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If you carry concealed, it’s likely that you’ve given a good bit of thought as to what you would do if, God forbid, you ever had to shoot someone. If you’re smart, you’ve played the game of “what if” in your head, and taken to heart the advice you’ve gotten here on TTAG and elsewhere, regarding how to behave after the incident. But in the Twilight Zone of polarizing politics and media bias, what you may not have thought through is that none of that may matter, if circumstances let slip the Dogs of Media. You may well find yourself on the wrong side of an angry mob, armed not with pitchforks, hot tar and feathers, but something far scarier: video cameras, microphones, and network satellite uplinks. Presented for your consideration: George Zimmerman, 28. A man with a mission. A neighborhood watch captain, caught in the media’s Twilight Zone.

As far as we can tell this early in the investigation, the facts are these: George Zimmerman is a neighborhood watch captain, who was on patrol the night of February 26, 2012, near his home in Sanford, Florida. He has a license to carry a concealed weapon.

Enter Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old returning from a convenience store to his father’s fiancee’s home in a gated community. Zimmerman called 911 to report a suspicious man. The 911 dispatcher sent out a call to a patrol car and advised Zimmerman not to confront the suspect.

By the time police had arrived, Martin lay dying on the ground with a gunshot wound to his chest. He was unarmed, carrying only some candy, a bottle of iced tea, and a small amount of cash. Zimmerman told police that he was afraid for his life and shot Martin in self-defense.

That’s all we know. It’s not much. But you’d be amazed at the number of people willing to leap to a conclusion (on either side of the issue) from those scant details.

One group, more than eager to do some Olympic gold-medal quality leaping is the news media. For you see, Zimmerman has not (yet) been charged with a crime and has not been arrested by the local police. Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee has told the media that they are conducting a thorough investigation, and until the investigation is complete, Zimmerman will not be taken into custody.

To the media, that’s like waving raw meat in their collective faces. Click on the video to listen to the police chief’s impromptu presser. Pay close attention to the questions the reporters ask. Then ask yourself one important question: Do you think Zimmerman can possibly get a fair shake (not to mention a fair trial) if he’s tried in the press (by the press, for the press’s – ratings) with reporters that don’t even bother to contain (much less hide) their bias?

Look, I can see six ways o’ Sunday where this whole thing could have gone horribly wrong. Let me count just a few of the ways, scenario-wise:

  1. Zimmerman could be jumpy – we haven’t yet heard if there was a recent string of burglaries or home invasions in the neighborhood – so he might have been predisposed towards being more suspicious than he needed to be in this instance.
  2. Zimmerman could be inexperienced, and forgotten/ignored the rules of engagement, although he IS claiming self-defense.
  3. Zimmerman could be, in fact, a bigot or racist as the news media implied claimed, just itching to shoot somebody.
  4. Martin could have been in the wrong place, in the wrong time.
  5. Martin could have made some moves that looked overtly threatening to Zimmerman, either in jest, or because he was feeling a little cocky, perhaps. (And if you don’t think that’s likely, you don’t know many 17-year-olds.)
  6. Martin might have taken offense to being stopped or challenged, and might have done something to exacerbate the situation, to a point to where it reached a tragic conclusion.

There are many more I could come up with, but you get the point. We don’t know what happened. And in fact, we may NEVER know. There is a tape, of course. The 911 operator recorded the whole thing. The police have not yet released the tape, pending the conclusion of their investigation.

Unfortunately, regardless of their findings, it sounds as if the media is going to push and push and push, until the D.A. has no recourse but to indict, even if all evidence points to the idea that Zimmerman was telling the truth.

Please understand. I am NOT rushing to judgement here. We don’t know enough to make an intelligent, informed judgement on this. I love armchair quarterbacking as much as the next guy, but until we know if Martin threatened Zimmerman or Zimmerman believed his life was in imminent danger, there’s not much to say, except that this is a tragedy.

Martin’s family will carry the scars of this forever. Then again, so will Zimmerman, one way or another. Even if he is no-billed, the weight of the knowledge that he took a human life, and shot a kid who posed no threat to him will not be something easy for anyone to scrub from their conscience.

Obviously, the boy’s family is heartbroken. And until the investigation has run its course, they have every right to be suspicious of Zimmerman and his motives. For his part, it would seem that Zimmerman is taking the principle of StFU seriously. Good for him. And the cops (at least for now) seem to be taking a very measured, careful approach. Good for them. I don’t see any racism in the aftermath, save for that coming from the media.

In their rush to impose their “social justice” agenda, the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing (much less the whole “not charged with a crime” thing) seems to have completely escaped their notice. And I think the family and community is being remarkably ill-served by the media trying to turn this into the next race riot.

Is Zimmerman guilty of anything? Homicide? Manslaughter? Bad judgement? Bad luck? I don’t know. Nobody does. Yet. But I sure wish the media, in their unbridled passion and glee to find story they can trumpet that has all the makings of a remake of the Bonfire of the Vanities, would try a little StFU therapy on themselves. Maybe those of us left to pick up the pieces after this mess would all be better off.

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230 COMMENTS

  1. Sometimes I wish the person answering questions, in this case the police chief, would answer in much more plain language. He answered factually and correctly, but frankly, the question deserved more derision than it received.

    Q: Can you tell us why you are passing the buck? When someone shoots and kills someone, they get arrested. Why are you passing the buck in this case and putting it on prosecutors to make a determination on whether he should be arrested?

    A: Your question demonstrates your ignorance of the law as it is written, and it is neither my job nor my responsibility to educate you on that law. I suggest, given your chosen profession as one who asks questions, that you educate yourself prior to asking them, so as not to demonstrate your ignorance and bias to the world, and on tape.

    • You forget that a police chief is a political appointee and the length of his political career is very often dictated by whether the local media support him or not. I’m not disagreeing that your answer to the question was much better than his, but when have you ever known a politician to tell it like it is?

    • So in Florida you can chase someone who isn’t bothering you, then shoot and kill them, claim it’s “self-defense” – and that’s all you have to do

  2. On the list of worst-case scenario outcomes tied to drawing down in legitimate self defense, we must add certain media bias to a list which already includes death & long term incarceration.

