It Just Keeps Coming Back To This

I haven’t posted about the Trayvon Martin case because so many others are doing such a good job and I don’t really have anything to add. Plus, it is just so horribly depressing.

But these new reports that Martin was talking on the phone with his girlfriend the entire time, telling her he was being followed by someone and trying to get away from him, should really blow the lid off this whole farce. That revelation should be the final straw that leads to murder charges.

I don’t understand all the zany Florida gun laws, and I don’t think I need to, because for me it all boils down to this- “How the hell is it self defense when you are the one with the gun chasing after someone?” No one is disagreeing with the basic fact that Zimmerman saw the kid, called 911, chased after him, got out of his car and confronted him even when he was told not to, and then shot him.

How the hell is that self defense, even under Florida law?

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138 replies
  1. 1
    Xenos says:

    It is self defense if the good old boys in the local pd refuse to gather any evidence that indicates otherwise. The local DA should also be held to account. Indifference at the state level is what allows these situations to develop.

  2. 2
    Carnacki says:

    But he was BLACK, John. Haven’t you seen the Fox News comments?

  3. 3
    David Koch says:

    This is why I’m supporting Ron Paul.

    Only Ron Paul has the courage to support killing Negros on sight.

    Paul/Glenn 2012!

    Freedom isn’t free, bitches!

  4. 4
    Mike Goetz says:

    It isn’t, Zimmerman is in big trouble, and I think the local police are too.

  5. 5
    Hill Dweller says:

    FWIW, the twitter machine is telling me the yahoos in Florida ran a toxicology test on Trayvon Martin, but not the shooter.

  6. 6
    LAC says:

    Maybe you should ask that stupid bitch “Dave” on the other thread. He has it all figured out.

  7. 7
    John says:

    That’s not actually the story Zimmerman told the police. He said that he got jumped when he got out of his car to see what street he was on. The various evidence so far makes it pretty clear that his story was simply a lie, but the Sanford police still seem to be working on the presumption that it’s true.

  8. 8
    Maude says:

    The local PD didn’t gather evidence?
    Why?

  9. 9
    Seebach says:

    What I don’t get is how the police screwed this up, or what they were covering up. If anything, Martin should have had the benefit of the law as far as self-defense is concerned.

  10. 10
    scav says:

    It’s an unfortunate side effect of the real-world implementation of the dream of millions to star in their own heroic defense of hearth, homeland and beauteous heroine as seen in all the best movies? What is that delicate phrase, Collateral Damage? Otherwise, I haven’t a clue.

  11. 11
    Paula68154 says:

    It’s not self defense. What is self defense is ANY action young Martin took because a man was stalking him and chasing him when all he was doing was walking, while black. The boy didn’t threaten him or his property.

    This is murder, in cold blood. I hope DOJ/FBI files murder in the first degree.

    Sorry, I’m not a bleeding heart liberal.

  12. 12
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Because Zimmerman had a gun. It’s all self defense when you have a gun.

    ETA: Someone should get a picture of Zimmerman’s NRA sticker before it gets removed.

  13. 13
    Face says:

    How the hell is that self defense, even under Florida law?

    White guy shoots a black kid = self-defense. No matter what.

    Black guy shoots a white kid = Cold blooded murder. No matter what.

    Welcome to America, 2012-style.

  14. 14
    Bludger says:

    FREEDOM!

  15. 15
    Seebach says:

    Although it seems like, under Florida law, any person of color is well within their rights to gun down Zimmerman as being a crazed threat to their well being. Stand your ground and all that.

  16. 16
    Comrade Dread says:

    How the hell is that self defense, even under Florida law?

    Because SHUT UP, THAT’S WHY!

    And because this is the culture we’ve built, where the right to keep and bear arms trumps the right to life.

    Would love for someone to ask the people who sponsored and voted for this bill if they’re pro-life.

  17. 17
    Provider_UNE says:

    @Paula68154:

    This!

    One of the things the yokels didn’t really think about when they crafted the law, that, or they only expected it to be applied to Salt of the Earth Real Americans, you know, white people.
    .

