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Trayvon Martin, shot by George Zimmerman
March 20, 2012 4:53 AM   Subscribe

"This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about," Zimmerman told dispatchers. The dispatcher, hearing heavy breathing on the phone, asked Zimmerman: "Are you following him?" "Yeah," Zimmerman said. "Okay, we don’t need you to do that," the dispatcher responded.

On February 26, 17 year-old Trayvon Martin was killed by a 28 year-old man named George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Police did not arrest Zimmerman; under Florida's Stand Your Ground law Zimmerman was, according to the local police, acting in self-defense as Martin attacked him in his role as neighborhood watch captain. However, this is not the story that emerges from newly released 911 tapes - rather, the picture that emerges is of Zimmerman as aggressor and Martin as a scared kid, trying to run away. Ta-Nehisi Coates has been writing about the case, and now the FBI and Department of Justice are now investigating. Previously.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates (1571 comments total) 83 users marked this as a favorite

 
Based on what I've read about this horrible incident, the Stand Your Ground law doesn't even apply, as Zimmerman was actually chasing the kid. That's not standing one's ground, that is straight up offensive action.

I don't like that this has become a gun control case, because it is simply, tragically, a crazy person + racism = murder case.
posted by gjc at 5:05 AM on March 20, 2012 [34 favorites]


I don't like that this has become a gun control case, because it is simply, tragically, a crazy person + racism = murder case.

There's nothing simple about: crazy, racism, or murder.
posted by Fizz at 5:06 AM on March 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


Yesterday I was sitting in the breakroom at work and MSNBC was on and they were talking about this story and they played one of the 911 tapes-- the one where you can hear the kid screaming for his life, and then a gunshot. They didn't even give a 'Disturbing content!' warning. Made me sick.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:06 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


This is an absolutely horrible story and major props to Ta-Nehisi and others for making sure it gets the attention it deserves.
posted by ghharr at 5:07 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


This should end the way the O.J. fiasco and the Rodney Peairs fiasco did: Martin's family should sue Zimmerman into the ground and take every dime he will ever earn. Let the racist cops try to protect the asshole from that.
posted by localroger at 5:11 AM on March 20, 2012 [24 favorites]


Zimmerman was, according to the local police, acting in self-defense as Martin attacked him in his role as neighborhood watch captain

Why not let a judge decide?
posted by DU at 5:12 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Now he's coming towards me. He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male … Something's wrong with him. Yup, he's coming to check me out. He's got something in his hands. I don't know what his deal is … These assholes, they always get away."

It's a fuckin' hate crime.
posted by gman at 5:12 AM on March 20, 2012 [122 favorites]


Based on what I've read about this horrible incident, the Stand Your Ground law doesn't even apply, as Zimmerman was actually chasing the kid.

But following someone is not illegal. Since we aren't sure what happened, we aren't sure whether it applies or not. If, for instance, Martin got annoyed with Zimmerman following him and threatened Zimmerman, perhaps it would apply. That's the stupidity of such a law. It seems ready-made to allow people to kill other people.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 5:12 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Based on what I've read about this horrible incident, the Stand Your Ground law doesn't even apply, as Zimmerman was actually chasing the kid. That's not standing one's ground, that is straight up offensive action.

The problem here is that the local police department disagrees with your evaluation. They have had access to the 911 tapes, eyewitness accounts, and, presumably, material evidence. Even with all of that, they have decided to not arrest Zimmerman. So it's more than just a crazy racist with a gun story. It's more: crazy racist with gun who killed young man is being protected by Florida law and local police department.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:13 AM on March 20, 2012 [55 favorites]


It's more: crazy racist with gun who killed young man is being protected by Florida law and local police department.

You forgot a few more "crazy racists" in there.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 5:14 AM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


I wouldn't put Zimmerman down as a racist, apart from buying into the predominant stereotype of "Black People are Criminals" - the guy had some serious problems separating fantasy from reality, and on TV, the bad guys are black. He still needs to go to jail as a murderer, or at the very least spend a loooooong stretch under institutional care for his mental illness.

The police and prosecutor, on the other hand, are stone-cold racist. This follows a long and established pattern of behavior for authorities under Jim Crow - do whatever you like to black people, to put them in their place and keep them in their place and make them afraid whenever they walk in the white man's world - and we will protect you from the consequences.

FBI needs to be involved, like, yesterday.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:15 AM on March 20, 2012 [37 favorites]


I saw both of Treyvon's parents on TV yesterday. I can't imagine the heartbreak they are feeling, and yet they both spoke very eloquently about their son, and about the fact that he was gunned down because of the color of his skin.

Unbelievable that this can happen, and a police department can ignore it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:15 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't put Zimmerman down as a racist, apart from buying into the predominant stereotype of "Black People are Criminals" - the guy had some serious problems separating fantasy from reality, and on TV, the bad guys are black.

I fail to see in what sense this is not racist.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 5:18 AM on March 20, 2012 [121 favorites]


And this guy probably thinks he is some kind of fucking real life Batman now.
posted by TheRedArmy at 5:18 AM on March 20, 2012


Martin's family should sue Zimmerman into the ground and take every dime he will ever earn.

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the traditional 'send murderers to jail' method.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:19 AM on March 20, 2012 [35 favorites]


they played one of the 911 tapes-- the one where you can hear the kid screaming for his life, and then a gunshot. They didn't even give a 'Disturbing content!' warning. Made me sick.

Frankly, the nature of the crime itself should be what makes us sick, not the specifics of the 911 call.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:23 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Not to offend well-meAning people who get involved, but Neighborhood Watch groups must attract more than their fair share of these types of nuts.
posted by jonmc at 5:23 AM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


And this guy probably thinks he is some kind of fucking real life Bateman now.

Fixed.
posted by Fizz at 5:24 AM on March 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


It doesn't seem like jail is super-likely, though. So the only redress available to the family might be through the civil system. Kind of like how OJ managed to not go to jail for murder but still had to pay $33M in damages for a wrongful death suit.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:24 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like that this has become a gun control case, because it is simply, tragically, a crazy person + racism = murder case.

Well, without a gun involved it may well have ended up, less tragically, as a crazy person + racism = assault case.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:25 AM on March 20, 2012 [16 favorites]


It absolutely stuns me that they are not even going through the motions on charging Zimmerman:

* He is on record initiating the confrontation against police advice.
* Trayvon was IN HIS FREAKING PARENTS NEIGHBORHOOD

this is what the manslaughter charge is for. You murdered a child, you need to face the consequences.
posted by slapshot57 at 5:25 AM on March 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


See also: the volunteer border patrol "posse" wannabes we got out here in Arizona. It doesn't help that we have such a racist megalomaniacs and paranoiacs in leadership stoking the flames.
posted by darkstar at 5:26 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Frankly, the nature of the crime itself should be what makes us sick, not the specifics of the 911 call.

I'm not sure why you don't think that's what I said.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:26 AM on March 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


This is the type of shit the NRA jerks off to every night before bed.

a) Greasy delusional social reject trotting around with a licensed firearm.
b) Shoots and kills a boy.
c) Not even charged.

If it weren't for the racial dynamic nobody would've even heard of this story.

In redneck Florida, it's perfectly legal to trot around in public with loaded guns and shoot whoever you fancy, as long as you tell the cops it was self-defense.

"Hey did you just shoot another guy Timbo?"

"Yeap self-defense"

"Oh ok then well I'll just hose the blood of the sidewalk for ya'. Later!"
posted by norabarnacl3 at 5:27 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Zimmerman has apparently made many, many 911 calls in recent months.
posted by crunchland at 5:28 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


This follows a long and established pattern of behavior for authorities under Jim Crow - do whatever you like to black people, to put them in their place and keep them in their place and make them afraid whenever they walk in the white man's world - and we will protect you from the consequences.

This. It's a tragedy that a deluded wanna-be superhero killed this kid, but it's violently offensive that the local institutions seem to be closing up ranks to protect this guy for... I don't know, helping keep blacks in their place? I'm not trying to be inflammatory - this is what it honestly looks like. Jim Crow, indeed...
posted by jhandey at 5:28 AM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


...but Neighborhood Watch groups must attract more than their fair share of these types of nuts.

Was Zimmerman an actual member of a neighborhood watch group? In some of the stories I've heard about this, it seemed a bit fuzzy whether he was acting as a real member of a watch group, or if he was acting as a one-man de-facto watch group that was tolerated by the neighborhood.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:28 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah he wasn't part of an actual Neighborhood Watch program. Such programs heavily emphasize the fact that you aren't the cops, you don't follow people you think are suspicious, and you don't carry a gun as a function of the Neighborhood Watch.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:30 AM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


This case is just stunning. I mean, I frequent Radley Balko's blog so I read about dubious shootings by police and the non/underpunishment thereof more than anybody who doesn't work with law enforcement probably should, but those are police shootings. It's not hard to understand why the police wouldn't be inclined to arrest each other, even if I wish it weren't so. This is just some guy off the street who appears to have killed a kid in cold blood and they turn a blind eye because...well, I'm trying to finish that sentence without the word "evil" and i can't really think of a way.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:31 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I fail to see in what sense this is not racist.

Well, it could be ageist (maybe he wouldn't have been suspicious of an older black guy).
It could be sexist (maybe he wouldn't have been suspicious of a black female teenager).
It could be classist (maybe the kid just didn't dress like other kids in the area).

I think his specific comment "he's a black male" was probably just him confirming the description again to the person on the end of the phone (he'd already been asked about the kid's ethnicity), so it may not be a safe bet to ascribe his words to racism. There are other reasons than simple racism why things like this occur.

It sounds more like Zimmerman is just an unbalanced person who saw a threat where a resonable person would think twice. Putting untrained, potentially unbalanced people in a position where they're allowed to kill people within the law seems to be the biggest mistake that occurred here.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 5:31 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


The Stand your Ground laws seem tailor made to create tragedy, right down to the name. Aside from the specifics of this case, where it appears brutally apparent that this could in no sense be justified even under this law, I know I'm at my stupidest when I'm scared. This is because fear makes me irrational. And this is why this is the least good time for me to make any decision, let alone one that can end a human life. I imagine the same is true for many people.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 5:32 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Hey, guys, Meta discussion about the earlier deleted post versus this one should go to Metatalk. Thanks. ]
posted by taz at 5:33 AM on March 20, 2012


Zimmerman to 911 dispatcher: "These assholes. They always get away."

Rather than "standing his ground," it seems that Zimmerman was actively looking for some ground to stand on to confront Martin.

Zimmerman should be charged with murder.
posted by BobbyVan at 5:34 AM on March 20, 2012 [21 favorites]


I think his specific comment "he's a black male" was probably just him confirming the description again to the person on the end of the phone (he'd already been asked about the kid's ethnicity), so it may not be a safe bet to ascribe his words to racism. There are other reasons than simple racism why things like this occur.

It sounds more like Zimmerman is just an unbalanced person who saw a threat where a resonable person would think twice. Putting untrained, potentially unbalanced people in a position where they're allowed to kill people within the law seems to be the biggest mistake that occurred here.


Except for the part from the full 911 tape at about 2 minutes in, when he calls him a "fucking coon." So, yeah, that plus the "these assholes" comment seems to indicate that this guy's at least kinda racist.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:35 AM on March 20, 2012 [77 favorites]


I don't like that this has become a gun control case, because it is simply, tragically, a crazy person + racism = murder case.

I'd hate to stop Americans having the right to shoot people because they're crazy racists but, speaking for myself, I don't mind having my right to carry a gun restricted a bit just in case I have to live near crazy and/or racist people who may want to carry, and use, a gun.

In fact, the idea of 'crazy person + gun' is bad enough for me to be in favour of a restriction on people carrying guns around.
posted by pompomtom at 5:35 AM on March 20, 2012 [19 favorites]


Ta-Nehsi Coates links to this James Fallows piece that puts this tragedy in a larger context than just race.
posted by TedW at 5:36 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, it could be ageist...It could be sexist...It could be classist...

I was responding to this: "[Zimmerman was] buying into the predominant stereotype of "Black People are Criminals" - the guy had some serious problems separating fantasy from reality, and on TV, the bad guys are black."

In what sense is that ageist, sexist, or classist (except to the extent that those overlap with the fact that he was black)?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 5:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


[Federal authorities] might also investigate allegations of police misconduct, including a charge by one eyewitness that an officer on the scene of Martin's shooting told her to change her story. The witness says she stated that Martin had been screaming for help before he was shot, but that the officer "corrected" her and insisted it was Zimmerman who'd called for help, according to ABC News.
Mother Jones
posted by davidjmcgee at 5:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [26 favorites]


I'm not sure why you don't think that's what I said.

It sounded like you meant "I was doing okay hearing about what happened, but then acutally hearing the gunshot made me feel all oogy". If that's not what you meant, my mistake.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:40 AM on March 20, 2012


Well, it could be ageist (maybe he wouldn't have been suspicious of an older black guy).
It could be sexist (maybe he wouldn't have been suspicious of a black female teenager).
It could be classist (maybe the kid just didn't dress like other kids in the area).


What? Why would any of those (crazy, derailing, hypothetical) things in any way deny the racism inherent in assuming that poor young black men are dangerous?
posted by lydhre at 5:42 AM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the traditional 'send murderers to jail' method.

Oh, so do I -- when it's working.
posted by localroger at 5:45 AM on March 20, 2012


.
posted by drezdn at 5:45 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure why you don't think that's what I said.

Probably the thing about a lack of a "disturbing content" warning before playing the tape.
posted by floam at 5:52 AM on March 20, 2012


I think Stand Your Ground laws (though they might be problematic) are the real issue.

The issue is that the cops were going to give this guy a free pass. If they didn't have this law, they would have found another way. The case was clearly not supported by the Stand Your Ground in Florida, on in any state, because he pursued and then shot Martin.

You can argue against the theory of the law here, fine -- but this case clearly was *not* covered by this, and it was improperly invoked.

Zimmerman should be charged with murder.

Agreed.
posted by eriko at 5:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


And now it turns out Trayvon was on the phone with his girlfriend right before being murdered. This is looking uglier and uglier for the "investigation" that the police conducted.
posted by charred husk at 5:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't understand how it is that it's the *police* who decided that Zimmerman defended himself when the only witness they have is Zimmerman.

This is a serious question: was there a legal reason why he was not arrested and charged, and a judge or jury has to figure out if self-defense is what actually happened?
posted by rtha at 5:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Records show Zimmerman, 28, called the cops 46 times between January 2011 and Feb. 26.

And no alarm bells went off or action was taken before, during or after he finally went and killed someone. The police had to know that an armed man in a self-appointed vigilante role and under mental duress posed a danger to those around and they all but encouraged him to do so.
posted by jsavimbi at 5:53 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I imagine it was the district attorney, not the actual cops technically.
posted by floam at 5:54 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll just mention it since nobody else has, apparently Zimmerman had a bloody face when they got there. Zimmerman claims that there was an altercation, and actually claims that it was him screaming in the 911 tape. I hope there is some kind of voice analysis technology that can clear that part up right quick.
posted by floam at 6:00 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a serious question: was there a legal reason why he was not arrested and charged, and a judge or jury has to figure out if self-defense is what actually happened?

It seems like this is one of the many problems with the "stand your grand" laws that covered this.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:00 AM on March 20, 2012


I think making this about race is a rabbit hole. OBVIOUSLY racism is a factor here, presumably in the original murder and police response and certainly in how we're all responding to it. IMO, the really disturbing point here is that this could (and will) happen again in Florida because this law is batshit crazy and there are no plans to fix it.
posted by pjaust at 6:01 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a serious question: was there a legal reason why he was not arrested and charged, and a judge or jury has to figure out if self-defense is what actually happened?

I'd like to hear this too, although I suspect it's a case of 'his story sounded convincing enough, sure, why the hell not?' He wasn't even tested for drugs or alcohol.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:01 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


just in case I have to live near crazy and/or racist people who may want to carry, and use, a gun.

Actually, it occurs to me now that we have the police for that.

posted by pompomtom at 6:04 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The police had to know that an armed man in a self-appointed vigilante role and under mental duress posed a danger to those around and they all but encouraged him to do so.

I just cannot understand how someone who calls emergency services 46 times in seven weeks is allowed to carry a gun. That many calls doesn't trigger some kind of check on the mental health of the person? If for no other reason than to stop the drain on the emergency services time!
posted by gladly at 6:07 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


That was 46 calls since Jan 2011.
posted by onhazier at 6:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's the 911 call from a neighbor, too, who reported two men fighting, and you can hear gunshot(s) in the background.

So the cops show up, one guy is dead, the other guy claims it was self-defense, and they....call the DA, and ask if they should arrest him? And the DA says, "Nah, he says it was self-defense, let him walk"?

I mean, at this point, they don't *know* that there's no relationship between the two men, they don't *know* anything, because all they have is Zimmerman's word.

It seems incredibly weird to me that I could, say, go to this town, shoot someone, claim self-defense, and as long as there's no one to contradict me, I could just get away with it.

Is this a thing that's common?
posted by rtha at 6:09 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing I've been wondering, and I'm hoping one of the lawyerly types here will chime in and clarify, but to my layman's eyes it looks as if the Stand Your Ground law seems to make prosecuting murder extraordinarily difficult.

From what I understand the law states that a person shooting and killing another person in self defense is exempt from all prosecution. So what's to prevent Bob from stalking Ted, finding a good time when Ted is isolated and there are no witnesses around, killing Ted, and then claiming that it was in self defense because he thought Ted was going for a gun? Bob says it is self defense, there are no witnesses to contradict him, does that mean the police are basically forbidden from arresting and charging Bob with any crimes?

I was fairly sure I was missing something when I first wondered that about the various Stand Your Ground laws, that there must be some mechanism that I as a non-lawyer was missing that would stop that sort of abuse. But now there's this, and it looks like maybe my first impression was right, and the laws are there basically to make it neigh impossible to prosecute murder.

The racism on the part of Zimmerman and the Florida police is, depressingly, par for the course. One of the things that worries me greatly is that my son, who is black, is a contrary, never back down, sort of person at five and a half. And as a future black man in America that seems to be the sort of thing that will put him in gave danger of being shot, beaten, etc. Not that I want him to be a sheep, but I know that as a white guy my interactions with cops need to be meek and submissive or I risk getting a beatdown.
posted by sotonohito at 6:09 AM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


In an interview with HuffPost on Thursday, Tracy Martin said that when he asked police why Zimmerman hadn't been charged, officers told him "they respected [Zimmerman's] background, that he studied criminal justice for four years and that he was squeaky clean." He continued: "My question to them was, did they run my child's background check? They said yes. I asked them what they came up with, and they said nothing.
posted by floam at 6:12 AM on March 20, 2012 [32 favorites]


The true mystery, I agree, is the police/DA response. This guy seems to have shown lots of evidence of being a fruitcake and nobody did anything. Now when something finally happens they don't even bother going through the motions of an investigation. What the hell is going on?
posted by jonmc at 6:17 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll just mention it since nobody else has, apparently Zimmerman had a bloody face when they got there.

Since Zimmerman is laughably claiming it was self-defense, I'd like to mention that you are allowed to fight back when a crazy piece of shit who outweighs you by a hundred pounds and has a fucking gun attacks you for walking home from the convenience store.

The victim blaming is completely insane - this case would be open and shut if the murderer were black and the victim were white. You honestly think the child who wound up with a bullet in him decided to randomly attack the big fat guy crazy guy who was stalking him?

Trayvon Martin's goal was to get home from the store. George Zimmerman's goal was to make sure this "fuckin' coon" didn't get away like "they always do."

No sane person posits a reality where a kid buys candy and Snapple, then decides to jump the next big fucking mental patient he sees, while the obsessive armed cop wannabe was actually hiding and reporting his activity and not obviously trying to be a hero and make a citizen's arrest of someone who was guilty of being a "fuckin' coon."
posted by a_girl_irl at 6:17 AM on March 20, 2012 [140 favorites]



This whole thing is just disgusting. Some poor kid who went to the 7-11 for red vines and a slurpee is stalked and killed. I'm not even going to get into the fact that clearly Zimmerman was looking for a confrontation.

You have to wonder why no one is challenging his decision to get out of his car and accost Trayvon Martin. He was nice and safe in his car, he only needed to stand his ground once he stopped, got out and confronted the young man.

To me this is pre-meditation. He should be charged with first-degree murder.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:18 AM on March 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


I have been trying, lately, to change my pro-death penalty stance, but assholes like this are really not helping me grow as a person.


Is this a thing that's common?

Sure, as long as you're white and whoever you "defended yourself from" isn't.
posted by elizardbits at 6:19 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well shit, this was horrible BEFORE, it hasn't gotten any better now.

Of course, the police can't be expected to know stuff like WHAT WAS SAID ON THE PHONE TO THEM.

/sigh
posted by Artw at 6:20 AM on March 20, 2012


The victim blaming is completely insane - this case would be open and shut if the murderer were black and the victim were white. You honestly think the child who wound up with a bullet in him decided to randomly attack the big fat guy crazy guy who was stalking him?

a_girl_irl... no I don't think that. I also don't think the phrases being yelled are the same things that the guy with the guy would yell in a fight. I just wanted to get a few bullet points out there as I imagine they have had some effect on things and are likely to be hurdles to a conviction. I think this guy should be locked up.
posted by floam at 6:20 AM on March 20, 2012


The argument about whether this was racist reminds me of another site I used to go to, where the sarcastic summation of some people's inability to see racism in any but the most obvious situations was "it's not racist unless someone dies".

And someone dies, and it still might not be racist. Unbelievable. Beyond parody.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:21 AM on March 20, 2012 [24 favorites]


meant "guy with the gun"
posted by floam at 6:21 AM on March 20, 2012


Florida's Justifiable Use of Force Law: http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2010/Chapter776

And the section on Use of force by an aggressor:

776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.


Even if Zimmerman is considered to be justified by the letter of the law (which IANAL but seems shaky) surely the police did massively bungle the situation. That should not have been their call to make.
posted by ghharr at 6:22 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Charles Blow, columnist for the New York Times, has also written about the Martin case. One thing he's trying to figure out: Where is Trayvon's Cellphone?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:24 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I would like to see grand jury proceedings required whenever somebody kills someone. In these parts, if there's a police shooting, evidence is presented to to a grand jury, and the people get to decide if a trial should happen or not, no matter how legitimate the shooting appeared to be. Makes sense for everything in my opinion.
posted by floam at 6:28 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you haven't seen it, this article discusses several disturbing incidents that have happened in Sanford, Florida in the recent past. This includes the killing of another black teenager by two white security guards in 2005, who were charged but claimed self-defense and had their cases dismissed by a judge.

This is, to put it lightly, a really disturbing pattern. I can't imagine how the black population of Sanford must be feeling right now.
posted by bookish at 6:28 AM on March 20, 2012


Before I have read any of the comments:

I was reading the Racialicious round-up of coverage on this case and they posted a tweet that said basically "When Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke a slut, white women invoked the language of 'family' and 'daughter' in coming to her defense; if she can be figured as your daughter, shouldn't Trayvon Martin be your son?"

I just can't get over how these kids - Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant - were so young, just babies. I don't know how I could get up in the morning if one of my young friends were killed; it's horrible to think about the poor kids' families. Not that, you know, I'd want to get shot by the cops/a racist myself in my late thirties, but at least I've had some time to really live as an adult.

I hope that everyone who is getting upset about this keeps remembering it later on - to a lesser degree, this stuff goes on all the time, kids of color getting harassed and attacked and hurt by cops/cop-wannabes. I can almost guarantee that it is happening in your town. When you hear about something in your town, please remember this situation and the victim-blaming that is going on even in a clear-cut case like this one, and view the official narrative with a skeptical eye. And contact your city council or your citizen review board (if you're lucky enough to have one). And if there are protests of police brutality or racist assaults, especially in response to a specific case, you should go. It is a good rule of thumb based on history and statistics if there is an accusation of police/racist brutality against a person of color that it is most likely true - start from there rather than from the position of doubt that most white people are taught to take.

And if there are riots (like after the Oscar Grant verdict), at least try to understand that people might be upset and despairing.

I think that white folks in particular have a responsibility to stand up against this.

Still, it is one more aspect of white supremacy that people of color are marginalized and dismissed when they complain about kids of color getting shot by the cops, while white people are [somewhat more] listened to.
posted by Frowner at 6:30 AM on March 20, 2012 [22 favorites]


I think every member of America's historically disadvantaged minorities is morally and ethically obligated to arm him/herself because shit like this just keeps happening. The 2nd amendment isn't just for white people. Bernie Goetz walked 25 years ago and Zimmerman won't see a day behind bars.
posted by Renoroc at 6:30 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


the FBI and Department of Justice are now investigating.
What, exactly, are they investigating? The lack of prosecution? The shooting itself? The Miami Herald link says something about federal civil rights, but not much more detail than that.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:30 AM on March 20, 2012


I think every member of America's historically disadvantaged minorities is morally and ethically obligated to arm him/herself because shit like this just keeps happening.

Um. This is labeled "urban gun violence" and is prosecuted to the very fullest extent of the unequally enforced law.
posted by elizardbits at 6:32 AM on March 20, 2012 [28 favorites]


That was 46 calls since Jan 2011.

And how many calls were made about Zimmerman himself. I do recall reading somewhere that the neighbors were tired of his vigilante act.

Does anyone have a link delving into to the background of one George Zimmerman, aside from his obvious interest in criminal justice and driving around the neighborhood during working hours looking for trouble?

WFTV found out Zimmerman was arrested in 2005 for battery on a law enforcement officer.

Squeaky clean.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:33 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't think I agree that more guns will make things better for gun violence victims.
posted by floam at 6:33 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I have been trying, lately, to change my pro-death penalty stance, but assholes like this are really not helping me grow as a person.

Just remember that as currently applied, the death penalty would likely only be used in this situation against Trayvon Martin had he defended himself.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:34 AM on March 20, 2012 [41 favorites]


Why would any of those (crazy, derailing, hypothetical) things in any way deny the racism inherent in assuming that poor young black men are dangerous?

This particular dead young man wasn't poor. He lived in a gated townhouse community near Orlando with his parents.
posted by hippybear at 6:35 AM on March 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


I cannot imagine what the Martins must be going through at this point. Horror, anger, disbelief and more--on TOP of grief for a child, which is plenty tough to deal with in itself.

Speaking to the issue of gun control, here's a quote from the late Molly Ivins:

I am not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We'd turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don't ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.

The problem I have with everyone having access to guns: it makes killing a person easier than starting a car. One armed nutjob with issues is reason enough to make them illegal for all, and I do not buy into the argument that more guns make for less crime.

And yes, I own guns ('cept they're all .22 match rifles, flintlocks and muzzle-loaders--definitely not fast, easy or concealable).
posted by kinnakeet at 6:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


I totally read WFTV as WTFV.
posted by rtha at 6:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The South will rise again! As others have said this stinks to high heaven of the old Jim Crow south.

By not prosecuting Zimmerman the authorities are offering a green light for obvious racially charged hate crimes.

Hopefully some heads will roll in the jurisdiction that thought they could just sweep this under the rug. And Zimmerman, obviously, needs to do some serious time.
posted by Max Power at 6:38 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it was maybe Roy Edroso who pointed out that there's an easy way to change America's lenient gun and self-defense laws: More armed black men. When the Black Panthers decided that the best way to keep cops from arbitrarily shooting them was to have armed black men on every street corner, Gov. Reagan suddenly got awfully concerned with guns in the wrong hands, and passed some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Perhaps if Jeremiah Wright went onto MSNBC tomorrow and announced a plan for donations to buy guns and conceal-carry licenses for every young black man in Florida, the laws just might change.
(I am joking. Sort of.)
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:39 AM on March 20, 2012 [49 favorites]


This follows a long and established pattern of behavior for authorities under Jim Crow - do whatever you like to black people, to put them in their place and keep them in their place and make them afraid whenever they walk in the white man's world - and we will protect you from the consequences.

The normal poverty/law interaction isn't at play what with the family able to afford a gated community.


posted by rough ashlar at 6:39 AM on March 20, 2012


The normal poverty/law interaction isn't at play what with the family able to afford a gated community.

And yet the murder of a child is ignored by the police because the murderer is a white-enough cop wannabe and the victim is black. America's not racist any more, though, thank Jesus (who is white btw)
posted by a_girl_irl at 6:42 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


The normal poverty/law interaction isn't at play what with the family able to afford a gated community.

They could be poor. Have you seen the housing market? Lots of poor people are getting shuffled from inner cities to foreclosed suburban ghosttowns.
posted by floam at 6:42 AM on March 20, 2012


From the Mother Jones article linked above on the previous history of the Sanford police department:

Why is the history of the Sanford Police Department in question?

Sanford PD's officers have suffered a series of public missteps in recent years, according to local reporters. In 2006 two private security guards—the son of a Sanford police officer, and a volunteer for the department—killed a black teen with a single gunshot in his back. Even though they admitted to never identifying themselves, the guards were released without charges. In 2009, after an assailant allegedly attempted to rape a child in her home, the department was called to task for sitting on the suspect's fingerprints, delaying identification and pursuit of the attacker.

Perhaps the most significant incident occurred in late 2010: Justin Collison, the son of a Sanford PD lieutenant, sucker-punched a homeless black man outside a bar, and officers on the scene released Collison without charges. He eventually surrendered after video of the incident materialized online. The police chief at the time was ultimately forced into retirement. "Bottom line, we didn't do our job that night," a Police Department representative told WFTV of the incident. The TV station later learned that the Sanford patrol sergeant in charge on the night of Collison's assault, Anthony Raimondo, was also the first supervisor on the scene of Trayvon Martin's shooting death.

As a result of these incidents and their initial handling of Martin's death, the Sanford Police Department has been under increased scrutiny. Martin's parents have suggested they might call for Police Chief Bill Lee to resign.

posted by mediareport at 6:42 AM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


The victim blaming is completely insane

Stating that there may have been a bona fide altercation isn't victim blaming.
posted by downing street memo at 6:46 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This particular dead young man wasn't poor. He lived in a gated townhouse community near Orlando with his parents.

I know that, hippybear, but le morte de bea arthur upthread asserted that it wasn't necessarily a racist impulse that prompted the murder, it could have been a classist one. And I was disputing the idea that race is somehow magically erased when we add class to the mix. If Trayvon Martin had been poor, or had been perceived as poor by Zimmerman, it would not have made one lick of difference. It's poor + black that's the trigger. Male + black. Young + black. Male + poor + young + black. The racism is inherent and no amount of "but it could have been classist!!" mitigates that.
posted by lydhre at 6:47 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Based on what I've read about this horrible incident, the Stand Your Ground law doesn't even apply, as Zimmerman was actually chasing the kid. That's not standing one's ground, that is straight up offensive action.

The Stand Your Ground Law should basically have been called the "You Looking at Me?" Act. It legalizes being proactively aggressive and shooting first if you even think you might be threatened. Under the letter of the law, if Zimmerman believed he had good reason to think the kid might hurt him if he didn't hunt him down and kill him first, then he was acting within his right.

That's what's so fucking stupid about the law. The best I can figure is that it was basically motivated by our macho-conservative politicians' desire to bring Wild West, frontier-style justice back to Florida.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:51 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I know that, hippybear, but le morte de bea arthur upthread asserted that it wasn't necessarily a racist impulse that prompted the murder, it could have been a classist one.

Racism is so tied up with classism that they're really hard to separate - one of the things that racism does is provide a class advantage to white people. If you're a white boss, you know there's a reserve labor army of poor folks of color who will work for low wages and won't have much standing if you abuse or cheat them. If you're a white secretary (like me) you get an undeserved boost because people think you're more competent and a better "face" for the business just because you're white. Slavery, Jim Crow and the prison system mean that there are far fewer black folks with fancy educational qualifications or the money and connections to get them, so white folks have less competition even if the hiring process itself is [relatively] unbiased, as anyone who has ever seen an academic search will tell you. There's a great line in a Sarah Schulman novel somewhere about how racism lets white folks be mediocre. There's the 'psychological wage' of whiteness, yes, but there's also a literal wage, and I think a lot of white people unconsciously know that.

I would suggest that the class aspect here is simply that for many white folks, black people have to be terrorized precisely because without terror the economic not just the social privileges of whiteness are in danger. It's not whether Trayvon Martin himself was rich or poor, it's the fact that under white supremacy precarity is supposed to be the default for people of color.
posted by Frowner at 6:57 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Stating that there may have been a bona fide altercation isn't victim blaming.

Yeah, in this case it is. Because we know that Zimmerman was following him, and got out of the car to accost him.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:57 AM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


Speaking from the position as someone who's fiancee works in law enforcement in Florida, there are often misconceptions and over generalizations reported as fact by the media and generally accepted by the public without much scrutiny because it's what Joe Regular wants to believe. When the media reports that BP has the oil spill under control, legions of people on the internet investigate and dig for the "truth" and report on any counter findings. When it comes to situations involving questionable behavior by law enforcement, there is never a similar response.

In my opinion, I think it's mostly because although a vast percentage of people admit the police are needed, no one enjoys the limitations of their personal "liberties" when they are the ones getting speeding tickets, arrested or having to alter their behavior for fear of fines or imprisonment, and so it speaks to the comeuppance factor inherent in all of us. That does not mean there are not politically or racially driven officers, prosecutors, and/or DAs, but the same could be said for any profession. It is more unacceptable in law enforcement in my opinion, because the unfortunate and reprehensible result is that the consequence of this is the potential for unneeded imprisonment and bad treatment of certain individuals on one hand, and the overlooking of terrible things done by some others. Most law enforcement agencies take great care to train employees and weed out those who display such behavior. Firings, disciplinary actions, suspensions, happen in all departments as a result.

That said, given the circumstances as displayed in the media, that Zimmerman believed himself to be or actually was the "Captain" of the Neighborhood Watch. 46 calls in a year to 911 as a result wouldn't be unusual for someone on Patrol on a common basis. So that would be no red flag there. Provided his calls were justified, this would only serve to bolster his reputation as someone who is responsible. Also, as a result of having the police officers assigned to that precinct/district show up almost 50 times in a year, if he built a rapport with them, this would also serve to explain the acceptance of his Self-Defense explanation. I sincerely doubt that an unheard of person with no prior positive police contact would be given the same latitude.

If what the media is reporting is accurate, Zimmerman most likely had a deep desire to be in law enforcement, and probably was very friendly and looked up to the officers he came into contact with, so they may have not seen him for the unstable person he was. They are not psychologists, after all.

I believe Zimmerman viewed Trayvon as a "threat" most likely because of the color of his skin and the way he was dressed, but I also believe if he saw a too skinny white guy with a shaved head and punk piercings, he probably would have reacted much the same, and the situation would have ended the same. In this case, Zimmerman's paranoia, coupled with his delusion he was in law enforcement prompted him to react to Trayvon running away as an indication of implied guilt, much the same an officer would react if they were attempting to question a suspicious person. In his self-centered mind, Trayvon knew he was the "Neighborhood Cop" and he was trying to elude him, basically cementing his guilt.

When Zimmerman finally cornered him, Trayvon did would what most scared 17 year old males would do to some middle aged man "stalking" him... backed into a physical and mental corner, he bristled and became antagonistic. A reaction he most likely would not have had to a police officer in uniform. An escalation of fear, adrenaline and anger resulted in a tragedy which could have been averted if Zimmerman only had followed Watch guidelines and been unarmed.

This is a tragedy if the reports are true, and Zimmerman should face justice for this crime. This is why vigilantism does not work, and why law enforcement should be left up to trained officers. Even rookie cops have to ride around with more experienced officers for a probationary period (usually a year) until they build an intuition on how to handle situations, and deal with the emotional "high" gained from being entrusted with such power and authority over regular citizens.
posted by Debaser626 at 6:57 AM on March 20, 2012 [33 favorites]


Also, as a result of having the police officers assigned to that precinct/district show up almost 50 times in a year, if he built a rapport with them, this would also serve to explain the acceptance of his Self-Defense explanation. I sincerely doubt that an unheard of person with no prior positive police contact would be given the same latitude.

That does make a lot of sense.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:02 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apparently, Treyvon was on the phone with his girlfriend during the interaction.

"He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run but he said he was not going to run."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:02 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, I'm trying to wrap my head around the "Stand your ground" laws you guys in the US have. I have some schooling in the relevant laws here in Norway, where apparently we're yellow-bellied socialists cowards, as we consider deadly force a last resort. The relevant chapter of the Wikipedia article on the Castle doctrine proved illuminating. I fully expect not to be believed when I tell people about this at lunch tomorrow...
posted by Harald74 at 7:05 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course his a gun control issue, along with other issues. I suppose the 37 shootings in Chicago this past weekend had nothing to do with guns. As a U.S. citizen living in Ireland my sense of dismay and disgust for the violence, an tolerance of violence, caused by handguns in the U.S.has been rekindled. I don't care how you rationalize it--it is appalling and the proliferation of weapons designed to kill humans is absurd. Enough of the wild west and other self seving justifications.
posted by rmhsinc at 7:07 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Update – the feds are investigating.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


if she can be figured as your daughter, shouldn't Trayvon Martin be your son?"

Since I had a child things like this went from outrageous and upsetting to feeling like someone is tearing a hole in my chest. And I know it's not even a tenth of what his parents and loved ones must be feeling.

What a tragedy.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [20 favorites]


It seems incredibly weird to me that I could, say, go to this town, shoot someone, claim self-defense, and as long as there's no one to contradict me, I could just get away with it.

This is a result of prosecutorial discretion. The prosecutor has essentially complete discretion regarding whether or not to charge someone. "Pressing charges" is basically television nonsense; the prosecutor can take the victim's wishes into consideration but he or she is under no obligation to do so.

The exercise of prosecutorial discretion is almost completely unreviewable by the courts, which basically require a smoking gun memo showing an intentional discrimination on the basis of race, religion, or the like. For example, the Supreme Court held in McCleskey v. Kemp that statistical evidence of racial discrimination by prosecutors was not enough, even though it used a sample of over 2000 cases and controlled for 230 potential confounding variables.

As the Supreme Court put it: "In our system, so long as the prosecutor has probable cause to believe that the accused committed an offense defined by statute, the decision whether or not to prosecute, and what charge to file or bring before a grand jury, generally rests entirely in his discretion. Within the limits set by the legislature's constitutionally valid definition of chargeable offenses, "the conscious exercise of some selectivity in enforcement is not in itself a federal constitutional violation" so long as "the selection was [not] deliberately based upon an unjustifiable standard such as race, religion, or other arbitrary classification."" Bordenkircher v. Hayes, 434 US 357, 364 (1978).
posted by jedicus at 7:09 AM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


(Oops. Apparently that decision was made prior to and reflected in the post. Missed that, some of the comments implied the FBI was still deciding whether to look into it. Carry on.)
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:09 AM on March 20, 2012


The problem here is that the local police department disagrees with your evaluation. They have had access to the 911 tapes, eyewitness accounts, and, presumably, material evidence. Even with all of that, they have decided to not arrest Zimmerman.
Right, and as we all know local police departments are never incorrect, and certainly never racially biased.
I wouldn't put Zimmerman down as a racist, apart from buying into the predominant stereotype of "Black People are Criminals"
Which, of course, would make him a racist.
It doesn't seem like jail is super-likely, though. So the only redress available to the family might be through the civil system. Kind of like how OJ managed to not go to jail for murder but still had to pay $33M in damages for a wrongful death suit.
First of all, OJ was at least prosecuted. And in any event he was already a millionaire. This guy is just some pathetic loser. Take everything he has and you still don't get much, and he wouldn't even lose that much.
The issue is that the cops were going to give this guy a free pass. If they didn't have this law, they would have found another way. The case was clearly not supported by the Stand Your Ground in Florida, on in any state, because he pursued and then shot Martin.

You can argue against the theory of the law here, fine -- but this case clearly was *not* covered by this, and it was improperly invoked.
That's a reasonable interpretation, but the problem is nutcases like this will think that it means they can shoot people if they "feel threatened" whether or not they are actually within the bounds of the law. It's not a situation where someone might think "Okay, this is a dangerous situation, but is it really so dangerous that if I don't shoot now I'll die, and so it's worth the risk of potentially going to jail?"

Instead they think "I feel threatened, so it's my legal right to shoot this guy". And, of course, mentally disturbed people are going to feel threatened all the time.

The thing is, normal people aren't lawyers. They don't know the ins and outs of the law, just the jist. And police aren't lawyers either.
This is a serious question: was there a legal reason why he was not arrested and charged, and a judge or jury has to figure out if self-defense is what actually happened?
From watching Cop shows on TV, I think it's like: The police make the decision to arrest someone, and then a DA decides whether or not to charge.
From what I understand the law states that a person shooting and killing another person in self defense is exempt from all prosecution. So what's to prevent Bob from stalking Ted, finding a good time when Ted is isolated and there are no witnesses around, killing Ted, and then claiming that it was in self defense because he thought Ted was going for a gun? Bob says it is self defense, there are no witnesses to contradict him, does that mean the police are basically forbidden from arresting and charging Bob with any crimes?
I seem to recall an incident like that after the law was passed: Someone went up to someone's house and when they answered the door, the guy shot him. The reason for that was, supposedly, once he started arguing with the guy he became threatened on his doorstep.
I know that, hippybear, but le morte de bea arthur upthread asserted that it wasn't necessarily a racist impulse that prompted the murder, it could have been a classist one. And I was disputing the idea that race is somehow magically erased when we add class to the mix. If Trayvon Martin had been poor, or had been perceived as poor by Zimmerman, it would not have made one lick of difference. It's poor + black that's the trigger. Male + black. Young + black. Male + poor + young + black. The racism is inherent and no amount of "but it could have been classist!!" mitigates that.
Especially since the only reason people are even bringing up "poor" is because this kid was black. He wasn't poor, he lived in the same neighborhood as this guy and we can assume about the same socioeconomic strata.

---

I think the 'rapport' theory makes sense. The police felt like they knew this guy, maybe they liked him, who knows. But he definitely needs to go to jail and the people involved here fired.
posted by delmoi at 7:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Er ... dudes. Could we, like, stop relentlessly referring to Martin by his first name here? Because it's not like there's any history behind that or anything ...
posted by Sonny Jim at 7:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


That said, given the circumstances as displayed in the media, that Zimmerman believed himself to be or actually was the "Captain" of the Neighborhood Watch. 46 calls in a year to 911 as a result wouldn't be unusual for someone on Patrol on a common basis. So that would be no red flag there.

His neighborhood watch wasn't officially registered, and violated several rules of the neighboorhood's manual:
The manual, from the National Neighborhood Watch Program, states: "It should be emphasized to members that they do not possess police powers, and they shall not carry weapons or pursue vehicles. They should also be cautioned to alert police or deputies when encountering strange activity. Members should never confront suspicious persons who could be armed and dangerous...."
Provided his calls were justified, this would only serve to bolster his reputation as someone who is responsible.

There is no evidence that any of them were justified, as far as I can tell.

Also, as a result of having the police officers assigned to that precinct/district show up almost 50 times in a year, if he built a rapport with them, this would also serve to explain the acceptance of his Self-Defense explanation.

So, as long as the cops--who at this point seem to be engaging in witness and evidence tampering and possibly conspiracy to cover up--are cool with him, it's okay?

I sincerely doubt that an unheard of person with no prior positive police contact would be given the same latitude.

He had a 2005 charge of assaulting a police officer.

If what the media is reporting is accurate, Zimmerman most likely had a deep desire to be in law enforcement, and probably was very friendly and looked up to the officers he came into contact with, so they may have not seen him for the unstable person he was. They are not psychologists, after all.

That doesn't excuse him from engaging in vigilantism. And there's far more evidence that he preferred his own brand of justice than any form of actual peace-keeping.

I believe Zimmerman viewed Trayvon as a "threat" most likely because of the color of his skin and the way he was dressed, but I also believe if he saw a too skinny white guy with a shaved head and punk piercings, he probably would have reacted much the same, and the situation would have ended the same.

Of which there is no evidence to support. There are, however, multiple occasions where he made calls about "suspicious characters," and that in every case they were black.

In this case, Zimmerman's paranoia, coupled with his delusion he was in law enforcement prompted him to react to Trayvon running away as an indication of implied guilt, much the same an officer would react if they were attempting to question a suspicious person. In his self-centered mind, Trayvon knew he was the "Neighborhood Cop" and he was trying to elude him, basically cementing his guilt.

The kid was being chased by someone who wasn't a cop. He didn't know what the hell was happening.

When Zimmerman finally cornered him, Trayvon did would what most scared 17 year old males would do to some middle aged man "stalking" him... backed into a physical and mental corner, he bristled and became antagonistic.

Right, by screaming "Help" and that he was being attacked, he was "bristling" and "became antagonistic." Especially since the other guy had a gun and he was unarmed. WTF, dude?
posted by zombieflanders at 7:13 AM on March 20, 2012 [78 favorites]


Sonny Jim, I think it has more to do with him being a child, but you're right.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:14 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


What are the possibilities of a federal prosecution here, by the way? Charging people with crimes like murder is usually a state issue, from what I understand.
Er ... dudes. Could we, like, stop relentlessly referring to Martin by his first name here? Because it's not like there's any history behind that or anything ...
Well, that's also how his family, and everyone else is referring to him. People usually refer to children by their first name.
posted by delmoi at 7:15 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sonny Jim, while you are right, it does feel strange to call a child by his/her last name.
posted by weinbot at 7:15 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


This Tampa Bay Times article from 2010 is noteworthy.

Reports of justifiable homicides tripled after the law went into effect, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Last year, twice a week, on average, someone's killing was considered warranted.

The self-defense law — known as "stand your ground" — has been invoked in at least 93 cases with 65 deaths, a St. Petersburg Times review found.
(I believe this is referring to 2008)

"Gangsters are using this law to have gunfights," he said. "That's exactly what this law breeds."

In 2008, two gangs in Tallahassee got into a shoot-out. A 15-year-old boy was killed. A judge dismissed charges against the shooters, citing "stand your ground."


So this law specifically increased legal killings by about 40 per year. (65 deaths, the increase being two-thirds of that.) Traynor Martin is the tip of the iceberg. Way to go, Florida Legislator.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:15 AM on March 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


it does feel strange to call a child by his/her last name

It feels strange and dehumanizing to call a child murdered by a maniac in a hate crime solely by their last name, tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 7:17 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


When Zimmerman finally cornered him, Trayvon did would what most scared 17 year old males would do to some middle aged man "stalking" him...

Zimmerman is 28 years old. Hardly middle-aged, unless we're living in the Middle Ages.
posted by hippybear at 7:18 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman said he had stepped out of his truck to check the name of the street he was on when Trayvon attacked him from behind as he walked back to his truck, police said. He said he feared for his life and fired the semiautomatic handgun he was licensed to carry because he feared for his life.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:19 AM on March 20, 2012


.
posted by ericb at 7:20 AM on March 20, 2012


This is a result of prosecutorial discretion.

jedicus, thanks.

Another question (to you and any other lawyerly folk) - I understand prosecutorial discretion, and can see its usefulness. But is it common that it's invoked so early when someone ends up dead? I mean, Zimmerman wasn't even arrested, and it seems clear from this armchair that the police investigation was, um, thin.

I can see a prosecutor looking at arrest sheets and interview transcripts and so on - at the results of an investigation - and deciding that there isn't (yet) enough evidence to charge the suspect. But when the investigation seems to consist solely of the cops saying "Shooter told us what happened, we believe him, okay dokey," that doesn't seem like enough for a prosecutor to make a call.
posted by rtha at 7:20 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, in this case it is.

Well, I wasn't.
posted by floam at 7:21 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not only does this sound like premeditated murder, but the prosecutor needs to lose his job and some cops do too.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:25 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


His neighborhood watch wasn't officially registered, and violated several rules of the neighboorhood's manual

I already agreed with this.

There is no evidence that any of them were justified, as far as I can tell.

That's what the word "Provided" means in this case.

So, as long as the cops--who at this point seem to be engaging in witness and evidence tampering and possibly conspiracy to cover up--are cool with him, it's okay?

I didn't say it made it OK, just understandable to me anyway. If I thought someone was my buddy and that they were sane and responsible, I probably would have also made the terrible call in agreeing it was self defense.


He had a 2005 charge of assaulting a police officer.


It was expunged, and they probably never ran a deep search into his background which would have revealed that.

That doesn't excuse him from engaging in vigilantism. And there's far more evidence that he preferred his own brand of justice than any form of actual peace-keeping.

I also already agreed with this.

Of which there is no evidence to support. There are, however, multiple occasions where he made calls about "suspicious characters," and that in every case they were black.

I actually did not know that. You may be right, and I am totally surmising here, but I've known this type... all young black kids, white trash, and drug addict "looking" people on way up on their fear list... It's more of an ignorant class thing. But perhaps I just don't understand pure racism enough.

he kid was being chased by someone who wasn't a cop. He didn't know what the hell was happening.

I also already agreed with this. Jeez, dude, did you read my post at all?

Right, by screaming "Help" and that he was being attacked, he was "bristling" and "became antagonistic." Especially since the other guy had a gun and he was unarmed. WTF, dude?

True, I have no way to know what transpired, but given the reports of a fight, and remembering how I was at 17, I probably would have mouthed off, and bucked up on him mostly out of fear, but when he pulled the gun I definitely would have screamed for help.

I really think he should eventually be arrested and charged with a crime, I just don't think it's as cut and dry, white vs. black as it's being made out to be.
posted by Debaser626 at 7:29 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


In redneck Florida
First of all, Sanford is hardly red-neck Florida.

Second, don't stereotype the actions of one jack-ass on to a population of almost 20 million people.
posted by Flood at 7:32 AM on March 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


I believe Zimmerman viewed Trayvon as a "threat" most likely because of the color of his skin and the way he was dressed, but I also believe if he saw a too skinny white guy with a shaved head and punk piercings, he probably would have reacted much the same, and the situation would have ended the same.

You know what? I was once a white punk (not the skinny kind, though) and I certainly knew many, many skinny white guys who were all punked out, who could even be truculent or drunk or who were sometimes homeless AND truculent AND drunk. It was not that their relations with the police and local wannabes were great; I actually knew a guy where a couple of cops actually laid for him, jumped him and beat him just for kicks. However it is absolutely not true that being a white punk guy - even a sketchy white punk guy - gets you treated the same way that being a black guy - even a preppy-looking black guy - does. (While it's dumb to say "I have POC friends", like, when I've had conversations with POC friends the stories they have about police harassment are MUCH worse than anything I heard from white punk friends.)

We white people grow up with, like, a cognitive deficit - we literally do not notice a lot of racist crap. It is shocking and appalling to me to realize how powerful white socialization is, how much mental effort it takes to try to actually see what is in front of us and to keep seeing it. The thing is, when a case like this one is obvious we absolutely have to fucking respond the right way. Although after Oscar Grant, I have no faith left. It's amazing that you can have video and you can have audio - you can have about the best proof possible except for god coming down to lay it out for us - and you still get so much bullshit.
posted by Frowner at 7:32 AM on March 20, 2012 [67 favorites]


You know what? I was once a white punk (not the skinny kind, though) and I certainly knew many, many skinny white guys who were all punked out, who could even be truculent or drunk or who were sometimes homeless AND truculent AND drunk. It was not that their relations with the police and local wannabes were great; I actually knew a guy where a couple of cops actually laid for him, jumped him and beat him just for kicks.
The other thing, of course, is that he wasn't "punked out", he was just a normal kid wearing normal clothes. If you're a white kid who likes to wear clothes like that, all you have to do is change outfits to be treated like a 'normal' person.
posted by delmoi at 7:40 AM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


Stating that there may have been a bona fide altercation isn't victim blaming.

Honest question: Let's pretend, for a second, that Zimmerman's story was true - that Trayvon Martin hit him over the head (with what, a bag of Skittles)? Does initiaiting a physical altercation deserve the death penalty? Because that is exactly what defenders of Zimmerman's actions are arguing - that it is acceptable to mete the death penalty to an unarmed assailant.

The thing is, when a case like this one is obvious we absolutely have to fucking respond the right way. Although after Oscar Grant, I have no faith left. It's amazing that you can have video and you can have audio - you can have about the best proof possible except for god coming down to lay it out for us - and you still get so much bullshit.

Amen.
posted by muddgirl at 7:40 AM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Second, don't stereotype the actions of one jack-ass on to a population of almost 20 million people.
Kind of hard when the state government is backing him up.
posted by delmoi at 7:41 AM on March 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


muddgirl, I'm not a defender of Zimmerman. I was just pointing out what I read elsewhere to better inform the discussion here and provide some context. I've said it before, I think this guy belongs in jail, and I don't think the victim is to blame for what happened to him.
posted by floam at 7:43 AM on March 20, 2012


muddgirl, I'm not a defender of Zimmerman. I was just pointing out what I read elsewhere to better inform the discussion here and provide some context.
Stuff you imagine happening isn't actually context.
posted by delmoi at 7:44 AM on March 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


When Zimmerman finally cornered him, Trayvon did would what most scared 17 year old males would do to some middle aged man "stalking" him... backed into a physical and mental corner, he bristled and became antagonistic.
posted by Debaser626 at 6:57 AM on March 20


Yes, asking the guy who is stalking you "what are you following me for?" is clearly antagonistic.

I will keep that in the mind the next time a woman tells some creep obviously following her to leave her alone. Merely asking someone what their intent is when they are behaving strangely and advancing on you is antagonistic. I guess you might even say he asked for it. Brilliant analysis, Debaser.
posted by a_girl_irl at 7:46 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


They are not psychologists, after all.

Lamest apology yet for a bunch of guys who had no problem allowing an armed individual with a history of violence against them to act out his cop impostor fantasies in their very jurisdiction. At some point would they just refer all police work in the vicinity to George Zimmerman?

Most people can recognize an impostor in their line of work. One would hope that people trained in the most basic situational awareness would be able to profile this guy right from the beginning. If not then they should be relieved of their duties.

It'll be damning enough when they present the physical evidence that this guy displayed some obviously delusional behavior to the police, but just wait until they subpoena and release his phone/internet/cable records.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:47 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: Kind of hard when the state government is backing him up.

So, the actions of the gov't respresent the people? So, every American is in favor of supporting the bank bail-outs - and every Syrian wants to level the city of Homs. Sure, because we are too blind to see the people behind the face of the government.
posted by Flood at 7:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I believe Zimmerman viewed Trayvon as a "threat" most likely because of the color of his skin and the way he was dressed, but I also believe if he saw a too skinny white guy with a shaved head and punk piercings, he probably would have reacted much the same, and the situation would have ended the same.

I guaran-fucking-tee you that if Trayvon Martin had been a 17-year-old white male, walking home along the streets of Sanford, Florida with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea in his hand, minding his OWN DAMN BUSINESS, Zimmerman would NOT have reacted the same, and the situation would NOT have ended the same. You can believe whatever the hell you want.
posted by blucevalo at 7:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [37 favorites]


Of course his a gun control issue, along with other issues. I suppose the 37 shootings in Chicago this past weekend had nothing to do with guns. As a U.S. citizen living in Ireland my sense of dismay and disgust for the violence, an tolerance of violence, caused by handguns in the U.S.has been rekindled. I don't care how you rationalize it--it is appalling and the proliferation of weapons designed to kill humans is absurd. Enough of the wild west and other self seving justifications.

Devil's advocate: Illinois is the only state that does NOT have a concealed carry law. Most guns were completely illegal in Chicago up until a year or two ago. I highly doubt the guns involved in these incidents were legally held.
posted by gjc at 7:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


But when the investigation seems to consist solely of the cops saying "Shooter told us what happened, we believe him, okay dokey," that doesn't seem like enough for a prosecutor to make a call.

Yeah, I never practiced criminal law, but the prosecutor in this case seems strangely reticent to bring charges. I heard him on the radio yesterday saying basically, "He's claiming self-defense. My hands are tied."

That is not how it's supposed to work. Generally (I don't know about Florida law specifically) self-defense is an affirmative defense. This means the accused has the burden of showing that he or she met the elements of a self-defense claim (e.g., that they were in legitimate fear of harm to their person; that they responded with an amount of force appropriate to the threat that they perceived; &c.). Now, the prosecution might decide that they don't have the elements of a crime, or that the evidence clearly shows self-defense. That's prosecutorial discretion. But what I heard the prosecutor saying is that the accused is claiming self-defense, and there's nothing he could do about it. That's an excuse, not an explanation, and in my opinion the guy should be fired, hard.

Just as an aside, while I agree that it's weird that Zimmerman called 911 46 times this year, I really don't like the idea of there being negative consequences on people for calling emergency services. It's easy to fit this evidence into a narrative about Zimmerman being mentally unhinged, but in general I don't think people it's in the public interest for people to have to think twice about calling 911.
posted by gauche at 7:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh by the way, the governor who signed this bill will be a presidential candidate four years from now.
posted by goethean at 7:55 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's easy to fit this evidence into a narrative about Zimmerman being mentally unhinged, but in general I don't think people it's in the public interest for people to have to think twice about calling 911.
People actually can get in trouble for calling 911 for non-emergencies, though. There was an incident where McCain's brother got in trouble for calling 911 to find out why traffic was bad.
posted by delmoi at 7:55 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess you might even say he asked for it. Brilliant analysis, Debaser.

That's not really what I'm saying, and perhaps "antagonistic" was a poor choice in words. What I really meant to convey is that being scared because a random guy is following you and not knowing really why will probably provoke a fight or flight response, and he tried flight first, so when corned, "fight" would be his only option. There were a couple situations in high school where I was followed by groups of other teenagers for nefarious purposes, and my reaction was of intense fear, followed by intense anger when cornered, so I am just drawing on those experiences.

But thanks for the kudos on my analysis anyway... Though, I noticed you didn't favorite my comment though... :)
posted by Debaser626 at 7:56 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


First of all, Sanford is hardly red-neck Florida.

Correct. However, it's a mistake to imagine that it takes redneckiness to be racist. In "Straw Dogs", John Gray mentions a lynching documented in photographs that took place in Newnan, Georgia. The striking thing about the picture isn't that the lynchers were inbred, "Duelin' Banjos"-playin' tourist sodomizers out of "Deliverance" - it's that they were respectable, well-dressed upstanding citizens, the middle and upper classes. The kind who, today, might choose to live in a gated community, kind of like the one Zimmerman was "protecting"...
posted by jhandey at 7:56 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will keep that in the mind the next time a woman tells some creep obviously following her to leave her alone. Merely asking someone what their intent is when they are behaving strangely and advancing on you is antagonistic. I guess you might even say he asked for it. Brilliant analysis, Debaser.

I'd like to point out that Debaser is engaging this discussion in good faith, and it would be a shame to pull the "she was asking for it, the way she was dressed" card too early.
posted by Think_Long at 7:56 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is moving quickly...
State Attorney Sends Trayvon Martin Case To Grand Jury
Grand Jury To Be Called April 10

SANFORD, Fla. -- State Attorney Norm Wolfinger announced Tuesday his decision that a grand jury will investigate the Trayvon Martin case.

"I share in the desire of the family and the community to accurately collect and evaluate all the facts surrounding the tragic death of Trayvon Martin," Wolfinger said in a news release.

Seminole County Grand Jury which will be called to session on Tuesday, April 10, 2012. Wolfinger said he will use grand jury's "investigative resources."

posted by BobbyVan at 7:58 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


That wasn't too early to play that card.

Because it is victim blaming to excuse somebody's violence by saying that he made him do it.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:59 AM on March 20, 2012


Not only can they not charge the guy who shot Trayvon Martin with a crime, they can't even take away his gun.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:01 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I guaran-fucking-tee you that if Trayvon Martin had been a 17-year-old white male, walking home along the streets of Sanford, Florida with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea in his hand, minding his OWN DAMN BUSINESS, Zimmerman would NOT have reacted the same, and the situation would NOT have ended the same. You can believe whatever the hell you want.

