Jeb Bush on the “Stand Your Ground” Self-Defense Law

Looking also at Zimmerman's 911 call and who pursued whom.

Via the DMN:

“This law does not apply to this particular circumstance,” Bush said after an education panel discussion at the University of Texas at Arlington. “Stand your ground means stand your ground. It doesn’t mean chase after somebody who’s turned their back.”

This gets to one of the key elements of the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmeran.  At the moment the evidence suggests that Martin was trying to leave and that Zimmerman was not “standing his ground” but, rather, was pursing Martin.

Note: the law in question was signed by Bush when he was the governor of Florida in 2005.

Bush’s position would seem to be back by reports of Zimmerman’s 911 call (via CNN,although these details have been widely reported):

Zimmerman said he was driving in his gated community when he saw Martin walking and called 911 to report a suspicious person.

Zimmerman told the dispatcher he was following the boy, but the dispatcher told him that wasn’t necessary. Moments later, several neighbors called 911 to report a commotion outside, and police arrived to find Martin dead of a gunshot wound.

Another account of the call from a local news station (I cannot find a full transcript):

Among the calls released Friday is the call George Zimmerman made to police when he spotted Trayvon Martin. He starts off by saying that there have been some break-ins in the neighborhood, and that he spotted a “real suspicious guy” in the area. He said the guy looks like he’s up to no good, and may even be on drugs. He also makes note that he has his hand in his waistband.

When the dispatcher says that he is sending an officer over, Zimmerman says “these [expletive] always get away.”

At one point the dispatcher also asks if Zimmerman is following the suspect. Zimmerman says yes. The dispatcher asks him not to do that.

I am willing to adjust my views if new evidence emerges.  But at the moment the information available seems to point to an overzealous, self-appointed neighborhood watchman who thought a black youth looked “suspicious” whom he then ended up shooting, despite the fact that said youth was armed only with candy and a soft drink.

Also, if the details of the 911 call as reported above are accurate, Zimmerman was originally driving.  How could a youth on foot threatened a man in an automobile?  Were I feeling threatened by a person on foot whilst I was in my car, I would just drive away to safety—not pursue the person in question.  As such, I think Bush is right:  it is hard to see how the “stand your ground” element of the self-defense law would apply here.

I will note that there is an AP report out that states Now witness claims TRAYVON attacked Zimmerman (which is leading some, who should know better given their profession, to leap to some conclusions).  First, one should take a late-breaking anonymous witness with a grain of salt, one would think (especially since this account emerges only after the story has hit the level of attention that it has).*  Second, even if someone did witness a scuffle between Zimmerman and Martin, that doesn’t tell us how it started—especially if the 911 account above, in which Zimmerman chooses to pursue Martin, is accurate.

h/t on the Bush quote:  Joe Gandelman

*As commenter Trumwill notes below, this is not late-breaking (see here).

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Race and Politics, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. David says:

    If Mr. Zimmerman would have listened to the 911 operator, Trayvon would be alive today. Whether or not the facts show that at some point in time after that, the “Stand Your Ground” defense comes into play, if Mr. Zimmerman had not pursued the kid, this would not have happened.

  2. anjin-san says:

    Good to see Bush being stand up about this. Zimmerman created an entirely avoidable confrontation. There is simply no defense for what he did.

  3. Ron Beasley says:

    “self-appointed neighborhood watchman”

    They are called vigilantes.

  4. Gustopher says:

    Even if this late-breaking, anonymous witness is 100% accurate, that would simply mean that Trayvon Martin was standing his ground. He was being stalked by a man in a car (truck?), who then climbed out of the vehicle to confront him.

    Assuming this story is actually accurate, it may not have been the brightest moment in Trayvon Martin’s life, but it does nothing to exonerate Zimmerman.

    Also, I don’t believe this witness or his/her story. Maybe if we knew who the witness was, but right now? Nope.

  5. JKB says:

    This never has been a stand your ground issue. Except by the gun control advocates and those who’ve commented out their backside.

    The use of deadly force happened while the two were on the ground with Martin hitting Zimmerman, according to the witness, first reported by FOX Orlando on Feb 27. There is no stand your ground because there was no chance of retreat when someone is on you hitting you.

    The third call in these 911 calls seems to corroborate that Martin was on top. She says the guy on top was wearing a white t-shirt. The police report has Martin wearing a grey sweatshirt and Zimmerman in a red jacket.

    In the second call, someone, reportedly Zimmerman, is calling for help right up to the point of the shot. In any case, physical evidence can indicate who was on top of whom when the shot was fired.

