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“I am Trayvon Martin.” The homemade sign in the video above helps explain the outpouring of rage from the African American community. Millions of African Americans believe that George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin for the crime of WWB (Walking While Black). That may or may not be true. Which doesn’t seem to matter. The protestors see the killing in black and white: one of theirs killed one of ours. Equally important, theirs was armed. Ours was not. We were defenseless against them (hence the constant reference to Trayvon Martin’s iced tea and Skittles). And that’s where gun rights come into the picture . . .

As I said at the beginning of this cause celebre, there’s no denying the fact that Trayvon Martin wouldn’t have died from a gunshot wound if George Zimmerman wasn’t carrying a Kel Tec PF-9 on the night in question. But let’s flip that around: would George Zimmerman have died if he didn’t hadn’t been carrying a gun?

With certain caveats, if Zimmerman’s life depended on shooting Trayvon Martin then the shooting was a justifiable homicide. Here are the three main factors to consider:

1. Who started it?

A lot of protestors’ animus stems from the “fact” that Zimmerman initiated the fight that led to Martin’s death. The exact nature and chronology of the contact or contacts between Zimmerman and Martin is unknown. But it is highly relevant.

If Zimmerman started the actual fight, if he was the aggressor, he did not have the right to escalate the level of violence. If Zimmerman didn’t start the fight, if he was the victim, Zimmerman did have the legal right to use a higher level of force to defend himself.

The amount of force allowed by law for self-defense must be proportionate to the threat. In other words, if someone slaps you, you can’t shoot them. If someone charges at you with a knife, you may (subject to other conditions described below) shoot them in self-defense.

But you can only escalate along the spectrum of violence if you are the victim. At the same time, it’s important to remember that fights often go in “rounds.” The legal classification of aggressor and victim can change during an altercation.

For the sake of argument, let’s say Zimmerman started the deadly battle by confronting Martin. The two men have words. Zimmerman shoves Martin. Martin punches Zimmerman to the ground and starts bashing Zimmerman’s head into the pavement. In this scenario, the person who initiated the physical confrontation, Zimmerman, is the aggressor.

Alternatively, let’s say Zimmerman confronts and shoves Martin. Martin punches Zimmerman. Zimmerman disengages from the fight and heads for his car. Martin pursues Zimmerman. Martin tackles Zimmerman to the ground and starts bashing his head into the pavement. In that case, Martin is the aggressor and Zimmerman is the victim.

Zimmerman’s lawyer said his client was walking back to his car when Martin jumped him. If so, regardless of the verbal confrontation leading up to the attack, Zimmerman was the victim of an assault and, thus, allowed to escalate the amount of force used to defend himself. To a point and again, within limits.

2. Did Trayvon Martin pose a credible threat of death or grievous bodily harm to George Zimmerman?

Until we have a better idea of what happened in Florida, it’s impossible to establish whether or not Zimmerman was the victim or aggressor and, thus, “over-reacted” to the assault by shooting Martin. But this much is true: you can’t use lethal force against an aggressor unless you are in danger of death or grievous bodily harm.

Would George Zimmerman have died or suffered a debilitating injury if he hadn’t shot Trayvon Martin? That could well depend on the amount of force involved. Aside from eye witness accounts, a medical examination of Zimmerman’s wounds would go a long way towards establishing the threat level he faced immediately before he pulled the trigger.

Yes, but—even if Martin wasn’t beating Zimmerman to death, did Zimmerman believe his life was in danger?

As it does in any homicide case, Florida’s so-called self-defense law takes into account the defender’s state of mind. In terms of a defensive gun use, the shooter’s subjective opinion of the conflict at the time of the assault is legally germaine. However . . .

Contrary to gun advocates’ propaganda, the shooter’s opinion of a threat of death or grievous bodily harm is not the ultimate determinant of whether or not he’ll be arrested and/or charged with murder. It’s one factor that can effect the DA’s decision to press charges, and which crimes the shooter may face.

The shooter’s rationale must also survive an objective assessment.

If, for example, the DA determined that Zimmerman actually believed that Martin was trying to kill him, but his belief was unreasonable, the DA could charge Zimmerman with manslaughter. If the DA reckoned Zimmerman set out to kill someone that night, it would be a case of premeditated murder.