    The mainstream media is no friend to the 2nd Amendment or its adherents thereof. Anyone who has to kill in self defense should not only expect a tough legal fight in court but also must expect to be portrayed as the bad guy by the media. Its one negative outcome that armed citizen and armed cop can both equally expect to happen. The Amadou Diali case in New York stands as a great example of this effect, as does the Rodney King incident. In the former, the departed Mr Diali had a criminal record for petty crimes and evaded police when asked to stop. When the NYPD caught up to the man in a dark hallway, he reached for his wallet-which for all the world looked like a gun. I used to think the cops were full of it until I got a clue and education on lethal force encounters, and realized that dark objects held by people in the dark can look an awful lot like Glock pistols. Any of us who concealed carry could shoot an unarmed man who just happened to be standing in the wrong dark alley holding their wallet in the wrong light.

    In the latter, Rodney King evaded police and was high on cocaine, which is why an army of cops were responding when the cameras rolled. Of course the video never showed Mr. King’s rap sheet or actions before the cops pulled their nightsticks.It is easy to look at those events and think “eh, sucks to be them” , but any of us who carry can be subject to the same treatment. Honestly, I expect it. The next “Armed Vigilante shoots High School Student in Cold Blood” headline may be written about *your* DGU.

    • Please get your facts straight Mr Diallo had no record was asked for identification and when he pulled out his wallet he was shot at 41 times he was shot so many times even after he was down he had bullets in the soles of his feet this was overkill!

  3. He is guilty of bad judgement. Neighborhood Watch is all about observing and reporting. Not following, not confronting, not disregarding police dispatch advice. Observing and reporting, that’s all.

    Zimmermann is guilty of DTFM. DTFM stands for, of course, Doing Too F***ing Much. Because of that a teenager, regardless of what was said or happened, is dead. This very well could be a situation where self-defense was justified, but we don’t know that for sure yet.

    What I do know for sure is that Zimmerman is guilty of DTFM. Armed. And he may or may not be a busybody.

    Mind your own damned business, folks.

    • Agree. If he witnessed the teen attacking someone, different story. I don’t see any media bias in clear self defense cases usually, but in cases like this, he comes off looking like a self appointed neighborhood commando. Be aware of how your actions can be perceived.

      • Yep. And I think there’s been a visceral reaction to the whole event because many people know someone who fits the stereotype you mentioned. That and it was completely avoidable yet he kept pushing forward.

    • Agreed. The reports I’ve read say he was a self appointed captain of the neighborhood watch. I dont care if you’re only PFC Snuffy in the neighborhood watch, you dont need to be patroling the neighborhood armed and looking for trouble.

      The other reports I’ve seen say something about bystanders who saw them arguing and wrestling on the ground, and the kid calling for help.

      • Another story on the matter. Any of you folks even remotely defending the shooter should read/watch. This isn’t our usual first and second amendment arguing stuff. This was a law-abiding kid telling an armed bully to go piss off, just like most of us would do. This appears to be murder. I suspect the shooter’s days of non-incarceration are numbered.

        http://abcnews.go.com/US/neighborhood-watch-shooting-trayvon-martin-probe-reveals-questionable/story?id=15907136

        • You must have read a different article. That article supports the self defense claim more than anything else.

          Either way we won’t know till the facts come out. Hence the whole point of this article, don’t jump to conclusions.

        • You’re kidding yourself. Guy gets out of his vehicle, chases a law abiding child who isn’t on shooter’s property, initiates a confrontation and shoots and kills the child. Are you kidding me? I’ll bet a year’s salary that the shooter will be sentenced to many years behind bars.

        • Notice how right out of the gate the news story points out the race of the actors in this. When three black teenagers beat the shit out of a taxi driver and his passenger you had to go 4 paragraphs down to learn it was “possibly” “maybe” a hate crime.
          The media isn’t helping, they are actively fanning the flames. Why have police investigate, just let the media handle it all.

        • I’ll go out and say we were openly told that if it’s white on black then make sure you charge them with the enhanced penalties of a racially motivated crime (as long as the victim felt it was so). If it were black on white (almost a nightly occurrence), you were to ignore race even if the suspects were calling the victim “cracker” or “whitey” and telling him he was being beaten for being white.

        • cant rewrite statistics that 30 percent of people that are black and incarcerated are vindicated and released under dna evidence. Imagine the people that have no dna evidence. Blacks on average get convicted more and with stricter penalties than whites. Do you know what percentage of whites are vindicated through dna 6 percent. very disproportionate difference.

    • I thought one of the points of the article was that we don’t know what happened there. Therefore, we don’t know if he DTFM. He might actually have DTRT.

  4. Armed citizens would do well to add to their regimen of self-defense the sober acknowledgment that they live within a racially charged country. They must remember that they operate at all times as potential media spectacles who are understood not as individuals but as caricatures within a social drama familiar to all.

    Even if you believe that it is better to be tried by twelve than carried by six, include the twelve in your tactical judgments. You should perhaps be more afraid of how they will interpret your definition of “suspicious person” than you should be of “suspicious people”.

    • That’s an excellent point. Professional victim groups have boatloads of cash. Boatloads of cash buy primo lawyers. Primo lawyers extract blood from your veins.

      But a lot of this can be avoided by moving somewhere with more people of one’s own background.

  5. Did the black kid with the candy and the iced tea actually jump the white guy with a gun? Who knows. I do know that if that’s Zimmerman’s story, it just sounds kinda preposterous.

  6. I agree that in a claimed self defense scenario you are innocent until proven guilty, just like any other crime. While we do not know the facts and whether or not defense was ligitimate, that is still the way it is. So I agree that he should not have been brough right to jail. Think of the other story that’s been brought up recently about the guy who was aquitted in a DGU after sitting in jail for for a month because he couldn’t pay bail. Meanwhile his landlord knew he was in jail, but evicted him anyway without notification and threw all his belongings on the street, which of course got stolen. So now the man has nothing and is living in a motel. He also lost his job, but thankfully got that back. I think everyone who frequents this sight agrees that he should have been treated with an innocent until proven guilty mindset and should not have been brought in to begin with. He should have been able to live at home, pay his rent, and keep his job while awaiting his trial and aquittal.

