More on the Irrelevance of 'Stand Your Ground' to the Trayvon Martin Case

In an Orlando Sentinel op-ed piece published yesterday, Reason Contributing Editor Walter Olson explains why the right to "stand your ground" seems irrelevant in the Trayvon Martin case:

Even under the old retreat duty, prosecutors needed to show your route of escape was truly safe; the rule did not require you to turn your back on someone who might well catch up and do you harm. By many accounts, Trayvon had the upper hand in the scuffle between the two before the gunshot (according to his attorney, Zimmerman had a broken nose).

If Zimmerman claimed he had no safe way to disengage from the beating, prosecutors might have had trouble establishing the "safe line of retreat" required under the old law.

There's a pattern here. If Sanford police lacked probable cause to charge Zimmerman under the post-'05 law, they most likely also lacked probable cause under the older law. (Whether they should have worked harder to develop evidence of probable cause is a separate question.)

Even if Zimmerman started the fight (by pushing Martin, say), Florida law still allows him to argue that the response from Martin was such that he feared for his life and that he had no realistic opportunity to escape. Sean Bugg sums up that possibility this way: "Did you start a fight and get your ass kicked? Bang bang bang! Problem solved." Not quite, because you have to reasonably fear "death or great bodily harm," and you have to exhaust "every reasonable means of escape" (or, alternatively, you can disengage from your opponent and make it clear you no longer want to fight, only to be attacked again). That is the old "duty to retreat" standard, and "stand your ground" does not enter into it.

Bugg assumes Zimmerman started the fight, arguing that "you don't have the right—or, at least shouldn't have the right—to chase down a person on a dark street, start a confrontation, get your ass kicked and then shoot that person dead." As I noted last week, the authors of Florida's "stand your ground" law seem to agree that Zimmerman made himself the aggressor by following Martin for no good reason. Northern Kentucky University law professor Michael J.Z. Mannheimer is not so sure, noting that even someone who sets the stage for a violent confrontation by breaking the law will not necessarily be deemed the "initial aggressor." Mannheimer illustrates that point with U.S. v. Peterson, a 1973 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit:

The victim trespassed on the defendant's land and stole the windshield wipers from the defendant's vehicle, a misdemeanor. The defendant went into his house, retrieved a gun, returned, and told the victim not to move. The victim approached the defendant menacingly with a wrench and the defendant shot and killed him. The court held that the question of who was the initial aggressor was a question for the jury, rejecting the defendant's argument that the victim's trespass and misdemeanor theft made him the aggressor as a matter of law.

By contrast, it is not clear that Zimmerman broke the law in any way prior to the fight. "Does following someone, even with the intent only to ask questions, render Zimmerman the 'initial aggressor?'" Mannheimer asks. "I would think not." In any case, given Zimmerman's description of the fight—that Martin punched him in the face hard enough to knock him down, repeatedly slammed his head against the pavement, and tried to grab his gun—a jury might conclude the shooting was justified, based on the "duty to retreat" standard that applies to someone who "initially provokes the use of force against himself," even if it believed Zimmerman started the fight. Mannheimer adds that "it might be the case that Martin himself was justified in using physical force because he reasonably believed that Zimmerman was about to do him harm," in which case "both may have had a valid self-defense claim."

Only one of them is alive to make it, of course, which means we will never hear Trayvon Martin's version of events. That is both an advantage for Zimmerman, who cannot be contradicted by the teenager he killed, and a disadvantage, since the tragic outcome predisposes people to think Zimmerman overreacted. That may indeed be what happened, but if so his actions are hardly tantamount to deliberately running a man over with a pickup truck just for kicks.

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  • Whitey||

    This is like the worst chat room ever.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    Regardless of the evidence and what happened, there is no way Zimmerman gets off.

    I'm sure everyone in Florida remembers 1992 L.A.

  • Appalachian Australian||

    Florida is not southern California.

    If you like making everything about race, you might keep in mind that Florida has many Hispanic people in it.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    Who said I was the one making it about race? The media and professional victim industry have made it that way, whether it actually ever was or not.

  • Occupy Trayvon||

    No blood for Skittles!

  • ||

    i have no cites, but i am reasonably confident LA has a few hispanics as well :)

  • FL||

    More guns in legal hands in Florida.

    See a hoodie, shoot a hoodie.

  • Moogle||

    Can Spike "Vacuumhead" Lee be charged with anything for twating tweeting what he thought was Zimmerman's address and terrorizing an elderly couple with no connection to the case? There's got to be something there.

  • X||

    he owes them a house. his will do.

  • Moogle||

    Anyone have Spike Lee's address?

  • Loki||

    Most likely:

    153 E 63rd St, Apt 55
    New York, NY 10065-7405*

    *Based on the fact that he lives in Manhattan, and according to wikipedia his real full name is Shelton Jackson Lee, and his wife's name is Tonya. According to whitepages.com this is the address of a Shelton J. Lee who is assiciated with a Tonya L. Lee.

    I do not condone nor am I suggesting that anyone use this information to harrass the people who live there. It could just be a coincidence that someone with a similar name lives there. Also, it's kind of scary what you can find out in 5 minutes on google.

  • Rev. Blue Moon ||

    Wow, a fuckface lives on the Upper East Side. Imagine that.

  • Coeus||

    Also, it's kind of scary what you can find out in 5 minutes on google.

    No shit. That was beautiful.

  • ||

    yup. it aint big brotha you gotta worry about as much as little brother (private industry) ... they have way way way more info on people.

    that's why we use private intel sources (as cops) quite often. they have way more info, and easily accessible than we do in our files

  • hk||

    The private sector does not use force.

    That's why it isn't the same.

  • ||

    "Description provided by Trulia
    This is a Single-Family Home located at 153 East 63rd Street, New York NY. 153 E 63rd St has approximately 8,292 square feet. The property was built in 1920."

    We are the 99%....who could never afford Spike Lee's house.

  • ||

    That is definitely his house. I know someone who lives across the street from him on an upper floor of an apartment building and she can see him when he is on his patio. She lives on 63rd street.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Only one of them is alive to make it, of course, which means we will never hear Trayvon Martin's version of events.

    Yet it seems like I keep getting versions of the events other than Zimmerman's told to me in every news report I see, read or hear about.

    There's been so much made of this case, I've forgotten who was the first to cite the Stand Your Ground law, anyway? Was it police in defense of their deference, or was it the media?

  • ¢||

    It was "the media," à la this quote from the Post:

    The case has also drawn new scrutiny to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, a measure backed by the National Rifle Association ...

    "Some say," y'know? Then Jeb Bush (and other suckers) took that bait, and made the story all about that for a couple days.

    "Police" wanted to arrest Zimmerman for manslaughter. The state prosecutors' office told the local homicide guys that there wasn't enough evidence to sustain any charge against him, so—get back to work. And they let him go, because work is hard. And also because there's no good evidence he committed a crime.

    (There's no need for good evidence anymore, because a sacrifice has been demanded, and it will be provided.)

    No one cited "Stand Your Ground" until the oddly belated Palinite-kills-Obama's-son fantasy narrative was invented.

  • ||

    Not relevant to this post, but it occurs to me that the U.S. no longer has a written/codified constitution. Rather, we've edged into the world of the "unwritten" constitution, like Rome and the UK. Yes, there's still a formal document, but hasn't the trend of re-interpreting its meaning (to such an extent that few bother proposing amendments anymore) driven us to a point where, really, any act of government is potentially constitutional if it says so? How is that different from the UK, where all acts of Parliament are constitutional?

  • ||

    Because fuck you, that's why.

  • ||

    Well, yes, of course.

  • sarcasmic||

    How is that different from the UK, where all acts of Parliament are constitutional?

    Haven't you been following the Obamacare hearings?

    All legislation is presumed to be Constitutional. One of the asshats in black robes said so in so many words.

  • ||

    There's a dumb doctrine of review about giving deference to legislation and assuming it's kosher, but that's not quite the same thing, as that presumption doesn't have to hold and has no force of law, in any case.

    In the UK, I believe that a properly constituted act of Parliament is constitutional by definition. End of story.

  • sarcasmic||

    There it's 100%, here it's 99.99999999%.

    Statistically speaking there isn't much of a difference.

  • ||

    That's my point--have we reached "unwritten constitution" status? We're damned close.

    Sure, the written document is considered, but it's hardly treated like the foundational and ultimate authority it's supposed to be.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think we've been there for a long time.

  • ||

    Probably. The use of caselaw to trump plain English in the Constitution pretty much does that, doesn't it?

  • sarcasmic||

    How can case law conflict with the Constitution if the Constitution wasn't ignored when the case was decided?

  • ||

    They ignore the lack of ignoring, cancelling out any ignorance.

  • ||

    Is the leagal term "ignoration?"

  • ||

    PL, if we're going to be like Rome, I want the games!

  • ||

    Games, togas, ocelot spleens, Saturnalia, Latin--the whole shebang.

  • sarcasmic||

    Bring on the vomitoriums!

    Hell yeah!

