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Murder or Self-Defense: Florida Case Raises Questions

One month ago, in a community outside Orlando, Florida, a 28 year old man named George Zimmerman (pictured left) shot and killed 17 year old Trayvon Martin (pictured right). Now, that shooting is making national headlines both because of concerns about the appropriateness of the shooting and because of concerns that race may have played a role in how the shooting went down. Charles Blow describes the circumstances of exactly what happened on February 27th  in a column that a appeared last week:

Trayvon had left the house he and his father were visiting to walk to the local 7-Eleven. On his way back, he caught the attention of George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch captain, who was in a sport-utility vehicle. Zimmerman called the police because the boy looked “real suspicious,” according to a 911 call released late Friday. The operator told Zimmerman that officers were being dispatched and not to pursue the boy.

Zimmerman apparently pursued him anyway, at some point getting out of his car and confronting the boy. Trayvon had a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman had a 9 millimeter handgun.

The two allegedly engaged in a physical altercation. There was yelling, and then a gunshot.

When police arrived, Trayvon was face down in the grass with a fatal bullet wound to the chest. Zimmerman was standing with blood on his face and the back of his head and grass stains on his back, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

Trayvon’s lifeless body was taken away, tagged and held. Zimmerman was taken into custody, questioned and released. Zimmerman said he was the one yelling for help. He said that he acted in self-defense. The police say that they have found no evidence to dispute Zimmerman’s claim.

One other point: Trayvon is black. Zimmerman is not.

Trayvon was buried on March 3. Zimmerman is still free and has not been arrested or charged with a crime.

The police on the scene appear to have reached the conclusion that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense, but the 911 calls from that night raise some doubt about just how much danger Zimmerman was actually in, and the extent to which he may have pursued Martin despite being told by a 911 operator not to do so:

“Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood and there’s a real suspicious guy,” Zimmerman tells police before giving the address of where he is. “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something.”

“These [expletive], they always get away,” Zimmerman says before getting out of his car to pursue Trayvon.

“Are you following him?” the police ask.

“Yes,” Zimmerman says. The officer on the phone tells him, “We don’t need you to do that.” But he did. In another 911 call, you can hear screaming for help and the fatal gunshot. Zimmerman brought a 9 mm handgun to the altercation. A scuffle ensued. Trayvon was fatally shot in the chest. His mother told the Associated Press yesterday, “(Zimmerman) was chasing him, he was following him, and my son was afraid. He didn’t know who this stranger was.”

The case brought into focus a law that was passed in Florida in 2005 that greatly expanded the law of self-defense, a revision that has since been adopted in a number of states:

A quick primer on the law of self-defense: We’ve always said if you’re inside your own home, the theory your home is your castle, you can use force, even deadly force, to defend yourself, as long as you reasonably believe that your life is in jeopardy in some fashion. Most of the time, it was different out on the street. Out on the street before you can use deadly force, most jurisdictions require that you first try to retreat. See if you can get away safely before you take out the gun and blow somebody away. But Florida’s law is different. Florida has a law, along with 17 states, that says you can stand your ground. Which means you don’t have that obligation to try to run first. So, in Florida, as long as you have a reasonable belief that your life and safety is in danger, you can use force to defend yourself, even deadly force. And now that’s the situation they’re suggesting.

The law has come under criticism from many on the left, largely no doubt because one of its major proponents has been the National Rifle Association, but it strikes me as a fairly reasonable expansion of the law of self defense. At it’s most basic it means that if you’re out at night and confronted with a potential assailant whom you reasonably believe is threatening your life, then you can use force to defend yourself.  Personally, I have no problem with the law being expanded in that manner and I think it’s mistaken to cite the law in connection with this incident. People ought to have the right to defend themselves in dangerous situations, even to the point of using deadly force if they believe that it’s reasonably necessary. However, based on the 911 tapes, there’s a chance that the “Stand Your Ground” Law may not even apply here.

Consider what the tapes revealed on Friday, combined with what had already been made public, tell us about what happened that night. Martin was walking through a neighborhood when Zimmerman spotted him. Zimmerman calls 911 and reports suspicious activity, which is really all a neighborhood watch captain is supposed to do anyway, and is told that officers are on the way and that he shouldn’t pursue the person he saw. Zimmerman pursues him anyway, and the two end up in some kind of altercation. We don’t know what set it off, because there are no other witnesses, but at some point during this altercation Zimmermann shot Martin. Can we really say that Zimmerman ever had a reasonable fear that his life or safety was in danger, or that he didn’t bring the physical confrontation on himself by ignoring police advice and pursuing someone whose identity an intentions he was not even aware of? Surely, Zimmerman was not in any physical danger when he first saw Martin and called the police, that only happened afterwards when he chose on his own to pursue this person. And, surely, one could surmise that Martin may have thought that he was in some kind of danger from this unknown person that was following him. Rather than self-defense, this easily could be seen as a confrontation that Zimmerman invited and even initiated, which is what makes the police’s initial decision to decline to pursue charges in this case so disturbing.

At the very least it now appears that the national attention that the case has gotten will result in further investigation of any potential crimes. Last night, the Department of Justice announced that it was opening a civil rights investigation into the incident, and this morning it was announced that a Seminole (FL) Grand Jury will be investigating the matter under the supervision of the State’s Attorney. This is exactly what should happen, although I must say that I’m somewhat bothered by the idea of the Federal Government intervening in what is clearly a state matter before the state has even finished its investigation. Not to mention the fact that Zimmerman faces the possibility of being charged twice for the same crime, but that’s a separate issue for now.  It’s far too early now to say whether or not George Zimmerman is guilty of any crime at all, none of us were there that night to witness what happened, but there are questions that need to be answered and it’s good that someone will be looking into them.

UPDATE (James Joyner): Doug beat me to the story, which is just as well as my own thoughts on this are preliminary. I’d just add a couple of things.

First, judging from the 911 call, I don’t think this is “murder,” as some are calling it. Rather, I think this is a case of a wannabe with some grant of power and a gun acting out his cop fantasy while simultaneously displaying all the physical courage of the classic 98-pound weakling.

Listen to the tape; you can hear the abject fear in Zimmerman’s voice over a slight black teenager who’s clearly demonstrating no aggression towards him.

Second, David Frum notes how little coverage this is getting on Fox News (and, presumably, by extension, conservative media in general):

CNN has led the coverage, no surprise given my home network’s fascination with crime stories.

Liberal MSNBC has followed.

And Fox? Hardly any coverage at all. If you get your information from Fox, as so many do, you’d probably have no idea at all of a crime story that has transfixed the other half of America.

I know, I know: Fox has a narrative. But even a narrative-network would, you might think, want to offer its viewers some glimpse of what’s going on in the next valley, if only informationally. “Here’s what to say when your crazy liberal sister-in-law starts ranting and raving about Trayvon Martin.”

For my own part, I first learned of the story yesterday via Twitter. But I generally manage to be oblivious to the various True Crime stories that transfix the mainstream press and cable news channels. Interestingly, the only TV news I watch these days–”Morning Joe” and ABC’s “This Week”–have ignored the story completely, at least in the segments I’ve seen.

This is a tragic story. One presumes Zimmerman is a racist, or at least cowers in fear at the very sight of black males, even small ones. And, while I don’t know what business Martin had in the gated community in question, there’s zero evidence of which I’m aware that he posed any sort of threat that justified Zimmerman’s shooting him. But the problem here isn’t so much that any yahoo can walk around Florida with a gun–or even that the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law seems to make justifiable homicide too wide a category–but rather the empowering of vigilante groups to go out and play cop.

Finally, several of the reports I’ve seen has Zimmerman saying “These @!$%#s. They always get away” to the 911 operator. The “@!$%#s” in this case stands for “assholes.” While I understand the constraints of family publications, the problem with “@!$%#s” in this context is that I naturally substituted a racial epithet. It does make a difference that he said “assholes” rather than “niggers” and the squeamishness in reporting here does the reader a disservice.

Update (Doug Mataconis): ABC News is up with an interview with the last person to speak to Trayvon Martin, while he was being pursued by Zimmerman, and it sheds much more light on what might have happened here:

“He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man,” Martin’s friend said. “I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run.”

Eventually he would run, said the girl, thinking that he’d managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin.

“Trayvon said, ‘What, are you following me for,’ and the man said, ‘What are you doing here.’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again and he didn’t answer the phone.”

The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said.

Trayvon’s phone logs, also obtained exclusively by ABC News, show the conversation occurred five minutes before police first arrived on scene. The young woman’s parents asked that her name not be used, and that only an attorney could ask her questions.

One assumes she will be talking to the District Attorney soon. But, taking this conversation together with the 911 calls and other information, this is looking less and less like self-defense and more like something that should be charged as manslaughter, or even murder.