  7. What catches my attention is that Zimmerman was in an SUV as he patrolled and made the call to the PD about his suspicions. If the kid was so suspicious, why would Zimmerman get out of his SUV? That doesn’t wash. I don’t know Florida law, but in Pennsylvania the facts so far reported would be difficult to overcome: Self-defense shootings are not justified if the shooter initiates a confrontation in public space or is mutually culpable in the start of a fight without weapons in a public space. In other words, informally speaking, a person may not escalate to firearms to win a fight which he started in a public space or in which he willingly joined, but must attempt to remove himself. Zimmerman did not have police powers of arrest. The kid had no duty to answer any questions or instructions from Zimmerman. It seems Zimmerman had no business even getting out of his SUV. Others report that Zimmerman was previously charged seven years earlier with resisting arrest ‘with violence’ though the charges were later dropped. (Zimmerman’s neighbor says Zimmerman is a fairly dark-beige Hispanic, not an ‘Anglo.’)

    • Very true. He has no business initiating any interaction with the ‘suspect.’ This is why the police were called. He could monitor from the distance and safety of his SUV until polic arrive. I would give them more respect than some neigborhood watch guy without a badge asking me questions.

    • As a free citizen anyone can interact with anyone else. It’s called society. If I see someone who looks lost in my neighborhood, I might ask them if they are looking for a street or person. If that person then gets all crazy and escalates the situation to a deadly force level; tough cookies for them. In Florida there is no legal duty to retreat (covered from civil liability as well). In fact, law enforcement is prohibited from even taking the firearm used in the SD event provided there is not enough probable cause to arrest.

      In FL, it is pretty standard to run some of these by the SA even when an officer is involved. If he wasn’t charged and booked immediately, it is unlikely he will face charges in the future unless the SA has some political or personal bone to pick.

      • “it is unlikely he will face charges in the future unless the SA has some political or personal bone to pick.”

        unless it gets to the FBI and or DOJ as a civil rights case. the TV has gotten a hold of this story and its not going away.

        this ****ing guy zimmerman is a total Gomer. a CCW DOES NOT make you the police, it is to protect yourself, not to pretend he is Bruce Willis in die hard.

        • Although he may be a gober, he has every legal right as you and I do to walk the same public streets. He has no duty to retreat in FL and has the right to meet deadly force with deadly force. Until we get the details, this is just a “what if” game. If there was enough probable cause in the first place, he would have been arrested and booked.

        • He wasn’t walking the streets. He was driving the streets. If you stopped your vehicle at night and hopped out to start questioning me without a badge showing, you’d have made a mistake.

        • That is where he went wrong. There are plenty of things he SHOULD have done differently. Even if Zimmerman was harassing me, the most I would do is call and wait for local LEO to arrive assuming he didn’t present a threat.

          It was a dumbass mistake on his part to leave his vehicle when he could just as easily followed from a distance and reported everything to dispatch.

          The problem is we don’t have all the details. You and I would both be ready to draw down should someone do likewise to us, but it is still within peoples’ rights to talk to anyone they want. It is within our rights to react to perceived threats.

          I’m not saying Zimmerman is in the right, but we don’t have all the details to figure out anything but the following:

          1. Zimmerman exited his vehicle
          2. Zimmerman got his ass handed to him
          3. Zimmerman fatally shoots the kid

          Everything else is a matter of conjecture at this point.

        • Yep. Agree. We’ve speculated. Now it’s time to see what the SA says. They MUST teach the FL NW guys not to act as he did? If not, hope they start.

      • Bluntly, if the facts so far made public occurred in my neighborhood, I would hope to see the case go to a grand jury if there wasn’t physical evidence or a witness to back up Zimmerman. It’s that simple. Without the SUV, cop advice, apparent lack of a weapon on the kid, and Neighborhood Watch participation (which requires a training session that includes instructions not to approach or apprehend) I would feel otherwise. “Stand Your Ground” does not mean, legally speaking, “Get in his face and then stand your ground.”

        • If you were walking around a gated community going from one place to another would you rather a) have someone stop and ask “I haven’t seen you around here before what are you doing” or get stopped by the cops, who maybe seeing your gun make the situation a lot more complicated than it had to be?

        • Please hold the cop bashing when I say this, but I’d rather be asked by the cop, who is a sworn officer of the law, is a recognized symbol of authority, and in theory, knows what the hell he’s doing, than be accosted and questioned by some neighborhood yahoo who I don’t know from a hole in the wall.

          Police officers are appointed/elected/hired to do that job in our society. John Doe from up the block is not. Neighborhood WATCH.

        • The kid didn’t have a gun. Zimmerman would have been much more sensible to ask “are you lost?” from his SUV window, and politely. And he would have been safe, able to simply hit the gas if something really was wrong. I laugh at this ‘gated community’ stuff. Gated with no security? Is this a Florida thing? I may be out of touch. The only gated communities I know have a guard in a little guardhouse.

        • The funny thing is, in my in-laws gated community, they do it EXACTLY like that. There’s security at the gates, but it’s huge and security can’t be everywhere. If anyone has an issue internally, they’ll usually politely challenge you with the helpful sounding ‘are you lost, this place is so confusing’ routine. If you’re really skeevy, the ‘help’ is to get security to come and ‘direct’ you. I’ve gotten it a couple of times (and a couple of those times I was genuinely lost, so – bonus), and it’s a completely non-confrontational way to handle it.

        • There are many gated communities in Florida that have a keypad to call a resident that can open the gate for you, or an electronic RFID system that will open it. Hardly any of the apartment/townhome/condo places here that have gates have a security station at the entrance. Most have security roving in marked cars.

          IANAL, but I think Zimmerman will wind up going to jail with a charge of manslaughter. Even though we have SYG, you don’t confront someone if you can help it, even as a member of Neighborhood Watch. The moment he got out of his car and approached this kid, he made a mistake.

    • “But about a minute later, Zimmerman left his car wearing a red sweatshirt and pursued Martin on foot between two rows of townhouses”

      Kinda hard to drive an SUV on the common area between town homes. That grass and landscaping is usually not area you are supposed to drive on.

      • Why on earth should a Neighborhood Watch guy be pursuing ANYONE on foot into backyards? And if you’re pursuing someone and then you shoot him, it has nothing whatever to do with DGU. That is not ‘standing your ground.’ He wasn’t a cop. Think I’ll follow this story.