I agree, unless Zimmerman thought he looked unsavory, or a drug addict. I'm white-ish, and I've been borderline homeless due to an addiction. Thankfully I've only dealt with rent-a-cops instead of delusional volunteers. They at least have a job to be concerned about losing and/or do not think they need to protect their mental "kingdom." Needless to say, many of my dealings with security have not been pleasant. And thank you for allowing me to have my beliefs. It means ever so much.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:01 AM on March 20, 2012


Honest question: Let's pretend, for a second, that Zimmerman's story was true - that Trayvon Martin hit him over the head (with what, a bag of Skittles)? Does initiaiting a physical altercation deserve the death penalty? Because that is exactly what defenders of Zimmerman's actions are arguing - that it is acceptable to mete the death penalty to an unarmed assailant.

The standard is supposed to be "would a reasonable person in the same situation react the same way?" If yes, then it would be self defense. If not, then it would not. Which leads to:

That is not how it's supposed to work. Generally (I don't know about Florida law specifically) self-defense is an affirmative defense. This means the accused has the burden of showing that he or she met the elements of a self-defense claim (e.g., that they were in legitimate fear of harm to their person; that they responded with an amount of force appropriate to the threat that they perceived; &c.). Now, the prosecution might decide that they don't have the elements of a crime, or that the evidence clearly shows self-defense. That's prosecutorial discretion. But what I heard the prosecutor saying is that the accused is claiming self-defense, and there's nothing he could do about it. That's an excuse, not an explanation, and in my opinion the guy should be fired, hard.

Exactly. Someone shoots someone else, the police gather the facts and the shooter is put on trial where the facts are weighed against the defense. If it was self defense, then the shooter is found not guilty. A prosecutor shouldn't be weighing the strength of the defense, only whether the facts support charging someone with the crime. The facts here certainly support a criminal charge.
posted by gjc at 8:03 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Debaser is engaging this discussion in good faith

That still leaves "Debaser is being ridiculous by assuming and projecting based on details that remain unclear."
posted by mediareport at 8:04 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


and he tried flight first, so when corned, "fight" would be his only option

...and from my reading of Florida's Stand Your Ground laws, this reaction would be entirely legal. That's the ultimate tragedy of the law - if two combatants both perceive themselves to be victims, they can continue to escalate until one of them is dead. And it's not going to be the guy with the semi-automatic handgun.

But I don't think we will ever have a rational accounting of Martin's reaction to Zimmerman. Because he's dead.

unless Zimmerman thought he looked unsavory, or a drug addict

Again, this is admitting that a black youth automatically looks 'unsavory' in the eyes of white people. Which is both true and tragic.
posted by muddgirl at 8:04 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I never practiced criminal law, but the prosecutor in this case seems strangely reticent to bring charges. I heard him on the radio yesterday saying basically, "He's claiming self-defense. My hands are tied."

That is not how it's supposed to work.


I disagree. That's exactly how this law was supposed to work. It couldn't have been clearer when it was passed that it was meant to allow exactly this kind of aggressive use of violence on "self-defense" grounds to empower angry/paranoid conservative types with guns.

Have you seen pictures of this kid? If this is what a threatening person looks like, we live in different worlds, friend.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:05 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Clearly Floridda cops are the best accomplices to murder you can hope to have.
posted by Artw at 8:07 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If this is what a threatening person looks like, we live in different worlds, friend.

That is exactly what a threatening person looks like to a paranoid, hateful racist.
posted by elizardbits at 8:07 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


A young PoC walking freely in a reasonably middle-class neighborhood is probably the scariest thing a racist can even imagine.
posted by elizardbits at 8:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


...and from my reading of Florida's Stand Your Ground laws, this reaction would be entirely legal. That's the ultimate tragedy of the law - if two combatants both perceive themselves to be victims, they can continue to escalate until one of them is dead. And it's not going to be the guy with the semi-automatic handgun.
Yeah, that's the irony of the people claiming that the kid tried to defend himself. If Tayvon had a gun and used it on the guy it might have been legal, due to the same stupid law.

Which is the truly bizarre aspect of this law. It's hypothetically possible that two people could get into a gunfight, and regardless of which one dies the survivor might not be breaking any laws. That's clearly completely ridiculous.

Does it matter what was going through this guy's head? He was a delusional racist. Even if Tayvon had become 'aggressive', why would it change anything?
posted by delmoi at 8:11 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to point out that Debaser is engaging this discussion in good faith, and it would be a shame to pull the "she was asking for it, the way she was dressed" card too early.

I agree that Debaser is probably participating in good faith; however, he is indeed playing the "she asked for it" card. Making assumptions that don't mesh with what we know based on the 911 calls, such as Trayvon Martin being "antagonistic" despite the wealth of evidence that shows he was scared shitless - these are the tactics and type of words you use when you want to blame the victim, even unconsciously.

We know that George Zimmerman referred to Trayvon Martin as a "fucking coon." We know he followed him despite the 911 dispatcher's request that he not. We know that Martin was confused and worried by Zimmerman's behavior. We know that Martin asked Zimmerman directly why he was following him. And yet Debaser's choice of words - "antagonistic" - paints an innocent, unarmed child as the aggressor in a confrontation with a much larger man who was armed and who was clearly angry that a "fucking coon" was "getting away."

So, yes, Debaser is playing that card, and blaming the victim. Don't get mad at me for pointing it out.
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:11 AM on March 20, 2012 [44 favorites]


I imagine it was the district attorney, not the actual cops technically.

floam, district attorneys don't arrest people. The cops were the ones who chose not to do so.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:12 AM on March 20, 2012


We know that George Zimmerman referred to Trayvon Martin as a "fucking coon."

How do we know that? I've listened to that recording over and over, and I hear "fucking cops" every time.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:13 AM on March 20, 2012


If there was an actual altercation, based on the 911 call Zimmerman initiated it. If not by throwing the first punch then by cornering the guy with a gun.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:17 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This recording is more clear than the YouTube version. It's at 1:50.
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:17 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I disagree. That's exactly how this law was supposed to work. It couldn't have been clearer when it was passed that it was meant to allow exactly this kind of aggressive use of violence on "self-defense" grounds to empower angry/paranoid conservative types with guns.

The good news is that laws are written down and only mean what they say. Here is the part of the law that might apply here:
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Zimmerman was chasing the victim. He was not attacked, he was the attacker. This law does not protect Zimmerman.
posted by gjc at 8:18 AM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


State Attorney Norm Wolfinger announced Tuesday his decision that a grand jury will investigate the Trayvon Martin case.

Well, that is a positive sign
posted by caddis at 8:22 AM on March 20, 2012


I disagree. That's exactly how this law was supposed to work.

There are constitutional problems with the law as you are interpreting it. I think Equal Protection problems, specifically. Laws are construed to have their reasonable, constitutionally permissible meanings, since Supreme Courts are not really in the business of overturning statutes and should -- and generally do -- only do so when they do not have a choice in the matter.

If there is a reasonably possible interpretation of the Stand Your Ground statute that does not make it open season on humans, that is the lawful interpretation.
posted by gauche at 8:22 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, as mentioned up thread A Florida Grand Jury will be investigating, apparently at the behest of a state level DA.

Usually Grand Juries are used in higher profile cases. I'm not really clear why they're sometimes used and sometimes not.
This recording is more clear than the YouTube version. It's at 1:50.
Hmm... He says it under his breath, and it's barely audible. "Fucking cops" makes sense, like he's angry that the cops aren't taking his call as seriously as he thinks they should... or something.

Either way, he's still obviously a huge racist.
posted by delmoi at 8:25 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


like he's angry that the cops aren't taking his call as seriously as he thinks they should

Well, of course they weren't, because he was constantly calling 911 to report the "emergency" that black people were existing near him.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:31 AM on March 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


I wouldn't put Zimmerman down as a racist, apart from buying into the predominant stereotype of "Black People are Criminals"

How is that not racist?

The man called 911 to report black people being in his neighborhood. Over and over. That is insanely racist. Yes, it's delusional, but the substance of the delusion is racist.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:32 AM on March 20, 2012 [17 favorites]


Due to the vitriol garnished by my comment, perhaps I should reiterate my rambling point in a more concise manner, slightly altered due to some valid points brought up by other commenters:

1) Don't believe everything you read just because it's critical of law enforcement.

2) Zimmerman was paranoid and delusional, and in his head had deputized himself. I can attempt to understand what I believe he was thinking, but I do not think that condones his actions.

3) If, the responding officers had a good rapport with Zimmerman, and mistakenly thought him to be a responsible Neighborhood Watch member, I can also see why they so quickly accepted his self-defense story, and I can see how I would have been susceptible as well given that situation. Again, it doesn't necessarily make it right, but to label an entire jurisdiction as being Jim Crow might be a bit quick on the draw.

4) Zimmerman may have been a racist, but I see him as a power-mad, Not In My Backyard, type. I can fully admit that I don't know if he is or isn't, and perhaps it's because I am prone to project my own defects on others that I see him clearly in my head as someone who is irrationally fearful of types he deems as threatening. Would I find a solitary 17 year old kid black, white, asian, latino threatening? No. But I am not every person. As I've gotten older, I sometimes find large groups of young adults very threatening, whether they be black, white, asian, or latino... but it's more about the behavior being displayed. Loud, aggressive, wild behavior... the same things I used to regard as "fun" in a younger day. I can acknowledge the irrationality of that all I want, but it doesn't change the emotional reaction within me. So, perhaps he was just a racist, and I guess my flaw in my thinking is that I often assume people are coming from the same place I am.

5)Lastly, something about simplifying this to a racist "I'm an ignorant white guy who shot this kid only because he was black and the white government says I can do that" just smacks of over generalization. Perhaps it's my own ignorant hope, but I think there's more to this story and it's probably a hell of a lot sadder for everyone involved than I want to imagine.
posted by Debaser626 at 8:32 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


floam, district attorneys don't arrest people. The cops were the ones who chose not to do so.

I'd bet my hat detectives were on the phone with the DA's office before they let him go that day.
posted by floam at 8:34 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've listened to that recording over and over, and I hear "fucking cops" every time.

Yup, that's what I hear. Which is actually worse than "fucking coons" if you think about it.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:35 AM on March 20, 2012


Stand Your Ground fathers: Trayvon Martin's killer should likely be arrested, doesn't deserve immunity

“They got the goods on him. They need to prosecute whoever shot the kid,” said Peaden, a Crestview Republican who sponsored the deadly force law in 2005. “He has no protection under my law.”
posted by futz at 8:36 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Lastly, something about simplifying this to a racist "I'm an ignorant white guy who shot this kid only because he was black and the white government says I can do that" just smacks of over generalization. Perhaps it's my own ignorant hope, but I think there's more to this story and it's probably a hell of a lot sadder for everyone involved than I want to imagine.

Echoing Ta-Nehisi Coates: The approach here is not 'Either it's about race or it isn't.' It's 'This is about race along with...'
posted by shakespeherian at 8:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


I agree with everyone who is saying that the stand your ground law is a seriously flawed statute. But I wonder if it results in the prosecutors feeling somewhat trapped in situations like this - if you charge Zimmerman, what happens if the jury legitimately finds that the law protected him? Or what happens if the jury turns out to be a bunch of white racists who engage in jury nullification and let him off even though the law doesn't protect him? There's no way to tell the difference, and in either case, there might be riots and fits and more awfulness. So if you're the prosecutor, you only charge the guy if you are sure you can get the conviction, because otherwise, woah, nelly. In other words, I wonder if "Fuck, I'm not going to touch this with a 10-foot-pole" played a role in deciding not to arrest/charge. [This leaves aside, of course, the problem that is going to be faced if Zimmerman ends up involved in something like this again.]

Of course, it's possible that this is just way to generous a reading of the police and the officials. In any event, glad the FBI is involved and the grand jury is empaneled.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:41 AM on March 20, 2012


This may seem like a minor point, but I'm confused about one detail in the article. It says Zimmerman, patrolling the neighborhood in his car, called the 911 emergency number and reported what he called "a real suspicious guy."... The dispatcher, hearing heavy breathing on the phone, asked Zimmerman: "Are you following him?"

So my question is, if Zimmerman was patrolling in his car why was there heavy breathing?

The reason this point is not completely irrelevant is that it speaks to Martin's mindset. If someone is following you in a car then it's a lot creepier than it would be on foot, because normally cars don't go that slow; the person in the car is obviously tracking you for some purpose, and you have no way to know what that purpose is. If furthermore, the person then gets out of the car and starts approaching you, then you have reason to suspect that they will attack you. Under the idea of Stand Your Ground, wouldn't Martin have every right to punch Zimmerman in the face? From Zimmerman's point of view (and possibly that of the police), the punch may seem like the initial attack, but I think slowly following someone in a car for a while and then approaching on foot justifies a punched face.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:46 AM on March 20, 2012


So my question is, if Zimmerman was patrolling in his car why was there heavy breathing?

It wasn't "heavy breathing" it was him saying "Fucking cops" (or "Fucking coons") under his breath. That was right before the 911 operator asked if he was following him,

Those two things happen right after each other.
posted by delmoi at 8:51 AM on March 20, 2012


So my question is, if Zimmerman was patrolling in his car why was there heavy breathing?

I assumed it was because this fucking creeper was excited at the thought of overpowering and apprehending an uppity black kid daring to exist in his (Zimmerman's) neighborhood but I am the first to admit to my total lack of objectivity here.
posted by elizardbits at 8:54 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Of course, putting a hoodie on is a threatening act justifying lethal force. Because if you meant that smart-ass comment to mean anything else, you failed miserably.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:55 AM on March 20, 2012


It wasn't "heavy breathing" it was him saying "Fucking cops" (or "Fucking coons") under his breath.

OK, but is it true that Zimmerman was following in his car for a while and then got out and approached on foot. If you've ever had someone slowly follow you in a car while you're walking down the street, you know how scary that is. From Zimmerman's point of view, he thought he was tracking a burglary suspect. From Martin's point of view, he was being followed by someone for some unknown purpose. I think Zimmerman got out of the car and started approaching on foot, and Martin punched him in the face for it. At that point, Zimmerman felt he was under attack and fired his gun. But was Martin justified in throwing a punch? I think so.
posted by twoleftfeet at 8:57 AM on March 20, 2012


So my question is, if Zimmerman was patrolling in his car why was there heavy breathing?

He's weighing in at 250 pounds (113kg) from what I gather, a heavy guy, so any exertion on his part is going to result in heavy breathing.

I'd hate to speculate here but by exertion, I mean the way your mind/body is going to handle the sudden and unexpected excitement when you locate a lone, potential victim that you'll be able to physically handle yourself or better yet, finally get to put that 9mm you've been packing for so long to some use.

Hunted, cornered and then executed a child. That makes for a poor self-defense argument.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:57 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


But I wonder if it results in the prosecutors feeling somewhat trapped in situations like this - if you charge Zimmerman, what happens if the jury legitimately finds that the law protected him? Or what happens if the jury turns out to be a bunch of white racists who engage in jury nullification and let him off even though the law doesn't protect him?

Well in that case justice is dead.
posted by mek at 8:58 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Taaffe sounded chagrined when he noted that the complex is now majority-minority. Census figures show Retreat at Twin Lakes is 49 percent white, non-Hispanic, 23 percent Hispanic, 20 percent African-American and 5 percent Asian. ...

“I fit the stereotype he emailed around,” [African-American resident Ibrahim Rashada] said. “Listen, you even hear me say it: ‘A black guy did this. A black guy did that.’ So I thought, ‘Let me sit in the house. I don’t want anyone chasing me.’ ”

For walks, he goes downtown. A pregnant Quianna listened to her husband’s rationale, dropped her head, and cried.

Sounds like a great place to live.
posted by floam at 8:59 AM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


But I wonder if it results in the prosecutors feeling somewhat trapped in situations like this - if you charge Zimmerman, what happens if the jury legitimately finds that the law protected him? Or what happens if the jury turns out to be a bunch of white racists who engage in jury nullification and let him off even though the law doesn't protect him?

This is precisely the kind of case that goes up the chain of courts to those with Federal jurisdiction. Depending on how the political winds blow this year, it could be one that goes up the the Supreme Court.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:01 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


1) Don't believe everything you read just because it's critical of law enforcement.

Actually -- very much to the contrary. Given the almost reflexive bias of the news media -- especially local media -- toward supporting and putting law enforcement on a pedestal, don't believe everything you read just because it's buttressing what the "official" law enforcement narrative is. Here where I live almost every story you see on the local news involving encounters between the metro police department and people of color, the presumption is that the person of color is the one in the wrong, no matter how innocent he (and it's almost always a male) is. You get spokespeople from the police department stating what their version of events is, and you almost never get any countervailing narrative, and when you do, it's an afterthought. That's not a unique situation to my metro area, either.
posted by blucevalo at 9:02 AM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


They will never be post-racial and it would take a massive investment of manpower on the part of the FBI (or some other agency) to wheedle out all the bullshit that happens down south.

We'd essentially be an occupying army. Again.

Because they didn't get the memo at the end of the war.

Or after the 60's.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:03 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it weird that, as I listen to the 911 calls, I sense a distinct sense of "oh [my neighborhood] has been shot" or "this nice neighboorhood, oh no!" or "I can't believe this happened here"? Maybe I'm just cynical and reading too far into things...
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:03 AM on March 20, 2012


From Zimmerman's point of view, he thought he was tracking a burglary suspect.

From Zimmerman's point of view, everyone was a burglary suspect:

Many of the calls start the same way — Zimmerman mentions the recent rash of burglaries in the area and identifies himself as a member of the neighborhood watch.
posted by jsavimbi at 9:04 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree with everyone who is saying that the stand your ground law is a seriously flawed statute. But I wonder if it results in the prosecutors feeling somewhat trapped in situations like this - if you charge Zimmerman, what happens if the jury legitimately finds that the law protected him? Or what happens if the jury turns out to be a bunch of white racists who engage in jury nullification and let him off even though the law doesn't protect him?
Then you hand the case over to the feds to have a stab at a hate crime given the racial motivations. Double jeopardy doesn't count between sovereigns.

This is what I don't get.

The police are protecting this guy and for what? There's no payoff here. It's killing an unarmed kid. Did they think they could whitewash this? That the news agencies wouldn't be salivating like a rabid dog at the ratings and a chance to sell copy?

You risk a ten year prison sentence to cover up some asshole stalking and killing a black kid. Are these police high? THIS IS A NO BRAINER.
posted by Talez at 9:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


You people know that Zimmerman is Hispanic, right? Are you all being racist by judging him without knowing all the facts?

No, I don't think you are being racist. My point is that we probably don't know much about Zimmerman's motivations, but we are very quick to make judgements about them. And that is how prejudice gets started. And yes, Zimmerman is Hispanic.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


In a statement delivered to the Orlando Sentinel, his father, Robert Zimmerman, defended his son, who he said was a “Spanish-speaking minority .....”

Huh, I was wondering about that. Zimmerman definitely didn't look to me like a WASPy white dude.

I have so many ~feelings and deep thoughts on the really fucking tragic self-loathing-based racism displayed by a lot of mixed-race Americans but I suspect this is not really the right place for that discussion.
posted by elizardbits at 9:09 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dude, Hispanics can be racist towards black people too. White people don't get to be the only ones.
posted by elizardbits at 9:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [26 favorites]


Attorney for Trayvon Martin family holds news conference

Right now.
posted by futz at 9:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


From Zimmerman's point of view, everyone was a burglary suspect:

Honestly, listening to the 911 call, it sounds like Zimmerman is ticking off a checklist of 'suspicious black youth, on drugs and armed' stuff that he wants on the record before he commits the murder he's planning, in order to bolster his future claim of self-defence.
posted by jack_mo at 9:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Hispanic people can hold racist attitudes about Black people. They're not genetically immune from our racist society.
posted by muddgirl at 9:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


“We are taking a beating over this,” said Lee, who defends the investigation. “This is all very unsettling. I’m sure if George Zimmerman had the opportunity to relive Sunday, Feb. 26, he’d probably do things differently. I’m sure Trayvon would, too.”

To me, this statement by the cops is further proof that they just don't get it. What the hell should Trayvon Martin done differently? Not walk to the store? Not as a strange man why he was following him? Or just not be black in this neighborhood? Or maybe, just maybe if he'd been "appropriately respectful" that poor scared man wouldn't have had to shoot him.

Bullshit.
posted by teleri025 at 9:12 AM on March 20, 2012 [41 favorites]


All Major News Outlets Cover Trayvon Martin Tragedy, Except Fox News
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:13 AM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


The worst thing about this whole ugly situation is the revelation that there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of similar tragedies before that were made possible by the Standing Your Ground Law that didn't make the news. Maybe the only reason this one did was because it was hispanic-on-black violence, something the local TV audience would enjoy.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:13 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, I don't think you are being racist. My point is that we probably don't know much about Zimmerman's motivations, but we are very quick to make judgements about them. And that is how prejudice gets started. And yes, Zimmerman is Hispanic.

The real victim of racism is the guy who shoots a black teenager on his way home from 7-11.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:14 AM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Is it weird that, as I listen to the 911 calls, I sense a distinct sense of "oh [my neighborhood] has been shot" or "this nice neighboorhood, oh no!" or "I can't believe this happened here"? Maybe I'm just cynical and reading too far into things...

Oh, absolutely not. Listen to the woman that calls around the 24-25 minute mark. This is what true terror and sadness sounds like. Everything on this call is incredibly hard to listen to. I had to turn it off.
posted by deathpanels at 9:14 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Zimmerman was chasing the victim. He was not attacked, he was the attacker. This law does not protect Zimmerman.

I'm not entirely sure that that's right. That is, let's concede that Zimmerman's a racist douchebag and that if he wasn't a racist douchebag this tragedy would never have happened. But that's not really to the point in regards to the law. If, for example, Zimmerman simply walked up behind the kid and shot him then, sure, there's no protection for Zimmerman in the "Stand Your Ground" law. But what if Zimmerman's actions prompted Trayvon Martin to take actions that Martin understood to be defensive but Zimmerman understood to be offensive? It's not clear to me that the simple fact that Zimmeran a) provoked those actions and b) misunderstood the situation means that he's not covered by the terms of the SYG law. I'm guessing that if this ever gets to trial, Zimmerman's narrative will be, essentially, that he approached a man that he suspected of being a one of the burglars that had been hitting houses in his area, that when he accosted the man he was attacked, and that justifiably fearing for his life he took entirely legal defensive action.

The fact that Trayvon Martin represented no actual threat to him--that he wasn't a burglar, that he was only 'attacking' him because he, in turn, feared for his safety (if, of course, he 'attacked' at all)--none of that is really to the point when it comes to trying to establish what Zimmerman understood the situation to be--and the law is really only concerned with mental states.
posted by yoink at 9:15 AM on March 20, 2012


"One of the witnesses in the Florida shooting, a 13-year-old black boy who shall remain anonymous, recorded a video for the Orlando Sentinel detailing what he heard and saw."*
posted by ericb at 9:15 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Two details in the NPR News coverage that contradict things people have asserted earlier in the thread (not sure they change the big picture that much, but for the record anyhow):

- Martin did not live in the gated community, but was going there to visit a family friend
- Zimmerman, according to his father, is a "Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends"

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/03/19/148905661/killing-of-fla-teen-trayvon-martin-becomes-national-story-about-race
posted by aught at 9:19 AM on March 20, 2012


Really, Mother Jones? Jamelle[sic] Monae[sic]?

But anyway, what can we expect from a state who sold itself out to Disney? And that's not meant to be snarky, I genuinely think we need to arrest every major player in the dozens of insane high-up decisions that use its citizens like game pieces and give those much-abused Floridians a state where everybody has the right to vote despite the color of their skin and buy Skittles without getting stalked and killed.
posted by Mooseli at 9:19 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like that this has become a gun control case, because it is simply, tragically, a crazy person + racism = murder case.

I also don't like it when exactly the kind of thing gun control advocates warn about happens again and totally validates their position. Because CONSTITUTION.
posted by Hoopo at 9:19 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Justin Collison, the son of a Sanford PD lieutenant, sucker-punched a homeless black man outside a bar, and officers on the scene released Collison without charges. He eventually surrendered after video of the incident materialized online.

Video of the incident.
posted by ericb at 9:19 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Grand Jury to Probe Florida Teen's Death
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:19 AM on March 20, 2012


I really hope people who consider themselves moderate or independent take a close look at this. This expanded castle doctrine law passed in Florida undoubtedly gave this guy confidence to do what he did and now an innocent young man is dead. In Minnesota the GOP suprisingly took over the legislature promising a "jobs agenda" and promptly started passing stuff like this instead (vetoed by Gov. Dayton). The GOP uses this completely unnecessary law to excite the base and a kid is dead. There have actually been two cases in Minneapolis in the last couple of years where people have killed muggers attacking them or someone else and rightfully not been charged with anything, proving the law is completely unnecessary.
posted by chrismc at 9:21 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


All Major News Outlets Cover Trayvon Martin Tragedy, Except Fox News

Fox is covering it now. They just had to figure out the right spin: Fox News Uses Trayvon Martin Death to Go After Gun Control Advocates
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:28 AM on March 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


I probably said it in the previous thread, but Treyvon's parents may have a legal claim against the HOA in addition to Zimmerman. They may even have grounds for a lawsuit against the police department, although that would be a tougher case. I'm glad federal authorities are involved. I really want this case to be taken seriously.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:28 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Martin did not live in the gated community, but was going there to visit a family friend

All other news sources have reported that he was staying with his father and his father's girlfriend. The WFME story which reports that it was a 'family friend' is from 4 days ago. Of course that doesn't mean Martin is a resident of the community, but IMO that is irrelevant.

Another misperception that seems to pop up is that this was an upper-middle-class type "gated community." It was a townhouse complex that had (reportedly) one gated entrance and one open entrance. IME these complexes generally house both blue-collar and younger white-collar families. Opportunistic crime (car break-ins, stealing barbeques, etc) is not at all uncommon in these communities because there are generally a lot of targets in a close area. (I lived in a gated apartment complex when my spouse's car and several other cars were broken in to. My response was to convince him to stop leaving expensive shit in his car, NOT to call the cops every time I saw a black kid.)
posted by muddgirl at 9:30 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe we don't assume racism is behind everything bad in America ENOUGH:

How Do Racial Attitudes Affect Opinions About The Health Care Overhaul?

Because it might help Black people, of course people are against it, how could we have not seen that?
posted by Artw at 9:32 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Are you following him?(...)Ok we don't need you doing that."

Why does Zimmerman, who sounds like he has mood issues and quite a problem with black people, have a gun?
posted by Meatafoecure at 9:33 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


- Martin did not live in the gated community, but was going there to visit a family friend

Trayvon and his younger brother (who lived in Miami) were visiting their father and stepmother (who lived in the Orlando gated community) and were watching the NBA All-Star game. It was during halftime they Trayvon left to go to the 7Eleven to get Skittles and Arizona iced tea.
posted by ericb at 9:34 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]



Why does Zimmerman, who sounds like he has mood issues and quite a problem with black people, have a gun?


You can't go hunting without a gun. How are you going to take down your prey once stalk it and you corner it?
posted by mikelieman at 9:35 AM on March 20, 2012


My apologies, stepmother, not girlfriend.
posted by muddgirl at 9:35 AM on March 20, 2012


Why does Zimmerman, who sounds like he has mood issues and quite a problem with black people, have a gun?

That's the target market for guns.
posted by Artw at 9:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


Fox is covering it now. They just had to figure out the right spin: Fox News Uses Trayvon Martin Death to Go After Gun Control Advocates
Of course! If Only Martin had a gun as well this whole thing could have been avoided!

That's not even much of a joke. That's the "logic" that gets trotted out by gun advocates every time there's a school shooting or whatever.

Never-mind the Gabby Gifford situation where there were other people with concealed carry guns nearby and no one used them, the guy ran out of bullets and was wrestled to the ground.
posted by delmoi at 9:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Field Negro has been all over this.
posted by Relay at 9:38 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually -- very much to the contrary. Given the almost reflexive bias of the news media -- especially local media -- toward supporting and putting law enforcement on a pedestal, don't believe everything you read just because it's buttressing what the "official" law enforcement narrative is.


Without a doubt... I agree that when it concerns local law, politics, and by proxy (and sometimes directly) politicians, I do believe that there can be a heavily biased spin put on sensational crimes in favor of the government, sometimes in a perhaps misguided interest of protecting the public from themselves. I have, however, noticed the unfortunate extremes in news reports going from way too far on the authorities' side, then when public opinion swings, they go completely overboard vilifying officers, prosecutors, etc. My statement was just to extrapolate on the "Don't necessarily believe what you read" adage, to include negative portrayals of law enforcement specifically as well.
posted by Debaser626 at 9:41 AM on March 20, 2012



Honestly, listening to the 911 call, it sounds like Zimmerman is ticking off a checklist of 'suspicious black youth, on drugs and armed' stuff that he wants on the record before he commits the murder he's planning, in order to bolster his future claim of self-defence.


PREMEDITATED seems to be such an ugly, ugly, appropriate word...
posted by mikelieman at 9:42 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Anyone have any ideas on the 'copycat' premeditated murders explained away as self-defense over/under? Do you think we're talking weeks, or will it be days?
posted by mikelieman at 9:44 AM on March 20, 2012


Why does Zimmerman, who sounds like he has mood issues and quite a problem with black people, have a gun?

Florida law has no registration requirements or restrictions on hand gun purchases between individuals, and a 3 day waiting period and background check on dealer sales. Zimmerman had a valid concealed carry permit, and as noted above, no criminal convictions, his only previous incident was explunged. Florida is a "shall issue" concealed carry state.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:44 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't put Zimmerman down as a racist, apart from buying into the predominant stereotype of "Black People are Criminals" - the guy had some serious problems separating fantasy from reality, and on TV, the bad guys are black.

In other words, he's a racist.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:44 AM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


The kind of racism / prejudice / ignorance / etc. that is so prevalent in America, the kind that makes me saddest of all, isn't the cross-burning klansman, skinhead, or nazi cartoon character, it's in the dismissals, rationalizations, that pause, and the "Well....I mean... " in which proper outrage dies.

Outside of race, this seems so clearly fucked up, adding race/class into it makes it even worse, but you know that the average [non-black] person will hear about this story, get all upset about a little boy being killed, see a picture of the young man, see that he's black, hem and haw a bit and go "Well... I mean...There WERE a lot of break ins..." or some such rot and then no one cares anymore, because that's just how "they" are; child gangs, murderous rap music, defiance of authority, prison rates, because 'I'm not saying that it's right, i'm just saying, Well... I mean... maybe there's more to this story."

But there never is more to the story, at least, as far as society at large cares. It makes me so sad.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:50 AM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


You people know that Zimmerman is Hispanic, right? Are you all being racist by judging him without knowing all the facts?

No, I don't think you are being racist. My point is that we probably don't know much about Zimmerman's motivations, but we are very quick to make judgements about them. And that is how prejudice gets started. And yes, Zimmerman is Hispanic.
Hispanics can't be racist? You've never seen Mind of Mencia?
I'm not entirely sure that that's right. That is, let's concede that Zimmerman's a racist douchebag and that if he wasn't a racist douchebag this tragedy would never have happened. But that's not really to the point in regards to the law. If, for example, Zimmerman simply walked up behind the kid and shot him then, sure, there's no protection for Zimmerman in the "Stand Your Ground" law.
The actual author of the law has come out and said his law wasn't intended to cover situations like this. The problem, of course, is that people aren't lawyers. They hear one thing about this law and think it covers them if they track people down, confront them and then gets scared and shoot them without any legal repercussions. And it does happen.

What we need is a federal law against murder. Figure out some way to make it illegal under the commerce clause, like, it's illegal to use bullets purchased legally in the U.S. to murder someone.
posted by delmoi at 9:50 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


MJ: Numerous cases have set the precedent in Florida, with the courts arguing that the law "does not require defendant to prove self-defense to any standard measuring assurance of truth, exigency, near certainty, or even mere probability; defendant's only burden is to offer facts from which his resort to force could have been reasonable."
posted by mek at 9:51 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


the guy had some serious problems separating fantasy from reality

It appears his fantasy of being smarter than the law and his plans to exploit it to go out stalk, hunt, and kill a black kid whenever he chose to might me closer to reality than we'd like to hope.
posted by mikelieman at 9:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The actual author of the law has come out and said his law wasn't intended to cover situations like this.

Yeah--and I'm pretty sure we both agree that the author of that law is not the sharpest tool in the shed.

It really doesn't matter if he's suddenly come to realize that he wrote a fucking idiotic law--the problem is that judges don't get to say "well, the guy who wrote this law realizes it's a stupid law now"; the court has to apply the law as it is written. As it is written, it isn't clear to me that it won't shield Zimmerman.
posted by yoink at 9:53 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hispanics can't be racist? You've never seen Mind of Mencia?

Oh man I just spat my coffee out
posted by Hoopo at 9:53 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


The actual author of the law has come out and said his law wasn't intended to cover situations like this.

I think it cleaves closer to the truth that the author of the law just wishes it hadn't received this kind of publicity. 'Causing a rampant murder spree' was entirely legit in his books, according to the shooting rates up until now....
posted by FatherDagon at 9:54 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"defendant's only burden is to offer facts from which his resort to force could have been reasonable."

Unarmed kid, not using deadly force? Whom you confronted ( perhaps "attempted to kidnap at gunpoint" might be a better description ), after being warned off?

Does it SOUND reasonable to pull out your 9 mm and shoot him dead?

It doesn't sound reasonable to me.
posted by mikelieman at 9:54 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which is the truly bizarre aspect of this law. It's hypothetically possible that two people could get into a gunfight, and regardless of which one dies the survivor might not be breaking any laws. That's clearly completely ridiculous.
So... this law legalizes dueling?
posted by b1tr0t at 9:54 AM on March 20, 2012


According to her audio testimony, she said Martin told her "I think this dude is following me," and slowed down to see who it was. She says she then told him to "be careful and just run home."

She said Martin tried to lose Zimmerman and thought he did. He then said "Oh he's right behind me again," according to her testimony, before asking Zimmerman "Why are you following me?"

She said she heard another voice say " What are you doing around here?" According to her audio testimony, the girl then said someone pushed Martin down because the headset for his phone fell off.

posted by futz at 9:55 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does it SOUND reasonable to pull out your 9 mm and shoot him dead?

It doesn't sound reasonable to me.


And that's why this case will be decided at the Jury Selection phase.
posted by gauche at 9:55 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


It appears his fantasy of being smarter than the law and his plans to exploit it to go out stalk, hunt, and kill a black kid whenever he chose to might me closer to reality than we'd like to hope.
I don't think so. This guy thought he was Batman or something.
So... this law legalizes dueling?
Yeah, in theory it could. It's clearly a moronic law. Still, the law says you can "Stand your ground" not "Chase trouble". He was on the phone with the police, and they specifically told him not to follow the kid.
posted by delmoi at 9:56 AM on March 20, 2012



And that's why this case will be decided at the Jury Selection phase.

I'm still waiting for the 'issue arrest warrant' phase, myself....
posted by mikelieman at 9:57 AM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


oops.
posted by futz at 9:57 AM on March 20, 2012


I don't think so. This guy thought he was Batman or something.

I expect anyone caught hunting black kids for sport would go with the "I'm CRAZY! I'm BATMAN!" defense.
posted by mikelieman at 9:58 AM on March 20, 2012


Still, the law says you can "Stand your ground" not "Chase trouble".

Right, and in that respect the law creates an impossible situation for the potential "suspect": if you run and it's an undercover cop, you might get shot; if you stand your ground and it's not a cop, you might get shot. Either way, it's your own fault.
posted by mek at 9:59 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


How did the cops not inform the parents? How does that even happen? Fucking useless racists.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hispanics can't be racist? You've never seen Mind of Mencia?

I never said that. My point is that many people here are assuming that Zimmerman's actions were racially motivated and I don't think that's necessarily true. Zimmerman had many black friends and didn't come off as particularly racist to others that new him. I think the racist thing fits a convenient narrative, but the facts don't necessarily support that as a reason for why he shot Martin. (Saying "they always get away" isn't necessarily a racist statement. Did he say "fucking coons" or "fucking cops"?) I think it's quite possible that his actions were motivated by the fact that he thought he was pursuing a burglary suspect, and that he was more of gung-ho dickhead than a racist.

In any case, my point is that judging someone without knowing the facts is the very definition of prejudice.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:59 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Still, the law says you can "Stand your ground" not "Chase trouble".

The problem is the law says nothing about how you arrived at "your ground." If you "chase trouble" all the way to your "ground" and then "stand it" it seems that the law has your back. In other words, if you want to play Charles Bronson and you go hunting bad guys and then one of the "bad guys" attacks you, you're allowed to kill him. Zimmerman's case will be that he had a reasonable belief that this was the situation he was in.

He was on the phone with the police, and they specifically told him not to follow the kid.

Well, no, they didn't. A 9/11 dispatcher said that they don't "need" him to do that.
posted by yoink at 10:00 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman had many black friends

Oh for fuck's sake
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:01 AM on March 20, 2012 [46 favorites]


Also, regarding the 'bloody face' detail... isn't it possible that it was Martin's blood on his face, from having shot him at point blank range? There is a mug shot of Zimmerman, he doesn't have any bruising.
The problem is the law says nothing about how you arrived at "your ground." If you "chase trouble" all the way to your "ground" and then "stand it" it seems that the law has your back. In other words, if you want to play Charles Bronson and you go hunting bad guys and then one of the "bad guys" attacks you, you're allowed to kill him. Zimmerman's case will be that he had a reasonable belief that this was the situation he was in.
Are you seriously arguing that he'll be let off if prosecuted? Because if the law says what you're saying it says, then Zimmerman actually innocent. Seems unlikely to me.
posted by delmoi at 10:01 AM on March 20, 2012


The problem is the law says nothing about how you arrived at "your ground."

Let's imagine George Zimmerman said something to the effect of, "Hey, DON'T MOVE. STAY RIGHT THERE".

Now, George Zimmerman is armed, and chasing after someone. So, let's also assume he's brandishing his weapon.

When someone pulls out a gun, and says "Don't Move". That's brandishing a firearm, kidnapping. Felonies.

And you don't get to claim self defense when YOU are committing a crime.
posted by mikelieman at 10:02 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the SYG law is premised on the person who is standing his or her ground not being in the process of committing a crime. Following, intimidating and threatening an innocent passerby sounds less than innocent.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:05 AM on March 20, 2012


And you don't get to claim self defense when YOU are committing a crime.

Yeah but in this case it doesn't matter what Zimmerman actually did, unless we find a witness. What matters is what he says, and he makes up a story that the jury believes, that's sufficient, according to the law.
posted by mek at 10:05 AM on March 20, 2012


Zimmerman had many black friends

Oh for fuck's sake


Well, did you read the interviews with the other people who lived in his complex? What about the ones who are black? Did you read what they said?

No. I didn't think so.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:05 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman had many black friends and didn't come off as particularly racist to others that new him.

You don't have to be a skinhead or constantly complaining about 'those people' to have the prejudicial notion that a young black kid in your neighborhood is probably a criminal.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:06 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, did you read the interviews with the other people who lived in his complex? What about the ones who are black? Did you read what they said?

Do you... have links or something?
posted by delmoi at 10:07 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


What matters is what he says, and he makes up a story that the jury believes, that's sufficient, according to the law.

Seeing as Zimmerman apparently didn't even need to be treated for his 'injuries', I'm OK, with letting a jury decide if he was out of line stalking, hunting and shooting a black kid who wasn't a threat...
posted by mikelieman at 10:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can be racist and like black people that have "checked out" and proven themselves not to fit your stereotypes. You can be racist and have black family members. You can even be racist and be black!
posted by floam at 10:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is the worst thing in the world. I look at my (white) toddler and try to imagine what it would be like to be raising a black boy. And to know that the world he lives in is a place that routinely hassles black guys for driving while black or standing around in front of your house while black, and sometimes murders you for walking home from the store while black. To mother a child up into young manhood and then have to be like "Welp, don't get shot by a fucking crazy racist I guess!" everytime he leaves the house.

It's unbearable. It gives me existential don't-want-to-live-on-this-planet-anymore despair. I cannot even distantly grasp of the sadness Trayvon's mom and dad must be feeling right now. I catch little glimpses of it and then I burst into tears while driving.

Racism in America is a stone pulling us down. We refuse to acknowledge that it's inside and through all of us, eating us from the inside out. I increasingly feel like EVERYTHING that is shitty about America is fundamentally about our goddamn inability to walk away from horrible racism. If you look at the comments of pretty much ANY Trayvon-related article - White People, You Will Never Look Suspicious Like Trayvon Martin - you are certain to find a couple of white dudes saying the type of ignorant, casually racist shit white people ALWAYS SAY ("Nobody calls me "German-American!" "White men look suspicious, too!" "We have a black president, time to let it go guys.")

And it is this thing where... oh, you know how women everywhere got super angry about the Rush/Sandra Fluke debacle? I think that's because a lot of women buy into the big lie of the patriarchy, which is that if you are a good enough woman, men will protect you when it counts. If you are a good, not-shrill, not-feminazi woman, men will be nice to you. So you back yourself into a corner, you shut up, you don't ask for what you want, you're not slutty or bitchy or any of the things they tell you are bad. So you do all of that, you are nice and quiet and you abide by the contract, and Rush Limbaugh still gets to call you a whore? OH FUCK NO. Outrage.

I think you get a thing like this about racism. "Well, if you were just a better, less-threatening black man, nothing bad would happen to you. If you just weren't so uppity. If you just listened to better music and wore your pants in a way I don't find upsetting. Then our culture would definitely have your back and you would never be the victim of random, racist violence."

Except of course that's a lie too. So then a black man gets murdered and there's this collective unwillingness to back off the "But what did he do?"

Basically, I don't know, I am amazed by how racist America is. I wish there were something immediate I could do, but of course that bumps into my own race anxiety about, great, you're the white lady who's going to try to tell people about racism? Awesome. I have been wishing there were basically the race-relations equivalent of PFLAG so I could go to a "PoC and their allies!" meetup or something.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [79 favorites]


And I regret writing that 'who wasn't a threat'...

It's ALWAYS wrong to stalk, hunt and kill people.
posted by mikelieman at 10:09 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's what's so fucking stupid about the law. The best I can figure is that it was basically motivated by our macho-conservative politicians' desire to bring Wild West, frontier-style justice back to Florida.

I think much of the psychopathy evident in the American psyche could have been avoided had we somehow skipped that whole "westward expansion" period, and the attendant romanticization/worship of the worst aspects and players of that period.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have, however, noticed the unfortunate extremes in news reports going from way too far on the authorities' side, then when public opinion swings, they go completely overboard vilifying officers, prosecutors, etc.

Could you be kind enough to provide some examples of this? Because I, for obvious reasons, follow news coverage of these kinds of events pretty closely, and I cannot recall a single instance where news reports went "completely overboard vilifying officers, prosecutors, etc."

Even one example of this would be extraordinary and eye-opening for me.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Did you read what they said?

Yeah, I did. I read all about his black neighbor who feels so uncomfortable about Zimmerman's ALERT ALERT ALERT BLACK MAN bulletins that he doesn't walk around his own neighborhood anymore but instead goes for walks downtown. Then I read about how this makes that black neighbor's wife cry from the fucking despair of it all.

Did YOU read anything they said?

I didn't think so.
posted by elizardbits at 10:11 AM on March 20, 2012 [38 favorites]


Are you seriously arguing that he'll be let off if prosecuted? Because if the law says what you're saying it says, then Zimmerman actually innocent. Seems unlikely to me.

I'm impressed by your confidence in the Florida courts. Yes, I am saying that there's a very, very good chance that he will be let off if prosecuted. If he wasn't hispanic and if he was, say, an off-duty policeman or a marine I'd say that he had about a 95% chance of walking free. I'm not saying that this is the "just" result, but it strikes me as probable.

As to whether he would, actually, be innocent under the law as written, I think that largely hinges on whether or not Martin did, in fact, "attack" Zimmerman (which he may, fearing for his own safety, have done). As I say, the law doesn't say that if you arrived at your "ground" by being a racist dickhead then you no longer have the law's protection. I'm guessing that barring someone uncovering video of the actual event, the defense's case will be essentially to say "sure, our client happened to be incorrect--tragically so--about whether or not Martin was a burglar, but that doesn't mean that he was not within his rights to be suspicious or to attempt to follow and observe someone that he suspected of wrongdoing. Unfortunately, Martin reacted to this by attacking our client and having reason to fear for his life our client legally used lethal force to defend himself."

In the absence of video evidence proving that the claim that Martin "attacked" Zimmerman is false, I can easily see a jury of Zimmerman's peers buying this story. Especially if the defense somehow manages to imply that finding him guilty will be a blow against the "Stand Your Ground" law--which is very popular.
posted by yoink at 10:14 AM on March 20, 2012


Let's imagine George Zimmerman said something to the effect of, "Hey, DON'T MOVE. STAY RIGHT THERE".

Now, George Zimmerman is armed, and chasing after someone. So, let's also assume he's brandishing his weapon.

When someone pulls out a gun, and says "Don't Move". That's brandishing a firearm, kidnapping. Felonies.

And you don't get to claim self defense when YOU are committing a crime.


Yes, if you imagine that the scenario played out in a way that would, in fact, make the Stand Your Ground law inapplicable, then, astonishingly enough, the SYG law becomes inapplicable.

Now, just for kicks, why not try to imagine the scenario playing out in a way that doesn't make it inapplicable.
posted by yoink at 10:16 AM on March 20, 2012


Now, just for kicks, why not try to imagine the scenario playing out in a way that doesn't make it inapplicable.

I've been trying for DAYS to come up with a way in which a 17-year-old kid armed only with a bag of Skittles, who was on the phone to his girlfriend at the time, could be imminently threatening to someone who was armed and inside a car, and I haven't been able to do so.
posted by KathrynT at 10:18 AM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


1) Don't believe everything you read just because it's critical of law enforcement.

It was seminal moment in my life when I was reading a true crime book about a murder at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. (I believe it was called Murder at the Met).

About 10 pages in, the police encounter a perfectly formed handprint with fingerprints at the crime scene. The detective dismisses it saying in real life you never get so lucky and it could have been placed there at any time. I'm thinking, um, check the fingerprints, dude.

Eventually, 200 pages later, the police find the killer through a tortuous roundabout investigation. Naturally, the handprint was his, proving he was there.

What I realized is that the author was never critical of the police because the author relied so deeply on the police to get the story.

Reporters can't be regularly antagonistic towards the police. They need them to write their stories. They don't need the suspected perps to write future stories. Therefore, what you have is skewed.

There's a lot of good officers and they'll get noted. The bad policework generally does not get reported.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:20 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've been trying for DAYS to come up with a way in which a 17-year-old kid armed only with a bag of Skittles, who was on the phone to his girlfriend at the time, could be imminently threatening to someone who was armed and inside a car, and I haven't been able to do so.

That's beside the point. You don't need a scenario under which Martin actually presented a lethal threat to Zimmerman--obviously no such scenario exists. All Zimmerman's defense attorneys need is a scenario under which Zimmerman could reasonably believe that he was under threat.

Remember that Zimmerman did not know that Martin was a 17-year-old kit armed only with a "bag of skittles" etc. If you could, in fact, prove that Zimmerman did know this then, obviously, the SYG law would be irrelevant.
posted by yoink at 10:21 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reporters can't be regularly antagonistic towards the police. They need them to write their stories. They don't need the suspected perps to write future stories. Therefore, what you have is skewed.

In one sentence, you have just written Manufacturing Consent.
posted by gauche at 10:24 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Now, just for kicks, why not try to imagine the scenario playing out in a way that doesn't make it inapplicable.

I'm just not seeing how an armed assailant stalks, hunts, and kills a kid in a way where the SYG law IS applicable.

You can't use DEADLY force unless you're confronted with deadly force. And I'm not seeing Martin as having ever been a threat to use deadly force, nor is the evidence ( Zimmerman's lack of hospitalization ) indicative of that threat.

CONSIDER: http://licgweb.doacs.state.fl.us/weapons/self_defense.html
Example of the kind of attack that will not justify defending yourself with deadly force: Two neighbors got into a fight, and one of them tried to hit the other by swinging a garden hose. The neighbor who was being attacked with the hose shot the other in the chest. The court upheld his conviction for aggravated battery with a firearm, because an attack with a garden hose is not the kind of violent assault that justifies responding with deadly force.
posted by mikelieman at 10:24 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


All Zimmerman's defense attorneys need is a scenario under which Zimmerman could reasonably believe that he was under threat.

If he reasonably believed he was under threat, why on earth would he follow him in his car, and then get out of the car and chase him?
posted by KathrynT at 10:24 AM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Could you be kind enough to provide some examples of this? Because I, for obvious reasons, follow news coverage of these kinds of events pretty closely, and I cannot recall a single instance where news reports went "completely overboard vilifying officers, prosecutors, etc."
How do you go 'overboard' in this case? Seems like they deserve any vitriol that comes there way. A black teenager got shot in his father's neighborhood, they let the shooter go, actually defended him inaccurately to reporters (saying he had a squeaky clean record)
Yes, if you imagine that the scenario played out in a way that would, in fact, make the Stand Your Ground law inapplicable, then, astonishingly enough, the SYG law becomes inapplicable.

Now, just for kicks, why not try to imagine the scenario playing out in a way that doesn't make it inapplicable.
Yoink, I realize you're not a fan of this law but it's not at all clear that what this guy did was within the bounds of it.

here's what the statute actually says:
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
So he needs to prove that he 1) he was attacked 2) "reasonably" felt that he was at risk of death great bodily harm.

Here's the thing, though. if it's the case that he followed the kid, doesn't that by definition imply that he did not think he was at risk of great bodily harm? The argument that the law doesn't apply here is easy to make. Yes, it will be up to a jury, but I don't see why you think it's an open and shut case.

Obviously, the law is a problem.
posted by delmoi at 10:27 AM on March 20, 2012


KathrynT: I think the idea is, he didn't feel threatened while he was following the kid. At that point he was just trying to track a bad guy for the cops. Then, he gets out of the car to ask the kid what he's doing there, and the kid starts beating him up. So he shoots him. He didn't know what he was getting himself into, blah blah etc.
posted by floam at 10:28 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


2) "reasonably" felt that he was at risk of death great bodily harm.

Then we all agree, he should be arrested and held for trial? Let him make his case of "reasonable" to a jury.
posted by mikelieman at 10:29 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If he reasonably believed he was under threat, why on earth would he follow him in his car, and then get out of the car and chase him?

He doesn't have to prove that he had a settled conviction that Martins was a trained assassin sent to kill him; he has to prove that at the moment he drew his gun and fired it he had a reasonable belief that Martin presented him with a lethal threat.

I'm just not seeing how an armed assailant stalks, hunts, and kills a kid in a way where the SYG law IS applicable.

Indeed. If you have already decided in your own mind that the only possible construction that can be placed upon the available facts is that Zimmerman "stalked, hunted and killed" then I'm not at all surprised that you find it difficult to see how defense attorneys will put different constructions on those facts. Perhaps you'll just have to take my word for it that they will.
posted by yoink at 10:29 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]



If he reasonably believed he was under threat, why on earth would he follow him in his car, and then get out of the car and chase him?

So he could Stand His Ground. Duh.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:29 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


All Zimmerman's defense attorneys need is a scenario under which Zimmerman could reasonably believe that he was under threat.

He followed an unknown and possibly dangerous person; he knew the cops were on the way; he continued following and got out of his car rather than waiting for the police, as he had been instructed.

That would be a line I'd take, if I were the prosecutor.
posted by rtha at 10:30 AM on March 20, 2012


Yoink, I realize you're not a fan of this law but it's not at all clear that what this guy did was within the bounds of it.

I don't think that's what yoink's arguing, it's more that a jury of his "peers" isn't necessarily likely (and in fact it's probably very unlikely) to agree with the evidence over personal attitudes.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:30 AM on March 20, 2012


On lack of preview: he had a reasonable belief that Martin presented him with a lethal threat.

A belief he could hold only because he disobeyed police orders. Martin didn't confront him; he confronted Martin.
posted by rtha at 10:31 AM on March 20, 2012


Perhaps you'll just have to take my word for it that they will.

I welcome the arrest and trial of George Zimmerman to resolve these issues.
posted by mikelieman at 10:31 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


He doesn't have to prove that he had a settled conviction that Martins was a trained assassin sent to kill him; he has to prove that at the moment he drew his gun and fired it he had a reasonable belief that Martin presented him with a lethal threat.

Except there's a clear exception if you provoke the assault.
posted by Talez at 10:31 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


A belief he could hold only because he disobeyed police orders.

A 911 operator's recommendation is not "police orders."

Anyway, I don't disagree that there is a definite case to be made here... but as yoink points out, the law is sufficiently terrible that it is not obvious that a conviction is assured.
posted by mek at 10:32 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


That said, even though that's the case, there is every reason to prosecute. Even if he is found innocent, the high profile of the case and the resulting uproar could result in a challenge to this "stand your ground" nonsense.
posted by mek at 10:33 AM on March 20, 2012


So he needs to prove that he 1) he was attacked 2) "reasonably" felt that he was at risk of death great bodily harm.

He clearly cannot need to prove he was attacked. The prosecution is the one with the onus of establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not the defense. They will have to convince the jury that it would have been wildly out of character for Martin to "attack" Zimmerman (although "attack" here is a fuzzy term--maybe he'll claim that he thought he saw Martin "reaching for a gun" which is purely a fact about Zimmerman's subjective interpretation of events that isn't really open to evidence for or against).

As to your second point, I think we all know that American juries have a low threshold for "reasonable" fear of death or great risk of bodily harm when it comes to young black men as potential assailants.
posted by yoink at 10:34 AM on March 20, 2012


A belief he could hold only because he disobeyed police orders. Martin didn't confront him; he confronted Martin.

Did they actually order him not to? I haven't listened to 100% of the tapes, but all I remember is "we don't need you to do that". Not "we don't want you to do that", or "do not do that."
posted by floam at 10:34 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The authors of the law itself said that when he disregarded the 9/11 operators request to not follow "we don't need you to do that..." he essentially walked out of using that as a defense.

It seems that the PD covering this crime is about to come under some heavy fire for their casual handling of the murder.

According to the GF of the kid, the last she heard was the kid asking Zimmerman why he was following him. A 140 pound kid asking a 230 pound man "why are you following me?" does not constitute a threat on the shooter's life.

The cops really fucked this up. But apparently in Florida you don't have to PROVE you felt you were in a life threatening situation, just claim it and the case will be dropped.
posted by Max Power at 10:35 AM on March 20, 2012


That said, even though that's the case, there is every reason to prosecute. Even if he is found innocent, the high profile of the case and the resulting uproar could result in a challenge

Probably the best thing going for a conviction would be if this became conventional wisdom. The fact that the author of the law has come out on the side of prosecution is probably a good sign there.

Of course, if Zimmerman walking free would actually bring about the repeal of this crappy law then we really ought to hope that he walks free.
posted by yoink at 10:36 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some people would consider that when the 9-11 operator says, "We don't need you to do that", to be a direct enough instruction to consider it equivalent.

It's like when that midwestern lady did the Olive Garden review, and complimented the fact that the entree came with two breadsticks...
posted by mikelieman at 10:37 AM on March 20, 2012


The authors of the law itself said that when he disregarded the 9/11 operators request to not follow "we don't need you to do that..." he essentially walked out of using that as a defense.

Unfortunately they forgot to write that into the statute if that was their intent.

And this is disregarding the fact that the 9/11 operator made no such "request."
posted by yoink at 10:37 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


He clearly cannot need to prove he was attacked. The prosecution is the one with the onus of establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not the defense.

Because in general, one is allowed to shoot in the head an unarmed, physically unthreatening teenager who is on the ground begging for help. If there's not some specific evidence of wrongdoing here, this witch hunt has to stop!
posted by crayz at 10:38 AM on March 20, 2012


Maybe this is a regional thing or maybe this is a Guess Culture thing, but I feel like "We don't need you to do that" pretty unambiguously means "That is a bad idea; please do not do that."

Of course, it's a point lawyers would probably argue to the death.
posted by Jeanne at 10:39 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


mikelieman: I know a guy who was chasing someone that stole stuff from the back of his truck and heard something just like that from the 911. He took it as them covering their asses and wink-wink-nudge-nudge "hey you're going above and beyond sir, be careful!". The cops gave him props when they got there.
posted by floam at 10:40 AM on March 20, 2012


crayz: Again, remember that according to Zimmerman, it was him crying for help that you could hear on the 911 tapes as he was getting attacked by the kid. I don't think this is necessarily going to be as cut and dry as everyone hopes unless they can prove Zimmerman was lying about some of these details. I think that's probably how they'd beat him, if they do.
posted by floam at 10:43 AM on March 20, 2012


He took it as them covering their asses and wink-wink-nudge-nudge "hey you're going above and beyond sir, be careful!"

Well, I'll grant that they are ALWAYS covering their asses. They KNOW the recorders are on, and they KNOW when the shit hits the fan, the tapes are going to be played.

But I don't know about reading too much into the 'you're going above and beyond...'

If only George Zimmerman had heeded the unspoken 'be careful!'...
posted by mikelieman at 10:44 AM on March 20, 2012


Except there's a clear exception if you provoke the assault.

Could you just try for one second not to see this event as you're "sure it must have happened" but in the way that a defense attorney could plausibly present it? Imagine that Zimmerman's a really good friend of yours and that you don't for a second believe him capable of just flat out murdering some kid. What version of the story might you try to construct in your head as one that preserves your image of Zimmerman as basically a "good guy" if a little overamped about neighbourhood security.

That's the version of the story that the defense attorneys are going to tell. They don't need to prove that it is true, they just need a sufficient number of the jury to accept that it could be true or that its falseness has not been established beyond a reasonable doubt.

Your conviction that you know how this "must" have gone down is just preventing you (and most of the people in this thread) from thinking critically about alternative scenarios. It won't prevent Zimmerman's defense attorneys--should this come to trial--from doing so.
posted by yoink at 10:44 AM on March 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


according to Zimmerman, it was him crying for help that you could hear on the 911 tapes

I NEVER thought I'd be uttering this combination of words, but here we are:

"C'mon FBI Forensic Audiologists!"
posted by mikelieman at 10:44 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I welcome the arrest and trial of George Zimmerman to resolve these issues.

Does anyone else think that there's a very good chance Zimmerman will try to kill himself before an arrest and/or court date?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:45 AM on March 20, 2012


Because in general, one is allowed to shoot in the head an unarmed, physically unthreatening teenager who is on the ground begging for help. If there's not some specific evidence of wrongdoing here, this witch hunt has to stop!

Well, I can see that you're either utterly misunderstanding my argument or willfully misconstruing it. But just to be clear--my point is that the SYG law is an abomination. I have very little doubt that Zimmerman should be in jail for a lengthy stretch. I'm not arguing that what Zimmerman did was right, I'm saying that Florida passed a very poorly conceived law that may very well allow him to walk free.

Righteous anger doesn't change the fact that Zimmerman will have a very good case to make under the terms of the SYG act.
posted by yoink at 10:48 AM on March 20, 2012



Zimmerman did was right, I'm saying that Florida passed a very poorly conceived law that may very well allow him to walk free.


And I think that's somewhat of a red herring, since there's ample reason to compile a laundry list of felony charges which would negate the protections...
posted by mikelieman at 10:49 AM on March 20, 2012


Zimmerman was, according to the local police, acting in self-defense as Martin attacked him in his role as neighborhood watch captain

That is not 'law enforcement'. They need to have criminal charges brought up against them for allowing this to happen and allowing the perpetrator to walk free.
posted by karathrace at 10:51 AM on March 20, 2012


And I think that's somewhat of a red herring, since there's ample reason to compile a laundry list of felony charges which would negate the protections...

"Charges" don't negate anything. The DA can "charge" you with anything at all--they still have to prove it in a court of law.
posted by yoink at 10:51 AM on March 20, 2012


Well, did you read the interviews with the other people who lived in his complex? What about the ones who are black? Did you read what they said?

Do you... have links or something?