Related Posts:

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. legion says:

    It was murder. And the local cops explicitly approved of it.

    This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 46 Thumb down 11

  2. @legion:

    You don’t really know that, and neither do I.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 16

  3. Davebo says:

    You don’t really know that, and neither do I.

    Unarmed teenager shot by an adult. What exactly do you need to know?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 42 Thumb down 10

  4. Curtis says:

    I believe there is an exception to the statute you quote in cases where the killer inititates the confrontation. In that case, the instigator must first attempt to retreat.

    You cannot punch a guy, get punched back, and then blow his head off and claim self-defense. You can punch a guy, get punched back, try to call the whole thing off, have retreat blocked, and then blow his head off, and claim self defense.

    I wish we lived in a world where we could trust the largely white judicial system of a small southern town to fairly investigate the killing of a black man by a white man. If wishes were horses, then beggars could ride.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 47 Thumb down 10

  5. McShauno says:

    This is an excellent article and really puts the facts together well.

    I fear that it is going to be politicized as a gun-control issue when we have racism, a potentially corrupt PD or worse involved.

    Thanks for the insight.

    -Shaun

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  6. Graham says:

    Self defense is a legitimate right of all people, and loonies with fantasies of vigilante heroics only make it that much more difficult for people to stand up for their rights.

    I can’t know what happened in the seconds prior to that shooting, but it seems obvious that Zimmerman was in a position avoid that encounter entirely.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 1

  7. rodney dill says:

    @Davebo:

    Unarmed teenager shot by an adult. What exactly do you need to know?

    The facts would be nice. Granted if the story line above turns out to be the facts after an investigation I would tend to concur with George having committed murder.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  8. rodney dill says:

    @Curtis:

    fairly investigate the killing of a black man by a white man

    fairly investigate the killing of a black man by a Hispanic man. FTFY.

    At least his Father seems to think Zimmerman is Hispanic.. But that still doesn’t rule out racism as being part of the story.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

  9. Chefmarty says:

    Yeah, we really won’t know until there’s a trial. Oh, right…there probably won’t be one:

    Reports of justifiable homicides in Florida
    2003…32
    2004…31
    2005…43
    Law takes effect
    2006…33
    2007…102
    2008…93
    2009…105
    2010…(through June) 44

    Source: Florida Department of Law Enforcement (by way of Tampa Bay Times)

    Any ‘ole wanna-be mall cop with a concealed carry permit can shoot just about anyone they like in Florida.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 5

  10. McShauno says:

    @Chefmarty:

    Please look at crime-rates as well. One side of the data is meaningless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11

  11. Anon says:

    Okay, so according to Zimmerman, it’s okay to do this to him: Wait till he is walking alone at night. Start walking after him. Confront him. Be belligerent. At some point, he will also become belligerent and probably start reaching for something. At this point, you can pull out your gun and shoot him, and claim self-defense since you felt threatened by him.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  12. JohnMcC says:

    Just because I’m obsessive-compulsive about this kind of thing: The grand jury in in Seminole County. There is a city of Seminole that is better known by name but has nothing to do with this situation.

    I feel better now, thanks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. JohnMcC says:

    @rodney dill: Do we then learn that you think “hispanic” is a race?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  14. Gustopher says:

    I must say that I’m somewhat bothered by the idea of the Federal Government intervening in what is clearly a state matter before the state has even finished its investigation.

    I’m more disturbed that the local law enforcement didn’t arrest Zimmerman within a few days, if not on the spot. The facts of the case are pretty clear — after he called 911 and was instructed to back off, he continued to stalk a teenager who was armed only with a bag of skittles, there was a confrontation, he shot the kid, there was a 911 call from a neighbor where you can hear screaming in the background, another shot, and no more screaming.

    How long should the Feds wait before moving in when local law enforcement won’t do anything? Florida is only acting now because it became a national story.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  15. Ron Beasley says:

    @Graham:

    I can’t know what happened in the seconds prior to that shooting, but it seems obvious that Zimmerman was in a position avoid that encounter entirely.

    Indeed and was in fact ordered to do so by the police.

    And we have this:

    The pair’s phone logs, obtained by ABC News, show they spoke just five minutes before police responded to reports of a shooting at the gated community in Sanford, Fla.

    Recounting her conversation with Martin, the teen girl said, “He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man.”

    “I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run,” she said.

    After a few minutes, the girl said, Martin thought he was safe. But eventually the man appeared again.

    “Trayvon said, ‘What are you following me for?’” the girl said. “And the man said, ‘What are you doing here?’ Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the [phone’s\] headset just fell.”

    The line went dead, the girl said.

    “I called him again and he didn’t answer the phone,” she said.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1

  16. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Doug, I would agree with you that the Feds were stepping over the State, if it weren’t for the fact that the State didn’t even announce its investigation until after the Feds did.

    The crime – as you noted – occured last month. How long should the Feds have waited for the State to intervene and for evidence to get cold and/or disappear? I would posit that the State only opened an investigation because they didn’t want the Feds coming in.

    This layers directly on top of the Hate Crimes post from yesterday, and the fact that one of the main reasons such laws exist at the Federal level is to allow investigations that State and/or local authorities cannot or will not investigate and/or prosecute. Note that it is a Federal investigation that is being opened on civil rights grounds.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 2

  17. rodney dill says:

    @JohnMcC: I’m not sure how I would “Technically” classify Hispanic. I guess you will need to enlighten us.

    In a social context that ethnic group seems to be ‘grouped’ as a separate distinct minority, separate from blacks or separate from whites that originated largely from Northern Europe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  18. Modulo Myself says:

    The local police here need to be destroyed as an example to police everywhere. There are tapes of the kid screaming; there’s a girl who was speaking on a phone to Martin as he was being stalked by Zimmerman. The fact that the police took in the facts of the scene and then just thought Zimmerman’s story made sense is utterly absurd.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 36 Thumb down 4

  19. PJ says:

    @rodney dill:
    Some enlightment

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  20. gVOR08 says:

    I seem to recall a case in New Orleans several years ago that made the national news. IIRC a Japanese exchange student got lost on the way to a Halloween party. He saw a guy working in his lawn and in costume he went on the guy’s lawn and asked, in broken English, for directions. The guy shot him dead. In this case the victim was on the shooter’s property, so under LA law the case turned on this same issue of whether the shooter felt threatened. The defense was able to prove to the judge or jury’s satisfaction that the shooter was a complete dweeb who was afraid of everybody. Legally, that gave him license to kill the student, or anyone else that happened onto his property.

    This FL law provides the same license, but away from home. If you must have this ‘stand your ground’ law, if the standard cannot be actual threat, could it not at least be whether a reasonable person would have felt threatened?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  21. JKB says:

    Yet another example of an idiot acting as if they are a reporter. He shows a complete ignorance of the “stand your ground” laws that less than an hour’s research could have cleared up. Not to mention, the fact that it doesn’t apply in this situation, at least from the facts presented.

    The self defense situation creates its self instantaneously upon there being a reasonable threat of imminent death or serious bodily injury. There was evidence of, at least, a scuffle so absent other information, the officers at the scene didn’t have a reasonable suspicion to doubt the version of events. The confrontation is a factor but a different issue. As it’s only been three or so weeks and the investigation hasn’t been closed, I’m not sure I see the reason for the uproar. Obviously, the investigators are still looking into the matter.

    The important lesson here is a citizen has no right to question demand of another citizen in regards to their presence on a public street. Law enforcement may stop and question based on reasonable suspicion.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 24

  22. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    One of the things that always amuses me when Charles Blow (really, Blow ???) and those of his persuasion help kick the Negro race industry (including Eric (My People) Holder’s Department of Justice) into a higher gear is those statistics I came across on one of my Internet Safaris at none other than that same US Department of Justice’s web site.

    As I read them, a Caucasian has more than three times the chance of being murdered by a Negro than a Negro has of being murdered by a Caucasian and that a straight number to number comparison with no adjustment for the large disparity in the sizes of those two groups.