  18. 18
    jl says:

    I think it should be called a lynching.

  19. 19
    danimal says:

    How the hell is that self defense, even under Florida law?

    You didn’t read the part where it says that Martin was a black teenager? Automatically dangerous.

    ETA: Seems it took Carnacki only two posts in to make the same point.

  20. 20
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Law has little to nothing to do with it now does it?

  21. 21
    Poopyman says:

    But these new reports that Martin was talking on the phone with his girlfriend the entire time, telling her he was being followed by someone and trying to get away from him, should really blow the lid off this whole farce. That revelation should be the final straw that leads to murder charges.

    I am really so NOT a lawyer, but is the GF also 14? Are there recordings of the conversation? Because I have a hard time believing that a defense lawyer would put a 14 YO girl on the stand to testify and expose her to cross-examination.

  22. 22
    kay says:

    @Paula68154:

    It’s the law in Florida:

    Section 4. Section 776.032, Florida Statutes, is created to read:
    776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.–
    (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s.776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force
    , unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
    (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.
    (3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

  23. 23
    Warren Terra says:

    As I understand the “Stand Your Ground” law, you have a legal right to perforate the environs in any situation in which you find yourself, no matter how you got yourself in that situation and no matter what options you might have other than opening fire, as long as you aren’t trespassing at the time. You can totally dress up as a Klan member, go up to a group of African-Americans leaving Sunday church services, start chanting racist slogans, decide one of them might “pose a threat” in response, and empty your clip repeatedly – as long as you stay on the sidewalk.

  24. 24
    elmo says:

    @Maude:

    The local PD didn’t gather evidence?

    Where do you get that idea? Of course they gathered evidence: they took a picture of the black kid, didn’t they? What, do you think it didn’t show the color of his skin or something?

    What more evidence do you think they need?

  25. 25

    @Mike Goetz:

    Zimmerman is in big trouble, and I think the local police are too.

    I agree. I think that Zimmerman is guilty of murder and the police covered it up. And furthermore, I suspect that a majority of the people in Florida don’t approve of what happened.

  26. 26
    cckids says:

    She’s 16, he was 17. So far her parents won’t let her name be released & she’s only being questioned by a lawyer.

  27. 27
    Provider_UNE says:

    You didn’t read the part where it says that Martin was a black teenager? Automatically dangerous.

    And remember at one point Martin was guilty of walking in his direction, and looking at him.

    I think it should be called a lynching.

    Agreed.

    I am also curious as to what happened to the cell Martin was using to talk to his girlfriend. I bet Zimmerman heard that he was talking as he approached and got rid of it before the police showed up.

    Also, too, witnesses who claimed that the police misinterpreted their eyewitness accounts in such a way that favored Zimmerman.
    .

  28. 28
    Tone In DC says:

    I hope Holder’s guys land on Zimmerman and the local cops like a ton of bricks. I am sick of this shit.

    Trayvon Martin
    Oscar Grant (shot in the back, IIRC)
    Sean Bell (tried to drive away)
    Amadou Diallo (his wallet obviously looked dangerous)

    The list goes on and on.

  29. 29
    Tonal Crow says:

    It’s the Republican War on Anyone Who Looks Like He or She Might Not Be a Republican.

    What do we have to do to prevent these freaks from turning our country into a combination of Somalia and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan?

  30. 30
    Comrade Dread says:

    For those with a strong stomach, the readers of the Fox website would like to offer comment.

  31. 31
    kay says:

    I know I feel safer with the police working so closely with their unofficial, unaccountable, untrained, armed quasi-agent who ignores directions from them not to follow people.
    Then they say they can’t charge him with anything, so that’s comforting, too.
    I think they really have a good handle on this down in Florida, this outsourcing idea.

  32. 32
    RyanayR says:

    I mean, it kind of seems like this Zimmerman guy would have killed Martin with or without the crazy Florida ‘self defense’ law. He is demonstrably unstable and dangerous. However, he wouldn’t be able to potentially get away with murder without it.

  33. 33
    Yutsano says:

    @Tonal Crow:

    What do we have to do to prevent these freaks from turning our country into a combination of Somalia and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan?

