Dershowitz: Zimmerman Arrest Affidavit ‘Irresponsible And Unethical’
Alan Dershowitz says the prosecutor who charged George Zimmerman with second degree murder of Trayvon Martin was "irresponsible and unethical" and politically motivated.
Alan Dershowitz says the prosecutor who charged George Zimmerman with second degree murder of Trayvon Martin was “irresponsible and unethical” and politically motivated.
Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball where fill-in host Michel Smerconish asked him his opinions of the arrest warrant issued and carried out for alleged Trayvon Martin murderer, George Zimmerman. Dershowitz called the affidavit justifying Zimmerman’s arrest “not only thin, it’s irresponsible.” He went on to criticize the decision to charge Zimmerman for second degree murder by special prosecutor Angela Corey as being politically motivated.
“You’ve seen the affidavit of probable cause. What do you make of it,” Smerconish asked. “It won’t suffice,” Dershowitz replied without hesitation.
“Most affidavits of probable cause are very thin. This is so thin that it won’t make it past a judge on a second degree murder charge,” Dershowitz said. “There’s simply nothing in there that would justify second degree murder.”
Dershowitz said that the elements that would constitute that crime are non-existent in the affidavit. “It’s not only thin, it’s irresponsible,” said Dershowitz.
Dershowitz went on to strongly criticize Corey’s decision to move forward with the case against Zimmerman. “I think what you have here is an elected public official who made a campaign speech last night for reelection when she gave her presentation and overcharged. This case will not – if the evidence is no stronger than what appears in the probable cause affidavit – this case will result in an acquittal.”
Smerconish identified the total lack of any mention of the supposed fight that occurred between Martin and Zimmerman prior to Martin being shot. He said he was disappointed that he did not see any mention of that conflict that led to Martin’s murder.
“But it’s worse than that,” said Dershowitz. “It’s irresponsible and unethical in not including material that favors the defendant.”
“This affidavit does not even make it to probable cause,” Dershowitz concluded. “everything in the affidavit is completely consistent with a defense of self-defense. Everything.”
Derschowitz has made a career of hyperbole but I think he’s right here. As Doug Mataconis noted when the charges were filed late Wednesday, the evidence here points to manslaughter, not murder. Alas, prosecutors routinely overcharge and stack charges, especially in high profile cases, in order to appear “tough on crime” and to raise the stakes in order to coerce a plea to a more reasonable charge. So, while this whole thing has been a farce and a travesty, it’s not particularly unusual.
UPDATE: Derschowitz is not alone here. From the NYT report:
Prosecutors filed a second-degree murder charge against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman for the killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, but they will have a hard time securing a conviction, experts say. That’s because the prosecution will have to prove Zimmerman intentionally went after Martin instead of shooting him in self-defense, refute arguments that a Florida law empowered him to use deadly force and get past a judge’s ruling at a pretrial hearing.
Legal experts said Corey chose a tough route with the murder charge, which could send Zimmerman to prison for life if he’s convicted, over manslaughter, which usually carries 15-year prison terms and covers reckless or negligent killings. The prosecutors must prove Zimmerman’s shooting of Martin was rooted in hatred or ill will and counter his claims that he shot Martin to protect himself while patrolling his gated community in the Orlando suburb of Sanford. Zimmerman’s lawyers would only have to prove by a preponderance of evidence — a relatively low legal standard — that he acted in self-defense at a pretrial hearing to prevent the case from going to trial. There’s a “high likelihood it could be dismissed by the judge even before the jury gets to hear the case,” Florida defense attorney Richard Hornsby said.
The Florida murder statute is available online. The relevant portion:
(2) The unlawful killing of a human being, when perpetrated by any act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life, although without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular individual, is murder in the second degree and constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) When a person is killed in the perpetration of, or in the attempt to perpetrate, any:(a) Trafficking offense prohibited by s. 893.135(1),(b) Arson,(c) Sexual battery,(d) Robbery,(e) Burglary,(f) Kidnapping,(g) Escape,(h) Aggravated child abuse,(i) Aggravated abuse of an elderly person or disabled adult,(j) Aircraft piracy,(k) Unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb,(l) Carjacking,(m) Home-invasion robbery,(n) Aggravated stalking,(o) Murder of another human being,(p) Resisting an officer with violence to his or her person, or(q) Felony that is an act of terrorism or is in furtherance of an act of terrorism,
by a person other than the person engaged in the perpetration of or in the attempt to perpetrate such felony, the person perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate such felony is guilty of murder in the second degree, which constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment for a term of years not exceeding life or as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
It’s not at all clear from a plain reading of this–and I hasten to add, I am not an attorney–how they arrived at this charge.
Note for those who aren’t regular readers: I thought the failure to arrest Zimmerman at the scene was a travesty and think he’s almost certainly guilty of a felony here. I just don’t think the evidence points to murder, a crime of premeditation.
I think the big question will be if, as Trayvon Martin’s mother suggested the other day, that the arrest was what they wanted. If that’s the case, the fervor may die down. If, on the other hand, only a murder conviction will satisfy, we may only have seen the beginning.
Considering that she has retracted her statement saying that it was an accident, I doubt that the arrest is all they want.
Given that Alan Dershowitz is favor of giving prosecutors permission to torture suspects into confessing, I’m not really sure he’s much of a guide as to what constitutes responsible and ethical behavior for lawyers.