  • ||

    Just so you know, "vomitoria" were (and are, I guess) passageways into amphitheaters. Not places where people went to vomit.

  • sarcasmic||

    Aw shucks.

  • ||

    I'm more of a peacock tongue afficionado. But ocelot spleen dip on ritz crackers drives my wife wild. Then, the orgy.

  • Paul||

    Sure, the written document is considered, but it's hardly treated like the foundational and ultimate authority it's supposed to be.

    Dead slave-owning white guys. Yadda yadda.

  • ||

    Whatever the reason, not a written constitution. The thing we call the Constitution is apparently just some advise provided by some dead, old, slave-owning members of the patriarchy.

  • ||

    Some advice, I mean.

  • Paul||

    Rather, we've edged into the world of the "unwritten" constitution, like Rome and the UK.

    It's a LLLLLLlllllllllllllllllllllllllllliving constitution. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  • rho||

    That guy that set himself on fire said much the same thing. Thomas Ball, I think, and he called it a "second set of laws" or something similar.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Rather, we've edged into the world of the "unwritten" constitution, like Rome and the UK.

    Yay, Constitutional penumbras and emanations!

  • ||

    I'm not making judgements one way or another until more facts come out, as all mature people should do in this complex case.

    I just wonder if Zimmerman had been walking down the street in a hoodie, and a fully Caucasian security guard and him got into a scuffle, and he was shot to death, would the media be reporting him as "white" or "Latino"? The media has a sensationalist bias and will do anything to provoke conflict, panic, chaos, etc. which gives them more controversial things to report on and thus more page hits/money. Kind of sickening in my opinion, but I recognize it's systemic.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Proprietist,

    would the media be reporting him as "white" or "Latino"?


    As Hispanic, of course!

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Los Zimmerman!

  • ||

    "Jorge Zimmermanez"

  • ||

    as i stated, when the fbi compiles hate crime stats, hispanic whites are listed as hispanic when they are the victim of a hate crime

    when they are the perp, they are listed as white

    larry elder and sowell have both commented on this, and if you check the DOJ, you can see it's true

    that says a lot

  • ||

    Wow. That's crap.

  • ||

    What if it was a gay white security guard?

  • ||

    What if it was a white lesbian security guard?

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but the victim was black and the shooter was white!

  • Fluffy||

    As I noted on the Brickbat thread, I find it highly interesting to rerun this entire scenario, substituting "14 year old Elizabeth Smart" for Trayvon Martin, to imagine what the police response would be in that situation.

    Ring Ring

    "911 Operator, please describe your emergency."

    "Uh, yeah - 14 year old Elizabeth Smart is walking around my neighborhood, so I'm following her around and watching her."

    "Um, sir, we don't need you to do that."

    "Yeah, but DAMN IT! Every time I follow 14 year old Elizabeth Smart around in my neighborhood, she leaves before I can grab her! DAMN IT!"

    Sound of cell phone being put into pocket.

    "Get your ass over here and do what I tell you to do, 14 year old Elizabeth Smart! Hey, don't slap me!"

    BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG

    "Hey, 911 Operator - I just had to shoot that dumb bitch dead! It was self-defense, I tells ya!"

  • ||

    Your scenario, which you've repeatedly posted, is frankly stupid. If you can do that, then we can reverse the context and say that if a fourteen year old girl could somehow legally carry a gun and was following some guy down the street trying to be Harriet the Spy, and he turns around and starts beating her against the pavement, she shouldn't be justified in shooting and killing the dude in self-defense?

  • sarcasmic||

    Was the dude black?

    If yes then it's racism, straight up.
    If dude was white then it's self defense.

  • Occupy Trayvon||

    No blood for Skittles!

  • Sudden||

    Moreover, it is slightly less believable that sweet little 14 year old Elizabeth Smart would be capable of knocking a grown man to the ground with a single punch and proceeding to bash the back of skull into the pavement.

    FFS, why don't we just make it Caylee fucking Anthony as the one walking down the street with a pack of skittles and then pummeling the living shit out of a grown man?

  • ||

    i'd bet you tonya harding could have done it

    that bitch is bad-ass

  • ||

    and I much rather would have done Tonya over Nancy

  • Fluffy||

    As I said, I'm talking here about the police response.

    Do you agree, or do you not agree, that the police would react dramatically differently to a suspect who shot a white teenage girl and admitted following her around on a dark street beforehand, than they would react to someone who said the same thing about a black teenage male?

  • ||

    I saw something this morning suggesting that it was the state's attorney's office that thought the investigation should stop. That's a somewhat different issue than the cops stopping on their own. Probably a mistake, too, but they're the ones who have the ultimate discretion about prosecution.

    My gut remains with Zimmerman likely getting into a situation he could've avoided, but there's enough evidence at the moment to make it clear that everyone running amok about this premature, at best.

    I don't see this being about racism, either. From Zimmerman's point of view, I'm sure a "punk kid" would've drawn his ire/concern/whatever, regardless of race. Maybe I'm wrong, but there's no evidence beyond there being a black victim at this point, is there?

  • ||

    Depends completely on the context. I agree it would be less believable, even if she inflicted the same injuries as Martin did.

    But my counter argument has to be taken into equal account, if that's the path you're going down. Should they have arrested 14-year old Harriet the Spy for killing a 17-year old football player who was beating her against the pavement?

    What if Zimmerman was an 8-year old following around 14-year old Elizabeth Smart and the same scenario happened? Should they arrest the 8 year old?

    You're flipping variables and assuming that the context has to remain the same.

  • Paul||

    Should they arrest the 8 year old?

    Substitute "firearm" with "juice box" and I'm with you.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    There is something to what he says, though. Suppose Zimmerman had been following a 30 year old woman, who in turn pulled a gun on him and told him to get lost. Would he have been justified in shooting back? Who is defending themselves, and who is the aggressor?

    It seems likely that in the situation that resulted in Mr. Martin's death, both he and Mr. Zimmerman percieved the other as a threat, and reacted in ways proportionate to their abilities. It was simply a threatening situation with mutual escalation towards violence. In such situations, though, it's justifiable to place extensive scrutiny on the decision to invoke lethal force.

  • ||

    You can't change variables and assume that the context would be the same. It's certainly possible and seems even likely this was a tragic misunderstanding. We have no way of knowing whether Zimmerman politely told Martin "Hey man, I'm with Neighborhood Watch - where are you going tonight?" and then got decked and nearly curbstomped and was completely justified in protecting his own life, or if he called him the n-word and started beating him, Martin gained the upper ground by the time the witness appeared, then Zimmerman shot him. We simply don't know and that's why they are investigating. Believe me, if there was cause for arrest, they would have by now because they're feeling the heat. The fact that they haven't indicates to me that they don't have a case, and I will presume Zimmerman is innocent until they do.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    You can't change variables and assume that the context would be the same.

    I think you can, to this extent. I would be intimidated by a strange man who outweighs me by almost seventy pounds following me around, and I'm a reasonably fit man in his thirties, not a seventeen-year-old. To people who say that following someone is not illegal, I have to say that I agree in most circumstances, but there's a major caveat - it can be very threatening. That's all I was trying to point out.

    The fact that they haven't indicates to me that they don't have a case, and I will presume Zimmerman is innocent until they do.

    There's nothing wrong with that, but I suspect that the reality is much murkier - one where two people were afraid of each other, neither being particularly mature or self possessed, and the situation simply escalated uncontrolled.

  • ||

    Yes, it can be threatening, and I would be creeped out. I might even run as fast as I could to get out of there. But I'd certainly ask him why the hell he's following me before jumping him and beating the crap out of him, especially if I'm outweighed by seventy pounds. And we don't know if Zimmerman announced that he was on neighborhood patrol, a fact that seems perpetually lost on people who claim that following him was some form of intimidation that rightfully provoked an attack. Many people here who say Zimmerman was wrong have admitted to following or confronting people in their neighborhood who looked suspicious - and that wasn't even their job.

  • ||

    Its important to note that we have the police tape of Zimmerman entering the police station the night of the attack. No blood, no bruises, no broken nose. The fact that the police bought his story about being attacked without a toxicolgy report, without taking a picture of his injuries, and even changed the testimony of a witness makes it seem like racism. I'm not sure if Zimmerman was racist, but the cop's response is a lot more blameworthy on that account.

  • Sudden||

    Absolutely, but only insofar as it's far less likely that a 14 year old teenage girl would be capable of inflicting the level of punishment that Martin was able to. They would undoubtedly be far more skeptical of his claims of being beaten on (unless eyewitnesses were available to sufficiently corroborate the story, as they are here) and would investigate those claims more thoroughly. And quite frankly, that added level of skepticism from an identical story with Elizabeth Smart in lieu of Trayvon Martin would actually be a testament to the reasonableness of the police force.

  • Geraldo Rivera||

    Was she wearing a hoodie?

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Very witty and entertaining and completely ignores the difference in reasonable threat provided by a 14 year old female slapping him and a 17 year old male (allegedly) breaking his nose, sitting on him beating his ass, and banging his head on the concrete.

  • Fluffy||

    I'm talking about the police response.