Legally, ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not Zimmerman thought that shooting Martin was a reasonable response to the violent encounter. The “reasonability” of Zimmerman’s belief was subject to scrutiny by the police and the District Attorney. It will now receive due consideration by a grand jury and (I’m thinking) a jury.

3. Was the [assumed] lethal threat imminent?

Gun control advocates have called Florida’s Stand Your Ground law a “shoot first ask questions later” law. That’s a gross distortion of the truth. A Florida citizen is only allowed to shoot an attacker if the attacker’s in the process of trying to kill the shooter. As the rabbi puts it, imminence must be imminent.

That particular aspect of the Martin case seems pretty straightforward. By all accounts, Martin was on top of Zimmerman—trying to injure him—when Zimmerman shot Martin.

In short . . .

If Martin initiated the attack, and posed a lethal threat to Zimmerman, and the threat was credible, and Martin was in the act of assaulting Zimmerman when Zimmerman shot Martin, Zimmerman was within his rights to shoot Martin in self-defense.

The fact that the Sanford police made an initial determination that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense is a good indication of Zimmerman’s innocence. Which exists until and unless the police can prove otherwise—regardless of the shooter’s race, religion or creed.

We Are George Zimmerman

Given the political pressure involved in this case, the Martin shooting is sure to go to a grand jury. Average citizens will weigh the evidence against Zimmerman and decide if he failed to meet all the requirements for the use of deadly force. If the grand jury sends the case to trial, a jury of Zimmerman’s peers will attempt to answer the same set of questions.

All of us who carry a firearm stand a chance of going through the exact same process if we shoot someone in self-defense. In that sense, gun control advocates are correct: I am George Zimmerman. I’m not a racist, but I know that I too will face judgement if I ever have to use my firearm against another human being.

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  1. Calm, rational, logical, and un-emotional. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a spot on
    GMA to discuss the shooting or gun rights if I were you.

  2. “The fact that the Sanford police made an initial determination that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense when he shot Trayvon Martin is either an indication of Zimmerman’s innocence or, if you lean that way, racism.”

    Or lazy police work. Or Zimmerman wasn’t forthcoming at first. Or witnesses hadn’t all come forward yet.

    Point taken, it’s just that it’s not a simple either/or situation.

  3. I saw CNN bashing the Stand Your Ground law for a few minutes last night. To my mind, the law sounds reasonable. If a lawyer can argue (after the fact) that you always have a duty to retreat, your right to self-defense is all but gone.

    Not everyone is capable of running away from their attacker, and doing so may leave you more open to attacks, especially in unknown areas.

    • Not everyone is capable of running away from their attacker, and doing so may leave you more open to attacks, especially in unknown areas.

      The duty to retreat is not absolute. If the defender is incapable of retreating or a retreat would increase the danger and the defender can prove it, then he doesn’t have a duty to retreat.

      • @ Ralph, “and the defender can prove it” It is this mode of thinking that prompted the stand your ground law. In most cases you are inocent until proven guilty. The burden of proof lay with the prosecutor. In self defense, the burden of proof lay on the accused. The prosecutor only has to say that Ralph shot this man. Ralph then has to convince judge and jury that it was self defense. Because of stand your ground, the prosecutor now has the burden of proof. This is to protect victims from being jailed or sued by the person who was trying to hurt them. Ralph, if you want to prove your inocense and pay up to $50,000 to protect yourself or your family, that’s on you. But, don’t wreck my life financially and by confinment because someone attacked me.

    • This hand-wringing about the threat to SYG is overblown, IMO.

      The one advantage of the race card is that it also trumps liberal special interest groups. The Reverends are doing 2A folks a favor by turning this into a racial issue rather than a 2A one, though in the long run they’re further unravelling the social fabric and doing no one a favor. The 2A opponents are late to the show and don’t have anyone the media likes as much as Al & Jesse. This is and will be a racial issue, period.

  4. I am not George Zimmerman, but everyone who carries a firearm has to understand the issues with aggressor/victim status and disparity of force. Confrontational attitudes have to go in the safe when the holster gets filled. Zimmerman’s mistake was getting out of his vehicle. He was under no obligation to interfere whatsoever. There was no need to expose himself to a situation where he could end up needing to use his means of last resort.

    • I agree Mark. I try to avoid trouble. Chasing after a suspicious, gold toothed, hoodie clad, skittle toting football player is not avoiding trouble.
      Zimmerman carelessly put his own life in danger. He should have stayed in the vehicle and waited for his tax payer paid cop to take the risk.