And as the commenters noted, Doug was wrong about this. If you look at the relevant statues, Florida has a very low bar for what constitutes murder (specifically Florida does not require any proof of intent) and that many acts that would only be manslaughter in other states meet the definition of murder in Florida.
OK, but how exactly is this:
defined? Could Zimmerman’s actions prior to getting out of his car fall into that category? If nothing else, it might give the prosecutor a rationale for starting high in an attempt to cull a plea to a lesser offense… didn’t Doug mention that this DA has a rep for doing exactly that? Doug’s legal analysis is usually pretty solid – I give him flak here when I don’t think he brings the same level of thought to other subjects, but I don’t he’s off-base here.
I’m not sure of why we should listen to “experts” here. They have no further access to the evidence in this case than we do – which is to say, a handful of recordings and various questionable leaks that often have no relevance to the case in any event. Meanwhile, the prosecutor has witness statements, ballistics, clothing, autopsy reports, and most likely voice analysis for the person who was yelling in the witness’ 911 tapes, among other things.
At the very least, Zimmerman’s 911 call is bizarre. Calling the cops on a guy, and then chasing after him because he was “walking around, looking about”? Who does that?
Dershowitz’s opinion on pretty much anything is worthless to anyone other than Dershowitz.
That’s because the prosecution will have to prove Zimmerman intentionally went after Martin instead of shooting him in self-defense
Given that the 911 folks told Z. he didn’t need to pursue Martin but he did anyway, following him and getting out of his car with gun in hand, I think a jury’s finding against Z. on that point could stand up on appeal. Why couldn’t it?
From the statue you just posted:
Murder is not a crime of premeditation in Florida. As I already said, people are looking at this based on the way murder is defined in most other states, when it is clear Florida has a much broader definition.
The 911 call seems to be pretty damning.
Regardless of whether or not Zimmerman thought he was doing good, based on what he says to the dispatcher, he had no actual reason to think he was preventing a crime, or in any way acting against someone who had committed a crime.
Strip away the connotations of being on a neighborhood watch, and this is a case of targeting a citizen for no other reason outside of malice. It’s no different than a guy cruising around looking to start a fight while armed.
@James: “I thought the failure to arrest Zimmerman at the scene was a travesty and think he’s almost certainly guilty of a felony here. I just don’t think the evidence points to murder, a crime of premeditation.”
The problem with that was that Zimmerman was immune from arrest if he acted in self-defense and would have been entitled to the preliminary evidentiary hearing referenced by the NYTimes story. If the prosecuction had not completed its investigation, a finding that he acted in self-defense would have been disasterous for the prosecution (as well as for any civil claims sought by the family).
Jeralyn at TalkLeft agrees that he’s been overcharged; more credible than Dershowitz IMHO.
I also wonder what Dersh is thinking about the girlfriends statement. Is he expecting the judge to dismiss it summarily? Is it considered hearsay in Florida?
I’ve hear conflicting statements about it. Some say she is an “ear witness”, some say it’s hearsay. Googling “ear witness” wasn’t very enlightening, at least it wasn’t for me.
I guess the prosecutors now regret showing Dersh the entire case file and evidence….oh wait.
Meant to include a link to Jeralyn’s comment: Link.
@Mumbles: The arrest affidavit is supposed to contain the facts that support the arrest, not simply conclusions. If, for example, Zimmerman told the police X, and then subsequent forensic evidence disproved that assertion, you would expect to find that in the affidavit. There is obviously leeway in how detailed the affidavit needs to me, but it looks like we probably know what there is to know in general. Probably not surprising given the circumstances.
Ken at Popehat isn’t impressed with the affidavit of probable cause, either.
@PD Shaw: “The problem with that was that Zimmerman was immune from arrest if he acted in self-defense.”
Interesting – that’s what the Stand Your Ground law says? That it any case where somebody might claim self-defense, you can’t arrest him? Bizarre.
Gah! Have I mentioned lately how much I hate commenting from my phone?
Here’s the link I bungled in my previous comment:
I think the link to Popehat link is broken. Here’s the key graph:
@Franklin:In Florida (and Colorado and maybe some other states, I don’t know), if you arrest somebody for murder, they can immediately petition the court for an evidentiary hearing to prove a self-defense claim. The accussed must prove self defense to a judge by a preponderance of the evidence and if he convinces the judge he has to be released. If he fails to persuade the judge that is was more likely than not a case of self defense, then you have the normal jury trial, where its the prosecutors burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self defense. Its two bites for the accused.
Count me among those expecting a manslaughter charge rather than 2nd degree murder. (My legal experience consists of watching some Law & Order that time I stayed in the Holiday Inn, so I’m practically a lawyer.)
I wonder if the 2nd degree murder charge became more likely after the case became politicized. If the police and prosecutors had done a proper investigation and made it clear he was going to be charged, if it would have been manslaughter?
I remember the case years ago when Dershowitz went on live TV and said that he was “100% certain” that John Demjanjuk was the infamous Treblinka guard “Ivan the Terrible,” that he would “stake his reputation on it,” and that if he were proven wrong that he’d resign his post at Harvard. Turned out, of course, that Demjanjuk, although adjudged to have been a death camp guard, was not Ivan the Terrible and was adjudged not to have been Ivan the Terrible. Oddly enough, however, Dershowitz remains at Harvard. Go figure.
That aside, the M2 charge was an overcharge, yes, but alas that’s often SOP for prosecutors, for the precise reasons cited in the main blog post. As to whether or not that charge will survive and make it all the way to trial (assuming no plea bargain) that’s why we have judges, preliminary hearings, motions to dismiss, motions for directed verdicts, etc.
