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An Object Lesson In Why You Shouldn’t Rush To Judgment In The Trayvon Martin Case

There’s an interesting report from ABC News that, if true, changes significantly some of what we thought we knew about how the Sanford Police Department handled the investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin:

The lead homicide investigator in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin recommended that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting, multiple sources told ABC News.

But Sanford, Fla., Investigator Chris Serino was instructed to not press charges against Zimmerman because the state attorney’s office headed by Norman Wolfinger determined there wasn’t enough evidence to lead to a conviction, the sources told ABC News.

Police brought Zimmerman into the station for questioning for a few hours on the night of the shooting, said Zimmerman’s attorney, despite his request for medical attention first. Ultimately they had to accept Zimmerman’s claim of self defense. He was never charged with a crime.

Serino filed an affidavit on Feb. 26, the night that Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman, that stated he was unconvinced Zimmerman’s version of events.

Zimmerman, 28, claimed he shot Martin, 17, in self defense.

One complicating factor in the investigation was that the first detective to interview Zimmerman about the shooting was a narcotics officer rather than a homicide detective.

The State Attorney’s office said only “no comment” when asked about the affidavit today.

The revelation is the latest salvo in a war of leaks meant to bolster each side amid rising tension over the shooting

The most recent of those leaks came yesterday when the local press got its hands on a portion of the police investigation file that revealed that a witness had told police that he (or she the gender of the witness is not disclosed) saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, who has on the ground, an punching him immediately before a gunshot was heard. Obviously, the only way the press could have gotten its hands on something like this is if someone inside the Sanford Police Department gave it to them. The same goes for this affidavit that ABC News has gotten its hands on.

This is not how an investigation should be proceeding at all. This material should be staying inside the police file and not coming to light until there’s a court proceeding, both to protect Zimmerman’s right to a fair trial and to protect the integrity of the evidence.  The more you allow evidence like this to leak out into the public, the less likely it is that either of those things will be achieved. If and when Zimmerman does go to trial, his attorneys are going to have legitimate concerns about the extent to which the jury pool has been corrupted by pre-trial publicity. This is likely going to result in a much longer jury selection process, and the need to bring in a jury pool from somewhere  else in Florida at not insignificant expense, with the possibility that there isn’t really a jury pool out there that can be said to have been fully immune from the coverage that this case has already gotten will continue to get.

It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. There’s a turf battle going on inside the police department, as well as between the police and the State’s Attorney, who has since been removed as the prosecutor in this case by the Governor of Florida. They’re fighting it out be releasing information to the media, which is sucking it up eagerly as the media is wont to do, and potentially damaging whatever case their might be against Zimmerman in the process.

With all that in mind, this latest report is interesting in one very significant respect. Up until now, the popular understanding, fed by the media,  had been that it was the police who had released Zimmerman without pressing charges because they simply accepted his version of events and decided that he acted in self-defense. That no longer appears to be the case. The decision not to charge Zimmerman was made by the State’s Attorneys Office, over the apparent objection of at least one Homicide Investigator who apparently felt so strongly about the matter that he prepared an affidavit detailing the reasons he felt charges should be filed. That certainly could change ones view of the players in this case, and the manner in which the police department acted here.

All of this is a great example of what I was talking about yesterday. We really don’t know what happened on February 26th in Sanford, Florida, and the facts that we think we know are not only incomplete, but they could turn out to be completely wrong.  Rather than trying George Zimmerman based on evidence that is obviously flawed and incomplete, we all need to step back and let the legal system do its job. And the media needs to exercise some professional judgment and realize that its job is to report the news, not play Perry Mason.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. The lead homicide investigator in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin recommended that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting, multiple sources told ABC News.

    Strangely, you are reinforcing my “rush to judgement.”

    A manslaughter was what I wanted, early on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  2. (A manslaughter “arrest” was what I wanted)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  3. Andrei Vfeked says:

    Alas, you are espousing a virtue that today’s television media does not possess. They cannot exercise the professional judgement you speak of. A story like this, especially one with racial overtones, will simply be stirred up into a giant kettle of frothy sensationalism and reasonable journalistic restraint will be tossed out the window.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  4. @john personna:

    The rush to judgment I was referring to was the assessment that’s been made by many, myself included, that the Sanford PD “bungled” this investigation or swept the case under the rug. That no longer appears to be the case.

    As for the decision not to charge, that appears to have been made by the prosecutor. Perhaps he believed that there was insufficient to sustain a charge at the time. (I don’t know the law in Florida, but in most states once a Defendant is arrested the state has a minimal amount of time within which to bring an indictment or the court will void the arrest and dismiss the charges, usually without prejudice) Perhaps the SA did not believe the case was ready for a Grand Jury, perhaps THEY bungled things. I don’t know. However, an arrest that results in the Defendant being freed shortly thereafter because the evidence isn’t fully developed isn’t necessarily a good thing either.

    As for what charge I *want*, I want whatever charge the law can sustain if it can sustain one. That is what the Grand Jury will have to determine, at least as a preliminary step.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Lawrence O’Donnell was good last night, pointing out that this pattern of selective leaks by the PD is characterisic of an effort to cover up something.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  6. legion says:

    This is not how an investigation should be proceeding at all.

    It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. There’s a turf battle going on inside the police department, as well as between the police and the State’s Attorney

    True, all of that. The bits & pieces of “accidentally” released private info about both Martin and Zimmerman are further evidence of a PD/local justice system that’s simply non-functional – this is one situation where I think even small-government types can agree the feds need to step in & run the show.

