George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, And Rushing To Judgment
It's time to let the legal system do its job.
Late last night, I ended up getting in an extended discussion on Twitter with Steven Taylor, as well as several others, regarding the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case and the question of making judgments about Zimmerman’s criminal culpability based on the evidence that is available to the public, and before an investigation has been completed. As I said in the post that I wrote about this case last week, the reason that the case concerned me was primarily the fact that the local police had apparently conducted a fairly limited investigation of what happened on that night one month ago and let Zimmerman go seemingly based solely on his own word that he shot Martin in self defense after being attacked. Subsequent information that came out, specifically the transcripts of the 911 calls that Zimmerman made when he saw Martin walking through the neighborhood, suggested that there was much more to the story and that Zimmerman had possibly been pursuing Martin through the neighborhood even after being told not to do so by the 911 operator. That, combined with the fact that Zimmerman had apparently made nearly 50 calls to 911 over the course of a year regarding the presence of young black men in his neighborhood raised at least the suspicion that there may have been more than self defense at play here, and that the Sanford Police may have swept a case under the rug.
As I noted in the closing paragraph of that post:
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.
Of course, it hasn’t stopped there, not that I actually thought that it would. There have been almost daily protests in Sanford, elsewhere in Florida, and around the country calling for Zimmerman to be arrested even before the Seminole County Grand Jury has convened or the Justice Department has concluded its investigation. Various sides of the political divide have latched on to one aspect of the case or another to promote their own political agenda. The President’s political opponents have attacked him for making a relatively innocuous statement about the case in response to a question from a reporter. Some conservative bloggers spent the weekend trying to make the case that Trayvon Martin was some kind of thug by posting pictures from Facebook that turned out to be of an entirely different person. Race hustlers like Al Sharpton have rushed down to Florida to wrap their own (lack of) credibility around the case and fan the flames of racial tension as only they can. And, legal commentators on cable news who ought to know better have made judgments about whether there is probable cause to arrest Zimmerman, or even about his guilt, despite the fact that the only evidence they have access to is what is reported through the often inaccurate filter of the media.
There are some facts we know about this case, of course. We know, quite obviously, that Trayvon Martin was shot after some kind of altercation with Zimmerman on February 26th. We know that Martin had been walking through the neighborhood on the way back to the home where he and his father were visiting after buying iced tea and Skittles. We know that Zimmermann spotted Martin while driving through the neighborhood in his SUV, that he called 911 to reported what he considered a suspicious person, and that the 911 operator told him that a patrol car was on the way and to not pursue
Zimmerman Martin. We know that Zimmerman did in fact pursue Martin, thus leading to a course of events and confrontation that led to the shooting.
Today, the Orlando Sentinel reports that Zimmerman told police that Martin had attacked him from behind after he got out of SUV and that the two ended up on the ground fighting at which point Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense. This would seem to be consistent with a statement that police apparently took from a witness who is at yet unnamed who says that he saw Martin attack Zimmerman first, after which the two men ended up fighting on the ground before a gun went off. However, it is inconsistent with a story related by lawyers for the Martin family from Martin’s girlfriend, who says she was talking to Martin while he was walking through the neighborhood and that he was trying to get away from a strange man who was following him. This girlfriend has apparently not yet spoken to police or Federal or State prosecutors, but she will need to if they are going to consider her testimony (and for those who might ask, there are likely a few exceptions to the Hearsay Rule that would permit her testimony about what Martin said on the phone to be admissible in Court). There are also apparently statements from a few other neighbors who saw the incident, although all of them seem to have only seen what happened after Zimmerman and Martin were on the ground so they can’t necessarily testify as to how the confrontation started.
That’s all we know.
There may be more evidence out there that has not been made public, which is the primary reason why making judgments based only on what’s in the media is a mistake. Sadly, because the police work here was pretty shoddy, there is likely some crucial forensic evidence (such as pictures of Zimmerman immediately after the incident, the clothing he wore that night, results of blood work for drugs and alcohol on Zimmerman, and physical (blood) evidence that was on Zimmerman after fighting with Martin) that prosecutors are never going to have access to, and that’s unfortunate. Perhaps there’s enough here to get an indictment, and my guess is that if the State’s Attorney who has been appointed by Governor Rick Scott to take over this case wants to get an indictment for Manslaughter or 2nd Degree Murder she will get it. But that’s where we should leave things, in the hands of the legal system.
There is a disturbing tendency in high profile criminal cases for the public, egged on by the constant media coverage and the incessant drone of the talking heads, to rush to judgment long before it’s warranted. We saw it happen in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case only to see those charges dismissed when the accuser’s credibility collapsed like a house of cards. We saw it happen in with Richard Jewell, who was hounded, tried, and convicted, by the media of the Centennial Park bombing in Atlanta in 1996 only to be completely cleared of all charges. It happened to former Reagan Administration Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan, who was charged on multiple racketeering counts only to be acquitted, at which point he famously asked “Where do I go to get my reputation back?” It happened to the parents of Jon Benet Ramsey, who spent years being accused int he public of their daughters brutal rape and murder even though the evidence linking them to the crime was as flimsy as possible. It’s happened to people who aren’t famous too, of course. Just ask Cory Maye or Cameron Todd Willingham. Of course, Willingham might not answer because Texas executed him for a crime he didn’t commit.
Rather than rushing to judgment in this case, or any other, we ought to be letting the legal system do its work instead of allowing the Al Sharpton’s of the world to exploit a young man’s tragic death for their own nefarious agendas. For nearly a month, of course, the legal system wasn’t working for Trayvon Martin’s parents, which is why sometimes it is necessary to raise a protest in order to get action to be taken. But, we’re at the point now where action is being taken. The Justice Department is investigating, there’s a Grand Jury being convened. And until there’s a trial and a jury reaches a verdict, George Zimmerman is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Shouldn’t we all just back off on judging the guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman based on incomplete evidence and let the system do its job?