        • A civilian who abandons the relative safety of his car to traipse around after dark searching for a suspected bad guy is felony stupid.

      • And another thing, Martin was talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone. Why not hang up and call 911 and say there is this creepy, chubby, hispanic man following me?

        • There is one report that he did. Either the report is wrong, or the call was initiated but did not go through, or the 911 tape has not been released.

          Martin was apparently using a Bluetooth headset, which may explain why he was aimlessly walking around. Many people look strange talking to people who are not there and staring into space, until you see the blinking light. Then they just look like a douche.

    • I agree. Mr. Zimmerman really ought to have left the process of making contact with Martin to the Sanford Police.

      What would have been the result if Zimmerman had called in a report to the police and then—heaven forbid—had lost sight of Martin? My guess is that probably nothing would have resulted. Martin would have made it to his father’s house; Zimmerman would have left his description of what he saw with the responding officers; that would have been it.

      • Zimmerman HAD lost sight of Martin, he says “he’s running” and later, “these assholes always get away”. He likely got out of his car to maintain visual contact, which is a little above and beyond (or stupid, depending), but while doing so he was discussing with the 911 operator where he would meet the police. Where the shooting occurred is away from the road, in a greenway between apartment buildings. I don’t know what it looks like at twilight and in the rain.

        I don’t believe Zimmerman was looking for a fight, he sounds fairly scared and cautious on the 911 call, not somebody amping themselves up for a confrontation.

    • Strongly agree, Mark.
      In addition, this new law opens big doors to bully baiting. Scenario — a guy who’s already an *sshole, a bully, or person with inferiority complexes, starts carrying a gun, then bullies people, then walks away. When the enraged bullied person attacks him, he uses that as rationale to shoot. In reality, that shooter’s arrogance created the deadly force situation, because his bullying was empowered the entire incident. Similarly, wannabes would use their gun to be self-assigned policemen, which was probably the case with zimmerman. Cops have a term for that when cop behavior causes the deadly force situation where it would otherwise not have occurred = “creating the exigent circumstances.” New concealed carry laws, especially when matched to “no duty to retreat” provisions, empower the class of people who would not otherwise carry guns — us. And when those of us who are jerks, or immature, or who have something to prove, have a chip on their shoulder, or are bullies, race haters, man-haters, etc, when those guys among us carry guns, then they will use that gun to give them confidence to assert their *ssholeness on the rest of us.

    • That’s what I’ve been saying the whole time. Even if he was “in the right” and he prevented a crime, no one is going to say thanks, he’s not going to get a nice benefits package or a retirement for being Block Captain, and he exposed himself to all kinds of legal/financial/physical danger for nothing. Unless he’s got one hell of an altruistic stripe, I have to believe that he and others like him (people who seek out conflict) do so because they are tired of their mundane lives and want desperately to do something heroic.

      • You may be right, or Zimmerman just got fed up with all of the crime at the complex he lived in. I have worked for establishments which were broken into, and you do get a little edgy and tired of it.

  5. I can’t agree with a number of assertions in the post: In section 1 you conclude “lethal force requires a lethal threat.” That isn’t true. The justified use of lethal force requires a reasonable perception that an attacker shows the immediate intent and actual ability to cause you death or “serious bodily harm,” or “grievous bodily injury.” If you reasonably perceive that your attacker is intent on maiming you, crippling you, fracturing your skull, indeed (FL case law) shattering your jaw…that is enough, provided that the person applying that force has you pinned preventing your withdrawal from the altercation. It is also, I believe, incorrect to assert in §2 para. 6 that “If, for example, the DA determined that Zimmerman had a reasonable belief that Martin was trying to kill him, but Zimmerman was wrong, the DA could charge Zimmerman with manslaughter.” I would guess what you meant is that if the DA determined that Zimmerman actually believed that Martin was trying to kill him, but his belief was unreasonable, the DA could charge Zimmerman with manslaughter.” You had one too many uses of “reasonable” in the statement. Zimmerman had no duty to assess the likely consequence of having his head slammed on the concrete with that exact force, anymore than he would have a duty to assess the likely result of being stabbed with a particular knife.