    And while the current investigation is a rolling train wreck, it is very important not to forget – if it wasn’t for the national-level outrage, there wouldn’t be an investigation of any kind going on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  7. @gVOR08:

    More likely it is part of an effort to cover their collective asses given that they are already on the spot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. You know, no small number of commentators have played coy with “arrest” and “try.”

    “Arrest Zimmerman” they hear,

    and they reply “we cannot try this court in public!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  9. MBunge says:

    “Rather than trying George Zimmerman based on evidence that is obviously flawed and incomplete, we all need to step back and let the legal system do its job.”

    Uh, you do realize that your entire post is about how the legal system “did its job” and was going to let Zimmerman get away with the shooting until the media caught wind of it?

    Mike

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 6

  10. @Doug Mataconis:

    I suspect that the state attorney’s office made an error in judgement – that even if this was not a case they could definitely win, it was a case they had to try.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  11. @john personna:

    Prosecutors have an ethical duty not to bring charges they do not believe they can sustain at trial. That’s the main reason the Manhattan DA’s office dropped the charges against DSK after the multiple lies of the accuser came to light.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  12. @MBunge:

    A point I addressed yesterday.

    Based on this news, I would be very interested to hear the SA’s explanation for why they chose not to bring charges. I suspect its a far more complicated issue than the simplistic one that the people trying to spin this story for political advantage make it out to be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  13. Doug Deal says:

    Because of the apparent wounds inflicted on Zimmerman by Martin, I tend to agree with the State’s Attorney. How do you overcome reasonable doubt that he wasn’t defending himself against a continued assault when he has a broken nose and had his head bloodied.

    For the defendent, it isn’t about proving the facts, it’s about preventing the prosecution from eliminating all reasonable legal explanations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9

  14. @Doug Mataconis:

    Prosecutors have an ethical duty not to bring charges they do not believe they can sustain at trial.

    That’s too bad, because I bet there are a lot of close calls where a trial would cool community tensions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  15. Ron Beasley says:

    I think that bothers me the most about this case is that Martin’s body lay in the morgue for three days before any attempt at identification and he had plenty of identification including a cell phone. This smells of coverup to me – leave him on a cold slab in the morgue and maybe it will just go away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  16. @Doug Deal:

    I think the “manslaughter” centers on taking a gun, pursuing Martin, and setting up the situation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  17. @Doug Deal:

    Seriously Doug, if you follow me at night in a car, then get out and follow me on foot, and come up on me in the dark … if I feel a need to deck you, that’s my aggression?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 4

  18. anjin-san says:

    the assessment that’s been made by many, myself included, that the Sanford PD “bungled” this investigation or swept the case under the rug. That no longer appears to be the case.

    Not really. There are still questions to be answered. I would like chapter and verse on why Zimmermann had no alcohol/drug testing done. There have also been allegations that the police “corrected” a witness statement. We need a lot more information.

    In the small towns I have lived in, I did not trust the police to handle much more than traffic stops. I suspect the local authorities don’t really have the skill sets to deal with a situation like this effectively.

    I am also curious about state involvement. Does the state AG have legal authority to overrule local authorities? What does the local DA have to say about this?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  19. Brummagem Joe says:

    that the Sanford PD “bungled” this investigation or swept the case under the rug. That no longer appears to be the case.

    You mean they caved to pressure from the State’s Attorney’s office? Who now refuse to comment on why they felt there was no case to answer?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  20. Scott says:

    I’m now wondering whether the dueling release of information is itself a crime in the making.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  21. anjin-san says:

    the people trying to spin this story for political advantage

    What people are you referring to? The ones who are pissed because, once again, a black man is dead in America and there does not appear to be much in the way of consequences for the one who is responsible?

    I, like quite a few others, have been watching this shit go on for longer than you have been alive. You will have to excuse us if we are ticked off that it has happened yet another time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  22. PD Shaw says:

    Doug, I’m pretty sure the explanation is in the procedural aspects of the Stand Your Ground law. If Zimmerman is arrested, he can immediately ask for a bench trial on his claim of immunity for self-defense. I don’t know whether Zimmerman would win, but it basically gives him two bites of the apple (first with the trial judge and then with the jury) and if I were the prosecutor I would not want to go to hearing until I had all the evidence possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  23. the Q says:

    I think the SA decided that no one cared if a black teenager was shot and killed on a borderline
    self defense claim.

    If this was West Palm Beach and the skin colors were reversed it would have lead to a more
    thorough investigation.

    This visceral outcry by the African American community is really a Rodney King like moment where the one incident represents the many anonymous, daily unjust judicial decisions meted out unfairly to blacks.

    Now the circus with both sides’ guns blazing and the sideshow to come.

    It bolsters again my own take on race relations in America, “there is a lot more racism in the U.S. than whites think and a lot less racism in America than blacks think.”

    And here we are again, stuck in the abyss of the middle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. Doug Deal says:

    @john personna

    Other than conjecture or wishful thinking, how are the police to conclude that he took the gun with the intent to set up this situation (Martin’s death)?