    And yet, this continues to remain undiscovered by the government, the media, and all those promoters of racio-socio justice who would seem to have some affinity for statistics, well, let’s say, some statistics, and some people, if you know what I mean, and I hope you do.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 56

  23. rodney dill says:

    First, judging from the 911 call, I don’t think this is “murder,” as some are calling it. Rather, I think this is a case of a wannabe with some grant of power and a gun acting out his cop fantasy

    That doesn’t necessarily preclude murder for me either. It may not necessarily be premeditated, but it could still be 2nd degree murder or manslaughter (not technically murder).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  24. Rob in CT says:

    I sure doesn’t look good, based on what I’ve seen. I can only hope that the exposure this has gotten will lead to a real investigation of the matter, instead of a wink, nod, and that’s the end…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  25. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @11B40:

    The Klan meeting is a few doors down, on the right.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 4

  26. rodney dill says:

    @PJ: Thanks for the link, and more more enlightment where the context of white is defined culturally as
    [Like all official U.S. racial categories, "White" has a "Not Hispanic or Latino" and a "Hispanic or Latino" component]
    Which, at least is the context I normally think of rather than the 3 major race groups.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  27. Graham says:

    @JKB:

    The important lesson here is a citizen has no right to question demand of another citizen in regards to their presence on a public street.

    Indeed. Even if we were to grant that Martin’s mere presence in the neighborhood was suspicious*, “suspicious” is not the same as “dangerous”, and does not provide any justifiable grounds to harass or assault someone.

    * I do not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  28. rodney dill says:

    @rodney dill: Meant to say I normally think of “White” as the “Not Hispanic or Latino” component. Especially in a potentially race related discussion when someone has mentioned Black vs White.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. EddieinCA says:

    I work in a building with many African Americans. I’ve known about the story for weeks, because it’s been HUGE in the black community. This is only a recent story because of the police inaction and excuses.

    Here’s what the Sanford Chief Of Police said, on the record:
    Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee has characterized Martin as the aggressor, based on the police department’s investigation. In an interview published by the Miami Herald, Lee asked rhetorically, “If someone asks you, ‘Hey do you live here?’ is it OK for you to jump on them and beat the crap out of somebody?” Lee said. “It’s not.”

    Another quote from Bill Lee:

    “Our investigation is color blind and based on the facts and circumstances, not color. I know I can say that until I am blue in the face, but, as a white man in a uniform, I know it doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”

    Yeah… This guy will do a fair investigation.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 2

  30. EddieinCA says:

    This is a tragic story. One presumes Zimmerman is a racist, or at least cowers in fear at the very sight of black males, even small ones. And, while I don’t know what business Martin had in the gated community in question, there’s zero evidence of which I’m aware that he posed any sort of threat that justified Zimmerman’s shooting him.

    HE WAS VISITING HIS FATHER, WHO LIVES IN THE COMMUNITY, AND WENT TO THE STORE TO GET SKITTLES AND ICED TEA. AND BECAUSE OF THAT, HE WAS KILLED. WTF, JAMES?

    Yes, I was yelling. Wanted to throw something at the screen reading that piece from James’ update.

    It’s not that hard to find out “what business Martin had in the gated community”. He was staying there with his father for All-Star Weekend!

    AAAARRRRRGHHH!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 3

  31. James Joyner says:

    @rodney dill: Murder generally requires demonstration of malice aforethought, or premeditation. I don’t get a sense that Zimmerman was gleefully out looking to kill this kid but rather that he was out playing cop and didn’t have the stones required for the job. Cowards shoot first and ask questions later because the gun’s all they have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  32. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I should add that Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic has been covering this extensively for the last couple of weeks. There is a wealth of information available on the first three or four pages of his blog that clears up a lot of the questions posed here in both the article and in the comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  33. rodney dill says:

    @James Joyner: Which would still presumably make manslaughter quite possible. While the legal distinction is significant between the two, I’m not sure how much commentors would really distinguish between the two. I certainly was more interested in the guilty vs. not-guilty aspect of this situation rather than which type of guilty it might be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  34. legion says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You don’t really know that, and neither do I.

    Not to the court definition of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’, no, but to my personal standards, yes. Certainly it is clear that the man should have been arrested & an active investigation started. Even by Zimmerman’s own statements, he pursued a confrontation when it was not necessary to safeguard anyone – and in contradiction of the instructions given by 911. He chose to get himself into a situation that was clearly well beyond his training and competence, and because of that, another human being is dead by his hand. Even in the best possible interpretation of things, that sounds like manslaughter, or at least negligent homicide.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  35. It sounds like murder to me. I `ve come across so many men in law enforcement,and security guards that are on a power trip, this is what it escalates too when these personalities want attention. Maybe this guy does not feel important enough, and thought he would look like a hero.

    I said men because I never came across a woman in these fields like this but I`m sure there are a few too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  36. Curtis says:

    @rodney dill:

    All I knew that pertained directly to this case came from this article and the ABC news report, in which the victim’s friend reported that the victim reported being watched “by a white man.”

    I apologize for the mistake.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  37. @rodney dill:

    It’s been my experience that lay people tend to use the word “murder” to describe any killing they believe to be unjustified even though it may not meet the legal definition.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  38. EddieinCA says:

    Here’s a few facts:

    1. Zimmerman, by all accounts, was preoccupied with young black males. He had called 911 46 times since January 1, 2011. I’m 50 years old and have lived in Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York City, and Miami my entire life. I’ve called 911 once, when my dad had a sudden heart attack. This guy called 911 46 times in 14 months, with most of the calls reporting “suspicious behavior of a black male”. 46 times.

    2. Zimmerman told the 911 dispatcher that Martin was acting suspiciously. We know from his cell phone records, and the statements of one witness, that Martin was speaking on the phone to a friend, and telling her that “some weird dude was following him”. Think if what would you do if some dude in a truck was following you as you walked on foot. Could you be perceived as being “suspicious?”

    3. Zimmerman EXITED his truck and followed Martin, expressly disobeying the order of the 911 dispatcher.

    4. He had a LOADED GUN as he exited his truck to do whatever he intended to do.

    5. At the end of it, Martin is dead, and Zimmerman is bleeding.

    Self-defense? Really?

    Okay… so I can stalk you for blocks, get out of my car with a loaded gun, question you, confront you, and if you choose to defend yourself, I can shoot you dead?

    Yes. If you’re a young black male in Florida.

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  39. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Assuming the facts are as stated in these various accounts a murder charge excuse the pun would be overkill. This looks at most like a manslaughter 3 scenario, assuming of course it doesn’t fall within the purview of self-defense.

    Regarding the dichotomy in media coverage — CNN orgasming over it; Fox barely paying attention — how could that in and of itself be considered newsworthy? Of course CNN is obsessing over this story. The AP and Reuters too. MSNBC to a lesser extent. The big city liberal newsrags also are in high dudgeon mode. Duh. The guy who got shot is black; the shooter is not black. It’s a reelection year for Obama. It starts with an “a” and it ends with an “a,” and were not talking about an anaconda, if you catch my drift.

    Concerning the DOJ’s preposterous involvement in this matter, well, honestly, it’s not at all surprising given who’s in charge over there. But still the notion of this being made into a federal case is absurd even by Democrat standards of absurdity. This guy Zimmerman wasn’t acting under color of law. He’s not a cop. He’s not a sheriff’s deputy. If the Feds prosecuted every street fight between people of different races which ended up with someone getting shot we’d need to double the sizes of every U.S. Attorneys’ Office in every large state in the Union. Spare us the melodrama.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 37

  40. legion says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    If the Feds prosecuted every street fight between people of different races which ended up with someone getting shot we’d need to double the sizes of every U.S. Attorneys’ Office in every large state in the Union. Spare us the melodrama.

    You are a complete idiot.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 43 Thumb down 2

  41. Herb says:

    Not really a comment on the case….but I think it’s interesting this 9-11 call was released WITHOUT muting or bleeping out this guy’s vital information. The whole internet knows his phone number and his address. Yikes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  42. legion says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    people tend to use the word “murder” to describe any killing they believe to be unjustified

    True, but 2nd degree murder & 3rd degree murder still have the word ‘murder’ in the charge, even if it’s not a cold-blooded and premeditated capital offense. Given the current set of facts, I see manslaughter being a completely reasonable thing to charge the guy with.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  43. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    11B4O, take note. THIS is how you clothe naked racism.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 2

  44. rodney dill says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I agree…. but there’s no sense in getting straight to the point when you can talk around an issue…
    ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. rodney dill says:

    @legion: Myself, I tended to think of manslaugter, as just a lesser degree of murder, instead of something separate. I like the definitions I found with this link.

    http://www.danieljensenlaw.com/articles/murder-vs-manslaughter/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  46. anjin-san says:

    Unarmed teenager shot

    Let’s revise that:

    Unarmed black teenager shot

    In this country, that’s just not that big of a deal. Certainly it’s not something Fox considers to be newsworthy.

    Time to cut to yet another Jonbenet Ramsey or Natalee Holloway headline…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5

  47. David M says:

    The 46 calls to 911 and Zimmerman’s statement “they always get away with this” are what make the self-defense claim unbelievable to me. He’s said he’s following a criminal and he’s not going to let them get away this time, so it’s pretty obvious he escalated the situation beyond where he has a legitimate self defense claim, no matter how Trayvon Martin responded when confronted.