  6. JohnMcC says:

    When he signed the Act into law back in ’05, Gov Bush called it ‘common sense’. It has alas turned out to be a law that has resulted in several nonsensical judicial decisions. In today’s Miami Herald (“Judge Decides Fatal Stabbing Was Self Defence”) a case is described in which a man chased a burglar a full city block, stabbed him repeatedly in the back killing him and was freed because he could claim ‘self defence’ under this statute. Apparently there were security cameras that recorded the whole event.

    I see by looking at the Florida Law Enforcement Agency’s statistics page that the several years before the Act was passed we had fewer murders down here that in any year since.

    Of course, if Trayvon had thought to apply for a carry permit and been packing he’d still be alive and Mr Zimmerman dead, quite likely. So what’s the problem with a law that would exonerate Trayvon if he’d used a little foresight, eh?

  7. Trumwill says:

    First, one should take a late-breaking anonymous witness with a grain of salt, one would think (especially since this account emerges only after the story has hit the level of attention that it has). Second, even if someone did witness a scuffle between Zimmerman and Martin, that doesn’t tell us how it started—especially if the 911 account above, in which Zimmerman chooses to pursue Martin, is accurate.

    Your second point is a valid one, but this is not a “late-breaking” witness. He told the media the same thing back in February.

  8. Dazedandconfused says:

    As somebody mentioned, the report from the time in the local news had a guy who claimed to have seen Trayvon on top of him. This man lived in the unit reported to be closest to the scene.

    The video of the news report is in this:
    http://cofcc.org/2012/03/trayvon-martin-was-on-top-of-zimmerman-punching-him-when-he-was-shot/

    Putting it together with the report from Trayvon’s girl friend: It appears they confronted each other, George saying “What are you doing here!” and Trayvon yelling “Why are you following me!” Then the cell went dead, or the ear-piece fell out.

    My WAG at this point is the kid felt he was being stalked, and most likely by a molester. At some point the adrenalin could have kicked in. It’s not totally implausible that 140lbs of in-shape 17 year-old with a great big adrenalin dump could have overwhelmed 200 lbs, at least initially.

    The law seems to say to me that Trayvon’s action was entirely legal, and so was Georges response. A ridiculous situation.

  9. Modulo Myself says:

    Zimmerman is only an extreme case of the obsessive tough guy who loses it. Overweight, apparently unable to do anything well other than be a racist, and screaming for help while having his ass kicked by a 17 year old, there’s no real way to parody him.

    I get the police not caring. They recognized Zimmerman as doing the good work. They probably told him some nice stories of their own, to cheer him up as they went through the formalities. But what I can’t get over the fact that people who knew Zimmerman were okay with what he was doing. Like, I think average Americans who flock to gated developments are beneath me, but Jesus, how completely out of it were these people? Didn’t they even care that this blob of resentment and incompetence was driving around looking for trouble? The last thing he should have been doing was holding a gun and patrolling.

    But then again, you have his moron father explaining how he wasn’t a racist, e.g. “My son just loves those fucking coons.”

  10. Modulo Myself says:

    The law seems to say to me that Trayvon’s action was entirely legal, and so was Georges response. A ridiculous situation.

    My own sense is that the guy had no idea what the hell happened. He lost control of himself the moment the confrontation occurred. Everything happened quickly, there was no moment when he thought he was afraid for his life–he just screamed involuntarily as they scuffled and then shot. When the police arrived, he made no sense, none at all. He was bloodied, the gun was in his hands, there was a body, and that’s about it.

    Everything that he’s said later is self-justification and assistance from the police.

  11. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    We don’t know who was yelling for help. Could have been either. Could have been both. I think it quite possible George lied when he said he was on his way back to his car. The “What are you doing here!”

  12. Racehorse says:

    @Ron Beasley: Several years ago, our neighborhood, in response to increasing crime, met and formed a watch group with the coordination, training, and knowledge of the local police. We had strict rules such as no weapons, a watch – report only rule (unless someone’s life was in danger, do not approach). We would get descriptions, photos, tag #, and a few other details. After a few years, we disbanded because just about all of the suspicious activities turned out to be nothing. Maybe we have gotten too paranoid about a lot of things now a days. Neighborhoods aren’t as close as they used to be. People should not retreat behind doors and turn out the lights if they think something is going on. Get involved, not under a rock. Too many criminals have gone free because witnesses would not testify. Don’t be afraid!

