Trayvon Martin Shooter George Zimmerman Dreamed of Being a Cop

My armchair pop psychology on George Zimmerman, the man who gunned down innocent black teenager Trayvon Martin, appears on target.

My armchair pop psychology on George Zimmerman, the man who gunned down innocent black teenager Trayvon Martin, appears on target.

LAT (“Trayvon Martin shooting: George Zimmerman dreamed of being a cop“):

When a rash of burglaries and other crimes broke out in and around a gated community in Sanford, Fla., residents wanted some form of protection. Someone raised the possibility of a neighborhood watch group. But only one resident seems to have come forward for the duties: George Zimmerman.

[…]

According to local media reports, Zimmerman took seriously his volunteer role as captain of the neighborhood watch group in the diverse community. He had aspirations of being a police officer at one point in his life, and had called 911 to report suspicious activity in the neighborhood nearly 50 times in the last year, according to the Miami Herald.

“He once caught a thief and an arrest was made,” Cynthia Wibker, secretary of the homeowners association, told the Herald. “He helped solve a lot of crimes.”

But others apparently felt uneasy with Zimmerman’s zealousness.

One African American resident, Ibrahim Rashada, told the Herald that Zimmerman seemed friendly and helpful, but Zimmerman also circulated a description of a suspect that pulled Rashada up short. “I fit the stereotype he emailed around,” Rashada said. That realization led Rashada to drive downtown whenever he wants to take a walk and stretch his legs. “I don’t want anyone chasing me,” he said.

Especially this guy, it would seem.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Should have guessed Zimmerman was a mall ninja.

  2. James in LA says:

    This story gets creepier by the day. The cell phone call with his girlfriend and the 911 tapes paint a damning picture, not just of Zimmerman, but a corrupt police department that took no drug tests, did not disarm him, and likely conspired to keep the damaging 911 tapes out of the media.

    This is anarchy, plain and simple, boiled down to a single event that is appearing more cut and dried with each new revelation. More than half the states now have these “stand your ground” laws.

  3. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    Hmm. Well, Chief, I don’t know about your major premise.

    A line in a L.A. Times article referencing reports in the Miami Herald that this Zimmerman character had aspirations of being cop at some unknown point in the past doesn’t necessarily mean he “dreamed” about being a cop or even that he had aspirations of being a cop. Let’s not be naive. The L.A. Times referencing the Miami Herald in connection with a media frenzy over a black kid getting shot by a non-black shooter is sort of like the NRA citing the 2nd Amendment Foundation in support of the proposition that a gun control law is misguided. You catch my drift? The left-wing media already has gone into high dudgeon mode over this story and given the race angle and it being a reelection year for Obama the chances of their reporting on this matter falling within even the penumbra of fair and accurate nearly are the same as the chances of El Al being named the national airline of Iran.

    That all said, there’s little doubt there are a lot of crackers out there in Zombieland suffering from rent-a-cop syndrome, Napoleonic complexes, cop envy and like matters. Zimmerman might be one of those guys. Then again Zimmerman might not be one of those guys. We don’t really know for sure. If you’re relying on the likes of the L.A. Times and the Miami Herald to clue you in you’d be better of consulting a ouija board. Capiche?

    Lastly, putting aside the issue of media agendas and like items, there’s the simple fact that this either was a crime or it wasn’t. The people who decide whether to prosecute are called prosecutors. Not journalists. The people who decide guilty or not guilty are called juries. Not bloggers. The people who decide the legal aspects of such cases are called judges. Not pundits.

  4. Jenos Idanian says:

    I remember a lot of similar comments made about another “cop wannabe” who was suspected in another high-profile case… where a lot of people were convinced this “mall ninja” had set things up so he could play hero.

    How long did it take Richard Jewell to get his reputation back?

  5. Delmar says:

    Florida probably needs to look some regulations concerning neighborhood watch groups and just what they can do. I would say that weapons would be limited to pepper spray. They should also carry a camera and one of those air horns that can literaly bring a suspect to a halt. Now if it was Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, or Oakland, I would certainly not go out anywhere unless I had a 44 and lots of lead. But in a gate community, just patrolling, reporting, and in some rare cases detaining (there are ways to do this safely without injuries) should be sufficient. Now when people hear or see something suspicious, such a person being attacked, they should certainly look into it, not shut their doors and turn off their lights.
    Hopefully things will calm down and the police can further investigate this incident.