    “The fact that the Sanford police made an initial determination that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense is an indication of Zimmerman’s innocence. Or, if you lean that way, racism. Or lazy police work. Or the fact that Zimmerman wasn’t forthcoming at first. Or witnesses hadn’t all come forward.” What a remarkable paragraph: The determination that night, after gathering witness statements, 911 calls, examining the scene, investigating, is that whatever else happened, the interaction had been escalated to the application of force sufficient to kill or cause serious bodily injury, and that the force was being applied while preventing the recipient of that force from withdrawing. They had credible evidence that Zimmerman had not pulled his gun until his screams for help while having his head banged on the pavement were of no avail. They knew who was applying that force according to witnesses and physical evidence. And they discussed the evidence with the SA. That isn’t “sloppy police work” or “racism.” That’s FL law. The determination not to charge also is no bar to further investigation. What a lot of loose talk and psuedo-law. If you’re going to make an apparent statement of law, consult a lawyer.

    • “an attacker shows the immediate intent and actual ability to cause you death or “serious bodily harm,” or “grievous bodily injury.” If you reasonably perceive that your attacker is intent on maiming you, crippling ”

      In short, works for me.

  6. I think there is some need for us to check our assumptions and prejudices (not suggesting racism, I mean pro-gun, pro-CCW). I wonder about a couple of the points that are made here.
    “The fact that the Sanford police made an initial determination that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense when he shot Trayvon Martin is either an indication of Zimmerman’s innocence or, if you lean that way, racism.” I thought that the lead detective wanted manslaughter charges to be brought against Zimmerman. Using your argument, that would mean Zimmerman acted illegally.

    “That particular aspect of the Martin case seems pretty straightforward. By all accounts, Martin was on top of Zimmerman—trying to injure him—when Zimmerman shot Martin.” I know that there are two accounts of this, and one person has a strong reason to claim this even if not true. I wish we could find out if there was powered residue on Martin; while not proof of his account, this would support Zimmernan’s claim.
    Koop argues, “I saw CNN bashing the Stand Your Ground law for a few minutes last night. To my mind, the law sounds reasonable. If a lawyer can argue (after the fact) that you always have a duty to retreat, your right to self-defense is all but gone.” This is not true. A duty to retreat, a historic part of Wnglish Common Law, does not negate a right to self-defense. It says that one must try, if possible, to avoid the violence. If it is not possible to either retreat or avoid the violence, then self-defense is legal.
    And finally, Sam, states, “I agree Mark. I try to avoid trouble. Chasing after a suspicious, gold toothed, hoodie clad, skittle toting football player is not avoiding trouble.” I think Sam is being tongue-in-cheek with his description, but it raises issues that are important. Are we too willing to accept images of both Martin and Zimmerman without questioning their validity?

  7. Yes, you are very similar to George Zimmerman. Chubby, paranoid, and armed. Stop trying to bait people into calling you a racist, because no one is biting.

  8. In most states, the use of deadly force by a defender may be justified if his actions meet both an objective and subjective test. Subjectively, the defender must believe that he is in danger of death or severe injury, the degree and nature of which is determined by statute or case law. Such belief by the defender also must be objectively reasonable under the circumstances.

    If someone is being beaten by a two year old with a plastic hammer, and the “victim” deeply and truly believes that his life is in danger, justification will fail because the belief is unreasonable. If someone is being beaten by a 250 pound linebacker with a framing hammer, and the “victim” does not believe that his life is in danger (who knows why?), justification will not apply because the subjective test is failed.

    The duty to retreat in non-SYG states means only that the defender has a duty to “retreat to the wall” only if he can do so safely. If retreat would be unsafe or the defender is cornered, then there’s no obligation to retreat. SYG eliminates the duty to retreat, but does not change the other rules of justification.

    • Fine summary. I would only add this to your second hypothetical: If the ‘victim’ of the 250 pound linebacker does not believe that his life is in danger, but does believe (and it also appears objectively reasonable) that the linebacker is intent on crushing the victim’s left leg with the framing hammer beyond hope of repair, leaving him crippled, the victim will be justified in using lethal force in PA or FL. (Will this be on the exam?)

      • If the linebacker’s name is Lawrence Taylor, he doesn’t need a framing hammer to turn a leg bone into a soup bone. Ask Joe Theismann.

        • Painful just recalling that. I saw it. Joe used to live a block from me in my DC days, on Lawyer’s Road when I was on Vale. My wife used to take Aerobics classes from his soon-to-be ex-wife, Sherrie. I ran into Joe at F.A.O.Schwarz after he’d healed. I couldn’t help but stare at his leg as we waited at the cashier. Undoubtedly rude. It seemed, though, as if he was used to it.