There are some upthread, but I don't have time to go back and look for them right now. They did say that Zimmerman mentored black children, and black folks who lived in his complex said that he treated them very well. I can't tell if all of that was some cover for some kind of secret racism, but neither can anyone else here.

There was a burglary suspect. He was young and black. Zimmerman may have thought that Martin was that suspect. Of course, he should have let the police deal with it. Making this about racism obscures the fact that Stand Your Ground is a stupid law that leads to unjustifiable killings.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:51 AM on March 20, 2012


Debaser626 said: "That does not mean there are not politically or racially driven officers, prosecutors, and/or DAs, but the same could be said for any profession" and I call BS on this. It can't be said for my profession, and we don't carry guns, or decide who or who not to put in jail and we don't have words like 'to protect and serve' plastered all over our work vehicles.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


The boy in the video (that someone linked to above) who was walking his dog right by the killing said that he heard someone screaming for help and then a gunshot and no more screaming. The likelihood that the shooter was yelling for help is small. Why did the screaming stop instantly? If it was the shooter yelling why didn't he keep calling for help? Did he know in a split second that that Trayvon was dead? I don't think so.
posted by futz at 10:53 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know if this is NOT CURRENT Florida law?
776.041 Use of force by aggressor.--The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

(1) Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or

(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or

(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
Because that

and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
Looks damn interesting in this context...
posted by mikelieman at 10:53 AM on March 20, 2012


a blow against the "Stand Your Ground" law--which is very popular.

Any citations or other evidence for it's popularity? I realize it may have been popular with a particular small, politically active/vocal minority in Florida (read: hard-right, Tea Party types), but in my experience, the vast majority don't even know about this law, much less support it in any meaningful way.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:54 AM on March 20, 2012


If this was a 200+ pound black adult who shot a diminutive, unarmed white child in the head while he laid on the ground and cried for help, as recorded by multiple eyewitnesses and 911 tapes, that man would be in jail awaiting trial

If this was a man who shot a young white girl or college student in the head while she laid on the ground and cried for help, that man would be in jail awaiting trial

If this was a man who shot a police officer in the head while he laid on the ground and cried for help, that man would be in jail awaiting trial, at best

The only reason this man was not arrested and is not in jail right now is because of who he is and who he killed. Trying to defend the decision not to act because this is such a tough case, because of a law which doesn't cover this situation in letter, spirit or intent and would never have even thought to be applied if the people involved looked different, is frankly becoming offensive

To hear some of you people talk, anyone can now just walk around Florida shooting people in the head as they cry for help, make up a story about an altercation that's contradicted by eyewitnesses and recorded audio, and walk. The police won't even arrest you. Motherfucking please
posted by crayz at 10:56 AM on March 20, 2012 [50 favorites]


crayz: Shot in the chest, not head.
posted by floam at 10:57 AM on March 20, 2012


And I think that's somewhat of a red herring, since there's ample reason to compile a laundry list of felony charges which would negate the protections...

Except that local law enforcement were going on record defending him on the grounds of the law, remember? It's not all hypotheticals. Police officials in Sanford have said on-record they did believe him to be protected under SYG. So it's not just lone-nuts that are misinterpreting the law, but whole police departments.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:59 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I'd read he was "bleeding from the nose and back of his head."

Either way, that's shoot-to-kill
posted by crayz at 11:01 AM on March 20, 2012


- Zimmerman, according to his father, is a "Spanish speaking minority with many black family members and friends"

Not anymore, I don't think.

If I can be completely unfair here for a moment, I always wonder about what supposedly liberal, well meaning, intelligent people are thinking when they start taking the side of the murderer and look for ways to lessen his culpability, usually while protesting they're not doing that. What are you thinking?

Racist fuck shoots a Black kid, equally racist and not very bothered or smart police department covers it up, it really isn't more complicated than that.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:03 AM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant;

This makes me wonder how Zimmerman's defense is going to spin this. Self-defense is an affirmative defense - you need to show that you truly believed your life was in danger. How do you show that when you are the one pursuing, and you are the one who put yourself in the position of having to "stand your ground" by getting out of your car and confronting someone? That's the opposite of escaping.
posted by rtha at 11:04 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but Police officials in Sanford aren't exactly credible, are they?

http://www.wftv.com/news/news/cops-son-accused-of-beating-man-walks-out-of-jail/nKJgK/
posted by mikelieman at 11:05 AM on March 20, 2012


Either way, that's shoot-to-kill

Totally was, whether it was to the chest or head doesn't make a lick of difference, I just try to marshal the facts a bit. That quote was actually in regards to Zimmerman, the shooter. When the cops got there he had some blood on his face, that he claims was from getting attacked by the Martin. Of course it could have been self-inflected, maybe the gun recoiled into his nose, maybe he fell down and hit his head. Or the guy really did try to fight him because he was in fear of his own life because a huge guy with a gun was stalking him.
posted by floam at 11:05 AM on March 20, 2012


s/the Martin/Martin/
posted by floam at 11:06 AM on March 20, 2012


Totally was, whether it was to the chest or head doesn't make a lick of difference, I just try to marshal the facts a bit. That quote was actually in regards to Zimmerman, the shooter. When the cops got there he had some blood on his face, that he claims was from getting attacked by the Martin. Of course it could have been self-inflected, maybe the gun recoiled into his nose, maybe he fell down and hit his head. Or the guy really did try to fight him because he was in fear of his own life because a huge guy with a gun was stalking him.

Or he was so close, Martin's own blood spattered up onto his face as he shot him.

I wonder if the police bothered to take a blood sample...
posted by Slackermagee at 11:07 AM on March 20, 2012


To hear some of you people talk, anyone can now just walk around Florida shooting people in the head as they cry for help, make up a story about an altercation that's contradicted by eyewitnesses and recorded audio, and walk.

I've seen no eyewitness accounts that have Martin getting shot in the head as he cries for help. I have read an eyewitness account that has Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman hitting him.

Sorry, I'd read he was "bleeding from the nose and back of his head."

That was Zimmerman, not Martin.
posted by yoink at 11:07 AM on March 20, 2012


How do you show that when you are the one pursuing, and you are the one who put yourself in the position of having to "stand your ground" by getting out of your car and confronting someone? That's the opposite of escaping.

To a jury that's predisposed towards you or against your victim? You just say you had reasonable suspicion. He's wearing "gangsta" clothes, trying to hide his face, and running away, so he must be a criminal.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:08 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]



I wonder if the police bothered to take a blood sample...


Wouldn't you want a blood sample from the shooter too, you now... So you can see if he was drunk at the time or something?
posted by mikelieman at 11:09 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Except there's a clear exception if you provoke the assault.
Right, there's also chapter 776.041 which says:
 776.041Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
 (1)Is attempting to commit, committing, or escaping after the commission of, a forcible felony; or
 (2)Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
 (a)Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
 (b)In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
So if you provoke an attack you have to "exhaust every reasonable means of escape" or at least clearly signal the desire to leave.

So, even if Martin fought back. Zimmerman would have had to clearly state that he wanted to withdrawal from the fight and made an effort to escape
He clearly cannot need to prove he was attacked. The prosecution is the one with the onus of establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not the defense. They will have to convince the jury that it would have been wildly out of character for Martin to "attack" Zimmerman (although "attack" here is a fuzzy term--maybe he'll claim that he thought he saw Martin "reaching for a gun" which is purely a fact about Zimmerman's subjective interpretation of events that isn't really open to evidence for or against).
I don't think that's the case at all. Again, legally it doesn't matter if he was attacked. He has to have been attacked with such force that he couldn't escape, or he has to have made every effort to escape and was unable to do so if he provoked the confrontation, which he clearly did.
Did they actually order him not to? I haven't listened to 100% of the tapes, but all I remember is "we don't need you to do that". Not "we don't want you to do that", or "do not do that."
So what? The obvious meaning is "don't do that, dumbass". I don't think the word choice of the operator is going to make tracking down and shooting people legal.


Could you just try for one second not to see this event as you're "sure it must have happened" but in the way that a defense attorney could plausibly present it? I
Yoink, clearly you haven't read the statute. If you provoke an attack then you have to run away, only if the person you attacked comes after you and keeps fighting can you use deadly force in self defense.

In orther words, for this defense to hold, Zimmerman needs to prove that martin came after him and that he tried to run away, and martin kept chasing him. Rember, there were two gunshots. Only the second one hit.

Do you honestly think that an unarmed, skinny teen is going to have been continueing to attack a 100 pound heavier dude who had already fired his gun? Zimmerman Would only be covered if he'd fired the shot and Martin continued to attack him with such force that he couldn't escape even though he'd tried to escape and/or made it clear that he didn't want to fight.

That's obviously not the case. If martin was beating him up so badly, where are his injuries? There is no way he can prove that, and it's obviously not the case.
Except that local law enforcement were going on record defending him on the grounds of the law, remember? It's not all hypotheticals. Police officials in Sanford have said on-record they did believe him to be protected under SYG. So it's not just lone-nuts that are misinterpreting the law, but whole police departments.
Cops aren't lawyers. The DA also made that claim, but some lawyers are stupid.
posted by delmoi at 11:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


To hear some of you people talk, anyone can now just walk around Florida shooting people in the head as they cry for help, make up a story about an altercation that's contradicted by eyewitnesses and recorded audio, and walk. The police won't even arrest you. Motherfucking please

Right. Whereas we've clearly just spend the rest of the thread establishing that this is only the case if the shooter is white, and the victim is black. That definitely puts the state in a better light.
posted by Mayor West at 11:10 AM on March 20, 2012


Chris Rock used to tell a joke about how white people always think black men have guns.

"You could be butt naked, getting out of the pool," he said, "and white people standing around would be all, 'Look out! He's got a gun!'"

Unfortunately, reality is far harsher than the joke:

In 2003, a team led by J. Correll flashed random photos of white and black faces, some superimposed with guns, others with harmless items such as cell phones and wallets. They asked college students to press one key indicating "shoot" the suspect, and another indicating "don't shoot." The students were more likely to mistakenly fire at black faces that were unarmed compared to unarmed white faces.

The good news is that this bias can be eliminated with training: additional studies showed that police officers performed the same as college students initially but that with training to consider racial biases, they reduced their error rate for black faces until it was more or less the same as it was for white faces.

But some of the comments in this discussion -- and all the other threads that have appeared whenever an unarmed black male is killed -- lead me to think we'll never have the national discussion we need to help people overcome this "black men are dangerous" bias.

The contortions some people will go through to dismiss race as a factor in these events amazes and deeply saddens me. In my more despairing moments, I am convinced that some of you would only allow that race may have been a factor in these situations if the perpetrator(s) loudly announce to persons nearby (who also videotape the incident so that there's a clear record): "I am doing this because the person is black. I am very definitely a racist and therefore about to kill this black man only because I hate black people and for no other reason."

It crushes me to look at my son and daughter and realize that once they reach their teen years, no matter how they dress and act, all it takes is them entering the field of vision of someone with racist beliefs to begin a series of events that could culminate in death or serious injury. And all I'll get from "moderate" and "reasonable" people is that "yes, it was a tragedy" but "they must have done something -- anything -- aside from being black that caused it, so there's no need to bring race into the discussion."
posted by lord_wolf at 11:10 AM on March 20, 2012 [28 favorites]


In any case, my point is that judging someone without knowing the facts is the very definition of prejudice.

I'll admit to being highly prejudiced against people who stalk and kill innocent kids.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:13 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yoink, clearly you haven't read the statute. If you provoke an attack then you have to run away, only if the person you attacked comes after you and keeps fighting can you use deadly force in self defense.

The statute you're quoting isn't the "Stand Your Ground" statute. It is one of two other unrelated statutes pertaining to self-defense on the Florida books. And the mistake you are making with respect to that statute is in begging the question of what constitutes "provoking" the altercation. I do not think that following someone in a car and exiting the car to talk to them would qualify legally as "provoking" the subsequent altercation, even if it clearly was the actual precipitating action for what followed. The question about who "provoked" the altercation will come down to what transpired between Zimmerman and Martin after Zimmerman approached Martin--and we'll only have Zimmerman's version of that unless video evidence happens to surface.

We do, also, have an eyewitness who claims to have seen Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman and beating him. That will, I think, go a pretty long way to convince a jury that Zimmerman had reason to fear grievous bodily injury and was being prevented from escaping, if nothing else. Perhaps that witness will be impugned in some way, but you can't simply handwave him away at this point.
posted by yoink at 11:17 AM on March 20, 2012


I don't think that's the case at all. Again, legally it doesn't matter if he was attacked. He has to have been attacked with such force that he couldn't escape, or he has to have made every effort to escape and was unable to do so if he provoked the confrontation, which he clearly did.

So what? The obvious meaning is "don't do that, dumbass". I don't think the word choice of the operator is going to make tracking down and shooting people legal.

Yoink, clearly you haven't read the statute. If you provoke an attack then you have to run away, only if the person you attacked comes after you and keeps fighting can you use deadly force in self defense.

In orther words, for this defense to hold, Zimmerman needs to prove that martin came after him and that he tried to run away, and martin kept chasing him. Rember, there were two gunshots. Only the second one hit.

Do you honestly think that an unarmed, skinny teen is going to have been continueing to attack a 100 pound heavier dude who had already fired his gun? Zimmerman Would only be covered if he'd fired the shot and Martin continued to attack him with such force that he couldn't escape even though he'd tried to escape and/or made it clear that he didn't want to fight.

That's obviously not the case. If martin was beating him up so badly, where are his injuries? There is no way he can prove that, and it's obviously not the case.


I really think you're talking past each other at this point. You're making the logical case of the prosecution, he's making the emotional case of the defense. The question is which way the jury will go on this, and there's plenty to suggest that they'll side with the emotion case.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:19 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Remember, Zimmerman fired twice In order for the law to apply, Martin would have had to have continued attacking Zimmerman after the first shot.

That said, think about it if there was an altercation from Martin's perspective: some dude is following you in a car, and you have no idea why. You try to escape. He gets out of the car follows you. Starts rambling - not making any sense.

You don't know what's going on, so, you decide to try to fight him off. Then he pulls out a gun. What do you do? If you're close enough, it might make sense to try to knock the gun out of his hands or something like that. If you're in a close fight with someone with a weapon, and you legitimately think are trying to kill you. You think maybe they're high on PCP or something, you certainly have no idea why they've been following you and are now shooting at you. The last thing you want to do put distance between the two of you as that would make it easier for them to pick you off. So, maybe you try to fight them off, hold the arm with the gun away from you, whatever.

Even in that circumstance, I still the "Stand your ground" thing doesn't apply. In fact if you provoke an attack, "stand your ground does not apply". You must run

So clearly, As Zimmerman was the aggressor, SYG does not apply and we're back to 'normal' "you must try to escape" rules. So the question is whether or not Zimmerman, assuming the kid tried to attack him, and continued to try to attack him after he fired his weapon did enough to get away or signal he longer wanted to fight.

It doesn't seem likely to me.
posted by delmoi at 11:19 AM on March 20, 2012


We do, also, have an eyewitness who claims to have seen Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman and beating him.

Is that up thread? I can't find it.
posted by Max Power at 11:20 AM on March 20, 2012


We do, also, have an eyewitness who claims to have seen Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman and beating him.

Has this been linked to in this thread? I can't find a news story on this anywhere. Can someone throw me a clue?
posted by futz at 11:21 AM on March 20, 2012


Remember, Zimmerman fired twice

I thought that that was an erroneous initial report, that subsequent reporting has confirmed that only one bullet was fired. Is that not the case?
posted by yoink at 11:22 AM on March 20, 2012


The statute you're quoting isn't the "Stand Your Ground" statute. It is one of two other unrelated statutes pertaining to self-defense on the Florida books.
Nope, you're wrong and apparently don't know how to read statutes. here is the link


Section 776.013
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Note, that does not say anything about legal consequences, only that they do not have a duty to retreat. Now, here is section 776.041, which despite the numbering is actually only two sections down.
776.041 Use of force by aggressor.—The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:
...
(2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:
(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
Preceding sections, meaning the section on SYG. 776.041 clearly states that SYG does not apply if you are the aggressor, and that if so, you do have a duty to retreat. It's completely clear.
posted by delmoi at 11:23 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a cite for this 'Stand your ground' law which apparently isn't the 'justifiable use of deadly force' statute?
posted by mikelieman at 11:23 AM on March 20, 2012


Has this been linked to in this thread? I can't find a news story on this anywhere. Can someone throw me a clue?

Here's a link. It's a pretty early news story, so maybe it has been debunked in some way?
posted by yoink at 11:24 AM on March 20, 2012


We do, also, have an eyewitness who claims to have seen Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman and beating him.

Sorry, can you link to this one?
[on preview, glad it's not just me that can't find this; thought I was going crazy]
posted by inigo2 at 11:24 AM on March 20, 2012


My god, the evidence that this is not self-defense is gushing from all quarters. I think Barney Fife's cat could've built a case against Zimmerman.
posted by vitabellosi at 11:24 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


You don't claim that Zimmerman's assault is made legitimate under 776.013???

776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.
posted by mikelieman at 11:25 AM on March 20, 2012


Jinx. I owe Delmoi a coke...
posted by mikelieman at 11:26 AM on March 20, 2012


776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.
Look at section 3, which is independent of 1 and 2. However, 776.041 clearly states that 776.013 would not apply in this case, as Zimmerman was clearly the aggressor. Yoink apparently doesn't know how to read statutes.
posted by delmoi at 11:28 AM on March 20, 2012


Preceding sections, meaning the section on SYG. 776.041 clearly states that SYG does not apply if you are the aggressor, and that if so, you do have a duty to retreat. It's completely clear.

But what is not clear, and what you're simply begging the question on, is whether or not Zimmerman would be legally regarded as "the aggressor." Again, I very much doubt that following someone in a car, stopping the car, exiting the car and approaching that person would qualify as an act of "aggression" under the law. So whether Zimmerman is the 'aggressor' depends entirely on what happened next. If Zimmerman drew a gun and brandished it, then great--he's the aggressor. But pretty clearly that is not the story his defense attorneys are going to tell, is it? And if they have an eyewitness who has Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman hitting him it's not going to be hard to establish reasonable doubt in a jury's mind on the question of whether or not Zimmerman was the aggressor in that encounter.
posted by yoink at 11:30 AM on March 20, 2012


Yeah, I got that. Flagged all my obsolete ideas as double posts....

Still owe you one, though...
posted by mikelieman at 11:30 AM on March 20, 2012


I think the "aggressor" is the guy who wasn't minding his own business...
posted by mikelieman at 11:31 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, from a "Moral" point-of-view. I whole-heartedly welcome the litigation of the legal issues at trial.
posted by mikelieman at 11:32 AM on March 20, 2012


How's this link Yoink?

It seems someone was at least lying about being attacked from behind.
posted by Max Power at 11:32 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're missing the picture folks. This is the part of the Stand Your Ground law this guy is going to invoke:
The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
Zimmerman has repeatedly claimed he believed the kid was fleeing after participating in another in the rash of robberies that had been taking place recently in the neighborhood.

Under the section of the Stand Your Ground law cited here, that's all you need.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:33 AM on March 20, 2012


roomthreeseventeen said:
We know that George Zimmerman referred to Trayvon Martin as a "fucking coon."

How do we know that? I've listened to that recording over and over, and I hear "fucking cops" every time.
posted by at 8:13 AM on March 20 [+] [!]
I've reviewed the audio a bunch of times, right now at my desk. No way in hell he was saying "cops." There's no plosive sound there. It sounds like he's saying "coon" to me. The audio isn't clear, but it's plenty clear enough to separate clearly "coon" from "cops" to my ears, IMO.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 11:34 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


To His Majesty, Juan Carlos I, King of All Spain,

193 years ago, our country asked you to cede Florida in exchange for our renunciation of claims to Texas in the Louisiana Purchase plus $5 million. If we let you keep the $5 million, can you please reclaim Florida?

If you agree to these terms, we only ask that you allow us to keep Alan Grayson. We're fairly confident that the value of Miami Beach alone would bring you back to solvency in the current financial crisis on your continent.

We've had as much use of Florida as we require.

Thank you very much,

The United States of America
posted by phoebus at 11:35 AM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


But what is not clear, and what you're simply begging the question on, is whether or not Zimmerman would be legally regarded as "the aggressor." Again, I very much doubt that following someone in a car, stopping the car, exiting the car and approaching that person would qualify as an act of "aggression" under the law.
The question is not whether or not it's an act of "aggression" but whether or not it counts as provoking an attack.
The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
Section three seems much more likely to be applicable in this case, but it doesn't matter. Neither apply if you provoke an attack.

The problem for Zimmerman is that it does not apply if he provoked the attack.
posted by delmoi at 11:37 AM on March 20, 2012


The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

Zimmerman has repeatedly claimed he believed the kid was fleeing after participating in another in the rash of robberies that had been taking place recently in the neighborhood.

Under the section of the Stand Your Ground law cited here, that's all you need.

Wow, saulgoodman. Under my (naive) reading of that, I'd be legally entitled to shoot anyone who had once upon a time committed a B&E??? Say, five years ago... before serving time...
posted by IAmBroom at 11:38 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

I welcome Zimmerman's defense on this point at trial.

I think the jurors would be quite interested in his 'reason to believe'...
posted by mikelieman at 11:38 AM on March 20, 2012


(Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates linked to this column further up in the thread, but it's worth bringing it up again. The most chilling part is at the beginning:

That was Feb. 27, one day after Trayvon was shot. The father thought that he was missing, according to the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump, but the boy’s body had actually been taken to the medical examiner’s office and listed as a John Doe.

The father called the Missing Persons Unit. No luck. Then he called 911. The police asked the father to describe the boy, after which they sent officers to the house where the father was staying. There they showed him a picture of the boy with blood coming out of his mouth.


I have never used the word "fuck" this way in a Metafilter thread, but here we go: Fuck. You. Sanford Police Department and justice system.

No canvassing the neighborhood or questioning persons nearby to find out if anyone knew him or had seen him before? Just believe Zimmerman's report, correct some witnesses about what they really saw and heard, send the body off to the morgue, fill out some paperwork and call it a day. No sensitive handling of the matter after the boy's father called 911. Fuck you.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:39 AM on March 20, 2012 [56 favorites]


Zimmerman's defense will probably be:

Zimmerman was trying to stop a wave of crimes in his neighborhood. He approached Martin on a public street with the goal of determining what Martin was doing. His lawyers will suggest that even with the 9-11 call, there is not evidence of intent to attack or provoke an attack by Martin. Walking up to someone and trying to talk with them is not a crime. The advice of the 9-11 operator not to approach was not a "police order", but merely advice.
Zimmerman will further claim that Martin responded by attacking Zimmerman. This created imminent and inescapable danger to Zimmerman. Zimmerman will produce the police report of his injuries evidence. Zimmerman will also point to the 9-11 calls describing two men fighting but not identifying an aggressor. Zimmerman's lawyers will argue that the 9-11 call recorded cries for "help", but that the caller did not identify who called for help and that audio analysis of a phone call either shows that Zimmerman called for help, or was of such low fidelity that the identity of the person asking for help can not be determined.
Then Zimmerman's lawyers will go on to argue that this entire case is driven by public sentiment rather than provable facts. Finally they will suggest that this was a terrible misunderstanding and that Zimmerman feels just awful about this.
posted by humanfont at 11:41 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the "aggressor" is the guy who wasn't minding his own business...

Very probably in the court of public opinion. But not in a courtroom.

Again, from a "Moral" point-of-view. I whole-heartedly welcome the litigation of the legal issues at trial.

What transpires in a courtroom rarely has much to do with "morality."

How's this link Yoink?

It seems someone was at least lying about being attacked from behind.


Yeah, I think that will definitely be a difficult point for his defense. It has to be said that it isn't fatal to Zimmerman's account (the girlfriend is hearing only one side of whatever happened, after all--it's not too hard to suggest that she would get a rather muddied picture of mostly physical events from hearing them over a phone). But it does speak to Martin's state of mind at the time of the encounter in ways that will hurt Zimmerman with the jury.
posted by yoink at 11:41 AM on March 20, 2012


The question is not whether or not it's an act of "aggression" but whether or not it counts as provoking an attack.

And you're begging that question too.
posted by yoink at 11:43 AM on March 20, 2012


No canvassing the neighborhood or questioning persons nearby to find out if anyone knew him or had seen him before? Just believe Zimmerman's report, correct some witnesses about what they really saw and heard, send the body off to the morgue, fill out some paperwork and call it a day. No sensitive handling of the matter after the boy's father called 911. Fuck you.

You forgot the part where the Sanford PD has yet to produce his cellphone, which was definitely either on his person or in the immediate area where he was killed. Any bets as to it's "accidentally" being lost?
posted by zombieflanders at 11:43 AM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm simply pointing out what the text of the law says, which you apparently couldn't be bothered to actually read.
posted by delmoi at 11:44 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman has repeatedly claimed he believed the kid was fleeing after participating in another in the rash of robberies that had been taking place recently in the neighborhood.

Under the section of the Stand Your Ground law cited here, that's all you need.


Err, not exactly. First, my understanding is that he was on in his way in to the neighborhood, not out, so it's not really fleeing a B&E. He was also carrying a 7-11 bag and a phone, not exactly the spoils of a B&E, and he was walking. A guy walking at night is not reasonable grounds to assume he was participating in a series of B&Es. Surely the reasonable standard applies here, or the law would allow you to invent any number of crazy excuses about what you *thought* was happening. Otherwise he might as well say "I though he was zombie Hitler so I had to do something."
posted by Hoopo at 11:44 AM on March 20, 2012


Again, from a "Moral" point-of-view. I whole-heartedly welcome the litigation of the legal issues at trial.

I wholly understand that what's RIGHT and what's LEGAL are far and away two distinct things. I go, myself, with doing what's right, and so far, there hasn't been any legal fallout, so WORKSFORME...

Where this all goes off the rails is with the Sanford PD's handling of this. We like to think this shit doesn't happen these days, but here we are.
posted by mikelieman at 11:46 AM on March 20, 2012


Otherwise he might as well say "I though he was zombie Hitler so I had to do something."

I think we can all agree that you would need to do something if it WAS zombie Hitler.

Again.
posted by mikelieman at 11:47 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Heck, even if he DID just commit a B&E, or was on his way TO a B&E. Stealing someone's stuff is not grounds for the death penalty. Any law which allows someone to mete vigilante justice of that magnitude is completely unjust.
posted by muddgirl at 11:47 AM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wholly understand that what's RIGHT and what's LEGAL are far and away two distinct things. I go, myself, with doing what's right, and so far, there hasn't been any legal fallout, so WORKSFORME...
Just don't try distributing medical marijuana to cancer patients. Or whistle blowing on national security abuses.
posted by delmoi at 11:48 AM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm simply pointing out what the text of the law says, which you apparently couldn't be bothered to actually read.

Again, I think you're making two different cases here, one based on the reality and one based on the interpretation.

posted by zombieflanders at 11:48 AM on March 20, 2012


And my case is based in not closing italics tags.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:49 AM on March 20, 2012


Just don't try distributing medical marijuana to cancer patients. Or whistle blowing on national security abuses.

Done and Done. Of course. Not being party to either of these resources, it really hasn't ever come up. Must be my boring old life...
posted by mikelieman at 11:49 AM on March 20, 2012


So, the actions of the gov't respresent the people?

Everytime the Government does something someone likes and others do not and the liker is attempting to gain support from the dis-liker - sure.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:52 AM on March 20, 2012


I'm simply pointing out what the text of the law says, which you apparently couldn't be bothered to actually read.

No, delmoi, you're quibbling over utterly irrelevant details of wording because you refuse to actually engage with the issue. The statute uses both the terms "aggressor" and "provoke" so it is equally correct to talk about whether Zimmerman is ruled as the "aggressor" or as having "provoked" the incident--they are, for our purposes, interchangeable terms.

What you're ducking is the problem that this is not simply something that will be stipulated to by the defense. In order for this section of the statute to come into play the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was the aggressor (or, to put it the way you personally prefer) that he provoked the incident. The defense will argue that he did not. If the prosecution follows your lead their devastating case will be "nuh-uh! He totally did!" That won't work.

Pointing to the fact that Zimmerman was on Neighborhood Watch, that he was following Martin and that he initiated contact with Martin will not be sufficient to establish that he "provoked" anything. "Provocation" in this context would mean, for example, that he pushed Martin, or threatened him, or insulted him, or something of that kind. Do you have any evidence of that? If not then this particular section of the statute is irrelevant.
posted by yoink at 11:52 AM on March 20, 2012


The problem for Zimmerman is that it does not apply if he provoked the attack.

Did he provoke what he though was the burglary attempt that (in his mind) justified the killing? That's the issue. Because under the law being suspected of having committed a crime is justification by itself.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:52 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


(ugh--"thought")
posted by saulgoodman at 11:53 AM on March 20, 2012


Stealing someone's stuff is not grounds for the death penalty.

Under "Stand Your Ground" laws it is--and defenders of the law are usually very vocal on that point.
posted by yoink at 11:54 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Countdown until Fox News presents someone who says Martin had plenty of time to dump any stolen goods he may have been carrying before the altercation starting now....
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:54 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, I think you're making two different cases here, one based on the reality and one based on the interpretation.

Not really--Delmoi is pretending that the law is so utterly clear cut that Zimmerman won't even be able to make a case. That is not true.
posted by yoink at 11:56 AM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm glad this is getting the attention it deserves. I'm glad people know about this kid, and the way he was killed.

It's incredibly sad, and I hope the news reaches Obama and he says something about this kid (not unlike Fluke), or to this kid's parents, after it is all over.

Thanks to the OP who listed my now-deleted post as the previously. It hurt my heart to learn of the story, and it still just blows my mind that this guy is currently charged with nothing.

I looked pretty much like this kid at 17, and hoodies were my choice of clothing because I kept my hair short and I liked having the big pocket in front for my yellow snack cupcakes that I would get from the store.

So this could have easily been me, a bunch of times. And just imagining some guy running up to me and shooting me in the chest just terrifies me, and I just feel so bad for Trayvon and his parents.
posted by cashman at 11:58 AM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


Err, not exactly. First, my understanding is that he was on in his way in to the neighborhood, not out, so it's not really fleeing a B&E. He was also carrying a 7-11 bag and a phone, not exactly the spoils of a B&E, and he was walking. A guy walking at night is not reasonable grounds to assume he was participating in a series of B&Es. Surely the reasonable standard applies here, or the law would allow you to invent any number of crazy excuses about what you *thought* was happening.

Hoopo, I agree with you from a sane perspective. But this insane law just says:

The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

Under this law, that's enough to justify your "standing your ground" and shooting someone. There's no reasonable belief standard in the law as adopted. All that's required is a reason of some sort to believe. It's crazy-town, but that is exactly what the law says.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:59 AM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


The law doesn't even specify the illegal act had to be on their property.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:00 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


lesbiassparrow: "The Stand your Ground laws seem tailor made to create tragedy, right down to the name."

I think the concept is perfectly sound: In certain situations, you don't have a duty to retreat before killing an assailant. However, some state laws take it too far and basically eliminate the duty to retreat in most situations. And to be fair, they originally arose because of situations where homeowners were defending themselves against an intruder and were still charged with a crime for doing so because they, say, didn't retreat to the bathroom instead of shooting the intruder in the face as he walked through the door after breaking it down.

That said, this situation appears to be about as far from the purpose of these and other laws that protect those who use lethal force in self defense as one can possibly get.

mikelieman: "I'm still waiting for the 'issue arrest warrant' phase, myself...."

Personally, I don't care much if he is or isn't arrested. I care that he is indicted and put on trial and that he receives a vigorously prosecuted and defended fair trial. At the same time, I also hope Zimmerman doesn't go to prison. Our prisons are inhumane cesspools that nobody deserves to spend a minute in, much less years. Would be nice if we had prisons that weren't at best on the edge of violating the human rights of those held within because shitheels like this definitely (seem to, he hasn't been convicted yet) deserve confinement as a punishment.

yoink: "He clearly cannot need to prove he was attacked. The prosecution is the one with the onus of establishing proof beyond a reasonable doubt, not the defense."

Given that he admits to killing Treyvon, the onus is in fact on Zimmerman to successfully raise an affirmative defense as to why the killing was legally justified. The prosecutor merely has to bring in witnesses or audiotaped evidence of Zimmerman admitting to it and he/she convicts absent a defense.
posted by wierdo at 12:02 PM on March 20, 2012


In fact, the law stipulates that the person will be presumed to have had a reasonable fear under this law if any of the following conditions obtain:
A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
...
(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:03 PM on March 20, 2012


> Bernie Goetz walked 25 years ago

To be specific, he got one year sentence, and served eight months.

I met Bernie Goetz, about ten years ago - a very interesting man. For the last couple of decades, his entire focus has been animal rights and vegetarianism. He seemed to be a pretty stand-up guy.

Talking to him, he claimed that the newspaper stories were entirely wrong. He pointed out that if the newspaper stories had been right, he would have been charged with attempted murder.

He didn't set off my BS meters - but who knows? I'm pretty sure he isn't a racist, based on his friends and associations, who seemed to be predominantly non-white.

I lived in New York City at the time. While I wasn't entirely sympathetic to him at the time, the fact is that it was a dangerous place and he was approached by a group of people with a weapon seeking to rob him.

The fact is that Goetz had every reason to honestly feel in danger, because it was one man against a group of actual criminals; that the police immediately started a hunt for him instead of ignoring it; that he voluntarily gave himself up; that he did serve his time, and that has subsequently devoted himself to good works: all of these things mean that comparing this case to the Goetz case is very inaccurate indeed.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:04 PM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


If I can be completely unfair here for a moment, I always wonder about what supposedly liberal, well meaning, intelligent people are thinking when they start taking the side of the murderer and look for ways to lessen his culpability, usually while protesting they're not doing that. What are you thinking?

Why would you think "being unfair" would ever be a contribution to understanding an issue?

When I posted what you quoted, I was thinking that people were posting incorrect information about both Zimmerman (he is a white redneck) and Martin (he was a resident of the gated community) upthread as if it were fact, and that it would be helpful to post the corrected facts. That my sympathies lie with the victim and not the shooter is irrelevant to the actual circumstances.

Or -- are you playing the Mike Daisey here and implying there is some "larger truth" about racism or Florida gun law or America or what-the-fuck-ever that is more important that actually comprehending what really went on?
posted by aught at 12:07 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


WTF does Goetz have to do with this? This asshole chased down and killed a 17 year old black kid coming back from the store with some snacks for the game in his own neighborhood!
posted by saulgoodman at 12:07 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

What is this unlawful and forcible act, and at what address was it occurring or had occurred?
posted by mikelieman at 12:07 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given that he admits to killing Treyvon, the onus is in fact on Zimmerman to successfully raise an affirmative defense as to why the killing was legally justified. The prosecutor merely has to bring in witnesses or audiotaped evidence of Zimmerman admitting to it and he/she convicts absent a defense.

You're right that the burden of proof is on Zimmerman in an affirmative defense, but the standard of that proof is not "beyond a reasonable doubt." And we see by the actual history of SYG cases throughout the states that juries are extremely willing to believe self-defense narratives with very little supporting evidence.
posted by yoink at 12:09 PM on March 20, 2012


It doesn't matter. The law doesn't require it to be any specific residence--in fact, it explicitly says it doesn't have to be your residence or vehicle.

And Zimmerman very plainly claims to believe the kid is fleeing his latest heist. And probably actually does believe it. He just has no evidence for it that he can point to other than the kids' looks.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:10 PM on March 20, 2012


Mefites, this is only a further example of the increase in aggression toward women and minorities since our last election cycle. If you don't believe me, pick up a newspaper. Across the country, weapons and the ability to procure them are being deregulated. Additionally, American's right to sexual freedom is also being attacked. We are increasingly blaming our economic and social troubles on minorities and the poor. Of course, all these ideas are completely irrational. I think someone earlier in the thread referred to them as "batshit crazy." That does not change the power they have metaphorically in our national culture. It really can't be acceptable to call someone a slut because they use birth control. You shouldn't have to write a note about your sex life to your boss (not a physician) for birth control to be covered by your health insurance (Arizona). Closing your eyes does not really take the sting out of a trans-vaginal ultrasound (Pennsylvania). Denying critical health care coverage to nearly 130,000 women does not give anyone "choices" in their healthcare coverage (Texas). Finally, in reference to this issue, following a young black man, referred to by the perp as a "coon," initiating a confrontation, and then killing him is, in an unbelievably straight forward manner, racist and more importantly murder. Does the fact that in 203 comments we are still entertaining the idea that there might be some justification for the lack of transparency on the part of the PD suggest that we are simply being worn down by the relentless assault on our rational sensibilities? I totally recognize that the Enlightenment is over, but in this case, I think we can still rely on rationality. this sort of national climate is how really bad things begin.
posted by isawthat at 12:10 PM on March 20, 2012 [23 favorites]


saulgoodman: I probably should have let it go, but I did meet Mr. Goetz on one occasion, he actually did me a favor by speaking at the opening for a book I was publishing, and I felt I should stand up for him.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:11 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


FYI, according to folks on Twitter, Assistant AG for Civil Rights Tom Perez is in a meeting about the case now with an unnamed Florida congresswoman and the mayor of Sanford.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:12 PM on March 20, 2012


And Zimmerman very plainly claims to believe the kid is fleeing his latest heist. And probably actually does believe it. He just has no evidence for it that he can point to other than the kids' looks.

But is that belief well-founded and reasonable? That's something a jury should decide.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:12 PM on March 20, 2012


What is this unlawful and forcible act, and at what address was it occurring or had occurred?

The statute doesn't say that an unlawful or forcible act had to have actually occurred. It just says that if the person using lethal force had a "reasonable belief" that this was the case, then they're good to go. That is what makes this such a horrible, horrible law.
posted by yoink at 12:12 PM on March 20, 2012


Does the fact that in 203 comments we are still entertaining the idea that there might be some justification for the lack of transparency on the part of the PD

Really? Who is making that case?
posted by yoink at 12:13 PM on March 20, 2012


> > (b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.

> What is this unlawful and forcible act, and at what address was it occurring or had occurred?

Unfortunately, that isn't how the law works. You can "have reason to believe" things that just aren't true.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:14 PM on March 20, 2012


It just says that if the person using lethal force had a "reasonable belief" that this was the case

It doesn't even require a "reasonable belief" just a "reason to believe." That's a much lower standard. And if it's met, according to the law, the reasonableness of the act of "defense" has to be presumed (that's from the first paragraph of the act).
posted by saulgoodman at 12:14 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't even require a "reasonable belief" just a "reason to believe."

Again, what's his "reason to believe" that a crime had been committed? He told the 911 dispatcher that the kid looked like he was "up to no good." That's not enough.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:17 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


We do, also, have an eyewitness who claims to have seen Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman and beating him. That will, I think, go a pretty long way to convince a jury that Zimmerman had reason to fear grievous bodily injury and was being prevented from escaping, if nothing else.

This is exactly why you don't go out of your way to start confrontations when you have a gun -- because if you do then you might "have to" finish it, and then the whole thing will be 100% your own fucking fault.

If you can't handle getting sat on and beat up rather than using deadly force to "defend" yourself against someone you deliberately chose to follow around and antagonize, you can't handle concealed carry. Zimmerman couldn't, and his lack of impulse control killed someone. He should be charged with manslaughter at the very least.
posted by vorfeed at 12:19 PM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


Of course, all these ideas are completely irrational.

I have been trying to think of a nice way of commenting that this case is a sad emblem of the fact that a large percentage of Americans seem to be in the grip of a psychosis. The lady in the red sweatsuit from the McCain rally in 2008 is less and less the exception.
posted by chrismc at 12:19 PM on March 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


The law seems self-contradictory. If Martin had a reason to believe that Zimmerman was going to kill him (because Zimmerman was following him and, say, displayed a weapon), then Martin would be justified in beating the shit out of Zimmerman. If Zimmerman had died from that, then Martin could invoke Stand Your Ground. But in this case, Martin died, so Zimmerman is invoking it. Is it possible that the law allows both of them to invoke Stand Your Ground, depending just on which one happened to die in the conflict?
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:21 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


BobbyVan--well, in his initial call to 9-11, he mentioned there had been a lot of break-ins in the neighborhood and that the kid appeared to be fleeing (probably because he was hurrying home). So his "reason" was the kid looked like he was fleeing a crime scene and there were ongoing crime problems in the neighborhood. Those aren't reasonable reasons, to me, but they are reasons.

If a jury finds "he looked suspicious" and "there had been a lot of break ins nearby recently" together were reasons to believe this kid was involved in a home burglary, this insane law seems to say that, all by itself, that forces the law to presume Zimmerman "held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another." The law stipulates that we have to view his belief as reasonable, from a legal perspective, if he had any reason, if you read the first paragraph and section b) together.

I have been trying to think of a nice way of commenting that this case is a sad emblem of the fact that a large percentage of Americans seem to be in the grip of a psychosis.

No kidding. I actually literally believe this is a little true.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:22 PM on March 20, 2012


I like most Americans I meet, but as a group, and especially our w/r/t our authorities, we're neanderthals.
posted by maxwelton at 12:22 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman, didn't he say that he thought the guy was scoping out houses, not fleeing a heist?
posted by floam at 12:23 PM on March 20, 2012


Is it possible that the law allows both of them to invoke Stand Your Ground, depending just on which one happened to die in the conflict?

I can't see why not. Zimmerman's case will not be that he had a justified belief that Martin was seeking to kill him, after all. I can't see any reason in the law why Martin couldn't have shot Zimmerman and claimed that it was an SYG self-defense case. And Zimmerman's 911 calls would only help Martin's case.

That is, in fact, one of the pernicious effects of these laws that many have pointed out--that they encourage you to make sure that you shoot to kill, because you are in a much stronger position if you're the only one left around to describe what happened. But, to be fair, that's true of the older self-defense statutes too.
posted by yoink at 12:25 PM on March 20, 2012


The law seems self-contradictory. If Martin had a reason to believe that Zimmerman was going to kill him (because Zimmerman was following him and, say, displayed a weapon), then Martin would be justified in beating the shit out of Zimmerman. If Zimmerman had died from that, then Martin could invoke Stand Your Ground. But in this case, Martin died, so Zimmerman is invoking it. Is it possible that the law allows both of them to invoke Stand Your Ground, depending just on which one happened to die in the conflict?

Pick up the gun.

Not exactly the way it happened, but close enough. I guess they named a lot of that Southern trash after old Stonewall.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 12:26 PM on March 20, 2012


GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining, and he’s just walking around, looking about.

911 DISPATCHER: OK. And this guy, is he white, black or Hispanic?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.

911 DISPATCHER: Did you see what he was wearing?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yeah, a dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes.

911 DISPATCHER: Are you following him?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Yeah.

911 DISPATCHER: OK, we don’t need you to do that."
posted by mikelieman at 12:26 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chrismc, I like this idea of a psychosis. It's kind of like the necrophilia in "A Rose for Emily." You know you're a dinosaur, the last of your kind, but you can still pretend in a red swimsuit right before you call someone else a trashy whore. :)
posted by isawthat at 12:28 PM on March 20, 2012


(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something.
posted by mikelieman at 12:29 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is it possible that the law allows both of them to invoke Stand Your Ground, depending just on which one happened to die in the conflict?

I can't see why not...


That's what make SYG an especially stupid law. It excuses acts of aggression in response to acts of aggression, so you can get a feedback loop that just escalates until somebody gets killed. A more sensible law would create a negative feedback loop - aggression is met with a duty to retreat - which would tend to calm things down.

But yeah, if you break down my door and come at me with an chain saw then I'm going to shoot your ass and worry about the law afterward.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:38 PM on March 20, 2012


Er ... dudes. Could we, like, stop relentlessly referring to Martin by his first name here? Because it's not like there's any history behind that or anything ...

I have no idea what your point is here or what the hell your trying to equate or compare. People are using his first name because it was his name and he was a child. To read anything else into that is strange.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:40 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Not to offend well-meAning people who get involved, but Neighborhood Watch groups must attract more than their fair share of these types of nuts.

Oh, they do indeed.

I'm involved on the periphery of a couple of groups (neighborhood watch, citizen preparedness) both because I like to be informed about what's going on around me and with volunteering for the city.
Most of the people are fine people, concerned about their environment, genuinely helpful.

But there are a lot of frustrated wanna-be's out there, people who take the whole thing just a little too seriously, the kind who want to plan "drills" for 2am, or conduct weekly training sessions.
While none of them reach the level of Zimmerman, there are certainly a couple who I'm not entirely comfortable with.
posted by madajb at 12:44 PM on March 20, 2012


saulgoodman, didn't he say that he thought the guy was scoping out houses, not fleeing a heist?

Not sure. Seems like he didn't really say, but he

People are using his first name because it was his name and he was a child. To read anything else into that is strange.

It's not his first name. His first name was "Trayvon."
posted by saulgoodman at 12:44 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


(...but he... trailed off into space. sorry. gotta go.)
posted by saulgoodman at 12:45 PM on March 20, 2012


If it's not a crime, it certainly is a message: Black boys, you enjoy no protection. You can be stopped for nothing, killed for nothing and then be blamed for your demise.

By your very nature, you're a threat. The ordinary rules of engagement don't apply. Don't be surprised if you're shot when your hands are empty. Or if in carrying a bag of Skittles, you're deemed more dangerous than a zealot with a gun.

posted by Danila at 12:45 PM on March 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


Reading through some of these comments makes me glad that this case is being reviewed by lawyers trained in Florida law. I'm not even a FL criminal lawyer, just a lawyer, and the number of blatant misstatements and misunderstandings in the comments above re self-defense, the legal system, presentable evidence and the like are too numerous to begin to address.

Separately, my intuition is that the police didn't give a shit b/c the victim was black not because of the race or relationship they had with Zimmerman. Cops just don't really care about dead black ppl that much until someone makes a big deal of it.
posted by gagglezoomer at 12:45 PM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


They made no attempt to figure out who his was and his Parents had to pick him out as a John Doe. They simply do not give a fuck.
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on March 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


George Bush America doesn't care about black people.
posted by fullerine at 12:50 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've reviewed the audio a bunch of times, right now at my desk. No way in hell he was saying "cops." There's no plosive sound there. It sounds like he's saying "coon" to me. The audio isn't clear, but it's plenty clear enough to separate clearly "coon" from "cops" to my ears, IMO.

I've been listening to it over and over too. I keep hearing "fucking punks" which makes sense in context, but it's really hard to make out. I don't think it's nearly clear enough to declare he said "fucking coons" with the certainty that some people in this thread are displaying.
posted by TungstenChef at 12:50 PM on March 20, 2012


saulgoodman:
BobbyVan--well, in his initial call to 9-11, he mentioned there had been a lot of break-ins in the neighborhood and that the kid appeared to be fleeing (probably because he was hurrying home). So his "reason" was the kid looked like he was fleeing a crime scene and there were ongoing crime problems in the neighborhood. Those aren't reasonable reasons, to me, but they are reasons.

If a jury finds "he looked suspicious" and "there had been a lot of break ins nearby recently" together were reasons to believe this kid was involved in a home burglary, this insane law seems to say that, all by itself, that forces the law to presume Zimmerman "held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another." The law stipulates that we have to view his belief as reasonable, from a legal perspective, if he had any reason, if you read the first paragraph and section b) together.
Sorry, I’m not buying that. The determination that Zimmerman either “knew” or “had reason to believe” that a forcible crime was occurring or had occurred would need to be decided by a jury. You don't simply utter some magic words ("you look to me like you just engaged in a forcible unlawful act") and receive permission to confront someone with force that could escalate to deadly force.
posted by BobbyVan at 12:52 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


And if Zimmerman "knew" or "had reason to believe" that a forcible crime was occurring or had occurred, you think he would have mentioned it on his archived 911 call...
posted by mikelieman at 12:54 PM on March 20, 2012


I don't think it's nearly clear enough to declare he said "fucking coons" with the certainty that some people in this thread are displaying.

I don't know man, I listened to it and it sounded like that. It will be interesting to see what Zimmerman says he said.
posted by cashman at 12:54 PM on March 20, 2012


"C'mon FBI Forensic Audiologists!"
posted by mikelieman at 12:57 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh I agree. A jury has to decide it. But the foreman will have to instruct the jurors that, if they believe Zimmerman himself thought he had reason to believe that Trayvon Martin was involved in a burglary, then they have to presume his belief that Martin represented an imminent threat to his or someone else's life meets the reasonableness standard of the self-defensive defense. That's just what this dumb old law says.

you think he would have mentioned it on his archived 911 call...

Oh--he didn't, then? I was under a mistaken impression that he had, for some reason. Maybe an earlier comment in this thread imagined it? Anyway, can't listen to the tapes right now myself. But why wouldn't his attorney's play that defense. And what's to stop anyone else from playing it under this weird law?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:57 PM on March 20, 2012


He mentions the break-ins and then says Martin looks like he is “on drugs,” “up to no good” and “looking at houses.” This would seem to be leading up to an assessment that he's casing targets for a future break-in; the third, especially, would be totally inconsistent with “he just robbed a house and is escaping.”
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:00 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


"C'mon FBI Forensic Audiologists!"

Heh, agreed. I wish I still had access to music production gear, a little cleanup and some studio headphones would make that bit a lot more intelligible. My point is that it's premature to conclude he said "coons" and not something else like "cops" or "punks" which both make sense in context.
posted by TungstenChef at 1:06 PM on March 20, 2012


I've posted the beginning of the call earlier in the thread, but here's the important thing:
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining, and he’s just walking around, looking about.
posted by mikelieman at 1:07 PM on March 20, 2012


But the foreman will have to instruct the jurors that, if they believe Zimmerman himself thought he had reason to believe that Trayvon Martin was involved in a burglary...

That doesn't sound right to me. Zimmerman can think whatever he wants, but if he's going to have any legal cover, his "knowledge" or "reason" for believing that Trayvon Martin was engaged in criminal behavior would need to have some reasonable basis. Appearing to be "up to no good" seems quite insufficient.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:08 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, delmoi, you're quibbling over utterly irrelevant details of wording because you refuse to actually engage with the issue. The statute uses both the terms "aggressor" and "provoke" so it is equally correct to talk about whether Zimmerman is ruled as the "aggressor" or as having "provoked" the incident--they are, for our purposes, interchangeable terms.-- yoink
No, you clearly didn't even read the statute or know what it says, and are amending your comments in light of actually having read it. You literally claimed a couple comments up that 776.041 was totally unrelated to 776.013.

I was pointing out that your apparently interpretation of the law was based on not having read it. You clearly had no idea about 041, and when it was pointed out, you claimed it was a totally unrelated section.
What you're ducking is the problem that this is not simply something that will be stipulated to by the defense. In order for this section of the statute to come into play the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman was the aggressor -- yoink
Hmm, someone said unthread it was an affirmative defense, that is, his defense team would need to prove this, the prosecution doesn't need to prove it was false, just that he shot Martin.

Oh wait, seems like you figured that out:
You're right that the burden of proof is on Zimmerman in an affirmative defense, but the standard of that proof is not "beyond a reasonable doubt." And we see by the actual history of SYG -- yoink
Again, the main point of these comments has been to point out that you hadn't read the law and didn't understand it. In fact, you keep changing what you think as you learn the facts. Maybe it would have been better to have learned the facts before claiming Zimmerman didn't do anything illegal under Florida law and there was no way he could be convicted.
Not really--Delmoi is pretending that the law is so utterly clear cut that Zimmerman won't even be able to make a case. That is not true.
Please, the guy who shot George Tiller "made the case" that he was acting in defense of innocent life by shooting an abortion doctor. The prosecution didn't need to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that it wasn't true, and the guy was convicted.
It doesn't even require a "reasonable belief" just a "reason to believe." That's a much lower standard. And if it's met, according to the law, the reasonableness of the act of "defense" has to be presumed (that's from the first paragraph of the act).
Again, only if Zimmerman did not 'provoke' an attack. Otherwise, those laws do not apply, and he must have tried to get away. It also requires he be in fear of 'bodily injury'

This thread is ridiculous. Some people are acting as though the law is so terrible that what Zimmerman did must clearly fall under it. But that's not actually clear at all, instead there is a possibility for a long shot defense, which he, not the prosecution will have to prove. That's not the same thing as being innocent.

So in trying to indict this law, you are acting as if you were Zimmerman's lawyers, and claiming that idea what he did is illegal is obviously incorrect, and anyone who thinks so is an idiot.

Yoink in particular was wrong about the law several times and had to change his position, as it was pointed out. He was wrong about the law not applying if you provoke an attack, he was wrong about section 041 directly applying to 013, and he was wrong about the affirmative defense. Yet, he's continuing to argue on despite being incorrect several times already.

Despite being wrong several times, he persists in claiming Zimmerman is obviously innocent under Florida law. He seems to have an inability to admit he was wrong.
posted by delmoi at 1:09 PM on March 20, 2012


Heh, agreed. I wish I still had access to music production gear, a little cleanup and some studio headphones would make that bit a lot more intelligible. My point is that it's premature to conclude he said "coons" and not something else like "cops" or "punks" which both make sense in context

I have a pair of 7506s right here, but I don't think a stream over the web is going to be worth the effort.

I'd need lossless flacs, 24 bit, 48khz will do...

That said, I'm more interested in the 911 calls from the other callers, especially the ones with the indistinct arguing and gunshot(s).

I don't want to hear a 17 year old kid pleading for his life before a coup-de-grace, but it would certainly clear up any questions of Zimmerman's intent.
posted by mikelieman at 1:10 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


More to the point, if you kill strangers it means you can still love your family. If you kill your family it means you can't love anyone.
posted by grog at 1:15 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Again, only if Zimmerman did not 'provoke' an attack. Otherwise, those laws do not apply, and he must have tried to get away. It also requires he be in fear of 'bodily injury'

Or if Zimmerman though Trayvon Martin was on his way home from committing a crime. As described in subsection 1.A in the law. The law doesn't require an aggressive act--just an illegal act. The law says that if you have a reason to belief the person you killed "in self-defense" had recently committed a crime, that in itself makes the belief that there's a serious risk of harm to you or someone else a reasonable one under the law, whether there was any aggression on the part of the person you killed or not. You're a programmer, delmoi. It's not that hard to parse the logic here. Maybe it just seems more obvious to me because I also used to edit municipal legal code...
posted by saulgoodman at 1:15 PM on March 20, 2012


Oops, sorry wrong thread.
posted by grog at 1:16 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: I have no idea what your point is here or what the hell your trying to equate or compare. People are using his first name because it was his name and he was a child. To read anything else into that is strange.
Trayvon Martin was 17, not 6. Old enough to have a serious girlfriend, and almost old enough to be shipped off to Afghanistan, for instance. It's not like he was a child in that sense.
delmoi: Well, that's also how his family, and everyone else is referring to him. People usually refer to children by their first name.
Sure. But that's what families do. I'm sure all our friends and family members refer to us by our first names. But that's not how we'd expect to be addressed in a news article reporting our violent death, or by random strangers on the internet. Unless any of us actually knew Trayvon Martin, calling him "Trayvon" is what seems strange. At least to me.

In other cases of child murder or kidnapping that I'm familiar with, victims get first and second names. James Bulger was, well, "James Bulger," never just James. Elizabeth Smart was/is "Elizabeth Smart," never just "Elizabeth." Why should it be different for Trayvon Martin? Seriously.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:18 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anyway, to clarify a bit, there are two independent sections in 013 that people are talking about

Section 3, which is the obvious "stand your ground" section, it says that you do not have a responsibility to flee, if someone threatens you. That doesn't apply, however, if you provoke an attack. Now, section one, which is about home invastion:
(1) A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another if:
(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
(b) The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.



Look, both (a) and (b) have to be true. B is about reasonable knowlege. But look at (a). It clearly states:

The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered

In other words, it's only legal IF TAYVON MARTIN HAD ACTUALLY BEEN IN THE PROCESS OF BREAKING AND ENTERING.

I can't belive how poorly people are able to comprehend the English language here.

BOTH OF THOSE THINGS MUST BE TRUE. both

Not just one of those things, both of those things. having reason to believe and an actual break-in by the person killed

seriously people LEARN TO READ

----

Seriously section 3 is the "Stand Your Ground" that is so controversial, not section one

The whole debate about whether or not section one might apply has been based on a false premise, namely, that people completely failed to notice the word 'and'.
posted by delmoi at 1:20 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]



Or if Zimmerman though Trayvon Martin was on his way home from committing a crime. As described in subsection 1.A in the law. The law doesn't require an aggressive act--just an illegal act.
No, no no no. Read what section one A says:
(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
unless Travon Martin was in the process of committing a crime, section one does not apply, period

Please, learn to read.
posted by delmoi at 1:22 PM on March 20, 2012


Just now a legal analyst on CNN mentioned that if Zimmerman is determined to be a "first aggressor" and/or "pursuer," the "Stand Your Ground" statute will not apply.
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on March 20, 2012


When asked about the case, Brave Sir Romney ran away.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:26 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


In fact, Travon martin would have had to have been in the process of breaking into someone's home or vehicle, not just any crime.

Sorry for the formatting problems, but this is just completely ridiculous.

Section three is the Stand Your Ground stuff. And it could apply in theory, if Zimmerman didn't "provoke" Martin.

This stuff about section one is completely irrelevant nonsense that would only apply if Travon had actually been in the processes of breaking into a house. Not if Zimmerman thought that, but he had to have thought that and it had to have been factually true

both paragraph A and paragraph B must be true in order for "A person " to be "presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm"
posted by delmoi at 1:26 PM on March 20, 2012


Does anyone else think that there's a very good chance Zimmerman will try to kill himself before an arrest and/or court date?

No.
posted by ericb at 1:29 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


We do, also, have an eyewitness who claims to have seen Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman and beating him.

Actually, we don't. We have reports that there was a person in a white shirt on top.
posted by rhizome at 1:33 PM on March 20, 2012


Maybe it just seems more obvious to me because I also used to edit municipal legal code...
Are you the guy who accidentally made prostitution in Rhode Island legal, so long as it was indoors?
posted by delmoi at 1:36 PM on March 20, 2012


Wow, this just keeps getting better and better:

Schoolmate of Trayvon Martin claims teachers were instructed not to talk about his death, no grief counselors at school (Youtube clip from radio talk show, approx 1:58 long)
posted by lord_wolf at 1:42 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


It may be important to keep in mind Zimmerman's account in this discussion of whether or not he used reasonable force. He says he got out of the car to check the street he was on and was blindly attacked by Trayvon. According to his father, Zimmerman was never following Trayvon. That's his story. It matches this account that was posted all over comment sections about a week ago, by a family friend:
As he got off the phone the kid attacked him and started beating the crap out of him and slamming his head against the walkway. All the while saying “you’re gunna die tonight motherfxxxxx” George was screaming help when someone in a nearby apartment called 911 again. George’s shirt came up while the kid was beating him, revealing the gun that he is licensed to carry. The kid went for the gun and they struggled for it, George ended up shooting the kid and saving his own life. All these people on yahoo saying that he should be in jail when they don’t even know what happened. George is the brother-in-law of one of our good family friends, works with my parents, and is one of the nicest most gentle people you will ever meet.
This is probably the story he told the police. This is contradicted by the 911 call in which he admits to following Trayvon, and the numerous witnesses who say a man chased another male behind houses, in a drainage ditch, and ultimately shot him in Mary Cutcher's backyard.

The police had all these tapes. They had all of that. All the witnesses were there. But in my opinion, Trayvon was never seen as a victim by them. Before arriving on the scene, he was a potential burglar/other unsavory perpetrator. After arriving and hearing Zimmerman's story of being attacked out of nowhere, Trayvon became the assailant who could have killed Zimmerman. They didn't even bother to check Zimmerman for a record or intoxication. They corrected the witness who said she heard the boy screaming because they had already accepted Zimmerman's story. Doubt there were ballistics of any kind (e.g. was Trayvon on the ground when he was shot? standing over Zimmerman? face to face? who knows?). They didn't even check Trayvon's cell phone to see who he could be. They didn't even know for sure that the dead boy was unknown to the shooter. Bagged and tagged him as a John Doe, and Zimmerman goes home to bed.