  8. Seriously, how many 20-somethings do you know who participate in neighborhood watch? I knew exactly one, and hes the most “tacticool” guy I know and the last person who should be doing what he does. Anecdotal, judgemental, and unfair.. but I can’t help wondering if this guy falls into the same category.
    I’d love to know what exactly made the kid “suspicious” in Zimmerman’s mind in the first place.

    The fact that he was self-appointed head of the neighborhood watch, armed, and got out of a vehicle all indicate that he did indeed confront the kid, when the cops said not to.
    In my mind, this is some sort of vigilantism-gone-wrong story.
    Personally, if I CCWed on community watch, I’d never, ever confront or attempt to detain a “suspect”.

    • Black people commit more violent crime than white people.
      Anecdotal, judgemental, and unfair.. but I can’t help wondering if this guy falls into the same category. Doesn’t seem so fair when it’s turned around does it?

      • What does black, Hispanic (in this case, Zimmerman), or white have to do with hopping out of your SUV to interrogate someone on the street in a gated community while you’re supposed to be on Neighborhood Watch, reducing crime? If you were walking in such a community and he stopped his SUV and approached you at night with no badge, would your hand be on your weapon? Mine would, discretely.

        • “If you were walking in such a community and he stopped his SUV and approached you at night with no badge, would your hand be on your weapon? Mine would, discretely.”

          This is it, right here. I don’t live in the best neighborhood, and the condo association (such as it is) has allowed this group known as the Guardian Angels to take up residence, rent free from what I understand, in an apartment across the street from me, in exchange for them “patrolling” the complex during the nighttime hours. With the exception of their head guy, they all have the sketchy look of “ex-cons trying to go straight,” and I don’t trust any of them in, much less out of, my sight.

          The one time I had a disagreement with one (I was unrepentantly walking my dog off a leash, as I’ve done for 4+ years now), he radioed up to the apartment, and asked Mike to “come down here a minute, and bring Joe with you.” I’m not sure what his plans were in adding two more people to the conversation, but to quote Ron White, “I don’t know how many of them it was gonna take to kick my ass, but I know how many they were gonna use.” I withdrew from the confrontation and took my dog home.

          So, to reiterate my answer to ScottA’s question a few posts up, I’d rather talk to a cop than some sketchy ex-con looking dude of questionable authority who’s gonna call his buddies for uncertain reasons at the slightest provocation.

  9. In my mind, I see the scenario going like this (please excuse my dramatic license):

    Guy sees kid walking, calls cops, is advised not to confront him.
    Does so anyway.
    “Hey kid, where you goin?”

    “Hey, kid, I’m talking to you. Where are you going?”
    “What’s it to you, old man?” (still walking)
    “I want to know where you’re going. The police are on their way.”
    “That’s nice.” (still walking)
    “You’re going to wait right here ’til the cops come, and we’ll get this sorted out.”
    “The hell I am.” (continues walking)
    “Hey!” (somewhere around this point guy exits vehicle) “You stay here!”
    “I don’t think so.”

    At this point, a scuffle ensues. Whether it began with the guy trying to physically restrain the kid’s forward progress (e.g. a hand on his arm), or with the guy simply standing in front of the kid and the kid trying to push past him, they end up in a physical altercation, during which the guy feels in danger for his life, draws, and shoots.

    I’m fairly certain that the guy should have never exited his vehicle and confronted the kid. That’s not what neighborhood watch is for. Whether that makes him criminally liable for what followed is a matter for the prosecutor; I don’t know. My opinion is he had no reason to exit the vehicle, no right to impede the kid’s progress, and therefore ultimately no justification for the shooting, based on that whole “you can’t start a fight and then claim self defense” thing.

    Since I don’t think he remained on the line with the 911 dispatcher following his initial call, I’m not sure if we’ll ever know how it played out. I will be interested to hear the tapes when they’re released.

  10. Brad, I am sorry to say, but it seems that you are acting like the main-stream media: you seem to be selecting a certain way to frame this issue that best puts forward a position. In several articles I read, we are told that police chief Lee has said the police told Zimmerman to stay in his vehicle and let the police take care of the situation. This seems to be an important point to leave out, and it clearly is troubling, for Zimmerman could not have felt threatened by Martin, and he chose to confront the “suspicious” young man.

    Yesterday, as I recall, the question of open carry was discussed here, and there were even pictures of nice, middle-class, white folk folks shopping and sitting around while open carrying. Nope, this does not seem threatening, but what if these pictures were of 25 year old African Americans? Would that seem as non-threatening? If Zimmerman thought this young man was suspicious, what would he have thought if he were openly carrying a pistol (I know Martin was only 17, so he could not, legally do that, but the point still stands)?

    I have no idea what happened that made Zimmerman suspicious of Martin. I have no idea why Zimmerman got out of his vehicle after he was told to stay in it. I have no idea what provoked the two to get into a physical altercation. I have no idea why Zimmerman chose to shoot Martin.

    That said, there are a few more things that we know that might well make us suspicious of the neighborhood watch captain: He got out of his vehicle. A fight took place between two young men–a fight in which the suspicious one weighed 100 pounds less than the watch captain (according the Reuters). A young man, who was carrying Skittles and icetea, was shot dead.

    Finally, in reading the articles, I did not see the race-baiting that you did. I did see references to Claims of racism and police mishandling of the case, but those are points being raised by bloggers and the Martin’s attorney. That does not seem like the main-stream media is out to fan a race war. That seems like the media accurately describing what others are saying.

    • The police did not tell him to stay in the car, a dispatcher did. You are not legally required to follow advice (and it is advice, not an order) from dispatch.

      • Clearly you are correct. The point, though, is that Zimmerman was given reason and time to reflect on whether he should be getting out and approaching someone he himself said was suspicious. He was NW. He shouldn’t have. I think I’m at the point of being seriously pi@@@d off about guys playing cop and people leaving loaded guns around for kids to play with.