      • I’ll never understand why people should only fear the 6 foot 250 pound attacker, because the 5 foot 120 pound guy can kill you just as dead as the big guy. I’m small but I could still brain you with a hammer or pipe or whatever is handy. Some little guys can take out guys twice their size and some can’t, but you can’t basis everything on someone’s height and weight.

        • I actually would agree. If smaller people are armed or trained well in hand to hand combat, they may be a greater threat than imagined.

  9. “if Zimmerman’s life depended on shooting Trayvon Martin then the shooting was a justifiable homicide”

    — Personally, I prefer the term ‘justifiable killing’ in self-defense. A homicide is a planned unethical murder. Murder cannot be justified. Murder is immoral. The one possible exception that I can theorize about is along the lines of intentionally seeking to take a life because of a prior action by someone who murdered another and when there is no justice in the land.

    • Aharon, homicide means the killing of one person by another. From the Latin, it means “to kill a person” — not to murder a person — and that is all it means. In law, there is no perjoritive or tinge of criminality attached to the word homicide. It is not just a “planned, unethical murder.”

      When Charles Whitman was shot atop the booktower in Austin after shooting dozens of people below, his killing was a homicide. It wasn’t just legal, it was a blessing to everyone below.

      When a coronor’s inquest rules that the taking of a person’s life by another was justifed under the rules of self-defense, the judgment would be “justifiable homicide.”

      • Ralph,

        Thank you. I had understood that traditionally (in an old word sense) homicide referred to a planned cold blooded murder of some degree while killing was the justified defensive action against a dangerous threatening aggressor. I’m trying to recall the context and words of when I read that general definition; it might have been in a Biblical (Hebrew) translation teaching context. I might have read it at the JPFO (Jews Preservation Firearms Ownership) website. Now, I want to find and re-read that article or book.

        As I recall, the piece addressed the confusing commandment that is commonly featured in English language Bible translations; “Thou shall not kill” which taken by itself is fairly straightforward with other commandments and history that would contradict the “Thou shall not kill” line.

  10. Things happening in your neighborhood on a constant basis? like black on black crime? im tired of this crap, when can another white person be killed by a black so i can march and have all the media label me a racist?

  11. Being assaulted WWW (walking while white) — a racist hate-crime — occurs at a rate 13X than a white against black racist attack (also immoral wrong). That 13X figure was derived at by someone who took into consideration the relative sizes of the two communities in America (percentage of population) and the number of actual hate-crime convictions. The white community in America is far larger than the black community yet the total in absolute numbers of convictions of black attackers is far larger. I suppose a PC apologist type will claim the stats are not fair and should be thrown out because of the (presumed) bias in the courts against blacks. BTW, the author of the stats wrote that Hispanics are included in the white category since attacks on Hispanics and whites are not distinguished. I believe it was someone here who posted the link to the study.

  12. Sigh, every time this happens — a white man accused of racism because he killed a black man — white people start chattering about so called reverse racism (black killing white.)
    Such reasoning misses the basic dynamic of racism by a country mile. Instead of just using the umbrella concept “racism,” it’s FAR more instructive to use the term “functional racism.” Functional racism is racist oppression from a class who can oppress, toward another class which can be oppressed. Therefore, it’s not functional racism when the powerless class (blacks) discriminate against the power class (whites, at least in america). Until black people as a class can bar whites from getting jobs, loans, homes, then blacks can discriminate but they cannot oppress. THAT’s why white-on-black violence is fundamentally different than black-on-white violence.

    • Sounds like Jesse Jackson. Selective crime discrimination? I think crime is bad regardless of race, color, religion, or creed. Sort of like saying that Irish killing English is different than English killing Irish.

    • What a bunch of nonsense. Nobody bars blacks from getting jobs loans or homes. You’re living in a fantasy land. Whites are the ones turned down for jobs, because of ridicules racial quotas. The fact is, being a minority, is a guarantied ticket to jobs, loans, homes and scholarships. They sure the hell are not being oppressed.

      • Ummm . . . Bank of America just agreed to pay over 300 million dollars because of racial discrimination. About the only way quotas are now legal is in cases where the is blatant, on-going discrimination. Ralph, correct me if I am wrong, here.

  13. I’ll address a couple of points:

    Did GZ have a right to be where he was? Yes, as did Martin.