    Encoded deep within that response is the assumption that it's inherently reasonable to follow around a young black male, but inherently unreasonable to follow around a young white female.

    I'm not talking about the reasonableness of fearing grave bodily harm once the fight has started. I'm talking about the reasonableness of Zimmerman's actions prior to the fight.

    And I'm saying that if he had undertaken the same set of actions with a white teenage girl instead of a black teenage boy, he would have virtually no defenders and the police would have laughed in his face at his claim of self-defense.

  • ||

    If your scenario assumed that the girl inflicted the exact same injuries as Trayvon did to Zimmerman, and Zimmerman had not initiated the physical altercation and had no other way to stop her, then yes it would be justified, if controversial.

  • ||

    The fact of his physical injuries would merely show that the girl fought while he tried to rape her.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    And I'm saying that if he had undertaken the same set of actions with a white teenage girl instead of a black teenage boy, he would have virtually no defenders and the police would have laughed in his face at his claim of self-defense.

    But you can't separate the threat presented by the 14 year old girl and the 17 year old boy when you are talking about claims of self-defense because the amount of threat is crucial to determining the amount of self-defense allowed.

    If the 14 year old girl were whipping his ass to the same extent he said Martin was, from a purely legal point of view he'd be just as justified in shooting the 14 year old girl. Perception-wise, that's a much steeper hill to climb.

  • UCrawford||

    You're missing his point...

    He's saying that if Zimmerman had been stalking a 14 year old girl through a neighborhood with a gun claiming that she was suspicious and ranting about how everyone lets teenagers get away with horrible actions, the beating Zimmerman would have had to fear would be from the cops. And there's no way he would have gone home quickly after shooting her...even if she'd inflicted the same amount of damage as Martin while unarmed.

    He's pointing out that people are operating from the preconception that somehow Martin must have brought the stalking on himself, and therefore has less of a right to defend himself than Zimmerman. It's a completely accurate argument that Fluffy is making.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    He's pointing out that people are operating from the preconception that somehow Martin must have brought the stalking on himself, and therefore has less of a right to defend himself than Zimmerman.

    Who the hell is operating from that preconception?

    I think the preconception you're operating under is that there was anything done by Zimmerman which merited self-defense by Martin. Maybe there was, but that just comes back around to whether bashing Zimmerman's head on the concrete was a reasonable amount of self-defense.

    If it turns out that Zimmerman initiated force such that beating his head in was reasonable, fuck him. But that doesn't mean that "stalking" Martin, standing alone, conveys a right to defend himself against anything.

  • Fluffy||

    The police are.

    Let's go all the way to the start of the 911 call.

    If I go out on the street right now and start following around a 14 year old white blonde girl, and call 911 and tell the police I'm doing that, they will tell me to cut it out or they will come and arrest me.

  • ||

    Yes they certainly might. The context will be different. What is your point and how is it relevant to the facts of this specific case?

  • ||

    There had been multiple burglaries in the neighborhood, and presumably there were some relevant local burglary crime stats that would have indicated the relative criminal propensity of an unknown visitor to the neighborhood based on that visitor's gender, age and racial status.

    Those stats would say something about the _relative_ risk to property and safety of a) a 17 year-old unknown afr-amer. male vs. b) a 14 year-old unknown white female.

    Unless Sanford FL is some magically unique place, the relative risk of a) and b) would have to be at least one, maybe several, orders of magnitude apart.

    Nobody in his right mind would follow b). Perhaps most would not follow a), either, but any neighborhood watch captain disposed to look for criminal behavior would be remiss not to have a higher suspicion of a) than b).

  • ||

    Last time I checked, 14 year old girls--white or otherwise--weren't a major concern when you're worried about burglaries.

    Unfortunately, the same can't be said for young black males.

    Profiling.

  • ||

    fluffy, this is really utter crap

    we have any # of female suspects that people call in as suspicious, we arrest etc.

    just about a week ago, a guy caught one of our scumbag frequently fliers burglarizing his house

    he held her ... wait for it... AT GUNPOINT until we arrived and arrested her

    she frequently acts as a getaway driver for some of our other local burglars. most of them have suspended licenses, so they use her, because if they are driving, it's instant arrest if we see them

    prior to ladson it was also instant search incident to arrest of their vehicle too if they were driving

    she's yer basic meth whore.

    but yes, females commit far fewer part I crimes vs. males, but they are hardly immune to being called in as suspicious, and to being in circs like you mention above.

  • nomad||

    An interesting thought-experiment, but note that it is a little bit flawed:

    Get your ass over here and do what I tell you to do

    There is absolutely no evidence that Zimmerman said or did anything remotely that confrontational in the case at-hand.

    Also:

    Hey, 911 Operator - I just had to shoot that dumb bitch dead!

    Nor is there any evidence that he said anything remotely similar to that to the 911 operator or to the investigating police officers.

    You are inventing facts/evidence to make Zimmerman look guilty, perhaps because the actual facts/evidence do not establish his guilt.

  • Fluffy||

    You don't get it.

    I think you guys are focused on the amount of harm a 14 year old girl could conceivably inflict (and the way this impacts whether you could credibly say you feared for your life when you shot her).

    But I'm saying it never even would get to the point where the police or prosecutors would be weighing that.

    I'm saying that given the story Zimmerman told, the facts I'm "making up" are facts the police and prosecutors would have assumed to be true.

    If you follow around a white teenage girl, you're a stalker and a predator and the entire interaction will be viewed through that prism. If you follow around a black teenage boy, you're a "concerned citizen", and the interaction will be viewed through THAT prism.

  • Paul||

    What if, during the hypothetical 911 call, Zimmerman hadn't recognized the hooded teenager as a girl, and was only discovered to be after the altercation? And the white girl as 17?

  • nomad||

    Fluffy wrote:
    You don't get it... the facts I'm "making up" are facts the police and prosecutors would have assumed to be true

    If the 911 call had recorded Zimmerman saying:
    Get your ass over here and do what I tell you to do
    (as it would have been in your hypothetical), I think the conversation would be different right now (although it is not clear that, even then, Zimmerman would be guilty of murder).

  • nomad||

    (continued...)

    Similarly, if Zimmerman had said to the 911 operator:
    Hey, 911 Operator - I just had to shoot that dumb bitch (or s.o.b., to make the hypothetical gender appropriate) dead! , we would definitely be having a different conversation.

    This last point is demonstrably true - early in the press coverage, someone imagined they heard Zimmerman use a slur on the 911 call, and much was made of that (until people realized the slur was the product of someone's imagination).

    So, yes, you are making things up to make Zimmerman look guilty.

  • Fluffy||

    Dude, you still don't get it.

    I'm saying that as soon as Zimmerman had stated to a 911 operator that he was following around a white blonde teenage girl, everything after that point would be irrelevant to the police response. The police would view him as being in the wrong, no matter what.

    Take away my admittedly deliberately comical dialogue. It's not really relevant to the point I'm making.

    If Zimmerman had stalked and confronted a young white girl at night and somehow ended up in a fight with her, the presumption would be that he was at fault. If he claimed the girl he stalked and confronted jumped him for no reason, the police would laugh.

  • ||

    Again, you're shifting variables and claiming we're forced to admit the context would be the same when it obviously wouldn't be. Two can play that game, and it doesn't make your argument any more relevant or insightful.

  • Fluffy||

    I'm shifting two variables: the race and sex of the dead person.

    That would be to demonstrate that the police response is based on the race and sex of the dead person.

    Changing Zimmerman into an 8 year old child would prove that the police will react differently to offenses committed by an 8 year old child. I would readily concede that this is true.

  • nomad||

    Fluffy wrote
    I'm shifting two variables: the race and sex of the dead person

    Come on Fluffy, don't you think a claim of self defense against a 6 foot-two inch 17-year-old male football player is more plausible than one against a typical 14 year old girl?

  • ||

    As nomad notes, you're also shifting size, age, cause for suspicion (maybe racial profiling, maybe justified by Martin's actions - we don't know), degree of assault (presuming that wasn't self-defense - again, we don't know)...

    You never answered if Georgina Zimmerman were a 14 year old girl, even assume she was trash-talking Martin, and the same exact thing happened, you think there would be any public outcry or arrest made with all the facts we know right now? If not, why should 28-year old George be arrested because he's a burly, older male?

  • ||

    I would add to what you say by taking the theoretical scenario to an extreme:
    A call to the police: Officers,the girl scouts are milling about and look intimadating.
    The new black panthers are milling about and look intimadating.

    Is the police response different?

    And you can you any group you want:
    The mormons....
    The new black panthers....

  • ||

    And by the way, how do you respond to
    this story? Should the taxi driver have been arrested had he shot the two 16 year old girls in self-defense?

  • Fluffy||

    I think if he HAD shot the two girls in self-defense, the police would be less likely to believe his story than if they had been black ex-cons.

  • ||

    That certainly might be true, but upon investigation, they have to base their judgment regarding arrest and charges on the context of the case. I have no doubt if the taxi driver shot two 16yo white girls with knives, he would have been extensively interrogated - more so than had he shot two 16yo black boys with knives. It's not fair, but he would have been just as justified to use self-defense in either case.