    He had a carry license and was excercising that. Having a gun is not de facto proof of intent to use it. He also apparently wasn’t brandishing the gun around in Martin’s or Martin would not have initiated force. According to the police report he was struck from behind and forced to the ground. In absense of contradictory evidence, how can they conclude otherwise, unless, like you, there is a particular outcome that they want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7

  25. John Burgess says:

    @gVOR08: Perhaps ‘characteristic’, but far from diagnostic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Brummagem Joe says:

    we all need to step back and let the legal system do its job.

    While conceptually one can agree with this Doug, the fact is none of this increasingly murky case would have come to public attention without the media circus which you’re now decrying. This whole thing stinks and the more one learns about it the more odiferous it becomes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  27. John Burgess says:

    Doug: You said, “Obviously, the only way the press could have gotten its hands on something like this is if someone inside the Sanford Police Department gave it to them.”

    I don’t think that’s necessarily so. I’ve seen/heard a lot of the witnesses talking on various media about what they saw. I don’t know that this particular one was in the news, but there’s certainly no gag order on potential witnesses.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Franklin says:

    I’m curious about what, if any, punishments or deterrents there are for leaking information to the press.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Dunbar says:

    “Zimmermans right to a fair trial” indeed. This is what I have been talking about: for the last several years, the courts have been more interested in the rights of criminals than the plight of their victims. Results: violent, depraved criminals released on some technicality and are out roaming the streets once again. Supreme court decisions back in the ’60’s tied the hands of the police.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

  30. Brummagem Joe says:

    @the Q:

    I think the SA decided that no one cared if a black teenager was shot and killed on a borderline
    self defense claim.

    I suspect at bottom this was it both at the SA and local PD levels. Obviously a prosecution with a stand your ground defense had enormous potential for boat rocking. Much better to quietly squash it and hope no one would notice. And they wouldn’t without the black community and media attention. It’s very messy but I’m bound to say I find this a case where the media is doing it’s job. From Dreyfus onwards people have been calling on the media to stand back and let the justice system do it’s job but the reality is the justice system is not always perfect and that certainly appears to be case here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  31. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Dunbar:

    the courts have been more interested in the rights of criminals than the plight of their victims.

    So you’ve decided this kid was a criminal?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  32. mattb says:

    Can’t say that this latest news is particularly surprising. And it seems to be in keeping with the broader story of the fallout of the “stand your ground” law and how it seems to be currently interpreted.

    @PD Shaw, that’s really interesting about the two bites of the apple thing. I had not realized that about the law.

    @Doug Deal, this gets to perhaps the broader problem with the law as interpreted.In a case like this, where there were only two witnesses to the beginning of the confrontation — the shooter and the shootee — the law seems stacked towards the one who is alive to give the account of what happened.

    We’ll most likely never know what really happened between the moment that Trevor Martin began to flee from Zimmerman and the latter gave chase (taken from the 9/11 call)/Trevor Martin got off the phone with his girlfriend AND Martin ended up on top of Zimmerman.

    Personally, I don’t believe the account that Zimmerman gave — that Martin suddenly jumped him from behind as he was walking back to his vehicle — is the full truth — especially if Martin’s girlfriend account is to be believed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  33. @John Burgess:

    How could ABC have learned about an affidavit prepared by the lead police investigator unless someone in a position of authority gave it to them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  34. Loviatar says:

    You know I was going to write a long detailed comment rebutting Doug’s point, but then I thought about these facts:

    – Tayvon Martin was stalked and then shot on his way back from the store after buying a bag of skittles and an iced tea

    – Trayvon wasn’t killed because of the content of his character

    – Trayvon wasn’t killed because of the content of his actions

    – Trayvon was killed because of the content of his skin.

    When I think of those facts I fear for my son, when I think of the apologist, the excuse makers, the racist, the bigots, the semanticist and all those who attempt to muddy the waters (Doug) I fear for my country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

  35. mattb says:

    @the Q:

    I think the SA decided that no one cared if a black teenager was shot and killed on a borderline self defense claim.

    I don’t think race was the deciding factor — evidence, combined with the way that the “stand your ground” law has been interpreted by judges and juries probably was the bigger issue.

    Based on the reports about some of the part cases where stand your ground been successfully used as a defense, without a lot more evidence, Zimmerman would/will probably walk.

    If nothing else, hopefully this situation, and some of the other failed prosecutions will lead the legislature to refining the law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. @Doug Deal:

    Because of the apparent wounds inflicted on Zimmerman by Martin, I tend to agree with the State’s Attorney. How do you overcome reasonable doubt that he wasn’t defending himself against a continued assault when he has a broken nose and had his head bloodied.

    Generally speaking, self defense is an affirmative defense (as are most justification defenses). That is, it’s up to Zimmerman to show he was defending himself, not the state to show he wasn’t.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  37. Dunbar says:

    @Brummagem Joe: No, I am talking about Zimmerman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. @Doug Deal:

    I am by no means a legal expert, but I believe “intent” would bring a murder charge. Manslaughter is looser, right? It is causing a human death, including by foolish action?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Doug Deal says:

    @Stormy, excellent point. But it is my understanding that Stand Your Ground made it easier to claim than usual self defense claims. I may be incorrect in that, but that’s my understanding.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  40. anjin-san says:

    @ Doug

    Still would like some more detail about who is “spinning the story for political advantage.” You opened the door. Kindly back your words up…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  41. @Stormy Dragon:

    That is, it’s up to Zimmerman to show he was defending himself, not the state to show he wasn’t.