  13. Modulo Myself says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    Oh, I agree. I think his whole story is eye-rolling bullshit. I just find it hard to believe that he had some lucid reality waiting for the police when they arrived.

  14. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    (which is leading some, who should know better given their profession, to leap to some conclusions)

    Glenn Reynolds is completely hack-tackular. I thought everyone knew this by now.

  15. JKB says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    You have a right to you own opinion but no to your own facts. When the police arrived, he identified himself, his gun was in its holster. He cooperated, identified himself, told that he’d fired the shot, informed the officer he was armed and let the lone police officer disarm and handcuff him. The police officer observed his back was wet and covered with grass, he had a bloody nose and a laceration on the back of his head. While being treated by medical responders, he made a declarative statement that he called for help but no one would help.

    He screams for nearly a minute on this 911 call before the shot is heard.

    Or do you believe the conspiracy goes all the way back to the first officer on the scene and even the people calling 911? Perhaps Zimmerman is a diabolical criminal mastermind with nerves of steel, but that’s not the simple answer.

  16. Modulo Myself says:

    @JKB:

    Nothing in that report remotely goes against the possibility that Zimmerman lost it. At face value, if he’s sitting there with a bloody nose and a laceration in the back of his head and claiming that his life was in peril because of an unarmed 17 year old, it seems a bit off, don’t you think?

    I mean, if he’s really saying, “I screamed for help and nobody came,” as if he was some random guy on the street struck out of nowhere, and not somebody who had just called the police before confronting a ‘suspicious’ person, then he’s definitely out of it. Otherwise, what would the life-threatening peril be? He had a bloody nose and his head was banged up. That was it. What might happen? There was only one other person. Was he worried that he might get a black eye as well? Two black eyes? Give me a break. Anyone thinking clearly in that situation would be smart enough to wait for the police that had been called to come.

  17. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @JKB: As these facts are coming from the Sanford police, excuse my hesitancy to swallow this whole.

  18. bandit says:

    It’s good to see Mr. Obama showing his true self as another racial exploiter along with Sharpton and Jackson by vicariously fantasizing about being some sort of victim. Always going for the racial victim vote.

  19. anjin-san says:

    he made a declarative statement that he called for help but no one would help.

    Even assuming that any of this is true, I am having a little trouble with the idea that a grown man who weighs 200 pounds felt his life was in danger during a scuffle with a kid much, much smaller than him. I am 53, and I like to think that I could handle a kid that size fairly easily if he was not a trained fighter.

  20. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @bandit: You’re disgusting.

  21. Modulo Myself says:

    @anjin-san:

    Let’s be honest. This is the essence of racism. No matter what Zimmerman did to provoke the situation, at a certain point the perception of black people as an absolute threat takes over and then it’s ground zero. It’s not just a fight: it’s racialism, it’s lawlessness, it’s c**ns who always get away, it’s any and every part of one’s fear compressed into the logic of black people.

    So the fact that this fat blob took a punch or two is enough to justify anything in the minds of many Americans.

  22. Dunbar says:

    One of the big problems that needs to be addressed is the crime being done by repeat criminals – who have been released time and again by these soft on crime judges, usually on some ridiculous technicality. Judges who are more concerned with the rights of criminals than the suffering of their victims; criminals who are released to roam around looking for another victim, most of the time in the inner city preying on innocent people. Attorney General Holder needs to look at this and replace these soft on crime judges. Make sure that when election time gets here that we vote for judges who are fair, but firm. Judges who aren’t afraid to throw the key away for these career criminals who have had several chances to straighten up

  23. The key isn’t actually the “verdict,” it’s that there was no arrest.

    We know the 911 operator said “stay away,” he didn’t and there was a death. That is plenty for an arrest, and then it’s is the jury’s job.

  24. Modulo Myself says:

    The Stanford Police Department needs to be destroyed from the ground up:

    But the 2005 killing of a black teenager, Travares McGill, by two white security guards, one the son of a Sanford Police officer, drove city race relations to a modern low, according to some black residents.

    Early one summer morning, security guards Patrick Swofford and Bryan Ansley saw McGill dropping off a group of friends in the parking lot of the apartment complex they were hired to guard, according to published reports. They claimed McGill tried to run them down, and both fired, later claiming self-defense. McGill was pronounced dead at the scene. Swofford was a police department volunteer and Ansley is the son of a former veteran of the force.

    The pair was arrested and charged, Swofford with manslaughter and Ansley with firing into an occupied vehicle. But a judge later cited lack of evidence and dismissed both cases. According to autopsy reports, McGill suffered fatal gunshot wounds to the back, and it was unclear if the pair was in danger.