    Settle the Civil War. And this time don’t let them back in.

  34. 34
    Geoduck says:

    One defense of Zimmerman I’ve read elsewhere is that when the police arrived on the scene he had a bloody nose and was covered in grass-stains, indicating that this had all ended in some sort of physical struggle, leading to the “self-defense” argument. Within a strict reading of Florida’s insanely loose gun laws, it might even be technically true. Morally, the guy’s a unrepentant murderer who will probably get, at most, a slap on the wrist.

    Edit: As for that cellphone, my guess would be the police lost it, either intentionally or just piling on the stupidity.

  35. 35
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Hill Dweller:

    FWIW, the twitter machine is telling me the yahoos in Florida ran a toxicology test on Trayvon Martin

    Let me guess. The reports show that the deceased was suffering from toxic levels of blackness.

  36. 36
    jharp says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Don’t give them any ideas.

  37. 37
    Dork says:

    I’m trying to figure out how the police could be so brazenly inept (intentionally neglectful?) with witness statements, evidence collection, and drug/EtOH testing the suspect and thought nobody would ever notice what a shitty job they did.

    I mean, they didn’t just screw up one aspect…they pretty much fucked up every aspect of the investigation, multiple ways. The chief really thought everyone would nod their head and move on? If so….WOW.

  38. 38
    JR says:

    @kay

    The law as I read it would protect Martin in this instance, not Zimmerman:

    3. 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.

    I don’t think that protection extends to the aggressor. If the prosecution can establish that Zimmerman’s actions before the shooting were assault, or that he faced no threat of bodily harm while acting lawfully (or, depending on how the law is read, that he faced no threat he himself hadn’t created), then I don’t think even the “stand your ground” law will help him.

    Since Martin was not engaged in an unlawful activity, was somewhere he had a right to be, and since Zimmerman’s call indicates no belief that Martin was actively engaging in a crime at that moment, I don’t think the law covers this shooting.

    What Zimmerman would have to show, I think, is that he was acting lawfully while pursuing Martin, and that he reasonably believed Martin was a threat at the time of the shooting (say, by arguing that he confronted Martin–who was retreating, which blows a giant hole in Zimmerman’s claim–and that Martin physically assaulted him and thus put him in fear of bodily harm). But if he was actually assaulting Martin, which is what this looks like to me (armed man stalks, chases, and murders an unarmed teenager), then the justifiability claim falls apart at the seams.

    The real questions are, what did Zimmerman believe? When did he believe it? And does the 911 recording bear that out?

  39. 39
    jharp says:

    Does anyone know the other states (I think there are 17) that have a similar law?

    Sadly I know Indiana is one. But cannot determine the others.

  40. 40
    David Koch says:

    Guns don’t kill.

    Vigilantes do.

  41. 41
    Culture of Truth says:

    Under my reading of the law, even Martin hit or pushed Zimmerman during a confrontation, if Zimmerman first provoked Martin, to be justified in shooting, he would (1) have to have a reasonable belief that that he was acting to prevent Martin from inflicting great bodily harm on him, and (2) have no other option to prevent the harm but to shoot.

  42. 42
    Elisabeth says:

    I am also curious as to what happened to the cell Martin was using to talk to his girlfriend.

    I’ve read that police had the cell phone but didn’t bother to use it to find Trayvon’s next of kin ’cause that would have been too easy.

  43. 43
  44. 44
    eric says:

    @kay: I would guess that a “hate” crime would be unlawful, thus rendering the statute impotent to help Zimmerman.

  45. 45
    R. Porrofatto says:

    Arthur C. Hayhoe, director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence: “I predict this case is not going to be charged — it’s going to be dismissed,” he said of the case against Zimmerman. “Almost every case between two individuals where one was armed and the other was not is dismissed.”

    Look at the last sentence and marvel. They have managed to turn the world completely upside down.

  46. 46
    thalarctos says:

    @Poopyman: It depends how credible they find her testimony to be, and how they perceive it will affect the case they’re making.