I've thought of many alternate scenarios and the only way this doesn't go badly is if racism didn't exist or if Trayvon wasn't black. Of course I wish Trayvon were still alive, yet if cops had arrived before Zimmerman shot him, I wonder if Trayvon would have been arrested for assault. After all, the Chief of Police, Bill Lee, is sure Trayvon could have done some things differently (Lee also believes he is being persecuted because he is white so we have reverse racism being the real problem).
posted by Danila at 1:43 PM on March 20, 2012 [16 favorites]


Interesting -- 16 states have 'Stand Your Ground' statutes.
posted by ericb at 1:43 PM on March 20, 2012


This is going to sound ridiculous, but I think mobile phones are partly to blame. Wait. Wait. Hear me out! According to Martin's girlfriend, she was on the phone with him for a long time, right up to the minute when Zimmerman approached. At that point there was a scuffle, and Martin's earpiece fell out and she couldn't hear anything. So I think Martin had one of those earpieces with the microphone built in. He had been happily walking down the street, absorbed in his conversation with his girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Zimmerman sees Martin, an unfamiliar face in the neighborhood, strolling down the street, not really focused on where he's going, and apparently talking to himself. Zimmerman gets in his car to follow, calls 911, and reports This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining, and he’s just walking around, looking about.

I think Zimmerman talked himself into a state of fear that made him pull his gun when he didn't have to, and the fact that he couldn't see who Martin was talking to contributed to that.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:47 PM on March 20, 2012


We should ban cellphones because maybe crazy people will shoot you if they see you on one and think you're doing drugs and robbing houses and stuff.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:48 PM on March 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Zimmerman had many black friends and didn't come off as particularly racist to others that new him. I think the racist thing fits a convenient narrative, but the facts don't necessarily support that as a reason for why he shot Martin.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:59 AM on March 20


I'd like to point out that your assertion that Zimmerman had black friends (and mentored black children! (fucking lmao)) is based on a letter Zimmerman's father wrote to the Orlando Sentinel. In that same letter, he also wrote "At no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin," which we know based on the 911 calls to be one hundred percent bullshit.

It's interesting that of all the facts in the case, you focus on a letter written by the murderer's father after the fact and find that to be sufficient evidence to state that Zimmerman was not racist and probably had a really good reason for murdering an unarmed kid who was walking home from the store.
posted by a_girl_irl at 1:50 PM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


Brings to mind ...
Baltimore Raven Arrested as Cellphone Mistaken for Gun.

Deputies Mistook Cell Phone For Gun in Deadly Shooting.
posted by ericb at 1:52 PM on March 20, 2012


Again, sorry for the dramatic formatting. I was just really suprised how different the law actually was from the way it was being portrayed in the thread.

It's funny, I actually didn't pay much attention to section one the first time I read through the law. I just looked at section 3, which is the "Stand your Ground" part. Section one didn't seem relevant until people started saying that as long as the guy thought there had been a break-in he was justified in shooting him. I'd actually typed the first paragraph before going to re-read the section.

But then I actually read it and section one is actually completely different from what people were talking about. Two things have to be true, the shooter has to believe that the person shot has committing a breaking and The person shot actually had to be in the process of a break-in.

And there had already been a bunch of back and forth based on a completely false premise. It was... well, it was pretty bewildering. I mean, I can understand people might miss the word 'and' at the end of a paragraph. But yeah, it was weird.
This is going to sound ridiculous, but I think mobile phones are partly to blame.
Really, headsets would be the problem in that case, not the phones themselves.

posted by delmoi at 1:53 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


With regards to the "he was getting beat up so he feared for his life" thing: Zimmerman was easily twice Martin's size, was armed, and was almost entirely uninjured after the confrontation. Those three facts do not suggest that he had or could have had "a reasonable belief" that he was preventing "death or great bodily harm".

The Stand Your Ground law requires such a belief, as almost all self-defense laws do: "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." [emphasis mine]

As delmoi points out, I think it'll be very hard to argue that Zimmerman shot Martin in order to "prevent the commission of a forcible felony" as laid out in section 1 of the law, and that leaves a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. His story about getting jumped from behind is just that -- a story, and a highly convenient one. The evidence may back it up... or, to say the least, it may not. If it doesn't then he's got no reasonable fear of bodily harm, and thus no defense under this law.
posted by vorfeed at 1:54 PM on March 20, 2012


It's interesting that of all the facts in the case, you focus on a letter written by the murderer's father after the fact and find that to be sufficient evidence to state that Zimmerman was not racist and probably had a really good reason for murdering an unarmed kid who was walking home from the store.
I'd consider it highly unlikely that Zimmerman isn't lying about a lot of things - if the newspaper report is correct and Zimmerman told the police that he got out to check the street name and was jumped. In that case, it's highly likely that everything that Zimmerman said about the incident is a lie, especially if it is true that Trayvon Martin's girlfriend heard Zimmerman approach Martin.

It also seems relevant where Martin's body was found relative to the vehicle Zimmerman was in.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 1:55 PM on March 20, 2012


Yeah, this whole thing stinks. Zimmerman is lying through his teeth. A Grand Jury isn't going to ignore that he told the police one thing and the 911 calls show something completely different happened.

Dude's going to prison.
posted by darkstar at 1:58 PM on March 20, 2012


We should ban cellphones because maybe crazy people will shoot you if they see you on one and think you're doing drugs and robbing houses and stuff.

BUT NOT GUNS CUZ WE NEED THEM
posted by shakespeherian at 1:58 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


or had unlawfully and forcibly entered

I disagree that he would have had to be caught in the act. The law includes the past tense (which you didn't bold) for a reason. And if Zimmerman had claimed to believe the victim was fleeing a house he'd robbed, I don't see how anything in section 2) contradicts his defense. Nothing Zimmerman did prior to the actual altercation was strictly speaking unlawful.

Make no mistake, this law was meant to apply in situations like this, and it has been invoked in other similar cases. The only reason this is making any waves is because the victim was so obviously innocent and this is so obviously unjust.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:58 PM on March 20, 2012


BUT NOT GUNS CUZ WE NEED THEM

Founding fathers said nothing about right to bear smartphones.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:00 PM on March 20, 2012


But then I actually read it and section one is actually completely different from what people were talking about. Two things have to be true, the shooter has to believe that the person shot has committing a breaking and The person shot actually had to be in the process of a break-in.

You're wrong about this delmoi. The law only requires the belief that the person is believed to have been involved in a break in. Again, quoting the same law with a different emphasis:
The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:00 PM on March 20, 2012


Wait, is there an actual recording of the call between Trayvon and his girlfriend? Or just her summary of the conversation? As far as I can tell there is only the latter.
posted by elizardbits at 2:02 PM on March 20, 2012


> Wait, is there an actual recording of the call between Trayvon and his girlfriend? Or just her summary of the conversation? As far as I can tell there is only the latter.

Pretty sure it's only the latter unless either Trayvon or his girlfriend used call recording software since in general wireless carriers don't keep an actual audio record. But I'm also pretty sure that her testimony would be admissible evidence even without a recording, especially if in fact his call logs match that time.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:04 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unbelievable that this can happen, and a police department can ignore it.

You just don't get Florida. It's the way it is down here. Except for the major cities, all the small towns would attempt to handle this the same way.
posted by notreally at 2:05 PM on March 20, 2012


I disagree that he would have had to be caught in the act. The law includes the past tense (which you didn't bold) for a reason. And if Zimmerman had claimed to believe the victim was fleeing a house he'd robbed, I don't see how anything in section 2) contradicts his defense. Nothing Zimmerman did prior to the actual altercation was strictly speaking unlawful.

The reasonable belief of the person using deadly force is nowhere in section(1)(a). Zimmerman doesn't get the benefit of the section(1) presumption unless he uses using force against the person who had in fact committed or was in the process of committing an unlawful forcible entry. If that person is not Martin, then I don't see how section(1) applies.

Section(1) works like this:

if("robbery" && "reasonable belief") {
$presumption = reasonableness;
}

You keep arguing about the reasonableness of the belief, saulgoodman, but you're forgetting about that little "and" at the end of section(1)(a).
posted by gauche at 2:05 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


... either that or you're assuming that Travon Martin was in fact a burglar in the neighborhood.
posted by gauche at 2:06 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Forgive me if I missed a reference to it somewhere upthread, but Zimmerman claims he got out of his car to check which street he was on, yes? This, in an area where he's a neighbourhood watch "captain" and has presumably lived for a good while?

That strikes me as utter rubbish. I mean, I've lived in my current address for just over a year, and I'm pretty sure if you plonked me down on a random street within a 500m radius of my house, I could tell you what the name of the street was, and I've never been involved in any neighbourhood watch schemes. And according to this report Trayvon Martin was shot inside the gated community. It seems to be just another detail that calls Zimmerman's account into question.
posted by Len at 2:06 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman, this law certainly could not be what you are describing, which would completely excuse murder based on the word of the guy who pulled the trigger about what he might have been thinking at the time. I think you are possibly interpreting it incorrectly.


The law includes the past tens...for a reason


yes, to include the possibility that you didn't see him enter but he is currently inside or exiting from a place that he would have had to have entered illegally. It does not mean you can shoot a guy walking down the street based on your assumption that he was coming from a B&E you didn't see.
posted by Hoopo at 2:08 PM on March 20, 2012


There's a thread about this at thefiringline.com, a forum for firearms enthusiasts. Mostly sane discussion over there, though one person claims to have been told a version of the story by one of the officers involved.

I don't see how that officer could have had spoken from direct knowledge unless police were on the scene when the shooting occurred, and nobody on that forum called him out on that. This suggests to me that the police took Zimmerman's story on face value and left it at that.
posted by maniabug at 2:08 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I first heard about this murder 10 days or so ago, it awakened many negative feelings toward America and its racism. But as witness after witness has come forward, those feelings have been tempered by appreciation for the many people who could have turned away in their privilege and didn't. I don't think people should be given cookies for doing the bare minimum decent thing, but in this case I think members of the gated community deserve a lot of credit for not just turning away. I think it would have been easy not to become part of the media circus and just assume the cops knew more than they did. But a boy was killed and they were witness to it. His life meant something to them even if it meant little to the cops.

Mary Cutcher, full video of her account here. She is certain that Zimmerman chased Trayvon into her yard, Trayvon was begging for his life and they were no longer fighting. She has been called a liar by the chief of police.

The longtime teacher who said she heard Trayvon screaming for help but was corrected by the police and told she actually heard Zimmerman. She could have let that stand but didn't. She knew what she heard.

There's also Austin Mclendon who was walking dog and heard Trayvon screaming and who now wonders if he could have saved Trayvon or if he could have been killed because he is black. Austin is 13.
posted by Danila at 2:08 PM on March 20, 2012 [47 favorites]


But, isn't the law already being used in some very dodgy defences outside of this case? I'm getting confused over the links, but I know read about some other cases where it was being invoked in situations where people weren't breaking into homes, etc. that suggests the legal interpretation is that it does give someone fairly broad leeway.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:09 PM on March 20, 2012


But, isn't the law already being used in some very dodgy defences outside of this case?

I have no idea, but if it is we would still have to see if it was used successfully in those defenses and what the details of those cases actually were.
posted by Hoopo at 2:14 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That strikes me as utter rubbish.

Agree. 100%.
posted by ericb at 2:17 PM on March 20, 2012


The parents/family need a new lawyer. I appreciate that the guy is there, and maybe he won't do a horrible job, but watching him talk about the account from the girl on the phone with Trayvon - he doesn't seem to be as polished as you'd like - he sounded like me up there.

Where is Zimmerman right now? I do wish the 911 operators would have been a bit more vocal about Zimmerman not getting involved, but I guess they are trained to be somewhat neutral.

I saw some clip on NPR yesterday saying there would be a gathering/protest or something, and they urged people to attend - is that today, or did that already happen?
posted by cashman at 2:19 PM on March 20, 2012


I believe the protest is Thursday.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:20 PM on March 20, 2012


> Forgive me if I missed a reference to it somewhere upthread, but Zimmerman claims he got out of his car to check which street he was on, yes?

I wouldn't doubt that he may be lying through his teeth there, but he also might've been telling the truth. If it was dark and he was hopped up on adrenaline he might not have had proper bearings (in more ways than one). Still, if he's the watch "captain" he should know every detail of his beat.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:26 PM on March 20, 2012


As delmoi points out, I think it'll be very hard to argue that Zimmerman shot Martin in order to "prevent the commission of a forcible felony" as laid out in section 1 of the law, and that leaves a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm.
Right, because in order for that to be true, Martin would have actually had to have been in the process of actually breaking and entering into a residence or occupied vehicle. Since we know that's not true, it's actually impossible, not just 'hard'.
I disagree that he would have had to be caught in the act.
Seriously, you're continuing this? There was no act. He didn't break into any houses.

The past tense applies to whether or not Travon Martin in fact had broken into a house. You understand he didn't do that right? You understand that has nothing to do with what was going through zimmerman's mind?

Here, let me help you read since you are apparently having trouble with it here:
(a) The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
Section 1(a) has nothing to do with what the shooter, or anyone else 'thinks' is going on, it only concerns that which is factually true.

And, as you know, neither one of those two things is true. Travon Martin hadn't broken into any homes, and therefore, section 1(a) does not apply. Since section 1(a) does not apply, section 1, in it's entirety does not apply since (a) and (a) must both be true.

Your prior comments were all premised on the idea that Zimmerman only had to think that he was engaged in a breakin. But that's not the case at all. Travon had to have actually have broken in to a residence or occupied vehicle. Simply thinking that he had does not make section one apply, at all.
, I don't see how anything in section 2) contradicts his defense.
Well obviously not. Section 2 deals with section 1. Since section 1 clearly, obviously does not apply, section 2 is irrelevant. (for those who havn't read it, section two says things like you can't shoot people they are cops, or the legal guardians of children, or whatever even if section 1 does apply - which it does not in this case, because, duh, Travon Martin had not broken into any homes)

Section three is the relevant section here, not section 1 or 2.

And it isn't section 2, but 776.041 which clearly states that none of 776.013 applies, neither section one nor section three applies if you provoke an attack. In which case, you must run away or make it clear that you don't want to fight.

Seriously dude, aren't you a little embarrassed here? I would think that you would read much more carefully before posting again, but apparently not. I don't understand why you are having trouble with the clear meaning of this text. Travon Martin didn't break into any homes, therefore, section one of the law does not, at all, apply to this case.
Nothing Zimmerman did prior to the actual altercation was strictly speaking unlawful.
Nor was anything Travon Martin did illegal either, which is why section one does not apply (in fact, it wouldn't be apply even if he were doing anything other then breaking into occupied vehicles or residences)

All that matters is whether Zimmerman provoked the attack.
Make no mistake, this law was meant to apply in situations like this, and it has been invoked in other similar cases. The only reason this is making any waves is because the victim was so obviously innocent and this is so obviously unjust.
OMG dude "This Law", the stand your ground thing, is only section 3. Nothing else.
You're wrong about this delmoi. The law only requires the belief that the person is believed to have been involved in a break in. Again, quoting the same law with a different emphasis:

The person who uses defensive force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry or unlawful and forcible act was occurring or had occurred.
Holy shit dude? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? THAT IS NOT WHAT THE LAW SAYS AT ALL. YOU NEED TO READ MORE CAREFULLY. IT REQUIRES TRAVON TO HAVE ACTUALLY BEEN INVOLVED IN A BREAKIN IN FACT, NOT JUST FOR ZIMMERMAN TO THINK SO

Let me quote section 1(a) one more time since you are still having trouble processing it:
(a)The person against whom the defensive force was used was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered , a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle; and
Nowhere does it say anything about what anyone thinks is true. what matters is what is true. Because Travon Martin did not break into any homes, section 1(a)the law does not apply, period. Because 1(a) does not apply, section one does not apply, because both (a) and (b) must be true

(plus "I disagree that he would have had to be caught in the act. "? As if he actually was a criminal? -- seriously, wtf)?

Seriously. Admit you were wrong.
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


Probably not unrelated is the tendency for police to under-report crimes in order to keep the appearance of decreasing crime rates. So the self-defense laws allow police to call murders self-defense, avoid a prosecution and arrest, and keep their homicide rates low. Everyone* wins, right?


* - where 'everyone' = 'the police'
posted by kaibutsu at 2:29 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And, forgive me if I missed this, but has the location of the neighborhood been disclosed in any of the articles? It would be good to get a feel for the area via Google Maps.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:29 PM on March 20, 2012


Burhanistan: I wouldn't doubt that he may be lying through his teeth there, but he also might've been telling the truth. If it was dark and he was hopped up on adrenaline he might not have had proper bearings (in more ways than one). Still, if he's the watch "captain" he should know every detail of his beat.

Agreed on that last point, definitely. Still, when you take a look at the map it's hard to imagine how he could be so confused; I mean, this is round about the same time he's calling 911, and it's not like he had a whole lot of streets – all of which would have to look exactly the same, if we want to explain his confusion – to choose from.
posted by Len at 2:37 PM on March 20, 2012


The parents/family need a new lawyer. I appreciate that the guy is there, and maybe he won't do a horrible job, but watching him talk about the account from the girl on the phone with Trayvon - he doesn't seem to be as polished as you'd like - he sounded like me up there.

Agreed. I watched that live press conference and was not very impressed and I'm just some dummy. He flubbed a couple arguments that reporters had to call him on, and there were some really good legal and common sense arguments even made by MeFites he could have used instead that would have been way more effective. Maybe the guy isn't that great of a public speaker but that's sort of a part of what lawyering is, and it didn't seem like he had the refined scholarly chops either. It kind of seemed like the attorney is an ambulance chaser or something.
posted by floam at 2:38 PM on March 20, 2012


This is the worst thing in the world. I look at my (white) toddler and try to imagine what it would be like to be raising a black boy. And to know that the world he lives in is a place that routinely hassles black guys for driving while black or standing around in front of your house while black, and sometimes murders you for walking home from the store while black. To mother a child up into young manhood and then have to be like "Welp, don't get shot by a fucking crazy racist I guess!" everytime he leaves the house.

It's unbearable. It gives me existential don't-want-to-live-on-this-planet-anymore despair. I cannot even distantly grasp of the sadness Trayvon's mom and dad must be feeling right now. I catch little glimpses of it and then I burst into tears while driving.


I feel like this when I think about my coworker. She's 49. She has two bachelors degrees, is almost finished with a Masters in Criminal Justice and then she's going to go to law school.

Not to practice law, but because she has an 8 year old son. She feels she has to be prepared to protect him when he's a young black man in this fucked up society.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:39 PM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


.
posted by bananafish at 2:39 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman, this law certainly could not be what you are describing, which would completely excuse murder based on the word of the guy who pulled the trigger about what he might have been thinking at the time. I think you are possibly interpreting it incorrectly.
Which is what section 3 kind of does, actually. That's the "Stand your Ground" law that everyone is criticizing and may have played a roll in this shooting. Section 1 is probably older, I don't know. But it only applies to shooting actual criminals.

But in this case, section 3 probably won't apply if Zimmerman 'provoked' the attack. Pulling a gun on someone certainly might qualify.
... either that or you're assuming that Travon Martin was in fact a burglar in the neighborhood.

Yeah... which would explain the "Caught in the act" line.
posted by delmoi at 2:40 PM on March 20, 2012


> Still, when you take a look at the map it's hard to imagine how he could be so confused

Oh, yeah. I also just found that on Google Maps and it's really not much territory at all. Looks like Zimmerman was just hot to be a vigilante that night and crafted an internal narrative as such.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:41 PM on March 20, 2012


Yeah This video is very relevant to the discussion with Zimmerman's self appointed lawyer, Yoink, who was claiming that Martin had been fighting with Zimmerman, and thus Zimmerman might have been justified in shooting him.

The fight actually happened several houses down, but the shooting actually happened in this woman's back yard. All she heard was Martin begging for his life or crying. And saw Zimmerman standing over his body.

So clearly Zimmerman did not retreat as he needed to if he provoked a fight, and clearly the 'self defense' argument does not even apply as Zimmerman was able to fight him off and thus was no longer at risk of death or serious injury.
posted by delmoi at 2:46 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If that is indeed the community that Zimmerman lived in, and if it's true that they don't really have a 'Neighborhood Watch', their last HOA tweet is rather unfortunate.
posted by muddgirl at 2:47 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The normal poverty/law interaction isn't at play what with the family able to afford a gated community.


All gated communities are not equal. Especially in Florida.

I live in a gated community with the average home valuing $700,00 in today's depressed real estate market.

Four miles from me is a gated community of townhouses with a median value of $60,000.

Rentals there are in the neighborhood of $600/month.
posted by notreally at 2:47 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


> All gated communities are not equal. Especially in Florida.

Yeah, gated "communities" are becoming the norm in new developments across the price spectrum. It doesn't cost that much to install gates while you're laying down new streets and sewer lines, and the maintenance costs are passed on to HOAs (and resident fees). It's mainly just a selling point rather than anything particularly useful for security, since access codes get shared, people can just follow residents in, and gates can frequently break down requiring them to remain open until repairs can be made.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:54 PM on March 20, 2012


If that is indeed the community that Zimmerman lived in, and if it's true that they don't really have a 'Neighborhood Watch', their last HOA tweet is rather unfortunate.

Wow...
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 2:57 PM on March 20, 2012


This place might want to invest in some security cameras.
posted by delmoi at 2:59 PM on March 20, 2012


Again, only if Zimmerman did not 'provoke' an attack. Otherwise, those laws do not apply, and he must have tried to get away. It also requires he be in fear of 'bodily injury'

He was bodily injured, this is documented in the police reports. Therefore he has a solid gold defense on that point. There is no evidence that once the fighting started he had the opportunity to get away.

This thread is ridiculous. Some people are acting as though the law is so terrible that what Zimmerman did must clearly fall under it. But that's not actually clear at all, instead there is a possibility for a long shot defense, which he, not the prosecution will have to prove. That's not the same thing as being innocent.

The law is that terrible and it is perfectly clear. So far this "long shot" defense has allowed Zimmerman and many other shooter to avoid arrest and escape immediate charges. The DOJ spokeperson state that the SYG law will make prosecution very difficult.
When he goes to trial he will first get a hearing from a judge (before the case goes to a jury). The judge will need to find that Zimmerman had no reasonable claim of self defense. To reach this decision the judge will need to weigh evidence. Zimmerman will be able to use the officers determination on the scene, the injuries he sustained and his police statement as evidence. Prosecutors have little to refute this. Once te judge rules in Zimmermans favor he is not only free from criminal prosecution he is protected from a wrongful death lawsuit.
posted by humanfont at 3:27 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


He was bodily injured, this is documented in the police reports. Therefore he has a solid gold defense on that point. There is no evidence that once the fighting started he had the opportunity to get away.

That whole "fearing for my life" defense would play a whole lot better if you're admitted to the ER or something...

"I fell down and scraped myself" isn't really what the statutes are talking about.
posted by mikelieman at 3:29 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And it's looking like a police report from the Sanford PD isn't worth the paper it's printed on. I can't wait until the FBI are done with that place. All them Bad Cops are shitting themselves wondering "Who is going to be the first person to flip for the feds?"
posted by mikelieman at 3:31 PM on March 20, 2012


The Germans have a phrase for it:

Bullen scheißen selbst spielt das Gefangenendilemma ..
posted by mikelieman at 3:33 PM on March 20, 2012


"Great bodily harm" != "bodily injured". This is a legal term of art with an actual meaning, and injuries which do not require medical attention generally do not count.
posted by vorfeed at 3:44 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Zimmerman will be able to use the officers determination on the scene, the injuries he sustained and his police statement as evidence. Prosecutors have little to refute this.

What about all of the witnesses who have come forward and the 911 call?
posted by Hoopo at 3:47 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


When he goes to trial he will first get a hearing from a judge (before the case goes to a jury). The judge will need to find that Zimmerman had no reasonable claim of self defense. To reach this decision the judge will need to weigh evidence. Zimmerman will be able to use the officers determination on the scene, the injuries he sustained and his police statement as evidence. Prosecutors have little to refute this. Once te judge rules in Zimmermans favor he is not only free from criminal prosecution he is protected from a wrongful death lawsuit.

Really? That's the standard? I always thought that at a preliminary hearing, the state needed to establish "probable cause." The state does not need to prove to the judge that Zimmerman "had no reasonable claim of self defense" (if that was the standard, why go through the trouble of a trial?). Only if the state is completely lacking in evidence/testimony to support its allegations would the judge summarily dismiss the case at a prelim hearing.
posted by BobbyVan at 3:48 PM on March 20, 2012


Something some of you may find somewhat interesting: Some political perspective on this, it appears that the extreme(ly vocal) right wing is painting this as a matter out of "balance and focus" by setting up a few border and drug crime related Straw Men.

Editorializing: This, as opposed to actually digging for facts as commentators above have done (and if someone could memail me with the code to link to other comments that would be awesome) and finding out that the Sanford PD has been acting in a rather suspicious manner after the shooting. Its as if they don't want to come to grips with the police acting in a dodgy manner.

Also, an obligatory "This is a Liberal-manufactured controversy to inflame race relations prior to the election" despite being more than 7 months out from that (and especially so given the public's two week national news memory).

Perhaps I should make that a part time reporting blog. Slackermagee: Looking into the abyss so you don't have to!
posted by Slackermagee at 3:49 PM on March 20, 2012


Zimmerman said he had stepped out of his truck to check the name of the street he was on when Trayvon attacked him from behind as he walked back to his truck, police said. He said he feared for his life and fired the semiautomatic handgun he was licensed to carry because he feared for his life.

This is funny. Guy has been patrolling this gated community for more than a year yet has to step out of his truck to check the name of the street he is on.
Must be one hell of an expansive gated community.

If I had any doubts about this guy's guilt, that statement about checking the street name sealed his guilt as at least a liar and most likely as a cold blooded killer.
posted by notreally at 3:52 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel like I should listen to the tapes — Trayvon deserves at least that, to be heard even if it's too late to save his life.

But I just can't, I just can't.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:04 PM on March 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


So, to sum up:

1. Zimmerman claims he stepped out of his truck to determine what street he was on. But the guy had been part of a neighborhood watch patrol for a year in a community that only had four named streets. Smells like horseshit.

2. Zimmerman claimed he was attacked as he returned to his car and shot only in self defense. But witnesses placed the shooting in the drainage ditch in back of one of the homes, far from Zimmerman's car.

3. Zimmerman's father claimed to police that Zimmerman was not following Trayvon. 911 tapes clearly show that to be false, and that Zimmerman had been following Trayvon prior to the shooting.

4. Zimmerman claims that Trayvon suddenly and without any provocation whatsoever attacked him from behind, shouting crazed epithets. We are seriously supposed to simply swallow this behavior from a guy with no violent record, returning to a relative's house after buying candy at a local shop? Again, smells like horseshit.

5. Trayvon's girlfriend says it was clear that Trayvon was accosted by Zimmerman. Witnesses heard Trayvon calling for help just prior to the shooting.

Jesus Christ, what the hell? Zimmerman should be arrested and put on trial toute de fucking suite. And the police that neglected to arrest him to begin with should be fired.
posted by darkstar at 4:06 PM on March 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


I feel like I should listen to the tapes — Trayvon deserves at least that, to be heard even if it's too late to save his life.

Really, the only tape that merits hearing is the first one where the actual shot is audible. The others are just redundant and panic-stricken.

Anyway, assuming any criminal charges get filed, I'm thinking that the most that will happen to Zimmerman is a light sentence for manslaughter. Terrible.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:09 PM on March 20, 2012


NPR ran a bit of background on Stand Your Ground this afternoon on All Things Considered.
posted by jquinby at 4:09 PM on March 20, 2012


I feel like I should listen to the tapes — Trayvon deserves at least that, to be heard even if it's too late to save his life.

But I just can't, I just can't.


It's not really in "not safe for life" territory. It's hard enough to hear what is going on that it's not all that traumatizing. You can't really make out any words from the person screaming, and there's is a bang sound.
posted by floam at 4:18 PM on March 20, 2012


But I just can't, I just can't.

Right there with you. I'm sorry, but I just can't.
posted by KathrynT at 4:20 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The law is that terrible and it is perfectly clear. So far this "long shot" defense has allowed Zimmerman and many other shooter to avoid arrest and escape immediate charges. The DOJ spokeperson state that the SYG law will make prosecution very difficult.
Humanfront, read carefully. there are two different laws being discussed here:

Section 3 is the bad, stand your ground law. Section 1 allows you to shoot people who are in fact robbing houses, or just robbed a house. saulgoodman was confusing section 1 with section 3.

Section three says if you feel threatened, you can shoot someone, and you don't have to run away. Section 1 deals with people who are actually breaking and entering or just finished doing so.

Saulgoodman apparently got that confused and thought that if you feel someone might be involved in a breakin, you can shoot them. but that is clearly, unequivocally, not what section one says

In other words: Section 3 deals with what you think, section 1 deals with what is actually happening. Section 3 deals with physical threats to life and health, section one deals with breaking and entering.

Think about it this way:
          Section 1                 |        Section 3                    | 
Breaking and entering               | physical safety                     | Type of risk
person shot in fact breaking law    | belief by shooter victim is threat  | epistemology


The confusion is transferring the epistemology from section three to section one. Section one deals with what the person shot was actually doing, not what the shooter thought he was doing.

And he was going on and on about how Zimmerman wasn't breaking the law because of section one, which doesn't apply at all because Martin wasn't breaking into anything.
He was bodily injured, this is documented in the police reports.
It has to be risk of "great" bodily harm.

---

Okay, so what about section three? Well, it's not clear. Another chapter, 776.041 says that section three (nor section one, as far as I can tell - but that's irrelevant here) does not apply if you provoke an attack. In other words, if you start a fight, you can't shoot someone unless you try to run away, or, if you can't run away make It clear that you don't want to fight.

But now we have this witness come forward, clearly saying that the shooting (which happened in her back yard) happened after the fight, so he had already gotten away, but was chasing. Chasing someone isn't 'standing your ground'.

Really, the argument that he was defending himself when he shot Tayvon is contradicted by direct witness statements.
When he goes to trial he will first get a hearing from a judge (before the case goes to a jury). The judge will need to find that Zimmerman had no reasonable claim of self defense.
Yeah, no. It's an affirmative defense. Zimmerman can bring it up but he has to prove it, the defense does not need to prove it false.
posted by delmoi at 4:29 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


What strikes me most about this story is how much it reminds me of the Kitty Genovese story from way back when. We have a young boy screaming for his life in a ditch behind a home. Several people heard no one had the guts to go out and look and/or confront the assailant . Its striking the degree to which the conversations concerning these two events are as different as the events themselves are similar.
posted by Rubbstone at 4:33 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]



The feds in the 1960s pressed some cases of "depriving X of their civil rights by killing them" and if this guy gets away on the state level, here's hoping they bring some real charges. I'm not interested in seeing Zimmerman have to pay money.

The other thing is how differently we are treated by cops, based on race. A few months ago, just as I was turning through an intersection, a cop with flashing lights pulled up behind me and I thought he was pursuing someone else (he was after me because he spotted a missing inspection sticker).

But before I realized he was after me, I started to pull my car off the road to get out of his way and in so doing, ran over a heavy piece of wire, so as I continued to pull off, the wire get caught in the wheel and made a horrible horrible racket, enough that people were turning around and pointing at my car. Without thinking, the second I stopped the car, and, even knowing the cop was after me, I jumped out of the car and ran around to the front end to see what the noise was. The cop jumped out of the cruiser, yelling "ma'am, what are you doing? what are you doing?" I'm a grayhaired white woman with no speed, rather obviously quite incapable of getting away if I'd wanted to but after I yanked the wire loose from my car (having reached down and out of his sight) it finally dawned on me that I had just done a truly foolish thing and were I a young black man instead, could well have wound up dead.
posted by etaoin at 4:33 PM on March 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


What strikes me most about this story is how much it reminds me of the Kitty Genovese story from way back when. We have a young boy screaming for his life in a ditch behind a home. Several people heard no one had the guts to go out and look and/or confront the assailant .
What could they have done?
posted by delmoi at 4:36 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


What could they have done?

...Been witnesses?
posted by Gator at 4:40 PM on March 20, 2012


After listening to the 911 tapes, I agree with the dispatcher that there isn't much of anything they could have done. It's nice to imagine that everyone would band together and wrestle the gun away from Zimmerman, but that's an idle fantasy in hindsight.

All these people knew, at the time, was that something horrible and violent was going on, that a young man was screaming and frightened, that a gun was involved -- and then, that there was silence. For all they knew, anyone who showed up next would also be shot.

These are ordinary people, they're not trained to handle this. You can hear the panic in the emergency calls, the fear and the sorrow, especially the last two, with the boy who'd gone to retrieve his dog and the schoolteacher breaking down because she felt she should have done something.

The 911 tapes aren't nothing, either. I'm sure they can be cleaned up, get some voice analysis going on them (assuming SPO hasn't used them to line the birdcage yet, so to speak) -- there's quite a lot of evidence in those tapes. So, indirectly, the callers did some good by calling, and by allowing what they heard to be recorded, where it may help bring the truth of the matter to light.

... everything else I have to say on the subject is about 90% swearing and outrage, so I'll skip that, but my heart fucking breaks for Martin's family and friends, for the witnesses, and for all the children just like Martin who have to fear for their safety when walking in their own neighborhoods. God. We have to be better than this.
posted by cmyk at 4:44 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


What could they have done?

I'm not talking about them really. I'm talking about you. I'm talking about the lack of predictable outrage. I'm talking about the reality that no one seems to be outraged and usually some self righteous prick would come out of the woodwork to shame these people. No one even mentioned it. If the scenario of her death engenders certain emotions in you and his doesn't I'm suggesting it might be worth thinking about why. Shit, we probably spent 2 days on Kitty Genovese when I was in high school. Talking about the reactions the outrage the impression of the city it gave. I could say I wonder whether the people who were incensed about that story would feel the same about this one but that wouldn't be the truth.
posted by Rubbstone at 5:03 PM on March 20, 2012


This is probably the most upsetting thing I have seen on the news in years and years and years. It's visceral.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:16 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I found two tapes hard to listen to and I am quite sensitive. But I think they're important to listen to if you can.

The third recording here, where you hear really desperate screaming and then the gunshot. It sounds to me like a murder caught on tape. I don't have any prurient interest in seeing or hearing someone get killed (I had nightmares for years after seeing some pictures of violently killed people), but this one really puts the lie to the claims of self-defense (assuming you believe it is Trayvon Martin and a number of witnesses have said so along with his father). It's an awful thing to happen to someone.

The other recording to hear is the last one, the elderly former teacher. At some point she starts crying which is what makes it difficult for me. First of all, the 911 operator is the epitome of calm and compassion and I believe he eventually sets up victim's services for her because of the trauma. I think this recording really put a human face on the scared people in this community who were listening to this killing take place so close to their homes.
posted by Danila at 5:22 PM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


What strikes me most about this story is how much it reminds me of the Kitty Genovese story from way back when

The circumstances are different, though. It was dark out, and Zimmerman pulled the trigger moments after the screaming. There was much more time for people to have reacted in the Genovese case.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:23 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not talking about them really. I'm talking about you. I'm talking about the lack of predictable outrage. I'm talking about the reality that no one seems to be outraged and usually some self righteous prick would come out of the woodwork to shame these people. No one even mentioned it.
Maybe because, unlike the Kitty Genovese thing they don't think "I would have done something" but rather "Gunshots fired in fight between unknown people? I'm getting the fuck out of there"

Plus, watch the video I liked above of the woman in who's back yard the kid was shot. She heard pleading, then a gunshot. By the time she even saw what had happened, the kid was dead. And even then, she had no idea what was going on.

Before that, you had witnesses see a fight, but they don't know it's life threatening. Simply seeing a fight, or whatever doesn't necessarily indicate that anyone's life is at stake. They called the police, what else are they supposed to do?
posted by delmoi at 5:23 PM on March 20, 2012


I'm talking about the reality that no one seems to be outraged

What?
posted by floam at 5:23 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]



This is probably the most upsetting thing I have seen on the news in years and years and years. It's visceral.


For me it's the rank inhumanity of it.

You go to store for a snack, on the way home some -- let's be kind -- crazy piece of shit -- decides that YOU are "The Most Dangerous Game"... It's the kind of shit lame comic book plots are made of...

Makes you consider how thin the veneer we call civilization really is.
posted by mikelieman at 5:26 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


FOX News commenters weigh in.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:28 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm talking about the reality that no one seems to be outraged at his neighbors
posted by Rubbstone at 5:30 PM on March 20, 2012


Not going to click on that one. The only way this could be worse is by a thick slathering of racism and "blame-the-victim" gravy poured on top by Fox News commenters.
posted by darkstar at 5:31 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rubbstone, his neighbors are coming out to talk to the media and are helping to get profile on this. You're kind of wrongheaded here.

Also, don't click on that Fox commenter link. Yikes.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:33 PM on March 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


FOX News commenters weigh in.

I think I would rather peel off my skin with a lemon zester while having my ears and eyes gouged out my shards of broken glass than click on that link o'assholes.
posted by elizardbits at 5:35 PM on March 20, 2012 [10 favorites]


The third recording here, where you hear really desperate screaming and then the gunshot.

I knew that would be upsetting to listen to, but it was even more upsetting than I thought. Fuck me.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:35 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even reading the URL on that Fox commentary link makes my stomach hurt. Revolting.

And yes, Rubbstone, jump up a bit to the link where one of the neighbors/witnesses tells her story to the local news. She said she'd tried to provide the police with more information and was ignored, so she took it to the media instead. Right on her.
posted by cmyk at 5:36 PM on March 20, 2012


I find it interesting that one of the 911 callers says she definitely saw a guy in a white shirt on top of the other guy, but Zimmerman said the guy he was following was wearing a dark hoodie in his 911 call. Zimmerman's story does not add up at all. None of the details make any sense. I actually think this guy is fucked, but it never should have gotten to this point. If the police department had given a shit about this poor kid Zimmerman would have been locked up by now.
posted by Hoopo at 5:38 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If what the media is reporting is accurate, Zimmerman most likely had a deep desire to be in law enforcement, and probably was very friendly and looked up to the officers he came into contact with, so they may have not seen him for the unstable person he was. They are not psychologists, after all.

As someone who represents police in use of force cases, we have zero knowledge of what this person was thinking. We know he was armed, that he was a civilian and not a sworn officer, and that he does not deny shooting an unarmed man and killing him.

We don't know if he was even "unstable." We only know he killed an unarmed man. We also don't know how anyone but one police officer thought about him.

I do know one thing--the Florida law in question is the stupidest thing I've ever seen.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:41 PM on March 20, 2012


hang on; that FOX News link went to little green footballs? And they're critical of the right wing base now? What the hell happened? Am I totally out to lunch or did LGF not used to be a hardcore neo-con Bush, Cheney, & Fox love fest?
posted by Hoopo at 5:42 PM on March 20, 2012


hang on; that FOX News link went to little green footballs? And they're critical of the right wing base now? What the hell happened? Am I totally out to lunch or did LGF not used to be a hardcore neo-con Bush, Cheney, & Fox love fest?


That changed six years ago.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:47 PM on March 20, 2012


hang on; that FOX News link went to little green footballs? And they're critical of the right wing base now?

Yeah, they switched over a few years ago.
posted by delmoi at 5:47 PM on March 20, 2012


Ironmouth: we don't have perfect knowledge of what he was thinking, but we have the 911 call. That's not nothing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:50 PM on March 20, 2012


hang on; that FOX News link went to little green footballs? And they're critical of the right wing base now?

The teabaggers moved so far right and became so hateful that they lost Charles Johnson. Think about that for a second.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:53 PM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


Happened before the whole teaparty thing. It was actually sort of inspired by people like Pamela Geller associating with European right wingers who where basically Nazis and somewhat anti-Semitic.
posted by delmoi at 5:58 PM on March 20, 2012


Delmoi, I agree section 3 is the relevant horrible law here. I also agree with you that Zimmerman can't provoke the attack.
I think you are overestimating the difficulty of showing that Zimmerman provoked the attack and that Zimmerman had no reasonable basis that he would incur great bodily harm. It is my understanding that if someone hits you, you can reasonbly assume that you might receive great bodily harm. It only takes one blow to the head to kill you.
posted by humanfont at 6:08 PM on March 20, 2012


Just a rhetorical question, but at what point in time does advocating physical violence as retribution become a rational option?

Granted, more violence is never the answer. But at some point in time we get to claim self defense against the crazies, right?
posted by Blue_Villain at 6:09 PM on March 20, 2012


How is it possible that the police had Martin's cellphone in their possession for almost a month and never bothered to check the call log and see that Martin was actually talking on the phone at the moment he was murdered? It would have taken them 10 seconds to check. They never interviewed the girlfriend on the phone and still have not to this day -- a real time witness to the events. At the least this is incompetence or indifference. Possibly deliberate malfeasance.
posted by JackFlash at 6:21 PM on March 20, 2012


He was bodily injured, this is documented in the police reports.

I would bet fifty dollars that those wounds were self-inflicted.
posted by winna at 6:44 PM on March 20, 2012


It is my understanding that if someone hits you, you can reasonably assume that you might receive great bodily harm. It only takes one blow to the head to kill you.

Well two things: 1) That's actually not true, response needs to be proportionate, but 2) The 'fight' had already ended and Trayvon was running away and also begging for his life when he was shot, according to the witnesses. So how can you be at risk of great bodily harm if you are chasing someone?

The picture of Zimmerman is a mugshot, and you can't see any injuries. But I just realized those could be old mugshots. I remember reading an article in the paper, once about some kind of altercation in a high-crime area, the article showed two mugshots. Turns out, one of the mugshots was actually the victim, and had just happened to have a mugshot on file - so the paper went with that.
posted by delmoi at 6:47 PM on March 20, 2012


I wonder, by having a gun on you, is every fight potentially lethal, because the guy can take it from you and use it?
posted by floam at 6:50 PM on March 20, 2012


I just realized those could be old mugshots.

They are.
posted by Hoopo at 6:54 PM on March 20, 2012


One thing I keep thinking is how foolish that Sandord PD would be to think a guy who idolized cops was a good guy. One curious fact about serial killers: They almost always have a small-to-medium size obsession with cops, to the point where one thing the FBI does in searches is look for people who applied to local P.D.s but were turned down.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:52 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Please don't repost appalling things here for the shock value - everyone knows where to go to find them. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 7:57 PM on March 20, 2012


Meanwhile, crimes in Phoenix against kids are chronically underinvestigated by police.

In addition to city police, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio also has chronically underinvestigated sex crimes against minors.

How is it that right-wingers in Florida or Arizona can have a reputation and value for being "tough on crime" and "protectors of society" yet simultaneously be so incredibly incompetent/negligent at it? The police in Sanford should hang their heads in shame.
posted by darkstar at 8:00 PM on March 20, 2012


Well two things: 1) That's actually not true, response needs to be proportionate, but 2) The 'fight' had already ended and Trayvon was running away and also begging for his life when he was shot, according to the witnesses. So how can you be at risk of great bodily harm if you are chasing someone?

According to CNN's legal analyst and others the Florida Law does not require a proportionate response. The lack of a proportionate response in this law is cited by may commentators as an example of how horrible it is.
The purported witness accounts are inconsistent wrt your second point, if it can be proven it strengthens the prosecutors case, but nothing is clear cut.
posted by humanfont at 8:02 PM on March 20, 2012


Does anyone else think that there's a very good chance Zimmerman will try to kill himself before an arrest and/or court date?

Not unless he begins to suspect himself of being on drugs or up to no good.
posted by mazola at 8:15 PM on March 20, 2012 [8 favorites]


One thing that had me hopeful when I first encountered this case was whoever was heading the investigation - I think it was Lee - he expressed a good amount of empathy. For maybe the last decade or so, I pay close attention in these cases where law enforcement officials talk about cases. And to me it seemed like those folks would always identify with the victim, saying things like "I can only imagine how I would feel if that were my child" or "I have a child that age, so I really wanted to find the person who did this". But when the victim was black, you wouldn't hear that.

So when I saw Lee (I think) saying "I can only imagine what I would feel like if that were my son - I have a son that age, and it is just heartbreaking" or something like that. I thought that was a good sign. Since then, a lot of damning information has come out, and it looks like my resulting hope that by some stroke of luck the Sanford Police would arrest the guy or do something that would be looked on favorably was unwarranted.

What annoys me right now, is that I bet at this point Zimmerman is somewhere getting his story together, trying to figure out how to get out of this, to get away with murdering this kid.
posted by cashman at 8:19 PM on March 20, 2012


And, of course, making a movie or book deal.
posted by SPrintF at 8:45 PM on March 20, 2012


Probably, he's simply hiding from the media and scrambling for lawyer money.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:47 PM on March 20, 2012


IAmTrayvonMartin. Submit pictures to iamtrayvonm@gmail.com or tweet to @iam_trayvon
We’re trying to get as many photos of people “looking suspicious,” in protest of George Zimmerman still running free, as possible. Just grab your hoodie, scribble your sign and send it over.
posted by cashman at 9:07 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some thoughts, as a criminal attorney:

Based on what I've heard in the media, it's a travesty that Zimmerman hasn't been charged.

But let me offer this very important caveat: The media rarely states the facts (or the law) 100% accurately in legal cases.

I've been involved in a significant number of high-profile cases covered by the media. As an attorney in the case, it's my job to know the facts inside and out, both good and bad facts. And I am always amazed at how poorly the media reports on these cases. They frequently get important facts wrong, they completely fail to recognize significant factual or legal principles, and they generally present a totally superficial viewpoint on things.

So I would simply suggest that folks might want to hold off on declaring guilt or innocence until the case has been fully investigated. And if you're really interested, I would suggest that you do your own investigation of the law and the evidence, to the extent possible, instead of relying on media reports. It's easier to do this with federal cases (where much of the evidence is filed online), but it's not impossible with state cases.

And to the extent you do pay attention to media reports, you should do so with a jaundiced eye. Because I can practically guarantee you that you are getting an inaccurate and/or incomplete picture of things by doing so.

TL;DR: Don't believe everything you read in the newspaper or see on TV.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:22 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


TL;DR: Don't believe everything you read in the newspaper or see on TV.

I believe that George Zimmerman still isn't being held for trial. And that's more than I need to know.
posted by mikelieman at 9:42 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I didn't have time to look at the whole thread, but has anyone pointed out that the only reason Zimmerman is in trouble is because he didn't have a badge?

This is an issue that goes beyond race and to the heart of what law enforcement means to our society. Right now there are hundreds of thousands of people in uniform armed to the teeth, willing and able to shoot someone acting suspiciously. If they decide to pull the trigger in the wrong situation, they nearly always get away with it, even if they've made an obvious mistake. Law enforcement has become judge, jury, and executioner. If Zimmerman were a cop, not only would this be a non-story — officers shoot young black people to death on a regular basis — but it's entirely likely that he'd be hailed as a hero once they came up with the story to assassinate the young man's character after they assassinated his person.

Our police forces need to be demilitarized. They need to step out of their cruisers and walk the beat and get to know the neighborhoods again. We need to stop wasting money on the unwinnable drug war, and instead retrain police as civil servants who are given the task of improving neighborhood security through traditional police work. Training them all like they're in a war makes every single citizen a casualty, and sometimes a fatality. Zimmerman wasn't being a bad cop. He was just being a cop without a badge.

The only justice that's possible now is a full Federal investigation that sends people to jail for covering this up, if that indeed happened, and firing anyone who wasn't involved but should have been. I keep hoping that the often forgotten ideals of accountability and duty would compel the police to do the right thing, but from the looks of it so far, the Sanford PD has no honor, no duty, and amazingly, no shame.
posted by deanklear at 10:09 PM on March 20, 2012 [17 favorites]


Has anyone here seen any explanation of how this guy can claim he had a "right to be" in Ms. Cutcher's backyard? My state has pretty much the same SYG law as FL (just on a brief comparison) but my CCW training was very explicit about when you lose the right to be somewhere.

Although the permit stuff for FL doesn't seem to have private property on the "you can't take your gun there" list. I'm hoping I'm just missing it.
posted by timfinnie at 10:10 PM on March 20, 2012


"I believe that George Zimmerman still isn't being held for trial. And that's more than I need to know."

People made the same sort of pre-judgments about the Duke Lacrosse players, who were the victims of a "tragic rush to accuse" in the words of the North Carolina Attorney General.

The case is going to a grand jury, and the federal government is investigating. Let the process play itself out. It takes time to sort out the truth. There is no reason why the public has to decide today whether the man is guilty, based on nothing more than media reports.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:24 PM on March 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


There is no reason why the public has to decide today whether the man is guilty, based on nothing more than media reports.

The decision of guilt is left to the courts. We all just want to make sure Zimmerman gets there, and doesn't flee -- or if the rumors of him being a drug snitch are true -- just disappear into an alligator in the swamp one night...
posted by mikelieman at 10:31 PM on March 20, 2012


"The decision of guilt is left to the courts. We all just want to make sure Zimmerman gets there, and doesn't flee -- or if the rumors of him being a drug snitch are true -- just disappear into an alligator in the swamp one night..."

Well before it gets to the courts, the state has to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to charge him. That's part of the process. When you charge people who don't deserve to be charged, you can destroy their lives, so it's a decision that should not be taken lightly.

As I said above, based on what I've seen in the media, there's sufficient evidence to charge him. But people shouldn't assume that they have all the facts necessary to make that call based on what they've read or heard in the media.

Should we put pressure on the state to fully and fairly investigate it? Absolutely. Just don't think that you know everything about the case, or that what you know is 100% true. Because I can practically guarantee that is not the case.
posted by mikeand1 at 10:40 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The case is going to a grand jury, and the federal government is investigating. Let the process play itself out.

That is only happening because so many people were outraged and pushed for awareness and action on this issue, starting with Trayvon's parents. They weren't satisfied with the sketchy information they were given by the police department and they simply wanted information so they sued for the release of the 911 tapes. They wanted an arrest and for this issue of self-defense to be decided in court where it should be. It shouldn't be that their child just lies dead in the street and nobody goes on trial, but the only reason there is any kind of trial is because they made it an issue and so many people picked up the banner. And even so their child's killer still walks free and armed.

The FBI and Dept of Justice are only involved because the media pushed and the public pushed and the witnesses pushed the issue. There was no real "investigating" going on.

based on nothing more than media reports.


I'm not sure exactly what you mean by media reports. If anything I've seen the traditional media at its best, such as the Miami Herald which has done wonderful reporting. Much of what we know was ferreted out by new media, bloggers like Trymaine Lee and Ta-Nehisi Coates. I got to hear the recordings myself, to see the witnesses for myself. Without the media we'd never hear from the witnesses because the police had already obfuscated the witness reports and declared the investigation closed. This isn't some rush to judgment. Instead justice, if there is to be any, has been wrongfully delayed.
posted by Danila at 10:44 PM on March 20, 2012 [28 favorites]


I'm floored at the excuses made for Zimmerman. Who would accept this crap if it was their teenage family member/friend who had been killed?

I mean, I'm floored that people are arguing that racism wasn't a major factor, too, but I'm used to being floored by that. Sigh.
posted by desuetude at 10:58 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"That is only happening because so many people were outraged and pushed for awareness and action on this issue, starting with Trayvon's parents. They weren't satisfied with the sketchy information they were given by the police department and they simply wanted information so they sued for the release of the 911 tapes."


Yes, and I would back them in that outrage, 100%. That doesn't contradict anything I've said so far. Like I already said, I fully support pressuring the state to fully and fairly investigate this case.

"If anything I've seen the traditional media at its best, such as the Miami Herald which has done wonderful reporting. Much of what we know was ferreted out by new media, bloggers like Trymaine Lee and Ta-Nehisi Coates."


Again, what I'm telling you is that I've been an attorney in large number of criminal cases where the case was thoroughly covered by the media. This includes bloggers, and the best-credentialed reporters around (NY Times, WSJ, and others). And I'm telling you that in every case I've been involved with, the media either got key facts or laws wrong, or they simply didn't report on a key fact or law. Sometimes it isn't their fault; the circumstances dictate that they don't have access to all the key evidence, and they aren't trained lawyers.

That's just the way it is. If you choose to disregard my opinion and place 100% faith in whatever media you're reading, then that's your choice. But I think you're making a big mistake.

How many good reporters got the Duke Lacrosse story right from the beginning? And how many bloggers made fools of themselves over it?
posted by mikeand1 at 11:10 PM on March 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The FBI and Dept of Justice are only involved because the media pushed and the public pushed and the witnesses pushed the issue. There was no real "investigating" going on."

Yes, that appears to be so. And it's a good thing, I support the public pushing this investigation.

But that's different from saying, "I know all the evidence, and I understand the law, and I'm absolutely certain this guy deserves to be charged and/or convicted."

All I'm asking for is a bit of humility and caution regarding that last part.
posted by mikeand1 at 11:14 PM on March 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am also stunned by all this. One thing I keep wondering is -- even if the boy WAS a real 'dangerous character' on the prowl, and WAS seen committing a crime ... do we in this country now condone citizen vigilantism? Is hunting down people legal in Florida? The shooting alone should have been enough to arrest Zimmerman and investigate the whole scene. It seems the DOJ should join in now -- and put Sanford PD office under investigtion.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:00 AM on March 21, 2012


Surprised that no one has yet mentioned the recent, similar in some respects Slinger, Wisconsin shooting of an unarmed partygoer who hid from cops investigating a noise complaint on the porch of the house next door. The homeowner fatally shot him. Under Wisconsin's recent Castle Doctrine law, expanded by our very doctrinaire current right-wing legislature, porches are included as a place where you can legally shoot someone without consequence, and as a result the DA may have no charges he can file should he want to. The homeowner is white; the kid he shot is a biracial guy from Milwaukee with a few minor things on his record (basically underage drinking, combined with probably lying to officers about his name), which are being used to bolster public support for the shooter, as this apparently makes him a dangerous criminal deserving of the death penalty.

do we in this country now condone citizen vigilantism?

What country have you been living in lately? The one I live in pretty much applauds vigilantism.
posted by dhartung at 1:21 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still surprised by the fact that Zimmerman is only 28 year old.

People keep referring to him as a "middle aged man" because, I think, that's the stereotype of a crazy racist gunman. But this guy was young... I had assumed he was some 50+ year-old crack-pot myself.
posted by j03 at 1:23 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've read the whole thread, and please pardon a brief PSA: the emergency number in the USA is 9-1-1. Not 9-11 or 9/11, though I understand automatically typing those. When I did my first EMT training, we learned to pronounce it as nine-one-one, because children (and sometimes panicked adults) can't find the 11 button on the phone. Not a joke (though there are plenty), not an urban legend; it happens. Please disconnect 9/11 from 911 in your minds, because someone's life might depend on it. Thanks. /end PSA
posted by swerve at 2:21 AM on March 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


Well, you see, j03, Zimmerman kind of looks like a prematurely aging middle-aged guy, even if he is only twenty-eight.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 3:46 AM on March 21, 2012


If I were Obama's campaign manager, I would try to make Zimmerman this year's Willie Horton / forged draft documents / Swift Boat. Make some of that stink stick to the Republicans.
posted by idiopath at 3:58 AM on March 21, 2012



But that's different from saying, "I know all the evidence, and I understand the law, and I'm absolutely certain this guy deserves to be charged and/or convicted."


My issue here is that you seem be be acting like arresting the guy for murdering a kid, and lettting the court sort it all out is some sort of BAD thing, when it's pretty much the Business-as-Usual process.

Here we have the Sanford PD violating BAU rules. The don't even take a blood sample from the shooter to do a plain old test for booze and drugs.

The FBI is gonna have a field day there. But I don't think there's anything that could come out to make anyone feel that someone who shot and killed an unarmed kid SHOULDN'T be sitting in jail awaiting trial.
posted by mikelieman at 4:27 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shit, "New York's Finest" will arrest you, book you, make you sit in holding for 72 hours, and then turn you loose.

It's not like arresting people isn't part of their job description...
posted by mikelieman at 4:29 AM on March 21, 2012


Seems to me there are some in this thread that are trying to come up with reasonable reasons why Zimmerman might have shot this kid, or thought shooting this kid was justified, and why the police might be reasonable in not immediatelyi charging him with manslaughter (at a minimum).

Most importantly, seems some people are bending over backwards to find a reason other than race for this to have taken place.

Truth is, this is 100% about racism. No one is allowed to say, "It's okay, because he's black" anymore. But we are allowed to say "It's okay, because of these mitigating circumstances" when really that is just masking the racism.

I remember reading about some kind of study (sorry can't remember source) where researchers did a little experiment. They asked people, "Would you go to the movies with a black person?" And overwhelmingly, people said yes, of course they would. Because they're not racist, right? But then they asked the question a little differently. "Would you go watch such-and-such film with a black person?" And suddenly, there were all kinds of problems with such-and-such film -- it didn't sound interesting, it wasn't the kind of thing they would watch, so on and so forth -- and suddenly there was a much smaller group of people willing to go to the movies with a black person. Point is people are totally willing to be racist as long as there is some non-racist thing that they can use as the scapegoat.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:21 AM on March 21, 2012 [13 favorites]


A neighbor of George Zimmerman and fellow neighborhood watch captain in their Florida gated community came to his defense Tuesday, saying Zimmerman shot Miami teenager Trayvon Martin after numerous burglaries at The Retreat at Twin Lakes.
Frank Taaffe pointed out the circumstances that he believes led his 28-year-old neighbor to react the way he did on the night of Feb. 26: Eight burglaries within 15 months, most done by young black males, he said.

"The stage was already set. It was a perfect storm,” Taaffe said.

"George is a congenial, amiable, admirable person,” he said. "He had a passion and a care for this neighborhood to ensure the safety of everybody here. And, furthermore, George is no Rambo."
Taaffe said that Zimmerman was appointed as a watch captain, despite reports that he appointed himself to the post.
He said he believes his neighbor acted in self-defense, which is what Zimmerman told police. He conceded, however, that the boiling tensions may have been affecting Zimmerman.
“I think any time you use a weapon, there are certain anger issues working,” Taaffe said. “I think he had fed-up issues. He was mad as hell and wasn't going to take it anymore.”
posted by futz at 6:55 AM on March 21, 2012


Trayvon Martin: Who is crime-watch volunteer George Zimmerman?
posted by ericb at 6:56 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


A former neighbor in Manassas, Va., says Zimmerman was "a good-enough kid" when he was younger. But, "in 2005 [he] was twice accused of either criminal misconduct or violence."

In one case, Zimmerman allegedly pushed a state alcohol agent who was arresting one of Zimmerman's friends. He "avoided conviction by entering a pretrial-diversion program, something common for first-time offenders." In the other case, he was accused by a woman of domestic violence. Zimmerman "responded by filing a petition of his own the following day." Injunctions have kept the cases' outcomes sealed, the Sentinel says.
posted by futz at 6:58 AM on March 21, 2012


I'm floored at the excuses made for Zimmerman. Who would accept this crap if it was their teenage family member/friend who had been killed?

I mean, I'm floored that people are arguing that racism wasn't a major factor, too, but I'm used to being floored by that. Sigh.
. . .
Seems to me there are some in this thread that are trying to come up with reasonable reasons why Zimmerman might have shot this kid, or thought shooting this kid was justified, and why the police might be reasonable in not immediatelyi charging him with manslaughter (at a minimum).

Most importantly, seems some people are bending over backwards to find a reason other than race for this to have taken place.


No one is making excuses for Zimmerman. No one is claiming that there's no racism here. No one has said this death is acceptable or reasonable. There's plenty of outrage and condemnation here. Save your outrage at the lack of outrage for another thread.

At this point, no one except Zimmerman and possibly the police know exactly what happened and why. There are a whole bunch of conflicting stories. None of the witnesses clearly saw what happened. None of the witnesses know for sure which of them was screaming. None of the witnesses saw who approached whom or who attacked whom first. None of the witnesses saw how or if Zimmerman was injured. None of the witnesses saw if they were wrestling over the gun.