  25. JKB says:

    @john personna:

    Really, what charge? What are the elements that make up the reasonable suspicion?

    Can you cite the law that makes it an offense not to follow the instructions of a 911 operator?

  26. An Interested Party says:

    Perhaps Zimmerman is a diabolical criminal mastermind with nerves of steel, but that’s not the simple answer.

    Well, your simple answer seems to be that Zimmerman was merely defending himself from Martin…

    You have a right to you own opinion but no to your own facts.

    Speaking of which, how do you know which person was screaming?

    It’s good to see Mr. Obama showing his true self as another racial exploiter along with Sharpton and Jackson by vicariously fantasizing about being some sort of victim. Always going for the racial victim vote.

    How typical of you–to be talking totally out of your ass…the only victim here is Trayvon Martin…

  27. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    Really, you could handle a lean young man who is 6’2″, 160 lb, good for you?

    Of course, if he got on top of you, hitting you, perhaps you’d change your mind.

    But the law tends to look at whether the perceived threat was reasonable, which being on the ground being pummeled just might be.

  28. anjin-san says:

    What are the elements that make up the reasonable suspicion?

    The dead body perhaps?

  29. Moderate Mom says:

    I hate that so many are rushing to judgement. Remember Richard Jewel? How about the Duke Lacrosse players? With Rev. Al jumping into the fray, one is reminded of the Brawley affair.

    I find if frightening that Spike Lee found it necessary to retweet the Zimmerman’s address to all his followers. The Zimmerman kid is now getting death threats and some militant Black Panther group is printing up Wanted: Dead of Alive posters of Zimmerman. It’s a gated community that he lives in, but now others will possibly be put at risk. The police chief has received death threats too, and there has already been an arrest in that particular case.

    President Obama had it right – let’s just wait until the investigations are complete and we have all the information before we convict someone. Hopefully, justice will be served in whatever the appropriate form is, but people need to take a deep breath and a step back for now.

  30. anjin-san says:

    Really, you could handle a lean young man who is 6’2″, 160 lb, good for you?

    I’m 6’2″, 210 & i put in a lot of gruling hours at the gym. So, like I said, I like to think I can still handle a kid. I’m a hell of a lot stronger and tougher than I was when I was 17.

    Getting hit is part of the deal. If Zimmerman can’t take a punch, he should have kept his sorry ass in his truck. I worked in nightclubs for many years when I was younger. I learned a few things, including:

    1. Don’t ever confront another guy unless you are prepared to fight him or you have someone watching your back to do it for you.
    2. Always, always let the cops do the dirty work if it is in any way possible.
    3. If you confront another guy, always give him a way to back down without loss of face.

    Possibly the gun made him feel Zimmerman feel brave. Almost certainly in fact. If he was screaming for help because he got hit a few times (again, this assumes this is what actually happend) he sounds like a total pussy.

    Also, I have read Martin weighed 140, which made him a fairly slight kid. I was 6’2″ 160 in high school, and I would not have wanted to fight a grown man if there was any way possible to avoid it.

  31. JKB says:

    @An Interested Party: Speaking of which, how do you know which person was screaming?

    Two eye witnesses. One in a news report the day after the shooting, one via 911 call

  32. @anjin-san:

    Seriously, yes. A known confrontation and a dead body is enough for an arrest.

    If he isn’t a flight risk, bail him out after that. And then, JKB, bring your witnesses to trial.

    Ask them about the “f**king coons” on the 911 tape.

  33. anjin-san says:

    @ Moderate Mom

    Wow, you covered a lot of bases here. Black Panthers. Twana Brawley. Al Shrapton. Spike Lee. Militants. Lots and lots of scary black people.

    All that’s left is darkies putting ground up glass in massas dinner…

  34. @Moderate Mom:

    I have been careful not to ask for a verdict. Note the difference.

  35. anjin-san says:

    UPDATE 5, 11:45 p.m. EDT, Monday, March 19: Zimmerman violated neighborhood watch rules; traumatized teen witness speaks

    Via Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic, who tweeted “There are 22,00 registered neighborhood watch programs. Zimmerman’s was not one of them”:

    Zimmerman also blatantly violated major principles of the Neighborhood Watch manual, ABC News has learned.

    The manual, from the National Neighborhood Watch Program, states: “It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers, and they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles. They should also be cautioned to alert police or deputies when encountering strange activity. Members should never confront suspicious persons who could be armed and dangerous….”