Even if it were hearsay, I would think it would still be admissible under the excited utterance exception.
Affidavit = FAIL. That a judge signed off on this as establishing second degree murder which according to Florida jury instructions and case law requires the killing be done with “ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent” is perplexing, to say the least.
Again–why is this perplexing? An armed person chasing after somebody merely because they looked ‘suspicious’ or ‘were on drugs, or something’ sounds like an act of ill will to me. Is the argument that midway through the struggle, somehow the ill will was dropped, and Zimmerman was just in the middle of something?
I’m not a lawyer so I’m trying to figure out what I’m missing here.
@Modulo Myself: The affidavit is supposed to identify evidence, not just tell the story of what the police think happened. The judge has a role here to make sure the police have probable cause to make an arrest. Its not satisfactory for the judge to approve the warrant just because the police believe a crime has been committed. You would expect statements from witnesses and the accused, identification of physical evidence from the crime scene that supports the charge, results of any forensic analysis. You would expect the affidavit to be much longer.
Look. It’s this simple: If Martin was holding Zimmerman down while striking him and slamming his head into the ground, and if Zimmerman was in fear of his life, THERE IS NO CRIME.
What went on prior is irrelevant. Even if Zimmerman HAD been the initial aggressor (which the state will be hard-pressed to allege at this point, without some additional witness), the behavior exhibited by Martin goes way beyond permissible self-defense.
You simply cannot hold someone stationary, and pound them to a pulp…
@Alan Whitney: I’m pretty sure if you start a confrontation and then realize that “oops, this isn’t going my way”, you can’t just shoot the other guy.
Did you get the part about Martin HOLDING ZIMMERMAN DOWN???
@Alan Whitney: Nope, if you start something and realize you’re getting your ass kicked, you pretty much have to take your punishment. Or kill the guy and face legal charges.
I’m guessing you missed the part where Zimmerman looks fine in the video taken just after the incident. So the following isn’t really even kind of accurate:
It doesn’t matter. Once you’ve committed a crime, you’ve lost access to a self defense claim. It’s the same reason, say, if a homeowner pulls a gun on an intruder, the burglar can’t shoot them and claim self defense.
Hate to burst your bubble, but the vid was altered.
And no, you are completely wrong in your assertion that Z had to “Take his medicine.”
One may use REASONABLE force in self-defense. M’s actions went far beyond reasonable.
When the aggressor stops being aggressive, the defender is also obliged to stop using force.
I speak as a retired police officer.
@Alan Whitney: I’ve never seen any credible evidence Zimmerman had anything but minor and superficial injuries at most.
Yes, which means Martin could have been charged with a crime as well. But that doesn’t change the fact that if Zimmerman started the fight, he loses access to the justification defense.
Take, for example, from Pennsylvania Law:
@Stormy Dragon: This doesn’t mean what you say it means. What “the actor, with the intent of causing death or serious bodily injury, provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter” means is that you can’t provoke someone with a premeditated intent of killing them if they react to said provocation. It would be absurd, indeed, to say that, if you confront someone, you just have to let them kill you.
We wait with baited breath for some evidence that this is what actually happened beyond a self serving statement made by the guy with the smoking gun standing next to the dead body.
@anjin-san: Guilty until proven innocent is not how the system works.
Certainly his booking photo shows no evidence that he had just received a beating that raised to the level of life threatening, or anywhere near it. He did not really even look as if he had been in a fight.
Please show where I have ever said Zimmermann is guilty. What I just said is I have seen no evidence that Martin was aggressive or that Zimmerman received a terrific beating beyond what seems to be a patently self serving statement by Zimmermann.
Under Florida law, like most states, the person who initates violence does not lose the right to claim self defense:
I don’t think this is Zimmerman’s story (I understand he denies being the aggressor), but if the prosecution tries to attack his story along these lines, I would expect the jury to be instructed on this law.
@Alan Whitney: So, by your argument, once the attackers drew the sharpened screwdrivers, Bernard Goetz was perfectly justified in shooting them all, then going over and saying “you don’t look so bad” to one of them and shooting them again?
After all, they initiated the hostilities, and he was clearly defending himself.
By the way, it’s been proven repeatedly that the “Stand Your Ground” argument holds zero weight in this case. It simply doesn’t apply to either party. But if Zimmerman’s account is accurate, Martin was not only attempting to kill or gravely injure him, but also preventing him from retreating from the confrontation. Oh, and despite what Anderson said earlier, Zimmerman apparently didn’t approach Martin “gun in hand.” His story (yet to be challenged, and this part makes sense) is that it was (legally) concealed until it became uncovered in the struggle, Martin went for it, and then Zimmerman drew and fired.
I believe Zimmerman on that point — he might keep a hand on or near it as he approached Martin, but I seriously doubt he had it drawn. It’s clear he was angry, but he was neither infuriated (if he was, he wouldn’t have bothered calling the cops) or scared.
Who accepts the statement of a man who just shot an unarmed child at face value. Who, in his spare time, has become an expert on video editing who can flatly state that a video has been altered without access to the original files.
Hey, I’m the Flash. No, wait, I’m Superman.
Don’t you love the internets?
Sadly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court does not agree with you, as per Commonwealth v. Upsher.
Uh… the courts DID find Goetz was perfectly justified. He was acquitted on the homicide charges. The only thing he went to jail for was posession of an unlicensed firearm.