    Did GZ have a right, within reason, to confront a suspicious person in his neighborhood? Yes, if no physical contact nor attempt to impede Martin was made. Asking “what are you doing around here” is neither of those.

    GZ chose to take it upon himself to impede crime in his neighborhood. I do the same thing routinely due to poor police coverage and long response times. It’s not being a “wannabe cop”.

    Does being on a neighborhood watch simply that you must stay locked inside your home and peek out from behind your curtains? Not to me it doesn’t. While it doesn’t necessarily mean active physical intervention, it DOES me letting everyone, suspicions persons included, KNOW the area is under direct observation.

    And regardless of the level of GZ’s injuries, beating someone’s head against the pavement implies the escalation to intent to to great bodily injury or kill.

    The whole question of GZ’s guilt or innocence revolves around whether or not physical contact was initiated by GZ, and whether or not there was mutual combat.

    The evidence is surely incomplete at this point, but everything that is out there now points to GZ’s acquittal.

    • >>GZ chose to take it upon himself to impede crime in his neighborhood. I do the same thing routinely due to poor police coverage and long response times. It’s not being a “wannabe cop”.<<

      A good point. There can be endless debate regarding what is reasonable behavior by neighborhood watch types… But if your home is part of a middle/lower working class neighborhood, you may have emotional reasons for being more pro-active than the average 'watcher', especially if crime is up and police response is poor.
      (I'll leave out the moral and financial issues of using cops (and the legal system) to delve into every act of suspicious or questionable behavior in a neighborhood.)

      That said, GZ's history regarding his 'watch' duties will be investigated; his credibility as a witness may be left to a jury.
      Does anyone recall GZ being a hot head?
      Did GZ ever do anything stupid with his pistol?
      While on 'watch', what was GZ's demeanor when questioning people?
      Any harassment complaints against GZ?
      I know that GZ was charged and acquitted of a crime involving a cop (I forget the details). Is there anything else?

      Tough questions? Abso-freakin-lutely. But Trayvon Martin's is dead by GZ's hand.

  14. Yawn. Wake me when the concept of justice returns to the American public. Or at least the possibility of fighting for the return of the concept of justice.

    Until then, this country is a shameful joke.

  15. “We are George Zimmerman?!?!?” Yeah right. I can’t believe you even said that. I’ll be damned if I get compared to a douche that calls the police on 7 year olds and appoints himself captain of the one man neighborhood watch. Pathetic. This guy has screwup written all over him. The only reason he doesn’t have any convictions on his record is because of his retired judge of a father. I couldn’t even sleep at night if I did what Zimmerman did. Knowing the kid was doing nothing wrong? I’m glad he still has a gun. Maybe he’ll do us all a favor and swallow that kel-tec.

    • My belief is that George got a second set of balls by packing, and ran into someone who either was afraid for his own life and tried to defend himself unsuccessfully or chose foolishly to respond by giving him a smack-down. We’ll probably never know for sure which one.
      Don’t go anywhere with a gun you wouldn’t go without one, would have kept this from happening. Unfortunately George took the macho route and now here we are.

  16. I see a lot of people assuming a lot about George’s personality. I don’t pretend to know what he’s like, because I don’t know what he’s like and have never met the man. And most likely, you haven’t either

    So, let’s stick to the facts.

      • ….and according to the Police Report was physically attacked initially by Martin .
        I am on another forum which has an Alabama attorney who states that this case really hinges on who initiated the violent physical attack in this case.

        • The police report is just Zimmerman’s side of the story on paper. That’s all. Just because the SA didn’t believe there was enough evidence to convict doesn’t make him innocent by any means. The narcotics detective wanted to press charges. I’m more inclined to believe him because he deals with shady individuals on the regular. Here in NC, especially in Greensboro, he would’ve been booked in 45 minutes from the time police arrived on the scene. Greensboro police let the judge and jury decide innocence and guilt.

      • Again, there is a legal definition of instigation. The person who started the physical altercation is the aggressor.

        • Actually your comment is both correct.. and incorrect.

          If person (A) instigates a fight against person (B) and at some point person (A) stops and walks away, then person (A) is the instigator and person (B) is the victim.

          On the other hand, if person (B) chases after person (A) (don’t forget, person (A) stopped and walked away), then person (B) (the original victim) can be charged because person (A) walked away.. and thus also became a victim.