    According to Chris Tutko, the director of the National Neighborhood Watch Program, there are about 22,000 registered watch groups nationwide, and Zimmerman was not part of a registered group—another fact the police were not aware of at the time of the incident.

    http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/what-happened-trayvon-martin-explained

  36. bandit says:

    @An Interested Party: Sorry – just like with the cop in Cambridge Sharpton…..whoops Obama sees an opportuniy to exploit racial tensions and takes it with his deranged victimology fantasy..

  37. Modulo Myself says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    Please. There’s no mystery, no leap to judgment. No one in the police department cared enough about Trayvon Martin to give him the remotest amount of human existence. Despite being completely innocent of any crime, he was nothing more than a dangerous predator who posed a threat to the guy with the bloody nose and the gun.

  38. anjin-san says:

    Despite being completely innocent of any crime

    Young.
    Black.
    Hoodie.

    I think at that point, the cops knew all they felt they needed to know.

  39. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Moderate Mom:

    I actually agree with that, MM, although I would submit the inclusion of scary Black Panthers hurt more than helped. Let me try:

    The picture that is emerging about George is that he was little more than massive doofus, not a KKKer out coon hunting. He is a total loser whose desires to become a law enforcement officer had never, and were never, ever going to rise above aspirations. The reasons include, but are by no means limited to, his reduction to a pathetic, crying mess, panicked into using deadly force against an unarmed kid half his size.

    However, the continued image being presented of him to the public is that of deliberate killer. This, in combination with the police badly bungling the case, which could well result in a finding of innocent. This might very well lead to Rodney King Riots II when that verdict is read.

    There is something irresponsible about the reporting of this in the cable news. They should more careful.

  40. Franklin says:

    JKB: I just find it hard to believe that if you’ve got some guy stalking and confronting you, that if you fight back it’s your own fault if you get shot. From everything we know, Zimmerman pursued the kid and he is therefore the instigator. Following a stranger is a very threatening move.

  41. Franklin says:

    @Franklin: Just to clarify, I find the dispatcher’s instructions, or who was on top of who, or who was screaming, pretty much irrelevant. With the current information at my disposal, Zimmerman stalked someone else who eventually (after first trying to get away) stood his ground and got shot for the effort.

  42. Ben Wolf says:

    @Franklin:

    JKB: I just find it hard to believe that if you’ve got some guy stalking and confronting you, that if you fight back it’s your own fault if you get shot. From everything we know, Zimmerman pursued the kid and he is therefore the instigator. Following a stranger is a very threatening move.

    Yeah. It wasn’t Trayvon who was doing the stalking with a loaded gun, but some people don’t seem to give a damn.

  43. DRS says:

    I’m not a huge fan of teen slang but I saw a comment in a newstory post about this case and I’m going to repeat a (slightly censored) version of it because I like its succintness: “Sh*t just got real for Sheriff Zimmerman.”

    For months he’s had a great fantasy life as the Wyatt Earp of his gated community, calling in reports of “suspicious” persons to 911 – including at one point a 7-9 year old – without actually explaining what suspicious meant, aside from the persons being people he didn’t know. Apparently the idea that fellow residents could have visitors never occurred to him – everything was a potential crime in progress to him. And then one day he officiously follows a stranger and finds himself in a confrontation largely of his own making and uses his bang-bang toy for real.

    And a 17-year-old kid is dead. Zimmerman isn’t the victim.

  44. anjin-san says:

    @ DRS

    That’s probably the best summary of this tragedy I have heard.

    @ JKB

    A lean young man who is 6’2″, 160 lb.
    Of course, if he got on top of you, hitting you, perhaps you’d change your mind.

    Really, just stop. What we had here was a scared, skinny kid who just wanted to get back to his father’s house where he would be safe.

    You’ve morphed him in to a lean, black fighting machine. God help you if he gets on top of you.

    It’s beyond weak, even from you.

  45. Maxwell James says:

    @Trumwill:

    That news report was updated yesterday – although it doesn’t make clear which part was updated. The other reports I’ve seen on this all indicate the witness is new. Do you actually remember earlier reports that included this witness, or have you seen other, older stories that were not updated?

  46. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    Well, he looks like a lean kid from his photo and that fits with a 6’2″ frame and 160 lbs from the police report. I’m not sure how an accurate description transforms him into a fighting machine. Just his age and height makes him a capable young man like every other 17 yr old with similar characteristics.

    Although I do understand the propaganda value of portraying him as a small kid. Even the alteration of his photo to lighten his skin and enhance the contrast.