    If the law allows this under the “stand your ground” defense, then the law needs to change.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 1

  48. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Thanks for doing a piece on this. I think it’s an important story to follow. Mother Jones has been doing some helpful reporting on both the incident, and some of the history of the Stanford Police Department.

    Personally, I find Zimmerman’s lack of arrest the real story.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  49. anjin-san says:

    Any ‘ole wanna-be mall cop with a concealed carry permit can shoot just about anyone they like in Florida.

    Welcome to tea party America…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 6

  50. SKI says:

    Shocking, just shocking

    In 2008, a kid was gunned down because he got caught between to gangs shooting at each other. Charges were dismissed specifically because of the “Stand your Ground” law.

    When you remove the duty to try to avoid the use of deadly force, you end up with more dead people. Period.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  51. An Interested Party says:

    One wonders how this story would be covered if the ethnicity of these two individuals were reversed…would Fox News have had only one segment covering this? Would racists like 11B40 dismiss it so casually? Would so many non-black people just now be hearing about this story? And, most importantly, if the neighborhood watch captain was black and the victim was white/Hispanic, would the police have simply taken the man with the gun into custody, questioned him, and then released him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  52. LCB says:

    Don’t know about Florida, but up here where I’m from Grand Jury investigations are often secret, even to the police. So it is entirely possible that an investigation is ongoing.

    As to conservative sites ignoring this…most of the gun blogs I read have covered it and think Zimmerman should go down. The only justification he could ever have had for leaving his vehicle is if he saw a violent crime being committed. Not robbery, not theft, not anything other than seeing a suspect hurting someone. And even then, depending on the state, he may have been breaking the law by coming to the victim’s aid.

    I carry…and I try my BEST to avoid any situation where I may have to use my weapon. This butt-clown is exactly what James called him…a copy wanna-be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  53. J-Dub says:

    I’m not sure how chasing someone with a gun qualifies as “standing your ground”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  54. @J-Dub:

    I’m not sure how chasing someone with a gun qualifies as “standing your ground”.

    It doesn’t. It’s also hard to claim you were in fear for you life when the supposed source of that fear begins retreating and you voluntarily choose to pursue it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  55. Rob in CT says:

    Dude trails the kid. Thinks he looks suspicious because he’s walking slowly in the rain (he’s on drugs or something). Dispatcher tells him not to follow (though not very strongly – “we don’t need you to do that”). Grouses “these aholes always get away.”

    There is some sort of altercation. Others heard it and called 9-1-1. Apparently, on one of those calls, one can barely hear a call for help. Then gunshots.

    Nobody knows exactly what happened. Martin is shot and killed. Zimmerman had a bloody nose or somesuch.

    I don’t know if, under FL law, Zimmerman will be convicted of anything. But damn, he sounds like an ahole. These aholes always get away, you know?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  56. matt says:

    @LCB: Indeed the first place I read about this was at a gun blog and that was weeks ago. That blog also believed that Zimmerman should go down for this. I agree entirely that ZImmerman needs to be punished for this.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  57. dennis says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m sorry, James, but his “These a**holes always get away with it” spontaneous utterence, coupled with his continued pursuit of TM, is proof that Zimmerman had set his mind to taking matter in his own hands to make sure TM didn’t “. . . get away with it.”

    Of course, emergency dispatch is not the police; however, it is a law enforcement/emergency services support unit. If a citizen is told that the police have dispatched and not to pursue, the citizen should step down. Scenario:

    Police arrive on scene right before Zimmerman shoots Martin, sees Z with the gun and shoots him. Because of the potential of this happening, Z should have stood down when told by dispatch. But he had it in his head that he was going to confront TM. We don’t know exactly, down to detail, what transpired. We DO know that Zimmerman initiated the confrontation and shot a young boy down who was heading to the prime of his life.

    Because everywhere we go, we Black people are suspicious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  58. James Joyner says:

    @dennis:

    “These a**holes always get away with it” spontaneous utterence, coupled with his continued pursuit of TM, is proof that Zimmerman had set his mind to taking matter in his own hands to make sure TM didn’t “. . . get away with it.”

    But what does that mean? Certainly, it doesn’t ordinarily translate into “Must be gunned dead.”

    Of course, emergency dispatch is not the police; however, it is a law enforcement/emergency services support unit. If a citizen is told that the police have dispatched and not to pursue, the citizen should step down.

    They’re . . . phone operators. They have no authority whatsoever to do anything but ask questions and dispatch first responders.

    We DO know that Zimmerman initiated the confrontation and shot a young boy down who was heading to the prime of his life.

    Because everywhere we go, we Black people are suspicious.

    I don’t know that we *know* that. But, yes, that’s what I think happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  59. dennis says:

    @anjin-san:

    Silly me, anjin. Last night, I logged onto foxnews.com to read how they would cover it. The comments section alone was enough to cause a boil. But that was my fault; deliberately setting myself up for failure like that . . .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  60. @dennis:

    You’re not seriously taking the comments section of a high-traffic news site as indicative of anything other than the Internet as usual are you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  61. dennis says:

    @James Joyner:

    C’mon now, James. I’m the king at asking “How do you know?” but surely you can see that Zimmerman was intent on confronting Martin, everything else be damned.

    I’ve been a sworn federal agent for 18 years now. I’ve been in many confrontations, some that I initiated, but more often, I’ve lowered the heat. This is a situation where the heat shouldn’t have even gotten stoked.

    On a purely letter-of-the-law approach, sure, you can second-guess Zimmerman’s motives and actions. From a common-sense prima facie approach, Zimmerman should have been at a minimum detained at the police station for questioning; witnesses should have been interviewed; and the 9/11 tapes reviewed. From all the stories I’ve read, it seems as though the police took Zimmerman’s statement on scene and let him go.

    No one really KNOWS what happened except Zimmerman and Martin. A smart, thorough homicide investigation would have brought to light much of the information that is now being revealed. And certainly the attitude of “it’s just another Black boy” shouldn’t stop an investigation. Before you flame me for that one, go to Fox News and Townhall.com and read the comments there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  62. @James Joyner:

    But what does that mean? Certainly, it doesn’t ordinarily translate into “Must be gunned dead.”

    It also doesn’t translate into “I’m afraid for my life”. The shooting is probably not murder, but it’s also not self defense.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  63. @dennis:

    and the 9/11 tapes reviewed

    Is Zimmerman the elusive 20th hijacker?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  64. dennis says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I know, Doug. That’s why I said, silly me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  65. dennis says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Haha! Good one, Stormy. Got me! C’mon now, gimme a break. I work for DHS; 9/11 is an autonomic response!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  66. legion says:

    FWIW, the county attorney has opened a grand jury investigation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  67. JohnMcC says:

    @rodney dill: “The term ‘race’ refers to groups of people who have differences and similarities in BIOLOGICAL TRAITS (my emphasis) deemed by society to be significant….” That’s the Cliff-Notes version of the dictionary of sociology. Which I suppose is TECHNICALLY satisfactory.

    On a related note, you should read ‘How the Irish Became White’. You’d see how the acceptance of minorities into the dominant American society is pretty much completely seperate from any racial or linguistic origins and is entirely sociological.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  68. John D'Geek says:

    Well, I mostly agree with Doug and JJ. It’s fairly obvious, however, that none of you have lived in the Orlando Metro. I did. In fact, it’s the only place I’ve ever lived where I lived in a gated community. Neither Philly nor South Africa had this many gated communities.

    The guy should never have pursued, but considering the crime levels I’m not shocked that he did so. It’s hard to overstate the level of frustration among the long-term citizenry at the newly heightened crime levels in what used to be a nice, safe town. Both men, albeit in different ways, lost their lives over this situation.

    Welcome to The New Orlando.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  69. Ron Beasley says:

    If Mr Zimmerman has not already lawyer-ed up he better think about it. I expect a warrant for his arrest before the end of the week.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  70. Delmar says:

    @EddieinCA: While I agree with your points, I am not sure if there is enought circumstance evidence (seems like there are no eyewitnesses) to get a murder 1 conviction from any jury. Maybe some sort of lesser charges such as manslaughter, also obstructing justice and impersonation of a police officer just to name a few other charges. The defense will just put forth a story that a struggle broke out and the gun misfired accidently or some similar senario like that. I’ve read of this sort of thing happening often.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  71. Dave Schuler says:

    I must say I don’t think much of this “Stand Your Ground” law. Sometimes retreat is the best and most effective self-defense. This sounds like a hunting license.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  72. dennis says:

    @John D’Geek:

    No, John, I’ve never been to Orlando metro. I did grow up on the Dorchester/Roxbury line of Boston metro. You know, where the White kids would come out of Columbia Point, pulling drive-bys with eggs and rocks, and jumping someone they see walking alone. Certainly no gated community.