          FireStar M40

        • Well, there’s testimony from Martin’s girlfriend that he was not the belligerent either initially or just before the fatal shooting. Even if you were to assume she was lying entirely, there are phone logs showing they were on the line from about the time of the initial confrontation until said shooting.

          Putting race and any factors aside, anyone should be objectively skeptical of self-defense on Zimmerman’s case. The police also thought there was enough probable cause for an arrest.

  17. I’ve tried to find an editorial that defends Zimmerman without vitriol or hate and I’m glad to finally have happened on one that tries to approach the thing rationally.

    The majority of the outrage and activism has not been directed at gun rights or even self-defense but merely that George Zimmerman was not arrested. (The police did seek an arrest initially but were rebuffed by the DA.)

    I would like to note several facts that have come to light:

    1. Zimmerman claimed that Martin decked him out with one punch to the nose, a tough feat given their relative size and age gap. (The former is a 200 pound 28 year old man with a height advantage.) However, video of Zimmerman at the police station the same night showed no significant injuries and he did not seek any immediate medical treatment.

    2. A phone call between Martin and his girlfriend took place right until the shooting to which the girlfriend attests that Martin was the one being followed and harassed. Even if she were lying, it makes less sense than Martin would follow and attack a stranger while on the phone. (Call logs prove the time of call but not content, obviously)

    3. The Republican writers of the law stated that their passed bill would not cover Zimmerman.

    4. At dispute are the 911 calls where someone’s voice is heard yelling as they are being attacked. Most audio experts do not believe it was Zimmerman although that hasn’t been a final consensus yet.

    5. Some racist blogs have taken to digging up Martin’s past but for the record and despite his offenses, he had no juvenile record or arrest record of any kind. Zimmerman had multiple previous felony convictions for assault including resisting arrest and domestic violence.

    That said, I don’t think this is a case of “us vs. them”. Zimmerman followed a minor against police operator advice and put himself in a situation where he wanted to use his firearm, not where he needed to. Racism may factor into Zimmerman’s frame of mind or the Sanford authorities’ initial handling of the case but all clues point to the shooter as someone who was violent and overzealous and finally acted on those impulses.

    There are certainly valid cases of self-defense regardless of the parties’ race or even gender which are worth standing up for but this shows little sign of being one of them.

    • Just to set the record straight, Zimmerman has NO felony convictions. He did have a few brushes with the law that were dismissed, but he does NOT have a felony record.

  18. There are a few of items regarding Florida law that need to be understood to put some of the issues in perspective:

    1. Stand Your Ground is NOT a part of this incident. Zimmerman hasn’t claimed it as part of his defense. At least so far, his assertion is classic self defense with the basic structure of that part of the law going back decades. The media has made SYG an issue either out of ignorance or ???

    2. Recent Florida law provides an “immunity” provision for self-defense cases that is intended to shield a person from an over-zealous prosecutor. If the initial evidence supports a self-defence situation, charges cannot be brought and it doesn’t go to a grand jury (it can be brought to a magistrate if the evidence so indicates). For an innocent self-defender this can prevent financial ruin (at the hands of that zealous prosecutor).

    3. Florida has a “speedy-trial” statute that starts the clock as soon as charges are brought against someone. If the person is unlikely to flee, it makes sense for the police and prosecutor to take the time they need to gather evidence before filing charges.

    4. Florida has truly draconian firearms laws, with mandatory sentencing for crimes involving firearms. That’s one of the key reasons for provisions such as: Castle Doctrine, Immunity and Stand Your Ground. The combination of a silver tongued (and publicity seeking) prosecutor with questionable facts (was he able to retreat, did he fear for his life) put several possibly innocent (or at least not-guilty) people in prison for long periods.

    As many have stated above, this case will hinge on who was the “aggressor”.

  19. Slow Shot, nice analysis of Florida law. But, in a classic self defence case you cannot claim justification when you go out looking for trouble. I’m not sure about the criminal aspect here. But, under tort common law Zimmerman stands no chance. I agree with you though, the Castle and Stand Your Ground doctrine don’t seem to apply, unless your gated community is your castle.

    I know Africans can look scary but, in my experience they’re individuals, some good, some bad. Even if there are 33 bad apples in 100, do the other 67 lose their individual rights? I’d hate to see this standard applied to gun owners.