@Stormy Dragon: Skimming the judgment, it doesn’t appear that this question was even under consideration.
From the ruling:
@Stormy Dragon: Where do you get the idea that Z started the fight. I believe his statement to the PD was that he was walking back to his vehicle, when he was attacked by M.
If he is telling the truth, Z committed no crime.
In the absence of witnesses, it will be VERY hard for the state to prove otherwise…
From you. You were the one who proposed that it was self defense “Even if Zimmerman HAD been the initial aggressor”. The discussion from then on wasn’t based on what people think actually did happen, but what happened in your hypothetical version.
@anjin-san: Youu have not been paying attention. An eye witness stated that he observed M astride (my word) Z. There was a shot, and the guy who had been on top was “On the ground, and looked dead.”
@anjin-san: “Unarmed child?” Your agenda is showing…
@Stormy Dragon: That’s is NOT what I said, and you know it. I was merely pointing out a possibility.
It’s not nice to twist what someone says…
Let’s see, he is a 17 year old kid walking back to his dad’s house after a trip to the store to buy candy. He is unarmed. In what way is that not an “unarmed child”?
Hence the phrase “your hypothetical”.
Yes, well there have also been reports that police prompted witnesses to alter their statements in a manner favorable to Zimmermann. If you indeed were a cop, you know witnesses can be wrong, and that they sometimes lie. You have in no way supported your ringing ALL CAPS endorsement of the story that Martin was pounding Zimmermann senseless.
@anjin-san: Here’s another way of describing it: a 6’1″, 150-lb high school football player vs. a 5’9″, 170-lb. 20-something Latino.
I know you won’t answer, but others might want to know some other relevant facts…
One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is that the arrest affidavit takes away the race angle by concluding that Zimmerman didn’t use a racial etipaph. I never listened to the tape so I don’t know, but that seems to eliminate the one thread of “ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent” that existed. I was wondering if the investigation had revealed he was a member of some hate group. I was also wondering if forensics was going to show shots to the back from 20 yards away, or a pattern of changing stories, or maybe that he had bribed that bystander who said Zimmerman was on the bottom . ..
This seems all very weak to me given the high burden of proof on the prosecution. It looks like an arrest made due to external pressure, justified by the hope that Zimmerman will trip up on cross-examination.
For conservatives this isn’t in the main about the rights and wrongs of this particular case it’s about the rather loopy stand your ground laws they’ve been able to put on state statute books (most people in the states concerned probably don’t even know about them). If Zimmerman is charged (as he now has been) and found guilty he’s going to be a poster boy for the inanity of these laws and they know that only too well hence the noise machine has moved into action and the usual suspects here trot out the talking points they picked up on Fox last night. It’s entirely predictable.
Kindly document that those are facts. Most of the reports I have seen have Zimmermann in his late 20s and at 200 lbs.
A while back you were telling us that Zimmermann is overweight and out of shape. Now your story has, once again, changed. And you wonder why no one takes you seriously.
Actually, I don’t think you care if you are taken seriously. You just seem like someone who is desperate for attention. It’s sad, and I don’t want to participate. I’ve already asked you not to direct remarks at me several times.
Once again, I think you are a waste of time. I don’t want to have discussions with you. Accept it – move on.
@Stormy Dragon: That’s what I was afraid of, I didn’t know if I could listen to it objectively after it had been suggested.
Taking away the possibilty of federal race crime charges, however, does appear to take away one of my theories. I thought Zimmerman might be able to avoid being compelled to testify because he could claim a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. I think since a self defense claim admits the underlying offense, he probably can be compelled to testify.
So Mr. Dershowitz would think it perfectly legal if the State of Florida tortured Mr. Zimmerman to find out what was actually doing on? (Based on D.’s prior comments)
Wish that whoever was interviewing him had had the courage to ask Mr. Dershowitz that question.
By who? The city of Sanford? That’s who released the video directly from the police.. Your level of delusion is getting a bit high buddy.
That is one hell of a big “if”…
Really? How would you describe Trayvon Martin?
Well certainly anjin’s description is more credible than the one you used on a previous thread as yours was based on false information…
@grumpy realist: Of course you realize that torture doesn’t get you the truth but what the person being tortured thinks you want to hear. That’s why the Cheney cabal liked it so much.
On the affidavit being thin:
I really believe that Dershowitz is missing something. He’s argued that since there were grass stains and other signs of a struggle, and they were not included, it’s incompetent. Well, the fact there was a struggle isn’t in dispute. Either I’m totally missing his point, or he’s shooting from the hip.
Yea, that just about sums you up.
@anjin-san: My initial image of Zimmerman was based on the pair of photos first circulated — the pasty-faced white guy and the 13-year-old cherub. I didn’t realize both photos were misleading (in Zimmerman’s case, actually Photoshopped to make him look white) and being used to shape the narrative. My bad for trusting NBC and their ilk.
Funny how you don’t cite your own “sources,” but want mine.
OK, from Wikipedia, Trayvon Martin was 6′ tall and weighed 160 pounds. That’s five pounds under ideal weight.
Wikipedia his Zimmerman at 5’9″ and 190. That puts him about 17 pounds over ideal weight. He’s also kinda round-faced, so that makes him look heavier.
Oh, and ages? 17 and 28.
So the slightly skinny high school football player had three inches on the Latino cop wannabe, but the cop wannabe had 30 pounds on the athlete. In boxing, I’d say the greater reach, youth, and athleticism made it a pretty fair match.