    • KarlB – I appreciate your perspective. Let me give you mine. American Justice is not perfect. But it’s better than any other system in the world, as far as I can tell. The wheels of justice move slowly, and sometimes, that’s a good thing. I don’t know if Zimmerman is guilty of anything. I suspect you can make a case for all sorts of things. But that’s not the point. What stuck out for me on this story were the comments of the media. Given the racially-charged atmosphere (white shooter/young, black victim) I would guess that it’s likely that they’ll be a Grand Jury indictment, if only so that the events can be explored in court. I would expect the boy’s family to file a wrongful death civil suit, too, especially if the shooter has any property or insurance. It’s the way the world works. But my point in writing was to point out how biased (not to mention ignorant of the law) the members of the 4th Estate seem to be, and to raise questions on how that bias can (and likely will) affect the story.

      In a perfect world, reporters are supposed to report. Editorial writers (like me) are supposed to offer opinion. Sadly, “advocacy journalism” seems to be the order of the day, and the sheer power of the media makes for a situation where a biased media can affect the outcome of a trial.

      I live in a city that is now predominantly black. We have a black mayor. I don’t go around, expecting beatdowns from “roving bands of Negro youths,” nor do I look for race as in issue in every story. Unless somebody wants to make it an issue, race just doesn’t matter to me. (As a professional musician, I’d have to be a complete idiot to have a problem working with/respecting/admiring someone because their skin is a different color than mine.) But I know race-bating when I hear it. And those reporters were looking for a reason to play the race card. Go back and listen. See if you don’t hear it, too.

      • A fine response. I am not sure if we have the finest justice system in the world, but it is better than the vast majority of the rest. And I agree with the distinction between reporter and editorialist, and it is a shame that we are at a place in our nation where there is an almost universal distrust of the media . . . Conservatives point to the generally liberal perspectives of reporters, and Liberals point to the corporate ownership of news outlets as the sources of the biases. But we should remember that in the long history of news in the US there has only been a brief time when unbiased reporting has been the norm or even the ideal.

        As far as race goes, I do not blame African-Americans for being quick to see racial components to problems and conflicts. Think how often we talk about the wisdom for everyone, especially Jews, to remember the lessons of fascism. Well, it probably makes a great deal of sense for minority groups to remember what happened in the past in the US. Were millions of African-Americans killed in the US as Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others were by Nazi Germany? Of course not. Were there literally centuries of maltreatment and subjugation on an epic scale? Certainly. As a well-educated, middle-class white man, I have never been in a situation where I have had opportunities limited by the color of my skin or by the limitations imposed upon my forefathers. I am not sure how or when race can stop mattering. I live in Wisconsin, and people here think that race is a problem of big cities and of the south. But they do not realize that there were many towns and cities in the Midwest that had sunset laws (African-Americans had to be out of town at sunset). The reason there are fewer minorities in smaller cities stem from the biases and racism of the not too distant past . . . the repercussions of history last a very, very long time.

  11. sorry Brad, Zimmerman had a gun and the kid had skittles. The fact that he went out of his way to stop this kid minding his own business does indicate racial stereotyping.

    ” any racism in the aftermath ”

    no, just in the fact that tacticool wannabe zimmerman (IE ****ing scumbag), who is not a LEO, forced contact with some one who was doing nothing but being Black and walking in a neighborhood his family lives in.

    how exactly is it race baiting by pointing out that the vic in this situation was not just Black, but unarmed and smaller than the CCW holder?

    i cannot comment on the MSM reactions, we all know how that goes.

    shooting unarmed people, who were not breaking into your house/car/neighbor’s house/ looting/ doing anything criminal; regardless of color make you a scared little bitch.

    • How do you know it was racially motivated? By assuming that something is racially motivated because the parties involved are of different skin color makes you the racist.

      Also last I checked, it isn’t illegal to talk to random people. Just FYI in FL there are quite a few instances where you can meet unarmed confrontation legally with deadly force. If this kid where kicking the crap out of him and he was about to loose his CCW or go unconscious; he very much has the legal right use deadly force.

      How do you know the kid wasn’t doing anything criminal? We don’t have enough information from the article to really know what happened. Playing the race card before getting all the facts makes you look like the racist.

    • He was wearing a hood covering his face, Zimmerman probably didn’t know he was black.

      How do you know that Zimmerman is tacticool, a scumbag, or even that he forced contact?

      By the way if you bother reading the articles, before he fired Zimmerman was on the ground yelling for help while your “victim” was on top of him beating him. Zimmerman’s bruises, as documented by the police on scene, certainly don’t back up your thesis that he shot him just for fun or the color of his skin.

      Again, the point of this article is TO NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS. We do not know what happened.

        • I’d like to know the facts too. Just don’t pull your SUV over at night, hop out, walk up to me, and start asking me questions about what I’m doing there when you don’t have a badge. The kid was on a sidewalk. Zimmerman could have asked the question out the window, with no greater confrontation. He didn’t. Good for Zimmerman that the kid wasn’t me.

        • I concur with that as far as our rights in FL go; we can go to deadly force if we perceive deadly force. If non-LEO jumps out of a van bee lines it for me; I will likely have a firing grip. If I then notice a firearm; things will not go well.

          No doubt Zimmerman should have never left his vehicle, but I’m still waiting for all the facts. We don’t know what we don’t know.

      • We know Zimmerman initiated contact because the incident didn’t happen inside his SUV, and he doesn’t claim that the kid dragged him out of it. If he’d have stayed in the SUV, there’s zero evidence that any confrontation would have occurred.

        And if you read the article, there’s at least one person saying that the kid was calling for help, then being coached by the police to change that to Zimmerman.

        I wonder how many people would be falling all over themselves to defend the shooting if the individuals were reversed, and it was a young black kid standing over the corpse of a white guy on his way home from the store. Even if it turns out to be a completely honest mistake, it’s a mistake of epic proportion, that has deprived an, as far as anyone has shown, innocent young man of his most fundamental right.

        • Yep. It isn’t about black versus Hispanic. It’s about pulling over at night, hopping out, approaching, and asking questions without a badge. Those facts are clear. Nobody on either side is challenging them. Don’t do that to me. I bet, actually, most people above feel just like I do.

        • “But about a minute later, Zimmerman left his car wearing a red sweatshirt and pursued Martin on foot between two rows of townhouses”

          Kinda hard to drive an SUV on the common area between town homes. That grass and landscaping is usually not area you are supposed to drive on in my experience.

          How dare neighborhood watch want to see what is going on when someone covering their face at night starts walking down the back of town homes.