From the information we do have, it was probably not self-defense, but we absolutely do not know that for certain. From the information we have, both the shooting and the non-arrest were probably due to racism. But we absolutely do not know that for certain. There is no doubt that race is the reason for most events like this. There is no doubt that this kid should not have died. But it is not completely impossible that Zimmerman might not be a racist. It is not completely impossible that Martin did attack Zimmerman and grab his gun as Zimmerman apparently claims. It's not likely, but it's not impossible. Discussing the possibilities is not the same as making excuses.
posted by Dojie at 7:05 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Trayvon - Jasiri X. (Uses a minor amount of disturbing footage from other tragic situations, but this is really well done - for the most part just an account). The backing track is off Watch the Throne, I believe.
posted by cashman at 7:06 AM on March 21, 2012


. Discussing the possibilities is not the same as making excuses.

If you're not talking about "Why isn't George Zimmerman Sitting In Jail Awaiting Trial?", then I think you're somewhat missing the point of most everyone's outrage here.
posted by mikelieman at 7:16 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


mikeand1, it sounds like you are urging people to not be swayed by the news report, but to let the DA's office do its jog. As you point out, "How many good reporters got the Duke Lacrosse story right from the beginning? And how many bloggers made fools of themselves over it?"

That seems like a weird case to choose as a cautionary example. To my memory, in that case it was the prosecutor, Nifong, who got it wrong, to the extend that it lead to his disbarment. And, while I hesitate to quote Wikipedia as authoritative, they say "Over the course of the scandal, police reports, media investigations, and defense attorneys' motions and press conferences brought to light several key inconsistencies in Mangum's story."
posted by benito.strauss at 7:17 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


saying Zimmerman shot Miami teenager Trayvon Martin after numerous burglaries at The Retreat at Twin Lakes.

So, they're going to go with the Insanity defense?
posted by mikelieman at 7:20 AM on March 21, 2012


Discussing the possibilities is not the same as making excuses

It really comes across as grasping at straws because the information that exists has led to most people I've seen coming to the same conclusion. At some point, discussing remote possibilities, that everything is somehow misleading and things happened completely differently and Zimmerman's taped and current behavior is somehow masking the REAL truth comes off as conspiracy theory nuttiness.

It is also tiring that this keeps happening in cases related to race. It is interesting - ask people if racism exists, and many say "yes". Try to point out a case of racism, and many will never concede that one exists. That's what seems to be happening when despite the wealth of witnesses and information that is completely one-sided in this case, but you have folks like "whoa hold on hold on, lets wait and see if Zimmerman was perhaps an undercover navy seal and Trayvon had secret ties to a shadowy organization.

Come on, now.
posted by cashman at 7:22 AM on March 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Discussing the possibilities is not the same as making excuses.

It is when it fits the pattern of excusing (police) murders of young Black males, where as in this thread people are determined to find reasons why it's okay that Zimmerman hasn't been arrested or charged yet.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:29 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


A neighbor of George Zimmerman and fellow neighborhood watch captain in their Florida gated community came to his defense Tuesday, saying Zimmerman shot Miami teenager Trayvon Martin after numerous burglaries at The Retreat at Twin Lakes.
Frank Taaffe pointed out the circumstances that he believes led his 28-year-old neighbor to react the way he did on the night of Feb. 26: Eight burglaries within 15 months, most done by young black males, he said.


Oh, eight burglaries within fifteen months!!! Why, that's a burglary every two months! Yeah, that's the kind of crime spree that would make anybody reach for their revolver.

See, I live in a neighborhood which has way more property crime than that. I've had stuff stolen and when I owned a car it was broken into when parked by my house. There have been periods with multiple homicides in a short space - say a few months. In this same neighborhood I lived next door to a house where someone was murdered and my then-housemate saw it. Another housemate was mugged right down the block. We had a rash of "gangs of teenage boys pushing people off their bikes into traffic" a couple of years ago and the kids in question actually tried to push me. (Luckily they were not very determined and traffic was light.) Although there are many things I like about my neighborhood, "low crime rate" is not one of them.

So, frankly, the people walking down the street in my neighborhood are far more likely to be criminals on their way to or from committing a crime if only because there's a lot more crime. But it would never occur to me to assume that they were, because that's ridiculous and stupid and vanishingly unlikely.
posted by Frowner at 7:47 AM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


"George is a congenial, amiable, admirable person, [who killed an unarmed child]” he said. "He had a passion and a care for this neighborhood to ensure the safety of everybody here [except for the child he shot and killed and the innocent bystanders who could have been killed due to needless gunfire]. And, furthermore, George is no Rambo." [Yes, because Rambo was more-or-less a good guy forced to do what he did by evil men]

“I think any time you use a weapon [on an unarmed child], there are certain anger issues working,” Taaffe said. “I think he had fed-up issues. He was mad as hell [about a black child walking down the street] and wasn't going to take it [the presence of a black child visiting his father in his father's neighborhood] anymore.”
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:11 AM on March 21, 2012 [21 favorites]


It is not completely impossible that Martin did attack Zimmerman and grab his gun as Zimmerman apparently claims.

It is not completely impossible that Zimmerman is responsible for all the burglaries and tje neighborhood watch thing was an attempt to frame a young black man for his crimes.

Yet we only discuss remote possibilities when they make it Trayvon's fault or they make it not about race. Why is that?

Here is a hint: it is because of racism.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:26 AM on March 21, 2012 [23 favorites]


That is great a_girl_irl! That is pretty much what my brain did while reading the whole article.
posted by futz at 8:27 AM on March 21, 2012


... either that or you're assuming that Travon Martin was in fact a burglar in the neighborhood.

No, definitely not--I realize now I was misreading the relationship between subsections a and b. (it seems I mentally substituted an || for an &&). Sorry to have belabored a mistaken point so long. That's what I get for trying to parse legal code while coding (and being cocky about it, no less).

Actually, I think you're exactly right--there has to be some proof that Travon actually broke into a house or vehicle for Zimmerman to use this defense, even if he were to claim he though Martin was fleeing a burglary.

So why the hell haven't Sanford police arrested this murdering a-hole yet? There's no legal basis I can see at all for this defense even under the current (hopelessly flawed) law.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:50 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some thoughts, as a criminal attorney ... There is no reason why the public has to decide today whether the man is guilty, based on nothing more than media reports.

Are you Zimmerman's attorney? Because it sounds like you're recommending suspicion of everyone but you, some dude on the internet who wants a guy who shot an unarmed 17 year old to be given the broadest possible benefit of the doubt.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:51 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


"My issue here is that you seem be be acting like arresting the guy for murdering a kid, and lettting the court sort it all out is some sort of BAD thing, when it's pretty much the Business-as-Usual process."


I'm specifically talking about charging someone, not simply arresting them. If someone gets charged when the evidence doesn't support it, then YES, that is a bad thing. I don't know if you've ever been charged with a serious crime, but it can destroy your life.

"But I don't think there's anything that could come out to make anyone feel that someone who shot and killed an unarmed kid SHOULDN'T be sitting in jail awaiting trial."

How can you know that for sure? Who knows what evidence is out there that we don't know about? Why do you assume you know everything that needs to be known to make that decision?
posted by mikeand1 at 8:54 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is not completely impossible that Martin did attack Zimmerman and grab his gun as Zimmerman apparently claims. It's not likely, but it's not impossible. Discussing the possibilities is not the same as making excuses.

It's not completely impossible that Trayvon Martin was a secret Al-Qaeda operative bent on doing triple 9/11 murderkills on the peaceful citizens of Sanford under the guise of a Skittles-buying teen, white George Zimmerman is actually a dashing MI6 agent in a fat suit on personal loan from the Queen. Oh, and the Skittles were high explosives secretly developed by Jews, who did 9/11. NOT IMPOSSIBLE! NOT IMPOSSIBLE! NOT IM
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:57 AM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


We know he killed a kid. There's a dead kid, a weapon, and nobody disputes that. For someone not be charged in a situation like that on the basis of their own story about what happened is ridiculous. Anyone could stalk someone down the street, kill them on the spot, and then say "but he came at me!" Even so, that still doesn't satisfy the requirements of even Florida's crappy law (now that I'm reading it right--sorry again for muddying the waters).

It is not completely impossible that Martin did attack Zimmerman and grab his gun as Zimmerman apparently claims.

That still doesn't satisfy the requirements of the law, as there's no evidence whatsoever Martin had anything to do with any break in.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:59 AM on March 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


but it can destroy your life.

You know what else can destroy your life?

Personally, I think that if someone is killed, even in self-defense, the killer needs to accept that their life is irrevocably changed. Murder shouldn't be a casual thing, even if the cause is just.

If Martin did, truly, threaten Zimmerman's life such that the only recourse Zimmerman had was to shoot him, then fine, I don't think Zimmerman should be in jail. But I also think that it's not a decision that we should allow people to take so carelessly, as we continue to see, over and over, in Stand Your Ground states.
posted by muddgirl at 9:01 AM on March 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yet we only discuss remote possibilities when they make it Trayvon's fault or they make it not about race. Why is that?

I find myself wondering about this, too.

Why are so many people -- including some progressives -- so heavily invested in moving the conversation away from race whenever a Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, or Sean Bell gets killed?

What are they afraid they'll lose by acknowledging that race was the major precipitating factor in the series of events that led to these young men being killed? Not the only, by any means, but frequently the most significant.

I don't understand how so many people, even well-meaning people, can agree that racism exists in the abstract, but then turn around and work so hard to deny its presence and effects in a specific situation.

Whenever I manage to find some humor in the situation as I'm pondering these questions, the reason I come up with is that they're afraid that if they acknowledge racism's role in these tragedies, that will somehow mean Jesse Jackson Sr and Rev. Sharpton automatically become President and VP-For-Life and taxes on white people will be raised to 99.9%.

And please note that I'm saying "people" in the paragraphs, not modifying it with "white" or "non-black". There are plenty of black people who seem just as eager to downplay race in these situations, too.

For example, I am willing to bet that any black politician with national ambitions would give an answer that hardly differs from Romney's, Santorum's, or Gingrich's if asked about the Martin killing: "I think everyone can agree that this is a tragedy, and my thoughts and prayers are with both Trayvon Martin's family and George Zimmerman and his family. But I would hesitate to say that race played a role. We should all wait to see what the courts say before condemning Zimmerman as a racist or murderer. Also, Barack Obama is the worst President of all time. Thank you."

(The first sentence in that hypothetical speech I just typed is actually how I feel, by the way.)
posted by lord_wolf at 9:02 AM on March 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Will anything change? If he gets away with it, will people remember?
If he goes to prison, will people remember? How do you keep people from forgetting between the end of this news cycle and the next time some family is "lucky" enough that evidence exists to refute the official story?
posted by Glinn at 9:02 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why do you assume you know everything that needs to be known to make that decision?

Me? Well, for one, I heard the 911 calls made by an unhinged vigilante who was itching to make sure a "fucking coon" didn't get away like "they always do."

Your version of events in which a kid surprise attacks the heroic neighborhood watch guy for . . . some . . . reason . . . while coming home from a crime spree of Skittle-buying is in no way rational given the facts that we absolutely do know.
posted by a_girl_irl at 9:03 AM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


"That seems like a weird case to choose as a cautionary example. To my memory, in that case it was the prosecutor, Nifong, who got it wrong, to the extend that it lead to his disbarment. And, while I hesitate to quote Wikipedia as authoritative, they say "Over the course of the scandal, police reports, media investigations, and defense attorneys' motions and press conferences brought to light several key inconsistencies in Mangum's story."

"Over the course of the scandal" -- that is, the media eventually uncovered this stuff. That was long after the defendants' lives had been completely upended. And long after a number of very reputable bloggers had unequivocally decided the defendants were guilty.

Yes, it was largely the prosecutor's fault, but I'm not trying to take sides here. And as I said above, it wasn't necessarily the media's fault for getting it wrong. The DA hid evidence, for example. The point is that the media could not know all the evidence because of those circumstances.

That is exactly why you shouldn't assume you know everything when it comes to these cases.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:05 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can you know that for sure? Who knows what evidence is out there that we don't know about? Why do you assume you know everything that needs to be known to make that decision?
"[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know."
—United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
This isn't a court of law, it's a discussion. If you know something the rest of don't, then introduce it, but don't expect people to just throw up their hands and take your word for everything because there might be evidence no one knows about. That is some lame-ass shit.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:05 AM on March 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Me? Well, for one, I heard the 911 calls made by an unhinged vigilante who was itching to make sure a 'fucking coon' didn't get away like 'they always do.'"

And therefore you assume you know everything you need to know?? Come on...

(BTW, I listened to those 911 calls too, and it isn't at all clear to me that he said "fucking coon." It sounds to me like he said "fucking cops", but I couldn't be sure of that either.)

"Your version of events in which a kid surprise attacks the heroic neighborhood watch guy for . . . some . . . reason . . . while coming home from a crime spree of Skittle-buying is in no way rational given the facts that we absolutely do know."


I think you have me confused with someone else. I haven't put forth any "version of events." I'm also not trying to defend Zimmerman. All I'm saying is that we don't know all the facts, and we shouldn't make statements or judgments that assume we do know all the facts.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:11 AM on March 21, 2012


This may have been linked to already but I skimmed the post and I didn't see it.

After taking an airplane ride two years ago, Trayvon decided he wanted to learn to fly, his uncle Ronald Fulton said. The teen attended a Miami aviation school part time and was studying to be an engineer, a path to realizing his ambition, Fulton said.

Math was Trayvon's favorite subject.

He liked to tinker, and he was good with his hands. He once took apart and repaired a broken scooter, Fulton said, and he liked to construct model cars and airplanes and draw pictures of things he wanted to build.

"He was extremely creative," said Michelle Kypriss, Trayvon's English teacher at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in Miami. "He just loved building things. He really was intrigued by how things worked."

She described Trayvon, a junior, as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness.

His uncle said Trayvon was still a typical kid who loved sports, music and was just feeling the first flush of youth. "He was trying to start driving. He was just finding out about girls."

Trayvon was close to his 21-year-old brother Jahvaris, also of Miami, and assisted his uncle, a quadriplegic, on outings to University of Miami basketball games.

"He used to help me," Fulton said, voice breaking.

Trayvon — who was known as "Tray" or "Slimm" — played youth football during his early teens and helped his father coach Little League baseball, said Fulton, whose sister, Sybrina Fulton, is Trayvon's mother.

Trayvon was under a five-day suspension when he was shot that Sunday night, but Kypriss said it was due to tardiness and not misbehavior.

"Trayvon was not a violent or dangerous child. He was not known for misbehaving," the teacher said. "He was suspended because he was late too many times."

posted by futz at 9:11 AM on March 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


"If you know something the rest of don't, then introduce it, but don't expect people to just throw up their hands and take your word for everything because there might be evidence no one knows about. That is some lame-ass shit."

I don't know what you mean by "take your word for everything." The only thing I'm asking you to "take my word for" is the proposition that there are probably key facts, evidence, or legal principles that you are unaware of, and that it's a mistake to make statements or judgments that assume you know everything you need to know.

"This isn't a court of law, it's a discussion."

Sure. But personally, when I make a statement or judgment, even as part of a discussion, I care about getting it right. If you don't, then I guess you can ignore what I've been saying.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:18 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm also not trying to defend Zimmerman. All I'm saying is that we don't know all the facts, and we shouldn't make statements or judgments that assume we do know all the facts.

From where I'm sitting, yes, yes, you are and unless he's payiung you to do so or are his court appointed public defender, you have to ask yourself why you're doing this.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:22 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


we shouldn't make statements or judgments that assume we do know all the facts.

Why shouldn't we? Most of us are unlikely to ever have all, or even most, of "the facts." So are you suggesting that we shouldn't say anything at all about this event? We should just shut up? Is that what you're saying?

This is the internet. While we should strive to be as accurate as we can with the information available, the consequences of being wrong on the internet are extremely slim and ultimately unlikely to have any effect on either Zimmerman or Martin. If you have something to add, you should add it; otherwise you should stop telling people to shut up.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:24 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


we shouldn't make statements or judgments that assume we do know all the facts.

I think you're setting an impossibly high bar.

We will never know all the facts. Many men and women have been convicted and sentenced by judges and juries who may have known many facts but not all of them.

I think it would be more charitable to assume that most of the people here are using a sliding scale that governs their reactions as more facts are discovered:

- Black male shot in gated community in Florida: Barely registers.

- 17 year old black male suspected in burglary shot by neighborhood watch in Florida: Sad, but not an uncommon occurrence.

- Unarmed 17 year old black male returning to his father's house from 7-11 with skittles and ice tea for relative shot by alleged neighborhood watch captain: Ugh, what a tragedy.

- Unarmed 17 year old black male returning to his father's house from 7-11 with skittles and ice tea for relative chased and shot by neighborhood watch captain who had been advised by police to remain in his car: What the hell?

- Shooter set free by police after claiming self-defense: What the fuck?

- 911 calls released: What the fuck?!

- Slain teen's girlfriend recounts his final, frightened moments, reveals he had no idea who this man was and why he was being followed: Outright anger, contempt for Sanford police

- Witnesses come forward with stories that differ from police accounts, suggest some on-scene tampering with witness stories by police: Anger, contempt, sadness, frustration.

- Police Department's history of malfeasance and negligence comes to light: Turn it over to the Feds, arrest Zimmerman.

- Story about Martin's body being John Doe'd and poor handling of family later: Fuck you, Sanford.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:24 AM on March 21, 2012 [34 favorites]


"Someone shoots someone else, the police gather the facts and the shooter is put on trial where the facts are weighed against the defense. If it was self defense, then the shooter is found not guilty. A prosecutor shouldn't be weighing the strength of the defense, only whether the facts support charging someone with the crime."

No, this wrong. Prosecutors do -- and absolutely should -- weigh the strength of the defense. They are ethically obligated not to bring charges unless they believe they can prove the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And that includes the possibility that the defendant can successfully put forth an affirmative defense.

As a defense attorney, we routinely approach prosecutors before they file charges, and present our defense to them in an effort to convince them not to file charges. If they are good prosecutors, they will listen to what we have to say, and if they are convinced, they won't proceed.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:27 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


And therefore you assume you know everything you need to know?? Come on...

I know that the initial reaction by the Sanford P.D. - SELF DEFENSE, CASE LITERALLY CLOSED, NO INVESTIGATION NEEDED - is insufficient given the 911 calls and the witness accounts. The injustice is not merely that a child was murdered, but also that SPD decided no investigation was necessary. That is why there is a thread about the matter. If this homicide were initially investigated as if the decedent were white and the shooter were black, we would not be having this discussion. The shooter would be in jail awaiting trial and there would not be this justifiable uproar.
posted by a_girl_irl at 9:27 AM on March 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yes, it was largely the prosecutor's fault, but I'm not trying to take sides here. And as I said above, it wasn't necessarily the media's fault for getting it wrong. The DA hid evidence, for example. The point is that the media could not know all the evidence because of those circumstances.
Mikeand1: Clearly we've heard the 'prosecution' side of the evidence, but the evidence of guilt is all you need to arrest someone. I think what people are outraged about is the fact that there was no arrest, the cops just let this guy go and didn't even bother to investigate. They didn't even try to figure out who Trayvon was. They just booked him in the morgue as a John Doe. For all the police knew at the time Zimmerman could have killed this guy over a personal grudge or whatever. They simply didn't bother to investigate.

They didn't even try to find out who he was or contact his family.

Their behavior wasn't due to some non-public information, but rather a simple lack of concern.
I don't know what you mean by "take your word for everything." The only thing I'm asking you to "take my word for" is the proposition that there are probably key facts, evidence, or legal principles that you are unaware of, and that it's a mistake to make statements or judgments that assume you know everything you need to know.
I don't really see why that's reasonable, though. There are always unknown unknowns. You have to make judgments on the known knowns. There isn't really any reason to worry about stuff we don't know.
posted by delmoi at 9:28 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]



Sure. But personally, when I make a statement or judgment, even as part of a discussion, I care about getting it right. If you don't, then I guess you can ignore what I've been saying.


Oh please. Ultimately you're arguing for complete inaction until some unspecified time in some future year. We will never, ever have every single key fact in a case. But how many key facts do we have right now? A ton. I'd say at least 15 or 20. And those include Zimmerman lying and being completely contradicted by the 911 calls.

So in essence, you're saying wait - wait for some miraculous piece of key evidence to pop up that justifies a 28-year old man getting out of his car, starting a fight with, and shooting in the chest an unarmed 110 pound 17-year-old on his way back from buying candy at the store.

Come on, man. At some point a mountain of evidence has to be taken for what it is. If there is some mysterious thing that pops up later, fine, but you've taken way too much time advocating waiting for that piece, and it has gone far beyond "maybe it's there" to it clearly being you hoping it's there.

"You never know" - sure, and right now, mathowie could be secretly using metafilter to hack into our computers when we log in. I mean it's a possibility, right? We don't have all the facts! We don't know! Have you looked through your files for a virus?

mikeand1 - Stop. Just stop.
posted by cashman at 9:28 AM on March 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


And here's a hint: anybody who doesn't think that if the victim hadn't been a young Black man Zimmerman would've been arrested and charged long ago, even if the police on the scene did believe him, because that's what you do when you've got a potential murder and the potential murderer on the scene and admitting he killed the guy, is mistaken or deluding themselves.

The murder of Trayvon Martin can only be this casually dismissed because it fits an underlying, racist narrative in which every young Black man is a gangster thug unless the oppostive is proven in the eyes of the (white) media and public. It's fed by a constant stream of fear propaganda on tv and in the movies, by politicians and businesses who profit from keeping America in fear of Black men and it means that it's very easy for any white authority figure, especially cops or cop-wannabes to murder any given young Black man, as long as they make sure that they shout that he's coming right at them. It's widespread enough that Family Guy can make jokes about police planting knives on their victims, ffs.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:31 AM on March 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Even if we don't know all the facts, the facts we do have paint a pretty damning picture of a racist crime perpetrated by a man obviously obsessed with vigilantism. A boy armed with a bag of Skittles was chased down and shot to death for no goddamned reason. That in and of itself is horrific, but the events that happened afterward really drive the point home.

So why do you keep making excuses? Seriously, why?
posted by elsietheeel at 9:32 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


The injustice is not merely that a child was murdered, but also that SPD decided no investigation was necessary.

Quoted and bolded for truth. The SPD told a witness, at the scene, that she was wrong about her statement.

Was Zimmerman questioned (in the presence of his attorney)? Was the neighborhood canvassed to determine the identity of the victim and if he lived with someone in the neighborhood? Was physical evidence collected from the scene?

Maybe I watch too many cop shows? Maybe I'm mistaken and all this occured.
posted by muddgirl at 9:32 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


"So are you suggesting that we shouldn't say anything at all about this event? We should just shut up? Is that what you're saying? [...] If you have something to add, you should add it; otherwise you should stop telling people to shut up."

No, I'm not telling anyone to shut up... It's perfectly possible -- and very reasonable, I would think -- to discuss a topic and make statements about it that do not involve making conclusions with total certainty.

But as you wish, I will bow out of this discussion. Apparently it isn't possible for me to say what I'm trying to say without everybody assuming I'm trying to defend Zimmerman.

I would have thought that it was fairly uncontroversial to suggest that you don't know everything, but I was wrong. As you say, this is the Internet after all...
posted by mikeand1 at 9:37 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


That still doesn't satisfy the requirements of the law, as there's no evidence whatsoever Martin had anything to do with any break in.

I don't know how this thread has gone this far without grasping the fact that Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law does not require that the person against whom deadly force is being used be breaking into or thinking about breaking into or running away from breaking into anybody's home and does not require that the person using the deadly force be at home or worried about someone else's home. The ONLY requirement for the person using the deadly force under the "Stand Your Ground" law is that he 'reasonably believes' that deadly force is necessary to prevent "great bodily harm" to himself or another person. That's it. That's what is so fucking nuts about this Stand Your Ground law. Look, here's the relevant statutary language:
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Now, I know that Delmoi has claimed repeatedly above that this doesn't apply because Zimmerman "provoked" whatever altercation took place between Zimmerman and Martin. However that is precisely the issue that will be under dispute at trial. You can see already in Zimmerman's father's letter that Zimmerman's version of the story is that it was not him who approached Martin but the opposite. We have at least one eyewitness who claims to have seen Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman and beating him. The cops' account has Zimmerman with a bloody nose and bleeding from the back of the head. All of these things will certainly be central parts of the defense's case if this goes to trial.

As to evidence to support the favorite hypothesis in this thread (Zimmerman "stalked" Martin, Martin pleaded for his life as Zimmerman coldly and calculatedly leveled a gun at him and shot him etc.) one has to say that it is, thus far, less than conclusive. We hear a voice calling for help on the 911 tapes, but Zimmerman will claim that it is his voice. Perhaps there is some kind of voice-recognition technowizardry that will settle that question, perhaps it will remain simply a matter of subjective assessment (we can be sure that Trayvon Martin's family will hear it as his voice, just as we can be sure that Zimmerman's family will hear it as Zimmerman's voice--that doesn't actually resolve the issue in any useful way). I would say that at this point the strongest testimony against Zimmerman is Martin's girlfriend's testimony about the phonecall--which certainly weighs against the notion that Martin had any disposition to attack or confront Zimmerman. It does not, however, actually tell us anything very useful about the crucial moment of confrontation between the two. She tells us that Zimmerman asked Martin what he was up to (something Zimmerman is within his rights to do--just as Martin is within his rights to ignore him) and at that point the phone goes dead. From that point on we have only Zimmerman's testimony about what ensued--which, I'm sure, will be something to the effect that Martin freaked out and started attacking him--and one eyewitness who will corroborate the fact that Martin was, in fact, physically attacking Zimmerman and that Zimmerman was getting the worst of the encounter.
posted by yoink at 9:39 AM on March 21, 2012


OK, one more post just to make this absolutely clear:

"I know that the initial reaction by the Sanford P.D. - SELF DEFENSE, CASE LITERALLY CLOSED, NO INVESTIGATION NEEDED - is insufficient given the 911 calls and the witness accounts. The injustice is not merely that a child was murdered, but also that SPD decided no investigation was necessary."

Right, I agree with that completely. As I've already stated TWICE, I completely support putting pressure on the state to investigate this fully and fairly. I don't know how I possibly could make that any clearer.
posted by mikeand1 at 9:41 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


that's what you do when you've got a potential murder and the potential murderer on the scene and admitting he killed the guy, is mistaken or deluding themselves.

A literal "SMOKING GUN"...
posted by mikelieman at 9:41 AM on March 21, 2012


When did "Explain it to the judge, son" stop being The Way Things Work?
posted by mikelieman at 9:45 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would have thought that it was fairly uncontroversial to suggest that you don't know everything

A platitude, I would've thought. Maybe you think it's something more significant.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:51 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


We hear a voice calling for help on the 911 tapes, but Zimmerman will claim that it is his voice. Perhaps there is some kind of voice-recognition technowizardry that will settle that question, perhaps it will remain simply a matter of subjective assessment

Here's my subjective assessment. Hearing Zimmerman's call, knowing he has a loaded weapon, actively going after Trayvon, I don't see him screaming help. Listen to his voice on the call, and with the young woman's information saying he confronted Trayvon with "What are you doing here?"

Who would be screaming help - a bulky, 28 year old armed man who went after someone, or a 17-year old 110-pound kid running away, and then getting confronted by some guy who got out of his car and followed him?

I just hope Zimmerman doesn't find a way to disappear.
posted by cashman at 9:53 AM on March 21, 2012


It's not completely impossible that Trayvon Martin was a secret Al-Qaeda operative bent on doing triple 9/11 murderkills on the peaceful citizens of Sanford under the guise of a Skittles-buying teen, white George Zimmerman is actually a dashing MI6 agent in a fat suit on personal loan from the Queen. Oh, and the Skittles were high explosives secretly developed by Jews, who did 9/11. NOT IMPOSSIBLE! NOT IMPOSSIBLE! NOT IM

Zimmerman is the only living witness to the entire event. The possibility that he is telling the truth about SOME of what happened is not QUITE as far-fetched as secret identities and undercover agents or any other conspiracy theory.

I don't think that "they wrestled over the gun while Martin was hitting him" is any more of a remote possibility than "he shot Martin in cold blood and then self-inflicted some injuries in the minute or so before police arrived to give himself a cover." Particularly since there is some evidence the former and zero evidence of the latter. Neither of those stories seems very likely to me, but I wasn't there and I don't know.

Personally, I think Zimmerman should be arrested and that racism was a large part of the reason he did it and the primary reason he wasn't arrested for it. But I'm bothered that raising the possibility of anything other than racism is getting confused with excusing racism and hesitating to convict Zimmerman is getting confused with defending his actions. His actions were obviously deplorable, but it is possible that they were legal under the deplorable law. I personally hope there is evidence we haven't seen that either confirms or contradicts his story. Because between his actual injuries and the witness that Martin was attacking him, I'm not sure that a jury would convict him.
posted by Dojie at 9:55 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


A word, by the way, in response to those who keep saying "OMG how can people possibly deny that this case is about racism"?? I don't actually see more than the tiniest handful of voices in this thread questioning that racism is central to this case. Obviously Zimmerman had completely imbibed a deeply racially-coded concept of the "dangerous stranger" (almost all the 'suspicious' people he'd called the cops about over the past year were black). In a non-racist America Trayvon Martin almost certainly gets to walk to the shops and back home without incident, even if wannabe-Charles-Bronson Zimmerman is out patrolling the streets.

Similarly, in a non-racist America, the cops almost certainly take their investigation of the case further than they did. A black homicide victim undoubtedly gets a less thorough and a less urgent investigation than a white victim. It is very hard to imagine a situation where a black Zimmerman killing a white 17 year old kid doesn't get arrested.

But to say "without the racist social context, this tragedy would never have happened" is only one of the salient features of this case; there are many other aspects of it that don't have any particular racial coding and that are also worth discussion. For example, Florida's extremely lax "concealed carry" laws; if Zimmerman isn't carrying a gun, this tragedy doesn't happen. And, for another, the "Stand Your Ground" laws--without a legislative environment that actively encourages armed vigilantism, there's a good chance that this tragedy doesn't happen. It would be nice if we could discuss those aspects without having to append a "Oh, and by the way, I'm a right-thinking person who abhors racism" to every single post to prove that we endorse the Metafilter community mores.

And lastly, to believe that this case is rooted in a racist society does not entail unthinking acceptance of the most cartoonish version of the events (which seems to be the one most in this thread want to believe in): that Zimmerman deliberately set out to bag himself a "coon," that he "stalked" Martin, that Martin kneeled on the ground pleading for his life while Zimmerman twirled his mustachios before shooting him, execution-style. Nothing I've seen in the 911 calls or in any of the testimony supports that ridiculously one-sided version of the story. Even within a story that is rooted in America's diseased attitudes to race there is room for complications, tragic misunderstandings, good intentions gone horribly awry. I think when we finally get the full (or, at least, a fuller) picture of the events of that night it will be much less the cartoonishly simple morality tale that so many in this thread seem to want to believe it is.
posted by yoink at 10:01 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


mikeand1 I think where I'm unclear with your comments is that in your initial comments you were advocating just letting the process play out. You said this along with admonishments not to believe everything we hear in the media. I have a number of problems with this and to be fair I'll try to be clear.

In this case, the media and pressure from a public that knows enough to know this isn't right ARE part of the process. The racism of the killer is outdone only by the racism of the judicial system which views young black men like Trayvon as somehow less worthy of justice and protection under the law. You seemed to be setting up a dichotomy between letting the process play out and using the media to pursue justice, because the media gets things wrong. Well so does the justice system, especially when unchecked, because every bias and bigotry of society is built into that institution.

Another issue I have with your comments is the lack of specificity. Who is saying they know everything? What purported knowledge do you dispute? I don't think you need to come in and act like people are behaving in ignorance and if you're going to do so call out something specific.

Dojie, racism is the explanation for why Trayvon Martin was even on Zimmerman's radar. It's why the cops were called on him in the first place when all he was doing was walking back to the house. If not for being a young black male Trayvon would have continued unmolested. It's why he died, and that's even if you buy Zimmerman's story that he was attacked out of the blue.
posted by Danila at 10:03 AM on March 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


Radio host Joe Madison claims to have had the racial slur segment of the 911 call cleaned up by an expert. He says that it is indeed a slur. I cannot get the audio to load but here it is. Maybe it is just under heavy load right now.
posted by futz at 10:03 AM on March 21, 2012


yoink: We have at least one eyewitness who claims to have seen Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman and beating him.

Why to you keep repeating this statement? Please cite a credible source or stop polluting the discourse by propagating falsehoods.
posted by JackFlash at 10:04 AM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


A reddit person thinks it sounds like "fucking dogs" is what is being muttered and posts his take on it.
posted by futz at 10:06 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sponsors of Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law say George Zimmerman should be arrested -- "‘They got the goods on him. They need to prosecute whoever shot the kid,’ former GOP state lawmaker says."
posted by ericb at 10:07 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


> The DA hid evidence, for example.

The conclusion you draw:
> The point is that the media could not know all the evidence because of those circumstances.

The conclusion I draw:
You can't always rely on the DAs.

So when you say we should withhold judgment, I say that this is not wise, as we already have one instance of irresponsible handling of the situation by the Sanford P.D. Many people think there needs to be a strong pressure forcing the question of Zimmerman's guilt, to work against the apparent reluctance to do so.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:08 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The guy on the bottom, who had a red sweater on, was yelling to me, 'Help! Help!' and I told him to stop, and I was calling 911," said the witness, who asked to be identified only by his first name, John.

John said he locked his patio door, ran upstairs and heard at least one gun shot.

"And then, when I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on the top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point."

posted by Dojie at 10:09 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


On NBC Nightly News last night it was reported that it was a racial epithet that Zimmerman said.
posted by ericb at 10:11 AM on March 21, 2012


Yeah, Dojie, that is the ONLY source that has that account of the incident and unfortunately it is fox news.
posted by futz at 10:11 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lawmaker asks for special prosecutor in Trayvon Martin case.
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's my subjective assessment. Hearing Zimmerman's call, knowing he has a loaded weapon, actively going after Trayvon, I don't see him screaming help. Listen to his voice on the call, and with the young woman's information saying he confronted Trayvon with "What are you doing here?"

Well, at least you recognize that that is "subjective."

Look--neither you nor I know what happened leading up to the moment of the screams. We do know that several of the 911 callers report a physical altercation prior to the screams for help and the gunshot. Think about that for a moment. Do you think that Martin got into a fistfight with Zimmerman if Zimmerman walked up to Martin with his gun in his hand?

How did the fistfight develop? That, surely, will be the crucial question for the jury if this comes to trial. Maybe Zimmerman said something deeply insulting to Martin? Maybe Martin was freaked out and thought that Zimmerman was a sexual predator about to rape him? Maybe Zimmerman thought he'd be a hero and perform a citizen's arrest? Any of these seem possible to me. All of them seem about a thousand times more likely than a scenario in which Zimmerman walks up to Martin with his gun drawn, intent on "bagging himself a coon" and somehow Martin turns into Batman and manages to get into a fistfight that goes on long enough for people to call 911 about it before...what? Martin suddenly stops fighting and starts pleading for help instead?

I can't see a logical sequence of events that doesn't have the fistfight preceding the drawing of the gun. Once you have the fistfight underway, it seems to me equally likely that either Zimmerman or Martin should yell for help. It is, certainly, perfectly consistent with Zimmerman's account that he should yell for help before drawing his gun and using it in self-defense.
posted by yoink at 10:13 AM on March 21, 2012


Why to you keep repeating this statement? Please cite a credible source or stop polluting the discourse by propagating falsehoods.

I posted the link above shortly after I first raised that point (search "here's a link" and you'll find it). Here's the link again.
posted by yoink at 10:16 AM on March 21, 2012


Also that fox news story was published on 2/27 and updated on 3/14. If someone has another source or corroborating story I'd love to see it b/c this seems to be the only mention of this as a scenario that I have seen anywhere.
posted by futz at 10:18 AM on March 21, 2012


Yeah, Dojie, that is the ONLY source that has that account of the incident and unfortunately it is fox news.

It's a local fox affiliate, not "Fox News" the cable station--whether it does good journalism or not only someone local to the area could say. But it would be rather extraordinary if they simple made up witness testimony out of whole cloth. That's entering a different realm from the "some say" BS spin that is the Fox News channel's usual spin.
posted by yoink at 10:21 AM on March 21, 2012


Sponsors of Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law say George Zimmerman should be arrested -- "‘They got the goods on him. They need to prosecute whoever shot the kid,’ former GOP state lawmaker says."

Yes, they recognize that this case is a PR disaster for their stupid law. I do find it ironic that several of Metafilter's staunchest liberals seem deeply invested in arguing that the NRA's Stand Your Ground law is an extremely well written and well-conceived law that can in no case lead to pernicious consequences.
posted by yoink at 10:25 AM on March 21, 2012


Do you think that Martin got into a fistfight with Zimmerman if Zimmerman walked up to Martin with his gun in his hand?

No, I think Zimmerman confronted Martin based on the girlfriend's account of the phone call, the 911 tapes, and the other witness accounts - you read those, right? You've read the other witness accounts (there are more than the one you are clinging to) and you listened to the 911 calls, right?

Here's what happened: Zimmerman attempted to restrain Martin, Martin resisted an unprovoked, illegal assault by an larger, armed assailant, and Zimmerman shot Martin.

In no possible reality did Martin get the drop on Zimmerman, or confront Zimmerman. Zimmerman started the confrontation, and he killed Martin. And yet, of course, you posit that maybe Martin attacked him. You will not rest until you can find a reason to blame the dead unarmed kid who was outweighed by a hundred fucking pounds by a guy who was caught on tape saying he didn't want a "fucking coon" to get away like "they always do."
posted by a_girl_irl at 10:27 AM on March 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


But there has been at least 3 weeks for this version of the story to get out there and yet there is not another peep out of this person or any corroborating story. Yes, the person could have decided to clam up or he could be a friend of Zimmerman. But it is a pretty juicy bit of information to have had it just die out.
posted by futz at 10:27 AM on March 21, 2012


I can't see a logical sequence of events that doesn't have the fistfight preceding the drawing of the gun

I think the account relayed by girl alleged by some sources to be Martin's girlfriend strongly suggests that Zimmerman was not armed when the confrontation began. If he had been, one suspects Martin's first words to Zimmerman would have referenced that fact; in any event, no one I know who's ever had a gun pointed at them has told a story of asking what the gun holder was doing: you pretty much stop what you're doing and let the gun holder both speak and dictate the flow of events seems to be the pattern.

It's strange that you suggested that most people here want to believe a story of an evil, mustache twirling Zimmerman. He does not need to be a cartoon villain to be a racist cop-wannabe killer. Nor does Martin need to have been on his knees pleading for his life for Zimmerman's shooting of him to be, at the very least, an unreasonable escalation of the encounter or at most, a cold-blooded killing.

I think you made some great points in your post earlier, but you went too far in my opinion when you created that particular straw argument.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:28 AM on March 21, 2012


But there has been at least 3 weeks for this version of the story to get out there and yet there is not another peep out of this person or any corroborating story.

Also, there's an accusation of police trying to influence at least one witness:

"They might also investigate allegations of police misconduct, including a charge by one eyewitness that an officer on the scene of Martin's shooting told her to change her story. The witness says she stated that Martin had been screaming for help before he was shot, but that the officer "corrected" her and insisted it was Zimmerman who'd called for help"
posted by inigo2 at 10:30 AM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Trayvon was wearing a grey hoodie. It was dark grey so maybe it appeared red. In the 911 recordings, another witness sees the guy in a white t-shirt on top, which would be Zimmerman. So in a fight each was possibly on top at some point.

However, there is some distance between the fight and the shooting. Several witnesses, including Austin, Mary and her roommate Selma say the fight was over. Austin is an eyewitness who saw the two men separated. Mary and her roommate say Trayvon was chased after the fight and shot in their backyard.

Zimmerman leaves car and follows/chases Trayvon, catches up to him - Fistfight - Trayvon runs calling for help, Zimmerman chases - Zimmerman shoots
posted by Danila at 10:33 AM on March 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Doe we know that Zimmerman was wearing a white T-shirt? Sorry if this seems like minutiae; I'm trying to figure out these witness statements.
posted by Eyebeams at 10:35 AM on March 21, 2012


yoink: "I do find it ironic that several of Metafilter's staunchest liberals seem deeply invested in arguing that the NRA's Stand Your Ground law is an extremely well written and well-conceived law that can in no case lead to pernicious consequences."

I'll admit I've read this threads in chunks and may have missed something, but when exactly did that happen? I've seen folks pointing out that even the writer of the law wants nothing to do with this situation, but nobody saying "Stand Your Ground -- woo! Now there's some quality legislation!"
posted by Karmakaze at 10:37 AM on March 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


"I recognized that (voice) as my baby screaming for help before his life was taken," Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, told Reuters.
Do people think she's mistaken? Lying? That she doesn't know what her own son sounds like when he's hurting?
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:48 AM on March 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


I may have missed it but do we know any details about the gunshot wound?

1) Was it close enough range that powder marks/flash burns occurred?
2) Further, what direction was the bullet traveling with regards to Trayvon's orientation relevant to Zimmerman, i.e. was he shot in the back, front, or side?

This is a bit nit-picky but I feel like the word "child" is being thrown around a bit and doesn't do the situation justice. I understand that he was a 17 year old, still in high school and all that but it just feels like people are using the descriptor 'child' in hopes of gaining cheap shock value in a situation that is plenty shocking enough. Yes, he is someone's child (aren't we all?) and he was under the legal age of adulthood in this country but that doesn't make the fact that he was a minor anywhere near as important as other other factors such as racial or sociological points. I guess I'm going with the assumption that he would have been targeted just as quickly if he was 18, 19, or 23 years old and in the same wrong place, wrong time and his parents would have been just as grieved and the public should be just as offended.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:48 AM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


[We don't do that "I'm going to make fake racist comments in an over the top manner to indicate that racism is bad" thing here.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:48 AM on March 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


> I may have missed it but do we know any details about the gunshot wound?

Well, the state and federal investigators really ought to look into those questions now rather than later. It seems that the local shitheels didn't bother to do any actual police work at all, much less any forensics.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:00 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doe we know that Zimmerman was wearing a white T-shirt? Sorry if this seems like minutiae; I'm trying to figure out these witness statements.

I don't think it's minutiae. Also it is important to remember that witnesses get things wrong all the time, so I'm trying to focus on what we know from multiple sources. After searching I see bloggers stating Zimmerman was wearing a white t-shirt but nothing official. Many racist websites like stormfront and davidduke.org seem to be under the impression that Zimmerman was wearing a red shirt. Though how that exculpates Zimmerman I'm not sure since the only thing we know about a red shirt is that whoever was wearing it was on top at some point.

But for me, again, who was getting the better in the fight can't be divorced from the context.

Before the fight, Trayvon is chased by this strange man who had no justification for starting any kind of confrontation. And again, there seems to be an "after the fight" when Trayvon is chased again. Both the 911 calls where Zimmerman is clearly following Trayvon and the witness statements about Trayvon being chased after the fight have to be disregarded in order to make the fight prominent. And even so, we don't know and probably never will know who started the fight, although the person on the phone with Trayvon says his headset was knocked off.

Where was Trayvon's body found anyway?
posted by Danila at 11:02 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now after finding myself getting caught up in the sleuthing aspects of all this I again remember one little thing: if Trayvon was not a black boy he probably would not have been stalked. He probably would not have been killed. And he definitely would have been treated more like a victim by the police.

Can anyone see an unarmed white teenage boy on his way back from the store being killed by an adult male and the killer just being released because he claimed self-defense?
posted by Danila at 11:10 AM on March 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


But it would be rather extraordinary if they simple made up witness testimony out of whole cloth.

But it wouldn't be extraordinary if it was simply mistaken. Or garbled. Or whatever. I can't say. But as near as I can tell, that detail has been reported by a single source. Between that and the likeliness of a frightened 17 year old getting the better of a larger, armed, man in a physical struggle I am skeptical.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:20 AM on March 21, 2012


Another of the known knowns: if police procedure is not subject to ongoing public scrutiny, more and more law-abiding citizens will find themselves in deep yogurt. This is not just about a single case, but it also highlights serious concerns with a police system that is growing more and more powerful in its legal latitude and tactical capabilities. Much of this thread is doing the work of that scrutiny. Further, it can be coherently argued that time is short for that scrutiny to produce meaningful change. Considering recent treatment of civil protestors it seems that the race factor—indisputably relevant as it is here—is just the thin end of the wedge.

There are of course plenty of unknowns pertinent to this specific case, and the work of that public scrutiny will often involve following up aggressively on cases where police actions are eventually shown to be if not always justified at least understandable as misconduct in good faith. That does nothing to invalidate the process of scrutiny and putting pressure on the police to address deviations that have the potential to blossom into miscarriages of justice.

On preview: the appointment of a special prosecutor is well and good, but scrutiny needs to go there too. We all know what kind of hijinks special prosecutors can get up to, political tools that they sometimes are. Especially when the SP appointment is requested by someone who believes a priori that a SP will "remove the perception of bias or impropriety by the citizens of Sanford".
posted by maniabug at 11:35 AM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


acceptance of the most cartoonish version of the events (which seems to be the one most in this thread want to believe in): that Zimmerman deliberately set out to bag himself a "coon," that he "stalked" Martin, that Martin kneeled on the ground pleading for his life while Zimmerman twirled his mustachios before shooting him, execution-style.

Huh? I've read the whole thread and I didn't get the impression that anyone believes that this was some sort of premeditated thing. Please give examples of what led you to believe this. This seems an extremely uncharitable reading of what everyone is saying here.

Doe we know that Zimmerman was wearing a white T-shirt? Sorry if this seems like minutiae; I'm trying to figure out these witness statements.

I don't think it's minutiae. Also it is important to remember that witnesses get things wrong all the time, so I'm trying to focus on what we know from multiple sources. After searching I see bloggers stating Zimmerman was wearing a white t-shirt but nothing official.


I just keep coming back to the idea that this kind of thing is what basic police work is all about. I would think that recording basic details like this is standard when you are dealing with a death by gunshot case, regardless of cause of said gunshot. I mean, Zimmerman was there. He admitted to shooting someone to death. I have read police and coroner reports on open-and-shut (i.e. when it's fairly obvious there has been no foul play) suicide cases that contain everything down to the smallest details of the person's appearance, including what they were wearing. Again........W. T. F. SANDFORD. PD.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:36 AM on March 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Here's my speculation: Perhaps while Zimmerman was giving chase Martin got bold and turned to clock him with surprise punch to the face, bloodying his nose. Since the grass was wet, Zimmerman slipped and fell (perhaps more due to arrested momentum rather than the force of Martin's blow) causing the cut to the back of his head. Perhaps this is when Martin made a mistake of not running full speed home, but lingered for whatever reason.

While Zimmerman was getting up he began his frantic calls for help, hoping that the police he called had already arrived in the neighborhood and would be alerted to his location. Heck, Martin might've even thought that Zimmerman needed medical attention and approached him to see why he was screaming. That's when Zimmerman lost everything to fear and pulled his gun out and shot him. By that time Zimmerman was operating at minimal rationality.

He was probably too stunned to be particularly verbose to the police about the incident...they helped him fill in the gaps and then made the erroneous judgement to let him go on the grounds of self-defense.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:37 AM on March 21, 2012


Meanwhile...
posted by crunchland at 11:42 AM on March 21, 2012


I just searched for several minutes for witness accounts and futz (upthread) is right - there doesn't sees to be any other media source for the eyewitness "John" who was quoted in the story by the Fox Orlando affiliate here - even though supposedly he is the only person who witnessed the alleged fight before the gunshot.

Also note that the two women who heard the cries or “whimpers” for help, which they say stopped immediately when the shot was fired (Cutcher and Lamilla, interviewed here say that a person 2 or 3 doors down was the first person to call 911 and that (they think) he witnessed the fight.

I’m guessing that “John” is the guy heard starting at about 4:13 of the 911 calls, who says “I heard a shot — they’re wrestling right in back of my porch — there’s a guy yelling for help”. He may have gotten the sequence jumbled in hi excitement but I guess it’s possible that Zimmerman yelled for help after shooting Martin.

Triggerfinger - Exactly. I just read somewhere that the police never interviewed Martin's girlfriend, tto whome he was speaking on his cell a few seconds before being killed, although they've had his cell phone all this time, and basically excused it by saying "Hey we asked that anyone with information come forward". The article also stated that they're working on tracking the cell phone records. A month later.
posted by Eyebeams at 12:03 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I may have missed it but do we know any details about the gunshot wound?

Well, the state and federal investigators really ought to look into those questions now rather than later. It seems that the local shitheels didn't bother to do any actual police work at all, much less any forensics.


At this point I'm almost assuming they will have found a way to fast-track the destruction of any evidence.
posted by Artw at 12:13 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Radio host Joe Madison claims to have had the racial slur segment of the 911 call cleaned up by an expert. He says that it is indeed a slur. I cannot get the audio to load but here it is. Maybe it is just under heavy load right now.

With the cleanup, it sounds like Zimmerman says "punks" to me. There's a punch to the p and the k that don't seem to me to be a c and n at all.

Thanks for posting that link. I wish we could get more information detailing in full what Zimmerman told police, and see any video of Zimmerman talking about what happened. Perhaps that will eventually come out.
posted by cashman at 12:15 PM on March 21, 2012


Have the mayor or other elected officials in Sanford weighed in? I must have missed that in here.
posted by maxwelton at 12:20 PM on March 21, 2012


At this point I'm almost assuming they will have found a way to fast-track the destruction of any evidence

The more I read about this case, the more convinced I am that the Sanford PD did such breathtakingly shitty work that there isn't even any evidence for them to destroy.

And that's leaving possible malfeasance and racism on their part completely aside.

I'm starting to fear that the focus on Zimmerman's actions and utterances is letting the Sanford PD walk away from this unscathed. If there is any punishment to be meted out for this tragedy, they are at least as deserving as Zimmerman, possibly moreso given the sacred duty they have toward the community.

By the way, the Wikipedia entry is a good source of info. They cite articles for most of the salient points.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:24 PM on March 21, 2012


> Have the mayor or other elected officials in Sanford weighed in? I must have missed that in here.
Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett, who joined the lawmakers in their meeting with the Justice Department officials, said there is "lots of pain in the community" and said that if local officials mishandled the case in any way, he wants to know about it.

"If we made an error, I want someone to tell me," he said.

posted by Burhanistan at 12:25 PM on March 21, 2012


Er, link.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:26 PM on March 21, 2012


Link from the wikipedia page (thanks lord_wolf, I'd been meaning to look there) to this article from Saturday - the police chief speaking: "This is all very unsettling. I’m sure if George Zimmerman had the opportunity to relive Sunday, Feb. 26, he’d probably do things differently. I’m sure Trayvon would, too."

What the fuck? Was Trayvon not supposed to walk down the street? Is there something illegal with buying and eating skittles? Is it wrong to run from someone who starts chasing you for no reason?

I get that he was trying to say if there was a way to change it so the shooting didn't occur, he would want that, but Fuck you Police Chief Bill Lee. Trayvon did nothing wrong.
posted by cashman at 12:40 PM on March 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


George Zimmerman not a member of recognized neighborhood watch organization.
posted by ericb at 12:46 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Behind the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law

...we've been cataloging the shootings since 2005 . and we've gone through over 100 now. and the pattern is there. when there are no witnesses, they're dismissed. when there are witnesses that go to trial usually for manslaughter. so i have at least a dozen cases on my desk back in florida of exactly the same kind of shootings, almost identical. and they were all dismissed because there were no witnesses.
posted by Artw at 12:49 PM on March 21, 2012


"Three witnesses say they heard a boy cry for help before a shot was fired. 'Three witnesses contacted by The Miami Herald say they saw or heard the moments before and after the Miami Gardens teenager's killing. All three said they heard the last howl for help from a despondent boy.' [Miami Herald]" *
posted by ericb at 1:00 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


"The police did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol. A law enforcement expert told ABC that Zimmerman sounds intoxicated on the 911 tapes. Drug and alcohol testing is 'standard procedure in most homicide investigations.' [ABC News]" *
posted by ericb at 1:05 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


The FBI and DOJ are gonna have a fucking field day.
posted by mikelieman at 1:19 PM on March 21, 2012


I was just coming to link that Miami Herald article ericb linked. Some of this was linked previously in the thread also, I think.

“I asked [Zimmerman], ‘What’s happening here? What’s going on?’ ” said Cutcher’s friend, Selma Mora Lamilla. “The third time, I was indignant, and he said, ‘just call the police.’ Then I saw him with his hands over his head in the universal sign of: ‘Oh man, I messed up.’ ”

The women, who were the first on the scene, said they saw Zimmerman pacing back and forth.

“I know what I heard. I heard a cry and a shot,” Mora said. “If there was a fight, it did not happen here where the boy was shot. I would have heard it, as this all happened right outside my open window.” "

"Cutcher was one of eight or nine 911 callers that night but she said investigators dismissed her, and a detective failed to follow up with her. Both women said police seemed very blasé."



"A rally is planned for the Sanford City Council meeting March 26. Leaders are asking people to show up carrying Skittles, the candy Trayvon carried in his pocket when he died."
posted by cashman at 1:20 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Facts (with source links) everyone should know about this case.
posted by cashman at 1:23 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, at any rate, there's probably not going to be much more in this case other than sound and fury until the grand jury convenes on April 10th.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:28 PM on March 21, 2012


So three witnesses and Martin's mother are pretty sure it was Trayvon Martin crying for help. Zimmerman's story of getting out of his truck to check the street when he was attacked doesn't match up with witness accounts, the final location of himself and Trayvon nor the narrative related by the girl alleged to be Martin's girlfriend.

So the question now is: who does Zimmerman have files on? Because the police work is so absurdly bad here that it's starting to seem like they were actively trying to shield him, not just avoid paperwork or even show their contempt for a dead young black man. Can we even be certain that they are keeping tabs on Zimmerman at the moment?

Austin wasn’t sure if the person was in a fight or had slipped and gotten hurt. Austin’s boxer puppy got off the leash so the boy went chasing after the dog and lost sight of the scene for a moment. Then, he heard a gun go off.

On the one hand, it's unfortunate that Austin was not able to witness the entirety of the event. On the other hand, I'm kind of thankful that he wasn't there, because it could have ended badly for both him and his dog had Zimmerman spotted them.

The boy, who is black, has been rattled ever since. He feels angry and disconcerted, and wonders whether he’s at risk too.

“That people can stereotype like that makes you scared,” he said.


The chain that extends back in time linking Trayvon Martin to Oscar Grant to Emmett Till to countless other names we'll never know is taking away my happiness with the world. Because I kind of want to tell young Austin, in a voice dripping with bitterness, that he needn't worry about being stereotyped since someone will come along to tell him that he should leave race out of this and focus on other things, even as he watches others who do not share his skin color receive different treatment.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:32 PM on March 21, 2012 [13 favorites]


So the question now is: who does Zimmerman have files on?

Seriously. And I hope the FBI goes through the Sanford PD with such a fine toothed comb, that they definitively answer this.
posted by mikelieman at 1:37 PM on March 21, 2012


Starting with: Why didn't you even interview the girl to whom the victim was speaking on his cell seconds before he was shot?
posted by Eyebeams at 1:40 PM on March 21, 2012


"Martin weighed 140 pounds. Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds.
This is why I'm so skeptical of the stories that Martin was "on top" of Zimmerman. Confronted by an armed man 110 lbs heavier (and, I assume, taller, to some degree, though I haven't seen that noted anywhere) it would be surprising if Martin could even knock him down unless he was in superior physical shape or Zimmerman was intoxicated.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:42 PM on March 21, 2012


"Well, at any rate, there's probably not going to be much more in this case other than sound and fury until the grand jury convenes on April 10th."

Florida criminal procedure law:

RULE 3.115. DUTIES OF STATE ATTORNEY; CRIMINAL INTAKE

"All sworn complaints charging the commission of a criminal offense shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the circuit court and delivered to the state attorney for further proceedings."

RULE 3.120. COMMITTING JUDGE

Each state and county judge is a committing judge and may issue a summons to, or a warrant for the arrest of, a person against whom a complaint is made in writing and sworn to before a person authorized to administer oaths, when the complaint states facts that show that such person violated a criminal law of this state within the jurisdiction of the judge to whom the complaint is presented.

-----

I wonder if there's any explicit prohibition against anyone who has the facts that show that George Zimmerman violated say, Murder 3, can't type up an information, head down to the court clerk's office and submit their filing?

And if two people do this...

Can you imagine 3 people a day.... THREE PEOPLE... They'll think it's a movement...
posted by mikelieman at 1:58 PM on March 21, 2012


> I wonder if there's any explicit prohibition against anyone who has the facts that show that George Zimmerman violated say, Murder 3, can't type up an information, head down to the court clerk's office and submit their filing?

I don't know, but plenty of people have already been talking to the Florida state prosecutor's office and they are just sitting on their hands until the grand jury.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:02 PM on March 21, 2012


I don't know, but plenty of people have already been talking to the Florida state prosecutor's office and they are just sitting on their hands until the grand jury.

You can't get arrested until the grand jury convenes ?

Florida is very weird.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:12 PM on March 21, 2012


I don't know, but plenty of people have already been talking to the Florida state prosecutor's office and they are just sitting on their hands until the grand jury.

That's sort of my point. If the prosecutors are going to sit on their hands, is there any reason that the court clerk can't get a bunch of filings of the same information.

I mean. When you have a dead kid on the ground and the shooter holding the smoking gun, it's not really hard to get a handle on what felonies to charge. And given that, could a grass roots, "Here's the Felony Information charging the crime, now issue an arrest warrant?" thing work?

Especially given that "Court clerk hands it to state attorney" thing puts the piles of valid, sworn felony informations sitting right on his desk for the tv cameras to see...
posted by mikelieman at 2:13 PM on March 21, 2012


( and at that point, you don't need to wait for the Grand Jury... It's just like the process when a cop catches you in the act and files the information himself... )
posted by mikelieman at 2:14 PM on March 21, 2012


Huh? I've read the whole thread and I didn't get the impression that anyone believes that this was some sort of premeditated thing. Please give examples of what led you to believe this.

-PREMEDITATED seems to be such an ugly, ugly, appropriate word...

-Not only does this sound like premeditated murder, but the prosecutor needs to lose his job and some cops do too.

To me this is pre-meditation. He should be charged with first-degree murder.
posted by teekat at 2:28 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, counselor. Premeditation is not synonymous with "general background wish to be a big crimefighting hero". It's not first degree murder. Second degree, maybe. He would have to have planned to single out Martin prior to running into him for that.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:36 PM on March 21, 2012


So... opportunistic killers are always second degree?
posted by Artw at 2:39 PM on March 21, 2012


I don't wish to squabble over charged words, but it seems likely that the most he will get charged with is voluntary manslaughter.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:42 PM on March 21, 2012


Whoops, I take that back. Florida does not differentiate between involuntary and voluntary manslaughter. So, just plain manslaughter. It's a fucked up world.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:44 PM on March 21, 2012


A Look Back At The NRA's Effort To Pass Florida's Stand Your Ground Law
posted by Artw at 3:08 PM on March 21, 2012


I don't think it's too far to go to think that Zimmerman might be one of those insane people who THINKS they're smarter than the police and he THINKS he has figured out how to hack the law so that he can get away with that grand old tradition in the south...

I really have an issue with the CONVENIENT way he ended the 9-1-1 call before he completed his stalk and kill.

That aside. Manslaughter is a second degree felony, and that's more than enough to hold him for arraignment.