Funny how so many people seem to be operating on the initial reports and especially photos, of Zimmerman as this 250-lb. white guy who shot and killed this scrawny, baby-faced black kid who looked 12. And even as they acknowledge the truth, they don’t admit how they were misled, too, by those initial reports.
Let’s see some of the other elements that have fallen apart (or, at least, been seriously challenged) since the story first broke:
— Zimmerman made 46 calls to 911 in one year (it was over 5+ years)
— Zimmerman used the term “coons” in the 911 call (it was “punks”)
— Zimmerman stalked Martin with his gun drawn (he kept it (legally) concealed until the fight started)
— Zimmerman was not only not arrested, but released at the scene (he was handcuffed and brought in for questioning, and only released after he fully cooperated)
— Zimmerman showed no signs of injury after the shooting (CBS initially put a big graphic over the bottom of the screen that covered the best views of the top/back of Zimmerman’s head, but missed a few frames when some injuries appear to show)
— Zimmerman’s race was “White Hispanic,” a term I hadn’t heard before and apparently didn’t get much use before this incident.
So, yeah, I got a few details wrong. Some I’ve admitted, some I’ve actually corrected (like the precise heights/weights of the principles here). But I’d put my own accuracy over that of NBC’s in this case, who actually edited the 911 tape to make Zimmerman seem racist.
So, there’s my source, anjin sweetie. Wikipedia, which in turn cites the Orlando Sentinel. Too bad you won’t answer me, where you can cite your own sources about who wrong I am.
@Stormy Dragon: Since you’re already “contaminated,” may I suggest another experiment? Listen to the audio again, this time listening for “punks.” The “k” sound is quite noticeable to my ears. And once that comes into focus, the “u” also comes clear, making it definitely not an “oo.”
At this point, I’m sure there are plenty of hard leftists desperately trying to find some obscure, obsolete racial epithet that ends in “unks” they can put in Zimmerman’s mouth. Time to dig out the Shakespeare…
It’s interesting what people’s reactions to this tragedy tells us about them.
Martin was just a kid walking home from the store with some candy in his pocket, on his way to spend some more time hanging out with his dad. He appears to have been a pretty typical kid, in spite of attempts to paint him as somehow livin’ da thug life. There have been references to his Twitter handle and a minor drug incident at school. I am a little unclear on how that makes it ok to shoot him dead, or how it is relevant to the shooting in any way, shape, or form.
Zimmermann? He elected himself to conduct armed patrols of the streets. He called 911 more times in 5 years than an average person would in 5 lifetimes. He came to a totally baseless conclusion that Martin was “up to something” and “on drugs”. He ignored the direction of the 911 operator not to follow Martin. If he had not made a long string of horrible decisions, if he had done what he was told to do by the operator, Martin would be alive and we would not be having this discussion. It seems to me that if you call 911 for something that is clearly NOT an emergency, it is incumbent upon you to do what they tell you to do. This was not a crisis where Zimmermann had to trust his own judgement because of imminent danger.
Why are some people desperate to make Martin the bad guy? The only thing I can come up with is that they have a firmly held belief that young black men are inherently dangerous and are basically guilty until proven innocent. More or less the textbook definition of “prejudice”.
Why do some people empathize with Zimmermann? Ask yourself if you would want this idiot driving around your neighborhood with a gun, perhaps stalking your kid or your house guests. If the answer is yes, then you should seek professional help at once.
I suppose they could match up nicely with the plenty of hard rightists desperately trying to find some way to paint Martin as a “thug” or “gangsta-wannabe”…it is especially rich how some of them even link to the Facebook page and Twitter account of a totally different person…perhaps these hard rightists think that all black teenage males look alike…
You would think that someone who pulled a bonehead move like that would simply slink back under the rock they came from instead of continuing to dig the proverbial hole.
@An Interested Party: Yup, I was fooled by a Facebook page of someone of the same name, approximate age, race, and general appearance (considering that the only prior photo I’d seen was the 5-year-old one). And I fessed up to the mistake.
On the other hand, you don’t seem overly interested in all the other mistakes others have made, like I cited above at 22:51. Probably because those ones advanced the “evil white supremacist stalks and kills innocent child” narrative that you seem to have embraced.
@Jenos Idanian: Do you do anything besides react?
Seriously, your commentary on the subject reeks of axe-grinding. It’s as if you’ve finally found the thing that confirms everything you always believed about both the left and their media accomplices.
@Herb: Well, Herb, every single blog comment is a reaction to the original article, so the question applies to you, too.
And maybe “It’s as if you’ve finally found the thing that confirms everything you always believed about both the left and their media accomplices…” because it does.
Well, not everything, but a tidy hunk of it.
Oh, and give my regards to your siblings, Seasoning and Spice.
@Jenos Idanian: I don’t know, man….I guess I just see there are several levels here. There’s the crime angle, the political angle, the media angle.. For me, the most important is the crime angle. A kid is dead. A guy may be going to jail for the rest of his life. That stuff matters.
The politics of it? Meh. I don’t care how this case affects the SYG law. The Republicans who passed it can die on that hill, as can the Democrats who want to repeal it. I understand both impulses, while desiring not to participate in either.
How it was reported in the media is even less interesting, and not at all consequential. So much media criticism these days seems more interested in making the media more slanted (preferably in a more favorable direction) than less. Take the NBC tape. I get the sense that all the people crying about how NBC edited the tape to make Zimmerman look bad would have no problem if they edited the tape to make him look more heroic.