    Oh, yeah, and that forced school bus ride to South Boston, running the gauntlet of White Irish Catholics throwing rocks & shouting “N****rs go home!” was a treat. Next time, know who you’re coming at before throwing out that ‘you obviously’ line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  73. JKB says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Well, you shouldn’t go by the misrepresentation of such laws in these news reports. The “stand your ground” laws simply mean you may use commiserate force against someone unlawfully trying to harm or intimidate you in a place you are lawfully allowed to be. As such, if a bully or thug is aggressive toward you, you can defend yourself and don’t have to first run away. Such retreat laws made it a simple matter for thugs to run law abiding citizens off public venues as the police couldn’t do anything given no aggression was in progress when they arrived.

    In any case, it doesn’t seem to impact this case as one report was that Zimmerman was returning to his truck when he was jumped from behind so he was already in retreat. If as others speculate, he confronted Martin, then it was Martin that stood his ground, lawfully. Nothing in the law implies you aren’t going to get beat up or possibly killed if you stand your ground, only that your use of force was lawful if it was self defense.

    Deadly force in self defense is completely different and comes about when there is a reasonable belief there is a threat of death or serious bodily injury.

    In many jurisdictions, grand juries have to review and vote the case for the matter to be closed. It appears in Florida, the matter may rest with the prosecutor who has only been reviewing the police investigation for a week.

    For those who think Zimmerman should be under arrest, as stated there was no evidence to contradict his version of events. In any case, assuming no flight risk, police don’t arrest until they’ve got the evidence they need. Interviewing a person at their home and interrogating a person under arrest and who’s lawyered up are two different animals. One may be cooperative and disclose evidence or suspicions, the other keeps their mouth shut and lets the lawyer do the talking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  74. Nikki says:

    @JKB: Martin was in that gated community because he lived there. Are you seriously advocating that the police did their proper duty in the investigation into the death of this black youth?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  75. An Interested Party says:

    The guy should never have pursued, but considering the crime levels I’m not shocked that he did so. It’s hard to overstate the level of frustration among the long-term citizenry at the newly heightened crime levels in what used to be a nice, safe town. Both men, albeit in different ways, lost their lives over this situation.

    Ahhh, so if one sees a black teenager in a gated community, one should automatically assume that the teen is up to no good, simply because crime levels cause frustration? Interesting…and, as far as both men losing their lives, only one of them is still breathing…

    In any case, it doesn’t seem to impact this case as one report was that Zimmerman was returning to his truck when he was jumped from behind so he was already in retreat.

    Oh really? Where is that report? And who was it that supposedly jumped him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  76. David M says:

    Both men, albeit in different ways, lost their lives over this situation.

    One may have thrown his away, while the other may have had his taken, but I don’t think they were similar, or that the word “lost” applies.

    Zimmerman had no business calling 911 about Martin, following Martin, getting out of his truck or confronting Martin. And there was certainly no reason Zimmerman should have ended up shooting Martin over nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  77. Anonne says:

    Zimmerman’s dad is a well connected local attorney. I think that goes very far in explaining why his son isn’t behind bars.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  78. Anonne says:

    The situation with the stand-your-ground law is insane. Think about how much lower the crime statistics will be if you allow aggressors to suddenly turn around and claim self-defense!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  79. Jay says:

    Calling Martin an “asshole” certainly doesn’t imply any racism on ZImmerman’s part. But if you listen to the ENTIRE 911 call by Zimmerman, there is a point where it sounds pretty clear to me he says, “fucking coons” while just blathering.

    You can listen to the entire call here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL72w4xiTVU&feature=youtu.be

    Go to 2:20 and listen.

    He also reports (just a few seconds before the “coons” remark) where Zimmerman says, “Shit he’s running.” This is at 2:06 when he was giving directions to the dispatcher. That right there blows any stand your ground defense into the water. Martin was running away. The dispatcher then heard the wind hitting the phone and that’s when he asked if he was going after him and he said not to.

    As far as I am concerned, once Zimmerman started after Martin, he became the aggressor and his claim of self defense goes out the window.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  80. Dazedandconfused says:

    The story really is the cops. They had a dead kid with a cell phone and didn’t check the records. The girlfriends story coming out this late indicates they didn’t do their job. It even looks like they didn’t want to do their job.

    If the laws are this lax in Florida, people (especially from a group that feels that LE won’t protect them) will start settling scores the old-fashioned way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  81. anjin-san says:

    Martin was in that gated community because he lived there.

    Actually, I think his father lives there and he was visiting. At any rate, there are many instances where “walking while black” is tantamount to a crime. The same is often true of “driving while black” and even “breathing while black”.

    They can all get you dead in America, often without consequences for those who pull the trigger.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  82. legion says:

    @JKB:

    For those who think Zimmerman should be under arrest, as stated there was no evidence to contradict his version of events. In any case, assuming no flight risk, police don’t arrest until they’ve got the evidence they need.

    He. Shot. A. Kid. Dead.
    I would immediately move out of any city whose police force is so unspeakably corrupt and incompetent that they would not at the very least take the shooter downtown for immediate questioning. I would never consider myself or my family members safe in such an area where the police force was so clearly uninterested in public safety.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  83. LC says:

    So if Martin had had a gun with him, he would have had the right to shoot Zimmerman who was, after all, chasing him? And, of course, the police would have let him go on the grounds of self-defense? Sure.

    Hypothetical: slender young white woman is walking home alone from work late at night. She sees three young black men in hoodies coming toward her. She could cross the almost empty street to the other side but decides instead to pull out her gun and shoot the three men because she feels threatened.

    Makes me feel really safe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  84. An Interested Party says:

    @LC: That scenario isn’t completely hypothetical…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  85. rodney dill says:

    @JohnMcC: I remember at least at some level the 3 main race groups at as they are categorized for scientific purposes, but I don’t believe that is way “race” is commonly used when discussing racism in America. In finding the one statement from George Zimmerman’s father I found any number of rants claiming George wasn’t white, but Hispanic. As I couldn’t discern most of these as other than rants or opinions I disgarded them. I figured the statement from his father was safe. Can’t say that I’ve seen any discussion of racism on the internet brought back to the scientific definitions of race, and I can’t say that I think it contributes much to this thread.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  86. JKB says:

    @Nikki: Just because you disagree with the determination of the investigation doesn’t mean it wasn’t properly conducted. There may simply be no evidence that disputes Zimmerman’s version of the events which lead to the use of deadly force. In any case, the prosecutor has only had the investigation for a week, and the prosecutor and/or the grand jury are the ones who decide whether there is evidence to indict.

    @legion:
    Yes, he shot Martin, allegedly in self defense. The evidence at the scene did not contradict his statement to police that night. On what grounds would you like them to detain him for questioning? He gave a statement, the physical evidence at the scene aligned with his statement indicating his claim of self defense was on its face reasonable. Why would they want to move to a custody situation with the Miranda rights when the investigators can and I’m sure did, question him during the investigation.

    In any case, the investigation is now going to be reviewed by the prosecutor, the grand jury, the FBI, and the DOJ, if it was improper, I”m sure at least one of those will notice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

  87. micat72 says:

    @EddieinCA: rather, “A young black male in the United States”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  88. Delmar says:

    It looks like maybe some of the Florida laws need to be changed: how much force can you use in self-defense; and clear limits put on neighborhood watch groups: reporting suspicious activity to police and, in some cases, detaining a suspect until police arrive, should be the limits.. I could understand the need to carry firearms in some parts of some cities, like parts of Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Oakland. In most situations though, and certainly in a gated area, pepper spray should be enough. I certainly hope that the police can get to what happened, but there doesn’t appear to be strong evidence. Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson need to stay out: things don’t need to be stirred up any more. Hopefully things will calm down so police can do their work.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  89. @JKB:

    The evidence at the scene did not contradict his statement to police that night.

    Correction: the evidence that the cops recorded at the scene did not contradict his statement. Several witnesses are saying that the police account of what they said is nothing like what they actually said. The police also did not collect critical evidence like the 9-1-1 tapes. The whole investigation seems more like the cops are just trying to backup Zimmerman’s story rather than actually investigate what happened.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  90. @Delmar:

    It looks like maybe some of the Florida laws need to be changed: how much force can you use in self-defense

    Since the law doesn’t allow Zimmerman to do what he is accused of, the problem is not the law; it’s the police’s failure to properly investigate and the local DA’s failure to enforce the law that’s the problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  91. dennis says:

    @JKB:

    You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  92. dennis says:

    @Delmar:

    “Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson need to stay out: things don’t need to be stirred up any more.”