(1) The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification according to the provisions of chapter 776 and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder, according to the provisions of this chapter, is manslaughter, a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
posted by mikelieman at 3:08 PM on March 21, 2012


One "good" thing is that Zimmerman has priors, so if there is a conviction/plea he won't just be walking out on deferred time/probation.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:10 PM on March 21, 2012


He has prior arrests - I don't think he has any prior convictions.
posted by Dojie at 3:35 PM on March 21, 2012


He had a deferred sentence for his 2005 assault charge. That generally precludes one from getting another deferred sentence.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:36 PM on March 21, 2012


Civil rights leaders call for Florida police chief to resign
posted by Artw at 4:22 PM on March 21, 2012


-PREMEDITATED seems to be such an ugly, ugly, appropriate word...

-Not only does this sound like premeditated murder, but the prosecutor needs to lose his job and some cops do too.

To me this is pre-meditation. He should be charged with first-degree murder.


Okay. Three people in a thread of 650+ comments say premeditated and that somehow equates to "most", as in: which seems to be the one most [people] in this thread want to believe in. I guess I just don't see it.

In any case, whether it was premeditated or people think it was premeditated is beside the point. The real point of my comment was that yoink said that the majority of people in this thread are taking a "cartoonish", "one-sided" view of the events, which is what I disagree with. It's been pretty well established in this thread that we obviously do not have all of the facts. Many people have acknowledged this. We don't know everything. Okay. But based on all the available evidence, it looks pretty bad for George Zimmerman and until we have better evidence....Occam's razor and all that.

Here are the facts so far:

A guy:

1. with a history of racial profiling
2. with a history of violence
3. follows a black kid
4. unprovoked
5. against the direct order of a dispatcher
6. saying "...these assholes, they always get away"
7. shoots the kid dead

It is not a huge jump in logic from the above to think "racial hate crime". Yes, it is possible that there is some explanation which would explain all of this in a way that would make it NOT a racial hate crime. Pretty much anything is possible. But acting like everyone in this thread who makes that entirely logical leap is engaged in a "cartoonishly simple morality tale" is wrong, imo. I don't see any other facts that would support any other version of what happened as strongly.

Nothing I've seen in the 911 calls or in any of the testimony supports that ridiculously one-sided version of the story.

I would be very interested in seeing something in the calls and testimony that would as strongly support the other side of the story, i.e. that this was not a racially motivated hate crime. I mean this genuinely. A link to a Fox news story quoting an anonymous guy who said he saw Trayvon attacking Zimmerman which has not been corrorborated by any other news outlet since is not strong enough.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:39 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


How 'duty to retreat' became 'stand your ground'
posted by Artw at 4:47 PM on March 21, 2012


I'm uncomfortable with the verdict first mentality here. I'm upset and horrified about the death of a child and the reported conduct by the shooter and the police. We should not lose sight of our desire to have a system of justice based on due process and the rule of law. Rushing to convict Zimmerman based on media accounts does not further this goal. Channel the outrage into forcing resignations in the police department and changing the ridiculous laws.
posted by humanfont at 4:52 PM on March 21, 2012


We should not lose sight of our desire to have a system of justice based on due process and the rule of law. Rushing to convict Zimmerman based on media accounts does not further this goal.

NO ONE is rushing to convict Zimmerman based on media accounts.

We're all very concerned that Zimmerman, who is the shooter in a felony manslaughter case, hasn't been arraigned on a felony information, and isn't even being held pending arraignment or anything.

It's like -- the Sanford PD just doesn't have a law against killing someone without lawful justification. Black someones...
posted by mikelieman at 5:12 PM on March 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yes, it is possible that there is some explanation which would explain all of this in a way that would make it NOT a racial hate crime. Pretty much anything is possible. But acting like everyone in this thread who makes that entirely logical leap is engaged in a "cartoonishly simple morality tale" is wrong, imo. I don't see any other facts that would support any other version of what happened as strongly.

Consider this:

While attempting to save Trayvon Martin from a rogue raccoon, defendant George Zimmerman allegedly got jumped by another raccoon which leapt onto his face, leading to him yelling repeatedly for help before pulling the trigger in the struggle to get the marsupial off him, this lead to the injuries for which he was treated, and by the time the furry bastard had been removed Martin was lying dead and neither raccoon anywhere to be seen.

"Fucking 'ccoons," Zimmerman was heard to say as the neighbours came out to see what was happening, "those assholes always get away with things like this."

-

SANFORD — Sanford city commissioners have voted "no confidence" in police Chief Bill Lee Jr., who has been publicly lambasted for his department's handling of the fatal shooting of Miami teenager Trayvon Martin.

Commissioner Mark McCarty made the motion to fire the chief, who has been on the job just 10 months. Mayor Jeff Triplett and Commissioner Velma Williams voted with the majority.

"I take no pleasure in a publicl flogging of our police chief," McCarty said before a packed house. "But he really should turn in his resignation."

The vote was 3-2, with Commissioners Randy Jones and Patty Mahany voting against

posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:34 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


As far as premeditation goes, he was standing over the guy while he was begging for his life for 40 seconds. How long a time period does the "pre" need to be? Were I on a jury, I'd have no problems putting him away for murder one. Florida has the death penalty (obviously). Normally I'm opposed, but I'd OK with it in this case.
One "good" thing is that Zimmerman has priors, so if there is a conviction/plea he won't just be walking out on deferred time/probation.
Can you get a differed for homicide?
So the question now is: who does Zimmerman have files on? Because the police work is so absurdly bad here that it's starting to seem like they were actively trying to shield him, not just avoid paperwork or even show their contempt for a dead young black man.
It's simply that they kind of knew this guy, wanted to protect him from what they saw as a "minor" crime: Killing a black person.

---
I don't know how this thread has gone this far without grasping the fact that Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law does not require that the person against whom deadly force is being used be breaking into or thinking about breaking into or running away from breaking into anybody's home and does not require that the person
That whole discussion was about section one, not section three. I never claimed section three had anything to do with breaking and entering. I explained the differences between one and three multiple times. I included a handy table in this comment Here it is again:


          Section 1                 |        Section 3                    | 
Breaking and entering               | physical safety                     | Type of risk
person shot in fact breaking law    | belief by shooter victim is threat  | epistemology
Now, I know that Delmoi has claimed repeatedly above that this doesn't apply because Zimmerman "provoked" whatever altercation took place between Zimmerman and Martin. However that is precisely the issue that will be under dispute at trial.
Right. It will be an issue at trial, just as The guy who killed George Tiller tried to claim he was acting to defend innocent life from a killer, thus what he did was legal under Kanas law.
As to evidence to support the favorite hypothesis in this thread (Zimmerman "stalked" Martin, Martin pleaded for his life as Zimmerman coldly and calculatedly leveled a gun at him and shot him etc.) one has to say that it is, thus far, less than conclusive. We hear a voice calling for help on the 911 tapes, but Zimmerman will claim that it is his voice.
There are also eye witnesses. The woman who's backyard the kid died in saw him moments after he was shot. She claimed to hear screaming that definitely belonged to Trayvon, that it definitely belonged to a kid. We know the kid was shot several houses down from where the fight took place.

So lets look at the story Zimmerman is going to try to tell

1) He gets out of his car to check what street he's on.
2) Kid jumps him. -- already contradicted by direct eyewitness testimony.
3) He gets away from the kid
4) Kid chases him -- already contradicted by eyewitness testimony
5) and runs into Witnesses back yard.
6) He's begging for the kid to stop his deadly assault for 40 seconds or so.
7) He shoots the kid.

Now the witness testimony is that he was standing over the kid immediately after the shooting and that he was nonchalant when he asked her to call the police. So how does someone go from screaming for help to nonchalant after shooting someone? Seems unlikely.
From that point on we have only Zimmerman's testimony about what ensued--which, I'm sure, will be something to the effect that Martin freaked out and started attacking him
That's not true at all there are witnesses who heard the event in its entirety, and saw the immediate aftermath.

It's simple. Is a jury going to believe this ridiculous story about he was begging for help? Or are they going to believe all the witnesses who say they heard the kid screaming?

They are also going to need to believe that he did not start the fight those two things must both be true. And we already have at least one witness who says Zimmerman confronted Trayvon, not the other way around (like Zimmerman claimed). The jury will also hear lots of witness testimony saying Trayvon was never violent, would never do anything like that, etc.

On the other hand, the cop that Zimmerman assaulted might testify to his violent tenancies, or the girlfriend who filed a restraining order against him.

If Zimmerman "provoked" the fight, then none of it matters - he would not longer be covered under SYG and would have had a duty to retreat, which he clearly didn't do.

I think it's unlikely they'll take the testimony of this guy - who we already know has lied about events - over the other witnesses.

This isn't a "reasonable doubt" thing, that's just for the act itself. There's no reasonable doubt there. This is an affirmative defense. Zimmerman will need to prove all of this.

Yes there is "a case" the defense can make. The success of that case seems remote. Not zero, but remote.

But it's ridiculous to claim that somehow the law totally endorses this type of behavior. It was clearly wrong for the police to just let him go.
How did the fistfight develop? That, surely, will be the crucial question for the jury if this comes to trial. Maybe Zimmerman said something deeply insulting to Martin? Maybe Martin was freaked out and thought that Zimmerman was a sexual predator about to rape him? Maybe Zimmerman thought he'd be a hero and perform a citizen's arrest? Any of these seem possible to me.
The only thing that matters is whether Zimmerman started the fight. If he did, SYG does not apply. All this hypothetical bullshit you're spewing is entirely irrelevant, in each one, Zimmerman provokes the fight. Even in your hypothetical scenarios, Zimmerman doesn't have immunity under SYG, and is guilty.
Yes, they recognize that this case is a PR disaster for their stupid law. I do find it ironic that several of Metafilter's staunchest liberals seem deeply invested in arguing that the NRA's Stand Your Ground law is an extremely well written and well-conceived law that can in no case lead to pernicious consequences.
Unlike you, who continues to argue that shooting unarmed black teenagers for looking suspicious is perfectly legal in Florida, and keep coming up with hypothetical scenarios where Trayvon did something to deserve getting shot.

You're so obsessed with being right that you're basically "hypothetically" slandering a dead kid in order to make him look "hypothetically" as bad as possible, even though the "hypothetical" scenarios you're making up contradict eye witness testimony, which you seem to be completely unaware of.

Are you totally unaware of how disgusting your comments are? You don't like the SYG law, so here you are trying to argue that we don't know whether or not Trayvon was beating the shit out of Zimmerman and deserved to be shot? You claim anyone who thinks there was ample evidence to arrest Zimmerman and that the cops were racist don't understand the law? It's pathetic. You're making yourself appear to be a disgusting human being because you're more concerned about making a political point about this law then you are about a kid getting shot (or so you claim).

Yet, you couldn't even be bothered to read the statute, and numerous factual errors until they were pointed out (not being aware that was an affirmate defense, not being aware it didn't apply if you provoke the fight, etc)

No one is saying the law is a good idea. In fact, had it not been for that law, Zimmerman might not have shot the kid, because he probably believed the same thing about the law that you do. You seem totally unable to process the idea that the law might be bad, yet still not cover Zimmerman.
"Metafilter's staunchest liberals seem deeply invested in arguing that the NRA's Stand Your Ground law is an extremely well written and well-conceived"
Seriously that's just disgusting. It's a clear distortion of my prior comments.

And lets be serious here. Your comments have nothing to do with trying to "prove" this law is bad. Nothing at all. If you want to critics the law, there are lots of ways to do that.

Your comments, over and over again are attacking Trayvon's character and claiming that it's reasonable to believe Zimmerman was the one begging for his life, that he didn't chase Trayvon. Two things contracted by eye-witness testimony. You're claiming that Trayvon might actually have put Zimmerman in danger of death or bodily harm.

Your comments are an attempt to defend the police department, by making their actions seem reasonable, given the law (which you didn't even bother to research). After all, if the law said what you said it did at the start of the thread (before it was explained how you were wrong) the police did nothing bad.

Claiming that all you care about is making the case the law is bad is just more disingenuous bullshit like the rest.

(Either that, you'd rather slander a dead black teenager then admit you made a simple mistake -- not sure which is worse, and I don't really care)
posted by delmoi at 5:37 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Neighbor: Trayvon Martin Shooting wasn't self defense -- "Anderson Cooper speaks with two neighbors who called 911 when Trayvon Martin was killed. They have some startling claims about how police responded to the shooting."
posted by ericb at 5:57 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Jeez, Zimmerman must be an informant or in a witness relocation program or undercover CIA or something. The police negligence/incompetence/coverup or whatever is just too much to imagine it was motivated by institutional racial bias.

/wishing I were this naive
posted by darkstar at 6:19 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can eyewitness testimony to Anderson Cooper on CNN is be reliable? Given all that we know about human psychology and memory and have discussed at length here over the years, it seems weird that MeFite's would citing these statements as hard facts. Try reading the "lock him up" posts with the voice of Nancy Grace.
posted by humanfont at 6:48 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


How long a time period does the "pre" need to be?

The way it was explained to us when I was on a jury for a murder trail a few years ago, the "pre" can come moments before the killing. It doesn't require planning as such - no ordering "How to Kill Someone" books from Amazon, or googling for that comment about how to hide a body.
posted by rtha at 6:51 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the prosecution of someone found holding a smoking gun while standing over the dead body, ( and admitting to the shooting ) does 'eyewitness testimony' count, other than to instruct us on how the Sanford PD treats the unjustified killing of a black kid?
posted by mikelieman at 6:53 PM on March 21, 2012


How can eyewitness testimony to Anderson Cooper on CNN is be reliable?

It's the same ladies quoted in previous articles. See the one Eric B linked. Mary Cutcher and Selma Mora Lamilla. Cutcher is linked upthread (by ericb I think), doing an ealier interview with what seemed like local media.

The ladies say police were pretty blase about taking their accounts.

There is definitely a lot of information in this thread. It's easy to miss facts. I've been saying Trayvon was 110 pounds, yet the accurate weight is 140, and Zimmerman's is 250.
posted by cashman at 6:57 PM on March 21, 2012


It was actually Delmoi who linked to Mary Cutcher's interview with WFTV. 16 minutes. She tells the same story as to the Miami Herald, and to Anderson Cooper.

She says the police never questioned them, asked them anything. They never contacted her. She was concerned for her safety, since the killer saw her face, but the police didn't care. She describes clearly that it was Trayvon that she heard crying - whimpering.

As opposed to Zimmerman, who just completely and utterly lied, saying
"he had stepped out of his truck to check the name of the street he was on when Trayvon attacked him from behind as he walked back to his truck, police said. He said he feared for his life and fired the semiautomatic handgun he was licensed to carry because he feared for his life."
Notice also, how Mary Cutcher, who saw Trayvon in person, calls him a little kid, over and over, and over.
posted by cashman at 7:09 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Forget it Nick... it's Sanford."
posted by SPrintF at 7:13 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can eyewitness testimony to Anderson Cooper on CNN is be reliable? Given all that we know about human psychology and memory and have discussed at length here over the years, it seems weird that MeFite's would citing these statements as hard facts. Try reading the "lock him up" posts with the voice of Nancy Grace.
Why would be any less reliable than eyewitness testimony at trial?

Obviously reporters can ask leading and speculative questions, they can ask about hearsay, etc.

But the factual statements witnesses make to a reporter aren't any less likely to be true then they would be at a trial (other then the possibility of perjury)

And again, the problem is that the question isn't whether there is enough evidence to convict him, but rather whether there was enough evidence to charge him had the police done their jobs. Clearly there was. So lock him up, and have a bail hearing, if the judge thinks he's not a flight risk, then he can be let out of jail until the trial.

Anyway, The grand jury will start hearing the case April 10th.

Until then, not being under indictment or out on bail Zimmerman could cash out his dad's bank account and hop on a plane to Russia tomorrow, if he wanted too.
posted by delmoi at 7:17 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry. I just had to get that out.

Nick Angel, in Hot Fuzz, was everyone's ideal of a "good copper." Hell, even Danny, the "Corporal Nobbs" of the pair, seemed like a decent guy. And yet here, in this little community in an obscure portion of "America's Wang", we find dumb cops that appear less interested in Truth and Justice, than Covering My Precious Ass.

I'm afraid that there's no good outcome to this story. For Trayvon's parents, there never will be a good outcome. Goddammit.

posted by SPrintF at 7:18 PM on March 21, 2012


Notice also, how Mary Cutcher, who saw Trayvon in person, calls him a little kid, over and over, and over.
Yeah, it shows how memories do change. But at the same time, all the pictures I've seen of him make him look pretty small. He's only 140 pounds. I weighed a lot more then that at 17.
posted by delmoi at 7:19 PM on March 21, 2012


> For the prosecution of someone found holding a smoking gun while standing over the dead body, ( and admitting to the shooting )

[I'm not from FL but] What I understand is that in order to claim self-defense, you have to admit to the actions involved. There is no going back -- if a claim of self-defense fails, you can't say "you can't prove it was me and my admission from before violated my 5A rights." This is why, as I understand it, there is a certain amount of circumspection in dealing with SD claims. Zimmerman should still have a presumption of innocence, under a claim of self-defense, until it is proven that his claim is bogus.

All that said, what I also understand is that normally there is more leeway given to a person in a home or residence (where they have a right to be) than in the street. (I was told that defending myself in the street, even justified, would mean going to jail and tens of thousands of dollars or more in legal fees)

I am rather confused about how all of the information, as presented, can paint anything that resembles a clear picture of the events to the police (who were involved). Either it was up-thread or elsewhere, but I recall seeing something this afternoon about a vote against the police chief based on this case, so maybe not everything stinks in Sanford.

unjustified killing

Shouldn't that be up to a jury, or do you just prefer Zimmerman's "I am the law" approach?
posted by timfinnie at 7:22 PM on March 21, 2012


Yeah, it shows how memories do change.

Huh? I'm saying that she's the one who saw him in person, and she calls him a little kid. There were some who felt like saying he was a little kid was too much, or rather inappropriate/inaccurate.
posted by cashman at 7:22 PM on March 21, 2012



unjustified killing

Shouldn't that be up to a jury,


Yes?


or do you just prefer Zimmerman's "I am the law" approach?


WHAT THE FUCK???

Given that it's clear to anyone actual reading the thread that unjustified killing is a shorthand way of referring to the exemptions enumerated as

'without lawful justification according to the provisions of chapter 776 and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder, according to the provisions of this chapter,'

in Florida's manslaughter statute, which reads in it's entirety:
(1) The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification according to the provisions of chapter 776 and in cases in which such killing shall not be excusable homicide or murder, according to the provisions of this chapter, is manslaughter, a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
You're really reaching to spin that as I'm some sort of vigilante...

In fact, I'm personally insulted, given my vigorous insistence in nothing but due process for an alleged felon accused of manslaughter.
posted by mikelieman at 7:36 PM on March 21, 2012


You're really reaching to spin that as I'm some sort of vigilante

No, I'm really not. You asserted that the killing was unjustified and that the PD is complicit. That's not "vigorous insistence in nothing but due process for an alleged felon accused of manslaughter" in my book.
posted by timfinnie at 7:42 PM on March 21, 2012


Huh? I'm saying that she's the one who saw him in person, and she calls him a little kid. There were some who felt like saying he was a little kid was too much, or rather inappropriate/inaccurate.

My son is that age, and he's a little kid.

I don't mean that in the "i have nut hairs older than you, kid" way. I mean that in the "His life hasn't even really started, and you're still in many ways childlike" kind of way.

Mr. Zimmerman is quite fortunate that he didn't do this to my son. His head would already be on a pike. Just standing my ground, is all.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:44 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, what's the justification? You know, there are laws which EXPLICITLY define those justifications, and nothing we've seen has shown any of them to be relevant.

So, again, since I'm relying on both the LETTER AND SPIRIT of the law, I stand by my statements and criticism.
posted by mikelieman at 7:45 PM on March 21, 2012


I can assert you are guilty of the crime of avunculicide if I want, but recognize you are innocent until proven guilty before the courts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:45 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


And NOTHING we've seen or heard has explained why a Felony Information for manslaughter wasn't IMMEDIATELY filed by the arresting officer, and Zimmerman held for arraignment on that charge.
posted by mikelieman at 7:46 PM on March 21, 2012


Well, what's the justification?

It will be (should be) argued in court before a (presumably competent) jury of his peers. I am not going to make his case for him, because I don't want to and I also cannot.

I don't disagree with you re: "insistence in nothing but due process for an alleged felon accused of manslaughter". His appearance in court is exactly how I think this should end up.

I do disagree with presuming guilt. That is not part of my concept of due process.
posted by timfinnie at 7:54 PM on March 21, 2012


I do disagree with presuming guilt. That is not part of my concept of due process.

Not being part of the Jury Pool, nor part of the deliberations, I can afford the luxury of making a MORAL decision based on the prevalent facts. Since I'm not a nitwit, these do take into account the actual statutes involved.

And my call is that a manslaughter prosecution, even after the possible sabotage done by potential co-consiprators in an obstruction of justice conspiracy, is still a slam-dunk.

I think the problem the DA is having is that the SPD has so incredibly fucked this case up, that it's really more of a decision of does the DA start ripping through SPD or wait for the FBI and DOJ to get to it.
posted by mikelieman at 8:00 PM on March 21, 2012


And NOTHING we've seen or heard has explained why a Felony Information for manslaughter wasn't IMMEDIATELY filed by the arresting officer, and Zimmerman held for arraignment on that charge.
It has been alleged that the police department was poorly managed, lacked proper training and was staffed by individuals who were unable to perform their duties. This is before we even get to the allegations of racism in the police department. The Zimmerman case seems to be totally fucked up as a result.
posted by humanfont at 8:17 PM on March 21, 2012


Republican state lawmakers in Florida responsible for a controversial 2005 self-defense law said it shouldn't apply to a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:19 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Since I'm not a nitwit,

For the rest of this comment, I'm assuming you are not calling me a nitwit.

these do take into account the actual statutes involved.

There is more to consider than what the law says on its face. There is precedent and interpretation, and then practical application.

For instance, [here again going from my state and not FL] -

- the term 'reasonable' in the SYG laws depend on the finding of reasonableness by a jury. It isn't a case of simply asserting SD and walking free. Again, I am confused as to why Zimmerman wasn't in jail shortly after the shooting.

- there is a thing called disparity of force, which is considered in whether excessive force was used regardless of whether the law actually references 'excessive force' because it plays back into 'reasonableness'

- there is also the question of "right to be" as I asked about way up-thread. This isn't shown to be clear-cut in my [IANAL] reading of the laws, but I have to believe it's covered under precedent somewhere. Did Zimmerman have a right to be where he finally killed Martin?

It isn't about just going through text on the internet and making a case - there are nuances that the layman cannot know, and frankly it comes down to morality-be-damned. There is a gulf between demanding justice and making morality-based decisions.

Sure, be angry and outraged - but don't tell me you can have your cake and eat it too.

the SPD has so incredibly fucked this case up

I never disputed this. I just said I was confused as to why they did what they did. Racism? Incompetence? A relationship with Zimmerman? Who knows, right now.
posted by timfinnie at 8:21 PM on March 21, 2012


5 Reasons Zimmerman's "Stand Your Ground" Defense Won't Work in Trayvon Martin Case
posted by Burhanistan at 8:23 PM on March 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


> to believe that this case is rooted in a racist society does not entail unthinking acceptance of the most cartoonish version of the events (which seems to be the one most in this thread want to believe in): that Zimmerman deliberately set out to bag himself a "coon," that he "stalked" Martin, that Martin kneeled on the ground pleading for his life while Zimmerman twirled his mustachios before shooting him, execution-style. Nothing I've seen in the 911 calls or in any of the testimony supports that ridiculously one-sided version of the story. Even within a story that is rooted in America's diseased attitudes to race there is room for complications, tragic misunderstandings, good intentions gone horribly awry.

I'm lost, I'm not finding the unthinking acceptance of anything. And where is the referenced cartoonish depiction? I mean, before it was compiled from bits and pieces of comments by many individuals. I'll grant you misunderstandings and tragedy, but who could look this child's family in the eye and shake their head sadly over "good intentions gone horribly awry?"

Here are my cartoons of things that didn't happen: Zimmerman didn't botch an emergency tracheotomy or cause a head-on collision by swerving around a runaway baby carriage, and he's sure as hell not Shakespeare's Brutus.
posted by desuetude at 8:47 PM on March 21, 2012


Doesn't canned ice tea have caffeine in it? THE KID WAS ON DRUGS.
posted by telstar at 8:58 PM on March 21, 2012


Facebook page with updated info on rallies planned across the nation in the coming days.
posted by cashman at 9:15 PM on March 21, 2012


Sanford city commissioners have voted "no confidence" in their police chief
posted by Burhanistan at 9:18 PM on March 21, 2012


Republican state lawmakers in Florida responsible for a controversial 2005 self-defense law said it shouldn't apply to a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

Yes. Who could have possibly foreseen that the law you passed to greatly broaden the subjectivity of the circumstances under which people are allowed to shoot and kill other people would be used to defend the actions of people shooting and killing other people under subjective circumstances?

Oh, Republicans, you scamps!
posted by darkstar at 9:30 PM on March 21, 2012


Meanwhile, elsewhere in Florida:

As critics assail Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in the wake of the killing of an unarmed Miami Gardens teen in Sanford, a Miami-Dade judge on Wednesday cited the law in tossing out the case of a man who chased down a suspected burglar and stabbed him to death.

Greyston Garcia was charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Pedro Roteta, 26, whom he chased for more than a block before stabbing the man.

posted by rtha at 10:17 PM on March 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is the last I have to say in this matter -- there is a majority opinion here and I don't care for it.

We all know courts and trials don't always come up with the correct results (West Memphis 3, a million other things). If we know that, we know juries can be wrong and "we" can be right. If that's true, then we can come to a correct decision in the absence of a jury decision. Unlike a court, there's no negative consequences for anyone if we are incorrect, and we can change our minds if new information comes to light.

It doesn't matter how you approach the thought after the bold. The bold itself and everything you apparently found it on is the justification of mob justice, and the reason we had lynch mobs. I live in 'the south' where apparently this is supposed to be common, and I find this type of thought to be abhorrent.

Finding a person guilty is the privilege No, I'm not even going to go into it. Absolutely abhorrent.
posted by timfinnie at 10:20 PM on March 21, 2012


there is a majority opinion here and I don't care for it

Eh, so what? I don't see anyone calling for a bullet in Zimmerman's head.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:23 PM on March 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's exactly like lynching, except for the part where we stop after saying he is guilty instead of murdering him.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:26 PM on March 21, 2012 [12 favorites]


Greyston Garcia was charged with second-degree murder in the slaying of Pedro Roteta, 26, whom he chased for more than a block before stabbing the man.

What the bloody hell?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:33 PM on March 21, 2012


Just to be clear, Granholm's article basically agrees with yoink: SYG is not an affirmative defense, and that's why it's such a shitty law. It places the burden of proof upon the prosecution, requiring them to demonstrate that Zimmerman was not acting in self-defense. (For those of you who are still confused about this, well, I'm appealing to Granholm, but you can also dig up the jurisprudence... the interpretation of the statute is what matters here.) Granholm argues that there are five pieces of evidence which the prosecution can use to effectively argue against the SYG defense... but it is absolutely the case that the prosecution will have to make those arguments to a judge in order to proceed to trial.
posted by mek at 10:40 PM on March 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


It doesn't matter how you approach the thought after the bold. The bold itself and everything you apparently found it on is the justification of mob justice, and the reason we had lynch mobs. I live in 'the south' where apparently this is supposed to be common, and I find this type of thought to be abhorrent.
I don't think complaining about someone on the internet is "mob justice" And really, is the Jury system we have today really that reliable? The important difference here if I make a mistake, nothing happens, and if new information comes up, I can change my mind.

The other thing, though is that this isn't a case with a bunch of ambiguity with respect the central fact. Zimmerman killed Martin. The only question is whether or not it was legal for him to do so. Clearly I don't think it was, even under Florida's messed up law.

And if he's not, the problem is with the law, not his actual moral responsibility.
Just to be clear, Granholm's article basically agrees with yoink: SYG is not an affirmative defense, and that's why it's such a shitty law.
Well, she isn't addressing that specific legal question. The article says:
The way the bill is written, in order for the defense to work, the prosecutor has to rebut Zimmerman's claim that he acted in self-defense.
Which actually seems to be an error - it could mean either "in order for the prosecution to work, the prosecutor has to..." or "In order for the defense two work, defense council has to..." She also just says "prove"

Anyway, if it's not an affirmative defense, that would obviously make it more difficult for the prosecutor. I certainly wouldn't claim otherwise. someone on CNN made that claim, but it was a cop, not a laywer:
STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER POLICE DETECTIVE: Dr. Drew, in my 30 years in law enforcement, I wish I had a dollar for every one of these type personalities I ran into. These are individuals that secrete themselves into positions with a little bit of authority and they try and act like police officers.

So, yes, he absolutely is a cop wannabe. He had a four-year degree in criminal justice and he was acting out his desired dream of being a police officer. He overstepped his lines and now we have a young man dead.

PINSKY: Steve, how do we -- I mean, to me, we have to -- this is crazy, but we have to protect ourselves from these guys, not just the criminals, right?

KARDIAN: You know, they do. And this was a homicide. It`s a homicide. The "Stand Your Ground" law is an affirmative defense or offense to the homicide according to the law. And it just wasn`t investigated like a homicide, unfortunately.
But the key is still the 'provoke' thing. If the prosecutors can prove he 'provoked' the attack, the SYG stuff won't apply. The people who wrote the law already think it's obvious that Zimmerman provoked the fight, as far as their law is concerned.

The other serious problem for that defense is the fact that Zimmerman he actually shot him at a location other then where the fight took place.

So in an absence of an "affirmative defense" the Jury is going to have to believe there is a reasonable possibility of the following things might be false, which seem obviously true to me:
1) Zimmerman provoked the fight.

2) Zimmerman had no reason to fear death or great bodily harm when he shot Martin, after the fight, after he chased him.
Now, just respecting #2, here are some important facts, which are known for sure.
A) Zimmerman and Martin had already fought, and Zimmerman didn't incur great bodily harm.

B) Multiple eye witnesses say Zimmerman was chasing Martin after the fight.

C) Eye witnesses say they heard Martin, and not Zimmerman begging for his life.
So lets look at the following propositions, which I think are true:
3) A rational, reasonable person would realize after getting into a fight with someone, that if they didn't injure and they ran away, they didn't pose a risk of great bodily harm or death, because if it could have happened, it would have happened.

4) A rational, reasonable person would not chase someone who they had a reasonable basis to believe might kill them or do them great bodily harm. Therefore, the fact Zimmerman chased Martin after the fight proves he didn't think he posed a threat to his life.

5) If you have someone at gunpoint, the cops are a minute or two away, and they are begging for their lives, a rational person would not think they posed a threat.
---

In order for Zimmerman to get off, a Jury is going to have to think that all five of those are false. And, zimmerman's testimony is going to be suspect his version of events contradicts witnesses.

If its an affirmative defense, then Zimmerman will have to prove all five are false. If it's not an Affirmative defense, then they will have to have 'reasonable' doubt that all are false. If a jury thinks any one of those things are true, then Zimmerman won't get convict.

Even if you simply assign a 50% probability to propositions 1, 3, 4 and 5 (since 2 is true if either 1, 2 or 3 is true) then there is a 93.75% probability that he's guilty, given that set of questions. (Assigning 50% probability to unknowns with two possibilities is standard in probability theory)

Obviously I think the probability greater then 50% for each one.

(also, I'm hardly saying this is conclusive, maybe there are further premises that we could assign probabilities to in order to calculate the probability of guilt. This is just one example to illustrate why I think acquittal is very unlikely)

The prosecutors here are going to be the state AGs working with the DOJ, the investigators are going to be the FBI. Federal prosecutors have a 90% conviction rate.

Yoink said he thought juries would be racist, but the shooter his Hispanic, and the key witness is a pretty, young white girl. So even if we assume that's true, it actually works against him here.

Just think about a potential closing statement:

"We tell our children not to talk to strangers. We tell them to look out for people following them. We tell them to run away if someone tells them to come with them. We tell them to fight back if people try to grab them. Do you think it should be legal for someone to shoot and kill your children if they follow that advice?"

I don't think he'll be acquitted. He could end up getting a plea deal down to manslaughter or something, but i don't think it's in the interests of anyone in government to do that at this point.

The fact is, the deck is really stacked against the defendant in a lot of cases. That's something I think is bad in general. But, this guy wouldn't even have a defense if not for that messed up law, there is no question that Zimmerman shot Trayvon, he is clearly morally responsible for his death.

The only question is whether that law protected his immoral act. I agree with Jennifer Granholm, that is vanishingly unlikely.
posted by delmoi at 12:16 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Through the comments on Ta-Nehisi Coates' site I discovered that the Sanford city website has all the recordings and other documentation on the investigation, including the initial police reports as well as all the burglaries reported in the last year. Also, event reports for every call Zimmerman ever made to Sanford 911. He called a lot. I used Seminole County Codes to help decipher the 911 reports just for fun or whatever. Reading these reports helped humanize him for me. He seems like someone who is very concerned. This is someone who, in his early 20s long before he was neighborhood watch, calls 911 repeatedly about open garage doors or kids riding without carseats.

But starting last year I count at least seven different black boys and men (and Trayvon made eight) who had the cops called because Zimmerman didn't know them. He thought they might be burglars. None of them were burglars. In one case the black guy was going to a house where Zimmerman knew a white man lived (so obviously no black man should be going there) but Zimmerman didn't bother to call his neighbor who was home at the time.

I got sad when I got to the last report:

"1017 (investigate) area for BM late teens lsw dark gray hoodie jeans or sweatpants walking around area//compl (complainant) concerned ref recent S21s (burglaries)"

Just walking around the area...
posted by Danila at 2:02 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also the police reports of the shooting make clear that Trayvon's body was found in the grassy area behind the houses. On Google Maps it's around here (zoom in to see exactly, I'm not good with Google map linking). There is no way Zimmerman was by his car. And if he got out of the car to check the street sign but didn't chase Trayvon, how did they end up behind the houses? Why didn't the cops wonder how Trayvon ended up dead in someone's backyard a significant distance from any street?
posted by Danila at 2:19 AM on March 22, 2012


Oh yeah, there is another thing. I remember people mentioning up-thread something about a "right to be" I just realized they were talking about something that's actually in the SYG law, that I hadn't thought about.
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Does anyone else know what "right to be" means in Florida law? I would assume that, in the case of private property, you need permission - or it has to be commonly expected that you have the right to be there?

The stuff I was mentioning earlier all seems obviously true. But it all depends on witness testimony, there is at least one person, Zimmerman, who disputes them.

But these two facts are obviously true, not dependent on anyone's memory and not in dispute at all.

1) Zimmerman killed Trayvon in Mary Cutcher's back yard.
2) Zimmerman didn't ask permission to go into her back yard.
3) The SYG law only applies if you have a legal right to be where you are when you use lethal force.

So the only question is, is there some other way, under Florida law, that Zimmerman might have had a legal right to be in her back yard?

Because if not, then based on the facts which which are completely undisputed, SYG does not apply at all.

I haven't seen anyone mention it outside of this thread, but I'd read the statute several times and didn't think about the "right to be" in conjunction with the fact that he actually shot him in Cutcher's back yard.
posted by delmoi at 4:13 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


(On the other hand, it could be that her 'back yard' is just the general area behind her house, not part of her lease. Hmmm)
posted by delmoi at 4:15 AM on March 22, 2012


I think (3) is intended for Trayvon Martin, to be able to defend himself LAWFULLY from being assaulted and/or kidnapped at gunpoint as he was walking from the candy store to the residence where he was an invited guest

"any other place where Trayvon Martin had a right to be..."

Such as walking down the street.

I think that in any universe but this one, there's plenty there for anyone to file a felony information for -- manslaughter if you want to go for a slam-dunk, and murder 1 if you think you can make a premeditation case on him getting out of his car to pursue someone he knew the police were coming to check out ( not what a reasonably prudent person would do ) and then he ends his call with 9-1-1 DURING HIS PURSUIT ( which can arguably be characterized as "Stalking and Hunting" )
posted by mikelieman at 4:38 AM on March 22, 2012


In order for Zimmerman to get off, a Jury is going to have to think that all five of those are false. And, zimmerman's testimony is going to be suspect his version of events contradicts witnesses.

No. First his lawyers will file a motion to dismiss based on SYG. The judge can decide that SYG applies and dismiss the case. If the judge decides against the defendant, then his lawyers can argue it before the jury. There have been many cases like this and the judge has decided almost all of them.
The second assumption you are making is that the eye witness accounts are going to be consistent with the other physical evidence or with each other. I agree what has been shown is pretty damning, but we don't know if these statements will ever make it before the judge and jury as evidence. The judge's criteria for accepting the affirmative defense are absurdly low and favor Zimmerman. Consider this case cited here

Bostic's 16-year-old son Traveres was sitting in his car in a Sanford parking lot when he was surprised by private armed guards in 2005.
The teen pulled away in his car. The guards shot him in the back and killed him. A Judge dismissed manslaughter charges after the guards claimed Traveres was trying to run them over.

posted by humanfont at 5:17 AM on March 22, 2012


Trayvon Martin supporters urged to send Skittles to police chief.
posted by ericb at 5:56 AM on March 22, 2012


Watch/listen to this segment which involves audio analysis by a CNN sound engineer.

Did Martin shooter use slur? -- "CNN's Gary Tuchman explores a crucial part of the 911 call George Zimmerman made to police."
posted by ericb at 6:06 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Watch/listen to this segment which involves audio analysis by a CNN sound engineer.

Well when they isolate it down to the word, it certainly seems a lot more like "coons". Also, he's cursing on the phone with the operator. He'd already called Trayvon an asshole. Then he starts whispering - certainly lends creedence to the idea that he was saying fucking coons. Guess we'll see what Zimmerman says he said.
posted by cashman at 6:21 AM on March 22, 2012


If you watched that vid (thanks, ericb) with the isolated audio of Zimmerman saying "fucking coons" and still think he said "cops" or "punks" or "jerks" you need a hearing test. He said "fucking coons."
posted by a_girl_irl at 6:31 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I still don't understand why Zimmerman wasn't arrested, SYG law or not.

I mean, we have a dead person, a man with a literal smoking gun who admits freely that he shot the dead person, you'd think taking the guy with the gun into custody would be automatic.

But, apparently, if the victim is black and the perp says the right magic words the perp can avoid even being arrested.

Is it really racial, or are the police in Florida that lax about arresting black perps who try to say the magic SYG words when they're literally standing over a white corpse holding a smoking gun?
posted by sotonohito at 7:11 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ta-Nehisi Coates has been digging through other 'Stand Your Ground' cases. The one he posted just now is particularly... illuminating? heartbreaking? It's undeniable that the victim was engaged in a crime, but it is a crime that should not be punishable by death.
What we have in Florida--and doubtlessly in other parts of the country--is the state relinquishing a crucial aspect of meting out justice. The logic here militates toward getting a gun--even for people who don't like guns. The logic incentivizes an armed citizenry where the beneficiary of justice is simply the last man standing. Your side of the story is irrelevant if you are dead.
posted by muddgirl at 7:25 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, you know. Actual JUSTICE is expensive, and we can support all the people who think they're entitled to due process and equal protection.

I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
posted by mikelieman at 7:32 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


can = can't. grr...arg.
posted by mikelieman at 7:32 AM on March 22, 2012


Did Martin shooter use slur? -- "CNN's Gary Tuchman explores a crucial part of the 911 call George Zimmerman made to police."
I was really surprised that NBC news ran with that, actually. Especially since they bleeped it - viewers would have had no idea that how quiet the word actually was. It does sound like "Coons" in the CNN bit, but the problem is the 'C' sound could simply be air blowing across the microphone. But it doesn't sound like 'cops' or 'dogs' at all to me now.

Also, according to Toobin, if he did say Coons, then that would allow the federal government to prosecute the case as a hate crime. Florida's SYG law wouldn't, I don't think, play into that.

I'd still like to see more clarity on this 'right to be' issue. Did Zimmerman have the legal right to be in Cutcher's back yard back yard when shot Martin?
posted by delmoi at 7:52 AM on March 22, 2012


The change.org petition - Prosecute the killer of our son, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is at around 999,000 signatures, and probably will hit a million in the next few minutes.
posted by cashman at 7:54 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I mean, we have a dead person, a man with a literal smoking gun who admits freely that he shot the dead person, you'd think taking the guy with the gun into custody would be automatic.

They cops cuffed Zimmerman and took him to the police station. But, that's about as far as they got.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:11 AM on March 22, 2012


He said "fucking coons."

On Fark, of all places, one poster said that he listened to the audio expecting to hear "punks" or "cops" because he figured the mainstream media was sensationally reporting it as "coons." He was, he reported, greatly surprised to hear "coons." That audio certainly makes it seem like "coons" to me, though I think there's still a tiny amount of wiggle room available to argue that it's something else.

But at this point, I don't care too much about what Mr. Zimmerman may or may not have said. I just want him and the Sanford PD to be thoroughly investigated, and, in the event of a determination of guilt/culpability, to receive the most reasonable, though maximally punitive, consequences for their actions.
posted by lord_wolf at 8:25 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Parents of slain Fla. teen to meet with feds.
posted by ericb at 8:29 AM on March 22, 2012


Glenn Beck's Website Calls Trayvon Martin "The Aggressor".
posted by ericb at 8:32 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other thing, though -- it sounds like a lot of these cases that lead to an SYG dismissal by a Judge. I almost wonder if, had the police prosecuted him and the case had been handled by the local DA if any of this would even have come up. Instead of the resources of the Local DA, you have the national media and FBI investigating. There's a possibility of a federal charge now (according to Tobin). So in a way, the local police may have sealed his fate by trying to help him in an incompetent way.
posted by delmoi at 8:34 AM on March 22, 2012


Does anyone else fight the urge to stamp their feet, stick their fingers in their ears, and scream SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP any time Glenn Beck says anything, ever?
posted by elsietheeel at 8:42 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


What the fuck is a glenn beck?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:55 AM on March 22, 2012


An unusually large species of vegetable.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:58 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know a place online the 7:00 pm rally tonight at Fort Mellon Park will be streamed? Or if CSPAN or PBS has plans to broadcast it?
posted by cashman at 9:17 AM on March 22, 2012


I really hope that this rally has a HUGE turnout of all sorts of people from all walks of life.

I wish that I could go and be a part of a crowd that peacefully gives the proverbial middle finger to the city of Sanford.
posted by futz at 9:27 AM on March 22, 2012


Imagining a white Trayvon Martin -- and a black George Zimmerman
posted by futz at 9:56 AM on March 22, 2012


Trayvon Martin case: Anthony Raimondo, first officer in charge of scene, involved in previous cover-up.
posted by ericb at 10:56 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sanford Closes Roads Ahead Of Trayvon Rally.

Also ...
"Sharpton said he will lead a protest with Trayvon Martin's parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin at 7 p.m. at 600 East 1st Street, instead instead of the First Shiloh Baptist Church on South Elm Avenue. Sharpton will hold a press conference at the park beforehand at 4:30 p.m.
Before the news conference, the Sanford City manager will hold a news conference at 3:30 p.m. to discuss the current status of the events surrounding the investigation. WESH 2 will bring this conference to you live on air and online."
posted by ericb at 11:00 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Imagining a white Trayvon Martin -- and a black George Zimmerman

Yeah, but different state with different laws. There actually was a similar case in Florida, where a 69 year old black man shot a 41 year old white guy after a confrontation. Apparently he wasn't actually until two days later, but he was prosecuted for manslaughter. In that case though it's not clear if the gunshot was intentional, the person who was shot tried to grab the gun and then it went off. According to this article the case is still ongoing, but it's not clear if Dooley will be let off under SYG or not.

But the difference is in the way the police and prosecutors handled it: rather then simply ignoring the death, they arrested him, charged him and are arguing in court that SYG does not apply. The hearing for this is apparently next week.
posted by delmoi at 11:05 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Apparently Occupy are now trying to make it all about themselves.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


What the fuck is a glenn beck?

One of many very successful professional trolls.
posted by darkstar at 11:26 AM on March 22, 2012


Artw I'm not sure that's quite fair. The author of that piece is disgruntled with the (gasp! fallible!) Occupy movement for reasons that are open to debate. Should the OWS people at that event have taken better care with the Martin message? Sure. Arguably for some of those people their own identification as "occupiers" has gotten in the way of their efforts.

But OWS is very much relevant to this issue. There needs to be established an awareness of continuity in the way police practice is changing across the nation, and the the overlapping events in Sanford and UC Davis is too instructive to dismiss.

OWS veterans are in a natural position to bolster the message of the hoodie march. I hope they will take on a more sensitive and constructive role going forward.

This is a matter of self-presevation for the OWS movement too. Effectively supporting causes such as this, over time, is the best way to keep these interconnected ideas out front—again, by building continuity through judicious participation in a string of closely enough spaced media bonanzas.
posted by maniabug at 11:42 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


New details in George Zimmerman domestic-violence petitions
posted by futz at 11:42 AM on March 22, 2012


^overlapping of events
posted by maniabug at 11:44 AM on March 22, 2012


delmoi I can't help but see parallels to the murder of Oscar Grant by Johannes Mehserle.

In both cases the attacker was allowed to roam around free and the initial reaction by the police seems to have been a desire to simply let the perp go free. The investigations started only after massive public outcry forced officials to act when they quite evidently did not want to.

I have little doubt that Zimmerman, like Mehserle, will get a slap on the wrist at the absolute most.
posted by sotonohito at 12:08 PM on March 22, 2012


Trayvon's father, Tracy Martin, spoke to the Orlando Sentinel today in the gated community where his son was shot to death on Feb. 26.

"I'm trying to hold everyone together, it's tough," Tracy Martin said. His last conversation with Trayvon, he said, was about whether the teen had enough money for Pizza.

Tracy Martin said that Sanford police told him they would walk him through the crime scene but they never did. On Wednesday, the bereaved father walked along the path Trayvon may have taken the night he was shot.

posted by futz at 12:09 PM on March 22, 2012


Crimony, what is it with the Orlando Sentinel and their insistence that I look at local mugshots?
posted by rhizome at 12:18 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Something that has bothered me ever since I heard Zimmerman's 911 call is they way his voice sounds. There is something disturbing there that I can't quite put my finger on. Perhaps I sense a attitude of forced nonchalance about what is happening? A kind of an "oh woe is me" Eeyore voice which he uses to explain that there is a black kid in his neighborhood while he mutters a racial slur. Every time I hear it I feel perturbed and icky. It's like getting a peek through a window that is usually shuttered closed.
posted by futz at 12:24 PM on March 22, 2012


> Something that has bothered me ever since I heard Zimmerman's 911 call is they way his voice sounds.

To me, he sounds either slightly inebriated or simply sleep deprived.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:29 PM on March 22, 2012


http://livewire.wesh.com/Event/Trayvon_Martin_Updates

News conference about to start - video is live. (thanks ericb)
posted by cashman at 12:29 PM on March 22, 2012


Sanford's city manager has called a 3:30 p.m. news conference, prompting speculation that it may be about the future of embattled Police Chief Bill Lee Jr., who has drawn a firestorm of criticism since the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old.

That is right now but I can't find it yet...
posted by futz at 12:32 PM on March 22, 2012


Thanks cashman. I should have previewed.
posted by futz at 12:33 PM on March 22, 2012


Some random dude jumped up and is advocating protection for Zimmerman.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:38 PM on March 22, 2012


Whoa - some dude is there talking about his dad!
posted by cashman at 12:38 PM on March 22, 2012


Whoa! Someone just walked up to that press conference and made an impromptu speech.
posted by activitystory at 12:38 PM on March 22, 2012


Chief Lee is announcing his resignation.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:40 PM on March 22, 2012


Bill Lee: "While I stand by the department and the investigation....I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself as police chief of Sanford".
posted by cashman at 12:40 PM on March 22, 2012


Chief Lee is announcing his resignation.

Nope - temporarily.
posted by cashman at 12:41 PM on March 22, 2012


Good Bye Chief. Temporary leave wtf.
posted by futz at 12:41 PM on March 22, 2012


Yeah, but it's doubtful he'll be back.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:41 PM on March 22, 2012


To me, he [Zimmerman] sounds either slightly inebriated or simply sleep deprived.

Or just plain dim.
posted by aught at 12:41 PM on March 22, 2012


Is that it?
posted by futz at 12:44 PM on March 22, 2012


Yeah, but it's doubtful he'll be back.

Where are you getting that? He said temporarily.

I lost video as well, futz.
posted by cashman at 12:45 PM on March 22, 2012


> Where are you getting that? He said temporarily.

Come on. With this kind of profile there's no way he's getting his job back.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:45 PM on March 22, 2012


WESH says that their next live event will be at 4:30.
posted by futz at 12:46 PM on March 22, 2012


Lee was on the job for just 10 months. He joined the department after a 27-year career at the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. His mission was the clean up a department marked by internal turmoil and race-related scandals.

FTA:

• As evidence that the incident was not a case of racial profiling, Lee told The Miami Herald that when the police dispatch operator asked Zimmerman the race of the suspicious person he saw, the Hispanic neighborhood watch captain did not know. Yet when the recording of that conversation was made public, Zimmerman clearly says, “he looks black.”

• Initial police reports never mentioned that Zimmerman had a bloody nose or a wet shirt that showed evidence of a struggle. Attorneys for the dead teen’s family believe the information was added in a second report to justify the lack of an arrest.

• Police said witness statements supported Zimmerman’s account. But several of the witnesses expressed surprise, telling The Herald that they reported hearing someone crying for help just before a shot ended the cries. The 911 tapes of witness calls bolstered their claims.

• One of the witnesses who heard the crying said she called a detective repeatedly, but said he was not interested because her account differed from Zimmerman’s.

• For nearly a month, police never noticed a profanity Zimmerman mumbled under his breath when he called police, which some people believe was accompanied by a muffled racial slur.

• Even though investigators have the dead boy’s cell phone, it was Trayvon’s father who combed through the phone records to discover that his son was talking to a girlfriend in the moments that led up to his death.
posted by futz at 12:56 PM on March 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


To me, he sounds either slightly inebriated or simply sleep deprived.

If ONLY standard police procedure in a manslaughter investigation included drug and alcohol tests of the shooter!
posted by mikelieman at 1:07 PM on March 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


ALEC wrote the SYG law and NRA pushed it.

Heck of a job, assholes.
posted by darkstar at 1:40 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


They ran about 10 minutes of live video at that WESH link. Protestors gathered, chanting "Down with Zimmerman" or "No justice No peace". And one guy is there with a "Fucking Coons" sign, telling everyone that's what Zimmerman said. You could also hear people milling about and saying "they should have roped that part off right there" or "Hey! how are you, this couple has been married 30 years!" But the part that choked me up a bit was at the end when probably 5 or 6 people started yelling "Help Me!!!!" over and over like Trayvon did before he was shot in the chest. And shortly after, Wesh put up the color bars and tone, which is what is up there now.
posted by cashman at 1:42 PM on March 22, 2012


Feed is up, just a shot of the stage. I can hear singing of "We Shall Overcome" in the background. This reminds me that I need to finish reading MLK jr's autobiography, which I picked up after reading references to his speechs in an Occupy thread here.

How far we've come and how far we have to go.
posted by Big_B at 2:04 PM on March 22, 2012


ACLU (?) is up at the podium.
posted by Big_B at 2:16 PM on March 22, 2012


ALEC wrote the SYG law and NRA pushed it.

And for people that don't know: ALEC = Koch brothers.
posted by inigo2 at 2:17 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


lord_wolf: "no one I know who's ever had a gun pointed at them has told a story of asking what the gun holder was doing"

Hello. I once asked a policewoman why she was pointing her gun at me for the crime of walking down the street at 1 in the morning in dark clothes. Needless to say, I also slowly raised my hands and locked them behind my head until cooler heads arrived on scene and defused the situation.

humanfont: "Given all that we know about human psychology and memory and have discussed at length here over the years, it seems weird that MeFite's would citing these statements as hard facts."

That's why it's important to get accounts from all witnesses as soon as possible as well as conduct a thorough search for physical evidence. An individual witness account is terribly unreliable. However, when many different and unrelated witnesses have the same account before they've had time to "rewrite" their memory it can be indicative, although rarely if ever disposatory.

delmoi: "So the only question is, is there some other way, under Florida law, that Zimmerman might have had a legal right to be in her back yard?"

It depends on what was meant by "her back yard." There are many common areas in the development, some of which might be reasonably described as someone's (unfenced) back yard. The plat and all the legal docs are available on the Seminole County Clerk's website, if anyone else in interested in suffering through the godawful Java viewer that Florida counties love to use.
posted by wierdo at 2:22 PM on March 22, 2012


Oh god please get a new lawyer.
posted by cashman at 2:23 PM on March 22, 2012


Big B:
John Lewis' autobiography, 'Walking with the Wind' is absolutely fantastic, and a good look at the bottom-up organizing that made the civil rights movement so successful, in contrast to the personality-oriented model of King & crew.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:24 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks - I'll check it out.
posted by Big_B at 2:26 PM on March 22, 2012


I really (hope) doubt that this lawyer will actually be the actual trial lawyer. It looks to be out of his league. By the time (if) there is a trial there will be some big shots involved.
posted by futz at 2:27 PM on March 22, 2012


Wait, whose lawyer? The Martin's attorneys won't be involved any criminal trial, other than perhaps ancillary support or coaching. If they file a civil suit it will most definitely not be that guy.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:33 PM on March 22, 2012


The Bullet Next Time - Ajani Husband's letter to his unborn black son.

I'm considering telling my son something similar once he reaches his teen years.

I once asked a policewoman why she was pointing her gun at me for the crime of walking down the street at 1 in the morning in dark clothes. Needless to say, I also slowly raised my hands and locked them behind my head until cooler heads arrived on scene and defused the situation.

You're both brave and lucky, wierdo. If you are black male, had she shot you, many people would have been of the opinion that you were belligerent in speech for questioning her and possibly aggressive in behavior by raising your hands -- however slowly (remember, Diallo was reaching for his wallet) -- without having been directed to do so.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:11 PM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


There are others just like that with Black men talking about how they will have to talk to their sons, lord_wolf. Toure posted one yesterday, then Etan Thomas (the former NBA player) this afternoon. It is just sad.
posted by cashman at 3:17 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sad isn't a big enough word for those links, especially Ajani Husband's.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:29 PM on March 22, 2012


Both of those are just as powerful as the Ajani Husband letter. Thanks for sharing, cashman.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:29 PM on March 22, 2012


Clear sign I haven't been watching news channels recently. CNN and MSNBC cover other stories - turn on Fox, of all places, and they are covering Trayvon Martin. And fairly too. Mind blown.
posted by cashman at 4:08 PM on March 22, 2012


(CNN is covering the US Serviceman being charged with 17 counts of murder, MSNBC is fixated on Mitt Romney's "etch a sketch" comments.)
posted by cashman at 4:09 PM on March 22, 2012


Husband's shit is cold.
posted by telstar at 4:12 PM on March 22, 2012


Hey cashman, I don't know what time zone you are in but msnbc has been covering the crap out of this all week. Matter of fact, someone up thread mentioned (darkstar?) that Zimmerman might be an informant of some sort and that is why he wasn't questioned more in depth. This was mentioned on the Ed Show last night:

SCHULTZ: So doesn`t anybody on the Sanford Police Department know the
law?

I`m joined tonight by attorney Mike Papantonio, also host of the "Ring
of Fire" radio show.

Mike, sort this out for us. What`s at the crux of all of this? The
interpretation of this law?

MIKE PAPANTONIO, RING OF FIRE: Well, it is. As a prosecutor, this --
Zimmerman could be charged with premeditated murder, Ed. There`s no need
for a grand jury. The grand jury is simply a way for the state attorney`s
office to cop out and to pass the buck on this one.

Premeditated murder, a plan to commit premeditated murder can take
place in three to five minutes. It can be formulated in that short a time.

The elements of premeditation certainly exist here. The child was
running away, there was no question about it. He was running away from the
point of conflict. The shooter had been clearly warned, don`t pursue,
we`ll take care of it. Let the professionals take care of it.

And rather than the shooter having a reasonable fear of harm -- and
those are the key words -- a reasonable fear of harm for himself, it`s
clear that there was abundant evidence that Zimmerman was acting out of
rage about this African-American child in his neighborhood. He had stated
that "these people" get away with things like that, and it just shows that
there was more going on in this man`s mind than simply being a neighborhood
watch.

So the real question comes down to this -- what state of mind is the
issue? State of mind comes down and the prosecutors need to focus on the
state of mind, what the state of mind of that person was, when the child
was running away, taking himself away from the conflict, after the shooter
had been told, do not pursue.

So here you have this character that is, you know, he`s been doing
this for years. Driving around the neighborhood, hunting -- the only way I
can characterize is kind of hunting for something.


The real thing that concerns me, Ed, is that you see this type of
thing happen when charges aren`t brought. Usually, where there is a
confidential informant, when somebody has been working for the authorities
in some capacity.

You remember, this is a man who was charged with battery on a police
officer. I think it`s remarkable that that was just dropped out of thin
air. You don`t get away with battery on a police officer.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

PAPANTONIO: And you almost ask yourself, was that time that he became
an informant? We don`t know. There`s been no discussion about that.

But that`s something these lawyers need to be asking about.
Otherwise, it doesn`t make any sense that they failed to perform even basic
forensics that points to --
posted by futz at 4:41 PM on March 22, 2012


Both of those are just as powerful as the Ajani Husband letter. Thanks for sharing, cashman.

No no, Ajani Husband's is incredible and moving. Wow, what a great find lord_wolf. That shook me to the core - I hadn't read it when I posted the links I did.

Futz, I know msnbc covered it - I just mean since the rally started at 7pm, and I wanted to see coverage of it. And strangely enough, fox was the only one of the three doing that right around the start of the rally.
posted by cashman at 4:45 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cashman, my last comment wasn't meant to be "i told you so" in any way. Msnbc has been all over this with maybe the exception of Chris Matthews who has devoted some time to it.
posted by futz at 4:45 PM on March 22, 2012


True that. I was hoping that they'd show it too. Was surprised that they didn't boot a rerun of Hardball to show the rally. Hoping that the Ed Show does.
posted by futz at 4:49 PM on March 22, 2012


I'm trying to think of who I can send that Ajani Husband link to, that won't immediately bust into tears. That's FPP worthy. I wish I could be at that rally.
posted by cashman at 4:54 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Police Chief Lee: “While I stand by the Sanford Police Department, its personnel, and the investigation that was conducted in regards to the Trayvon Martin case, it is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process.”

He's toast. He is standing by this investigation. That is his statement. Unreal. He had a chance to be a human and he failed.
posted by futz at 5:21 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


He's toast. He is standing by this investigation. That is his statement. Unreal. He had a chance to be a human and he failed.

Well, he also had a chance to increase liability in a civil suit. Standing by things now isn't a huge surprise, I wouldn't think.
posted by inigo2 at 5:34 PM on March 22, 2012


True. I wasn't saying that I was surprised. SOP in cases like this.
posted by futz at 6:02 PM on March 22, 2012


Well, he also had a chance to increase liability in a civil suit. Standing by things now isn't a huge surprise, I wouldn't think.

Well, he could have just kept his mouth shut.
posted by delmoi at 7:04 PM on March 22, 2012


Thursday at 12:30 p.m., hundreds of Carol City High students walked out in support of their former classmate Trayvon Martin, who attended the school as a freshman and sophomore.
"Drivers in the area were stunned as hundreds of students filled the streets and sidewalks. The walk out brought traffic to a standstill until the teenagers passed."
A march I was in did this same thing in Seattle. I've referenced it previously, with the Oscar Grant shooting. It was a march to protest the shooting of Robert Lee Thomas Sr. Guess how he died? He was driving some place, and pulled his pickup truck off the road and parked. A white off-duty police officer named Mel Miller was called by a neighbor and told to investigate Thomas Sr and his son, Thomas Jr, claiming they were blocking a driveway.