I don’t expect anyone to admit that, but hey….that’s what it is.
Y’know, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I haven’t convicted or acquitted George Zimmerman in my mind based on “evidence” from media reports, web sites and unsubstantiated claims out of thin air.
But it grates on my nerves for folks who can’t know even the totality of evidence which may be presented at trial, much less what really happened, to advocate for Zimmerman’s conviction. This just reveals their lack of respect for our justice system, and while it’s not perfect, it’s the process we employ in this country, and if we don’t like it, we change it. And that change isn’t implemented by pompously claiming from the comfort of your armchair in the OTB comments that Zimmerman committed a crime. You don’t know that.
Almost as annoying are those who proclaim his innocence. You’re only a smidgen less annoying because of the presumption of innocence at the base of our justice system.
And I hold in utter contempt those who support their position by mischaracterizing some of the few facts we know in this case, which have been corrected and emphasized so many times, that it can only be called a lie. Usually it’s not a big lie, but it’s a lie nonetheless, which only shows that you’re supporting an agenda other than justice, and there’s no reason for me to respect you or your opinions, since if you’ll lie about the little things, why should anyone believe that you won’t lie about the big ones, too.
And this goes back to my point in earlier threads about the dearth of non-liberal voices here. When anjin-san lies about the 911 call from Zimmerman, none of the liberals call him on it, and there are so few non-liberals here that it’s hit or miss whether he gets called on his lie. It’s a small lie, but it pains me that the liberal wing of the OTB commentariat won’t stand up for honesty here.
@Boyd: Good points, but…..
Let me be pompous in another way. If killing an unarmed kid, even to escape a beating, isn’t a crime…..it should be.
I think there should be a bigger standard for using deadly force than “I was scared” lest we give scaredy-cats a license to kill.
@Herb: The “Kid was over six feet tall, and weighed 170 pounds…
@Herb: I don’t necessarily disagree, Herb, but here I think you’re unfamiliar with the legal requirements that self-defense entails. In Florida and everywhere else I know of, “I was scared” is insufficient to support a self-defense claim. Don’t be sucked into that misrepresentation, either.
Here’s the applicable Florida law, which I found courtesy of PD’s link earlier in this thread:
Herb, if you think that is the equivalent of “I was scared,” whether through legislative intent, judicial application or plain reading of the text, then there’s not much to discuss.
@Alan Whitney: Are Martin’s height and weight from the coroner’s report? A recent physical? Where do you get this information, and how could we possibly know if it’s accurate, especially due to the imprecision of your claim?
And this goes back to my points from the same thread. There is a disagreement about what was said in the 9/11 call. The response of some commenters is “if you hear something different than me, you’re wrong”. Your response is “if you hear something different than me, you’re lying”. So you complain that there’s not enough room for honest discussion, yet you’re the one accusing people of arguing in bad faith.
And secondly, there’s the example of how philosophically vacuous Conservatism had become. There can’t just be a disagreement over what a word in a recording is. There must be a official “conservative” way of hearing of the recording. And anyone who hears something else, or is unsure of what they heard, they must necessarily be liberals. Because to you, all liberal means is “someone who disagrees with me on anything”.
Which is why I don’t take your “there’s too many liberals in the comments here now” seriously. All it really means is “no one automatically agrees with me anymore”.
@Stormy Dragon: You’re confused because you think I’m talking about something you seem to be obsessing about, which is actually in dispute, rather than the bald-faced lie that anjin-san, like so many others, tries to convince us is fact.
The lie, repeated over and over:
Those lies are not consistent with the fact of what the 911 operator said: “You don’t have to do that (follow Martin).”
I’ll ignore the rest of your comment since it was based on you not having a clue about what I was addressing. Sorry for confusing you.
Oh, I don’t think that, but I do think a clever lawyer would be able to convince a jury that “I was scared” is indeed such an equivalent. Cops do it all the time. “He really did think that beer can was a gun.”
Just last year, we had a case where a plainclothes cop tried to arrest a guy through a car window. The guy (somewhat understandably) reached for a knife and the cop started blasting. Totally justified, in the end. The cop probably should have had a uniform or at least some backup and a megaphone and said, “Put your hands up and step out of the vehicle,” instead of reaching into the guy’s window like that, but hey….the dude was going for a knife, so it’s alright.
To me, there’s self-defense. And then there’s negligent assholes who shoot first, then claim self-defense later. Everything about this case stinks of the latter.
And that’s ignoring the various agendas, media and other, polluting the atmosphere.
(As for the “lies,” I think that’s too strong a word. This case was handled so poorly that the facts have never really been clear, even to the participants. There’s lies, and there’s bad information. Any supporter of George W Bush could tell you that.)
PS…..I think that was typed with an eye-roll.
Six feet; 160 lbs.
From the Offence report:
@Alan Whitney: Thanks. It’s likely not the most accurate source, but as LEOs “eyeball” things such as height and weight all the time, it’s probably close enough to reality for our purposes of convicting or acquitting Zimmerman in the OTB comments section.
Yes, I was thinking that the height/weight were based on “Eyeballs.” I can’t remember where I heard the “6-3, 170 lbs,” but it was on some talk show…
But I just read the report, and noticed that Zimmerman made a spontaneous statement to the effect that he “Was yelling for help,” and that “No one helped.”
Gotta hand it to you. That’s perspective.
However it turns out in court, though, OJ still did it and Zimmerman’s still the dude who killed an unarmed kid.