I think the answer has to be yes, because the only other alternative is mob justice.
Photo montage via Gothamist
The “system” ignored this case for a month until national protests forced “the system” to take a second look at it. Now you believe that if “the system” is left alone again, it will do a thorough, honest and open investigation that will lead to justice.
I suppose it’s nice to see a libertarian who has such faith in government, especially a local government that has until now seemed to be run by whites who have no concern over the death of a black kid. But surely you can understand that some of those who have reason to believe their lives are considered worthless by “the system” might not be willing to sit quietly in their corner until “they system” renders its judgment.
As I said in this post, and the one I wrote last Tuesday, the dereliction of duty by law enforcement in this case is inexcusable and the people who brought this case to national attention like Charles Blow at The New York Times and Jonathan Capehart at The Washington Post, deserve much credit for doing so.
That said, we have two choices now. Either we trust the Rule of Law to work or we allow yet another man to be tried and convicted and, if some have their way, executed, in the court of public opinion. As imperfect as the legal system is, I will take it over mob rule any day.
Yes…give Zimmerman due process.
The problem is these Castle Doctrine laws written by the NRA and passed by servant legislatures and Governors.
This outcome was predicted…but the NRA is all-powerful. Maybe now logic can take hold.
The Castle Doctrine only applies when someone is defending their home.
As for Stand Your Ground, even Zimmerman’s lawyer is saying publicly that this is not a Stand Your Ground case.
To what extent is due process going to be possible given the Sanford PD’s failure to follow procedure at the scene and then the time lag between the crime and the involvement of the State/County and the DOJ? It seems like the narrative the cops told themselves is going to win out regardless of what really happened, simply due to them only gathering evidence that supported that narrative.
Doesn’t look like we have made much progress on this matter in the last 60 years…
There are some questions and issues here that I have not seen answered.
Why was there a neighborhood patrol in a gated community? Gated by definition has its own professional patrol who are trained; a neighborhood watch was not needed.
Is Zimmerman here legally? If not, he can be locked up immediately for being in the country illegally..
How about his previous record? I read that he had assaulted a police officer. That in itself should have kept him locked up for some time, unless, of course, some soft on crime judge let him out. That’s the big problem we have now. These soft on crime judges are more concerned about the “rights” of the criminal then they are safety of their victims. I wouldn’t be surprised if Zimmerman had a record a mile long. If justice worked, he would not have been roaming the streets looking for victims. If he was on probation or parole, there are strict rules prohibiting him from having a gun. He could be sent away a long time for that violation.
@WR: What exactly is the alternative? A grand jury has been convened… I guess public pressure could make some difference in whether an indictment is handed down. But then what? Refuse to accept any jury verdict but conviction?
Speaking of Strauss-Kahn,
“A lawyer for Mr. Strauss-Kahn said Monday that his client “strongly and firmly” rejected the preliminary charges of “aggravated pimping.” Prostitution is legal in France, but pimping isn’t. To convict him, prosecutors would have to prove that he played an organizational role in the alleged prostitution ring.”
@John B. Chilton:
Prostitution isn’t necessarily rape.
@Hey Norm: I’ve not seen anything substantively unique about Florida’s self-defense laws that have not been around for at least decades — the Castle Doctrine, no duty to retreat and the rights of aggressors are not “stand your ground” innovations. The Wikipedia entry on these is pretty crappy.
The one thing that appears to be unique under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is the accused gets an additional procedural safeguard from arrest. If arrested, the accused can claim self-defense and the right to an evidentiary hearing in which he can prove self defense to a trial judge by a preponderance of the evidence and if successful be released. If not, he gets to stand trial before a jury of his peers and the prosecution has to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Clearly, if the prosecution moves too quickly on this case, it could lose it early. (I assume double jeopardy applies to the trial judge hearing, but don’t know)
@Doug Mataconis: Who said it was? Just noticing DSK was in the news again. I rather doubt this latest charge will stick either.
The Al Sharptons of the world seem very necessary to ignite what has completely failed this family in a place known for its prejudiced againest young black males. Say what ever you wish, if you have not experienced it yourself, you will never ever know. Saving judgement should be said to the Sanford police and Zimmerman whose account is the only one that is left here and it is not credible at all.
If he is an innocent man (Zimmerman) there really is no reason for him to hide. Since when is walking while black with a hoodie a crime? Why did the police test a corpse for drugs and alcohol and let the angry murderer go? Where are the pics of Zimmerman injuries?
Zimmerman has a record for fighting cops/resisting arrest–really 140lb kid?
No one rushed to judgement before doing what Sanford Police normally did and that was judge another black man -guilty. Shame anyone who thinks any differently about that place.
I agree that it’s time for the legal system to do its job, but it’s painfully obvious that until the public outcry forced it to rethink, the local legal system thought they had done all they needed to. “A dead, unarmed kid and the shooter standing over him saying “self-defense”? Good enough for us. Be on your way, Mr. Zimmerman!” It’s ridiculous that they had no plans for further action until they were forced to it.
I think WR and doug are BOTH right.
As WR correctly asserts, if not for the big stink and the sharpton/jackson PR pimps, this case would no doubt have been swept under the rug (hell it was).
But now that the case is being seriously pursued, the rule of law must be followed.
The Black Panthers putting out a “bounty:” and the wingnuts bringing up past cases of black on white violence and citing the lack of black apologies to the white folk just add to the circus.
There is an apocryphal story (some say its actually true) that Einstein’s mom would tell when asked about the young Albert.