  • ||

    No fluffy, What they are ignoring is that there is NO reason to have been following the black teenager in the first place. The idea that following a black teenager, due to his manner of dressing, is asinine on it's face. What they are refusing to recognize is their presumption of some type of guilt on the part of Martin. The basis of their outlook is that Martin had no right to get mad and/or irritated that Zimmerman was following him around, because he was black and therefore should expect to be treated like a potential criminal. That thread is running through ALL the excuses for Zimmerman. In there eyes, treating anyone black as a potential criminal is reasonable.

  • ||

    thats idiotic. your assuming the reason the kid was followed was he has black. As if a strange white teenager in the neighborhood would have been ignored. News flash genius. White people are not cool with potential crime if they are only committed by white people. Anyone with the possible exception of a old man or woman would have attracted attention. You are fixated on race when there is no evidence that the only reason someone would look twice at a kid in a gate community who didnt live there was because he was black. Which is nonsense.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    See, this is why my gang of thieves and burglars is made up entirely of white, blond teenage girls.

    No one expects the Spanish Inquisition Mean Girls!

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Zimmerman's description of the fight—that Martin punched him in the face hard enough to knock him down, repeatedly slammed his head against the pavement, and tried to grab his gun—a jury might conclude the shooting was justified, based on the "duty to retreat" standard that applies to someone who "initially provokes the use of force against himself," even if it believed Zimmerman started the fight.

    How did Martin know about Zimmerman's concealed handgun to be grabbing for it? Most obvious explanation is that Zimmerman started brandishing his firearm before the beginning of the fight, which puts Martin's decision to attack in an entirely different light: namely that Martin, faced with a strange guy following him around waving a weapon was the one engaged in self defense.

  • sarcasmic||

    Or he saw it once he had Zimmer on his back in a defensive posture with his now open jacket no longer covering it.

  • West Texas||

    Or he could have been getting his ass kicked and pulled out the gun in response.

    That said, I agree that if he flashed the gun it changes the story... But you can't assume that it was the only way the kid would have seen the gun.

  • sarcasmic||

    Isn't a person's instinct going to be to put their hands up to protect themselves when getting pummeled, not to go for a gun?
    Cops go for their gun because that's what they are trained to do. Training overrides instinct.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Depends on how much training they've had. Meanwhile, a person who has an advantage in a fight will press that advantage. In other words, it makes sense that Martin, once he had Zimmerman mounted, continued to punch him and even slam his head into the ground. What doesn't make sense is that Martin suddenly stopped punching Zimmerman and started rifling through his coat or pants or whatever for a gun that was supposed to be concealed.

  • Loki||

    Or he saw it once he had Zimmer on his back in a defensive posture with his now open jacket no longer covering it.

    ^This. Aslo, I'm sure Zimmerman's initial response was to raise his hands in self defense, but once he was down and Martin was on top of him, he then reached down with one hand and pulled out the gun. Also, if Martin was reaching for his gun, he probably would have stopped punching him or slamming his head into the conrete to do that. Which would in turn make it easier for Zimmerman to also lower his hands and reach for his gun as well. All of the above is pure conjecture of course.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    All of the above is pure conjecture of course.

    And ergo pretty much a complete waste of time.

  • Sudden||

    Generally speaking, one does not choose the recourse of physical confrontation once a firearm is brandished. I find it more plausible that, in the course of sitting atop Zimmerman during the fight (which eyewitnesses have established as a fact), Martin felt and/or visually spotted the firearm. If the pistol was being kept, gangland style, in the front of the Zimmerman's pants, it would have been felt and recognized fairly quickly. If it was in a holster at his side that the sweater covered, it may have been revealed as the sweater pulled up during the struggle. And there is always the possibility that it got knocked loose and fell to the ground, at which point both the assailant and the victim (regardless of who you believe each to be) would make the move for what would clearly be recognized as the gamechanger.

  • kinnath||

    I am so fucking sick of all this conjecture. Only two people know what happened, and one of them is dead.

    It seems extremely unlikely that the authorities will ever collect enough evidence to meet the burden of proof for a conviction. Deal with it.

  • Bored Commentariat||

    I am so fucking sick of all this conjecture.

    What's your point? It's this or work.

  • Your Boss||

    Hey, no problemo, dude.
    Steal from me all you want!

  • Mary Stack||

    Is convinced everyone is stealing from her.

  • Mary Stack||

    My real name is sarcasmic. I don't have a job.

  • Mary Stack||

    Hasn't had a job since she got out of the institution.

  • kinnath||

    Fluffy argues that Zimmerman is at fault because he got out of the car. This is a valid point for debate.

    RC Dean points out the folly of the law. This is also a valid point for debate.

    Arguing that Zimmerman must have displayed the gun for Martin to see it is pointless masterbation.

  • ||

    Darth Vader: I've been waiting for you, Obi-Wan. We meet again, at last. The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner; now I am the master.

    Obi-Wan: Only a master of bation, Darth.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    If only Lucas could have written dialog like that.

  • ||

    Changes the whole tenor of the story. With my dialogue, they crack up, put the sabers down, and go reminisce about old times. "Dude, remember Padma's ass? Whoa. Hey, sorry about betraying and murdering all those people. Got a little carried away--that Emperor dude is a bitch. Yeah, let's go kill him."

  • A Serious Man||

    Who confronts a person waving a gun around? If someone flashes a gun at me I will either run or put my hands up, I'm not going to rush at him and try to hit him.

  • Hoodieless Society||

    No hoodies!

  • SFC B||

    Crusty jugglers.

  • ||

    Sean Bugg sums up that possibility this way: "Did you start a fight and get your ass kicked? Bang bang bang! Problem solved." Not quite

    Still not working for me. You can start a fight, be losing it, reasonably fear "death or great bodily harm," and have no "reasonable means of escape".

    In that case, which could well describe what happened, Bugg is exactly right.

    If you start a fight, I believe, you take the risk of losing the fight, even unto death or great bodily harm.

    Otherwise, every shootout between a criminal and a law-abiding citizen becomes perfectly legal for both sides.

    Criminal: "Gimme all your stuff, and take your clothes off."

    LAC: "No." [pulls gun]

    Criminal: "Uh oh. I now reasonably fear death or great bodily harm, and have no means of escape because I can't outrun a bullet." [pulls gun]

    Shootout ensues. LAC loses, is dead. Criminal pleads self-defense.

  • Sudden||

    Agreed (to some extent, as it can be argued in the hypothetical proposed that LAC has no interest in killing a man so long as he ceases his attempted burglary). I still think the critical bit here is who initiated the use of physical force, and that is sadly the murkiest of the details.

    Of similar concern is the angle of impact of the bullet and the blood spatter analysis, as these would be indicative of either corroborating Zimmerman's story in regards to the shooting being entirely self-defense, or if he discharged the firearms while Martin walked away thinking himself victorious.

  • Sudden||

    I would have to assume that the police were at the very least cognizant enough of that possibility that they blood and entry angle seemed in keeping with Zimmerman's assertion that he discharged the pistol from a defensive posture. But far be it for me to assume such rationality among police these days.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Is the autopsy even finished?

  • ||

    almost impossible to determine this at the scene. that's the job of the ME.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    You continue to assume that we know beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman started the fight. There is no evidence of that. And the fact that he lost the fight indicates just the opposite.

    The fact is we will never know for sure. And in a court of law they call that an acquittal.

  • ||

    Yeah, perhaps they haven't arrested him because they know no jury could possibly convict him beyond a reasonable doubt knowing the evidence we know. That's why state attorneys decided not to press charges yet.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    You continue to assume that we know beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman started the fight. There is no evidence of that. And the fact that he lost the fight indicates just the opposite.

    What rationale is there for Martin, who told his girlfriend that he was worried about some strange fat guy tailing him, to lose him, double back, then jump on the guy's back?

    This is real life, not a game of PvP.

  • ||

    do we know martin told her that, or do we know she claims he told her that?

    those two things are not the same.

  • Bobarian||

    Disagree --
    Criminal: "Gimme all your stuff, and take your clothes off."

    Criminal has just attempted felony robbery (not burglary) and is no longer protected under the statute. In fact, if LAC shot and killed Criminal's unnamed accopmplice (or even an innocent bystander in self defense) Criminal would be guilty of felony homocide.
    The death resulted as a direct result of Criminal initiating the felony.

  • ||

    I think Zimmerman might reasonably be charged with stalking or harassment. And perhaps manslaughter at the outside.

    I do have a problem with the notion that you can follow someone around at night and then kill them in self-defense if they make threatening moves towards you in response.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    I do have a problem with the notion that you can follow someone around at night and then kill them in self-defense if they make threatening moves towards you in response.

    That is not what happened. Martin, by the account of the witness and judging by Zimmerman's injuries, beat Zimmerman pretty badly. He did more than just threaten him.

  • ||

    OK, so if you follow someone around on a dark street, and they get scared enough to attack you and beat you badly, then you can kill them in self-defense?