        • You’ve yet to show what evidence of any wrongdoing Zimmerman had the made a foot pursuit across other people property imperative. Unless not showing your face to random guys in SUVs has officially become a capital offense. Maybe it’s a HOA rule.

          And I guarantee, if you hop out of a car and start chasing me when I’m minding my own business walking back from the store, in a place that I have reason and permission to be:
          “Zimmerman left his car wearing a red sweatshirt and pursued Martin on foot
          you would be at a ridiculously high risk of catching a bullet. What is so difficult to grasp that even if Zimmerman thought Martin was a criminal, that exiting his car and initiating a foot pursuit – up to the point of grappling distance – was tactically stupid. By rights, if Martin had in fact been a criminal, Zimmerman would likely be dead. The fact that Martin apparently wasn’t a criminal just compounds the train of bad judgement.

          You can keep beating on the reverse racism, lefty media hates us drum all you want. But you seem to be ignoring the fact that an innocent young man is dead. And I have to ask myself why his life is so un-important compared to Zimmerman’s.

        • pursued Martin on foot =/= hop out of a car and start chasing

          Again you are making up things not supported by the few facts we have so far and treating them like facts. You have clearly missed the entire point of this article.

        • I’m quoting the chunk of the story you quoted in an attempt to support your argument.

          MadDawgJ says:
          March 14, 2012 at 20:56
          “But about a minute later, Zimmerman left his car wearing a red sweatshirt and pursued Martin on foot between two rows of townhouses”

          Kinda hard to drive an SUV on the common area between town homes. That grass and landscaping is usually not area you are supposed to drive on in my experience.

          Are you saying that you quoted what you believed to be BS to support your theory? So what’s the new theory? Martin attacked Zimmerman’s car with his tea and Skittles forcing Zimmerman to abandon it, then pursued Zimmerman between the houses where Zimmerman was forced to shoot him? Is there ANY evidence… Any. At. All. …that Martin did anything other than wearing a hood in the rain, that made him a threat? Really, how convoluted does your logic need to get before you even acknowledge the possibility that Martin didn’t deserve to die and that Zimmerman could conceivably not be the pure as the driven snow victim of some ‘get whitey’ witchhunt? I’m pretty sure the answers to both questions is ‘beyond the bounds of reason’ but I’m throwing it out there. And again I will ask you why is Martin’s life is so un-important compared to Zimmerman’s? Why are you so convinced that he deserved to die?

    • SDog – go back and read your comments. Sounds like you have your mind made up, and that’s before an indictment, much less a trial.

      Sure hope nobody ever calls on you for Jury duty.

  12. The media is all about money, not truth, not justice, and certainly not morality. It doesn’t keep the TV on if the stories are about facts and due process. Of course they’re trying to tar and feather this guy before any kind of trial or indictment, why wouldn’t they? It makes money.

    And yes, it’s wholly unsurprising for the media to bring race into it. Mass media, and leftists in general, would absolutely love a race riot that ends in a blazing city and hundreds of deaths (so long as they’re white deaths). After all, that’d be months’ worth of headlines, news programs, and social “justice.”

    • Thats a hell of a stretch to get to because the reporters (who were both black) were pissed off that an unarmed black kid with candy and iced tea got shot to death in his own neighborhood and the other guy wasn’t in jail. See, the thing is… they didn’t say he should be convicted. They wanted to know why he hadn’t even been arrested!! Compare that to the black guy who justifiably DGU’d, was put in jail, and lost his apartment… all featured prominently in TTAG. That guy was black, shot a white thug assailant.. and went to jail immediately… No wonder alot of black folks think there is a double standard! You compare that to this…
      From that clip, you’ve decided that anyone who votes democrat (leftist) wants white people to get killed in a big race riot. No generalization there huh? Yes sir, you’re the logical one there.

      • Beware what you wish for is a saying that comes to mind here.

        You may be the guy society wants jailed without cause, simply because a man with darker skin than you was found dead on your home without an apparent weapon on them.

        For an example of how the media can and WILL warp the story to suit their ends, look no further than this article by Massad Ayoob :
        ************************************************
        Situation: First the crazy woman jeopardized her little kids’ lives. Then she came at them–and you–with a cleaver-like edged weapon.

        Lesson: Do what you know you must. Leave it to the rest of society to determine why the mentally ill, and children they endanger, go neglected. Be prepared for unwarranted hostility when ethnic bias and public ignorance make you out a murderer for “killing one of ours.”

        ***************

        ……..The device is, in essence, a half-size meat cleaver. I’ve had the opportunity to examine the particular dao bao that Tran was holding when she was killed. It was, unquestionably, a deadly weapon. The authorities sent Tran’s dao bao to a cutlery manufacturer, with instructions to take a couple of genuine brand-new cleavers and compare them in terms of sharpness and cutting power. The cutlery professionals determined that Tran’s weapon came dead in the middle between the two new, dedicated cleavers in its ability to cut and inflict wounds.

        However, the media called her weapon a “vegetable peeler.”

        This was monstrously unjust, unfair, and untruthful. The public in this country, hearing the term “vegetable peeler” and never seeing a dao bao in size or weight perspective or examining its sharp lower edge, imagines a carrot peeler or a potato peeler. An innocuous little thing that is dull all around the outside and couldn’t hurt someone even if its wielder tried. A cop who had fired to protect himself, his partner and two little kids from being chopped up with what effectively was a cleaver, was falsely painted to the public as someone who shot a small woman who wasn’t armed with a real weapon.

        The media, and the well-organized Vietnamese community in San Jose, clamored for the officer’s scalp. Chad Marshall was ordered to go before the grand jury, facing indictment for Manslaughter or even Murder.

        ***************************************
        Source Article here:http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BTT/is_175_29/ai_n13466572/

        Given that story of the media’s reaction to matters, I am reserving any and all judgement on matters until the triers of the facts do. The rest is unfounded spin masquerading as intel.

        • Is even Zimmerman suggesting that the young man had a weapon? Is ‘can of iced tea’ a media euphemism for ‘a Hi Point and a bag of crack rock’? Were they in any place were Zimmerman had the definitive authority to challenge someone? No? Then the whole jailed “…simply because a man with darker skin than you was found dead on your home without an apparent weapon on them…” thing doesn’t really apply.

        • Were you there at the scene?