    Maybe Doug M. can help us on the legality. I did find this “on the internets.” It is from a guy who claims to be a 20-year martial artist who has researched the limits of self-defense:

    Yes it will. I have studied the laws of self-defense for more than just personal knowledge but for professional reasons too. Self-defense must be just that…defending yourself from someone who is attacking you. Now that being said you may also go to the aid of someone IF it is to stop the attacker from seriously harming or killing the other person. You can break up a fight, but don’t think that breaking up a fight means to hit someone else, it means to break them apart. Now if you do use self-defense it must be force EQUAL TO OR LESS THAN that which is being used against you or someone else. It is a good practice to always use less unless you have no other option.

    There was also this:

    The short answer to your question is that it depends. There is no simple formula for the legal application of force in self-defense under American law. IF you believe that your about to be assaulted there are instances where you may hit someone “preemptively”. ‘About to’ refers to the imminence requirement for the right to self-defense. It is not enough that the assailant threatens to use force in the future, or upon the happening of a certain event. Thus the statement “If you do that one more time, I’ll punch you” is insufficient to trigger the right to self-defense. The threatened use of force must be immediate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  42. Herb says:

    Rather than trying George Zimmerman based on evidence that is obviously flawed and incomplete, we all need to step back and let the legal system do its job.

    You keep saying that, but you don’t seem to appreciate how the legal system botched this thing up. Rather than asking the press to back off, I think we need as many eyes on this process as possible.

    The fact of the matter is this: If charging George Zimmerman with a crime is not possible…..it’s not the media’s fault.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  43. @Doug Deal:

    As my quotes show, the question might be who was acting in self-defense.

    It would be a tragedy if they both were, but then we are back to what created that situation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  44. @Doug Deal:

    (This is of course why 911 said “don’t get out of the car.”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  45. (And of course this is why neighborhood watch guidelines say “don’t take guns.” Many have said “ah well, he had a right.” But you aren’t really thinking through the “why” of the guidelines. It is so things like this don’t happen. And ignoring the guidelines and taking a gun should bring a great responsibility.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  46. anjin-san says:

    @ JP

    One thing that seems clear is that just about every decision Zimmerman made was wrong, badly wrong. My sense is that the guy is just a boob. He appeared to be drifting through life with no direction aside from a fantasy about being a cop. His behavior during the scuffle suggests someone with no clue how to handle himself.

    So how the hell does a guy like this get a carry permit?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  47. @john personna:

    My point was about burden of proof. Doug Deal was making a point that the wounds on Zimmerman would make it hard for the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it wasn’t self defense. Generally speaking the prosecution doesn’t have to prove it was self defense. Zimmerman has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was.

    Basically, most trials take the form of the prosecution asserting various facts that lead to a conclusion that the defendant is guilty of some crime. The defense is generally a negating defense, arguing that some subset of those facts are incorrect and therefore the prosecution’s conclusion is invalid. Since the prosecution is the party asserting all the fact, the burden is on them to show that the facts are true beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Self defense is an affirmative defense: instead of negating the prosecution facts, it is asserting additional facts (namely that the defendant was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm). Normally the defense bears the burden of proving the facts it affirms.

    Part of the problem with FL stand your ground law may not be the stand your ground itself, but that it flips the normal burden: the defense is now free to assert facts without having to prove them, and the prosecution is left trying to prove a negative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  48. Ron Beasley says:

    @anjin-san: I agree, he is a boob. Hopefully the least that will come out of this is he will lose his carry license. Guys like Zimmerman should not have guns.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  49. @Stormy Dragon:

    OK, I see on “affirmative defense.” I was just “backing up” to the part that bothers me, being out there with a gun, and then getting out of the car to pursue the kid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. PD Shaw says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Generally speaking, self defense is an affirmative defense (as are most justification defenses). That is, it’s up to Zimmerman to show he was defending himself, not the state to show he wasn’t.”

    No, that’s not quite true. Yes, self defense is an affirmative defense. But Florida, like most states, essentially places the burden on the prosecutor to prove culpability beyond a reasonable doubt. The accused may have to put on evidence to raise a reasonable doubt that it might have been self-defense, but doesn’t have to prove self defense was more likely than not.

    I find the burden-shifting odd; I’m not defending it other than to say its currently the majority position in the United States. Usually the proponent of a concept (like self defense) is expected to prove it, but apparently our legal system is so inclinded to presume a person is not guilty, that its better for a guilty man to go free than an innocent suffer, that we shift the burden to the prosecution to essentially prove a negative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  51. superdestroyer says:

    If Martin was on top of Zimmerman and was hitting him, then the self-defense is easy to show. What was Zimmerman suppose to do at that point, keep letting Martin hit him until Martin tired of the activity?

    I think people keep forgetting that zimmerman had just as much right to be on the sidewalk and in the neighborhood as Martin. If Martin sucker punch Zimmerman and Zimmerman defended himself, is it any wonder why the states attorney did not want to waste his time going forward.