She said everyone thought albert a little slow since he didn’t say a word until he was well past 2 years old and his first words were “the soup is too hot.”
When Einstein as an adult and was asked why those were his first words he replied “because up until then, everything was pretty good.and there was no need to speak.”
As i have lived through the best years of America’s history and have never doubted our ability to prevail over many challenges, I have for the first time come to believe that we may go the way of the British empire as our citizens devolve into morons incapable of intelligent discourse.
I guess I am saying for the first time “the soup’s too hot”…
Your point about not rushing to judgment is well taken, particularly with respect to legal commentators in the media
But I think the importance of continued attention to the case and federal involvement is that, looking beyond the verdict in this one case, there are larger systemic issues that need to be addressed. So if, for instance, the lack of initial investigation results in the prosecutors not meeting the beyond a reasonable doubt standard, we as a society can evaluate what policy changes to enact so such a faithless does not take place in the future.
The continued protests may also have something to do with the (likely accurate) perception that had the races been reversed, Mr Martin almost certain would have been arrested, and that everyday young men like him are based on less evidence.
I understand they aren’t using the Stand Your Ground law (I misused the Castle Doctrine) as defense…but isn’t it the reason he wasn’t arrested in the first place?
About that gated community here.
Doug. ” … and that the 911 operator told him that a patrol car was on the way and to not pursue Zimmerman.”
You might want to correct that “Zimmerman” to “Martin” and that “not to pursue” to “Okay, we don’t need you to do that” when told that Zimmerman was going to follow Martin, per the actual tape and transcript. It actually sounds like Zimmerman is breaking off pursuit to rendezvous with the police at that point, seeing as they set up a meeting point.
There is some heavy-duty misinformation flying around in this case, unintentionally on the part of most, surely. As you counsel, we must wait for the facts; but the widespread and, frankly, irresponsible media coverage of this is making the job of uncovering the truth here more difficult.
I think, by definition, a “gated” community has a “gate”.
And if Trayvon had stood his ground and Zimerman was dead, tell me, TM would be walking the streets?
When it comes to “rushing to judgement”, we already have more than enuf evidence that Trayvon was walking the streets minding his own business, when George stalked and then confronted him…
As the law is written, if Trayvon had shot him right then all would be well, but we all know, the law is not applied as it is written.
What is it with black kids these days??? Have they never looked in a mirror?You still aren’t white. It might be 2012…. we might have a black man elected President… But you know what? You are in 21st century America and you are STILL black… This ain’t South Africa. We have our own brand of apartheid. South Africa was a pimple on our ass.
@Jed: No, the shoddy police work (which I hope will result in massive civil judgments against many, many agents) is what is making uncovering the truth much more difficult.
I don’t know what crimes Zimmerman is guilty of, if any. I do know it’s his fault Martin is dead.
And it’s the local authorities fault this is a national story. If they had bothered to do an investigation beyond taking the killer’s statement as fact, we probably wouldn’t be talking about this.
BTW, Doug, regarding the posted photos, who is the gentleman on the right?
@Rick Almeida: Okay, but the gated communities I have been in had a gate manned by at attention type uniformed type guards with clipboards who demanded to see id.
Not sure if this has been asked and/or answered, but I have to feel one of the key aspects of this case is the legality of detention. There is suppose to be a high bar of probable cause for a police officer to stop and detain a private citizen (I use “suppose to be” loosely these days). That high bar applies equally, if not higher, to a private citizen trying to stop and detain another private citizen…..in legal circles, that can be construed as kidnapping, even if only for a minute or two of detention.
I haven’t seen anywhere yet where Zimmerman had any authority nor probable cause to stop and detain a private citizen here. Assuming said citizen is not trespassing, I’d sure like to see a legal case justifying a stop and detain for no other reason than being black and wearing a hoodie……cuz this is what this case amounts to…….it’s my opinion, that even if no shots were fired, Zimmerman was already putting himself in legal jeopardy……
Good job Doug.
That would be George Zimmerman
While the contents of Florida’s laws might not be unique on their face, it seems like the present implementation of them has caused more confusion than anything else when one reviews the practical effects of the law — in particular the marked increase in “justifiable homicides.”
Again, I’m someone who is very sympathetic to the notion of self defense (just got back from a conference that was in part dedicated to the subject). That said, it seems to me that Florida’s implementation of this law — and in particular it’s elimination of any duty to retreat — all but gives a blank check to the escalation of confrontations.
Based on the facts, as we understand them, we have Martin walking the street, at night in a hoodie. Zimmerman sees Martin, calls 9/11 to report, and against the request of the dispatcher follows and confronts Martin.
Martin, based on phone records and the girlfriend’s testimony, we believe Martin knows he’s being followed by someone whose making him uncomfortable.
At this point Martin either directly confronts Zimmerman or Zimmerman confronts Martin. Right now we don’t know which happened (and we might never know). As an aside: the idea of confronting someone who is following you — at a distance — is actually a good idea from a self defense perspective.
A self defense situation is initiated. And Martin, it appears, *stands his ground.* One way or another the situation escalates to violence. Perhaps there were angry words. It seems clear that Zimmerman clearly saw Martin as a threat and was agitated. That agitation does translate to the confrontation and for all we know, gave Martin the feeling that Zimmerman presented a clear and present threat to him
And here’s the ironic part, the fact that Zimmerman was armed did make him a clear and present threat. The sad truth is that if Martin had killed Zimmerman (as opposed to punched and mounted him) he would have been protected by the same law that Zimmerman used. In fact, it arguably would have been justified by the fact that it was Zimmerman, not Martin who was armed and willing to deploy deadly force.
This brings us to the second “self defense situation”: Zimmerman, fearing for his own life *stands his ground* and shoots and kills Martin in *self defense*.