    You're acting like Martin beating Zimmerman was somehow unprovolked.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    Hazel you are acting like you know for sure that it was. It may not have been. Merely following someone and asking them where they are going or even telling them to stay there does not justify that person physically assault you.

    That is where you, RC and Fluffy all three go off the rails. You all three seem to think that Zimmerman, by following and confronting Martin, gave Martin the right to beat his head into the concrete. And that is just not the case.

  • Fluffy||

    Merely following someone and asking them where they are going or even telling them to stay there does not justify that person physically assault you.

    Actually, if you tell them to stay there in a threatening manner, it justifies exactly that.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Merely following someone and asking them where they are going or even telling them to stay there does not justify that person physically assault you.

    Let's try another scenario. Zimmerman is following a twelve year old girl around the neighborhood at night. She gets freaked out and calls her father, who storms of a nearby house and proceeds to stomp Zimmerman's ass. Zimmerman, in legitimate fear of his life, draws a gun and shoots him. Is there are a crime? Is it self defense?

  • sarcasmic||

    and they get scared enough to attack you

    At this point all you have done is follow them, so their initiation of violence is not legally justified.

    then you can kill them in self-defense?

    Yes. Your use of force is in response to their initiation of force.

  • HeroicMulatto||

  • sarcasmic||

    Cops are always within their rights to pop a cap in anyone's ass.

  • HeroicMulatto||

    See, that's the problem. Zimmerman made himself the self-appointed quasi-Cop of the community. And his mind, that "cops are always within their rights to pop a cap in anyone's ass." was seen as a benefit, not a problem.

  • ||

    weak troll fu

  • nomad||

    You're acting like Martin beating Zimmerman was somehow unprovolked

    There is nothing criminal or wrong about watching or following a stranger in one's own neighborhood, or even asking the stranger who he is and what he is doing. Awareness on the part of the residents of the comings and goings of strangers is probably the most effective means of reducing crime in a neighborhood, particularly if the bad guys know they are being watched. If Zimmerman used force or threats of force, that would be an illegal provocation. But there is no evidence that Zimmerman did initiate the conflict via force or threats.

  • Fluffy||

    He voiced anger that Martin might get away.

    That's more than enough to allow me, or a jury, to infer that he left his car intending to use force or the threat of force to stop Martin from leaving.

  • nomad||

    That's more than enough to allow me, or a jury, to infer that he left his car intending to use force or the threat of force to stop Martin from leaving.

    Just because you or a jury might infer that does not make it a valid inference. In fact, this is one reason why prosecutors are not allowed to bring a case to trial unless a grand jury determines there is sufficient legitimate evidence of the accused party's guilt to warrant a trial - it is to prevent the accused from conviction based only on a jury's invalid inference.

  • ||

    um, WA state does not even have (normally) grand juries. so, while your point about the inference is reasonable, you are 100% wrong that a gJ is needed to bring a case to trial. in many states and in many situations (even in states that have gj's) it is not

    hth

  • nomad||

    hth
    Thanks for the information. I'm not sure where I got the idea a grand jury was needed to go to trial - I'm probably misremembering an old Law and Order episode.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    They're not even required in Florida except for capital cases.

    In routine cases the State Atorney files an information.

    This case is going to a Grand Jury because of its high profile.

  • Ryan||

    My issue with that scenario is that based upon what I read the girlfriend said there was a dialogue: T: 'Why are you following me?' Z: 'What are you doing here?' or something like that. If Trayvon actually spoke to the guy before beating him up, I would be sympathetic with his attack because it's certainly not unreasonable to fear a night-stalker and I think that justifies an ass-kicking, particularly if Z refused to respond when questioned.

    Afterward, even if Z was losing the fight I think it's reasonable to say the shooting was excessive force, under these conditions if they did exist. It's not like Z's in the emergency room or on life-support, so maybe he unreasonably feared for his life, at most. It looks like a simple case of over-reacting.

  • Ryan||

    And if Trayvon gave him a chance to resolve the situation by answering his question, the fact that the d-bag with a gun refused to answer really makes a case for his innocence unconvincing.

  • sarcasmic||

    If I was pinned down by a guy who is bashing my head into the concrete after breaking my nose, don't know about you but I just might fear for my life.

  • Ryan||

    You ignore that he had a gun. If a fist-fight ensues while you have a gun, which you probably could have avoided but didn't, is it reasonable to kill your opponent?

    Did Zimmerman try to avoid a fight, which one should reasonably expect to potentially lead to a broken nose and some head injuries? If he didn't try to avoid the fight, is shooting his unarmed opponent still justified, despite the fact that his injuries are hardly life-threatening?

  • sarcasmic||

    Should one reasonably expect that following an unfamiliar person in your neighborhood justifies their picking a fight with you?

    Also, bashing someone's head against concrete kinda transcends fisticuffs and gets into something a little more serious, don't ya think?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Also, bashing someone's head against concrete kinda transcends fisticuffs and gets into something a little more serious, don't ya think?

    Not where I grew up. Where do you get this odd view that fisticuffs have rules of engagement? I still contend that the most likely scenario here is that Martin is the one who has a valid self-defense claim. And once you are defending yourself, you can keep attacking until the threat is neutralized. If that means head bashing, or grabbing a rock, so be it. The one you are defending against has no complaint against you in this case.

    If it can be established that Z did nothing to put Martin in self-defense mode, then he has a good argument for this being a justified homicide. If Martin was defending himself against a guy with a gun that had been following him and made him fear for his life, then Z is not justified. imho.

  • free2booze||

    If T thought he was being stalked, or in danger of being harmed, he could have called the po-po and attempted to flee.

  • sarcasmic||

    He's not scared. He's a bad ass. And he's pissed.
    He doesn't call the cops for help, he calls his girl to tell her he's gonna hospitalize some stupid cracker. She tells him to run, he instead picks a fight. The rest is history.

  • Fluffy||

    And this fucking worthless cunt denies he's a racist.

  • ||

    But what the girls says happened couldn't have happened. See, it all fits until the dispatcher tells Zimmerman that they don't need him to follow Trayvon. Trayvon's running--and Zimmerman's hyperventilation could be said to coincide with the girlfriend telling him to run.

    But the stories diverge. When the dispatcher tells him to stop following, he says 'ok' and his breathing returns to normal and a bit later he says he can't see Trayvon, complains about it.

    For the girl's story to be true Zimmerman would have had to catch Trayvon--which doesn't seem to have happened.

  • T||

    Breaking your nose and beating your skull against the pavement is a bit more than a threatening move.

  • kinnath||

    I have lived in gated communities. Guests do not have have a free pass to wander about the grounds. If a resident stops you and asks you what you're doing, you need to stop and answer the question. Of course if the resident is an asshole, you answer the question once then tell them to fuck off if they persist.

  • ||

    He wasn't a guest, he lived there.
    The incident occured at night, with the resident following him around initially, like a creepy stalker.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    So what? Is it really your position that you have the right to physically assault and beat down any person you ever confronts you after dark?

  • kinnath||

    Read the fucking news reports. He was suspended from his school. During the suspension, he was staying briefly at his father's girlfriend's home.

    He was not a resident.

  • Ryan||

    He was at least a temporary resident. The only relevance residence has is whether he had a justification for being there, and he did. So your point, by itself, is irrelevant.

  • kinnath||

    You've never lived in a gated community. Residents are those people listed in the lease.

  • Ryan||

    And you didn't understand my point. Residency, as you are using it, is only relevant as a measure of justification for Trayvon's presence.

    He was living there at the time. His presence was justified. Play with words all you want and your point is still irrelevant.

  • ||

    He was staying with his dad for a few days. He was NOT a resident. He was the guest of a resident.

  • Ryan||

    You're missing the point. He was living there at the time, so he had a justification for being there.

    So what's the point in talking about residency? There is none.

  • ||

    He was in all likelihood UNKNOWN to other residents. By definition, a strange person in their community after dark. It's reasonable to ask what's he's doing there.

  • Fluffy||

    If a resident stops you and asks you what you're doing, you need to stop and answer the question.

    Bull-fucking-shit.

    If I own property in a community that titles some areas in common, you and I have an equal right to those common areas. If I have a guest on those areas, you have no more right to demand they stop and listen to you than you'd have to stroll in my front door and demand that my guests account for themselves.

  • ||

    "If I have a guest on those areas, you have no more right to demand they stop and listen to you than you'd have to stroll in my front door and demand that my guests account for themselves."

    You honestly think those are the same thing?

  • Tacos mmm...||

    If a resident stops you and asks you what you're doing, you need to stop and answer the question.

    No you don't. They can call security on you if they think you're suspicious, but living in a gated community does not give you some kind of power of arbitrary detention over nonresidents.

  • sarcasmic||

    if they make threatening moves

    It takes a lot more than threatening moves to bust a person's nose and bloody the back of their skull.

  • Alice Bowie||

    The "Stand Your Ground Law" is not irrelevant in this case. It is the primary reason why Zimmerman was not arrested and prosecuted.