  47. Modulo Myself says:

    @DRS:

    I said this in a comment that is in moderation…but I just don’t understand how people who knew Zimmerman didn’t try to intervene before he killed Travvon. He had family. He had neighbors. What were they thinking allowing this guy to continue with his gun in his fantasy world?

  48. DRS says:

    Thanks, anjin-san. MM: assuming he had family and friends. I’m interested to know what kind of job he had – there must have been some point of contact with real life in his existence.

    I think most people simply avoided him because he was a known quantity. He was familiar enough that they didn’t appreciate how things could turn really bad someday. It was a gated community, with the safety that implied to its residents, and really, how bad could things get? And he had apparently helped out in some way a couple of years ago with a real crime and he probably got some kind of credit for that, as well as for having the wellbeing of his neighbours at heart – according to their lights, of course. I think it was more likely they were all characters cast in the Dirty Harry fantasy that ran in his mind, but they didn’t know that, of course.

    And now Zimmerman is the fantasy character in other people’s dramas: he’s had to go into hiding because of threats and nasty stuff directed at him. He’s learning that actions have consequences and they’re not all pleasant ones. Apparently some of the supporting players are not cheering on the sidelines while he makes Dodge City safe for decent, law-abiding folk. Pity the lesson came at the cost of a kid’s life.

  49. Jared says:

    Whole lot of mind-reading going on about this. Kind of makes one wonder if people shouldn’t have sprinted to conclusions without all the relevant facts.

    Oh, well. Once your mind’s made up I guess it’s made up.

    We can all agree that the $10,000 bounty on Zimmerman is pretty foul though. Right? I want to see all the evidence and legal channels followed. Because the news reports in this case have been, frankly, garbage.

  50. Modulo Myself says:

    Whole lot of mind-reading going on about this. Kind of makes one wonder if people shouldn’t have sprinted to conclusions without all the relevant facts.

    We should be out on the streets, armed, looking for hoodies and c**ns. On a blog, the stakes are just too high.

  51. @Dazedandconfused:

    I think it quite possible George lied when he said he was on his way back to his car.

    I saw a photo of the crimescene today and it was along a path back between several houses, which seems to contradict “I was attack heading back to my car” story, unless he was parked in someone’s backyard.

    I’d also note the grass stains everyone is making such a big deal about were on Zimmerman’s back. If Zimmerman was jumped from behind like he claims, wouldn’t they have been on the front of his shirt? There position on the back indicates he was attacked from the front, which meshes more with the “Zimmerman started a fight and then pulled a gun when he realized he was losing” scenario then the “Zimmerman was walking back to his car when Martin attacked him with absolutely no provocation” scenario.

  52. An Interested Party says:

    Remember Richard Jewel? How about the Duke Lacrosse players?

    I don’t remember them killing anyone…

    With Rev. Al jumping into the fray, one is reminded of the Brawley affair.

    Oh absolutely! Hey, maybe Trayvon Martin shoot himself…

    It’s a gated community that he lives in, but now others will possibly be put at risk.

    Like the risk of walking while black and wearing a hoodie, perhaps…

  53. WR says:

    @Dunbar: Boy, you’ve nailed it. The white guy shot the black kid because the black attorney general lets criminals out of jail, and there’s nothing for honest white folk to do but go around kiling any blacks they see just in case they’re criminals. And to imagine, some people will have the nerve to call you a racist for this!

  54. Modulo Myself says:

    @DRS:

    I don’t know. I read an interview from a black resident of this community saying that he was afraid to walk around and so went downtown whenever he wanted to stretch his legs. It sounds like an awful place to live.

  55. Liberty60 says:

    @Dunbar:
    “Soft on crime judges”

    Man, the 1970’s called- they want their bumpersticker back.

  56. gVOR08+4 says:

    OK, I’ve not been following this closely and may have missed some details. I expect that Martin did contribute some stupid to the situation. But to a situation the 911 tapes seem to make clear Zimmerman created all by himself, and despite advice to not do so.

    Bush wants to absolve himself of any responsibility (surprise) by claiming the Stand Your Ground law doesn’t apply, And when it comes to court, it may not. But it does seem to have applied when the local cops decided they shouldn’t detain Zimmerman, or his gun, or his supposedly grass stained shirt. Ironically, this last may work against Zimmerman, as a shirt with no chain of custody may not exist when it goes to court.

    Jeb is supposed to be the smart Bush. (The tallest midget?) Did he really think that a) encouraging people like Zimmerman to have guns, b) cooperating with the NRA; would turn out well?