    The police report alone is enough to create reasonable doubt. http://www.sanfordfl.gov/investigation/docs/Twin%20Lakes%20Shooting%20Initial%20Report.pdf

    The police report also shows that many of the memes repeated by the progressive media were wrong.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 11

  52. No one should be making any judgment about this until all the facts are known. Unfortunately its being tried in the court of public opinion. In the court of public opinion the “public” is the judge, jury AND often the executioner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9

  53. cla says:

    @Doug Deal: I still don’t understand how can a person claim self-defense when Zimmermans got OUT of his vehicle to pursue this young man when he was told by 911 dispatch to stay in the car. I am sorry that’s enough in my opinion to negate a self defense plea. He could not have hit him at all if he would have remained in the car as instructed. If I was in Trayvon’s position and someone was following me and then got out the car to pursue me I would hit him too. Too me Trayvon has the self-defense plea not Zimmerman. What gives Zimmerman the right to follow anyone?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

  54. An Interested Party says:

    If Martin was on top of Zimmerman and was hitting him, then the self-defense is easy to show.

    Not really…if you want to play with hypotheticals, what if Zimmerman approached Martin in a hostile manner? What about Martin’s Stand Your Ground rights?

    I think people keep forgetting that zimmerman had just as much right to be on the sidewalk and in the neighborhood as Martin.

    No one is forgetting that…the problem is that Zimmerman followed Martin and, quite possibly, instigated an altercation…Zimmerman isn’t a cop…what right does he have to shadow someone and question who that person is?

    The police report alone is enough to create reasonable doubt.

    Yes, of course, because the police report can include only one side of the story…the other side can’t be told because the person who could tell it is dead…

    No one should be making any judgment about this until all the facts are known. Unfortunately its being tried in the court of public opinion. In the court of public opinion the “public” is the judge, jury AND often the executioner.

    Of course everyone is going to have an opinion and it is silly to think otherwise…that being said, just because people have opinions doesn’t mean that Zimmerman is going to be judged, convicted, and executed by the public…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  55. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Police reports are not from a side. They are about the incidents, the crime, and the preps.

    The police report states that the gun was entered into evidence even though the Martin family claimed that the police did not take the gun away. The police report states that Zimmerman was taken into custody and passed to major crime detectives. The police report documents that Zimmerman called the police and documents that Zimmerman had injuries even though MSNBC tried to claim there was no evidence of injuries to Zimmerman.

    The police report goes a lot farther to verifying what Zimmerman’s attorney has been saying rather than what the Martin family has been saying. The police also took statements from numerous witnesses. Every media report of a witnesses has support Zimmerman.

    The real issue is whether the federal government will still go after Zimmerman to make a political statement.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 14

  56. cla says:

    Furthermore I still don’t understand why wasn’t photos taken at the crime scene? Since when does a murder occur where no evidence is gathered? Obviously something was amiss for the officer on the scene to do a signed affidavit to attest he didn’t believe Zimmermans account of what happened. I just can’t get over that a law allows you to pursue someone, get into an altercation with them and then say its self defense when said individual is not on your property, has none of your property or hasn’t attacked you in any way. Bottomless this police force is inept and the Feds need to step in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  57. Rob in CT says:

    There is a gap here that we cannot fill. We know Zimmerman tracked Martin down (the gf’s account directly contradicts Zimmerman’s claim that he was going back to his truck and was attacked from behind. We don’t know the truth there. I strongly suspect that Zimmerman is full of sh*t. And of course Martin can’t tell us anything). We know there was some sort of confrontation that degenerated into a fist fight. We do not know who struck first. We do know that Martin got the upper hand, and then Zimmerman shot him.

    That, as far as I can tell, is what we know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  58. Rob in CT says:

    Every media report of a witnesses has support Zimmerman.

    I distinctly recall a report of a witness who said she heard Martin calling for help, and being corrected by a cop who said no, that was Zimmerman. Let’s see if I can find that with my google-fu…

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/27/justice/florida-teen-shooting-witnesses/

    Yeah, buried in there is this:

    Mary Cutcher was in her kitchen making coffee that night with her roommate, Selma Mora Lamilla. The window was open, she said.

    “We heard a whining. Not like a crying, boohoo, but like a whining, someone in distress, and then the gunshot,” she said.

    They looked out the window but saw nothing. It was dark.

    They ran out the sliding glass door, and within seconds, they saw Zimmerman.

    “Zimmerman was standing over the body with — basically straddling the body with his hands on Trayvon’s back,” Cutcher said. “And it didn’t seem to me that he was trying to help him in any way. I didn’t hear any struggle prior to the gunshot.

    “And I feel like it was Trayvon Martin that was crying out, because the minute that the gunshot went off, the whining stopped.”

    Obviously that’s hardly iron-clad. But no, not every witness has backed Zimmerman’s account.

    Let’s also recall that Zimmerman claimed Martin jumped him from behind & sucker punched him. The girlfriend’s account doesn’t match up with that. Yet another bit of testimony that doesn’t back Zimmerman’s story.

    But what is that in comparison to the demographic analysis you have no doubt conducted to conclude that Martin was at fault?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  59. superdestroyer says:

    @Rob in CT:

    If you are going to concern the media statements of the girlfriend even though she supposedly has not spoken to the police, then you have to take the statements of eye wintesses who said that Zimmerman has yelling for help. Also, why didn’t Martin dial 911 when he felt he was being followed.

    Also, Martin was shot in the front while Zimmerman had injuries to his face and back of head. The police report and physical support Zimmerman’s version more than whatever Martin’s girlfriend has said to the media.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  60. Rob in CT says:

    I do take into consideration the witnesses who have said Zimmerman was calling for help (as well as the witness who doesn’t think it was him, but rather Martin). Weighing it all, I find it most likely that it was Zimmerman.