Any self-defense statute that creates an environment where both people within a confrontation can have exercise the option to kill each other and both equally claim self-defense, is ultimately unworkable.
@Doug Mataconis: Then, who is the man on the left, because they don’t even remotely look the same.
Well, the left leaning still seem to be clinging to “give him a fair trial and then hang him” and lord knows the race baiting community is doing so.
Is there any chance of letting t his play out by t he due process of law this country is supposedly based upon?
Nah. So I’m just asking – since the New Black Panther Party have put a bounty on Zimmermans capture, has the head of the NFL imposed a one year suspension yet?
Perhaps that would be because the “mugshot” picture you’ve been seeing in the press is more than seven years old. Add seven years and subtract for weight loss and it’s obviously the same guy.
Also, if you look at the bottom of my post you’ll find a link to the source of the photo
When I wrote the post last Tuesday that was the only photo of Zimmerman circulating in the media. Since then, the media has published a more recent photograph
Yeah, that too. But we’re not seeing the actual evidence, or talking to the cops firsthand. The vast majority of people making their judgements on this are being informed by journalists or advocates who are making the task of getting to as accurate an understanding of the events as possible much more difficult.
I’m perhaps more likely than most to suspect shoddy police work in many cases, but now there’s to be an independent investigator so perhaps we’ll know more soon. But the way this was first reported in national media was along the lines of “White Jew in Fla. guns down black child in cold blood and is given ticker-tape parade by racist cops” which is somewhat misleading. As is usually the case. the local media have been far better on this story, which seems to be a complete balls-up by everyone involved. At least the ones still breathing.
Ah, I see, this is the more recent photo. Doesn’t change my feelings about this case. I understand the cries for justice. I even understand the belief that it was a crime of self-defense. I, do, however, feel that the Sanford police department should be put under a federal microscope.
As a commenter stated above, where are the photos of Zimmerman’s injuries? Isn’t taking photos the very basics of police investigation? Old mug shots of Zimmerman have been released; Zimmerman’s co-workers have released a work-related photo that is more recent. Where are the photos of Zimmerman’s injuries. That would go far in corroborating his story, wouldn’t it?
This is why people–black, white and Hispanic–are so angry. The police acted as if Zimmerman’s “Stand Your Ground” claim meant open-and-shut justifiable self-defense as far as they were concerned’; no need to bother with making sure the statements support the evidence.
Do you really believe they would have afforded Martin the same courtesy if the roles were reversed?
This would never have reached national attention and brought in the so-called “race pimps” if the police had done their effin’ job.
Lots of questions about the pictures of Trayvon have to be questioned..
The flip-off shots are now acknowledged to be not him, and the “grill” shot is likewise under serious question.
Just another example why we can’t trust what we see in this case, not until things settle down a bit.
BTW, Doug, Correct me if I am wrong, but the girlfriend wouldn’t be providing hearsay. She is an “ear” witness.
The girlfriend is making assumptions on top of what she witnessed and those are being reported. From what I read she heard Trayvon initially say something like `Why are you following me` to which she heard Zimmerman respond `What are you doing around here` and then she heard the earpiece fall out.
Zimmerman’s statement in the report was apparently that as he was walking back Trayvon approached him and said `What’s your problem` or something like that, to which Zimmerman responded `I don’t have one` (or something similar) and then Martin said `Now you do` and punched Zimmerman.
They both are biased.
People are saying Zimmerman assaulted cops and therefore shouldn’t be carrying. Again it’s a gun law issue, but I will say he was charged with Non-Violent `Assault` (and it was dismissed I think) when they were trying to arrest his buddy. That means that he was probably inebriated and got in their way during the arrest. He’s hardly a felon. Cops throw that assault on a cop charge around pretty liberally when they want to handcuff you.
From that ABC News link…
I’m shocked! Just shocked, I tell you…as if he was going to tell the cops that he simply pursued and shot Martin…
Oh, well if we want to play that game, we can say that the right leaning feel like Martin got what he deserved and Zimmerman was merely defending himself…some of those same right leaning folk, even a few who have commented here, base their reasoning on bogus information as Dazedandconfused notes…
Interesting choice of photos for this post – a somewhat menacing shot of Martin and one of Zimmermann looking very buttoned down and friendly.
That photo of Martin is the one that his family released. The one that is on posters at protests throughout the country. The one that led to the “Hoodie” controversy.
Are you agreeing with the idiotic comments of Geraldo Rivera that wearing a hoodie is part of what caused Martin to get shot?
Well, the left leaning still seem to be clinging to
“give him a fair trial and then hang him”“we are really sick of bullet riddled black bodies in the street, followed by a predictable absence of justice for the dead”…
Exactly where are you getting this shoddy police work assessment? You haven’t seen what physical evidence they collected. You don’t know what photos they took. Right after securing the scene they established a crime scene perimeter and log for evidence purposes. Zimmerman was taken into custody, transported to the police station where he was turned over to investigations, we’ve seen none of the investigator’s work. It is customary for the police to conduct the investigation then turn it over to the prosecutor for determination of charges and prosecution. We don’t know what consultations the investigators had with the prosecutor regarding probable cause for an arrest prior to the investigation’s completion. As for drug and alcohol testing of Zimmerman that also require probable cause. And yes, they did test Martin which is routine in autopsies.
And as Jed said above, if you listen to the 911 tape, Zimmerman calls, then is breathing hard with wind noise at which time the operator tells him that they don’t need him to follow. Zimmerman replies okay then states, he ran. The heavy breathing and wind noise stop as he arranges to meet the police. He is already in the area between houses. In fact, Zimmerman doesn’t want to give 911 his address because he doesn’t know where Martin is or whether he could be listening and so arranges to meet the police at the mailboxes or in the end for them to call him so he can tell them where he’s at.