  57. anjin-san says:

    Just his age and height makes him a capable young man like every other 17 yr old with similar characteristics.

    Do you realize how stupid that sounds? All tall 17 year olds are clones? For every agressive/cocky/confident 17 year old, there is one who is timid/shy/scared of his own shadow. Rapid growth as a teenager can make one very clumsy, and very self-concious. I can see no reason to claim all gangly 17 year olds can handle themselves, other than running interfearence for Zimmerman.

    the propaganda value of portraying him as a small kid.

    So now we have moved on to outright lies? I said he was skinny, not small. When I was 17, I was 6′ 2″ 160, so I kinda know about this. I was not lean, I was a frigging toothpick. If I had had to fight a guy in his 20s who had 40 or 50 pounds on me, I would have been scared shitless, despite the fact that I was a decent athlete and in great shape. Because I knew, like all the guys in high school knew, that despite pretensions of maturity, that we were kids and there was no percentage in fighting older guys. When kids fought men they almost always got the snot beat out of them.

    I’m tired of this conversation. Zimmerman is a wanna be cop who was doing DIY profiling. As a result, a child who was on his way home from buying some candy at the 7/11 is dead. Take your apoliga elsewhere.

  58. anjin-san says:

    @DRS

    Here is a good profile of Zimmerman in the CS Monitor. One thing that jumps out is that he was once charged with assault on a police officer, and that his former fiance accused him of domestic violence. These are the folks that conservatives think should be packing heat…

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2012/0324/Who-is-George-Zimmerman-and-why-did-he-shoot-Trayvon-Martin

  59. An Interested Party says:

    I read an interview from a black resident of this community saying that he was afraid to walk around and so went downtown whenever he wanted to stretch his legs.

    That resident went downtown precisely to avoid what happened to Trayvon Martin…

    I expect that Martin did contribute some stupid to the situation.

    How’s that? By walking around? Or maybe reacting defensively to Zimmerman following him? What would you have done in that same situation?

  60. Trumwill says:

    @Maxwell James: They talk to “John” in the video (he’s behind a door, so you can’t see him), which was a news report from the night that it occurred.

  61. ronb says:

    leticia olalia morales of 15501 pasadena ave #h tustin ca 92780 submitted fake documents and 5000 dollars to a person name sandman at the US embassy in manila. she also submitted fake employment records to obtain a work visa. Her husband carlos b. morales also submitted fake documents (land titles and bank statements) to obtain a tourist visa. Her son carlo iii also used such and helped 2 other people to obtain a US tourist visa.

  62. Ben Wolf says:

    @ronb: What?

  63. Brummagem Joe says:

    Bush is just rationalising a thoroughly bad law that inevitably muddies the water in many cases. The AG of the state has already pointed out they are inundated with cases where people claim to be defending themselves in bar fights and similar.

  64. Brummagem Joe says:

    Since the law was enacted in 2005, the number of justifiable homicides in Florida has skyrocketed, said state Sen. Oscar Braynon, a Democrat who represents the area in Miami where Trayvon lived with his mother. In 2005, there were 43 such cases; in 2009, the last complete year available, there were 105, he said.

    The Republican who promoted the law claimed this was evidence the law was working as intended….I’m not kidding.

  65. Dunbar says:

    @WR: Actually, my point is that Zimmerman probably has a record a mile long and should not have been out roaming the streets.

  66. Racehorse says:

    @ronb: Could you explain, translate, or revise? This is incoherent and may have been mistakenly pasted in.

  67. PD Shaw says:

    For all the theorizing about what happened, I don’t see any recognition here that the State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self-defense. I think that burden is almost impossible to meet from what I’m reading here.

  68. Dunbar says:

    @anjin-san: With those charges, he should not be out on the streets to start with. Some judge is to blame!

  69. PD Shaw says:

    I’ll also add that I don’t think this stand your ground law is uinique; I would guess a majority of jurisdictions have similar rules, but I’m not seeing a good breakdown. Some states simply just don’t have the word “retreat” in their criminal code.

  70. @PD Shaw: Quite clearly if Zimmerman faces charges, which I believe he should, yes: any conviction must be obtained by the state making its case and proving beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed a crime.

    Of course, regardless of the outcome of a potential trial it is possible to ask questions like: should he have pursued Martin in the first place?

    The conversation is a combination of the legal, political, and social, yes? Further, not all conclusions about behavior have to meet a strict courtroom standard (not that all participants, either here or in society at large are taking the proper tone or approach to the conversation).