  6. An Interested Party says:

    How long did it take Richard Jewell to get his reputation back?

    Richard Jewell didn’t kill anyone…

  7. Graham says:

    Wanted to be a cop, eh? Gee, I wonder why he didn’t make the cut.

  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    I don’t know about anyone else but I have no plans to visit Florida anytime soon. Apparently now any whacko can wander around with a gun (which are very easy to obtain), shoot you, and then claim he was acting in self defense.

  9. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: Hey, Tsar, if you really want to convince us, you should mention the 17 years you worked in the newspaper field. It really worked with the oil and banking industries.

  10. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: “Lastly, putting aside the issue of media agendas and like items, there’s the simple fact that this either was a crime or it wasn’t. The people who decide whether to prosecute are called prosecutors. Not journalists. The people who decide guilty or not guilty are called juries. Not bloggers. The people who decide the legal aspects of such cases are called judges. Not pundits. ”

    That’s an interesting point. So in your mind, all those blacks who were murdered in Mississippi up through the passage of the Civil Rights Bill weren’t murdered, because the white police declined to arrest, the white prosecutors declined to prosecute, and the white juries were never given a chance to decide. And I guess James Chaney and Michael Scwermer were only officially murdered once the Feds got involved.

  11. Alanmt says:

    There seems to have been a fairly clear dereliction of duty by the local police force.

    The following facts are undisputed:

    1. Martin was returning home, had no criminal purpose ndn was doing absolutely nothing wrong.

    2. Zimmerman incorrectly concluded he was engaged in criminal activity and confronted him, armed, against police advice.

    3. Martin was unarmed.

    4. Martin reasonably assumed that Zimmerman was acting with criminal intent.

    5. Zimmerman shot Martin after his confrontation of him got out of hand.

    If this were in my jurisdiction when i was a prosecutor, Zimmerman would have been charged quickly, after a much more thorough investigation. That he wasn’t is appalling.

  12. Rooster says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:

    Race crime? I’ll bet you he walks..

    What the media isn’t reporting us a witness saw Zimmerman getting his ass kicked yelling for help. When the police arrived he had a bloody nose and was bleeding from the back of his head.

    Ugh, the problem is that does NOT make for good ratings!

  13. An Interested Party says:

    What the media isn’t reporting us a witness saw Zimmerman getting his ass kicked yelling for help. When the police arrived he had a bloody nose and was bleeding from the back of his head.

    And what was being used to kick his ass? The bag of Skittles or the can of iced tea? Spare us the bull$hit about a media conspiracy and show the proof for this claim…

  14. slimslowslider says:

    @Rooster:

    What the media isn’t reporting us a witness saw Zimmerman getting his ass kicked yelling for help.

    Can you provide a citation for this?
    Thanks!

  15. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Alanmt: It’s way too early for speculation, but your scenario seems fairly plausible. I would give the local officials at least a little time to handle it, though, before I brought in the feds.

    As pretty much everyone but the troglodyte WR realizes, this isn’t the 1950’s or 1960’s. I’m willing to give the local officials at least a chance to get it right before (literally) making a federal case out of it.

  16. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I’m willing to give the local officials at least a chance to get it right before (literally) making a federal case out of it.

    They had their chance, and failed miserably.

  17. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @mantis:

    Yes, indeed.

    I suppose if I were a white dude living in the third whitest state in the country, I’d have Jenos’ level of confidence in local law enforcement, too. But, I’m not, and I grew up in Florida, so there you go. I’m biased.

  18. Jenos Idanian says:

    @mantis: How long is “their chance?”

    The whole thing just happened. Zimmerman ain’t going anywhere. Prosecutors and grand juries can, occasionally, take a little time.

    Oh, I forgot. This is the same crowd that was appalled how the accused Afghanistan shooter wasn’t strung up within 24 hours of the killings.