So really what shoddy police work? And how can you know that without seeing the investigation?
What’s menacing about that picture? The hoodie? If that’s the case, watch out for Bill Belichick…
@ Doug Mataconis
The photo of Martin is not objectionable per se, it is the contrast between the images I find interesting. Shaping perceptions is a big part of how I earn a living. If I did something like that, there would be a purpose behind it.
Mattb you’re wrong. If martin had a gun and zimmerman had a gun and zimmerman came up to martin and asked him what he was doing there, martin could not just shoot him and be cleared because of stand your ground.
Your whole point misses the aggression. It all hinges on someone trying to or actually injuring someone else. It seems you have the notion that Zimmerman was aggressive towards Martin. I don’t think that’s been stated anywhere, although yes, it has been inferred (but have yet to see any real reasoning).
It is not unreasonable or illegal for someone to be curious and suspicious about someone walking around their community that they don’t know especially in light of the alleged break ins there. Many times behavior like that is encouraged by cities and PDs. If it was an old lady, yes he probably wouldn’t have called the police. Of course there was prejudice going on. Of course a young male in a hoody will look more suspicious than a baby or an old lady or a man in a suit or whatever… of course. That’s not his fault, that’s society and that same thing that leads to our prejudices leads to our ability to do a lot of high level cognitive goodness. His prejudice might have been heightened because it was reported 2 young black males had been arrested recently for break ins there. Don’t condemn Zimmerman for being human and being suspicious, especially in his role as `watch` captain or whatever (where that’s what he’s supposed to do).
So he called the police on Martin and watched him. There’s nothing saying he confronted him even though he did try to continue to follow him when he was told it wasn’t necessary. Yeah, he probably should have waited for police, but again that’s not an excuse for someone to punch you in the face. If Martin did initiate contact (and that’s a big if), then Zimmerman really, from all appearances thus far, did what most would do with someone beating you up badly and you having gun.
It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy that Martin was killed. It’s sad that Zimmerman probably thought he was helping out by being suspicious. It’s a tragedy that plays itself out in many forms every single day. So many guns. So many fights.
Apparently they did toxicology on the dead body of Martin, but not on the shooter. What do you call that?
No, he absolutely, 100% for sure, no doubt whatsoever should have waited for police.
A couple of punches from a skinny kid is a reason to kill him? That was his only option? Are you serious??
How about condemning him for breaking pretty much every rule that neighborhood watch has, and disregarding what the 9/11 operator told him?
@ An Interested Party
You don’t think the image of a young black man in a hoodie is somewhat ingrained in the American conciousness as being a bit menacing?
@anjin-san: Lack of probable cause, that’s what you call that. No observable indications of drugs or alcohol. But in the end, whether he was on drugs or alcohol has no impact on the facts of the case, either there was a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury or not.
In regards to the photos, Martin’s has obviously been photoshopped. The contrast is to high. I saw one purported to be the undoctored version and he did look a bit less smooth skinned innocent as we all do in photos most likely taken with a camera phone. It is only indicative that they are trying to drive the narrative with doctored photos rather then an actual image.
Actually we don’t know if he did disregard what the 911 operator told him. He might have stopped at that point. It was reported today, though, that he was walking back and was confronted by Trayvon. Whether that holds up or not (seemingly corroborated by a witness) I guess will be a big factor. Because even if he did follow initially, if he stopped and was walking back to his car or whatever, then there really was no good reason to confront Zimmerman at that point…
You also don’t know what it feels like to Zimmerman of getting punched in the face by a person half a foot taller than you regardless of if he weighed 150 lbs or 200. Zimmerman apparently fell to the ground and got bloodied up. It apparently felt pretty substantial. I think it’s hard to put ourselves in that situation.
I don’t know if there are even any rules or any real neighborhood watch there. Maybe it’s just a few people who got together.
There are an awful lot of assumptions here.
I really hate the position I feel obliged to take here. I’m not pro people walking around with guns in normal every day circumstances. I’ve had poor experiences with Police in the past. I’m not particularly fond of vigilante types. But it really seems like it was just a bunch of bad decisions by both people and one person had a gun. Information keeps coming out though and the picture will probably change again.
It should be extremely unreasonable tor people to call the cops if they see someone in their neighborhood they don’t recognize. I pretty much can’t go out in my neighborhood without seeing someone I don’t know.
The main problem I have with this defense of Zimmerman’s actions, is that there’s no reason for any of his actions leading up to the shooting. Zimmerman shouldn’t have followed him in his truck, he shouldn’t have called the police about him, he shouldn’t have followed him on foot, and he shouldn’t have confronted him. Anyway, wouldn’t an actual burglary be preferable to the killing of a teenager?
It was reported today, though, that he was walking back and was confronted by Trayvon. Whether that holds up or not (seemingly corroborated by a witness) I guess will be a big factor.
Actually, only Zimmerman’s story has him walking back and being confronted by Martin. Incidentally, we’re supposed to believe the guy who was out chasing Martin and who was recorded making a racial slur ended up being approached by Martin, asked if he had a problem, and after replying no, was told that now he had one.
The witness Martin was speaking to contradicts this story. The police were not interested in figuring out who Martin may have been talking to at the time of the incident, so this was never even apparently brought up with Zimmerman when he gave his version of the events.
The other witness, the one saw Martin on top of Zimmerman, has not to my knowledge made any claims about how the fight started.
If you knew anything at all about Photoshop, you would know that black skin tones are pretty difficult to get correct unless one is a fairly advanced user. Most people just amp up the brightness and contrast a bit. There are no black helicopters here.