    I don’t know why Martin didn’t call 9-1-1. Most of us don’t call 9-1-1 at the drop of a hat (unlike Mr. Zimmerman). He also could be guilty of not realizing the seriousness of the threat he faced. 😉

    I don’t see how the orientation of the wounds has any effect on the gf’s story, actually. Her story is that she was on the phone w/Martin as he attempted to lose Zimmerman, that she heard the beginning of a confrontation, and then the call ended.

    The wounds, to me, suggest a face-to-face fight, with Zimmerman being punched and knocked down (this fits with the eyewitness who saw Martin on top). The injury to the back of his head/grass stains on his back + bloody nose suggest this. They don’t really match up with being jumped from behind (though that’s still possible, it’s just that the injuries don’t suggest it). We really don’t know how the fight started. I can conjure several scenarios that seem plausible to me.

    But nobody saw it start, and that’s the key here. Zimmerman’s gonna walk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  61. An Interested Party says:

    Police reports are not from a side. They are about the incidents, the crime, and the preps.

    This particular police report includes information about Zimmerman explaining his side of the story…if he was so right in everything he did, why did the lead homicide investigator in the case want to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  62. Rob in CT says:

    By the way, regarding the gf and the police… how friggin’ hard would it have been for the police, while doing their oh-so-diligent investigation, to check the last phone call on Martin’s phone? How hard would it have been to notice that it was at roughly the same time as the shooting? How hard would it have been to then call the number and make sure you got a statement?

    Too hard?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  63. Rob in CT says:

    Last thoughts, then I gotta hit the sack:

    Agree with Doug the leaks are not good.
    Agree with Doug that the police investigator preparing an affadavit saying he thinks Zimmerman was lying suggests the possibility that the local police were not in the tank for Zimmerman and the fault (if any) lies up the food chain w/the state prosecutor.
    Disagree that this leaked info demonstrates the police did a proper investigation (I really don’t know at this point whether or not they did, but still lean toward “did not”)
    Agree that, at this point, the legal system has to do its thing. My dissent is limited to “yeah, NOW. After the outcry forced some more scrutiny.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  64. @Rob in CT:

    I don’t know why Martin didn’t call 9-1-1. Most of us don’t call 9-1-1 at the drop of a hat (unlike Mr. Zimmerman). He also could be guilty of not realizing the seriousness of the threat he faced. 😉

    I don’t. In fact I generally only contact 9-1-1 if I have to, because I’m generally of the opinion that adding police to tense situations rarely improves them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  65. @Rob in CT:

    Let’s also recall that Zimmerman claimed Martin jumped him from behind & sucker punched him. The girlfriend’s account doesn’t match up with that. Yet another bit of testimony that doesn’t back Zimmerman’s story.

    Zimmerman’s story doesn’t make sense even by itself. We’re supposed to believe that Martin was attempting to escape Zimmerman and, as soon as he succeeds in doing so, decides to turn around and come back so he can start a fight?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  66. An Interested Party says:

    Oh look, the NRA has decided to join in on all the fun…if only Trayvon Martin had been wearing such a loaded garment that night, he might still be alive…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  67. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Rob in CT:

    The problem is that the black community doesn’t trust the police to investigate this case. They do no even believe that the police were investigating it at all, and are now invested in being proved correct in that course of action..

    Normally I would agree, however, turtling up is causing marches in streets. Their PR skills are horrible, at the very least. Just in case “bad PR skills” sounds trivial, the police need the trust of the people to do their job and keep the peace. If any group of people feel that the police are unwilling to protect them, they will be frightened, and will settle scores the old fashioned way.

    It appears to them that Zimmerman was not questioned at the time extensively. He was allowed to go home and spend about a month with his lawyer/judge dad, with the benefit of the evidence that was in the news, before crafting a story that fit.

    At the very least, somebody needs to go through the Sanford PD with a big, hairy, broom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  68. anjin-san says:

    Let’s also recall that Zimmerman claimed Martin jumped him from behind & sucker punched him.

    To me, this claim does not pass the smell test. Too damn convienient. A kid who is frightened because someone is following is going to hightail it home to tell his did about the guy who is stalking him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  69. @anjin-san:

    Not to mention we’re talking about a suburban neighborhood here; it’s not like there’s dark alleys, long grass, heavy brush, etc. that Martin could have used for cover to sneak up on Zimmerman for this supposed ambush. Did Martin just use his magical suspicious black person powers to materialize out of the shadows behind Zimmerman?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  70. superdestroyer says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Youtube if full of public fights involving blacks suckering punching people, gang beating people, and going on a “wilding.”

    Is it really that hard to believe that Martin tried to sucker punch Zimmerman. The physicial evidence so far revealed support this theory of the crime.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  71. superdestroyer says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    Read the police report. Zimmerman has taken to the police station, he was questioned by major crime detectives, and Zimmerman’s gun was entered into evidence. The States attorney was contacted.
    Not exactly the pictures that the media has been reporting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  72. An Interested Party says:

    Youtube if full of public fights involving blacks suckering punching people, gang beating people, and going on a “wilding.”

    Ahh, so of course Martin did that too, right? Because all black people are the same, right? Hopefully you never sit on a jury judging a person of color…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  73. Rob in CT says:

    Read the police report. Zimmerman has taken to the police station, he was questioned by major crime detectives, and Zimmerman’s gun was entered into evidence. The States attorney was contacted.
    Not exactly the pictures that the media has been reporting.