Miller went out and confronted Thomas Sr, and drew his gun. Thomas Jr. had a gun. Miller shot Thomas Jr. from the sidewalk 3 times through the passenger side of his truck, and shot and killed Thomas Sr, as Thomas Jr. pleaded for his life.

Sound familiar?

The march went onto the highway in the middle of the day, and stopped traffic. On I-5. Mel Miller no jail time - he got off.


Before that, I was involved with protests with the shooting death of Timothy Thomas by Police Officer Steven Roach. Details of that, and the riots in Cincinnati, are on wikipedia. Roach left the force and went to nearby Evendale (nearby as in 15 minute drive), where I believe he still works to this day.

So it's the police, then its off-duty police, now it's freaking neighborhood watch. What's next man, a meter reader guns down a black preteen? A crossing guard is going to shoot a black toddler?

I bet Zimmerman will remain free. And that fucking sucks.
posted by cashman at 7:06 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Huffington Post]
Seminole County State Attorney Norman R. Wolfinger Thursday night removed himself from the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager whose killing by a town watch volunteer last month sparked national outrage.

“In the interest of the public safety of the citizens of Seminole County and to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, I would respectfully request the executive assignment of another state attorney for the investigation and any prosecution arising from the circumstances surrounding the death of Trayvon B. Martin,” Wolfinger said in a statement released about 9:15 p.m. “This request is being made in light of the public good with the intent of toning down the rhetoric and preserving the integrity of this investigation.”

-------------------------

[local6]
Florida's governor has appointed a new prosecutor to oversee the investigation into last month's shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

Gov. Rick Scott late Thursday appointed Angela B. Corey to oversee the investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin.

"The governor called me late this afternoon and I accepted his request and we will begin tomorrow to look into the facts and circumstances in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin," Corey told Local 6's sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville.
posted by cashman at 9:35 PM on March 22, 2012


So, at the very least, the law enforcement community of Seminole County are systematically unable to handle a case like this. Talk about no-confidence.
posted by rhizome at 1:18 AM on March 23, 2012


So, at the very least, the law enforcement community of Seminole County are systematically unable to handle a case like this. Talk about no-confidence.

Given this, why would anyone presume that any county is any different?

Dear Juan Carlos I of Spain,

We changed our minds.
posted by mikelieman at 4:32 AM on March 23, 2012


NPR's Double Take 'Toons for today focus on the Trayvon shooting. Been waiting for this to be the topic for the last few days.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:37 AM on March 23, 2012


mikeand1: ""My issue here is that you seem be be acting like arresting the guy for murdering a kid, and lettting the court sort it all out is some sort of BAD thing, when it's pretty much the Business-as-Usual process."


I'm specifically talking about charging someone, not simply arresting them. If someone gets charged when the evidence doesn't support it, then YES, that is a bad thing. I don't know if you've ever been charged with a serious crime, but it can destroy your life.
"

There are actually, genuinely innocent (not innocent as in "there were extenuating circumstances", innocent like "not involved in the crime in any way whatsover") men, mostly black, sitting around on death row, who could be exonerated if the state would agree to a DNA test, but they won't. These are people who are convicted with little to no physical evidence, or where the murder itself was not witnessed at all, where there is evidence of cop misbehavior, of forced or manipulated confessions, and of witnesses who later recant their testimony.

Contrast that with this situation. There isn't any confusion over whether Zimmerman actually shot and killed a guy. Nor is there any doubt as to whether he may or may not have been in actual danger. Nor is there any lack of evidence that he actively pursued an unarmed man and involved himself in a confrontation that resulted in death when he was explictly instructed by officials not to do so.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:06 AM on March 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Geraldo Rivera: Guns Don't Kill People, Hoodies Kill People
posted by zombieflanders at 7:18 AM on March 23, 2012


Also from TPM: Obama: 'If I Had A Son, He Would Look Like Trayvon'

Wow (in a good way).
posted by zombieflanders at 7:19 AM on March 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Great, now hes going to have to have beer with the asshole cops.
posted by Artw at 7:34 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Florida man lives to tell of 'shoot first' horror.
posted by futz at 8:13 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The more I read from defenders of this law, the more I'm convinced that we are just operating on different levels of reality:
"It's not a 007 license to kill," said Sean Caranna, who heads a gun rights group called Florida Carry.
This law IS being treated as a 'license to kill' by cops, district attorneys, and judges.
posted by muddgirl at 8:29 AM on March 23, 2012


Geraldo Rivera: Guns Don't Kill People, Hoodies Kill People

Geraldo, staying classy as ever.

My teenaged (white) nephews wear hoodies most of the time - as far as I can tell, it's standard teenage wear (and has been for years). I am certain none of my nephews would not be shot by a twitchy, looking-for-trouble George Zimmerman-alike for walking in his neighborhood talking on a cellphone. Certain. The formula in Zimmerman's (and apparently Geraldo's) mind is not "teen in hoodie = criminal"; it's "black teen in hoodie = criminal". And that makes it murder, and a hate crime.
posted by aught at 8:38 AM on March 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Geraldo's existence is a hate crime.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:46 AM on March 23, 2012


This law IS being treated as a 'license to kill' by cops, district attorneys, and judges.

According to my reading of the discussion/comments above there seems to be a pretty solid case that, while the law is being treated as a license to react to little/no threat with deadly force in practice, it is being done so improperly.

Am I missing something in this analysis? I'm not trying to start a rehashing of the previous debate, it just seems to me like the law, if applied correctly, does/would not apply here.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:55 AM on March 23, 2012


it is being done so improperly

I think this is more an issue of prosecutorial culture than anything. Judges throw out a few cases because there is no witness who can testify that the shooter was not acting in self-defense. DAs become leery of pressing charges in cases where there is no witness, because they tend to get thrown out. Cops become leery of spending time and resources on self-defense cases because DAs never press charges anyway.

So the problem is not that the law is improperly applied at the trial level (although there may be some cases where this does occur). The problem is that these cases don't even make it to that point, because cops and DAs have the discretion not to press charges in cases they see as 'borderline'
posted by muddgirl at 9:01 AM on March 23, 2012


Ok, that sounds valid to me. As far as that goes, if that is indeed the case with the law (it being applied improperly anywhere along the line) then I'm all for hoping this exposure, both to a grand jury and to the public, will shed light on that and serve to correct the way that the law is being applied.

I guess I'm just saying (and I'm simplifying here) that the improper application of law X doesn't necessarily say much about law X. What it can do is shed light on the preferences, tendencies, and motives of those tasked with applying the law in question. This case is a ugly-but-great example of that.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:18 AM on March 23, 2012


But I haven't seen much evidence for your assertion that this law is being improperly applied anywhere.
posted by muddgirl at 9:26 AM on March 23, 2012


Geraldo Rivera: Guns Don't Kill People, Hoodies Kill People

The 5 Craziest Things Geraldo Rivera Said About Hoodies.

Geraldo Makes Hoodies The New Miniskirts.
posted by ericb at 9:27 AM on March 23, 2012


So you're disagreeing with the analysis in the comments I linked or you just overlooked them? I'm not asserting that necessarily, I just see clear logic, word by word analysis that says the law doesn't apply here. The fact that it doesn't apply and it is being applied means that it's being improperly applied.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:31 AM on March 23, 2012


Seminole State College will expel Trayvon Martin's avowed shooter, George Zimmerman, due to what they term the "high-profile controversy" surrounding his role in the 17-year-old's death.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:36 AM on March 23, 2012


...because cops and DAs have the discretion not to press charges in cases they see as 'borderline'

I guess it's just that this situation doesn't seem borderline at all. How can they act on a borderline-discretionary basis when it doesn't even apply to begin with? Bah, maybe I'm letting my perspective and opinions interfere with my reading of the legal-ese.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:39 AM on March 23, 2012


I guess it's just that this situation doesn't seem borderline at all.

...because we have the benefit of evidence that the cops 'missed'. I think there are three problems with this particular case: (1) This law is stupid because if someone is shot with no other witnesses, the killer can claim self-defense and there's nothing (again, short of eye-witness evidence) to really disprove that - this is inherent to the law, because someone standing over a dead body with a smoking gun and minor injuries could still have reasonably perceived a 'threat' based on their own testimony, (2) this law is stupid because there is no benefit to de-escalation from either party in a dispute (because, again, they could argue a 'reasonable threat' based on their own perception of the incident, and (3) the SPD did a really shitty job investigating this case (perhaps even criminally shitty, like telling witnesses that they are wrong about who was crying for help), regardless of the Stand Your Ground law.
posted by muddgirl at 9:45 AM on March 23, 2012


Ta-Nehisi Coates was discussing this on the Newshour last night: Trayvon Martin Case Sparks New Protests, Debate Over Race, Guns, Law
posted by homunculus at 9:46 AM on March 23, 2012


We can say that the law is being misapplied, but one of the standards by which we can judge anything of human dsign is what it does when it fails. A pinto was fine until rear ended, but still should not be on the road. This law may be fine until we have prosecuters who don't want to waste time with messy cases, but it is still a shit law that amplifies the murder rate, and should still not be on the books.
posted by idiopath at 9:49 AM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or the purpose of the law is to allow cops to dismiss cases when they feel like, and that's only become a problem because we've paid attention this time.
posted by Artw at 9:55 AM on March 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, despite the comments in this thread, I do believe that Zimmerman's lawyers could successfully argue self-defense based on his interpretation of events - if he claimed that Martin hit in from behind, was on top of him, and punched him, then he has some reasonable claim that
has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself
The problem here is that Zimmerman's interpretation of events doesn't seem to match the physical evidence, what witnesses say, and what the 911 calls replay.

Most of the arguments have been about whether, absent a reasonable belief that Martin was going to cause death or great bodily harm, could Zimmerman claim that he acted in self-defense because of a reasonable belief that he was preventing a crime or escape from a crime (probably not).
posted by muddgirl at 10:03 AM on March 23, 2012


mudgirl: because someone standing over a dead body with a smoking gun and minor injuries could still have reasonably perceived a 'threat' based on their own testimony,

idopath: We can say that the law is being misapplied, but one of the standards by which we can judge anything of human dsign is what it does when it fails.

Sure, but I think mudgirl's point about the smoking gun and no remaining witnesses ('cuz you just killed him/her) is far and away the better point here. I see that because the burden of proof is in the wrong place and you can get off the hook by saying "Self-defense! Self-defense!", boom: instant get out of jail free card.

I think the "it's bad because it's not being applied properly" reason is what may be bothering me. The 'why' you end up with a failure situation matters just as much if you want to really fix things. If you have a building statue that says bolts must be of X size/grade for use in homes and a builder violates that statue, the inspectors don't catch it, the building fails, and someone dies, the statute isn't bad or to blame. Modifying the statute makes no sense in that case.

Running with the Pinto analogy, fixing the Pinto's design in light of dangerous fires was all well and good, but the fact that the corporation knew and ignored the design flaws [for cost reasons of course] in the first place is pretty valid as a *why* the problem came into existence. Fixing one without the other is really missing out.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:09 AM on March 23, 2012


instant get out of jail free card

Or in this case, instant "don't even have to go to jail!" card.
posted by rtha at 10:30 AM on March 23, 2012


"Big thumbs up and a slap on the back from institutionalised racism" card.
posted by Artw at 10:44 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Slain teen's friends say he never picked a fight
posted by futz at 11:17 AM on March 23, 2012


I spoke on the phone with my mom last night. I was born and raised in Florida, and she lived there til I went away to college and my brother used to live in Altamonte Springs. Turns out Sanford figures into my personal history: one Xmas while visiting my brother, we ended up going to Sanford for some reason or another, and when my mom mentioned it last night, I recalled my brother and sister-in-law talking about how it was pretty much known even back then as a bad place to be for black people. As in strong or excessive de facto segregation and economic racism bad.

My mom was working, at that time, at the middle school I had attended, and she pointed out that the girl's gym teacher, who had a reputation among students and teachers alike as a notorious racist, was from Sanford.

I'm 38, so people who have lived in that general area all their lives would have grown up in that culture. Makes the events and their aftermath not at all surprising.
posted by lord_wolf at 11:20 AM on March 23, 2012


Here's the thing about 'not being applied properly'.

Whatever the statute, CRIMINAL PROCEDURE is straight forward.

1) We have a dead Trayvon Martin

2) We have George Zimmerman, who admits causing the death through negligence or act.

RIGHT THERE the police's work is over. You type up a felony information, bring Zimmerman down to booking, give him his phone call, and his attorney can make whatever pretrial motions to dismiss for self defense or whatever he wants...

That's not even close to being remotely what the Sanford PD conspired to do in their conspiracy to obstruct justice.
posted by mikelieman at 11:20 AM on March 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself

And since the physical evidence, and his own injuries are either trivial or minor depending on how generous you are, getting from there to GBH is a stretch.

But I'd *LOVE TO* see his attorney try it.
posted by mikelieman at 11:22 AM on March 23, 2012


RolandOfEld: "If you have a building statue that says bolts must be of X size/grade for use in homes and a builder violates that statue, the inspectors don't catch it, the building fails, and someone dies, the statute isn't bad or to blame. Modifying the statute makes no sense in that case. "

But the increased murder rate is a direct result of following the statute as it was intended. Because there is no duty to flee, the prosecutor has a hard time making a case, so fewer cases are prosecuted. The lack of prosecution leads to increased violence. The law is bad because the consequences of the law are bad. Even if those consequences were not the specific intention of the lawmakers.
posted by idiopath at 11:22 AM on March 23, 2012


And since the physical evidence, and his own injuries are either trivial or minor depending on how generous you are, getting from there to GBH is a stretch.

But other cases with equally minor injuries/aggressions have successfully used SYG to avoid prosecution, because the law doesn't ask about harm already committed, but rather about the state of mind of the defendant. For example, the first case listed here, where a man was punched in the face by a mugger and responded with deadly force. The prosecutor declined to press charges.
posted by muddgirl at 11:30 AM on March 23, 2012


Even if those consequences were not the specific intention of the lawmakers.

...and it seems to me that lawmakers can't see past their intentions to what was actually written.
Republican State Representative Dennis Baxley, one of the authors of the Stand Your Ground law, said it did not protect people who pursued and confronted their victims, as occurred in Sanford, according to lawyers for the parents of the dead teenager.

"That's where he (Zimmerman) stepped out on thin ice away from protection of this statute," he said.
There's nothing in the law which says you can't pursue and confront your 'victim,' unless by pursuing and confronting your victim you are engaging in criminal behavior.
posted by muddgirl at 11:32 AM on March 23, 2012


There's nothing in the law which says you can't pursue and confront your 'victim,' unless by pursuing and confronting your victim you are engaging in criminal behavior.

And it seems like it would have been a handy thing to include.

But just saying that means I am a libertard socialist who wants the government to take your guns away.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:39 AM on March 23, 2012


The law is bad because the consequences of the law are bad.

Valid, but this is still the trivial solution of a complex problem.

I think we're talking past each other and both can agree that the law is bad as it's written, though for differing reasons. To me it's not bad because there's no duty to flee, but because it uses hand-wavey perceptions of intent as the basis for usage of force, thereby putting the burden of proof on a person who may be incapable of speaking, i.e. dead. If you're going to, armed or unarmed/inadvertently or on purpose, use force that could lead to someone being maimed or dead you damn well better be ready to prove your side of the situation or face the consequences.

It also doesn't proscribe someone from proactively seeking out a dispute as long as they aren't the 'aggressor' [insert hand-wavey definition and intent seeking here] and then claiming self defense (on preview what mudgirl said).
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:44 AM on March 23, 2012


And it seems like it would have been a handy thing to include.

Ah, but what if a robber/rapist comes on to your front yard and you are in the back yard, and you have to "pursue and confront" him and he refuses to leave so you shoot him? Then we would be cruelly sending innocent property owners to jail!
posted by muddgirl at 11:44 AM on March 23, 2012


Ah, but what if a robber/rapist comes on to your front yard and you are in the back yard, and you have to "pursue and confront" him and he refuses to leave so you shoot him? Then we would be cruelly sending innocent property owners to jail!

I totally know someone that happened to! I mean, I don't have a link, or proof, and I don't _know_ him, I read about it though, well, someone mentioned it once, but it totally really happened!
posted by inigo2 at 11:48 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]



What if it is Halloween and some strange foreign exchange student comes to your door by mistake ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:56 AM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do Blacks and Hispanics Get Along? - Pew Research Center
posted by azileretsis at 12:06 PM on March 23, 2012


LeBron James of the Miami Heat tweets Miami Heat team picture of all of them in hoodies, with bowed heads, as does Dywane Wade - #WeAreTrayvonMartin
posted by cashman at 12:20 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looks like the "wannabe cop" angle has been subsumed under more-attractive racial issues.
posted by rhizome at 12:21 PM on March 23, 2012



Looks like the "wannabe cop" angle has been subsumed under more-attractive racial issues.


Just wait until the FBI finds all the M4COP craigslist postings. They'll come back around to the topic.
posted by mikelieman at 12:28 PM on March 23, 2012


Did CSI/Criminal Minds/Alcatraz/Whatever Procedural do a story about the racist redneck criminal justice student in community college/neighborhood watch captain who thinks he finds a weakness in the written law, that he's smart enough to exploit if he calls in a 'suspect', ends the call before pulling out his gun and murdering his victim, and then claiming self-defense?

I'd like to see how that story ended.
posted by mikelieman at 12:30 PM on March 23, 2012


I'd like to see how that story ended.

I guess we'll all find out, though I'd much rather see the House version with more snark, plot twists, and a happy resolution with ambiguous message on life.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:35 PM on March 23, 2012


I have still yet found the way to reason which ground exactly Mr Zimmerman was standing on that day.
posted by Meatafoecure at 12:36 PM on March 23, 2012


Don't sprain yourself trying, I don't think it had anything to do with reality as we know it.
posted by cmyk at 12:39 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


AH! A simple non-congruent alternative reality Heisenberg-folded next to ours! NOW it makes sense!
posted by mikelieman at 12:46 PM on March 23, 2012


Snark aside, I know what you mean. I've been wondering what Zimmerman's deal is too, because -- who the hell does that? Who the hell just up and shoots someone dead like that? It's easy to say, oh, he's fucked in the head, or oh, he's just evil - neither of which is necessarily a wrong thing to say about the guy, but it's opinion, it doesn't explain anything.

There was a narrative in his head that night, a reason he went and did this awful thing, and I'd really like to know what that was. There's some kind of circumstance, some story he built up inside his head, that made him do what he did. And there's a hell of a severe disconnect from reality and, you know, the general rule of Not Killing People (which most of us manage just fucking fine) to do that.

It doesn't make his actions right, and it doesn't make things any less inexcusable, but I really do wonder what was going on in his head. What story did he construct to make himself do this thing?

But then, I think I'd probably regret knowing, if I ever did find out.
posted by cmyk at 1:00 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


cmyk: It's doesn't ameliorate things one iota, but I'm betting adrenaline played a part in the outcome. Any crazy/aggression/fear instincts, I see those as getting hit with a multiplier anytime adrenaline is involved.

...and ya'know, not a good thing 'cuz he's not trained/experienced on how to best to handle one's self after chasing down and confronting someone who (he presumed) was some sort of threat/criminal.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:08 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


...and ya'know, not a good thing 'cuz he's not trained/experienced on how to best to handle one's self after chasing down and confronting someone who (he presumed) was some sort of threat/criminal.

Is this sarcasm? Zimmerman studied Criminal Justice and went through police academy.
posted by rhizome at 1:28 PM on March 23, 2012


went through police academy

Srsly?
posted by mikelieman at 1:34 PM on March 23, 2012


Regarding the whole "fictionalized version of the case" angle, how about a Batman comic where some wannabe Batman copycat is chasing down an innocent kid, the Batman lets him know he aint down with wannabe poseurs and hey he wouldn't even kill the Joker, not to mention some random kid, and based on seeing the kid defend himself from a an armed foe recruits him to be the next Robin.
posted by idiopath at 1:34 PM on March 23, 2012


"I'm not wearing hockey pads."
posted by mikelieman at 1:38 PM on March 23, 2012


Some Other People Who, by Geraldo's Standards, Are Asking to Be Shot

and More People Looking Like a Gangsta, from I Love Charts.

Interesting that the one hoodie-wearer who looks most gangster-ish in a hoodie is Geraldo. But then, he has always looked like a minor character in 'Scarface'.

But he should be excused, since I heard his contract with FoxNews is up for renewal and he had fallen behind on his Statements Made to Pander to Racists and Idiots quota.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:44 PM on March 23, 2012


rhizome: I didn't know that regarding his 'training', missed it in my readings.

Still, completing something like this and the fact that he once took criminal justice classes at the community college* does not make him anywhere near "trained/experienced" in the identification, pursuit, and apprehension of threats.

Not in my book. It's like saying an engineering student straight out of school should be able to sign off on drawings, nope, try apprenticing under another engineer for 4 years and passing 2 badass tests. Until then, you're still only qualified to call yourself an "Engineering Intern".

Do you see a firearms course in that police academy curriculum? I do, 2.7v (whatever that means, course hours maybe? If so I spent more time in English courses and I didn't even major in it) exactly as much time as he spent in "Defensive Tactics". If anything, it makes the idea that unarmed-Trayvon posed a serious threat to armed-him even more ludicrous.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:45 PM on March 23, 2012


fwiw: I say the above as someone who is, if you hadn't already guessed it, in the "pro-gun rights", "pro-self defense rights" camp most of the time. Dude should be in cuffs until they figure things out, then in jail for murder (and potentially other hate crimes as well) if what I've read is the case is actually true. He's harming the case that legit, non-crazy, non-racist, intelligent, thoughtful gun owners really care about.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:49 PM on March 23, 2012


Google is telling me that Zimmerman FAILED OUT OF the academy?
posted by mikelieman at 1:50 PM on March 23, 2012


Some Other People Who, by Geraldo's Standards, Are Asking to Be Shot

That's funny, but I think it missed a crucial part of Geraldo's rant - he specifically says that 'we' all feel threated by 'black and latino youngsters' in hoodies. It's actually an important distinction, IMO - it plays into the idea that Black kids (and Latino kids) are automatically equated with Trouble, while their white counterparts aren't.
posted by muddgirl at 1:51 PM on March 23, 2012


Actually, considering Geraldo's heritage I think it reflects a real fear that minority parents have - that if they only dress their kids a certain way or send them to certain schools, they will be able to protect them from racial violence.
posted by muddgirl at 1:58 PM on March 23, 2012


Google is telling me that Zimmerman FAILED OUT OF the academy?

A couple of weeks ago there was some chatter that there is another Zimmerman on the Sanford Police force, but I haven't heard/read anything along those lines since then.
posted by rhizome at 2:02 PM on March 23, 2012


mitt romney sells thug gear
posted by nadawi at 2:52 PM on March 23, 2012


Actually, considering Geraldo's heritage I think it reflects a real fear that minority parents have

if that's what he meant and he did just did a horrific job explaining it (and continuing to defend it), he should have left it to toure (previously linked upthread).
posted by nadawi at 2:54 PM on March 23, 2012


Did he even complete a criminal justice or academy thing? What is the source for that? This is what I can find about his college time:

Zimmerman, 28, first enrolled at the college in 2003 and was working toward a vocational certificate to become an insurance agent. He re-enrolled in 2009 and was working toward an Associate in Arts degree in a general studies program, according to the college.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:59 PM on March 23, 2012


Yeah, of course I don't think Geraldo is right (if Martin was wearing a rainjacket, he would still look like a 'thug' to someone who saw every black stranger as a thug). I just think it's an understandable and tragic reaction.
posted by muddgirl at 3:00 PM on March 23, 2012


Trayvon Martin's Killer Was Looking for Trouble—and Found It.
posted by ericb at 3:04 PM on March 23, 2012


Prosecutor in Trayvon Martin case vows 'blank slate'.
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on March 23, 2012


Audio: George Zimmerman Speaks To Neighbor -- "The man who killed 17 year old Trayvon Martin last month finally speaks to friend, Frank Taaffe via voicemail."
posted by ericb at 3:08 PM on March 23, 2012


George Zimmerman Surfaces In Voicemail To Supporter.
posted by ericb at 3:09 PM on March 23, 2012


Sanford City Commissioner Concerned George Zimmerman Will Flee Country.
posted by ericb at 3:11 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gotta love it!
Miami Heat, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade don hoodies for Trayvon Martin
Fuck you, Geraldo!
posted by ericb at 3:12 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Trayvon Martin Tragedy Edges Onto Presidential Campaign Trail.
posted by ericb at 3:16 PM on March 23, 2012


From the Sanford City Commisisioner Concerned George Zimmerman Will Flee the Country link, above, "Today, Sanford City Manager Norton Bonaparte Jr. announced that two police captains, including one who led the Trayvon Martin investigation, would act as interim co-chiefs." (emphasis added)

What the bloody hell?

Your police chief steps aside "temporarily" in order not to distract from the investigation into the way the PD handled a crime, and one of the people who led the investigation into the crime at the center of the maelstrom steps in to replace him?

It's fucking amateur night all the time in Sanford.

If not for the fact that an innocent young man is dead, this would be hilarious. What the hell is wrong with people, man?
posted by lord_wolf at 3:37 PM on March 23, 2012


After looking through his Twitter feed, I agree with muddgirl that Geraldo was trying to say there is extra suspicion on black kids so they need to be careful about wearing "coded" clothing. Lots of racial and ethnic minorities make comments like that. They may even be trying to help their kids just like the parents who movingly speak of "the rules" we have to follow. People who make statements like that seem to think that there is something minorities can actually do to reduce suspicion on themselves.

The problem is this simply isn't true. Racism is a pathological problem within racists and a racist society. They will always shift the goalposts. That's why the posts and articles from parents speaking about the rules focus more on the racist society rather than blaming their kids. What Geraldo did is quintessential victim-blaming and reveals why victim-blaming is not only hurtful to the victim but to society as a whole.
posted by Danila at 3:47 PM on March 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


FOX News Irresponsibly Selling Dangerous Hoodies.

UPDATE: It looks FOX News has pulled their insanely dangerous sweatshirt! The world is a safer place!
posted by ericb at 4:10 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I keep trying to find breathing room to post STOP DIGGING FOX/GERALDO, JUST ADMIT IT WAS DUMB...but they keep doing stupider stuff before I have a chance...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:14 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The War on Hoodies has begun.
posted by Big_B at 4:15 PM on March 23, 2012


I didn't even know hoodie=criminal was a thing here, thought that was just an English thing.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:16 PM on March 23, 2012


I am wearing a hoodie right now! (This is San Francisco, land of the-weather's-always-perfect-for-hoodies.) Look out - I am surely dangerous.
posted by rtha at 4:21 PM on March 23, 2012


Friend of Martin shooter: I'd do the same thing.
posted by ericb at 5:47 PM on March 23, 2012


Question for my Law Enforcement friends: You're on foot patrol, and it's 7pm. An UNKNOWN 250 lb Male comes running out from between two buildings babbling incoherently about something that you can't quite understand.

HOW CLOSE do you let this potential assailant get before you consider them a serious threat and react?
posted by mikelieman at 6:01 PM on March 23, 2012


That so-called friend, Frank Taaffe, is more than a little unhinged himself.
Problems in the 6-year-old community started during the recession, when foreclosures forced owners to rent out to “low-lifes and gangsters,” said Frank Taaffe, a former neighborhood block captain.

“Just two weeks before this shooting, George called me at my girlfriend’s house to say he saw some black guy doing surveillance at my house, because I had a left a window open,” Taaffe said. “He thwarted a potential burglary of my house.”

Taaffe sounded chagrined when he noted that the complex is now majority-minority.
From here. Interesting that this violent and racist person is the one Zimmerman ultimately decides to reach out to.
posted by Danila at 6:13 PM on March 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Blow a dog-whistle and the dogs will come running. ( My apologies to actual dogs... )
posted by mikelieman at 6:15 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your police chief steps aside "temporarily" in order not to distract from the investigation into the way the PD handled a crime, and one of the people who led the investigation into the crime at the center of the maelstrom steps in to replace him?

With the Feds involved, it could be a strategy to have false statements charges available against the police department.
posted by rhizome at 6:39 PM on March 23, 2012


Anderson Cooper interviewed Zimmerman's lawyer tonight. Lawyer claims that he hasn't heard any of the 911 tapes. Very odd interview overall. Lawyer dude seems incompetent or a liar. Why he bothered to do the interview at all is the question that I have.
posted by futz at 7:28 PM on March 23, 2012


Teammates of the Miami Heat pose in hoodies.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am wearing a hoodie right now as I commit the heinous crime of downloading a Disney movie! Also the hoodie depicts unicorns boning so obvsly I am a hardened criminal beyond salvation.
posted by elizardbits at 9:13 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Martin's family should sue Zimmerman into the ground and take every dime he will ever earn. Sadly, the SYG law immunizes the shooter from civil cases as well.
posted by Megafly at 11:33 PM on March 23, 2012


This from FB:

I am shot and killed in a residential neighborhood. My cell phone is on me and my friend is on the phone, and I am found to have been carrying only a bag of candy and a drink. 911 calls from neighbors record my screams for help, in the moments before my death. No one uses my cell phone to locate my family. No one canvasses the neighborhood to see if someone there knows me. I am a John Doe in the morgue for three days. But my body is tested for drugs and alcohol. My killer is not tested for anything. My killer is questioned and released, and he is still free today. I am Trayvon Martin, and We are better than this.

Justice for Trayvon Martin and his family!!!!

posted by telstar at 2:13 AM on March 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sadly, the SYG law immunizes the shooter from civil cases as well.

That's not how it worked out for Rodney Peairs. He lost the house he was "defending" in civil action after winning the criminal case under Louisiana's Shoot the Burglar law, which is only marginally less crazy than Florida's. The difference is that a criminal prosecutor has to prove his case. A civil tort only has to show preponderance of evidence. Zimmerman might squeak through a criminal prosecution, but with the witness testimony, 911 calls, and girlfriend's last call, he has a much weaker case than Peairs did.

Of course, he might be judgement proof, in which case it wouldn't matter.
posted by localroger at 5:39 AM on March 24, 2012


Teammates of the Miami Heat pose in hoodies.

Dear lord, the comments on that story...
posted by inigo2 at 6:16 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This movie seems particularly poorly timed now.
posted by octothorpe at 7:51 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


An economy blog I read had a poignant take on Trayvon, violence and anger.

from The Incidental Economist
posted by readery at 8:20 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This movie seems particularly poorly timed now.

Coming this next June.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:55 AM on March 24, 2012


There's nothing in the law which says you can't pursue and confront your 'victim,' unless by pursuing and confronting your victim you are engaging in criminal behavior.
It doesn't say anything about 'pursuing', but if you 'provoke' the other person, then you aren't actually protected by the law.
posted by delmoi at 10:15 AM on March 24, 2012


Surprise, surprise: Orlando and Tampa Bay Fox affiliates report that there is an eyewitness, and he backs Zimmerman's account of the attack. But that's not all! We also get some nifty editorializing about how there are things that Sanford police know about this attack that we, the noisy general public do not, and this witness will shed light on everything!

*infinite facepalm*

Also, a warning: The comments on this article are cut from the same cloth as the comments on the Business Insider article to which Burhanistan linked. Repellent and beyond awful. Do yourself a favor and just don't go there.
posted by bakerina at 10:43 AM on March 24, 2012


I will say one thing: this incident is bringing all the racists in my life to light in a really ugly way. I've had to do some unfriendings already.
posted by KathrynT at 10:49 AM on March 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's the "guy on top in the red sweater" account from a few weeks ago. It would be nice to hear WHERE this scene took place, as two women saw Zimmerman standing over Martin immediately after the shooting, and that was in one woman's backyard.
posted by maudlin at 10:50 AM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's the "guy on top in the red sweater" account from a few weeks ago.

See, that's what I thought, too. For a second, I thought that I had accidentally posted an old article, but nope. Upon review, the article was published to Fox Tampa Bay's page on March 23, which means that this is old news gussied up as a new scoop.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by this.
posted by bakerina at 10:57 AM on March 24, 2012


"We just don't know!" "Teach the controversy!" etc...
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on March 24, 2012


(Sorry, I meant "guy on bottom in red sweater".)
posted by maudlin at 11:32 AM on March 24, 2012


George Zimmerman leaves voicemail for supportive neighbor
posted by futz at 2:26 PM on March 24, 2012


New Black Panthers offer $10,000 bounty for capture of shooter George Zimmerman
posted by homunculus at 2:58 PM on March 24, 2012


New Black Panthers offer $10,000 bounty for capture of shooter George Zimmerman

**DRUDGE SIREN**
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:01 PM on March 24, 2012


New Black Panthers offer $10,000 bounty for capture of shooter George Zimmerman

You aren't helping.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:02 PM on March 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Given that at this moment the best potential witness the Feds would have for a RICO/Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice charges against pretty much the entire Sanford PD, I figure it's better than even money that Zimmerman's 'buddies' on the SPD already drove him out to a swamp and fed him to the alligators.
posted by mikelieman at 4:22 PM on March 24, 2012


New Black Panthers Zimmerman speech on YT.
posted by telstar at 7:01 PM on March 24, 2012


Trayvon Martin Shooter 'Couldn't Stop Crying' After Shooting

Oliver, who said he is a close friend of the family, said Zimmerman has gone into hiding, fears for his life, and is "just now becoming aware of how big this has gotten."
posted by futz at 6:54 AM on March 25, 2012


It doesn't say anything about 'pursuing', but if you 'provoke' the other person, then you aren't actually protected by the law.

Ah, but what is a provocation? So far no charges have been filed against the shooter in this Stand Your Ground case. The reported order of events was:

(1) Shooter followed victim who was 'driving erratically'
(2) Victim approached shooter's car 'aggressively'
(3) Shooter pepper-sprayed victim
(4) Victim punched shooter
(5) Inevitable conclusion.

Both (1) and (3) are provocations, in my book, but I'm not a Florida homicide detective or a DA.
posted by muddgirl at 7:28 AM on March 25, 2012


I think that one went off the rails when (3-alternate) Shooter didn't drive away.
posted by mikelieman at 8:25 AM on March 25, 2012


As an attempt to turn the tide and humanize Zimmerman, that article futz linked fails it hard.

I find it hard to believe that the Sanford Police Department wouldn't have George in jail now if they had one…piece [of evidence] to support that fact.

Some of the eyewitness testimony is very damning, unless you accept the version the police "corrected" and which the witnesses themselves now repudiate.
posted by localroger at 8:31 AM on March 25, 2012


The Shooter pulled right up behind Victim's car but was then 'blocked in' by Victim's friend's car (which is why, I suppose, pepper-spray could be considered a 'defensive action' and not an aggressive one, but certainly you can't get punched by anyone if you roll up your windows until the police arrive).
posted by muddgirl at 8:39 AM on March 25, 2012


OMG. Zimmerman's father is a retired judge. Money quote:
The portrayal of George Zimmerman in the media, as well as the series of events that led to the tragic shooting, are false and extremely misleading," his father, a retired magistrate judge, wrote in a letter published in the Orlando Sentinel.
I do believe this might neatly explain the defiant inaction on the part of the police.
posted by localroger at 8:56 AM on March 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


Trayvon Martin Shooter 'Couldn't Stop Crying' After Shooting
"After this started – the reports I got – [Zimmerman] "couldn't stop crying,'' Joe Oliver told "Good Morning America" on Sunday. "
Reports? Yeah, okay.

I mean judging by what two witnesses who saw him right after he shot Trayvon in the chest and killed him, he was affected then. He had his hands on his head like "what have I done".

Regarding the "oh the police have all these behind the scene details that no one knows about", the point has been made that the police said that before - that Zimmerman didn't know the race of the person he shot - clearly the 911 tapes show he did. The police said Zimmerman had a "squeaky clean" record. Clearly that was also a lie.

Zimmerman is contacting friends of his to try to get them to speak on his behalf? Coward. Absolute coward. You shoot a child in the chest, killing him. If you truly believe that it was in self-defense, speak for yourself. That isn't too bold of a move when you already made the boldest move of all. Stand your ground instead of hiding behind it.

The way I understand this is Zimmerman saw Trayvon walking, called 911 (Trayvon saw Zimmerman following him at this point, as Zimmerman notes on the call) and started following Trayvon. Trayvon walked fast to get away from Zimmerman, and Zimmerman confronted him (as Trayvon's girlfriend says) yelling 'what are you doing here'.

At that point, when someone has followed and confronted you, it's time to defend yourself if need be. I think Trayvon did that. The broken nose thing seems to be made up by his lawyer (the wikipedia page notes the police report does not say Zimmerman needed medical attention), but even if it isn't, if Trayvon hit some guy 110 lbs heavier, 10 years older, who followed him, confronted him and started yelling at him, then good for him - you should defend yourself if someone follows you and confronts you. I wonder if the blood on the back of zimmerman's head was trayvon's. To me there's just no way zimmerman can say (if) a 140 lb trayvon punching him = he feared for his life. Otherwise, there could be rightful stand your ground killings on school playgrounds all day every day. You can't start some shit and then shoot somebody.

Zimmerman's father is a retired judge. I do believe this might neatly explain the defiant inaction on the part of the police.

Good catch. I agree with you.
posted by cashman at 9:03 AM on March 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


A woman who says she and her roommate witnessed the final moments of Trayvon Martin's life told Dateline NBC that George Zimmerman had "his hands pressed on his back" and "never turned him over or tried to help him."
posted by futz at 9:37 AM on March 25, 2012


The Dateline show airs tonight.
posted by futz at 9:38 AM on March 25, 2012


That's Mary Cutcher. She has given her account, I guess she is going to give it once more.
posted by cashman at 10:52 AM on March 25, 2012


Oh, my bad.
posted by futz at 11:55 AM on March 25, 2012


I guess the mob has spoken. Hang him.
posted by Bonzai at 1:05 PM on March 25, 2012


I guess the mob has spoken. Hang him.

Or just arrest him because he killed an unarmed kid and his story is a lie.

I've tried to deal with this. From his friend's statement:
"The question is: how far did he pursue? Who made the initial contact? What started the confrontation in the first place? The fact that the investigation so far has come out the way it has -- because of Sanford's history -- I find it hard to believe that the Sanford Police Department wouldn't have George in jail now if they had one ... piece [of evidence] to support that fact."
Over the last several days I have made as strong an effort as I can to try to see past my initial reaction and make a case for Zimmerman. The only reported eyewitness to the actual altercation is the man named John, who saw Trayvon beating Zimmerman and saw Zimmerman cry "help, help". While we know Trayvon was on the phone with his girlfriend within a minute or so of his death, we don't know what they said and let's say a traumatized teenager like her might not recall that conversation correctly. Maybe Trayvon was more angry than afraid. So I'll throw it out. And all the people who say Trayvon was sweet and gentle and not a fighter, disregarded.

All the other witnesses were mainly earwitnesses who claim it was a young boy or child's voice yelling. There's at least three of these witnesses. But if eyewitness testimony is notoriously shaky, earwitness testimony could be more so. I've listened to the 911 call with the yelling as much as I could stand. Zimmerman's voice isn't that deep and maybe in a state of extreme distress and fear it was him screaming and whimpering. Maybe the fact that the sounds stopped immediately with the gunshot is just him being in a state of shock. This could also explain his nonchalance after the shooting as observed by two witnesses who saw him immediately after.

Maybe his injuries were more than superficial and the cops just haven't released the photos yet (assuming they took them). Maybe there are medical reports to back this up. Maybe the police were slightly incompetent as opposed to grossly incompetent and shady. Maybe Trayvon's mother says it was her son's voice because she's primed to hear his voice. Maybe we're primed to hear a slur that isn't there and he said "dogs" or "punks" or something like that. Maybe maybe maybe. I could argue against any of these things but I have nothing more than my own speculation.

I could look past a lot and say I just don't know. One thing I personally just cannot get past. When George Zimmerman says he didn't follow Trayvon but got out of his truck to check the street sign and was attacked out of the blue by a wild, angry Trayvon...I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS OBVIOUS LIE. And while the police may not have come up with anything concrete to disprove his self-defense claim, they should never have bought that lie. Especially after he'd already lied to them when he said he had a clean record. Also lied about never following Trayvon. His story of what happens sounds just like that, a story. They should not have given up on Trayvon like that.

For other people the point at which they know this is all wrong might be a different one. Maybe it's the sound of a teenager boy's voice on the recordings. The obvious cover-up and shoddiness by the police which makes anything they say suspect. The girlfriend's testimony. The sheer number of witnesses who challenge the self-defense claim. George Zimmerman's character, obsessive over black boys walking around the neighborhood. For me it's that if I knew nothing else about this case I'd still think his story is a fabrication.
posted by Danila at 1:15 PM on March 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


I guess the mob has spoken. Hang him.
posted by Bonzai at 1:05 PM on March 25


Or, you know, maybe instead actually have a law enforcement department that doesn't have a long history of covering up crimes investigate the murder. I know we're asking a lot, but I think maybe if an unarmed kid is killed and the shooter's story makes literally no sense that the shooter might be arrested while real investigation into the circumstances goes on. Haha, wow, liberals! Always with the big government and wanting police to investigate crimes and not blindly accept the story of the guy holding the gun over the body of dead kids!
posted by a_girl_irl at 1:35 PM on March 25, 2012 [17 favorites]


The Thing I Am Refraining From Saying On Facebook, Over And Over:

"Do you honestly believe an unarmed teenager was a threat -- or are you worried that this will somehow affect your God-given right to stockpile guns?"

.. I needed to get that out somewhere. Thanks.
posted by cmyk at 2:26 PM on March 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


Always with the big government and wanting police to investigate crimes and not blindly accept the story of the guy holding the gun over the body of dead black kids!

FTFY. If it was a rich white kid that was shot the perp would be asked "chair or needle" as they're escorted into the courtroom.
posted by Talez at 3:26 PM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It turns out that Zimmerman was using a term of endearment before he shot Trayvon Martin. He was affectionately calling him a "fucking goon". You know, the way kids do it today.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:34 PM on March 25, 2012


Wow. Zimmerman sure keeps some stupid company. You'd think people would know by now to not say anything.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:53 PM on March 25, 2012


Maybe his injuries were more than superficial and the cops just haven't released the photos yet (assuming they took them) ...

Just like the blood tests, etc. drawn to test for possible alcohol and drugs in Zimmerman's system. Oh wait. They never did such (as is considered standard procedure). What's that? They did such tests on Travyon (the victim) and not the killer. What about the tests for gun residue on Zimmerman to determine proximity, etc. to Trayvon when he shot him? No were done, apparently.
posted by ericb at 3:55 PM on March 25, 2012


It turns out that Zimmerman was using a term of endearment before he shot Trayvon Martin. He was affectionately calling him a "fucking goon". You know, the way kids do it today.

What the holy FUCK! We've entered fantasy land now. Stories spun out of fairy tales.
posted by ericb at 3:58 PM on March 25, 2012


Why is everyone so determined to spin this for whitewashing? The MSM just seems to be along for the lulz of it all and that ain't good.
posted by Talez at 4:17 PM on March 25, 2012


It turns out that Zimmerman was using a term of endearment before he shot Trayvon Martin. He was affectionately calling him a "fucking goon". You know, the way kids do it today.

Yeah, the Something Awful thread is having fun with that one, obviously.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:20 PM on March 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess the mob has spoken. Hang him.

One may be surprised to discover that I oppose both Stand Your Ground laws and the death penalty, for very similar reasons.
posted by muddgirl at 4:33 PM on March 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


What about the tests for gun residue on Zimmerman to determine proximity, etc. to Trayvon when he shot him? No were done, apparently.

Well. That's sort of a waste of money when the cops roll up and Zimmerman's holding a literally smoking gun, and admits to shooting Trayvon Martin.

The TWO requirements for a manslaughter information are complete. Trayvon Martin is dead, and George Zimmerman, through act or negligence did it. At that point, ANY OTHER POLICE DEPARTMENT IN THE UNIVERSE would go... OK, this is an easy night. Spend an hour typing it up, drop off Zimmerman at the jail to be held for arraignment, and I'm back just in time to punch out for the night...

But not the Sanford PD. They go through this whole conspiracy to obstruct justice instead...
posted by mikelieman at 5:22 PM on March 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


in regards to the Dateline show tonight, they reported that Trayvon's father was notified the next day of his son's death. All other reports that I have read indicte that Trayvon's family tried for days to find out where their son was. Error in reporting by Dateline?
posted by futz at 7:17 PM on March 25, 2012


According to this news report (go near the end, around 2:40, Trayvon called 911 before he died and George Zimmerman's voice can be heard in the background. The Justice Department is the source for this, and the FBI is enhancing that recording to see what is said.
posted by Danila at 7:48 PM on March 25, 2012


I think that might have just been a misstatement and they were talking about analyzing the "fucking coons/punks/whatever" thing. If not, I assume we could find some more sources for that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:09 PM on March 25, 2012


Yeah, that sounds right, furiousxgeorge. That has to be erroneous.
posted by cashman at 8:13 PM on March 25, 2012


I'm sure it will be cleared up tomorrow.
posted by Danila at 8:21 PM on March 25, 2012


Diane Rehm Show is featuring the Trayvon case today.
posted by futz at 7:19 AM on March 26, 2012


Trayvon Martin Shooter's Friend: George Zimmerman Has "Virtually Lost His Life, Too"

Oh, no, dude, no.
posted by bakerina at 7:23 AM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, leaving him bloody and battered, authorities have revealed to the Orlando Sentinel.

That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say.

Zimmerman has not spoken publicly about what happened, but that night, Feb. 26, and in later meetings he described and re-enacted for police what he says happened.

In his version of events, he had turned around and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon approached him from behind, the two exchanged words then Trayvon punched him in the nose, sending him to the ground, and began beating him.

Zimmerman told police he shot the teenager in self-defense.

posted by futz at 8:28 AM on March 26, 2012


Those who have been following/recreating events more closely than I have, but it seems to me like that doesn't jive with the last moments of Trayvon's cell call does it? Location still seems a bit fishy as well, but I've not drawn things out either as I'm sure someone here has attempted....
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:32 AM on March 26, 2012


There's nothing particularly new or surprising in the police statement. Yes, it still doesn't jive up with a lot of what neighbors have said to the press.

(And even if Zimmerman were being 100% truthful, which I don't believe, I maintain that a punch to the face and bashing someone's head around do not deserve the death penalty).
posted by muddgirl at 8:47 AM on March 26, 2012


Eyewitnesses saw the immediate aftermath of the shooting in a grassy back yard. The police came into that back yard to find Martin's body. Martin was no shot in the street. This is an indisputable fact.

If Martin jumped Zimmerman in the street unprovoked -- wait, I don't believe this.

1. We have heard no eyewitness testimony of Martin jumping Zimmerman, just of the two of them rolling on the ground. Yes, "much" of this account was corroborated by witnesses, but if any of them had specifically said that they saw Martin jump Zimmerman, the paper would have reported that.

2. It is it ridiculous to think that this skinny kid would choose to attack a guy 100 pounds heavier than him instead of just freakin' running. Martin fighting back when accosted seems much more likely.

Anyway, assuming a fight in the street where Martin left Zimmerman "bloody and bruised", Martin must have run off to the witnesses' back yard, but somehow Zimmerman was somehow in good enough shape to get up immediately and follow Martin to that yard -- where someone started screaming, as recorded on the 911 calls, before there was a shot.

No matter what fucking fight went on in the street -- and the crucial bit, Martin jumping Zimmerman out of the blue, is NOT backed up by witnesses -- chasing Martin down was both a feat of adrenaline and athleticism and an act of murder.

Bullshit. I'm calling it.
posted by maudlin at 9:11 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk several times, leaving him bloody and battered, authorities have revealed to the Orlando Sentinel.

Weirdest part of the news article is how they say Martin "approached from behind"...to talk to Zimmerman. After they had been talking, *then* Mratin allegedly punched Zimmerman in the nose.

"From behind" seems to only exist to confuse readers into thinking that Martin jumped Zimmerman, which is a baseless assertion even by the most charitable reading of Zimmerman's assertions.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:19 AM on March 26, 2012


April 10th? They're really trying to get as many mitigating factors, true or fabrication, into the public consciousness as possible. And why not? You can't be punished for spreading bullshit about a crime. Might as well get in there and work for your fee as a defence lawyer. Pollute the pool of the grand jury as much as you can before its convened.

This will be coming back no true bill. Mark my words.
posted by Talez at 9:27 AM on March 26, 2012


FWIW: A point about Zimmerman going into hiding...

Given that Zimmerman's dad is a judge, he might get a better class of legal advice than most of us.

And given that there is probably going to be a grand jury, it's worth remembering that in the US the 5th amendment right against self-incrimination and right to counsel do not apply before a grand jury. The legal rationale for this stinks and the result is that grand juries are readily turned into fishing expeditions, but that's the way it works.

And given that, if your high priced attorney was advising you on what to do if you expect a grand jury to be asking you about things you'd rather not talk about, the advice he would probably give you (as I've seen from several sources) is make yourself scarce when the process server comes around.

So Zimmerman is in hiding, but I'd bet it's not us that he's hiding from.
posted by localroger at 9:34 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wow, the Orlando Sentinel doesn't actually bother reporting.

THE TRUTH REVEALED: TRAYVON MARTIN PUNCHED POOR GEORGIE A MILLION TIMES AND HE HAD MARIJUANA ON HIM AND THE POLICE DID A REAL GOOD JOB AND THE POLICE SHOULD GET MORE HALF DAYS, say police
posted by a_girl_irl at 9:41 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


In Florida, could the prosecutor ask the grand jury to draw an adverse inference from Zimmerman's failure to show?
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:43 AM on March 26, 2012


Not that that necessarily matters, of course. Bernie Goetz fled the state in a far more flagrant fashion, but the only thing they got him on was the weapons charge.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:45 AM on March 26, 2012


D.L. Hugley - Boogeyman 3.0
"As an adult, I taught my son Kyle how to read and how to catch a ball. I tried to teach him the rules about what it means to be a young black man in America. He rolled his eyes at me. After all, Obama's president now! Kyle doesn't roll his eyes anymore. Not after he walked into a Beverly Hills jewelry store dressed like a rapper -- not long after the jewelry store had been robbed. When the security guard pulled a gun on Kyle, it spoke clearer than anything I could have said.

I knew something like that was inevitable, since I'm not the only person who believes in the boogeyman. For many Americans, their boogeyman is the urban black male."
A good column. Hugley later writes:
What I found most telling about the Trayvon Martin case was how all the media pointed out his many academic achievements, as if he needs to wear a shirt that says "Don't shoot; I'm one of the good ones!"
posted by cashman at 10:52 AM on March 26, 2012 [13 favorites]


"JESUS wore a hoodie" sign.
posted by cashman at 11:11 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Quoting from XK over on Something Awful:

Over in GBS we figured out the most likely final route of Trayvon for his return from the store, I figured it may be useful here in D&D.

Trayvon was returning from a 7-Eleven. The police responded to the rear of 1231 Twin Trees. The final confrontation appears to have occurred on the strip of sidewalk along the backyards to the East of Twin Trees, between Twin Trees and Retreat View Circle, which matches news footage.

The neighborhood only has 3 streets, and Zimmerman "patrolled" it regularly, which calls into question his claim that he was attacked while out of his vehicle checking the street name. The final confrontation happened ~0.1 miles from the gated entrance, given what we know of Zimmerman's call to 911, and Trayvon's attempt to elude Zimmerman, it seems evident there was incredibly rapid escalation of the situation immediately after Zimmerman's 911 call ended, and that Zimmerman called 911 literally the moment Trayvon walked through the gate.

Trayvon's last walk:
http://g.co/maps/ztpas

Streetview of the neighborhood gate, where Zimmerman's pursuit of Trayvon likely started:
http://g.co/maps/bnxb2

posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:36 AM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


In Florida, could the prosecutor ask the grand jury to draw an adverse inference from Zimmerman's failure to show?

Probably; the whole thing about grand juries is they don't have to prove anything. But assuming the GJ returns a bill and a warrant goes out, Zimmerman would then be in proceedings where he can take the Fifth and have his counsel present.

Given the news that's come out about him since the attack, if his lawyer has the brains of a goldfish he's advising Zimmerman not to say anything to anybody without running it by him first. You don't want that kind of client talking to the D.A. and grand jury while you're locked out of the room at all.
posted by localroger at 11:45 AM on March 26, 2012


What I found most telling about the Trayvon Martin case was how all the media pointed out his many academic achievements, as if he needs to wear a shirt that says "Don't shoot; I'm one of the good ones!"

I've been trying to think of a way to express the... discomfort I have with some of the reporting about this case and about Martin's past. This is exactly it - if Martin HAD been a 'thug' instead of a nice, upstanding boy, then I do not think this story would have any traction at all (as we've seen with some other SYG cases that are only getting national attention now). But even teenage thugs don't deserve to die.
posted by muddgirl at 11:48 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


From this, it seems like Zimmerman was losing a fight he started and so he shot Martin. If he is allowed to get away with this, we better all get armed.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:20 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that's it. I feel like it is essentially over. I think there is just enough in the way of distracting elements and Trayvon is dead so he can't tell his side of the story. The cops didn't do much in the way of testing Zimmerman that night so it would seem they do not have the evidence to dispute his account of the actual confrontation aside from the location. I do not think Zimmerman is going to get charged with a thing, and even if he were to get charged with a crime, probably would not spend a minute in jail. Oscar Grant, meet Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman will eventually move away and this time next year he'll be living just like everybody else. You'd think since Zimmerman had previously been charged with assaulting a police officer and Martin had previously been suspended for suspicion of having a bit of marijuana, that if those two things were reversed it would make it more likely that Zimmerman would get off scott free. But no. Makes me wanna holler.
posted by cashman at 12:26 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


zimmerman is a hero to many. his quality of life won't take a dip as long as he keeps himself locked into the "right" neighborhoods.

my only hope is that we find out whatever name he's been using to comment online. in my experience, these kinds of racist assholes can't keep themselves from sharing their opinions about our president, the support of haiti or japan, the troops, the republican party, gun rights, etc. here's hoping there's a large pile of evidence that he was predisposed to have a trigger finger. not that i think it'll honestly matter - i imagine zimmerman will be getting off with nary a slap on the wrist.
posted by nadawi at 12:45 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Makes me wanna holler.

Same here. Same here.

If there's any sort of afterlife that serves as relief and comfort to us after we leave this one, I hope that Trayvon Martin is in the company of Emmett Till and many hundreds of others whose names we'll never know and the many dozens who are sure to follow them in the years to come.

I don't wish any undue or eternal suffering on their killers in the next life, but I do wish whatever Benevolent Spirit is purportedly looking after us could construct some sort of lesson for them that helps them to fully understand what they did.

Because it's becoming apparent that, in this world, the Tills,Grants, and Martins will never know justice; nor will their killers ever know just what exactly they wrought.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:53 PM on March 26, 2012


Oh, and did I read right? Trayvon was lying face down? Was he shot in the back? Isn't that terribly relevant to "standing your ground?"
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:58 PM on March 26, 2012


The cops say he was shot in the chest. Yeah, it doesn't make much sense.
posted by muddgirl at 1:12 PM on March 26, 2012


Oh, and did I read right? Trayvon was lying face down? Was he shot in the back?

No, most accounts suggest that he was shot in the chest. Not that it matters too much: there are more than a few instances of the deceased having been shot in the back in the cases pertaining to the so-called "Castle Doctrine" and SYG laws.

I just feel utterly crushed by the fact that police accounts "corroborating" Zimmerman's account, which cannot be counter-argued by Martin, plus the marijuana revelation gives people all the fuel they need to argue that Martin was a drug dealing thug who ambushed Zimmerman and would have killed him if Zimmerman hadn't heroically saved the world from Martin.

All of my early encounters with marijuana (from high school through undergrad years) involved upper middle class white people providing it to me, but in the eyes of racist and "I'm not a racist, but..." America, marijuana + young black male = deadly, violent drug dealer who deserves to die because otherwise "these assholes always get away."

On a side note, why haven't Martin's corpse and Zimmerman been checked for offensive/defensive wounds? Or do the police procedurals on television over-state the ability of forensics experts to make that determination, as they do so many other things?
posted by lord_wolf at 1:19 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just because I can't see anything to the contrary, but is there anything in Florida Criminal procedure which says that a Felony Information MUST come from a police officer, or can ANYONE with sufficient knowledge to swear to the allegations file one?

Because, I'm not seeing why *I* shouldn't type up a Felony Information charging Zimmerman with manslaughter since he fulfils the requirements of 1) Trayvon Martin being shot and 2) Zimmerman did it.

And once the Court Clerk gets a Felony Information filed, the Judge has to then act on it, USUALLY by swearing out a warrant.

So. Could the whole "Wait for the Grand Jury" thing be short circuited TOMORROW?
posted by mikelieman at 1:42 PM on March 26, 2012


I just feel utterly crushed by the fact that police accounts "corroborating" Zimmerman's account, which cannot be counter-argued by Martin, plus the marijuana revelation gives people all the fuel they need to argue that Martin was a drug dealing thug who ambushed Zimmerman and would have killed him if Zimmerman hadn't heroically saved the world from Martin.


I was waiting for this. I can only hope the Justice Department/FBI ignores that and keeps up the investigation. If they can't make a case for a hate crime, at least can they help the special prosecutor assigned to the case?

We don't know for sure what happened in the moment the altercation started. But there is strong reason to believe that the only surviving witness to that moment, the killer, is not credible. His story is not true. It's not true that he was checking a street sign and was attacked out of the blue near his car. Trayvon didn't die anywhere near the street. Sanford PD ignored Trayvon's girlfriend who did try to contact them and they never called her back. This is a common witness sentiment in this case. Her account as to how the altercation began is different from Zimmerman's and that can't just be ignored.

Besides Zimmerman's lack of credibility as to how the fight started, something that may be overlooked is the testimony of at least two (maybe 3) witnesses who say that the fight had stopped. I agree with one of those witnesses, Mary Cutcher. I think they fought, Trayvon won the fight and ran off, Zimmerman was mad after losing the fight, caught up to him and shot him as he begged for his life. That's just what I think. I've been wanting to say that.
posted by Danila at 1:49 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


marijuana

Oh, this they can be bothered investigating? Good priorities there.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the address for Zimmerman I've seen in the media (I won't repeat it here) is correct (which I grant it might not be), he lived a 4 1/2 mile, 15 minute drive (assuming no traffic and taking the highway) from where he shot Martin to death. Does that sound like he was even patrolling his own neighborhood?
posted by aught at 1:56 PM on March 26, 2012


It'd be nice to have the details so what the heck here's wishing for the following:

A) From what distance he was shot and what direction the bullet traveled through his chest, it'd be insane if this wasn't noted in the report, but insanity seems to be par for the course here so what the heck.
B) The time differential from when he got off the phone with his girlfriend and the gunshot. It seems like you could calculate this from the call records on his phone and the 911 calls that have gunfire noises, +/- some (hopefully less than 30 or 60) seconds.
C) As lord_wolf mentions, had Zimmerman's person/Martin's body been checked for offensive/defensive wounds other than the fatal one, if so, what was apparent. It sounds like Zimmerman had a headwound that *may* have required stitches had he went straight to the hospital but didn't after it healed a bit on it's own. Maybe a bloody nose too...
...

I'll quit, the list goes on and on regarding Zimmerman's BAC, how they got so far from the street, etc.... frustrating, I can't imagine how the parents feel.
posted by RolandOfEld at 2:00 PM on March 26, 2012


marijuana

Oh, this they can be bothered investigating? Good priorities there.


Careful. They'll think you're on the dope too.
posted by aught at 2:02 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


From Mary Cutcher's testimony, in whose backyard Trayvon was killed (transcript mine so caution):

"I know this was not self-defense. There was no punching, no hitting going on at the time, no wrestling. There was a little boy whining and crying and the gun went off."

"I am very, very sure there was no arguing, no fighting going on at the time because the fight that started happened all the way down the sidewalk and right around the corner, and that person called the police when the fight started. So he ended up shot in my backyard which is three, four houses down."