          Because if you were not, you are relying on the media to impart the details of the incident to you, the same as I and the rest of us here are. My point is that trusting the media to tell one the honest nature of a violent event with regard to a firearm is akin to trusting a drug dealer when he says his street heroin is “90% pure”. The source material simply cannot be trusted. How foolish will your statement prove if it turns out the 17 year old kid indeed did have a weapon at the time?

        • That would be something. Since the reporters seem to be getting their information from police sources, I would think the police might just mention that (they have been put in a bad light with this case, and a gun on Martin would get them out of this jam). I know that you are not claiming that there was a gun on the kid, but it seems funny that your “what if” comes right after a diatribe about the untrustworthiness of the media . . . almost as if a reporter would ask “could there be racial bias.”

        • Not foolish at all. I’m addressing the case based on extant data. If that data changes I’ll change my opinion. But you’re addressing it on the fairly huge speculation that there might be a weapon, that no one to this point has claimed exists, may in fact exist. The police didn’t mention any claim of a gun. No eyewitnesses did. The kid is apparently a good student with no history of violence. So other than your distrust of the media, what evidence, at all, do you have that there was another weapon?

        • Kid was unarmed. Zimmerman outweighed him by 100 pounds. Zimmerman pursued him. Zimmerman had gun.
          Yet, kid was black and black people are more violent (you mentioned earlier), so in your mind (ST), Zimmerman was justified.

        • Hilarious that you reference Massad Ayoob… hes the first guy who would say how in the wrong Zimmerman was.
          His book, “In the Gravest Extreme” and his “Guide to Concealed Carry” both council strongly against what Zimmerman did.

        • Im not defending this guy or saying he was right or wrong. My point in citing Ayoob is that the media cannot be trusted to report the facts accurately on defensive gun useage.

          Insofar as Zimmerman goes, I reserve judgement until the triers of the facts make a decision. Kozak’s point is that right now nobody besides the deceased and Zimmerman know what happened. The police didn’t take Zimmerman into custody, so clearly there wasn’t evidence of a crime at the scene. Those of you clamoring for his head at this point are no better than the media reporters fishing for an angle on these tragic events.

        • Understood. Just, if you get a chance, read Ayoob’s chapter on ankle holsters in his Conceal Carry Guide… He specifically mentions a guy who’s own racial suspicions/paranoia almost instigated a tragedy.
          Its not “clamoring for his head” to expect that a guy who instigated a confrontation, and then shot another guy to death on a sidewalk would be arrested and questioned. We aren’t talking about conviction. We are talking about due process. The police didn’t even interview all the witnesses.

      • Yes, actually, it’s exceedingly logical to believe that those who would benefit from an incident desire for that incident to occur. So, yes, both the mass media and leftists want racism and racial violence to endure because they benefit from it. That simple.

        And if you want to talk about double-standards, let’s talk about INSTITUTIONALIZED double-standards, and which race they are stacked against. I’ll give you a hint: you’re wrong.

  13. Brad, when you say “That’s all we know. It’s not much.” My impression is that you did not delve too far into the various reports out there, which contain several more reported facts than you include. The limited information you use to make your post allows you to take a stance that perhaps this shooting was completely justified and this should serve as a lesson to us all about how the media is out to get us. The sum of the information out there paints a different picture and I don’t think that has much to do with anti-gun media bias.

    By reading a little further, I think it seems likely that the shooter chose to instigate an altercation, found himself in over his head, and chose to end it by shooting a kid to death. It also appears pretty clear that the shooter went after the kid because he was black and therefore didn’t seem to belong in the neighborhood. While the race component doesn’t necessarily change whether or not this was a crime, it appears to be a real factor, not something fabricated by the media or NAACP.

    After reading these news stories earlier today, I was hoping that TTAG would hold off on editorializing before the picture was a little clearer, but it seems you’ve chosen to pursue the “watch out for a media circus!” angle, which to me seems like a stretch. There would be no media circus if it weren’t for the fact that a neighborhood watchman decided to go after a 17-year-old kid, ended up shooting him dead, and wasn’t arrested for it.

    I’m interested in Farago’s take on this incident. This is a national news story involving CCW and I’m curious about whether TTAG will be willing to take a swipe at this guy or continue the “there’s no way to know what really happened!” path that prevents us from acknowledging that sometimes people use CCWs in bad ways.

    • Seems to me this post could better have been written as a “Does CCW Give You the Right to Play Cop?” types, or a cautionary tale, not a “media is bad” tale.

    • Ted, you raise some interesting points. If you look at the thrust of my article, you’d see that what I was arguing for was more time to get at the facts. The news cycle in the Age of the Internet is a lot different than the way things worked, back when I started out in journalism as the news director of my college radio station. While we have much better resources today (thanks, Internet!), the flip side is that the shelf life of a story is often measured in minutes, rather than weeks or months. The other effect the Internet has on news is that, while more outlets report on stories, there’s been no concurrent increase in field reportagé. In other words, for most news organizations, they simply pick up on the news feed of whoever covers the story, repeats it/rewrites it/amplifies it and moves on. That’s why it’s so easy to see some bizarro urban myth or tall tale get passed off as the “truth” in the blink of an eye – and why it’s so difficult to track down the origin of a story.

      I was arguing that we should avoid a rush to judgement. At TTAG, we also try to avoid a rush to publish. Personally, I’m only comfortable if I can find corroborating facts/sources on a story and determine that the second source isn’t simply repeating what they heard from the first. That’s not always possible on some stories. (Not a problem here, however.)

      The other thing to keep in mind is that for most of us at TTAG, this isn’t our “day job.” We write about guns because we enjoy it. Not because we’re getting paid the big bucks. I like to think if we were rolling in dough, we’d have a big research department, field reporters, and an organization that would rival CNN/ABC/NBC/CBS/AP and Fox all put together. (Then again, most of those guys are busy cutting back on staff, so soon enough, it may not be that big of a gap to cross.)

      Given the race-baiting comments of the reporters at the presser, and their obviously “we’ve got our minds made up” fury they expressed, I don’t think media bias was a stretch by any metric. And as further comment on the state of the mainstream media, I think it’s pretty sad when a gun blog spends more time and effort trying to be fair and even-handed in a single editorial than the mainstream press does in their blanket coverage of the shooting.