    I believe in States Rights. I don't believe the federal government should get in the middle of this. This was definitely NOT a racially motivated crime (other than blacks are targeted for investigations like this 1000 more than whites).

    According to Florida, Zimmerman, and anyone else can shoot/kill someone else and not be arrested as long as Bubba-the-Cop buys your self defense story...PERIOD.

  • ||

    It's only irrelevant if Zimmerman was on his back being brutally beaten against the concrete with no means of escape, which follows normal self-defense law. The Stand Your Ground Law means that you are justified to shoot if your life is threatened and you DO have the ability to escape instead of shooting. Assuming what went down is as Zimmerman's lawyer says, Stand Your Ground has nothing to do with it beyond an initial misinterpretation by the police department, which, when corrected in context gives even LESS cause for arrest. Even assuming Zimmerman had not been on his back getting beaten, the Stand Your Ground defense could have been made and he wouldn't have been arrested.

  • bob||

    " This was definitely NOT a racially motivated crime..."

    Oh, well, if that's what you think then case closed.

  • bob||

    " This was definitely NOT a racially motivated crime..."

    Oh, well, if that's what you think then case closed.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I believe in States Rights.

    States don't have rights, they have powers. Only individuals have rights.

  • ||

    Totally wrong.
    Under every state's law, anyone can shoot/kill someone else and not be arrested so long as the cops or prosecutors buy the self-defense story and/or decline to prosecute...PERIOD.

    SYG was not relevant, because his side of the story claims a confrontation that would be self-defense in all 50 states.

    What Stand Your Ground does, to the chagrin of cops and prosecutors, is protect people that they *don't* want to favor. The prosecutors keep complaining about drug dealers and gang members getting off because of defending themselves against other dealer and gang members.

    Do you really think that's because "Bubba-the-Cop" wants to let the dealers and gang members off?

    What SYG does is remove discretion.
    If you think that the police and prosecutors are institutionally racist, you should favor SYG.

  • ||

    There is a right to self-defense in all 50 states. Prosecutors and cops have discretion to decline to prosecute in all 50 states.

    What SYG does is remove discretion.

    If you think that the problem is the unfairness of it being up to whether "Bubba-the-Cop buys your story," then you should favor SYG.

    It's the non-SYG world where anyone the cops and prosecutors trust get off, and anyone they don't get prosecuted.

  • West Texas||

    Man, I'm really sick of this story. Something happened and a kid is tragically dead, but just because the kid is black we're supposed to assume that it was wrongful.

    I was leaning towards the "unjustified" description until I heard this story about the broken nose and grass stains on Zimmerman's jacket. Now I'm inclined to think that it's not that simple... in the absence of clear evidence that Zimmerman just shot him for no good reason, I think the police probably acted properly in not jumping to conclusions and throwing him in jail. Something happened and only Zimmerman knows in his heart what it was.

    Unfortunately, the race hustlers will scream the loudest and my guess is that Zimmerman is going to likely end up being unfairly prosecuted or extrajudicially injured or even killed.

  • West Texas||

    To clarify -

    As mentioned above, I do think that Zimmerman is probably guilty of stalking or harassment, especially since the police told him to stop following the kid.

    But at this point the mob is howling for nothing less than Zimmerman's head on a platter and unfortunately I expect they'll get it.

  • SFC B||

    I think that if the prosecution offers him some sort of Manslaughter charge, reduced jailtime, and protective custody he'd be a fool to not take it. I would not want to risk going in front of a jury with a murder charge on the line, even if I thought it was the most righteous shoot in the world.

  • Tacos mmm...||

    Nor would being convicted of manslaughter be particularly inapppropriate. If you decided to play neighborhood cop with a real gun and someone gets killed, you have some very real responsibility even if you're not a cold-blooded murderer. The man initiated and escalated a violent confrontation he could not control.

  • ||

    Agreed that manslaughter seems appropriate - unless there's some dramatic new evidence that indicates Z lied when he said he returned to his car and was jumped.

    Frankly, I would not want to live in a neighborhood that housed either of these two characters.

  • Loki||

    I was leaning towards the "unjustified" description until I heard this story about the broken nose and grass stains on Zimmerman's jacket ... Unfortunately, the race hustlers will scream the loudest and my guess is that Zimmerman is going to likely end up being unfairly prosecuted or extrajudicially injured or even killed.

    I was leaning the same way. Although I still think if Zimmerman had handled things differently, Martin would still be alive. He definitely shouldn't have been out playing neighborhood Rambo.

    That said the way the race hustlers/ media are distorting this shit is making Zimmerman into a somewhat sympathetic character. Only Al Sharpton can turn a wannabe neighborhood watch retard into a sympathetic character.

  • Ryan||

    the way the race hustlers/ media are distorting this shit is making Zimmerman into a somewhat sympathetic character

    If your opinion of the case is in any way affected by media bias, you're not much better than them.

    It shouldn't matter either way.

    It's fine to be sympathetic for the fact someone's getting unfair treatment, but it doesn't change this case anyway so the two subjects don't belong together (though they may belong with some separation).

  • Loki||

    Clarification: my initial view of the case was based on the incomplete impression that what happened was after being approached by Zimmerman Martin punched him one time and Zimmerman shot him. Since that time additional information has come out. There was a witness, Martin punched him then jumped on top of him and started hitting him and slamming his head into the concrete. Actually I said all along that if Zimmerman shot him after one punch, that isn't sufficient justification to shoot him, but if Martin jumped on top of him and started whaling away MMA style, then he probably was justified. You could find previous posts where I said almost those exact words if you're so inclined.

    The media/ race hustlers continueing to spin this shit that Zimmerman is some kind of vile racist is what makes him a somewhat more sympathitic character, IMO.

  • Loki||

    Although not by much, he still shouldn't have been out playing neighborhood cop/ Rambo.

  • ||

    Agree again. However, regardless of his guilt, I don't find Z sympathetic by any means.

    Wannabe cops decrease public safety, not enhance it.

  • ChrisO||

    Hard cases make bad law. No reason to take a stand on the Stand Your Ground law based on this case.

  • Killazontherun||

    There is no fucking way Oprah is richer than Magic Johnson:

    http://www.economicpolicyjourn.....dgers.html


    I always knew that Magic had launched a few move theaters after he retired from the NBA, but I never realized he is a mogul.

    He owns 119 Starbucks, a bunch of 24 Hour Fitness operations, he supplies beef to half the Burger Kings in the United States and he raised a billion dollars just before the markets turned down, so he has a billion dollars cash on the sideline waiting for further declines in real estate, before he plunges in.

  • Killazontherun||

    I've always been suspicious claims of Oprah's wealth are media bullshit; as the ratings of her shows were not astronomically higher than the competition within the realm of independent productions, and though Harpo owns only a fraction of the number of products in production as a major studio it was alleged to be more profitable than some.

  • Killazontherun||

    BTW, what are the chances that Stock is a product of a quarter of a century worth of viewing hours of Oprah? Pretty damn high I would imagine.

  • Killazontherun||

    Yes, I realize I attached this to the wrong discussion. Carry own.

  • Joe||

    It won't matter who started the fight, only whether it was reasonable to escalate the fight to the use of deadly force. It isn't easy to argue that an unarmed guy, 80 pounds smaller (where 80 pounds smaller makes a difference), was a reasonable threat. The circumstances of how the fight started will be a factor as to whether that sentiment was reasonable, but probably not much more, and is one reason why the hazy accounts of who the initial aggressor was won't matter much. Personally, if I followed a kid around in my vehicle and confronted him, I would expect him to be pissed off and want to pick a fight. That Zimmerman was bigger and Martin still chose to fight, possibly with knowledge that Zimmerman had a gun, won't help. Add to it Zimmerman's bitchassness, and I think he'll be in trouble.

    I've got a feeling Martin's autopsy will settle some questions.

  • Roger Thesaurus||

    I've got a feeling Martin's autopsy will settle some questions.

    Thank God he wasn't a Muslim!

  • Brother Wolf||

    The big lesson I take out of this whole mess is that a video camera would be much more useful than a gun as a tool of self defense.

  • sarcasmic||

    If Zimmer had had a camera instead of a gun, there's a chance that he would have been found dead with the back of his head caved in against the concrete, and Martin would have had some video to brag to his hoodlum friends Boyz n the Hood style.

  • Joe||

    We could say the same about any fight. Doesn't mean it's an invitation to shoot the guy. As with any area of life, the best defense is to never provoke fights in the first place.

  • ||

    The assumption is that Zimmerman provoked the fight, which we have little to no evidence of, and which Zimmerman would never admit to if he did. From what we've seen, he likely thought he was just doing his job as a neighborhood watchman by following him around and calling the police. Of course, it would be understandable that Martin thought he was about to get mugged and decided to strike first. Lots of conjecture, very little substantial evidence so far. I just hate how people want to lynch Zimmerman on conjecture and circumstantial evidence.

  • sarcasmic||

    But, but, but Martin was black!

    To suggest he initiated violence is to perpetuate the stereotype that young black males are violent thugs, and that's racist!

    So Martin couldn't have started the fight.

    Anyone who says he did is racist!

