Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Thoughts on the Zimmerman/Martin shooting.

The first thing about this I don't understand is what would possess Zimmerman to follow someone, after being advised* by a 911 operator to stop.  Since Zimmerman is wisely not giving any public statements we'll have to wait until this gets to court to find out.  Even playing Devil's Advocate and saying maybe he had reasonable suspicion that Martin had committed a crime he had no justification to confront him with force unless the crime was actually in progress, and even then using a cellphone to take pictures or video of the person you suspect makes a hell of a lot more sense than following him. 

Zimmerman following Martin was foolish, but I don't believe it was a crime, and it is really immaterial in my opinion.

What really matters, and what no one at this point but Zimmerman knows anything about is what happened after Zimmerman got out of his car.  There was a confrontation.  It got physical.  Zimmerman shot Martin.  Police arrived and Zimmerman claimed self-defense.  Zimmerman was not arrested.

Reading the text of the law Zimmerman had to be within these conditions:
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 
Further, Zimmerman could have been arrested if the investigating officers had probable cause to believe Zimmerman had not acted within the above statute:
(2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful.
Here is a side by side of 'white' Zimmerman and Martin:

I see a grown man and a child.  It would appear that any disparity of force would be in Martin's favor, not Zimmerman's, and it would take such a disparity of force to justify lethal force against an unarmed person.  It would be hard for me to believe, going by the limited photographic evidence, that there wasn't probable cause that Zimmerman failed to act within the self defense statutes.  So what did the police find that the public isn't seeing?** 

Probable cause has never seemed like a very high threshold.  Maybe reality isn't what all those reruns of COPS has led me to believe it is in the case of that particular legal principle.

I have no evidence, but I've seen a few things that indicate the picture of Trayvon Martin that every media outlet is running with is not an actual portrayal of the young man who was killed.  That bothers me, and if true it should bother everyone else.

Something else that bothers me is that based on erroneous witness claims the media was running with the story that Martin had been shot twice when in fact only one round was discharged from the handgun, according to police.  I don't think that's made national news, though the family's claim that their son was shot and then while he was crying in pain was shot again, did.

What bothers me the most about this is that even if Zimmerman acted illegally people are rushing to conclude that he'll get away with it and that the law is to blame.  At most all the law is doing is delaying the time of the arrest.  Sure, it seems like bullshit if you're one of Martin's supporters, but don't we live in a society of innocent until proven guilty? 

Oh, right, the Casey Anthony case put the lie to that one. 

Further, assuming Zimmerman did in fact violate the law and is charged with a crime and does go to prison no anti-gun group or member of the media (but I repeat myself) will say, "Well, damn, I guess that law doesn't protect criminals after all."  What they will say is, "ZOMG!! PEOPLE WHO ARE ALLOWED TO CARRY GUNS WILL SHOOT EVERY BLACK KID THEY SEE WALKING DOWN THE STREET!!!" 

*Following someone walking down the street is, to the best of my knowledge, no more a crime than walking down the street.  Also, to the best of my knowledge 911 operators have no authority to issue orders to anyone.

**Notice how I don't jump to the conclusion that white cops are protecting a 'white' man for killing a black kid?

H/t Weer'd Beard and SayUncle


eiaftinfo said...

For me, this falls into the category of "mortal threat". Zimmerman was under no mortal threat when he started to follow the kid. The kid was not engaged in anything illegal (apparently) and was simply walking down the street. Zimmerman escalated the situation by following and then engaging the kid prior to killing him. Never, never, never draw your weapon unless you are in mortal danger. Do not incite or escalatate a situation - period. I suspect that when a final accounting is made, things will not go well for Mr. Zimmerman.

Old NFO said...

I don't know that we will EVER know the truth... dammit

RobertM said...

eia- The problem I have with that is following someone isn't a crime, and we don't know who initiated force.

NFO- I think you are exactly right.

Mike W. said...

I actually fail to see how Zimmerman wasn't arrested.

He was cuffed, had his gun taken as evidence, was put in the back of a cruiser, brought to the police station, put into an interrogation room and questioned.

I'm pretty sure that qualifies as an arrest.

RobertM said...

He was arrested, unfortunately at the time I wrote this I didn't realize that. He simply wasn't charged.