    Not exactly no. I would add, however, that at least one of those detectives was convinced Zimmerman was lying about being ambushed. We don’t know the full details, but what we do know calls Zimmerman’s story into question. It just doesn’t add up.

    I know it adds up for you, but then for you 2+2 could equal 5 if it resulted in the black person being the bad guy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  74. Rob in CT says:

    And by the way, this:

    Youtube if full of public fights involving blacks suckering punching people, gang beating people, and going on a “wilding.”

    Is utterly pathetic. This is on the level of those early 90s Ron Paul newsletters freaking out about “urban youths.” You saw some video on the internet and draw the conclusion that black people are violent thugs and, therefore, Martin is a violent thug. You’re willing to reach that far to smear Martin and exonerate Zimmerman, but apparently the obvious bias Zimmerman displayed on the 9-1-1 tape doesn’t bother you.

    Zimmerman may or may not be guilty of a crime. He is, however, quite obviously someone who sees young black men as guilty until proven innocent. Martin was freaking walking hom from the 7-11. He had his hood up because it was raining. Seeing this, Zimmerman immediately decided he was suspicious and that he was “on something.” Which we know he wasn’t, because the cops drug tested his body.

    And this is why stereotyping is pernicious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  75. Franklin says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Youtube if full of public fights involving blacks suckering punching people, gang beating people, and going on a “wilding.”

    Ahh, so your true nature is even more clear than before, bravo!

    BTW, I’ve seen whites sucker-punching people on Youtube as well. But that doesn’t count, right? I suppose the victims had it coming for some reason or another.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  76. Jeremy R says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Youtube if full of public fights involving blacks suckering punching people, gang beating people, and going on a “wilding.”

    David Frum recently had an article that described the idoctrination of folks like superdestroyer :
    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/03/24/david-frum-trayvon-martin-and-the-backlash-against-the-backlash/

    Month in, month out, Drudge spotlights gruesome black-on-white crimes. In a country of 300 million people, there are always examples. These same stories circulate in e-mail chains — and often become the focus of local right-wing talk-radio shows.

    The U.S. journalist Mickey Kaus calls it “under-news”: news that never quite emerges into the national media, but that shapes the consciousness of millions of people. And what is being shaped is a conviction among many white people — especially fearful elderly whites in the South — that the Obama presidency has licensed a rampage of black-on-white violence. That’s not what the statistics say. But as Stephen Colbert would say: statistics are elitist.

    As is so often the case, Rush Limbaugh gave these new racial fears their most explicit voice. In September 2009, after Drudge publicized an assault on an Illinois school bus, Limbaugh had this to say: “It’s Obama’s America, is it not? Obama’s America — white kids getting beat up on school buses now.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  77. Jeremy R says:

    @Franklin:

    BTW, I’ve seen whites sucker-punching people on Youtube as well.

    Oddly enough there’s a weird sort of relevance to this case in that, though not in the direction superdestroyer is suggesting.

    In Dec. 2010, a Sanford police lieutenant’s son was caught on tape sucker punching and beating up a black homeless man. As the homeless man lay bleeding, officers drove the son from the scene and filed no charges (months later the media got hold of the tape and finally action was taken). As I recall, those same compromised officers were dispatched to deal with Zimmerman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  78. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Franklin:

    Ahh, so your true nature is even more clear than before, bravo!

    This fellow’s true nature has long been apparent. It’s a mystery to me why anyone wants to feed his appetite for disputation. The same applies to Jenos.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  79. LCB says:

    I have my CW permit. The mantra of carrying a gun is to never, never, EVER put yourself in to a situation where you may have to use it. If the situation comes to you, then yes, defend yourself. But Zimmerman went looking for trouble. He was NOT carrying his gun responsibly! No matter if he was protecting himself or not, he CREATED the situation by getting out of his car. He was suspicious of someone. He called the police. His DUTY ended there. Only if he saw a violent crime being committed would he (maybe) have had a right to get out of the car.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  80. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Brummagem Joe: Indeed. I won’t reply to either of them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  81. anjin-san says:

    Indeed. I won’t reply to either of them.

    Sounds like a good idea. I tend to engage people on political blogs that I would not ordinary give the time of day to on the premise that we have seen what has happened when right wing lies go unchallenged.

    Thinking about it though, I’m not sure that is really a valid reason. Jenos and “Super” have about as much credibility as mold…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  82. Liberty60 says:

    @Jeremy R:

    That was a clear case in which the public DID “sit back and let the system do its job.”

    Funny how the same people who daily argue that government is incompetent, incapable of doing so simple an act as delivering a letter, will turn around and assure us that government is capable of taking a messy conflicting situation and processing perfect justice, without any interference from the public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  83. Jenos Idanian says:

    Here are some interesting statistics that discuss the frequency of such incidents as these.

    According to the FBI, in 2009 454 whites were killed by blacks.

    In the same year, 209 blacks were killed by whites.

    Meanwhile, 2,963 whites were killed by whites, and 2,604 blacks were killed by blacks.

    Oh, and I might have to reconsider my stance challenging the assumption of Zimmerman’s guilt. It turns out that he’s a Hispanic Democrat…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  84. John Thacker says:

    @john personna:

    While a trial can reduce community tension, a trial is pretty costly to the accused, even if found innocent. There are good reasons not to charge people with an offense and have a trial if charges can’t be sustained. Otherwise we end up punishing innocent people merely to satiate the mob.