  • Joe||

    I think even without thinking Zimmerman started the fight (whatever starting the fight entails - entrapment? pushing? threats?), it can still go either way. I'm with you about the lynching bit. I initially was behind Martin, and still favor him from what I've seen, but I don't like the certainty with which people talk about this and a really hate the race angle.

  • Joe||

    Oh, you were responding to "provoke". I don't think he thought he was provoking it either, and probably didn't expect Martin to fight back, even if he was just going for a walk. I wouldn't blame Martin for feeling that way, though.

  • Alice Bowie||

    I don't want to Lynch Zimmerman. I think he is indisputably innocent as per Florida Law. Although I do think what Zimmerman was wrong.

    However, a grand-jury should consider whether there is evidence to go to trial...Not Bubba-the-Cop

  • nomad||

    However, a grand-jury should consider whether there is evidence to go to trial...Not Bubba-the-Cop

    It was reported earlier today that the decision not to arrest Zimmerman was actually the DA's decision, not the police's decision.

  • ||

    If you think he's indisputably innocent as per Florida Law, and the DA seems to agree with you, there is obviously not enough evidence to arrest him and bring charges before a grand jury. Presumption of innocence should mean that the DA should not try to bring a case to a pre-trial hearing if they have no grounds or case with which to levy an actual trial.

  • ||

    However, a grand-jury should consider whether there is evidence to go to trial...Not Bubba-the-Cop

    OK, but that has nothing to do with Stand Your Ground. Police and prosecutorial discretion is increased without SYG.

  • ||

    However, a grand-jury should consider whether there is evidence to go to trial...Not Bubba-the-Cop

    OK, but that has nothing to do with Stand Your Ground. Police and prosecutorial discretion is increased without SYG.

  • Brother Wolf||

    Fair enough... both then.

  • sarcasmic||

    I bet Zimmer wishes he had had a camera (as well as a gun).

  • A Serious Man||

    I would personally carry a truncheon or some other form of a club if I were walking a neighborhood watch beat. Gives you more protection than being unarmed without the risk of deadly consequences.

  • sarcasmic||

    After responding to several calls about a burglar lurking about, the cops would take your club away from you.
    No report, no receipt, you ain't getting it back.

  • MisterDamage||

    Yeah, a lump of wood about so wide and yay long is awfully difficult to replace.

  • Joe M||

    I have a suggestion to the person who wrote reasonable: allow users to "ignore" entire posts on the main feed like they ignore certain users. I'm over the Trayvon Smith story.

  • the Trayvon Smith story||

    Joe M, I am your father.

  • Joe M||

    That's impossible! That's not true!

  • ||

    Or, you can just not click the article? Amazing how the mouse scroll wheel works.

  • Joe M||

    Yeah but when half the posts are about it, it would be nice to click ignore so they don't fill up the feed. Come on, you know you scroll back down to older posts to check up on the comments.

    It's not like I'm saying posting about the story should be illegal. I was just making a little suggestion for another feature that would make navigating reason.com even more convenient, which is the whole point of the extension.

  • A Serious Man||

    I am too. I wonder why the media isn't obsessing over the brutal murder of an innocent Iraqi woman (a mother of five) in Southern California last week. I live there and I've only heard it twice on the local news.

  • ||

    Being from the West Coast, I don't think of the duty to retreat if one can do so safely to be the "old law." I think of it as the "Eastern law," since in the western states, the law of self defense has never required one to retreat. Has that caused legal chaos in homicide prosecutions in those states? Not a bit!

    The real problem is that in most states, probable cause to arrest is met if the elements of the crime are present, and self-defense is something that must be raised by the defendant. In Florida, the police may only arrest for homicide if they determine that there is evidence to negate self-defense.

  • A Serious Man||

    Is it just me or has this story, combined with that unfortunate masturbation incident, knocked Joseph Kony and the Invisible Children completely out of the spotlight?

  • Joe M||

    His network of agents is so puppetmastering the globe, it's not even funny.

  • MJGreen||

    that unfortunate masturbation incident

    Pfft, says you.

  • Occupy Trayvon||

    No blood for Skittles!

  • Tacos mmm...||

    That may indeed be what happened, but if so his actions are hardly tantamount to deliberately running a man over with a pickup truck just for kicks.

    No, but they may be tantamount to runningover someone in a pickup truck while fiddling with your cell phone, eating a Big Mac and watching a DVD on your dash-mounted television.

  • Paul||

  • Neu Mejican||

    So...as long as there is all this conjecture...

    The claim is that Martin is on top, punching Z in the face. If this beating is so fierce that Z fears for his life, how the hell did he get his gun out to shoot without Martin stopping him?

    My guess is that Z went for the gun prior to getting decked. In that case Martin has the "stand your ground" claim. Sees stranger who has been following him reaching for gun when he asked "why are you following me", decks him and tries to get gun away from him. Fails and gets shot.

  • sarcasmic||

    If this beating is so fierce that Z fears for his life, how the hell did he get his gun out to shoot without Martin stopping him?

    The beating stops when Martin notices the gun and grabs for it, freeing Z from defense to grab it himself and use it.

    My guess is that Z went for the gun prior to getting decked.

    Most people do not respond to someone pulling a gun by decking them. I find that to be totally implausible.

  • sarcasmic||

    I could go further and say the 911 call plays Z crying for help as he's getting pummeled, shrieking when Martin goes for his gun, then shooting him as he fears for his life.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Your conjecture is also plausible.

    Most people do not respond to someone pulling a gun by decking them.

    After it is out, yeah. But if I see someone "going for" their gun, I would use whatever means necessary to stop that from happening. I think most people would...guns have too long a range for the "run away" strategy.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm sure Z had practiced un-holstering his weapon enough that it was a rapid and smooth movement, not giving Martin enough time to deck him (ruling out that scenario), and also saving his life when Martin tried to take it away.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I'm sure...

    You seem sure of a lot.
    I am less sure that Z was well-trained in how to handle himself during a confrontation of this nature.

  • sarcasmic||

    I am less sure that Z was well-trained in how to handle himself during a confrontation of this nature.

    I totally agree.
    And being that he's a wannabe cop, don't you agree that he's likely spent countless hours "whipping it out" in front of a mirror, Taxi Driver style?

  • Neu Mejican||

    countless hours "whipping it out"

    Wait, are we back to Fluffy's 14 year old girl scenario?

    Yeah, it is possible he practiced it, but that doesn't mean he would execute this well under pressure. And, hey, the range of fast between people is very large. When I was younger (after years playing drums and practicing martial arts), I could take control your wrist and punch you twice before you got half-way through your "rapid smooth movement" - even if you were trained well. I know, cause we practiced this in TKD class all the time.

  • Alice Bowie||

    People are routinely arrested for

    - disorderly conduct
    - resisting arrest
    - obstruction of justice

    Many of these charges are later dropped after one spends a day-or-two in jail. If you ask me, it's these charges that one should be immuned from arrest/prosecution.

    All homicides, including and especially self defense resulting in the death of an un-armed minor should require at-least a grand-jury hearing.

  • ||

    Again, you can't have a grand jury hearing if there are no charges to levy. There are no charges if the DA finds Zimmerman acted legally in accordance to Florida law.

  • Neu Mejican||

    AND - the eyewitness accounts do not corroborate the "banging his head on the concrete" aspect of Z's claim. Unless someone can point me to something other than "John's" story.

  • sarcasmic||

    I recall the police said his injuries were consistent with his story. I'm not sure how the back of his head would be bloodied from being on his back in the grass.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I'm not sure how the back of his head would be bloodied from being on his back in the grass.

    Get decked, fall to ground, cut head on any number of objects in the grass. His injuries are also consistent with that.

    Conjecture is fine, but the "banging his head on the concrete" is part of the conjecture and/or Z's story, not part of any corroborated account.

  • sarcasmic||

    any number of objects in the grass

    In a gated community? Those lawns are probably manicured by a professional landscaping crew once a week, and free of any "objects" that might cause him (or precious Little Johnny) to cut his head.

  • Neu Mejican||

    All it takes is a sprinkler-head.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Or a rock under the grass.

  • Charlotte Corday||

    No. There is a witness who says he saw Martin on top of Zimerman banging his head into the concrete. So that is not conjecture. A third party witness confirms it.

    Try again.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Link please. I have not seen that reported.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    An anonymous witness. Forgive me my lack of faith in people who claim to have witnessed a crime (or lack of one), but won't put their name to it.

  • ||

    he was anonymous to the press. he may very well have given his name to the police. i can well respect ESPECIALLY BASED ON THE RACIAL HUCKSTERISM AND other such response this case has gotten in the media, etc. that he doesn't want to be seen, face/name on camera presenting a fact pattern that makes zimmerman look like a victim and martin look like the bad guy

    again, apply case facts and context here, and it totally makes sense

  • sarcasmic||

    mumble mumble right to confront the accuser mumble mumble

  • ||

    which would apply in court, mumble mumble...

  • Neu Mejican||

    mumble mumble, can't confront accuser when you are dead, mumble mumble.