Perhaps you could produce the relevant Florida law and documentation of local PD proceedures in the even of a shooting death to back up this claim. Otherwise I will assume you are making it up as you go along, as you tend to do.
It was reported there was a witness who saw Martin punch Zimmerman and who saw Zimmerman on his back getting punched and screaming for help.
Both Zimmerman and Martin’s girlfriend’s account say that Martin was the first to say something. That does not mean necessarily Martin was the aggressor though.
Really the only thing that you are saying Zimmerman shouldn’t have done is be suspicious of Martin and watch/follow him. That’s fine if you believe that, however he is within his rights to do that.
@David M – I’m sure you do see many different people in your neighborhood everyday – As do I. Do you really think every neighborhood is just like yours or mine? Really? Did you seriously just use the logic that since your neighborhood is a certain way then logically that means his neighborhood is similar? Sorry 🙂 Just seems a bit flimsy of an example.
That “original” photo isn’t the original. It’s a reporter’s picture of a copy of the photo that was made for a poster used during a protest. http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40108_Wingnut_Conspiracy_Theory_of_the_Day-_Trayvon_Photo_Was_Lightened_to_Make_Him_Look_Innocent
And all the back and forth about whether Martin confronted Zimmerman or vice versa, did Zimmerman do what the operator told him, etc. are things that the police should have been figuring out. They then should have turned that evidence over to the prosecutor to see if there was a case for bringing charges. Instead, the police appear to have just accepted everything Zimmerman said, in spite of there being some real inconsistencies to his story. That is what has most of us so upset – that the police didn’t even think this was worth looking into.
It was reported there was a witness who saw Martin punch Zimmerman and who saw Zimmerman on his back getting punched and screaming for help.
Yes, they were fighting. You understand that does not mean Martin attacked him, right? And you understand that saying something to someone who is following you is not provocation, right?
Perhaps if you’ve led a sheltered life. You’ve never taken shots to the face or fought someone who was taller than you? I was in a lot of confrontations when I was younger, and more than a few fights. Never saw one that come close to being worth killing over, and I dealt with some crazy, drunk, and out of control dudes in my nightclub days.
@anjin-san: Have you ever been punched hard or even hurt? My first instinct is always to hurt someone back. Yes, instinct. Of course when I realize it’s just my 4-year-old accidentally punching me in the nuts, I don’t act on my instinct. But if it was a ‘suspicious’ stranger who was 6 inches taller than me and who was attacking me, hell yeah I would protect myself instinctually, including using a gun if it was available. Every normal human would, since we’ve all evolved over millions of years to SURVIVE.
BTW, I agree with pretty much everything else you say here. In Martin’s shoes, I would definitely have a problem with some dude with a gun following me all over the place. His goal was also to survive, and it *appears* that Zimmerman’s pursuit put him in a defensive position first.
Heh, I was writing my long-winded post as you answered the question …
I guess you don’t have much experience with “gated communities”. Most of them, with the exception of very high end ones, don’t have private security. Instead, gated means that either you have the code to get in the gate, or you are buzzed in by a resident. My mother lives in such a gated community, which consists of less than 50 houses. The community where the shooting took place has homes in the $120K range, which is very much pricewise a middle class community.
Also, Zimmerman is an American citizen. His father is retired U.S. Military and his mother is of Peruvian descent, but I haven’t seen anything in any of the reports as to where she was born. He was also not arrested for assaulting a police officer. He interfered with the arrest of a friend in a bar and was arrested for that. He completed a court ordered program and the charges were dismissed. Otherwise, he would not have been able to obtain a carry permit, which he had.
Every day, new information seems to come out about what happened that night, but no one has all the details. The shooting is now being investigated by numerous agencies, and eventually the media and the public will have more information. Until then, it’s best to let the various law enforcement agencies do their jobs and complete the investigation. Too often in the past, someone has been tried and convicted in the media, and the media was wrong.
In the meantime, my heart aches for the Martin family. I cannot begin to image the anguish of losing a child.
@ Have you ever been punched hard or even hurt?
Yep. Took 7 or 8 good shots to the face and head from a guy who was a lot tougher than me, he was actually a bit of a local legend for being an ass kicker. Certainly had a punch, I was pretty nicked up the next day. If I had a gun I don’t think It would have even crossed my mind to use it.
Maybe I am a product of a different age. Lots of fights when I was coming up, some of them pretty brutal. No guns, no knives. Rule of thumb was that you should not start something unless you were pretty sure you could finish it.
I think part of the problem was that, despite his size, Zimmerman is a complete punk, but was feeling brave because of the gun. It got him into a situation that he could not handle, and the result was a dead kid. It’s a fine argument against the rights crusade to get everyone packing heat. (I am a gun owner BTW)
I have no sympathy for Zimmerman. Every decision he made was wrong. Likewise, I don’t fault Martin for defending himself against a stranger who was stalking him.
If George Zimmerman were a cop, that piece he is still carrying around would be in the evidence locker. He would have been subjected to a blood-alcohol and drug test. If he had major injuries, like a broken nose, paramedics would have patched him up on the spot, or the cops would have taken him to the hospital. And somebody would have taken a photo of those injuries. A smart George Zimmerman would have demanded photos.
I was the President of our gated association of 230 homes. We had no security force. In fact we had to cede authority to the city police to allow them to patrol our community. Some have security, some don’t.
@JKB: The local police dept’s procedures call for a drug and alcohol test on the shooter. This requirement was ignored. That’s shoddy.
The police did turn the investigation over to the State’s Attorney for disposition on March 14. The police have no authority to decide who gets prosecuted or not, they do investigations and affect arrests as well as conduct patrols.
As for the photo, it is curious we haven’t seen the photo on the memorial brochure. He appears to be about the right age and it is the photo his family chose for his remembrance. I suppose it doesn’t fit the media’s narrative.