    • Sorry Justin, but so far no public evidence that Zimmerman was “looking for trouble” (but I’m not sure that’s a legal term). He was legally able to follow Martin and even to question him. He did not have the right to detain Martin (without a crime being committed). Equally, Martin had every legal right to keep walking and to respond, or not to respond, his choice.

      As I stated, the case will hinge on who was the “aggressor” in the confrontation that lead directly to the shooting, provided it can be determined.

      • Respectfully, I disagree that he had clearance to follow and question. There have certainly been harassment arrests and even lawsuits successfully made based on someone simply following and asking questions of a stranger in public.

        The clues so far point to Zimmerman following Martin against police operator advice for several minutes then initiating the conversation (according to Martin’s girlfriend). If that is true (and one witness of the many accounts may favor Zimmerman instead), then he created an unnecessary confrontation that he wanted to resolve with implied intimidation alone or force.

        With that said, once everyone calms down for a second, Zimmerman is at most guilty of manslaughter and would likely receive a sentence of 5 to 15 years. Cases in the past where someone used a firearm in what they deemed self-defense when the jury saw otherwise carried similar terms although if he lied to the police, that may be a separate charge.

        • Its very unlikely that any court would find someone guilty of harassment, or anything else, for following a person one time or speaking to them without threatening. Also, I’m not sure what state you are referring to but because a firearm was used, Florida provides a mandatory sentence of 25 to life if Zimmerman is found guilty of aggravated assault or aggravated battery which would likely be the causative crime leading to a manslaughter charge.

    George had no marks on him to prove that Martin could have possibly been “Bashing his head into the pavement” your punching hurting him in any other way.

    Also if Zimmerman had not followed Martin against police orders, then none of this would be on the news.

    So by saying “I am George Zimmerman” your saying “I don’t listen to the police, and i kill children.”

    • No marks on his head? I guess you didn’t look at the enhanced video which clearly shows the back of his head torn up and bloody when CNN zoomed in on it, plus I guess you didn’t read the police report stating he was bleeding from the nose and head. It’s amazing what can happen if you actually pay attention to facts and not gossip like all of the sheep out there.

  21. One thing that irks me about this case is when people state that GZ was ordered not to follow. He was not. “We don’t need you to do that” is what the 911 dispatcher said and that is not an order.

    Also, it was a 911 dispatcher not a cop. The dispatcher’s comments are relevant but not legally binding. A dispatcher is never going to tell someone to do anything that can even potentially escalate a conflict – even if those actions are legal.

    As mentioned earlier this case really does boil down to who started it. To get even more specific, the prosecutor is going to have find evidence that contradicts what is already known or find some serious inconsistencies in GZ’s story. Furthermore, because the prosecutor has gone for 2nd degree murder, some sort of malice on the part of GZ must be proven. That is if facts and the law matter anymore. For over a month, thousands marched and demanded for GZ to be arrested when he already had been arrested.

  22. And since Martin died, how many other young black males have died at the hands of other blacks? I notice Mr Mohawk in the video was busy telling the crowd the problem is white guys when it really aint.

  23. Why is it in this case people want to bring up that black people kill each other? So do whites…There is a trailer park war over meth everyday just like in poor black neighborhoods. So forget who shooting who now. George Zimmerman shot and killed a unarmed teenager..Fuck him… If I knew where he was there would be no trial… He better thank his white jesus for protective custody……

    • the latest evidence shows that trayvon was the aggressor. this is gonna end up like the duke lacrosse case…….everyone jumping to the wrong conclusion BEFORE the truth comes out.

      • That’s not really true. There’s more witnesses that state Zimmerman was the aggressor and one of Zimmerman’s neighbors now seems to be on the verge of recanting his original account that Martin was pummeling the 28 year old man.

        While some of the police photos show blood, they were taken AFTER the video which shows no wounds. That seems a bit suspicious but we’ll have to wait for testimony from the detectives who first saw Zimmerman to know for sure.

  24. Why not all the upheaval about Detroit or Chicago? Evidently Brown on White or Brown on Brown is fine but Katie bar the doors if it Be White on Anything!!! Seems minority doors have come around full circle. Irregardless mine will all be packing!!

  25. The punk ass piece of shit got what he deserved. And before I get any emails accusing me of being racist, were he White ,Asian or Hispanic, the sack of dog shit paid the ultimate price for being a thug. Zimmerman’s life has been destroyed as a result of defending himself against a murderous assault by a worthless piece of smegma.


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