  71. @Trumwill: Thanks for the correction. It is now noted.

  72. PD Shaw says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Its not just that the State has to prove a crime in this instance; it has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the killing was _not_ in self-defense. It has to prove a negative, which is rare and in and of itself quite difficult; I was surprised that was the rule, but its apparently so in a majority of states.

    I only raise the legal points to the extent one is judging what the police have done or should have done.

  73. @PD Shaw: Yes, it is a legal mess on a variety of levels. Zimmerman may not be charged, and if charged may not be found guilty.

    Still does that obviate the broader discussion? Legally not guilty does not mean that one behaved properly (or that one is even innocent).

    Are you just pointing out the complexity of the legal situation or are you making a broader point?

  74. PD Shaw says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I hope I’m not coming across as suggesting the discussion is stupid; I just think its worth emphasizing in the midst of playing junior sleuth and calls for incarceration, that justice places a huge brick on the scales in favor of the accused.

  75. Console says:

    The funny thing is that in any normal place/state, you have a responsibility as a gun carrier not to do stupid things. You can’t go to the bar and get drunk and presumably you can’t pick a fight with someone. I think that’s sort of the thinking that Jeb Bush is having about the situation.

  76. Maxwell James says:

    @Trumwill:

    OK, thanks.

  77. An Interested Party says:

    I just think its worth emphasizing in the midst of playing junior sleuth and calls for incarceration, that justice places a huge brick on the scales in favor of the accused.

    Speculation and opinion are, of course, the norm with this kind of thing…obviously anyone who hears about this is going to form an opinion…none of that means that justice won’t be served for Zimmerman…at the same time, what justice will Martin recieve? At this point, no one needs to play junior sleuth to realize that all he got was a bullet…

  78. matt says:

    @anjin-san: Indeed. I was a 6’1″ 140lb teen not too terribly long ago. I was a complete toothpick and since I had a growth spurt I was completely uncoordinated till after I graduated high school. Even when I hit 160lbs from weightlifting I was still a flyweight compared to a man.

  79. @PD Shaw:

    For all the theorizing about what happened, I don’t see any recognition here that the State has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not self-defense.

    I certainly acknowledged that when I asked for an arrest and not a verdict. I really don’t know how the case will play out, but I don’t think that this something that should be decided below public visibility.

    We don’t know if officers on the scene did not arrest because there was compelling evidence vindicating Zimmerman, or if they just thought Martin “fit the profile.”

  80. (I am not a lawyer, and I haven’t been keeping up with the latest news, but I lean toward the appropriate charge being manslaughter.)

  81. @PD Shaw:

    calls for incarceration

    Was that a cheat? I think most are asking for an arrest, and I haven’t heard anyone argue against bail.

  82. Rob in CT says:

    It’s shaping up pretty much how I imagined it: Zimmerman stalks the kid. The kid notices. He does not appreciate it. There is a confrontation. As relayed by the girlfriend, Zimmerman demands of Martin “what are you doing here” and Martin demands “why are you following me?” Then the call ends. At this point, perhaps more words were exchanged, I dunno. They get into a fist fight. Maybe Martin started it. Maybe Zimmerman tried to prevent Martin from continuing on his way and Martin hit him. We don’t know. Martin apparently got the advantage in the fight. Zimmerman, who was apparently getting his butt kicked, shoots Martin dead.

    [The above is obviously a best guess based on everything I’ve read about this]

    I think the cops did a terrible job here, what with not taking a hard look at Zimmerman’s story, not following up on various bits of evidence, “correcting” a witness who claimed that Martin, not Zimmerman, called for help, drug testing Martin’s body but not Zimmerman, etc. I also think Zimmerman is a grade-A loser. I do not find his actions to be reasonable.

  83. mattb says:

    The broader issue here, as brought up on several threads, is that this entire idea of “stand your ground,” while it might make sense in theory, lead to a defacto escalation in this sort of situation.

    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, knows he’s being followed by someone whose making him uncomfortable. That person closes the distance and confronts Martin.

    A self defense situation is initiated. And Martin, it appears, *stands his ground.*

    The situation escalates to violence. And here’s the ironic part — if Martin had killed Zimmerman (as opposed to punched and mounted him) — he would have been protected by the same law that Zimmerman used. And, to some degree Martin would have been more warranted, as we know that Zimmerman was carrying a loaded weapon.

    Where we end up is that Zimmerman, fearing for his own life (self defense situation 2). *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 realistically kill each other and both equally claim self-defense, is ultimately unworkable.