  14. Unless the kid was a Muslim I doubt anyone named “Zimmerman” would be accused of prejudicial violence.

    Without reading any background information, solely as a first impression, this “watchman” fellow sounds like a douche. Neighborhood watches should follow an “observe and report” approach. Hence “watch” and not “do.”

      • The MSM and “minority” victim groups don’t “forget” race. In fact they club us over the head with it to great effect. Making a quick buck in the process doesn’t hurt them either. Retreating from reality isn’t an option.

        • Can’t blame them. If the races were reversed, tell me that the shooter would be walking free right now.
          Look at the black guy who defended himself against the drunk white assailants a while back. In jail for a month. Justified defense. Lost his home.
          Racism isn’t as bad as alot of minorities claim, but its alot worse than most white people understand.

        • And, of course, you assume it’s all because of race. Couldn’t possibly be anything else. The system never screws anyone over or lets people slip through cracks unless it’s race-based. Right.

          Remember that incident a while ago of the firefighters who all took tests for promotion and when no minorities made the cut, the courts ruled to scrap the test and promote minorities anyway over whites? I bet you think that’s not racism because, ya know, whites can never be the victims of racism.

        • Now you’re switching to the “affirmative action is bad” talking point. Like it or not, that is a policy implemented by elected folks that can be changed.
          What we were talking about before you switched to a non-defense-related point, was the “race war” the “leftist media” is trying to start where white folks get killed. That to me is non-sense.. maybe its because I’m a youngun raised in a different time. I don’t know.
          My point is this: if your son, or my son was walking on a sidewalk and was confronted, then shot to death by a non-uniformed individual who wasn’t a cop, we’d have a reasonable expectation that that person would at least be booked, and that all witnesses would be interviewed. That didn’t happen in this case. He was let go, and the cops didn’t even bother to question all the witnesses. One of the witnesses had to call the cops and pester them to be interviewed. This was wrong, and you need to get over the “race war” and stuff and see that.

  15. I remeber reading that Zimmerman is a wannabe cop trying to get into the academy. If it is true that he said “these a##holes always get away,” it is reasonable to assume that he made a determination that a young black kid wearing a hoodie didn’t belong in the upperclass gated community, and acted based on that assumption. How many think that Zimmerman would have batted an eye if it was an OFWG? Now I agree that we don’t know how the fight went down, but if Zimmerman was getting his butt kicked, as some versions have suggested is still not grounds for use of deadly force.

    • Upperclass? There was no guard at the gate. Agree with your comment generally. This must be one of those ‘gated’ communities only ‘gated’ as a sales pitch.

    • Again read the articles people. It was a community of townhomes, not mansions. In most areas like Orlando decent working class apartment and townhouse communities have gates for security and peace of mind. Perhaps you should not make so many assumptions.

  16. It does fairly disgust me that the NAACP sent a letter to Holder before the SA has had time to conduct their investigation. Par for the course, I suppose. Sanford turns out to have lots of crime by people of all racial groups. The ‘gated’ community turns out definitely not to be upper class. Zimmerman got his jaw broken while working as ‘security’ for a party not long ago. Tough town.

  17. This is not a who done it. Some things are not in dispute.
    There is a dead kid. He happens to be black. And unarmed. And within his rights to be where he was.
    There is a guy that admits he pulled the trigger. He happens to be white. But he claims he is justified under the self-defense law. But the information released so far raises serious doubts. There is the 911 call where he is told to stay away from the “suspicious person” and let the en route police deal with it. Other speculation, of unknown veracity, looks bad for him too.
    The burden of proof for self-defense is on the shooter to show he acted within the law.

    So that said, why isn’t he in jail awaiting a determination by authorities of the legality of his actions? One would hope they have good reason to think he won’t be charged. Normally there would be a statement to that effect. But if thats the case they need to communicate that better because the public thinks this is a case of unequal treatment. I doubt I would be out walking the streets if it was clear I had shot someone without a clearcut case of self-defense as they haven’t shown anything like that yet.

    • “There is a guy that admits he pulled the trigger. He happens to be white.”
      He’s Hispanic.

      “The burden of proof for self-defense is on the shooter to show he acted within the law. So that said, why isn’t he in jail awaiting a determination by autohrities of the legality of his actions?”
      Because the way the self-defense laws are written in Florida, the “burden of proof” is not on the shooter. He is not in jail because, “A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.” §776.032(2) So, he claimed self-defense, the initial evidence (there was a scuffle) supports it at first, so he remains free while the investigation is conducted.

      Don’t get me wrong here, I think Zimmerman did lots of things wrong, like exiting his vehicle and pursuing on foot. I’m simply responding to your question of law.

    • He violated the statute when they told him to stand down and he proceeded that doesnt protect him on the self defense front either. The Sanford PD really messed this one up. From what I know of the law and I am a laymen with some experience. I have always been told that the police are not to decide that he should have been arrested pending an investigation and the courts are to decide. This is not going to be a good outcome by any means!

      • Actually dispatchers have little to no legal authority for what is said over the line with 911. There is no FSS for not listening to a dispatcher. Law enforcement actually does decide who is arrested on-scene pending probably cause. I will agree this is a crappy situation no matter what the outcome.

    • “And within his rights to be where he was.”

      Also false. He was tresspasing across people’s backyards.

      “He violated the statute when they told him to stand down and he proceeded”

      False. Dispatchers are not police officers and can only offer advice, not give legal commands to callers.

      • Trespassing? Isn’t this a town-home or condo community where the spaces between buildings would be considered common property? Were there any no trespassing postings? Is trespassing a capitol crime? If so wasn’t Zimmerman also trespassing when he chased him down?
        The bottom line is that Zimmerman isn’t a cop and doesn’t have police powers. If the other party could talk (wasn’t dead) and had been armed than Zimmerman could possibly have been considered the aggressor that escalated the situation and he likely could have been legally shot in self defense by the kid.
        And if that had happened and Zimmerman was the one room temperature with only the kids word of what happened, do you think he would be walking around free while awaiting a grand jury?
        I hate when Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson shows up and tries to inflame any situation that involves more than one race. But this thing doesn’t pass the smell test and the police/DA owe the public and the kid’s parents a better and more timely explanation of what happened or charge the guy.