Trayvon Martin, the seventeen-year-old teenager was gun downed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a community watch volunteer. It is clear that Zimmerman called 911, reporting a suspicious person in his community. This is the correct behavior for a community watch person. It is also clear that the 911 dispatcher sent a patrol car and instructed Zimmerman not to follow the suspicious person, also the correct instructions. Had he followed those instructions NOTHING would have happened. Here is where the story really begins.
Zimmerman followed the suspicious person, Trayvon, for two blocks. We all know Trayvon paid the ultimate price. There are no factual disagreements up to this point that I’m aware of. That Zimmerman shot Trayvon is undisputed. Any use of Florida’s “stand your ground” law by Zimmerman is unfounded as he provoked the dispute by following and confronting Trayvon when police told him not to.
Was there a struggle, maybe? But if there was and Trayvon had killed Zimmerman, Trayvon could have used the “stand your ground” defense, because he was the one defending himself, Zimmerman being the aggressor. Zimmerman is not a police officer or trained, armed and licensed security guard. Had he been, he would have known better and acted differently.
Mr. Zimmerman’s claims that he was punched and had his face driven into the ground are not supported by police video shot 35 minutes later. However, even if true, Zimmerman was the provocateur, so injuries suffered are not a defense when you are the aggressor.
Mr. Zimmerman was on a misguided mission to serve and protect, thereby giving him, in his mind, the right to seek and destroy intruders. His misguided emotionally charged agenda cost Trayvon his life.
I personally am from Florida, have a Concealed Weapons Permit, and received the legally required training necessary to obtain this Florida Permit. It was made very clear in the training course that I CAN’T pursue anyone and call it self-defense. Pursuing is an aggressive move, not a defensive one. I don’t know if Zimmerman has a weapons permit. Nor do I know how was he carrying the weapon used to shoot Trayvon. Was it concealed, which requires a license, or in the open, which is illegal in Florida? His emotional run-in with the police in 2006 shows his volatile nature. Trayvon was 6 foot tall plus hoody, Zimmerman 5’9”. Was he scared, intimidated? All the more reason to let the police do their job. But his emotions got the best of him, reason did not prevail, and he now has Trayvon’s soul to carry.
I have spoken to Palm Beach County Sherriff’s C.O.P.’s, ‘Citizens Observer Patrol’ volunteers who are unarmed, drive marked sheriff department vehicles with yellow lights on the roof. They have told me they are clearly trained to report suspicious persons, but not to engage under any circumstance.
Bottom line for Zimmerman in my opinion is he is guilty of manslaughter probably in the first degree, but he probably will be convicted of second degree. His ‘developing’ defense will be a key factor. I think the defense is trying to ‘develop’ a plausible excuse for his actions, which is what attorney’s correctly do under our present guidelines.
Now, this is unpleasant, but we must look at the unarmed Trayvon’s possible culpability. An unknown “stalker” followed him for two blocks. In any normal person, this would create at least some fear. And certainly, the “thug” hoody attracts attention, as it was uncommon and suspicious looking in the neighborhood Trayvon was shot in. Did he give a “thug” attitude to Zimmerman as part of a defensive/offensive stand. ‘fight or flight’, created out of his fear? Is “thug” a normal attitude he gives to people? Whether or not created this attitude was a fear based defensive reaction, it probably created the same fear based defensive reaction in Zimmerman, exacerbating the situation. Even though he was stalking Trayvon, and therefore on the offensive, he also may have felt fear. This may have cost Trayvon his life. Emulating “thug” attire can bring unwanted attention, even if you are not doing anything wrong. That is human nature and while I can relate to being a rebel, I know it has brought unwanted attention. This in no way excuses Zimmerman and any fear he felt he brought upon himself by not following the police directs not to follow Trayvon.
What Zimmerman’s reaction was to being followed and harassed is not yet clear, and the defense will do everything it can to create doubt by keeping it at least unclear. Did Trayvon’s defensive posturing appear as attacking to the imagined authority Zimmerman felt he had? These are events that are being investigated and analyzed. Whether or not the Sanford Police Department actions were not swift and thorough enough is also to be determined. But due to the public outcry and subsequent Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Attorney General’s Office, and Federal involvement, I believe we will have a proper and thorough investigation. And I believe a conviction will be obtained, not that this will replace Trayvon’s life. All in all, a deeply disturbing event and even with a conviction, it still is a lose-lose. Be patient, all will come out in the wash.