Hmmm. Since you can’t support your claim that the local PD acted correctly in not testing the shooter for drugs/alcohol, you are back to black helicopters.
You don’t seem to have a problem with the media reporting on Martin’s alleged suspension from school for Possession of a baggie that had pot residue, something that does not have a damn thing to do with his killing. Guess it fits YOUR narrative.
Oh, well that photo changes everything, doesn’t it? It’d be completely all right to shoot someone who looks like that. Or something. What’s your point about that picture, any way? Does he look threatening or dangerous in that picture to you?
For the sarcasm impaired: I was not serious. I truly don’t understand why JKB thinks that photo makes any difference. If someone can explain it to me, I’d be interested hearing why it’s relevant.
Now that the locals are being forced to do their jobs, it is time to back off, wait, and hope the system works.
The outcry was necessary, ’cause the local cops didn’t feel like properly investigating the incident. Now the Feds are involved. That’s the best we can reasonably hope for, right? What else is there? Nobody here wants vigilante “justice” (hell, that’s a large part of Zimmerman’s problem!). So we wait. What else is there to say that hasn’t been said (absent additional information)? I haven’t seen any new info come out in a while now.
It is interesting to me because it reveals the media’s agenda in this. The MSM have a long history of doctoring photos, especially of African-Americans to drive their narrative. Perhaps you’ll remember their darkening of OJ Simpson’s photo on the cover of Time or one of those magazines.
So I think we should notice what the media has chosen to highlight, a photo with the contrast turned way up and his color lightened compared to the other photos available? I wonder why that is, he looks like a normal kid in the other photos even with his skin color is darker. So why did the MSM feel compelled to run the doctored photo? Would this be any less tragic if the world saw Trayvon Martin as he’s depicted on the remembrance brochure? Why is the media pushing this in such an incendiary manner?
Just to be clear, I think everything hinges on what happened in the moments from the time that Zimmerman got off the phone with 9/11 and Martin got off the phone with his girlfriend AND the moment the first punch was thrown. We’ll probably never know for sure what happened in that time frame.
As for your comments:
This is ultimately incorrect. It all hinges on the perceived threat of violence. Self defense laws and situations often deal with *intent*.
Yes… I think there’s a pretty good argument for this. I am not saying that Zimmerman was necessarily so aggressive that it on its face was enough to trigger a physical attack from Martin (that hinges on the period that I mentioned). However, as we are reminded this was a supposed high crime area. And we have at least one account that Martin knows that he’s been followed for some time. Can you give me a single good reason why Martin wouldn’t have been justified in thinking that Zimmerman was thinking about mugging or attacking him? Teenagers can be victims of crimes too.
I completely agree. And Zimmerman was well within his rights to report Martin. The question is whether or not he confronted Martin. If he did — and again, I say IF — then that could have easily escalated a situation between two people who were both on edge (if not out right scared of the other person). And it’s under that scenario that I can easily see how Martin could easily feel threatened enough that he *held his ground.*
Like many people here, I think ultimately this is for the courts to decide. And I think that bad judgement were involved on both sides of this issue. And as I’ve said other places, I am very much a proponent of self defense. But I continue to believe that Florida’s stand your ground law can’t help but create these sorts of situations, and make holding a party legally responsible for death stemming from this sort of situation very difficult.
@WR: I’m with you. The case was backed off of for a month and it went nowhere. Also, leave it to the legal system? That’s what got “justice” for Caylee Anthony and Nicole Simpson, eh?
@Dunbar: I’m confused about the status of your comment… hidden? Really? I didn’t see any off-colored comment in it. Perhaps it was the mention of him being here legally. His father is white and his mother is Peruvian. Perhaps this went under the radar is because he has connections. His father is a retired magistrate judge. That kind of helps, you know?
Not to dispute your mention of gated communities but I am from Florida and there is a difference in a “gated-community” and a “guard gated community.” I guess Zimmerman decided to appoint himself guard.
For some reason, no one cares much about his record even though it it violent. All the want to talk about is how this teen portrayed himself. I would say not much different than any other teen his age. In any event, didn’t Zimmerman have a restraining order against him in ’06 that was put in place by his girlfriend? In turn, he counter filed and it expired a year later. I wonder how a domestic problem like that allowed him to carry a gun. My brother-in-law is a police officer where I live and says that people with a history of domestic violence aren’t supposed to have guns. I find it odd that he was able to get away with that.
This raises an interesting question. If ZImmermann was indeed the captain of a neighborhood watch programed sanctioned by local PD, you have to ask why they granted a patina of legitimacy to a young man with some history of violence, who was pretty much drifting through life without direction, who had a long history of obsessive 9.11 calls.
You would think a real cop would look at this wanna be cop and quickly conclude that he might not be firing on all cylinders, and should be discouraged, not encouraged to play cop.
@Julian Sanchez: There is no alternative but to make Zimmerman go through a trial but this may not have occurred had the media hadn’t gotten hold and ran with it. It’s a month later and chance are that it would have been swept under the rug without another thought.
Everyone accepted what was rendered to Casey Anthony and OJ but they didn’t have to like it.
The photo they are using is not doctored. I know believing that it was fits your narrative, but is false. There is no evidence that the photo has been doctored in any way, and the claim that it was doctored was easily falsified. The photo they are using is the original. I’d guess that they are using it because he’s wearing a hoodie in it.
@Jed: If you listen to the 911 calls you will hear them tell Zimmerman that he doesn’t need to pursue the victim. He does not make arrangements to meet the cops anywhere but tells them to have the cops call him when they arrive so that he can tell them where he is then.