  • ||

    The eyewitness the news mentioned did not say anything about seeing Martin banging his head on the concrete - just that he was on top beating him.

    However, the injuries to the back of Zimmerman's head were probably not invented by Zimmerman after the fact as a coverup.

  • Fluffy||

    I honestly wish Martin had gotten Zimmerman's gun away from him and shot him fucking dead.

  • ||

    Wow...

  • Fluffy||

    Spoof.

  • ||

    I kinda figured.

  • ||

    I may have missed it upthread somewhere, but so be it...

    I am skeptical that Zimmerman started the fight. Why? For the same reason I don't start fights. I carry a gun, concealed. I know it's there. I have no need to show bravado when confronted by anyone.

    Why would I start a fight? I'll let you start the fight... I'll finish it.

    CB

  • Fluffy||

    That's just it, I take exactly the opposite view.

    Zimmerman was armed, and knew the police were coming. To me, that makes it very likely that he would feel like he was Deputy Dawg and could by threat or by brandishing his weapon make Martin stay put. He'd feel entitled to.

  • ||

    at least based on 20 yrs patrol experience, and dealing with literally hundreds of incidents with CCW'ers, i have found them almost every one, to be VERY restrained with the use of their guns.

    in 20+ yrs, i have never had ONE case where one of them fired or brandished their firearm where it wasn't justifed for them to do so

    and i have dealt with toNS of cases where they used their firearm to detain somebody. always justified.

    this says nothing about zimmerman per se, but my point is that --- as a group, they are exceptionally law abiding and restrained in use of of firearms.

    granted, as much as the physical/witness/testimonial/"smell test" stuff seems to support zimmerman's SD claim, it also appears that he may have been a bit of a wannabe. if he DID brandish to make somebody stay put, merely based on weak-ass suspicion, that would have been wrong

  • ||

    however, THAT doesn't pass the smell test. again, tHINK LIKE AN INVESTIGATOR

    if he brandished, it would be very unlikely that martin would have attacked him after that (at any point) as zimmerman claims. people tend not to attack people by jumping them/cold cocking them when they know they are carrying guns.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm glad you don't carry concealed. You would be very dangerous.

  • ||

    this article is well written and makes some sound points.

    nice.

  • Killazontherun||

    If stupid could be unitized as bricks you would be able to see Bill Maher from space with the naked eye:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.c.....oting.html

    On HLN’s “Dr. Drew” on Tuesday night, Maher explained that the Democratic Party bowing to the National Rifle Association on the issue of gun control made it possible for the so-called “Stand Your Ground” legislation to become law.

  • ||

    excellent point about how the tragic OUTCOME leads people to go all retroactive and think zimmerman overreacted

    a classic example of results based legal analysis,which as i explain repeatedly,is always wrong

    it's about process.

    process can lead to good or bad results, but it's how we judge the legality of behavior, whether police force,or non-police force.

    the results based fallacy leads to many of the bogus conclusions people come to here e.g. "he didn't deserve to die.he was just jaywalking and now he's dead,therefore the cop was wrong" type analysis

    clearly,martin appeared to just have been walking down the sidewalk.he apparently committed no crime and CERTAINLY if zimmerman never started to do what he did,martin would be alive

    groovy

    but that's irrelevant to whether zimmerman's UOF was justified.just like in police circ's

    good article

    process analysis.it's WHAT's FOR DINNER

  • BoscoH||

    For whatever reason, this whole incident reminds me of a catchphrase that Scott Adams once tried to popularize: So who is the aggressor animal now?

  • West Texas||

    I heard on the news today that apparently the Florida law literally prohibits arrest - not just prosecution, arrest - if the killer claims self-defense and the police have no no direct evidence or cause to suspect otherwise. It's written into the statute.

    So, if there are no witnesses and it looks at least a little bit reasonable that there was a struggle (and Z apparently looked the part), the police did in fact act properly by not arresting him.

    That's not to say that they couldn't arrest him later if they found new evidence or a witness, or maybe arrest him for something else based on evidence they have (i.e. stalking etc) but without contrary evidence for the killing he's pretty much safe. Which, based on the circumstances and the race clowns who are jumping to all these public conclusions right now, is probably the most just result.

  • ||

    MEGO. fwiw, as soon as you say "i heard it on the news" my eyes glazed over. more often than not, ime, the noooz gets legal analysis WRONG

    it MAy be as you claim, or it may be a BIt different.

  • ||

    Ah, so if I shoot someone in Florida; it would be smart for me to bang my head on something - a rock, a wall, anything that might give me some cuts and bruises - and claim self defense. Or is that just the cynic in me coming out?

  • ||

    One thing I'd be interested to know is whether Martin's autopsy indicates that drugs were in his system. For the record, I'm firmly anti-drug war, but it could validate Zimmerman's original suspicion that he was on drugs, and could also provide some explanation why Martin might have overreacted (if he did) and attacked Zimmerman.

    If the police know such facts and are not reporting them to respect the family's privacy but haven't pressed charges partially on that basis, they're indirectly further endangering Zimmerman's life (not to mention the innocents whose address was tweeted by Spike Lee et al). They should say what they know so far, release photos of Zimmerman's injuries and say upon what basis they haven't pressed charges so potential rioting and violence can be averted.

  • ||

    toxicology reports can often take a week or longer.

    fwiw, police have no DUTY TO explain all the reasons why they didn't arrest zimmerman, bla bla bla. just as they are not supposed to try a case in the press (hi, nifong!), they are also not supposed to divulge everything and anything just because it will benefit somebody.

    in an in progress investigation, they need to balance that 'duty' with other considerations.

    the kneejerkers will spout. it always happens. at least now zimmerman knows what it is like to be a cop. every racial huckster, media pundit, reason bigorati, bla bla is second guessing him, assuming facts not in evidence, painting the guy he shot as a saint, him as the devil, and using him as a political springboard.

  • ||

    If this had been a black neighborhood watch dude following what he thought was a black suspicious teenager and ended up shooting him, none of this would have risen in proportion even if the issues were the same. This is just another front in the white (err hispanic) vs black media frenzy that's slavering over potential police racism.

    Frankly, the trial by media is ludicrous, but in this day and age, prosecutors almost have to kneejerk arrest a white person on black person crime to avoid these allegations.

    FWIW, I've confronted strangers (in the politest possible way) wandering around my neighborhood just so they know they were noticed. I've never been assaulted. I imagine Zimmerman wasn't so cautious however and escalated this into a macho battle royale, which he subsequently ended up on the losing end until he pulled the trump card. But then, that's just my wild speculation.

  • ||

    It's funny, I'm like 1/16 Spanish (my great grandmother was a Lopez) and when I lived in Florida I got hassled all the time by white cops presumably because I vaguely looked hispanic (brown hair, brown eyes, tanned skin)

    Yet in this case, a guy that looks a helluva lot more hispanic than I do is somehow the benefit of a police conspiracy?

  • ||

    "If this had been a black neighborhood watch dude following what he thought was a black suspicious teenager and ended up shooting him, none of this would have risen in proportion even if the issues were the same."

    Too true, because the police started caring about blacks killing other blacks, when exactly? Last time I saw that, was Mayor Rudy in NYC, and he's been out of office a while now.

  • shrike||

    Britain Deserves Better

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Security Cam footage of Zimmerman arriving at the police station the night of the Martin shooting:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/video.....e-16024475

    Yeah, those really look like life threatening injuries.

  • ||

    nobody said he had life threatening injuries

    the standard is that the person must reasonably perceive that the force used against them is likely to result in serious or fatal (florida uses a different term than serious i don't recall off the top of my head but it's the same meaning essentially) injury if the deadly force is not used

    the law does not say, nor am i aware of anybody here saying , that the person must SUFFER such injuries prior to using deadly force

    hth

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    Don't see any sign of a head injury or grass stains on his back.

    But, then, like most surveillance videos it's poor quality and the best views of Z's head are obscured by the ABC banner across the screen.

    It doesn't prove anything, of course, but it does call at least part of his account into question.

  • Kreel Sarloo||

    the law does not say, nor am i aware of anybody here saying , that the person must SUFFER such injuries prior to using deadly force

    True, but an important part of Z's narrative has been that he was physically attacked and suffered significant injuiries.

  • ||

    Interesting. So the more likely you are to judge even the most minor injury and/or situation as "life threatening" the more leeway you have in using your firearm. The wimpier, the better?

  • ||

    Oh yeah. And another thing.... if Trayvon (or anybody) is wearing a hoodie, and walking the other way, uh... what color is he?

    CB

  • ||

    is he moving fast enough to effect a color shift?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Oh yeah. And another thing.... if Trayvon (or anybody) is wearing a hoodie, and walking the other way, uh... what color is he?

    Not that I am endorsing the "racist kills" meme here, but, most people have skin on their hands...so unless he was walking hands in pockets, well...

  • ||

    Has anyone considered whether or not Trayvon was carrying drugs at the time he noticed he was being wathced. then took off running in order to ditch the drugs in nearby bushes with the intent of looping back to recover them but instead ran into Zimmerman...

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