    Of all the scenarios put forth so far, Alanmt’s seems the most plausible. Zimmerman didn’t intend to kill the teenager; he just got in his face against the advice of cops and all common sense. The teenager, logically and quite possibly legally, met aggression with aggression and fought back better than Zimmerman expected — and Zimmerman panicked and went for his gun.

    If that’s how it played out, Manslaughter or — maybe — Murder 2. But considering how the cops found Zimmerman on the scene — apparently beaten up a bit — then I’ll give them a pass in busting him immediately.

    The added pressure just might get the local officials to “Do The Right Thing” and sic a grand jury on the case. I hope it does.

    But the system hasn’t failed yet. I’ll give it a chance before bringing in Eric Holder’s disgustingly-politicized Justice Department. Hell, Zimmerman’s Latino; they might just think he’s part of a Mexican drug cartel and give him free assault weapons.

  19. Nikki says:

    A grand jury will be convened on April 10. Took them 3 weeks, but they’ve finally decided to do it. Funny how the state didn’t feel the need to get involved until the feds stepped in, isn’t it?

  20. Delmar says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Remember the infamous Casey Anthony disaster? Don’t bet on any action from a jury. I do wonder how this guy was going around in a gated community doing this kind of thing: I thought that gated communities have their own security. The fact that Martin was inside showed that he had passed through the security guard at the gate and was not any kind of suspect. This should have been self evident.

  21. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The whole thing just happened. Zimmerman ain’t going anywhere. Prosecutors and grand juries can, occasionally, take a little time.

    Local law enforcement made it pretty clear they had no intention of arresting Zimmerman. They didn’t test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol, but they tested the victim. They didn’t investigate Martin’s phone records and talk to his girlfriend, with whom he was on the phone moments before the shooting. There was plenty of probable cause to be found, but they didn’t bother to look, eventually passing the buck to the state attorney’s office, who also did nothing until the feds announced their own investigation, and then they decided to convene a grand jury. No explanation has been offered for the lack of investigation or the prosecutor’s delay in taking any action. It seems quite clear the locals were content to take Zimmerman at his word with zero investigation. Public outcry and federal involvement are the only reason this case is now being pursued.

    This is the same crowd that was appalled how the accused Afghanistan shooter wasn’t strung up within 24 hours of the killings.

    I’m not a crowd, and I said no such thing.

    But considering how the cops found Zimmerman on the scene — apparently beaten up a bit — then I’ll give them a pass in busting him immediately.

    How gracious of you. How about anytime in the past 3+ weeks? Do they get an extended pass?

    The added pressure just might get the local officials to “Do The Right Thing” and sic a grand jury on the case. I hope it does.

    Then we agree, and it has.

    But the system hasn’t failed yet.

    Despite the efforts of Police Chief Lee and the Seminole County State Attorney’s office.

    I’ll give it a chance before bringing in Eric Holder’s disgustingly-politicized Justice Department.

    I see. You’re only interested in justice if Republicans are in charge. Such principles.

  22. Jenos Idanian says:

    @mantis: In 2007, the Boston Globe won a Pulitzer for noting the high percentage — 58% — of Bush Justice Department new hires were ideologically in sync with the administration.

    Under Obama, the same litmus test shows a similar bias — on the order of 100%.

    Not a 100% increase. 100%, as in every single one.

    As in, every single new hire had lengthy liberal activist credentials — some exceptionally liberal. Not a single conservative, not a single moderate or apolitical career worker.

    Plus, as noted, they’re still busy frantically covering their asses over Fast & Furious. They don’t have time to get involved.

  23. An Interested Party says:

    Funny how the state didn’t feel the need to get involved until the feds stepped in, isn’t it?

    Exactly right…and yet we still hear the cries of “The feds shouldn’t get involed! The feds shouldn’t get involved!” This may not be the 1950s, but those same cries were heard in the 1950s…

  24. mantis says:

    Under Obama, the same litmus test shows a similar bias — on the order of 100%.

    According to Pajamapants media. You are a joke.

    Plus, as noted, they’re still busy frantically covering their asses over Fast & Furious. They don’t have time to get involved.

    So you think the ATF is the entirety of the Justice Department? What a moran.