    That’s right; don’t stir up the Negroes anymore than they already are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  93. Rob in CT says:

    One thing that I hadn’t really thought much about is the 9-1-1 call itself. This guy called 9-1-1 because he saw a black teenager in a hoodie walking around.

    9-1-1? You know, the number for honest-to-goodness emergencies? Like, you know, witnessing an actual crime? Someone having a heart attack… stuff like that.

    This guy felt entitled to call 9-1-1 to report someone walking while black (or, if you prefer, walking-while-wearing-a-hoodie). That’s amazing to me.

    That, combined with “these aholes always get away” and “he’s on drugs or something” speaks loudly about his mindset. [as would "coon" though I haven't seen that reported before now, and I can't listen to the recording now]

    And then “oh sh*t, he’s running” and chasing after him.

    Here’s the question: given all of the above… let’s say that Zimmerman chased Martin and Martin, at some point, turned around and yelled “why are you following me, jerk?” while Zimmerman demands to know what Martin is doing there. Zimmerman catches up to Martin. Martin says something like leave me the hell alone. Zimmerman keeps demanding to know why Martin is there. Martin decides he’s had enough of this BS and pushes Zimmerman, who falls. Zimmerman shoots Martin dead.

    Given the FL law, is that legal? Is Zimmerman in the clear if that’s what happened (it doesn’t sound like we’ll ever know the exact blow-by-blow, but for argument’s sake)?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  94. rodney dill says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Well, Florida has created quite a problem for itself. In trying to find out exactly what The Florida law says and how its being used I found two interesting points. First, nearly every shooting between two individuals where only one was armed has been dismissed. (it would be interesting to know the profiles of those involved in each case).
    and Second, In most cases local police are not pressing charges but are passing the cases along to state investigators. (Which I assume to mean they are washing their hands of it).

    Sounds like if you live in Florida you better carry a gun, and be prepared to use it first. (/snark)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  95. Dave Schuler says:

    @JKB:

    You’re missing the point. The first line of self-defense is avoiding potentially dangerous situations—situational awareness. The second line is removing yourself from dangerous situations.

    I have fought in the street. For years I taught others to defend themselves and had a number of those I’ve taught reported to me that they had successfully avoided harm to themselves in dangerous situations. That’s the essence of self-defense.

    What any “Stand Your Ground” law will inevitably do at the margins is to encourage people who could have avoided a confrontation to engage in one. Once the confrontation has occurred it actually incentivizes deadly force. If it’s just the two of you on that dark street and, after the confrontation one of you is dead, there’s nobody to contradict your story.

    IMO killing somebody when it might have been avoided (but particularly if you’re armed and he’s not) should always be against the law, even it it’s just a misdemeanor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  96. JKB says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    I strongly recommend avoidance but that is not the point. By requiring law abiding citizens to retreat, the result is a surrendering of the public sphere to criminals. The criminals threaten, the citizen retreats, calls the cops, the cops take a report but there is no crime unless the criminal pressed his attack. The citizen also cannot sue or file a complaint about the intimidation as there is no evidence to bring to a judge.

    So if you want a society where thugs rule the sidewalks and honest citizens must cower in their home, then you make the honest citizens have a duty to leave someplace they have a legal right to be just because someone is willing to threaten violence. A good portion of the thugs will back off if met with determined resistance.

    All “stand your ground” laws do is remove the requirement to give into bullies and leave a place you’ve a legal right to be. Instead, you may remain where you have a right to be, and defend yourself if necessary. You may also, leave if that is the better tactical move.

    But do what you want, I don’t live in a city where thugs attack people the street or make the streets to dangerous for law abiding citizens. I saw NYC in the ’70s and 80s, as well as many other cities. I’ve no problem, turn the urban cores over to the animals, heck burn them, they are an anachronism in today’s suburban world.

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  97. I can’t speak to Florida law. In Pennsylvania, where I live, the law distinguishes two forms of force: normal force (e.g. pushing or hitting someone) and lethal force. Normal force may be used in response to normal force. You may also initiate normal force in order to protect your property. You cannot initiate the use of lethal force; it may only be used in response to lethal force being used either against yourself or a third party.

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  98. Fog says:

    And the biggest threat to our rights and freedom is…the mandate to have health insurance. Someone like Radley Balko may beg to differ.

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  99. legion says:

    @JKB:

    On what grounds would you like them to detain him for questioning? He gave a statement, the physical evidence at the scene aligned with his statement indicating his claim of self defense was on its face reasonable.

    That is absolutely not correct – but you do go back and note that:

    The whole investigation seems more like the cops are just trying to backup Zimmerman’s story rather than actually investigate what happened.

    And this is the problem. Trayvon had no weapon. Eyewitnesses contradict Zimmerman’s accounts. The cops in this incident deliberately mishandled things from step one and need to be, not just disciplined, but criminally charged as well.

    I strongly recommend avoidance but that is not the point. By requiring law abiding citizens to retreat, the result is a surrendering of the public sphere to criminals.

    You are right, but for the wrong reason. Zimmerman wasn’t being told to retreat by the 911 operator, he was being told not to pursue. and that is where all the difference lies. Trayvon never confronted Zimmerman. He never engaged him. By all accounts (including Zimmerman’s own), he was the one who was retreating – Zimmerman chased him and forced a confrontation. By any standard, that removes any legal protection Zimmerman might have had. Zimmerman went out with a gun in his pocket, looking for a fight. And he wound up killing a teenager. Every single thing he did after calling 911 is both morally and legally indefensible.

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  100. Ron Beasley says:

    FOX is finally covering this story this morning and even their line is Zimmerman should be charged and arrested. Even the Republican who wrote the Stand Your Ground law says it does not apply in this case.

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  101. JKB says:

    @legion:

    The whole investigation seems more like the cops are just trying to backup Zimmerman’s story rather than actually investigate what happened.

    I did not say that. Stormy Dragon said that. I have not opinion on the validity of the investigation other than that it has been reported, that the physical evidence that night didn’t contradict Zimmerman’s story but what was discovered in the subsequent investigation, I have no opinion as I have no knowledge of it.

    My statement on stand your ground was not in relation to Zimmerman. I am surprised even if the use of deadly force is justifiable by self defense in the immediate situation, that his previous actions have not resulted in some kind of charges or contributing factors.

    The one report I read was that Zimmerman was claiming he got out of his truck, didn’t see Martin and when returning to the truck was jumped. If that is true, regardless of Zimmerman’s previous actions, that would make Martin the aggressor in the actual physical altercation and also, since the deadly force was used in the ensuing struggle, would not bring “stand your ground” into the picture since retreat was not an option while in a scuffle. I assume the investigation did not turn up facts that disputed this version of events, for the actual altercation, which is why the police determined the use of force was self defense.

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  102. anjin-san says:

    So if you want a society where thugs rule the sidewalks

    Ah, you must mean thugs like Zimmerman. After all, he stalked, then shot a citizen who was going about his lawful business. Unless walking while black is a crime in your book.

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  103. James says:

    @JKB:

    I assume the investigation did not turn up facts that disputed this version of events, for the actual altercation, which is why the police determined the use of force was self defense.(emphasis mine)

    Well, your assumption would be wrong.

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  104. legion says:

    @JKB:

    I did not say that. Stormy Dragon said that.

    Quite so – my mistake.

    I assume the investigation did not turn up facts that disputed this version of events, for the actual altercation, which is why the police determined the use of force was self defense.

    Even in the case of self-defense, he still shot another man dead. The idea that cops would let a guy walk away from that – regardless of his story – is absolutely appalling. I hear Tsar Nicholas was a cop for over 17 years – maybe he can tell us if that’s SOP…

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  105. @Doug Mataconis: Your caution is always well appreciated, but this doesn’t look like anything but a wannabe cop who was afraid of dark kids. It’s really that simple. Furthermore, he chased, cornered and shot (multiple times) an unarmed teenager. I don’t know what else to say here.

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  106. LCB says:

    @Rob in CT:
    First, a lot of communities tell everyone to use 911 for everything, not just emergencies.

    And no, the situation you described would NOT make the shooting legal. As a matter of fact, although I’m not a lawyer, it seems to me that everything Zimmerman did after he left his truck was illegal in regards to his weapon. He created the confrontation…so no matter what happened he’s at fault!

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  107. An Interested Party says:

    So if you want a society where thugs rule the sidewalks and honest citizens must cower in their home, then you make the honest citizens have a duty to leave someplace they have a legal right to be just because someone is willing to threaten violence.

    I’ve no problem, turn the urban cores over to the animals, heck burn them, they are an anachronism in today’s suburban world.