This is exactly right. Unless the prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Martin wasn’t bashing Zimmerman’s skull into the ground, then Zimmerman will be – and should be – found not guilty.
It doesn’t even matter if Zimmerman provoked Martin, because as long as he reasonably feared imminent death or serious injury, then he’s within his right to defend himself w/ lethal force.
What the hell is wrong with you? If you’ve paid even the slightest bit of attention to this case, then you know that Zimmerman’s claim is that Martin was pounding his head into the pavement.
His point is that there’s no evidence – and certainly not enough to get probable cause – that Zimmerman didn’t act in self-defense.
Hang on. I’m going to put on my “Retired Highway Patrolman’s Cap” on, and clear this whole mess up…
Here is what I “Know,” from the police report: Martin (“M”) was about six feet tall, and weighed about 170 pounds on the night of this death.
George Zimmerman (“Z”) was injured on the back of his head, and his nose. He was wet, and covered with grass. He stated he had shot M. Z was overheard to tell Fire Department personnel that he had “Yelled for help, but no one would help me.”
Here is what I have HEARD, in news reports, and on talk shows: A witness saw M on top of Z, on the ground. The man he later saw dead, on the ground, was M.
Z stated that he had broken off his activities, and was walking back to his vehicle, when M attacked him.
Z’s father stated that the recorded voice screaming for help, belonged to his son.
Here is my opinion: M probably attacked Z. However, even if Z attacked M, M went far beyond what was necessary for self-defense, when he was (presumably) astride Z, striking him and driving Z’s head into the ground.
In the first case, there Z committed no crime. In the second case, he STILL might have committed no crime, because any aggression by M against Z, after Z had gone to the ground, was excessive, and constitutes a serious assault, on the part of M.
Once the threat has been neutralized, the victim of an assault must stop using force. Period.
Baring the production of some new witness by the prosecution, who puts the lie to everything I understand about this case, Z probably committed no crime at all, let alone any sort of murder.
And no, I do not celebrate the death of Trevon Martin.
I forgot to say this:
George Zimmerman was out playing “Cops and Robbers,” with a real gun.
The tragedy that happened on the 27th of February was predictable, if not inevitable.
Let this be a cautionary tale for all of us who choose to go armed.
But stupid is not criminal, and I think this prosecution is wrong.
And here is another thought that I just had:
If Martin was aware that Zimmerman had a gun, and was in reasonable fear that Z was going to assault him with it, M’s actions WOULD NOT have been excessive.
But that is a moot point; there is absolutely no way to assume that this dynamic was present.
Unless a witness comes forth to say it, that is…
@jpe: The city of Sanford released the video of Zimmerman’s arrival at the police station. If that video is the video of a man who was nearly beaten to death a mere 30 minutes earlier then I’m king of the world..
As someone that has had his ass handed to himself more then once by a group of people I can tell you that Zimmerman wouldn’t be walking perfectly straight or have perfectly situated clothing. Every single time I was beat down my shirt ended up torn in some manner.
Let’s review my “lies”
I prefaced this remark with “it seems to me” – I think that makes it very clear I am stating my opinion. Se habla English? My stated opinion is my opinion – by definition it can’t be a lie.
Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Dispatcher: Ok we don’t need you to do that
In what way was the 911 operator not giving direction? These are trained people, they don’t talk just to hear the sound of their voice. Part of their job is giving direction to callers, direction on how to respond to the situation that led to the call. I did not claim she ordered him not to follow Martin, I was quite specific. I guess you just don’t understand what the expression “giving direction” means.
At best you have a semantic argument, and a fairly weak one at that. The operator gave him direction not to follow Martin. She told him”we don’t need you to do that” If he had followed this direction, Martin would be alive today. Pretty simple.
If you are going to call me a liar you might want to pull your head out of your ass before you do it.
Transcript of 911 call:
You are certainly NOT obliged to follow the instructions of a 911 operator. I’m not saying you SHOULDN’T, but you are under no obligation to do so.
I can’t speak to the law in Florida, but that’s not how it works in Pennsylvania. Once you start a fight, you’ve lost access to a justification defense for the rest of that encounter. Now if the other party becomes excessive violent, it may reach a point where they are also commiting a crime, but that still doesn’t give you justification back.
Again, based on Pennsylvania law, this is the crime I thinks the situation, based on the facts we have available:
This gets to the core of the involuntary manslaughter thing I was mentioning: “the doing of a
lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner”. You are correct that you have no obligation to obey a 9/11 operator, so Zimmerman’s following of Martin was a lawful act. But following someone you supposedly believe to be a criminal by yourself is certainly a bad idea, and if you continue to do so after someone has pointed this out, that’s the legal definition of recklessness.
So in PA, if I shove you, and you begin to beat my brains out with a two-by-four, I am supposed to just take it?
Doesn’t sound right to me…
I clearly stated that it is my OPINION is that it is incumbent on the caller. You guys need to bookmark a dictionary. You are free to disagree with me, but I take exception to people trying to misrepresent my remarks.
The tragedy that followed Zimmermann’s decision to ignore direction from the operator kinda backs my opinion up. When you call professionals for help, you should listen to what they tell you.
At any rate, now we have moved on to “Libs are lying about Zimmermann”, taking the focus off of Zimmermann’s actions. I suspect that is the point of the exercise.
See my post of 11:59.
Zimmerman was foolish in nearly everything he did.
But that doesn’t mean he committed a crime.
