Let’s try to back up and use basic facts to demystify the Trayon Martin/George Zimmerman case, as some people seem to be having a real problem understanding the law and the escalation of force.
I’ll admit at front my own short-comings: I am not a lawyer.
I will also admit my strengths: I am not a lawyer.
What I am is a blogger that has had a decent reputation for debunking misinformation provided by the media. My “secret” is that I do the basic research most journalists fail to do, and look for obvious logical inconsistencies that journalists simply don’t seem to care about.
So, what of the Trayvon Martin case?
Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old high school football player, was walking to his father’s girlfriend’s home in the rain early one evening. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old community watch volunteer 20 pounds heavier and 4 inches smaller than Martin, saw the young man, did not recognize him, and thought he was acting in a suspicious manner. Zimmerman called the police, and began following Martin, relaying information to the police dispatcher.
At some point, Martin realizes he’s being followed, and takes off. This is verified in the recording of Zimmerman’s 911 call (and seems to refute the claim made by Martin’s girlfriend that he told her he wasn’t going to run).
Zimmerman gets out of his truck and begins following Martin, apparently running, when the dispatcher suddenly asks him the following:
At 2:22, without any prompting other than the aforementioned noises and breathing, the dispatcher asks “Are you following him?” to which Zimmerman responds, “Yeah.”
At 2:26, the dispatcher says, “Okay, we don’t need you to do that,” to which Zimmerman responds, “Okay.”
Zimmerman proceeds to give the dispatcher his name. Then he says, “He ran.”
Zimmerman can still be heard breathing into the phone until about 2:39, at which point the heavy breathing stops entirely, a mere 13 seconds after the dispatcher asked him to stop following. A very calm and collected Zimmerman then proceeds to give the dispatcher his own information, directions and a description of his location for another 1 minute and 33 seconds.
Many Martin supporters are attempting to claim that Zimmerman was “stalking” Martin, and that Martin himself had the right to invoke “stand your ground” laws in his defense.
The problem with that mindset is simple. Zimmerman’s decision to follow Martin is completely legal, and in no way comes close to meeting even the most farcical definition of stalking. Florida statutes define stalking as willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly following or harassing a person.
While Zimmerman was willfully following Martin in an attempt to provide his location to law enforcement officers, he in no way comes close to the threshhold of maliciously or repeatedly following Martin. If anything, the 911 recording verifies that Zimmerman stopped even his willful following when the dispatcher told him that he “didn’t need to do that.” Zimmerman stops with an affirmative, “Okay.” and stays on the line to describe where he was. He was not pursuing Martin.
This begs an obvious question neither the prosecutor nor anyone else seems to want to address.
After George Zimmerman stopped pursuing Martin, then spent at least 93 seconds in the same location providing more information to the dispatcher, why didn’t Trayvon Martin simply go home? It appears that Martin had plenty of time to get where he was staying even at a walking pace.
Obviously, we don’t and can’t know why Martin didn’t simply go to the home where he was staying.
Instead, according to Zimmerman’s testimony, physical evidence, and all the eyewitness testimony, there was a confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman near where Zimmerman terminated his pursuit.
Zimmerman claims that Martin dropped him with a single punch, then started trying to crack his head on the sidewalk. Police investigators took his statement, looked at the physical evidence at the scene and Zimmerman’s injuries, and decided he committed no crime, and used deadly force within the law of self defense. Why?
Because following someone in public isn’t a crime. Because assaulting someone, and escalating that assault to assault with a deadly weapon by pounding someone’s head on concrete isn’t just a crime, but a felony that passes the “reasonable man” standard to invoke the right of lethal self defense. If Martin was pounding Zimmerman’s head on concrete, Zimmerman had reason to believe his life was in danger, and he is justified in using lethal force to stop the attack.
Zimmerman only fired one shot, and it was effective. He fired to stop the threat, and ceased fire immediately after that shot was effective.
Martin had no legal right to assault Zimmerman, even if he didn’t like being followed, yet there was enough apparent evidence to suggest that that is precisely what occurred.
Zimmerman used bad judgement in leaving his vehicle, and Martin exercised bad judgement in not immediately returning home when he discovered he was being followed.
Both men made bad judgement calls, but it wasn’t until Martin allegedly assaulted Zimmerman that the first crime took place and a deadly turn of events was put into motion.
Ultimately, the facts seem to support Zimmerman’s use of deadly force to stop Trayvon Martin’s potentially deadly assault upon him.
It is sad that one life was ended and many lives ruined as a result of the decisions made that evening, but ultimately, George Zimmerman seems have sufficient grounds to claim self-defense.