    Thugs/animals like Trayvon Martin, right? You reveal more and more about yourself with every comment…

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  108. Rob in CT says:

    @LCB:

    They do? Wow, things have changed. When I was a boy… ;)

    I hope you are correct about the law, because otherwise that’s one terrible law. I mean, it still may be a bad law for other reasons (basically encouraging conflict instead of helping avoid it), but if my scenario were deemed ok, then it’s in a special category of awful.

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  109. JKB says:

    @anjin-san: You are correct, if Zimmerman confronted Martin as opposed to what he told police, he’s the bully and possibly a thug. He had not right to confront Martin over his presence on the public sidewalk.

    @James: That is speculation based on a TV interview with an interested party. It would be interesting to know why the investigators didn’t discover the girlfriend’s information or discounted it. But the police investigation will be reviewed, with a fine toothed comb based on news reports and if it was shoddy that should be revealed.

    @legion: I have a close friend and family member who was both a police officer and a state bureau of investigation agent. He’s told me that in the absence of evidence of a crime, they don’t arrest people. In a self defense shooting, if the evidence affirms the claimed version of events, then the individual will not be taken into custody. Of course, if the subsequent investigation turns up evidence the shooting was not self defense, then an arrest will be made when there is enough evidence to support it. The arrest may not even happen until after the grand jury indicts or the prosecutor determines there is sufficient evidence. You remember the grand jury, right, that nasty 5th amendment of the Constitution that is required for federal charges to proceed?

    In the past and still in some jurisdictions, all citizen caused deaths resulted in arrest and self defense is a defense the defendant could assert at trial. Of course, for the innocent citizen who had been forced to use violence to save their life, they then got treated like a criminal simply for not laying down and dying. So oddly, things are going back to presumption of innocence in absence of evidence to the contrary. I know, stupid Constitution requiring evidence when everybody knows what happened.

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  110. James says:

    @JKB: Not speculation. A statement that the police didn’t bother to investigate, or even record. Recall, Zimmermna’s statement was that:

    he had stepped out of his truck to check the name of the street he was on when Trayvon attacked him from behind as he walked back to his truck, police said. He said he feared for his life and fired the semiautomatic handgun he was licensed to carry because he feared for his life.

    Martin’s cell phone was with his body, yet the police failed to corroborate Zimmerman’s statement with evidence Martin’s phone holds; namely the conversation the young man was having seconds talking to before Zimmerman shot him.

    It would be interesting to know why the investigators didn’t discover the girlfriend’s information or discounted it.

    Sloppy police work, and more importantly police cover-ups, are not “interesting”. They’re a failure of public servants to do the jobs they’ve been charged with.

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  111. mattb says:

    @JKB:

    By requiring law abiding citizens to retreat, the result is a surrendering of the public sphere to criminals. The criminals threaten, the citizen retreats, calls the cops, the cops take a report but there is no crime unless the criminal pressed his attack.

    As usual you grossly simplify the facts to match your argument. IANAL but I have quite a bit of background in this area*. @Dave Schuler is right on all counts.

    “Duty to retreat” does not mean you cannot escalate a situation if there is a significant threat (a weapon in play — and note that can pretty much be any object, multiple attackers, an incapacitated or less than mobile companion).

    Significant is a situational term. However, understand that significant threat DOES not necessarily mean that the aggressor has made physical contact with you. In some cases a verbal threat (reinforced with emotional and physical intimidation) is enough to be constituted as a significant threat. If someone within 20 feet pulls a knife on you and makes a *serious* threatening motion (i.e. move at you), even in New York State, you would be able to fire on them and claim self defense (though if there are a significant number of bystanders, the situation also changes).

    Where “duty to retreat” comes into play is typically when:
    (a) You have reached a point of dominance within a self defense situation (i.e. the person can no longer attack and/or is attempting to escape). Most “duty to retreat” #fail self defense cases in NYS come from someone opening fire on a fleeing attacker.
    (b) Someone is walking down the street with a *visible* weapon and instead of calling to report, and someone attempts to “citizen arrest” that person. Again, this is even a fuzzy area as, the presence of third party victim can shift these dynamics and potentially eliminate the duty to retreat.
    (c) A ridiculous escalation in force (see what happened in Florida)

    Further, the idea that self defense laws had anything significant to do with crime in NYC in the 70′s an 80′s is a spurious notion. Not only were crime rates higher across the country during that time period, but such a claim ignores huge socio-economic trends.

    What you seem to be arguing is that one should be able to escalate at the slightest provocation, which in the Florida case, really seems to have been “walking while black.”

    * Background – I am a martial arts/self defense instructor, I have trained with and along side LEO’s and had long conversations on this subject for years. Additionally, while I am not a certified Blauer instructor, I trained for a number of years in Tony Blauer’s self defense system (http://www.tonyblauer.com) which requires, among other things, one becoming very familiar with local and national self defense statutes.

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  112. R says:
  113. mattb says:

    @JKB:

    In the past and still in some jurisdictions, all citizen caused deaths resulted in arrest and self defense is a defense the defendant could assert at trial. Of course, for the innocent citizen who had been forced to use violence to save their life, they then got treated like a criminal simply for not laying down and dying.

    Ahh… so now we get to the real beef you have.

    I would counter with two things:
    1. the key word here is “jurisdiction” — self defense — even in cases where there are “stand your ground” ruling — largely comes down to the local cultural norms. So it is entirely possible that some localities do always push to jail an individual when there is a civilian death.

    That said, we do have a legal system that requires charges to be filed within a short period of time (depending on state) and at the arraignment the ability to set bail. In both cases the police and local justices have a wide range of options at their disposal.

    While I am sure you can dig up one case of someone being held without bail when there is a significant amount of evidence to support that they correctly acted in self defense, I would suggest that this is the exception and not the rule.

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  114. legion says:

    @JKB:

    In the past and still in some jurisdictions, all citizen caused deaths resulted in arrest and self defense is a defense the defendant could assert at trial.

    Huh. That’s what I assumed was the more general standard, but apparently not. Thankfully, I haven’t had close contact with this sort of violent crime.

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  115. JKB says:

    @mattb:

    When did I argue for escalation? I personally wonder why stand your ground has any basis in this case. If Zimmerman’s version is correct, he was under active attack. If the girlfriends report is correct, Zimmerman was the aggressor, which would mean Martin was legally permitted but circumstantially ill-advised to stand his ground. It all seems to fall to the evidence available to substantiate the version of events.

    You cannot initiate or escalate a conflict or you become someone involved in illegal conduct, i.e., a fight with equal culpability. If you have been an aggressor in a fight, starting it or pursuing the other beyond fending off an attack, you must seek to withdraw from the fight before you can claim self defense.

    And if someone attacks then runs off, you leave it to the police or you become the aggressor facing charges.

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  116. mattb says:

    @JKB:

    When did I argue for escalation?

    Arguing for “Stand your ground” as it appears to be practiced within a state like Florida is fundamentally arguing for escalation. As I attempted to document, existing self defense laws — even in more “regressive states” (according to gun rights advocates) like New York State — adequately cover most situations.

    Interpreted broadly, as it appears to have been done by local Florida officials, “walking while black” in this particular community, for this particular individual, at least initially constituted a significant threat.

    And while you would be correct in saying that the police investigation had not finished, it’s also true that ~61% of the time charges are not even filed in cases where “Stand your ground is invoked in Florida.” Further, the fact that it took weeks for this evidence to surface (not to mention an history of lack of prosecution of racially tinged attacks in that community), let alone any charges be filed, seems to go beyond simply arguing that they were assuming that Zimmerman was innocent until proven guilty.

    And if someone attacks then runs off, you leave it to the police or you become the aggressor facing charges.

    But this was exactly what you were complaining about in your previous post. Essentially you felt that without “duty to retreat” someone could threaten you with impunity. I demonstrated how that has historically, never been the case.

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  117. JKB says:

    @mattb:
    And you believe it is right to arrest and extract bail from someone who on the face of the evidence has not committed a crime in exercising their right to self defense? They may set bail but not everyone has that kind of cash lying around. Nor do they have the money for a lawyer. And all these expenses are imposed upon the individual even when there is no evidence of a crime only justifiable self defense.

    I thought you guys supported poor people. Who do you think is unable to make bail most of the time? Who loses their job and home while awaiting trial in jail because they can’t make bail?

    If you teach self defense, you really need to get a better handle on when you as victim exercising self defense can easily switch over to you as criminal committing assault or becoming a imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to the other person. If someone comes at you, you can use the force necessary to stop their attack, if they step back, and you pursue to get your licks in, you are now the criminal. Nor can you smack somebody who is just making you afraid.

