Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Four points on the five principles of the law of self defense in the Zimmerman case

Written By: Bob - Jun• 29•13
George Zimmerman

George Zimmerman

Attorney Andrew Branca, a reader here and author of The Law of Self Defense, who has been covering the Zimmerman trial over at Legal Insurrection, has written a very interesting post called The Five Principles of the Law of Self Defense that anyone following the case in any detail should read to understand how the state will make the technical legal case against Zimmerman, and how the defense team with use the same bank of laws (plus case law) to argue that Zimmerman was within his legal rights to use lethal self defense.

The state is likely to argue that Zimmerman was the “aggressor” (that is certainly the popular opinion in some circles), but I suspect that will be a difficult accusation for the state to maintain based on four major points.

The first point is going to be that Zimmerman’s defense is going to argue that he never intended to confront Martin, that he was only trying to see where Martin was going to better guide the police to his location so that they could check him out. That is very consistent with his history of 40+ prior calls (it may have been a mistake for the prosecution to bring that up) without ever attempting to confront/intercept the people he was calling about.

The second point is going to likely revolve around the later half of the phone call between Zimmerman and the dispatcher. After Trayvon noticed Zimmerman behind him in the truck, Trayvon took off down the sidewalk, turned down the “T” and disappeared from Zimmerman’s view, running towards and almost to his father’s girlfriend’s home (if I recall Jeantel’s testimony of what she exchanged with Martin correctly). Zimmerman got out of his truck and didn’t get very far when the dispatcher noted the clinically-obese Zimmerman huffing and puffing and the noise of his running, and asked if he was following Martin. Zimmerman answered in the affirmative and the dispatcher cautioned, “we don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman then apparently stopped after that cautioning* in the area of the “T” intersection of the sidewalk, and was on the phone at or near that location for another 93 seconds of the phone call. It is going to argued by the defense, if necessary, that this is positive proof that Zimmerman could not be the aggressor; how could he be, when the call shows he was no longer following Trayvon Martin?

The third point flows from the second; Zimmerman’s statements and various witness suggest that the confrontation began near the “T,” and the fight certainly ended just yards from there where George Zimmerman and Trayvon had their fatal interaction. As this is in the area where Zimmerman was allegedly on the phone and terminated his attempt to follow Martin, the defense will suggest at this point that Martin became the aggressor and approached Zimmerman, with Jeantel confirming how Trayvon Martin started the confrontation with, “What you following me for?” Zimmerman responded with something to the effect of “What are you doing around here?” (Zimmerman and Jeantel are both a little fuzzy here on the exact language he used, but that’s the gist of it), and Zimmerman said Trayvon made some sort of aggressive comment before sucker punching him (I’m too lazy to look up his statement right now) to begin the actual fight. You’ll remember Mora said she heard a three-part exchange right before the fight began, but couldn’t heard the words. This correlates with Jeantel and Zimmerman.

The fourth point rolls from the third. Zimmerman was not the aggressor in any coherent sense, and it is absurd for people to assert Trayvon had a right to “defend himself” because Zimmerman attempted to follow him. Following someone in public is no crime (stalking laws and restraining orders aside; we’re talking about this situation), and Trayvon had no legal right to assault Zimmerman, or vice versa. They could have had a verbal exchange at this point, and had they done so like civilized human beings, Zimmerman would have found out that this was a false alarm, there was no harm done, and both men might still be alive today. But that isn’t what happened. At the end of the three-part verbal exchange described by Mora and Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin apparently decided to punctuate his second statement to Zimmerman and things quickly went downhill into a the fight John Good saw feet away, with Trayvon Martin straddling George Zimmerman from an “MMA-style” mount in what fighters and fight fans know as “ground and pound.”

It’s brutal even in a guard position like the following Cheick Kongo vs. Mustapha Al-Turk fight…

… and keep in mind that Trayvon Martin wasn’t in Zimmerman’s guard, he was in a full mount, “straddling” Zimmerman with much more leverage, where Zimmerman had almost no defense, and no referee to stop the fight and save his life. Eyewitness John Good said the fight was on the concrete sidewalk. He said he heard George Zimmerman cry for help. Good even yelled at Martin to stop his attack, that he was calling 911.