"I do think that the shooter probably got beat up and was very angry but I do believe the little kid was trying to get home because it was not in the place that the fight started."

There, boom, evidence against his whack account, arrest him...

I said BOOM. What are they waiting for? Why doesn't this matter?
posted by Danila at 2:03 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


It seems Zimmerman is claiming that Martin tried to take his gun during the scuffle.

There's a whole lotta crazy going on up in here, but invoking the Roxie Defense is not a twist that I saw coming.
posted by cmyk at 3:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I said BOOM. What are they waiting for? Why doesn't this matter?

It's been very obvious from the beginning that the Sanford PD are not interested in collecting any evidence or testimony which contradicts Zimmerman's story. The big question is why they are covering for him so aggressively when it's causing so much trouble.

I mean, Zimmerman isn't the kind of guy most cops like. He's a trouble causing 911-abusing wanna-be, who once got arrested for assaulting a cop. Nice. So why so much love for him from the cops?

The only thing that makes any sense to me is that this is the hand of pere Zimmerman, the retired magistrate judge. This is an angle that really isn't getting much coverage and probably should. The nakedly obvious whitewash would be an embarrassment to anyone who cared about their reputation, but papa Zimmerman might care more about his son than the total destruction of the Sanford PD and he might very well know where enough bodies are buried to force them to drive this coverup into the ground.

Nothing else really makes much sense.
posted by localroger at 3:57 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, Zimmerman's story seems very tailored to absolve him in every possible way. I know I repeat myself, but it is the story of a liar. If his story were true, it would be self-defense anywhere in America. Stand Your Ground wouldn't even apply if Trayvon really cold-cocked him out of the blue, slammed his head into the ground, and then tried to take his gun out of his waistband. Zimmerman can't even take responsibility for taking out his own gun and making the decision to save his own life. No, Trayvon has to be blamed for introducing the gun into the fight by trying to take it.

I actually don't blame Zimmerman for telling this story. If one must be told with this case being tried in the media to a certain extent then through his lawyer, father and "friends" he's getting the story out there. But the investigators should have investigated.

What worries me is that they bungled it up so much a prosecutor will be inclined to just throw hands in the hair and give up. What upsets me is that he'll probably be given the chance to refine his story more and more without being called on it. Notice we hear nothing about the street sign in this latest incarnation, because even Chief Lee was skeptical of that (though not skeptical enough to keep the case open for more than a few weeks).
posted by Danila at 3:57 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


hair/air either works
posted by Danila at 4:00 PM on March 26, 2012



What is this country going to when the scion of a local magistrate can't pursue and shoot a drug using hoodie wearer and call it self defense ?

I propose a new verb - Responsible Gun Owner.

You can use it instead of "postal". As in "I saw this kid I knew was up to no good, so I chased him down and went Responsible Gun Owner on his ass."
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:56 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Skittles and Tea
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:10 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Trayvon Martin Case: Zimmerman Builds His Defense
As investigators privately try to sort out what happened, lawyers are publicly spinning information for the benefit of their clients.


And here's the City of Sanford's web page on the shooting with lots of data including 911 calls. I was surprised to read the following in the "FAQ letter" at the start of the page:
Mr. Zimmerman was not acting outside the legal boundaries of Florida Statute by carrying his weapon when this incident occurred. He was in fact on a personal errand in his vehicle when he observed Mr. Martin in the community and called the Sanford Police Department.
I presume that Mr Zimmerman's intent will be an issue in any potential prosecution; if so, this statement is begging the question.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:17 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Zimmerman's story seems very tailored to absolve him in every possible way. I know I repeat myself, but it is the story of a liar.

No, it's the story of a guy possibly facing criminal indictment. Anyone in that situation, guilty or not, would be an idiot to do anything except (at the behest of a competent attorney) issue statements which absolve him or her. You don't make the prosecution's job easier.

Don't get me wrong, I think he's a lying liar. But the fact that he or his attorney's statements are tailored to absolve him tells us nothing about his guilt. It's how the game is played, unfortunately.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 AM on March 27, 2012


Does SYG apply to courtroom settings as well?
posted by telstar at 12:54 AM on March 27, 2012


No, it's the story of a guy possibly facing criminal indictment. Anyone in that situation, guilty or not, would be an idiot to do anything except (at the behest of a competent attorney) issue statements which absolve him or her. You don't make the prosecution's job easier.

Not sure how that is in any way a dispute with what I said. That doesn't make it any less a lie.I know why they're doing it, I even said as much, but to me this is more evidence of police chicanery. All I can hope is that whoever is investigating and putting together a case now looks for opportunity within Zimmerman's lies to trip him up. After all, this whole thing rests on his credibility since Zimmerman's story is the only evidence that Trayvon attacked him and this led to Trayvon's death, then the lying matters.

I do not think the police made enough of an effort to impeach the testimony of this guy who was obviously lying to them. It's only become a media event because they didn't do their job, even though there is evidence to show he is lying. I think they treated him like the victim from the start and weren't particularly motivated until Trayvon's parents made a real stink by bringing in lawyers and suing for the 911 recordings. I even thought Bill Lee was Zimmerman's lawyer at first.

What I meant about the story being tailored is that it's way, way too pat. Laughably so. I mean, it shouldn't be such an obvious bad story but if it's going to be this bad then I hope someone important is paying attention.

"I was just checking a street sign!"
"At no time did I ever follow or confront him!"
"He said 'Do you have a problem?' and I just said 'No' and then the thug was all "YOU DO NOW BOOM!"
"Yeah I said he was running away but then he came back to beat me down"
"Even though I was being pummeled and in fear for my life, I wasn't going to draw the gun but he saw it and the thug had MURDER IN HIS EYES IT WAS HIM OR ME OMG"
posted by Danila at 1:05 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


A Mother's Grace and Grieving
posted by bardophile at 6:23 AM on March 27, 2012


I'm confused about a few things now that more has been added to the story.

1. How did Zimmerman get lacerations on the back of his head? It's easy enough to punch yourself in the nose to fake a self-defense claim, but to slam your head against something seems a little farfetched. It's also understandable that he didn't go to the ER right away. Unless you think he's a sociopath, he's been through a traumatic experience, and going to the ER can be a pain in the ass. He did seek medical attention the next day.

2. When he got out of the truck to check the street sign, was he still on the phone with the cops? They routinely ask "where are you now." I lived in a (non-gated) community that looked similar and given that the houses all look alike, it's easy to get lost, especially in the dark and in the rain and when you're full of adrenaline. If you're just chasing the dude down to shoot him, why bother stopping?

3. Let's say Zimmerman is a racist and saw Martin as a threat simply because he's black (although there is no proof of this since we can't read his mind and there are no similar incidents in his past). Is the accusation that he intended to kill him from the beginning?

4. There's been a lot of scorn placed on the fact that Zimmerman made 46 calls to police in the last 13 months, but what's not often discussed is that there were 402 calls in the same neighborhood in the same time frame. It's not unreasonable that 10% of the calls would have been made by a neighborhood watch person, even if some seem frivolous. Nine of them involved suspicious persons.

5. The witnesses reports seem conflicting; some have Martin on top of Zimmerman, some vice versa. Some heard a scream but no one knows which man it was. Clearly there was some sort of tussle; who started it is up to debate. Why was Zimmerman's back wet if Zimmerman was on top? Why would Martin's front be wet... unless he was shot in the back?

6. Why didn't Martin just run? He's 17, slim and in good shape, and could have easily outrun an overweight guy in his late 20s. He had a cellphone - why didn't he call the cops or have his girlfriend do it? I'm not victim-blaming and I don't think he was out to get Zimmerman, but his actions don't make sense to me if he was avoiding a confrontation. His actions DO make sense if he was anticipating a confrontation that he could talk his way out of or win.

7. There's been a lot of attention paid to the fact that Martin was unarmed. Did he know Zimmerman was armed when Martin was approached or when Martin approached Zimmerman? Did Zimmerman know Martin was unarmed?

I'm playing devil's advocate a bit, and I will admit some of my assumptions may be in error, but my mefi history should show that I am not a right-wing defender of racists. I just don't want to see any particular person railroaded because of the massive injustices that young black men have faced in this country. It's not clear to me beyond a reasonable doubt that this is one of those cases and I understand why he hasn't been arrested. I hope public pressure does not trump justice and the right to a fair trial. It's possibly too late.
posted by desjardins at 7:48 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Danila:

And don't forget:

He was in fact on a personal errand in his vehicle when he observed Mr. Martin in the community and called the Sanford Police Department.

Personal errand so the Homeowner Association doesn't get sued.
posted by mazola at 7:51 AM on March 27, 2012


1. Fat guy running on a rainy night. Fall down and go boom. ( Which again, don't rise to Great Bodily Harm )

1b. What Paramedics responding find a serious head injury and DON'T transport them to the ER to be checked out?


2. Zimmerman terminated his 9-1-1 call voluntarily when he began chasing after Trayvon Martin. This claim of checking street signs is very flimsy.

3. An arrest for Manslaughter under florida law requires ONLY two things.

Trayvon Martin is dead

George Zimmerman did it.

Any DEFENSES to the charge, can be raised as pretrial dismissal motions. Like EVERY OTHER CASE...

4. George Zimmerman is not a member of any legitimate, registered neighborhood watch. This is proven by the facts that Zimmerman 'patrolled' while armed, and Zimmerman pursued Martin, two things prohibited by EVERY legitimate neighborhood watch. So, rephrase your question as, "Some random busybody calls over and over and over without any legal authority" and you'll understand why Zimmerman's actions aren't self-defense.

5. Ignore the witness reports. They are irrelevant for the arrest of Zimmerman on the established Manslaughter charge.

6. Why question Martin's actions unless you're trying to blame the victim? Martin had EVERY LEGAL RIGHT to be where he was, and shouldn't have to fear being chased at night by an armed stranger.

7. When you're being chased at night by a stranger with no lawful authority, isn't it *reasonable and prudent* to assume they're armed? After all, if they weren't up to no-good, they wouldn't be stalking you at night, would they?
posted by mikelieman at 8:04 AM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


I hope public pressure does not trump justice and the right to a fair trial. It's possibly too late.

That's a laugh. Who wanted to trump justice? I think everyone wanted a fair trial. Or at least a competent investigation. There did not seem to be any investigative interest in answering basic questions (as you outline) at the time of the crime, hence the outrage.

Ironically, Zimmerman would have been much better served with a full investigation that publicly and transparently stepped through the events of that day and legally cleared him of any wrongdoing, even if it inconvenienced him in the short term. That 'Stand Your Ground' law is ridiculous.
posted by mazola at 8:06 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


How did Zimmerman get lacerations on the back of his head? It's easy enough to punch yourself in the nose to fake a self-defense claim, but to slam your head against something seems a little farfetched.

My counter-question would be: If Zimmerman's story is 100% accurate, why does that matter? Let's say that Martin did assault Zimmerman. Does assault warrant the death penalty?

The 'new' claim from Zimmerman and the police is that Martin reached for his gun.

Why didn't Martin just run? He's 17, slim and in good shape, and could have easily outrun an overweight guy in his late 20s.

According to Martin's friend, Martin DID run from Zimmerman at first (or at least walked quickly away). According to Florida's SYG law, Martin had no requirement to run away if he felt threatened. That is the tragic irony of the SYG law.

He had a cellphone - why didn't he call the cops or have his girlfriend do it?

My understanding is that Martin was on the phone with his friend until 'moments before' the shot was fired. This calls Zimmerman's timeline into question. I don't think Martin had time to call the police. Martin's girlfriend may have called the cops or Martin's family - we just don't know, and the cops haven't said (whether because they don't feel it's prudent or they just don't know).
posted by muddgirl at 8:07 AM on March 27, 2012


How did Zimmerman get lacerations on the back of his head? It's easy enough to punch yourself in the nose to fake a self-defense claim, but to slam your head against something seems a little farfetched. It's also understandable that he didn't go to the ER right away. Unless you think he's a sociopath, he's been through a traumatic experience, and going to the ER can be a pain in the ass. He did seek medical attention the next day.

We don't know the facts of the case. Zimmerman says that he was being pummeled as he lay on the ground. Maybe this part is true, maybe it's not. We don't know what happened before or after that, even if that individual part is true.

When he got out of the truck to check the street sign, was he still on the phone with the cops? They routinely ask "where are you now." I lived in a (non-gated) community that looked similar and given that the houses all look alike, it's easy to get lost, especially in the dark and in the rain and when you're full of adrenaline.

You're making two big leaps by assuming that 1) Zimmerman was thinking logically and 2) that he is being accused of premeditated murder, let alone with the premeditation coming as early as him being in the car.

It sounds like Zimmerman had stopped the car in order to confront Martin in some way. I have never in my life tried to confirm my current location by physically stopping my car and getting out.

If you're just chasing the dude down to shoot him, why bother stopping?

I'm not sure what you mean here. It seems as if. Zimmerman stopped to confront Martin. Are you seriously suggesting that only a drive-by shooting would have made sense?

Let's say Zimmerman is a racist and saw Martin as a threat simply because he's black (although there is no proof of this since we can't read his mind and there are no similar incidents in his past). Is the accusation that he intended to kill him from the beginning?

No. Why on earth would the accusation be that?

Zimmerman probably saw Martin as an outsider, so he followed him around and then tried to confront him, then they got into a fight, and then Zimmerman shot the kid in the back.

There's been a lot of scorn placed on the fact that Zimmerman made 46 calls to police in the last 13 months, but what's not often discussed is that there were 402 calls in the same neighborhood in the same time frame. It's not unreasonable that 10% of the calls would have been made by a neighborhood watch person, even if some seem frivolous. Nine of them involved suspicious persons.

Nine involved suspicious persons, but which ones were actually suspicious? What is the reasonable number of calls, as opposed to the unreasonable number of calls?

The witnesses reports seem conflicting; some have Martin on top of Zimmerman, some vice versa. Some heard a scream but no one knows which man it was. Clearly there was some sort of tussle; who started it is up to debate. Why was Zimmerman's back wet if Zimmerman was on top? Why would Martin's front be wet... unless he was shot in the back?


Who started it is up to debate, but it may well be highly material.

As for the wet shirts, it's very possible that at one point Martin was on top, and then at another point, Zimmerman shot Martin in the back.

Why didn't Martin just run? He's 17, slim and in good shape, and could have easily outrun an overweight guy in his late 20s. He had a cellphone - why didn't he call the cops or have his girlfriend do it? I'm not victim-blaming and I don't think he was out to get Zimmerman, but his actions don't make sense to me if he was avoiding a confrontation. His actions DO make sense if he was anticipating a confrontation that he could talk his way out of or win.

How is that not victim-blaming?

Just off the top of my head, maybe Martin didn't want to run because he had nothing to hide. Maybe Martin didn't want to run, because then he might actually look suspicious. Maybe Martin didn't want to run, because he knew the other guy had a car. Maybe Martin didn't want to run, because he didn't know why this guy was approaching him, and for what reason. Maybe Martin didn't want to run, because he might get shot in the back. Maybe Martin didn't run because he was being confronted by an adult, and it didn't seem right to simply gallop off. Maybe Martin didn't run because he was a teenager who, when given guff for daring to exist while black, chose to respond rather than disappear.

There's been a lot of attention paid to the fact that Martin was unarmed. Did he know Zimmerman was armed when Martin was approached or when Martin approached Zimmerman? Did Zimmerman know Martin was unarmed?

We don't know, especially since the only other participant is dead. You certainly can't start popping off shots at people just because they could be armed.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:12 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


In absence of facts, Travon Martin case becomes a war of images and reputations online.
posted by ericb at 8:19 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, it's all getting a bit absurd now. It doesn't seem that the authorities in Florida are going to do anything until the grand jury convenes, despite public pressure. So, in the absence of any official developments people are going to make Martin the face of every unarmed kid ever shot and Zimmerman's defenders will make it about personal freedom, crime prevention, and whatever other weird justifications they can find. Anger about this has a way of twisting people up when they should be looking for ways to reconcile it internally rather than becoming further invested in something that they have no real influence in.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:28 AM on March 27, 2012


Well, it's all getting a bit absurd now.

Considering people are somehow defending Zimmerman on various internet sites by saying "he's not even 100% white! He's Hispanic!", I'd say we're past absurd.
posted by inigo2 at 8:34 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's hard to tell what happened right now since there is a lot of contradictory statements from witnesses and some of the recent stuff that supports Zimmerman's side was selectively leaked from the police department.

However, I think we can accept that his injuries were as described. The paramedics will be the ones testifying on that, not the police. I also think we can assume Martin was shot in the front, because if he was shot in the back there is no chance Zimmerman's story is true and a cover-up could never hide it.

As for the reputation battle between the two of them. Trayvon was suspended for pot, which means nothing. He's a teenager, they do that. It's a totally normal, non-violent offense. He has been caught with women's jewelry at school and they believed it was a sign of burglary. That doesn't really mean anything here either. Even if he was a pot-smoking thief that doesn't suggest he has a habit of blindsiding people and bashing their heads into concrete and there is no way Zimmerman could have taken this into account when he determined Martin was suspicious for walking down the street.

Martin did apparently have some incident where he "swung at a bus driver".

Zimmerman has an incident where he allegedly assaulted a police officer. He also had some domestic violence issues.

The woman reported Zimmerman had arrived at her home Aug. 8 and asked to talk. Later, when she asked him to leave, she said, he insisted on staying and demanded documents she had.

The woman said she offered to drop the papers off the following day, but Zimmerman became upset, took her cellphone and shoved her. A fight ensued, she said, and her dog bit Zimmerman's cheek.

Zimmerman filed his own petition the day after his ex-fiancée's, in which he claimed that she had been the aggressor in the fight.


How unfortunate that he keeps ending up in situations where other people start fights with him that he has to finish.

None of this history stuff really helps us determine what happened during the time where all we have is Zimmerman's word, but if I had to guess at which one was more likely to be violent I think I would go with Zimmerman.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:40 AM on March 27, 2012


Zimmerman filed his own petition the day after his ex-fiancée's, in which he claimed that she had been the aggressor in the fight.

Why do I feel like Zimmerman posts on reddit?
posted by inigo2 at 8:45 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why Conservatives Are Smearing Trayvon -- "Conservatives are focusing on Trayvon’s tweets, appearance, school suspension over marijuana traces, and the hoodie he was wearing to blame him for his own death—and to show that his killing had nothing to do with racism."
posted by ericb at 8:52 AM on March 27, 2012


George Zimmerman’s Account of Fight With Trayvon Martin Questioned.
posted by ericb at 8:54 AM on March 27, 2012


If Zimmerman's story is 100% accurate, why does that matter? Let's say that Martin did assault Zimmerman. Does assault warrant the death penalty?

It would almost certainly mean that under Florida law Zimmerman is innocent.
posted by yoink at 8:57 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Craig Sonner, George Zimmerman's Lawyer, Reportedly Flees Lawrence O'Donnell Interview (VIDEO).
posted by ericb at 8:58 AM on March 27, 2012


And I don't think that's an ethical law, for all the reasons I've described over and over in this thread. Whether or not Zimmerman was assaulted doesn't affect the ethics of the law.
posted by muddgirl at 8:59 AM on March 27, 2012


Jon Stewart Rips Trayvon Martin Media Coverage, George Zimmerman & Florida Law (VIDEO).
posted by ericb at 9:00 AM on March 27, 2012


I thought that Daily Show piece with the Martin coverage interspersed with jokes about Cheney's heart transplant was in poor taste, and beneath them.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:04 AM on March 27, 2012


How did Zimmerman get lacerations on the back of his head? It's easy enough to punch yourself in the nose to fake a self-defense claim, but to slam your head against something seems a little farfetched. It's also understandable that he didn't go to the ER right away. Unless you think he's a sociopath, he's been through a traumatic experience, and going to the ER can be a pain in the ass. He did seek medical attention the next day.

I'm still skeptical that someone smaller than Zimmerman could have hurt him so badly. I still don't have a good sense of how much taller than Martin Zimmerman was, but being 110 lbs larger, I suspect that he was at least a few inches taller as well. It seems unlikely that someone shorter and lighter and unarmed, let's not forget, could make Zimmerman fear for his life.

As for the broken nose, why are we just hearing about that now? Was that ever even mentioned last week? And, no, honestly, it isn't understandable why Zimmerman skipped the ER. Apparently, we are supposed to believe that he was beaten so badly that he feared for his life, but not so badly that he feared he might need immediate medical treatment?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:23 AM on March 27, 2012


Trayvon Martin's parents head to Congress for briefing.
posted by ericb at 9:31 AM on March 27, 2012


Regarding the alleged injuries to Zimmerman, wouldn't the police have taken photographs to document them? Wouldn't the hospital also have reports?
posted by ericb at 9:32 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I still don't have a good sense of how much taller than Martin Zimmerman was, but being 110 lbs larger, I suspect that he was at least a few inches taller as well.

Martin was 6'1", Zimmerman is 5'9". Just because Martin was lanky doesn't mean he couldn't have landed some solid blows. I think people are getting caught up in the weight difference and making lots of guesses. What I think happened is that Martin turned and landed a surprise punch that caught Zimmerman offguard, and he slipped, possibly hitting his head. Maybe then Martin got bold and approached. That's when Zimmerman pulled out his gun and someone (probably Martin) started screaming.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:32 AM on March 27, 2012


Did Marijuana Use Sentence Trayvon Martin to Death? -- "A news report claims that the 17-year-old Florida boy's killer thought he looked looked 'drugged out and suspicious.' Why enduring stigma of drug use in this country is becoming increasingly deadly."
posted by ericb at 9:35 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


And that's probably how they're going to build their case for self-defense. They will discount the fact that Zimmerman was in the wrong for suspecting Martin in the first place, and cut to the fight where Martin may well have thrown the first punch (out of fear).
posted by Burhanistan at 9:36 AM on March 27, 2012


And I don't think that's an ethical law, for all the reasons I've described over and over in this thread. Whether or not Zimmerman was assaulted doesn't affect the ethics of the law.

Neither do I--for all the reasons that I, too, have reiterated in this thread. But you asked "why does that matter?" I think it matters quite a lot whether a jury of Zimmerman's peers would be correct or incorrect to find him guilty.

Of course, it's worth noting that by Zimmerman's account there's a pretty good chance he'd be acquitted (assuming that his account is true) even without the Stand Your Ground law. There really is no law that says you have to assume that the guy who is sitting on top of you bashing your head into the sidewalk is going to just stop before causing you grievous bodily injury. Given Zimmerman's account I think the real issue here is gun control: take away Zimmerman's gun and nobody ends up dead. But once he has a gun on him and a legal right to use it in self-defense it's not clear to me that it's reasonable to ask someone who is having their head pounded into the sidewalk not to use every means at their disposition to make that stop. (And, again I stress, that this is assuming Zimmerman's account to be true--which, at this point, is an issue we simply do not have sufficient information to decide on).
posted by yoink at 9:36 AM on March 27, 2012


Burhanistan, your reconstruction doesn't explain how the shooting ended up happening in Mary Cutcher's back yard some distance from where the physical altercation occurred. What seems more likely is that Martin knocked Zimmerman down and turned heel, and as he was retreating Zimmerman got up, chased him down with gun drawn, and shot him.
posted by localroger at 9:37 AM on March 27, 2012


The Conservative Agenda in the Trayvon Martin Case.
posted by ericb at 9:37 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


> But you asked "why does that matter?" I think it matters quite a lot whether a jury of Zimmerman's peers would be correct or incorrect to find him guilty.

Well, if there are any jurors with half a brain (this is me being hopeful), maybe we'll see a jury nullification? The SYG law is about as good a reason as any for a jury to nullify.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:38 AM on March 27, 2012


They will discount the fact that Zimmerman was in the wrong for suspecting Martin in the first place, and cut to the fight where Martin may well have thrown the first punch (out of fear).

Zimmerman was morally in the wrong for suspecting Martin. If his account of the incident is true the fact that he suspected Martin is entirely irrelevant to the legal issues the case presents and the defense would be entirely right to object to any attempt to drag that issue into the proceedings.
posted by yoink at 9:38 AM on March 27, 2012


> What seems more likely is that Martin knocked Zimmerman down and turned heel, and as he was retreating Zimmerman got up, chased him down with gun drawn, and shot him.

Perhaps. Maybe they had two rounds in separate locations.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2012


Can We Trust the Cops’ New Account of Trayvon Martin’s Killing? -- "Not as long as they rely on leaks and unnamed witnesses."
posted by ericb at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2012


Nobody here saw the fight, if there was one. We have Zimmerman's story. We can't get Martin's story. It is silly and irrelevant to try to reconstruct the fight just based on Martin and Zimmerman's respective heights. Shorter people can hurt taller people, and vice versa.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2012


As for the broken nose, why are we just hearing about that now?

Yes, the broken nose and the cut on the on the back of his head were mentioned before this week. I saw a tv interview in which Zimmerman's lawyer said that when he went for medical help the doctor told him that there was no need to treat it b/c it was already healing.

I am in no way defending Zimmerman for not going to the ER but people seem shocked that someone would put off getting medical treatment. I have done it multiple times. Most recently for a shattered finger and another time for broken ribs.

At least there is a medical report in Zimmerman's case that will be scrutinized.
posted by futz at 9:40 AM on March 27, 2012


Martin was 6'1", Zimmerman is 5'9". Just because Martin was lanky doesn't mean he couldn't have landed some solid blows. I think people are getting caught up in the weight difference and making lots of guesses. What I think happened is that Martin turned and landed a surprise punch that caught Zimmerman offguard, and he slipped, possibly hitting his head. Maybe then Martin got bold and approached. That's when Zimmerman pulled out his gun and someone (probably Martin) started screaming.

That's my sense of it.

Zimmerman said something to Trayvon from his truck. Trayvon told him to fuck off, or some such. As Trayvon left the sidewalk to go in between the buildings, Zimmerman left his truck, and approached the kid. Maybe grabbed his shoulder. Trayvon turned and popped him in the face and Zimmerman fell down.

Zimmerman pulled his gun, then at some point shot Trayvon.


The thing is under Florida law, Trayvon had a right to use deadly force to defend himself. Zimmerman had no business accosting him at all - let alone leaving his truck to approach him.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:40 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a hypothetical jury will decide doesn't matter if this case doesn't make it in front of a jury in the first place. I suspect the intent of Zimmerman's lawyer and the police department is to prevent this case from going beyond the grand jury.
posted by muddgirl at 9:45 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


City manager, acting chief to hold press conference
posted by futz at 9:48 AM on March 27, 2012


Wait, my link is basically contains no news. Just a really brief statement, so it looks like that WAS the press conference. Confusing.
posted by futz at 9:50 AM on March 27, 2012


As for the broken nose, why are we just hearing about that now? Was that ever even mentioned last week? And, no, honestly, it isn't understandable why Zimmerman skipped the ER. Apparently, we are supposed to believe that he was beaten so badly that he feared for his life, but not so badly that he feared he might need immediate medical treatment?

I find this thread immensely saddening, for all kinds of reasons. Of course, the underlying story is just utterly fucking heartbreaking, so it's no likely to be uplifting from the outset. But what I find so depressing in reading this thread is seeing all those fallacies that I associate with the right-wing "tough on crime" nutjobs so happily embraced by people typically on the other side of those debates. What is it about criminal cases that makes people so desperate to project their pet morality plays onto the available facts and then cling to that version in the teeth of any and all evidence? Absolutely any and all evidence brought into this thread that puts Martin in a less than saintly light is heaped with scorn and ridicule, any and all evidence that questions the favorite portrait of Zimmerman as KKK poster-boy for the ages is immediately discounted on the thinnest of pretexts.

Take the above quotation for example (and it's by no means the most egregious--I take it pretty much at random). Somehow we're asked to believe that it's unthinkably bizarre and suspicious that a man who has just been in a desperate physical struggle and who has then shot a young man might not have sought medical help at the earliest possible time. This despite the fact that we all know perfectly well that shock can suppress our ability to think and act rationally, despite the fact that we have all had the experience of receiving an injury whose gravity didn't reveal itself until some time after the event (broken noses--like broken toes--are notorious examples of this). A completely anodyne fact gets twisted into near certain proof of Zimmerman's perfidy.

This is just a perfect mirror-image to the way that, on the opposite side of the case the utterly anodyne and irrelevant fact of Martin's suspension being for marijuana use will be twisted into near certain proof of Martin's "gangbanger" status.
posted by yoink at 9:51 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nobody here saw the fight, if there was one.

Given that the early 911 calls are all reporting a physical fight, I find it impossible to construct a scenario in which there was no fight. Not only did there have to be a fight, but it had to be a reasonably protracted one: giving people enough time to witness it in progress AND go to the phone and call 911--all before the point that we start hearing the screams for help and the gunshot.

I suspect the intent of Zimmerman's lawyer and the police department is to prevent this case from going beyond the grand jury.

It would be an odd defense lawyer who wanted the case to go beyond the grand jury.
posted by yoink at 9:55 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't know the facts of the case. Zimmerman says that he was being pummeled as he lay on the ground. Maybe this part is true, maybe it's not. We don't know what happened before or after that, even if that individual part is true.

It really doesn't matter. I think it's pretty clear that Zimmerman confronted Martin and started a fight, which he thought he could win due to his superior intelligence and physical prowess, but which he proceeded to lose...badly. Losing pissed him off so bad he chased Martin down and shot him with his gun. He needs to be prosecuted.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:56 AM on March 27, 2012


It would be an odd defense lawyer who wanted the case to go beyond the grand jury.

Of course. I did not mean the general intent, but the intent of the lawyer's media campaign. But maybe that's a facetious statement as well.
posted by muddgirl at 9:59 AM on March 27, 2012


While several witnesses agree that there was a fight near the sidewalk, Mary Cutcher is adamant that there was no fight in her back yard, only the pleading and gunshot.
posted by localroger at 10:00 AM on March 27, 2012


Absolutely any and all evidence brought into this thread that puts Martin in a less than saintly light is heaped with scorn and ridicule

Becuase it's either a) pictures taken from Stormfront that show a kid who is not Trayvon Martin the murder victim posing like a "thug" with the implication that Martin deserved it, b) a leak from the same police department that has a serious history of mismanaging or convering up crimes with minority victims, or c) information from Zimmerman through his lawyer about how Martin somehow and with no possible motive snuck up on and attacked Zimmerman like Evil Batman.

None of this "evidence" corresponds to what we have heard from witnesses who are willing to give their names or to the spacetime events we know to have happened; you and others are awfully concerned with what is said by "John" the Convenient Faceless Man To Whom Only Zimmerman's Lawyer Has Access.
posted by a_girl_irl at 10:01 AM on March 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


The thing is under Florida law, Trayvon had a right to use deadly force to defend himself. Zimmerman had no business accosting him at all - let alone leaving his truck to approach him.

Leaving aside whether any of this leaving of trucks and accosting happened or how it happened (all of which is beyond what we know), it's completely incorrect to say that Zimmerman was putting himself beyond the protection of Florida's self-defense laws by leaving his truck or by approaching Martin. The Stand Your Ground law says that you're free to stand your ground anywhere that you have a legal right to be; Zimmerman had every legal right to get out of his truck, to walk up to Martin and to ask him what he was doing in the neighborhood.

The only way that Zimmerman would place himself beyond the protection of the self-defense laws would be if he attacked Martin and then, finding himself getting the worse of the fight, resorted to using his gun. But that is not, obviously enough, what Zimmerman claimed happened, and, so far, there appear to be no witnesses suggesting that that is what happened.
posted by yoink at 10:02 AM on March 27, 2012


One other thing is mysterious to my, probably because I haven't diligently read everything. The popular shot of Zimmerman in an orange shirt is supposedly from his questioning at the Sandford PD station, but he shows no sign of trauma on his face. But how can that be?
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:02 AM on March 27, 2012


Old mugshot.
posted by futz at 10:05 AM on March 27, 2012


and, so far, there appear to be no witnesses suggesting that that is what happened.

Except Mary Cutcher.

The popular shot of Zimmerman in an orange shirt is supposedly from his questioning at the Sandford PD station, but he shows no sign of trauma on his face. But how can that be?

I thought that was from his prior arrest for assaulting an officer, but I could be wrong.
posted by muddgirl at 10:05 AM on March 27, 2012


One other thing is mysterious to my, probably because I haven't diligently read everything. The popular shot of Zimmerman in an orange shirt is supposedly from his questioning at the Sandford PD station, but he shows no sign of trauma on his face. But how can that be?

That's a 2005 mugshot. There was no mugshot from this event because they didn't arrest him. You'd have thought that the fact that he wasn't arrested would be harder to lose sight of than the popularity of pointing to that mugshot as "proof" that the injury claims are fake suggests.
posted by yoink at 10:06 AM on March 27, 2012


I wonder what caused Zimmerman's lawyer to flee the O'Donnell interview.
posted by futz at 10:07 AM on March 27, 2012


Here's your next round of distraction:

The individual at the center of the controversial Trayvon Martin shooting is a registered Democrat.

George Michael Zimmerman, born Oct. 5, 1983, registered as a Democrat in Seminole County, Fla., in August 2002, according to state voter registration documents.

It is unclear whether he voted for President Barack Obama in 2008.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:11 AM on March 27, 2012


Except Mary Cutcher.

Where? What I've read of Cutcher's testimony has her witnessing only the aftermath of the event. She seems to make two claims 1) that the voice "sounded" young to her (pretty useless testimony--we can all make our own judgment of what we hear on those tapes--someone's recollections after the event are basically meaningless; just think how you'd judge a witness coming forward claiming that they "sounded" like Zimmerman) and 2) that she saw Zimmerman straddling Martin after the shooting.

So where is her testimony that Zimmerman initiated the altercation with Martin?
posted by yoink at 10:11 AM on March 27, 2012


> The SYG law is about as good a reason as any for a jury to nullify.

Actually, I take that back since I think I have it backwards.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2012


Somehow we're asked to believe that it's unthinkably bizarre and suspicious that a man who has just been in a desperate physical struggle and who has then shot a young man might not have sought medical help at the earliest possible time.

Dunno, maybe you have more experience with shoot-outs than I do, but yes, I do think that it's bizarre (unthinkably so? You said that, not me) that some one who is claiming (or his lawyer is claiming) that the gravity of his injuries are evidence of the threat to his life, did not want an immediate medical review. And given that one man was already dead when the police arrived at the scene, I would think that they might insist on that, if only for procedural reasons, if those police hadn't already demonstrated themselves to be, at best, fucking incompetents.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:13 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Becuase it's either a) pictures taken from Stormfront that show a kid who is not Trayvon Martin the murder victim posing like a "thug" with the implication that Martin deserved it, b) a leak from the same police department that has a serious history of mismanaging or convering up crimes with minority victims, or c) information from Zimmerman through his lawyer about how Martin somehow and with no possible motive snuck up on and attacked Zimmerman like Evil Batman.

None of this "evidence" corresponds to what we have heard from witnesses who are willing to give their names or to the spacetime events we know to have happened; you and others are awfully concerned with what is said by "John" the Convenient Faceless Man To Whom Only Zimmerman's Lawyer Has Access.


Oh, thank you a_girl_irl for reminding me of the other thing that is so fucking depressing about this thread: if you say anything out of step with the prevailing narrative, you will immediately be accused of racism. What fun.
posted by yoink at 10:13 AM on March 27, 2012


Where? What I've read of Cutcher's testimony has her witnessing only the aftermath of the event. She seems to make two claims 1) that the voice "sounded" young to her (pretty useless testimony--we can all make our own judgment of what we hear on those tapes--someone's recollections after the event are basically meaningless; just think how you'd judge a witness coming forward claiming that they "sounded" like Zimmerman

I can't tell on the tapes, the quality isn't that great and the people on the phone speak over the screams. I think I would trust the live witnesses more to say who was screaming. However, they all can't agree on that so that isn't much help either.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:16 AM on March 27, 2012


Will Smith weighs in.
posted by futz at 10:21 AM on March 27, 2012


Dunno, maybe you have more experience with shoot-outs than I do

I have no personal experience of shootouts, at all. I have lots of experience (no more, I'm sure, than most) of traumatic injuries to myself and friends and family. More often than not, when the injuries fall short of self-evidently requiring immediate treatment, there is a deep reluctance to adding a trip to the emergency room (a pretty traumatic experience itself) to the unpleasantness of the injury itself. I can think, just off the top of my head, of a double handful of cases where medical attention has been put off until the next day (or later) for injuries that, in retrospect, should have been immediately attended to.

gravity of his injuries are evidence of the threat to his life

Well, no, not really--not in the way that your tendentious phrasing suggests. They're not claiming that he was injured to the point where his life was in the balance. They're suggesting that his injuries are severe enough to prove that he was in a serious fight, where he had good reason to resort to radical self-defense measures. That doesn't require serious injury, however. You are under no legal obligation to allow your assailant to thrash you to the point where your life hangs in the balance before you resort to using a weapon.

As to whether or not the cops were incompetent in not forcing Zimmerman to seek further medical assistance, who knows? We really don't know much of anything about the extent to which they documented his injuries. No doubt he was seen to by paramedics--I doubt the legal arguments will require more expert testimony than they will be capable of providing.
posted by yoink at 10:23 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


if you say anything out of step with the prevailing narrative, you will immediately be accused of racism. What fun.

Well, the evidence that Martin is "less than saintly" is primarily fabricated and comes primarily from Stormfront and other hyper right-wing white supremacist sites.

Sorry for the reality check, but a kid with no arrests who once pulled his father from a burning house seems a hell of a lot more saintly than a pumped-up, looking-for-trouble armed vigilante who has an arrest record for assaulting a cop as well as a domestic violence complaint.
posted by a_girl_irl at 10:27 AM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think I would trust the live witnesses more to say who was screaming.

From what I've read about the abilities of witnesses in stressful circumstances to recall one-off events with any accuracy at all, I wouldn't trust a statement of that kind at all. All of the witnesses will have been reading up about the incident and seeing the newspaper reports just like the rest of us. All of them will have constructed narratives in their mind about what they think "probably" happened. Inevitably that will radically deform their recollections of how they perceived what they heard at the time.

Again--this is the kind of statement that would get lots of nods and favorites if I were writing about a witness who had spoken up and said that the cries sounded like Zimmerman, and will be contemptuously dismissed by most because I'm writing about a witness who claims that the cries sounded like Martin--which they want to believe is the case.
posted by yoink at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, the evidence that Martin is "less than saintly" is primarily fabricated and comes primarily from Stormfront and other hyper right-wing white supremacist sites.

Oh get over yourself. I was talking about eyewitnesses who claim to have seen Martin sitting on top of Zimmerman beating him, o.k.? I've never even read about these supposed photographs of Martin you seem so concerned about.

Now, it may turn out that those eyewitnesses were incorrect, or confused. As I say, eyewitness testimony is inherently crappy. My point is that every witness who gives a version of the facts that people want to believe is presumed to be the voice of God descended from on high. Every witness who gives a version people don't want to believe is presumed to be a lying racist who murders puppies in their spare time.
posted by yoink at 10:35 AM on March 27, 2012


His mother said it was definitely him. Is she lying?

I get that you're a million times smarter and more objective than everyone else and we're all big meanies, so you can save that part of your answer.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:35 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


> Again--this is the kind of statement that would get lots of nods and favorites

Look, I don't deny that the prevailing sentiment could be seen as reminiscent of an angry mob. But aside from the so-called New Black Panthers, I don't see people calling for mob justice, just more proactive work from the police and district attorneys. One thing you may do to improve the reception of your arguments here is to couch them with disclaimers about how you're speaking in terms of the law and how it is interpreted. People tend to get simple minded about these issues and when they see a position advanced that is counter to what they feel then they won't see that that person was speaking in terms of scenarios rather than personal feeling.

Anyway, sorry, but your statements about being seen as the bad guy are tiresome. This is all voluntary participation here.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:36 AM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


His mother said it was definitely him. Is she lying?

Of course she's not "lying"--in the sense that she is saying something she knows to be false. I'm reasonably confident that Zimmerman's parents will be equally convinced that the voice is their son's, however. Now, you tell me the facts you're going to draw on that will help you determine which set of parents is correctly identifying their child's voice. It would be wonderfully refreshing if it wasn't just "I know which narrative I want to be true, so it must be the one that accords with that narrative."
posted by yoink at 10:40 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just want police to do their fucking job and have laws that don't prevent police from doing their fucking job.
posted by mazola at 10:43 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


People tend to get simple minded about these issues

Yes, they do. That is the thing that I am lamenting. I don't think simple-mindedness helps anyone. I don't think, in the long run, that it will help Trayvon Martin's parents or help to get Florida's stupid SYA law or its stupid concealed carry laws repealed.

You misunderstand my comment about the "nods and favorites." I'm not whining about people not agreeing with me, I'm pointing out the absurd one-sidedness of the discussion here: everyone would acknowledge the self-evident truth of the limitations of eyewitness testimony if we were talking of testimony that went against the favored narrative, while everyone treats eyewitnesses as unimpeachable apostles of righteousness when they bring testimony that supports the favored narrative.
posted by yoink at 10:47 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, let's not forget we're 1000 comments deep in an internet forum thread. It's noise from start to finish as far as any real world action is concerned.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:50 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just so I have this straight, one argument is that Z was pleading for his life while shooting someone, right?
posted by rhizome at 10:53 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just want police to do their fucking job and have laws that don't prevent police from doing their fucking job.

Don't we all? I suspect, though, that the way the controversy is playing out is actually going to make it easier for the Florida legislature to duck addressing the SYG law (and, so far as I can see, there's no popular groundswell out there at all for them to address the concealed carry laws). The narrative that has been propagated is so utterly one-sided (eeeevil moustache twirling villain Zimmerman hunts and kills saintly child as he begs for his life) that when it finally gets established that the reality was messier and more complicated (as reality tends to be) the whole case will get lumped in with cases like the Duke Lacrosse scandal and the Tawana Brawley scandal in the public mind. I hope I'm proven wrong.
posted by yoink at 10:54 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just so I have this straight, one argument is that Z was pleading for his life while shooting someone, right?

No, the claim is that he was begging for his life while having his head slammed into the ground, before the shooting.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:57 AM on March 27, 2012


Just so I have this straight, one argument is that Z was pleading for his life while shooting someone, right?

There is no evidence on the 911 tapes of someone "pleading for his life"; that was an erroneous early report that has refused to die, despite the 911 tapes being there for us all to listen to. There's evidence of someone calling for help. So Zimmerman's claim is that he is calling for help while Martin beats him up before he draws his gun and shoots Martin in self-defense.
posted by yoink at 10:59 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Leaving aside whether any of this leaving of trucks and accosting happened or how it happened (all of which is beyond what we know), it's completely incorrect to say that Zimmerman was putting himself beyond the protection of Florida's self-defense laws by leaving his truck or by approaching Martin. The Stand Your Ground law says that you're free to stand your ground anywhere that you have a legal right to be; Zimmerman had every legal right to get out of his truck, to walk up to Martin and to ask him what he was doing in the neighborhood.

These are the facts. We know these things :

Trayvon had the right under SYG to defend himself with deadly force.
Zimmerman initiated and continued the contact.

So, how is it that Trayvon can be considered the aggressor, when by right and law, he could use deadly force to defend himself from someone who was following and threatening him ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:02 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Will Smith weighs in.

Fake Will Smith tweet about Trayvon Martin, Kim Kardashian goes viral.
posted by ericb at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Zimmerman initiated and continued the contact.

We don't know any such thing. This is exactly what yoink is talking about.
posted by Gator at 11:05 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread is confusing enough as it is. If you (general you) are quoting someone in this thread, can you use some way - italics, quote marks, one of the quote scripts, even the damn @ symbol - to indicate that you're quoting? Thank you.
posted by rtha at 11:07 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


We don't know any such thing. This is exactly what yoink is talking about.

We know that Zimmerman was following Martin, because that's what he told 911. We know that Martin knew he was being followed, because that is what his girlfriend has reported he told her on the phone.
posted by rtha at 11:09 AM on March 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, we can't know for sure who initiated physical contact which is what the law wants to know here.

It's really hard for me to believe, however, that the guy with the history of violence against police, and against women, who had been the subject of complaints from neighbors that he was too aggressive, who started chasing Trayvon and assuming he was on drugs for no reason, and who was concerned that "they" always get away and cursing under his breath about "fucking" something wasn't the one more likely to go physical first. When all we have is his word, I have serious doubts.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:15 AM on March 27, 2012


It would almost certainly mean that under Florida law Zimmerman is innocent.

No it wouldn't, because even under the retrograde Florida Law, Trayvon Martin would unquestionably have had the right to stand his ground and attack Zimmerman for marauding him. If Martin attacked Zimmerman, he had the better claim to having felt threatened enough to be justified in "standing his ground." He had done nothing wrong when Zimmerman first started pursuing him.

We don't know any such thing. This is exactly what yoink is talking about.

No, we absolutely do. Even the most generous interpretations of the 9-1-1 calls make this much plain.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:17 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


We don't know any such thing. This is exactly what yoink is talking about.

Those facts are not disputed by anyone.

Zimmerman is the one who was following Trayvon. Zimmerman said as much in his 911 calls. Outside of Trayvon's "suspicious" behavior, Zimmerman had no reason to take notice of him.

We know Trayvon knew he was being followed - he told his girlfriend. We know Zimmerman left his truck. We know Trayvon had the right to use deadly force to defend himself anywhere he had the right to be.

These things are all known. The rest of the stuff is window dressing, because it doesn't diminish these facts.

Whoever initiated physical contact isn't a concern - the law doesn't require physical contact as a precursor to SYG, merely a perception of a threat.

Now, to my question - Travyon had a right to defend himself with lethal force anywhere he had a right to be. How is it that he can be considered the aggressor ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:18 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


furiouxgeorge - add in that Zimmerman acted knowing he had a gun.

Trayvon had the right under SYG to defend himself with deadly force.
Zimmerman initiated and continued the contact.

So, how is it that Trayvon can be considered the aggressor, when by right and law, he could use deadly force to defend himself from someone who was following and threatening him ?


This. So if you live in Florida and get into a fight, you better kill the other person, because at that point, they have the right to kill you. Florida is Thunderdome.
posted by cashman at 11:18 AM on March 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Of course she's not "lying"--in the sense that she is saying something she knows to be false. I'm reasonably confident that Zimmerman's parents will be equally convinced that the voice is their son's, however. Now, you tell me the facts you're going to draw on that will help you determine which set of parents is correctly identifying their child's voice. It would be wonderfully refreshing if it wasn't just "I know which narrative I want to be true, so it must be the one that accords with that narrative."

They haven't said that, though, and more than one witness has identified it as Trayvon. What facts are leaving you "reasonably confident" that Zimmerman's parents will be "equally confident" that it's Zimmerman?
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:19 AM on March 27, 2012


The lead homicide investigator in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin recommended that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting, multiple sources told ABC News.

But Sanford, Fla., Investigator Chris Serino was instructed to not press charges against Zimmerman because the state attorney's office headed by Norman Wolfinger determined there wasn't enough evidence to lead to a conviction, the sources told ABC News.

Police brought Zimmerman into the station for questioning for a few hours on the night of the shooting, said Zimmerman's attorney, despite his request for medical attention first. Ultimately they had to accept Zimmerman's claim of self defense. He was never charged with a crime.

Serino filed an affidavit on Feb. 26, the night that Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman, that stated he was unconvinced Zimmerman's version of events.

posted by futz at 11:29 AM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


The article also states:

Martin may have cut a more imposing figure than previously known. Recent pictures on the web and social media show him with gold dental grill and making obscene gestures to the camera.

I thought that those pics were not actually Trayvon? Not that it should matter if they were...
posted by futz at 11:32 AM on March 27, 2012


Well, no, not really--not in the way that your tendentious phrasing suggests

Oh, get the fuck over yourself. My phrasing is no more or less tendentious than yours. I've bent over backwards to express my take on this event as evenly and diplomatically as possible, while you've intentionally exaggerated my own words. To what end, I have no idea.

That's okay, we all know that anyone expressing any skepticism of the official story at all is the real racist.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:38 AM on March 27, 2012


^ There are some fake pics, and some real ones. I believe the stuff posted here is real, but it's kind of a nasty site combing through the details to make him look as bad as possible.
-
Whoever initiated physical contact isn't a concern - the law doesn't require physical contact as a precursor to SYG, merely a perception of a threat.

Now, to my question - Travyon had a right to defend himself with lethal force anywhere he had a right to be. How is it that he can be considered the aggressor ?

As I understand it, Zimmerman's claim is that Trayvon had eluded him. If that is true, Trayvon was no longer under threat from Zimmerman, if following him was a threat in the first place. (Ask a lawyer, hell if I know)

So, after Zimmerman is off the phone, Trayvon decides to stop trying to flee even though he could easily run home at this point and turns around to confront Zimmerman. They exchange words, Trayvon punches him in the nose and slams his head into the ground.

The girlfriend's testimony would be a key here:

"He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run."

Eventually, he would run, said the girl, thinking that he'd managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin.

"Trayvon said, 'What are you following me for,' and the man said, 'What are you doing here.' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn't answer the phone."


You can't really tell who pushed who first over the phone, or how she knew he was cornered. But I would think that Martin asking why he was being followed would imply he was still being followed when he confronted Zimmerman which would conflict with his claims. The idea that anyone would just turn around and start a fight when they were previously running scared just doesn't make sense to me.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:39 AM on March 27, 2012


Oops, forgot to link. I believe the stuff posted here is real.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:41 AM on March 27, 2012


I thought that those pics were not actually Trayvon?
"The website the Daily Caller Monday featured tweets from the dead 17-year-old's now-closed account, topped with a huge photo of the teen showing off his gold teeth (now there is some doubt whether that photo, which some people saw first on white supremacist sites, is genuine)."*
Trayvon Martin: No, That's Not His Facebook Page Showing "Gangsta" Photos UPDATED.
posted by ericb at 11:42 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Folks, I know this is a pretty unhappy story all around and maybe folks are feeling a little dug in at this point in such a long thread, but please consider sort of taking a breath or a break from the thread for a bit if you're finding yourself really wrapped up in an argument here.
posted by cortex at 11:46 AM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's interesting to me that the same type of feelings that (possibly) led to Trayvon Martin's death are being now used to show that, in fact, he deserved to die.

The demonization of the young black male by all forms of media, (including some produced by young black males), has really twisted this country is a very disturbing way.
posted by cell divide at 11:53 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The idea that anyone would just turn around and start a fight when they were previously running scared just doesn't make sense to me.

Well, sure. But it doesn't matter - Trayvon had no "duty to flee". He had a right to defend himself with violence if he chose. Besides, Zimmerman left the safety of his truck to pursue and continue the contact.

To my thinking, whoever swung first isn't material - SYG's right to use lethal force to defend from a perceived threat only requires the perception of a threat, not an actual attack.

Trayvon had a right to be where he was, and Zimmerman had no right to approach him. Trayvon had a right to defend himself from a perceived threat - upto and including deadly force.

I can't see any right under the law that allows for Zimmerman to defend himself from someone else's self defense.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:54 AM on March 27, 2012


Travyon had a right to defend himself with lethal force anywhere he had a right to be. How is it that he can be considered the aggressor ?

Bingo! The core of what is wrong with the SYG laws. It essentially leads to mutual destruction as we each "stand our ground" against everyone else. For the sake of argument, let's say Zimmerman made the first blow. Then Martin has the right to stand his ground to the point of deadly force. And since now Martin is using lethal force on him, Zimmerman has the right to stand his ground and use lethal force in return. (Reverse the roles and you get the same result, no?) If they both would have been armed, we could have had a shoot-out right there in a residential neighborhood. What joy!
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:55 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Folks, I know this is a pretty unhappy story all around and maybe folks are feeling a little dug in at this point in such a long thread, but please consider sort of taking a breath or a break from the thread for a bit if you're finding yourself really wrapped up in an argument here.

MetaFilter: another instance where 'Stand Your Ground' falls short.
posted by mazola at 12:08 PM on March 27, 2012


Trayvon had a right to be where he was, and Zimmerman had no right to approach him.

I don't see why he wouldn't have the right to approach someone he found suspicious, even if the reasons were total BS.

Whoever initiated physical contact isn't a concern - the law doesn't require physical contact as a precursor to SYG, merely a perception of a threat.

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

I don't think following someone counts as attacking them. I don't think defending yourself counts as attacking which would have to be the case to bounce SYG protection back to the original attacker.

SYG applies to someone who is attacked, and who has reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. If Zimmerman attacked first, he doesn't get SYG. If he does not have reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm, he does not get SYG. To my non-lawyer reading of the law it seems like who initiated the contact is of paramount concern.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:12 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a great point, furiousxgeorge. I actually think that's a proper reading. So ladies in Florida, if you get followed late at night and you try to evade the person, and they keep following you until they confront you, do not defend yourself.

Do not spray mace. Wait for them to attack you. Hope you don't die or get knocked out. If you're still conscious, try to kick them, or get to your mace, or defend yourself. Otherwise, become a victim and hope your eulogy is good, or that you survive and can afford therapy. Just because this person saw you, got out of their car, chased you, you got away, and they kept chasing you saying "Hey, whatcha doing here?", means nothing in the eyes of the law.
posted by cashman at 12:24 PM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


And remember, if you leave them alive you leave a witness who can contradict you.
posted by Artw at 12:30 PM on March 27, 2012


A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked

Right. But I was looking at what defines "attack". I couldn't find a definition in the statutes, but maybe I'm doing it wrong.

Because, I'm reading this, for example, and the guy was shot without any physical contact at all.

So, if the mere threat of physical contact - approaching a front door, exiting a vehicle - amounts to an "attack" or at least grounds for an impending attack, then Trayvon still had the benefit of SYG.

Point is, I don't see as the attack requirement, in practice anyway, as requiring an actual physical attack - merely the perception that it is imminent.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:37 PM on March 27, 2012


Reading the statute, the whole section is titled Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.

I understand even more why the bill's sponsors say it does not apply in this case. Regarding what Pogo_Fuzzybutt is talking about, the title ends with "presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm."

And clearly Trayvon had a reasonable presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.
posted by cashman at 12:52 PM on March 27, 2012


Has Craig Sonner (Zimmerman's lawyer) surfaced today?
posted by futz at 12:52 PM on March 27, 2012


SYG applies to someone who is attacked, and who has reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. If Zimmerman attacked first, he doesn't get SYG. If he does not have reasonable fear of death or grave bodily harm, he does not get SYG. To my non-lawyer reading of the law it seems like who initiated the contact is of paramount concern.

The problem is that in the heat of an altercation, we don't have lawyer referees standing by to advise angry men with guns who is in fact the attacker and who is not. They each can feel quite entitled to stand their ground from their point of view. This is the essential problem here. Not that it wouldn't be clear to impartial observers at some remove, but rather that it gives people with guns the go ahead to shoot when they feel they are being attacked.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:59 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]



Oh yeah, SYG is a terribly written law all the way around.

I feel like I need to get a gun - not because I'm worried about criminals. I'm far more concerned about so called "responsible gun owners" like this Zimmerman idiot.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:08 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


What Paramedics responding find a serious head injury and DON'T transport them to the ER to be checked out?

He had head lacerations, which aren't necessarily serious. Anyway, you can't just cart someone off to the hospital unless they are unconscious or a danger to themselves or others.
posted by desjardins at 1:46 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have never in my life tried to confirm my current location by physically stopping my car and getting out.

I have never in my life ordered pad thai, so everyone who has is probably a liar.

I'm not sure what you mean here. It seems as if. Zimmerman stopped to confront Martin. Are you seriously suggesting that only a drive-by shooting would have made sense?

My assumption was that he was still on the phone with the police when he stopped to allegedly check his location. If this is not so, then the stopping makes no sense.
posted by desjardins at 1:50 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Has Craig Sonner (Zimmerman's lawyer) surfaced today?

Well, there's this.
posted by rhizome at 2:02 PM on March 27, 2012


Nine involved suspicious persons, but which ones were actually suspicious?

A person is suspicious if you suspect them, even if they're not doing anything wrong. If someone is on my porch peering into my neighbor's windows and runs off when I approach, he might be casing the place for a robbery, or he might be my neighbor's secret gay lover. One is innocent, one is not, but I have no way of knowing just from his actions. I have no idea if Zimmerman is overly zealous or not - apparently this neighborhood has experienced a rash of burglaries and one shooting recently, so it's kind of understandable if people are on edge, no? Sanford's crime rate is worse than Orlando's. Nine calls about suspicious persons in 14 months seems unremarkable to me.
posted by desjardins at 2:03 PM on March 27, 2012


Also if Zimmerman was on his way to the grocery store we can assume that he makes this trip regularly, right? How could he not know what street he was on? I have seen the map of the neighborhood and it looks pretty damn simple to me. Assuming that my assumption is correct, that is.
posted by futz at 2:05 PM on March 27, 2012


desjardins: "Sanford's crime rate is worse than Orlando's."

SPD just hasn't learned to juke the stats.
posted by wierdo at 2:09 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Geraldo Rivera apologizes, sort of, for hoodie remark.
posted by ericb at 2:30 PM on March 27, 2012


That's a non-pology with a side-dose of "I have black friends!"
posted by muddgirl at 2:31 PM on March 27, 2012


Has Craig Sonner (Zimmerman's lawyer) surfaced today?

Yes. On Fox 13/Tampa Bay.
"The legal adviser to George Zimmerman says he is anticipating taking his client's case to trial.

Craig Sonner spoke with FOX 13 on Tuesday and said that Zimmerman is in hiding, and even Sonner does not know where he is right now -- all their contact has been by phone.

But Sonner said law enforcement does know where Zimmerman is, and that he is not hiding from them.

... Sonner said he understands why law enforcement has been slow to make an arrest: he said they have a right to take the time they need to conduct their investigation and gather evidence. He said once they make an arrest, his client's right to a speedy trial kicks in.

'They followed procedure. They have the right to investigate as long as they want. They don’t have to rush out and make an arrest,' Sonner said.

Sonner said Martin is recovering from a broken nose and cuts on the back of his neck. Sonner said he would not allow Zimmerman to speak on the record until the case concludes."
Well, Counselor, how about some pictures of his broken nose and cuts to assuage public doubt?
posted by ericb at 2:37 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


My assumption was that he was still on the phone with the police when he stopped to allegedly check his location. If this is not so, then the stopping makes no sense.

No he couldn't have been on the phone with them. While he is on the phone with them he gets out of the car and starts following Trayvon. Have you listened to his 911 call?

There is actually no reason to believe he ever got out to check what street he was on and it flies against what evidence we do have, starting with his 911 call. There are also only 3 streets in the development and if you look at Google maps you may conclude as I did that it would be very hard to not know which of the three you are on, especially if you've been patrolling them for months. Especially where the attack supposedly happened. The streets aren't close to each other. And I'm someone who gets lost easily.

Nine calls about suspicious persons in 14 months seems unremarkable to me.

Nine calls from one man about suspicious persons (all black males, one as young as 7 years old) and none of the persons is actually a burglar. A person who calls the cops anytime he sees a black man he doesn't know is doing a racist thing. In my neighborhood it's probable that black men commit the majority of crime. It's also not a majority-black neighborhood anymore. But if someone here was calling the cops every time they saw a black man they didn't know walking down the street it would be a problem.

Even so, if calling the cops was all he did we wouldn't be talking about this because Trayvon would be alive. Zimmerman called the cops, followed Trayvon in his car and on foot, refused to give his address or tell them where they could meet him (imo because he didn't intend to stop following as he'd been told and didn't know where he would be), confronted Travyon, fought and then shot him to death. And it starts with "they always get away".
posted by Danila at 2:42 PM on March 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sanford Look For An Outsider To Run Police Department -- "Manager Norton Bonaparte said officials were working with the nonprofit group Police Executive Research Forum to identify potential candidates."
posted by ericb at 2:43 PM on March 27, 2012


(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked ...

I know nothing about Floridian law, but under common law Zimmerman may have b