There are reports that Zimmerman stated he did indeed heed the instructions of the 911 operator. It has been reported that he said he was walking back to his vehicle when he was attacked by Martin. But we won’t KNOW these details ’till the trial, will we?
This is part of the reason I don’t find Zimmerman’s version of what happened very credible. We’re supposed to believe that Martin was attempting to evade Zimmerman and that, having successfully just done so, decides (for no apparent reason) to turn around and come back to start a fight. That doesn’t make sense.
And keep in mind this was happening on a suburban street, not in dense wilderness of crowd urban areas. How did Martin managed to get up to Zimmerman completely unnoticed? Did he materialize out of the shadows using his magical suspicious black guy powers?
My understanding, which of course, could be incorrect, is that Zimmermann called 911 from the truck, which he subsequently left. Is there evidence to the contrary?
Personally, I am not giving a lot of weight to Zimmermann’s statements. They seem to be entirely self serving. His version of events is very convenient – for him. And the idea that Martin coldcocked him from behind when Zimmermann was walking back to the truck does not (IMO) pass the smell test. My feeling is that if Zimmermann was walking away, Martin would hightail it home and tell his dad about the creepy guy who was hassling him. Kids, even kids who play football, are not generally eager to fight grown men.
We are almost certainly never going to know what really happened. The guy who could tell the other side of the story is dead. Again, it’s very convenient – for Zimmermann.
No, you just can’t then claim you were legally justified in doing so. So don’t go around shoving people.
Actually, this does not make sense at all. We know Zimmermann got out of the truck, we know there was a confrontation. What is the timeline? We know the 911 call did not take place during the confrontation.
For Zimmermann to have “heeded the instructions of the 911 operator”, and still have the confrontation, he would have to be talking to the operator during the confrontation. How is it possible for him to have done what he was directed to – not follow Martin, and for there to still be a confrontation?
Can’t help it… I’m just hostile.
Then, where did the recordings of someone yelling for help come from?
There’s just too much we don’t know, for anyone to have a definitive opinion on this matter.
You are correct.
With only Zimmerman’s account, the 911 recordings, the evidence of a fight, and the forensic evidence of the gunshot (which has not been released, as far as I know), there is nothing else.
So how can Zimmerman be charged?
The prosicution needs a witness who will dispute the details of the encounter, as told by Zimmerman.
Maybe they have one. We’ll have to see…
@matt: We’ll see. But my point was to point out what the important inquiry was, and to take focus off of the irrelevant bullshit, like whether he should’ve obeyed a non-binding non-order from a non-police officer.
Yes, I know that’s the claim. Leave no room for self-interested exaggeration. Take the claim at face value. That’s smart….
Generally, you’re right, stupid is not criminal. Don’t signal before you change lanes? Yeah, might get flipped the bird, but not arrested.
Being stupid in a manner in which you kill someone with a gun? Yeah….should be criminal.
The thing I find a bit remarkable is not just that some are taking what seem to be very self serving claims at face value, but that they also seem to be quite eager to do so…
Actually, if I were to note mistakes that were similar to yours, I would need to find someone who had linked to websites trashing someone named George Zimmerman who has Nazi tattoos and called for “killing the ni@@ers!” but who wasn’t the same George Zimmerman who shot Trayvon Martin…
How does that description not apply to Trayvon Martin…
Ahh, but Trayvon Martin didn’t have that same right, apparently…
No, you just excuse it…
@An Interested Party: So, for future reference, why don’t you spell out just what kinds of errors you find inexcusable, and those you find trivial? ‘Cuz right now it seems like you can’t stand any mistakes from those who disagree with you, and totally discount those made by those on your side. I strongly suspect that is the case, but I’m curious what kind of spin you’ll put on it.
Wrong again, as usual…if someone around here were linking to sites that were spreading outright lies and false information, I would be equally offended…and once again, quit projecting…you are the one spinning here…
@anjin-san: In what words or what way to you interpret that Zimmerman did not follow the dispatch order/instruction/reccomendation? Whay do you think Zimmerman continued to follow? Not sayin he didn’t, just that I can’t figure out why you think he did.
@Stormy Dragon: And if you are following someone in Pa, is that aggression that nullifies your legal right to defense that ends up harming someome?
If he did not continue to follow Martin, why was there a confrontation?
Read the transcript. Think about the timeline. Z is talking to the dispatcher. He tells the dispatcher M is running –
“Shit, he’s running”
“Are you following him”
“OK we don’t need you to do that”
If Z follows direction, the confrontation never takes place. Or so it seems to me.
The Da did not press charges, So this means Z mann was within his rights according to DA assumptions… But again reason for no charges at that time. He can not be charged twice..
So DA needs a tight case or one they think they can prosecute..
Reading the sheet posted< Sceniro! Z was attacked, and once M put his hands on Z it was a done deal his butt was cooked, like instant coffee in a cup..
Myself ; if some one puts their hands on my person one is subject to get shot, no questions asked.. Each person has a personal zone one needs to be invited into… Some one doing it is a violation of MY RIGHTS PERIOD..if I did not grant permission…
O mara is not stupid.
Nor is the special prosecutor, but she does have political ambitions.
I think a judge will throw this out and it will not go to trial, wih jackson, or Sharpton saying otherwise.. evidence needs to be there; was not first time around why now??
DOJ is fishing, they need to fish behind the black panthers who placed a bounty on some one.
So if they do not then it sets a legal president right, who is next, you me, congress man so on.. Black Panthers need to be prosecuted… Period..