But Trayvon Martin did not stop his attack. Trayvon Martin kept pounding George Zimmerman’s head on concrete in what was an assault with an deadly weapon. Pummeled relentlessly, with no one coming to his aid despite repeated calls for help, what should George Zimmerman do?

Allow Trayvon Martin to beat him unconscious?

To Trayvon Martin to beat him to death?

Based upon the law, witness testimony, and evidence, it seems clear that George Zimmerman was at no point the aggressor, and had a choice between pulling his gun in a last ditch effort to safe his life, or die.

What would you do?

* A dispatcher is not a law enforcement officer and could not command Zimmerman to stop even if he wanted to do so. In any event, he never told Zimmerman to stop, he cautioned “we don’t need you to do that,” which is an ambiguous cautioning statement that may be understood any number of ways (you don’t need to that its a bad idea or, we don’t need you to do that, but we don’t mind if you do), but that statement was certainly not a command as some have misrepresented.

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  1. twolaneflash says:

    This case is a conspiracy, against George Zimmerman and “white” people in general, by the Democrat political class led by President LastNameUnknown, aided and abetted by the complicit media. The (not) parents of Martin have already cashed in with a million dollar settlement from the HOA insurance company, been paid God knows how much for interviews and appearances, and even trademarked Trayvon Martin™ in multiple applications. In the process, the race hustlers, Obama especially, set this case up for their evil purposes and, pardon the expression, and beat this dead horse daily, even after knowing it would not get up and run. Sharpton, Jackson, Holder, President L_N_U, and their Florida lackeys got their camera time, their extortion payments, and their secured dealer’s positions at the Race Card Black Jack™ table. They cannot fold the game. Zimmerman will get a fair trial, fair as defined by the Marxist redistributionists in control of America’s Government. George Zimmerman will get justice, justice as defined by the “social justice” traitors. Then they will hang him. Attorney General Holder, no doubt, already has, ready and waiting, his federal indictment of George Zimmerman for violation of the civil rights of Trayvon Martin™, with special circumstances of a hate crime. Will White America riot and burn it down when Zimmerman is martyred on the cross of racial politics? No, but I know who will if they don’t get their way, or even if they do.

    • SAD DAY FOR YOU says:

      If you don’t like the country please leave just like you came. I can’t understand why all of a sudden that know we have a Black President the US is going to the toilet. Where were all of you when bush and other whites were in office running the economy into the ground. Please grow up and own your prejudices, and just come right out and say I don’t like black people and anyone that feels people need to be treated fairly. If the law told you don’t get out of your car and you do the you become judge and jury. if he had stayed in his car he would be at home , and T. Martin would be at home still breathing. As an American citizen you must realize that you are an immigrant, and black people are here and brought here by force remember that please before you post silly things.

  2. Sulaco says:

    “A dispatcher is not a law enforcement officer and could not command Zimmerman to stop even if he wanted to do so.”

    Even if he was an LE Officer, such does NOT have the power of command over a citizen unless covered by arrest law!

  3. obeara says:

    Blame Florida Governor Rick Scott, State Attorney General Pam Bondi, and Prosecutor Angela Corey. They danced to the tune played by Al Sharpton, The New Black Panthers, and the racist public of all stripes who came to Florida to demonstrate and demand their racist view be supported in court. Without them Mr Zimmerman would never have been charged as it was clearly self-defense.

  4. lineman says:

    People have no idea how this will impact society if he wins riots for revenge and if he loses riots in celebration… Maybe the only good that will come out of this is the opening of peoples eyes to what a cesspool this country has become and maybe they can get prepared before it rages out of control….

  5. Mike in NC says:

    The dispatcher, in his testimony, stated clearly that they do NOT give orders to callers, but rather make suggestions. His testimony also made it clear that this policy was for liability reasons.

  6. Nicholas says:

    Ridiculous logic in the posted piece above. “Zimmerman was at no point the aggressor”. False. He was the aggressor when he followed martin and left his vehicle to do it further.

    Biologically being followed is highly threatening (think a lionness and a gazelle). States should update their laws to allow for someone being followed in a threatening manner to neutralize their threat.

    In the brief moments during or after his pursut, zimmerman had waived his right to self defense.