@anjin-san: except for the fact that it is said that Zimmerman’s father is a retired magistrate judge. I’m not sure if it’s true but I wouldn’t be surprised.
JKB has heard the photo was doctored on right wing rant sites. (apparently it was started by Makin) For him, it might as well come from a burning bush. Clearly respect for the memory of a kid who was shot dead while walking home from the store where he bought some candy does not enter into his calculus…
@anjin-san: I’m sure a lot of people will have a hard time swallowing this: http://www.wesh.com/r/30771690/detail.html. I’m glad someone finally put all those rumors to rest about the “hood” Trayvon. I didn’t think they looked like him. Trayvon was an attractive young man, the other… not so much.
@Donna Ayers: I’ve read numerous places that his father was a retired magistrate judge with the Virginia Supreme Court. His mother also worked in the courts.
Donna; listen to the whole tape, not snippets.
Trayvon was an “attractive young man” but that is no excuse for doctoring a photo.
The investigation of this case is in the presumed hands of those more capable than I but my media critique stands. The more I learn about this the less I can be sure. All I have to go on is evidence. Dribs and drabs are not enough. One would think that it is irresponsible to conclude anything here.
Whumph. Assuming that were true, how in the blue hell would a beat cop in Florida know that? Are you arguing that there was some sort of conspiracy to protect a (by most accounts) nebbish that stretched across state lines?
Please link to these “numerous places” that you seem to take as fact. Hopefully they will be more accurate than Spike Lee’s address for Zimmerman.
I’m not sure that you are arguing in good faith here,but I could be wrong. You could be too.
@Jed: @Jed: I didn’t say that there was any reason to doctor photos. In fact, I think it is abhorrent that anyone would stoop to tactics such as that.
It is your opinion that the investigation is in the hands of those more capable. If that were so, I do believe that this case would not have gained the international recognition that it has. I stand by what I have said. All anyone has to go on are the same sources unless they have inside information that is not biased. You seem to feel that it is any different for me to form an opinion on this case based on the details that I continue to learn. As can be seen through media coverage, public forums, etc., that is clearly all everyone is doing. I am not part of the jury nor am I the judge so my opinion, yours, or anyone else’s for that matter is really of no consequence. I guess many of us want to be heard and perhaps listen what leads others to hold their stance and hope that they will do likewise.
The capabilities of those thus far that have “handled” this case has been more than negligent. Oak Hill, FL retired Chief of Police (interviewed) stated what shoddy investigative work was conducted and out of character for Sanford PD considering they generally make the arrest and let the judge or jury sort it out. He also mentioned that the mishandling of the case may have been because of all the problems that they have had with the black community.
MSNBC reported that Robert Zimmerman, George’s father is a retired judge and yes, many white collar people travel in the same circles and it’s not too fairly uncommon among blue collar. I come from a family of law enforcement and find this to be fairly accurate. Many retired judges speak at conferences with like audiences, support the same charitable causes and events, have memberships at the same country clubs, etc. They don’t go into hiding because they’re retired. They often continue to engage in the same type of activities to which they’re accustomed.
Your question: Am I arguing that there was some sort of conspiracy to protect a person that assumes authority without that right (stretching across state lines)? It may surprise you to know that there is such a thing as “professional courtesy.” I am not saying that there is any conspiracy but it is possible that Zimmerman mentioned he is the son of a judge and lulls them with his great admiration for police officers and they decide to cut him a break. That is what I am saying. It happens.
If you are really that interested in confirming what I believe, Google it. It should be fairly easy to find.
Do tell… what makes you think your sources are more credible than mine?
I don’t think it matters what you or I think of each other… who is right and who is wrong. We don’t know each other, it’s an internet thread, and we’re all stating our beliefs on this matter. Do you really care? No offense intended but I don’t either. What you think of me is not going to affect me today, tomorrow, or at all. ¯\(º o)/¯
sick of the lies? We Support George Zimmerman!
Innocent until proven guilty!
@erin: Yeah I’m sick of the lies too. I’m sick of hearing how Zimmerman was beat within an inch of death when he had to shoot the thug gansta drug dealing raper of white women Martin (oh and did you hear they found stolen items on Martin!!!).
Video of ZImmerman’s arrest provided by the City of Sanford.
Notice how Zimmerman effortlessly gets out of the car with handcuffs on (takes quite a bit of strength to do so). Notice how his pecks are well defined through his shirt with little to no stomach. Notice the complete lack of blood on Zimmerman’s front? Broken noses and shooting a kid who was on top of you would cause all kinds of blood to land on your shirt. Notice how the back of his coat has no noticeable smudging. Notice how his head is free of injury or bandages. Had Zimmerman truly been treated for a laceration on his head he would of had something noticeable covering the cut. Notice how Zimmerman is allowed to wander around even going around the opposite side of the bike from the nearest cop. Notice how Zimmerman doesn’t show any limping or indications that he’s in pain. Anyone that was supposedly beaten so bad he was forced to shoot a kid +50 lbs lighter then him should probably be in a little pain 35 minutes after the fight.
Yes the time stamp on the video shows clearly that ZImmerman was in great shape 35 minutes after shooting a kid.
So yeah I’m tired of the lies…
Other then that I agree innocent until proven guilty but it’s too bad your group has already convicted Martin of being some kind of thug deserving of being shot.
It’s just as abhorrent that Spike Lee posted an address and the black panthers posted a bounty. It’s gotten quite ridiculous and the sideshow really needs to stop if we want to get some real justice out of this mess..
@matt: … I think we should say “not guilty” until proven otherwise; after all, look at the Casey Anthony case. She was cleared of charges which only means that they couldn’t find her guilty within a reasonable doubt.
I have to agree with the rest of your post though. If people want justice (if there is any), then they need to act like non-criminals.