    In this Florida case, there are two phases, the chase down by Zimmerman which should be illegal, you should be able to file charges against someone playing tactical tommy on you as you walk down the street, and the scuffle which lead to the use of deadly force. The first, Zimmerman is clearly the aggressor, in the latter, we don’t have enough information to know who initiated the physical altercation and how it became a deadly force situation.

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  118. David M says:

    @JKB:

    In this Florida case, there are two phases, the chase down by Zimmerman which should be illegal, you should be able to file charges against someone playing tactical tommy on you as you walk down the street, and the scuffle which lead to the use of deadly force.

    I’ve got take issue with the idea that chasing someone down is separate from the altercation that followed when said chaser actually catches up with their target. If I was out walking in an unfamiliar area and someone followed me in a car and then chased me down and confronted me, I certainly wouldn’t consider those to be different incidents or phases.

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  119. anjin-san says:

    the face of the evidence has not committed a crime in exercising their right to self defense?

    All this idiot had to do to defend himself was follow instructions from the 911 dispatcher – someone with a legitimate connection to law enforcement. All he had to do was stay in his truck.

    In my book, if you stalk someone and create a totally needless confrontation, “self-defense” does not enter the picture. This was a premeditated confrontation, Zimmerman was told to leave the kid alone, and he decided not to because he was tired of “them” “getting away with it”.

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  120. jukeboxgrad says:

    JKB:

    I’ve no problem, turn the urban cores over to the animals

    The animal is you.

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  121. Dazedandconfused says:

    @JKB:

    And what we have here appears to be a double case of mistaken identity. The Kid thought he was being stalked by a stranger, and the Watchman thought he was tailing a prowler.

    They come face to face, each with an equal right to kill the other.

    Just lovely….

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  122. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    Well, that statement was in the context of any self defense incident not specific to the Zimmerman/Martin incident.

    You are correct that Zimmerman created the situation and could have stopped it by taking the 911 operator’s advice, which has no legal authority, or had the presence of mind to not create the situation. These facts will probably weigh heavily in what I’m sure will be the civil lawsuit.

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  123. anjin-san says:

    And what we have here appears to be a double case of mistaken identity. The Kid thought he was being stalked by a stranger,

    The kid was being stalked by a stranger. Where is the mistaken identity you are referring to? Wanna be cops are a creepy breed. Zimmerman has no legitimacy in my eyes. He had zero standing to confront Martin.

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  124. Dazedandconfuse says:

    @anjin-san:

    My statement of mistaken identity is based on what his girl friend said. Your comment indicates you believe the kid knew Zimmerman was a neighborhood watchman. How did you arrive at that conclusion?

    Looks like mistaken identity to me.

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  125. anjin-san says:

    Your comment indicates you believe the kid knew Zimmerman was a neighborhood watchman.

    Where did you get that from? It’s the opposite of what I am saying.

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  126. Dazedandconfuse says:

    @anjin-san:

    I believe the kid would have simply described what he was doing to a neighborhood watchman, myself.

    Hence, I used the term “mistaken identity”.

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  127. ROBERT says:

    IT SEEMS THAT THE YOUNG MAN WAS CASING THE NEBORHOOD AND WAS CONFRONTED AND RESPONDED BY ATTACKING MR. ZIMMERMAN@legion:

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  128. ROBERT says:

    @anjin-san:The man was doing a service to his comunity. He was right to ouestion a young black in a hoodie checking out the neighborhood at night, Duh, standard criminal discription.

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  129. ROBERT says:

    @James Joyner: yeh, and your soo bad

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  130. ROBERT says:

    @JKB: Mr. Zimmerman apparently had no choice other than to legally respond to the attack on his person.

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  131. jukeboxgrad says:

    Poe’s Law strikes again.

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  132. ROBERT says:

    @Curtis: You have it wrong. Mr, Zimmerman was the victim of attack & mearly defended himself.

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  133. ROBERT says:

    @Nikki: Black youths who attack someone do not have the special considerations that you have implied. Black or white or any race or creed, the law applies to all. Mr. Zimmerman had the right to protect hiim self from attack.

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  134. James says:

    @ROBERT: Please stop.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  135. ROBERT says:

    @Dazedandconfuse: The boy was showing off to a girl on the phone when he attacked Mr. Zimmerman.

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  136. ROBERT says:

    @Rufus T. Firefly: The Klan is an equal to & just as legal as the black panthers, n.a.a.c.p., The Arien Brotherhood and all those other groups. We all have the right t meet & show our oppinions.

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  137. ROBERT says:

    @anjin-san: You sound like you are a sick minded, paranoid black racist

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  138. ROBERT says:

    @EddieinCA: The way I see it Martin was the agressor.

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  139. Steve Verdon says:

    One assumes she will be talking to the District Attorney soon. But, taking this conversation together with the 911 calls and other information, this is looking less and less like self-defense and more like something that should be charged as manslaughter, or even murder.

    Duh, took you this long? Really?

    I’m sorry Doug, but this thing looked bad right from the start.

    1. Zimmerman ignored the 911 Operator regarding pursuit.
    2. Zimmerman clearly engaged Martin when he did not have to.
    3. I can understand a stand your ground law, but he wasn’t standing his ground he was pursuing and engaging, very different.
    4. Given the above the cops screwed up, big shock there.

    This thing stinks from top to bottom. And yeah, the cops could have arrested. Cops can arrest people any time they want. There is pretty much nothing stopping them.

    Now if it was a cop that shot Treyvon why then he’d be a hero.

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  140. Steve,

    Perhaps my post wasn’t clear but I do agree that the cops dropped the ball here completely and the manner in which they conducted this “investigation” was appalling. From the timelines I’ve been able to reconstruct, it appears that they let Zimmerman go without even discussing the matter with the State’s Attorney.

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  141. Steve Verdon says:

    Oh and given the problem this PD has had with racism in the past….yeah they deserve every ounce of bad publicity and public scorn they are getting. These guys really epitomize the term pig.

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  142. Dazedandconfused says:

    Assuming a lot, just for the purposes of exploring something that just struck me, and without seeing a diagram of the scene, but even if Trayvon attacked him, Trayvon would have had the right to use his fists to defend himself against someone who he thought was a molester stalking him under “stand your ground”, right?

    Might be a deadly conundrum within that law?

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  143. Bob jaye says:

    It really saddens me to read all the comments here. In this country whether you came self defense or not you are guilty until proven otherwise, which mean you go to jail until self defense is proven or disproven in a court of law. You do get to hide out until it can be sorted out. The entire police force involved in this case should be fired. GZ should be in jail even if he did shoot in self defense. Whether GZ is a raciest or not, two thing are perfectly clear.
    1. The police acted in a raciest manner by not arresting GZ
    2. GZ shot and killed and un-armed teen age.

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  144. Augie says:

    This whole “race” thing is getting old. This is all just a big attempt by the liberal media to call someone a racist and spread their anti-gun nonsense even more. Just last week the (white) owner of a local computer repair shop was shot and killed by an African American just for the little money he had in his cash register. His story will never be covered on the news because the liberal media doesn’t think that blacks can be racist to other ethnicities. It is sad that our society only cares about news stories dealing with black-directed racism or politically incorrect incidents. Besides, how can any of you on here spend 5 minutes reading an article and come to the conclusion that he is guilty of murder? Have you ever heard of the term “innocent until proven guilty”? What he did is wrong but maybe there was a reason for it. I myself want to hear his side of the story before I come to any conclusions regarding Trayvon’s death.

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  145. freqeist1 says:

    racist America.

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  146. Trinityresource says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Why dont know? that Trayvon was IS dead or that Zimmerman shot him in the chest with a 9 mil and admitted it?

    What dont we (as in we the people interested) know?

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  147. wulfe says:

    Does this mean that cans of iced tea and bags of skittles are considered dangerous weapons, perhaps even weapons of mass destruction?

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  148. sean463 says:

    Unfortunately for most misled people, it wasn’t even a white man. One cannot say in any kind of context that it was. That’s what bothers me about these kind of cases. Murders occur every day of the year. If it was a black man that killed Trayvon nothing would have happened at a scale this large. The fact that the mother is trying to trademark slogans and shirts and such makes me think that she is trying to milk the case for all its worth. And one can’t characterize trayvon as “small”. A 6’3″ football player? Maybe he was skinny, but that’s just about it. He’s been kicked out of two schools and has been discovered possessing marijuana. There’s nothing completely innocent about this young man judging from his past. I agree that Zimmerman should not have followed Trayvon after the police told him not to, but there’s only one witness. Whether we trust him or not, there is absolutely no way one can have conclusive evidence that Zimmerman’s life was not in danger. What’s that saying? Innocent until proven guilty? That’s the society we live in, and if you don’t like it, that’s too bad.

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