    • poppa india says:

      Lionesses and gazelles work by instinct. Humans are supposed to use their thoughts to respond to possible threats. Someone following you briefly and asking what you are doing is not a threat to most sensible people. I wonder how you will feel when your updated laws allow violent self-defense in response to being followed and numbers of white people attack non-whites under cover of these laws.

    • SLicemaster19 says:

      How exactly does someone following in a threatening manner? As stated, in the absence of some type of restraining order there is NO reason anyone can not follow someone else. Since when does any one person have the right to a piece of public space that no others may enter? Following or not, Zimmerman had every right to be in that spot at that time.

      And clearly Martin had dis-engaged, and then re-engaged contact. He could have just kept going to his destination. This automatically makes HIM the aggressor in the situation. By your own argument, that means Zimmerman could “neutralize” the threat at that point. But in fact Zimmerman waited until he was physically assaulted, and was in obvious fear for his life or grave bodily harm, as required prior to using deadly force. At which point he fired a single shot (no excessive use of his firearm).

      • SAD DAY FOR YOU says:

        He was following him with a GUN idiot. If you are neighborhood watch you o not patrol with a gun…..

    • Real Deal says:

      What happens when two people are going to relatively the same location and this results in one person following another for several blocks or miles(if in a automobile)? Does this mean the person in front has the right to use force against the person behind if they get a little paranoid?

  7. Dave says:

    Even supposing Zimmerman was the initial aggressor, once Martin has knocked him to the ground, he is no longer a threat. To mount Zimmerman and start pounding him is no longer self defense on Martin’s part. Zimmerman has been knocked to the ground, and unless there is a continuing threat from Zimmerman, Martin must disengage.

    Consider a similar situation with a cop vs. suspect scenario. Cop goes to arrest bad guy, bad guy punches cop. Cop recovers from the punch and strikes back, knocking bad guy to the ground. Is he now permitted to mount the bad guy and pound him into the sidewalk? No. The cop at this point is using force neither to effect arrest of for defense…he is punishing his attacker, and it’s illegal.

    Same for the Martin vs. Zimmerman fight. Martin was on offense at the point of the shooting. Absent some special circumstance where he needed to completely neutralize Zimmerman for his own safety, Martin is using force illegally at this point, and Zimmerman may defend himself.

    • SLicemaster19 says:

      While I agree with what Zimmerman did, don’t confuse a sworn law officer’s actions with a civilian’s. In fact, if Zimmerman HAD initially threatened Martin during the final encounter his is NOT allowed the protection of self defense. Martin COULD have said he was acting in his own defense.

      But the two disengaged, and case law is ABSOLUTELY clear on the fact that self defense can only be claimed in the face of immediate, credible danger. Martin (or Zimmerman if things were different) could not say the other had threatened him, then left the immediate scene, and then search out and attack the other in self defense.

  8. emdfl says:

    Come on, poppa, you know that Nicolas and his ilk believe that whites shouldn’t be/aren’t allowed to defend themselves when attacked by a member of the diversity.
    As I mentioned before, Travon made the mistake of thinking he was up north like his knockout game idols. He was too high to remember that in the south lots of folks carry.

  9. Catseye says:

    Worked as a Security Officer for years. Zimmerman made a mistake in exiting the vehicle. You never exit the vehicle without knowing the subjects location and having backup on hand. Oh and Emdfl I live up North and I did that kind of thing for years. Never had a problem, most people are smart enough not to pick a fight with a vehicle.

    • poppa india says:

      Possibly a mistake, but not a crime, and not an action in itself justifying an attack.

      • Catseye says:

        Nope not a crime and not a justification. It’s always been my observation that innocent people don’t run they get angry, they may accost you, they may yell but they don’t run, ever. And yet Martin ran, I think there have been questions about that night that have not been asked. How’s the phrase go “the guilty flee when none pursue.”

  10. Thanks for the mention, Bob, it’s much appreciated. And sorry to see that some of the silly people have set up residence. :-)


    • Ariadne says:

      Very interesting read Andrew. Thank you for summarizing clearly the facts of the case. I would like to point out tho when you stated “when the dispatcher noted the clinically-obese Zimmerman huffing and puffing and the noise of his running”. I believe that to be an error unless ofc I misread. GZ was in no way obese much less clinically back then and he said in an interview the distortion in the audio more than likely was wind.