021, and the victim, Mariam Rashwan, was trying using her car as a weapon.

“While [Rashwan] was driving her car forward into the parking space, Harris was screaming saying she was hitting her with her car,” wrote Harris’ lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Alejandra Uribe. “[Rashwan] continued to bump Harris with her car, at which point Harris felt her life was in danger and had no other option but to defend herself and pull out her gun.”

That’s not exactly how it happened, according to Rashwan. Her attorney, Omar Saleh, said Rashwan was in a hurry to find a parking space because her young daughter, sitting in the back seat, had to use the bathroom. When she saw Harris blocking a space, she drove to a second one. Harris ran to the second space to block that one, too, Saleh said.

“Earlisha says ‘I’m saving this for my mother,’” Saleh said. “You can’t reserve parking spots. You try that at a Costco!”

But Rashwan says she went to yet a third space, and Harris followed her again. The confrontation took place at the third space, Saleh said. “She almost broke my client’s window with her gun.”

There do not appear to be any laws barring someone from trying to save a parking space in Florida, said defense lawyer Mark Eiglarsh, who is not connected to the case. That could help Harris — under the state’s “stand-your-ground” law, people are justified in the use of force if they are threatened while they are at a location where they have a right to be.

But blocking multiple spaces could undermine her argument, he said, because the judge could interpret her actions as a form of restricting Rashwan’s movement.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the case. A message left on Uribe’s voicemail Friday was not returned.

The stand-your-ground law grants immunity from prosecution in cases of self-defense, and the burden is on prosecutors to prove otherwise. Broward Circuit Judge Gary Farmer would decide whether the trial can go forward. It’s not clear whether the stand-your-ground motion will pre-empt it.

Rafael Olmeda can be reached at or 954-304-5256. Follow him on Twitter @rolmeda.

©2023 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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