    Unfortunately, that means prosecutorial (and police) discretion. I don’t doubt that there’s bias in favor of the upper-middle class, whites, et al., and against various other groups like out of staters, blacks, et al. But that level of discretion definitely applies in all 50 states, regardless of Stand Your Ground.

    If you look at the prosecutors’ complaints about SYG, you’ll see them complaining about being forced to drop charges against people that they “know” are guilty, like gang members or drug dealers defending themselves against other gang members or drug dealers.

    Get rid of SYG, and prosectuors and police will still find reason to let off favored individuals. The people SYG protects are people that police and prosecutors want to prosecute but can’t. That means that SYG, by removing discretion, actually protects the powerless and disfavored, including African-Americans, more than the connected, who are well-protected anyway in our system everywhere.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  85. ezra abrams says:

    Back in the ’60s, there was this cartoon of two 4 or 5 th grade boys, sitting at their schooldesks, taking a test
    in panel one, the white boy asks the black boy, what are grits ?
    in panel two, a balloon shows the black kids thought: whaddya know, whitey must be just naturally stupid

    or, for those of you who are slow
    if the colors were reversed, do you have any doubt that a black zimmerman would be in jail ?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  86. Eric Florack says:

    Doug;

    The rush to judgment I was referring to was the assessment that’s been made by many, myself included, that the Sanford PD “bungled” this investigation or swept the case under the rug. That no longer appears to be the case.

    Seems to me I said something of this, and took some heat for saying it, at the time.

    That refusal of the “me, too!” left to admit they were played like chumps by their supposed leaders, is a telling story… and it has started putting question marks in a lot of people’s heads…. Has this kind of group-non-think been going on all along? The obvious answer is “Yes” and it’s embarrassed a number of folks. It’s shown the degree to which the “black community” can and is manipulated on a daily basis, in ways that have not been done since, well, Duke University Lacrosse players were accused, and before that when the name Tawana Brawley was all over the papers.

    In each one of those cases, the left… in which the race and poverty pimp industry is of course rooted… spent a great deal of effort, pushing the mantra that America is racist, and pointing angrily to these cases as a prime example of that racism. All the usual suspects came out to play, then as now.

    Now, when the facts came out other than the mantra, they tried to deny the facts presented. When those facts became undeniable, even for them, they simply clammed up for a while. .. only to try the same play again,in the more recent cases.

    That the examples used to push the mantra of American racism have repeatedly been exposed as flat out lies, and those pushing it as bald-faced liars… matters not at all to those who want to believe that mantra… that often have their entire being wrapped tightly around that mantra. That’s why this ploy is so repeatedly successful. So successful is it, , that people are willing to commit violent acts to ensure the continuance of the lie. (Black panthers, as an example.)

    These would have you ignore the facts like…

    Zimmerman, the alleged shooter, is a registered Democrat. That he is not as the leftist press has been saying white, but rather Hispanic. That the gated community involved ere is about 49% ethnic… hardly a bastion of rich white folk. That eyewitnesses had reported Martin on top of Zimmerman, beating the snot out of him. That the largest percentage of murders in this country are black and black crime…. Which given the smaller percentage there are of blacks vs the general population, makes the per-capita rates rather startling. As Juan Williams says the other day, nothing is being said about this…. The reason why of course is these facts don’t fit the narrative that the anti-gunners, poverty pimps and leftists in general will have you believe.

    I commend to your reading a column by Juan Williams. A taste:

    Nationally, nearly half of all murder victims are black. And the overwhelming majority of those black people are killed by other black people. Where is the march for them?

    Where is the march against the drug dealers who prey on young black people? Where is the march against bad schools, with their 50% dropout rate for black teenaged boys? Those failed schools are certainly guilty of creating the shameful 40% unemployment rate for black teens.

    How about marching against the cable television shows constantly offering minstrel-show images of black youth as rappers and comedians who don’t value education, dismiss the importance of marriage, and celebrate killing people, drug money and jailhouse fashion—the pants falling down because the jail guard has taken away the belt, the shoes untied because the warden removed the shoe laces, and accessories such as the drug dealer’s pit bull.

    Supposedly all of this is just entertainment and intended to co-opt the stereotypes. But it only ends up perpetuating stereotypes in white minds and, worse, having young black people internalize it as an authentic image of a proud black person.

    There is no fashion, no thug attitude that should be an invitation to murder. But these are the real murderous forces surrounding the Martin death—and yet they never stir protests.

    Of course that’s true. The reason is simple; there is nothing to gain in terms of the race hucksters mantra if you point this out. It runs afoul of the image of a racist America. That information runs afoul of the left’s efforts to rouse the rabble. There are a large number of people who will benefit politically from the death of trade on Martin, provided that the mantra of “this death is the result of racism” is continued. They’ve played this game quite often previously. … it’s not unlike what leftists have done in the past when someone has died. If you need reminders, I give you the Paul Wellstone funeral and pep rally, as an example.

    The left’s manipulation in the case has been nothing short of breathtaking… even among people who should know better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  87. Rick says:

    And posting this article does not help in the jury selection, if and when it does go to trial.

    Where are the gatekeepers on mainstream media. We all want justice. I am so glad I decided to do something else with my journalism degree… It’s the media’s lack of respect for truth and justice.

    You report what might sell, editing at will and painting a picture over and over again. The best part of vision is not revision. It’s clear vision. Get it right the first time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0