  25. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: “As pretty much everyone but the troglodyte WR realizes, this isn’t the 1950′s or 1960′s. I’m willing to give the local officials at least a chance to get it right before (literally) making a federal case out of it. ”

    As I recall, you were the one pining for the 1850s, longing for the good old days when those kind slaveholders took care of their slaves and kept them off the street where they could get into trouble like this.

  26. Jenos Idanian says:

    @WR: As I recall, you were the one pining for the 1850s, longing for the good old days when those kind slaveholders took care of their slaves and kept them off the street where they could get into trouble like this.

    For your sake, I hope you’re just delusional. ‘Cuz that’s the most insane and potentially libelous thing you’ve ever said — and that is saying a LOT.

    There’s absolutely nothing worth saying here that doesn’t start with a “G” and end with a “FY.”

  27. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @WR:

    Easy there, big fella. Jenos isn’t jwest. By all accounts, jwest is an unregenerate racist. Jenos/Jay Tea is just a doughy old white dude from White Hampshire who loves him some good old-fashioned Republican authoritarianism because it never did anyone like him any harm.

  28. Peter says:

    Some parts of the blogosphere have concluded that the natural physical superiority of black men, with their athleticism, rippling fast-twitch muscles and excellent street fighting skills, meant that Zimmerman had no choice but to shoot. What they overlook is the fact that at 6’3″ and about 140 to 150 pounds Trayvon Martin had zero muscle and probably would have lost a fistfight with an angry squirrel. If squirrels had fists. Zimmerman outweighed him by about 100 pounds.

  29. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @Peter:

    Some parts of the blogosphere have concluded that the natural physical superiority of black men, with their athleticism, rippling fast-twitch muscles and excellent street fighting skills

    Oh, that’s just the usual right-wing, homoerotic Jungle Fever talking.

  30. WR says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Yes, Jwest, I urge you to sue me and all of us who believe you to be a racist for libel. It will be a great case. “Your Honor, these mean people called my plagiarized pseudonym mean names, thus causing irreperable harm to a ficitional character among those who are too stupid to understand that I am not actually that fictional character but one using its name with no authorization from the rights holder.”

    Boy, lawyers will be lining up to take that case. Talk about cashing in!

  31. WR says:

    @WR: By the way, if “Jenos” is so upset with having to carry JWest’s baggage, all he has to do is say “I am not JWest.” Which of course he hasn’t done.

  32. James Joyner says:

    @WR: @Rufus T. Firefly:

    Unless he’s moved across the country or has learned to spoof his IP, Jenos isn’t JWest. I can’t rule out his being Jay Tea.

  33. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @James Joyner:

    Highly doubtful that Jenos/Jay Tea would know thing one about spoofing. He’s still looking for the “Any” key.

  34. mantis says:

    Folks, Jenos is not Jay Tea either. Trust me, I’ve been sparring with Jay Tea for many years. Not the same person.

  35. An Interested Party says:

    Folks, Jenos is not Jay Tea either.

    Even though both show the same fascination with naval military matters…

  36. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @An Interested Party:

    …and defending Breitbart’s smear of Shirley Sherrod, and Bill Ayers the terrorist, and Rev. Wright the racist (oops, I mean RAAACIST), and Barney Frank crashed the economy, and Sweet Zombie Jesus it’s Saul Alinsky…

    The man has only one look for Christ’s sake! Blue Steel, Ferrari, LeTigre? THEY’RE THE SAME FACE! Doesn’t anyone notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

  37. WR says:

    @James Joyner: Really? I’m disappointed. I thought someone had made a pretty good argument for why he couldn’t be Jay Tea. Oh, well. He’s clearly someone who’s been around here under various names.

  38. Jenos Idanian says:

    @James Joyner: So… rampant personal insults and outright libelous statements are NOT enough to get you to put on your moderator’s hat, but speculation about “what’s his/her secret identity?” is?

    Good to know the rules — the unwritten rules — that apply.

  39. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    No need for speculation; I went to the dictionary definition of butthurt and there you were, Jay/Jim/Jenos. Scratch an authoritarian and you’ll find he just won’t stop crying.

  40. al-Ameda says:

    Is it common for police departments, on knowing who the assailant and killer is, to not charge and detain that person pending an investigation?

    Or did the Sanford police department not charge and detain Zimmerman because the victim was Black?