    Children younger than that can and have testified, although the ways lawyers are allowed to treat them on the stand are not exactly the same as for adults.

  47. 47

    I do feel like I don’t have much to add to the Trayvon Martin discussion but I did write a post about it today over at First Draft because I still feel strongly that guns are an evil that must be extinguished from civilized society, Second Amendment be damned.

    Oh I know it will never happen, and saying something this bold will get me expunged from polite society and makes me ineligible to run for President, but I wasn’t planning on doing anything of the sort anyway.

    The only reason I can see that anyone needs a gun of any kind is to feed themselves. And you don’t deer hunt with an AK-47.

  48. 48
    Brachiator says:

    @JR:

    The real questions are, what did Zimmerman believe? When did he believe it? And does the 911 recording bear that out?

    Zimmerman assumed that the kid he saw was up to no good. Being a fool, he did not observe objectively, but formed an opinion, and filled in bad intent. He was bigger than the kid and had a gun. Funny. The kid could reasonably have felt threatened, and was trying to get to safety. But he ends up dead and Zimmerman is magically defending himself.

    From the transcript.

    GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Hey, we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy…
    __
    ROSE: Zimmerman gives the dispatcher a description of a young black man who appears to be, quote, “up to no good,” unquote, with his hand in his waistband at local homes.
    __
    (SOUNDBITE OF 911 TAPE)
    __
    ZIMMERMAN: He’s (bleep). They always get away.

    The presumption is that all black males are dangerous criminals. There are no black individuals. Only “they.”

    It’s sickening.

  49. 49
    Culture of Truth says:

    If Zimmerman “initially” provoked any use of force by Martin, the law does not apply, at all, unless:

    Zimmerman both reasonably believed he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and exhausted every reasonable means to escape that danger other than the shooting Martin.

    As I read the law.

  50. 50
    Mouse Tolliver says:

    Zimmerman clearly called Martin a “fucking coon” during the 911 call.

    Is it fair to call it a lynching when there’s a law on the books that makes the shooting of an innocent, unarmed black kid legal?

  51. 51
    trollhattan says:

    Poor second cousin to the Twinkie defense–the Skittles defense. “At any time he could have hurled those Skittles over his shoulder at me. I was skeert.”

    Armed neighborhood watch cruising around in cars looking for folks to chase and shoot at. I’m pretty sure that’s what they had in mind when they thought up neighborhood watch. What could possibly go wrong?

    If I were in a better mood I’d link to the mall ninja.

  52. 52
    El Cid says:

    We really just need to confuse the right with a big liberal effort to equip young black men with handguns, training, any licensing needed, and voter registration.

    We’ll call it NROCA, just for the reverse acronym.

  53. 53
    Moonbatman says:

    Grand Jury to Be Convened in Zimmerman Case

    Zimmerman claims he was outside his car to check a street sign and was jumped by Martin.

    I hope there is no video of the encounter to allow Zimmerman to get off like the so-called DNA evidence for the Duke Lacrosse rapists.

  54. 54
    eric says:

    @Mouse Tolliver: it could render it a hate crime, thus getting it outside the statute’s import, since a hate motivated shooting can be considered “unlawful”

  55. 55
    Punchy says:

    So the take-home message to Black youth now is to always carry a piece and shoot first before the other guy does. I bet thats what old scared white Floridians are happy to hear!

  56. 56
    Culture of Truth says:

    FWIW, the twitter machine is telling me the yahoos in Florida ran a toxicology test on Trayvon Martin

    He had superhuman strength from PCP! Or he might have!

  57. 57
    El Cid says:

    @Punchy: Just because there are laws letting people carry handguns doesn’t mean that the law allows young black men to carry handguns. That’s where police and judges and of course gun shop owners’ judgment comes in.

  58. 58
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @trollhattan:

    Armed neighborhood watch cruising around in cars looking for folks to chase and shoot at.

    Does the neighborhood association have civil liability in this case for turning Zimmerman loose on their behalf?

    Guns don’t kill people. Fearful dumbass white people hiding behind gated communities from a world they don’t understand and authorizing sociopathic morons to “keep them safe” kill people.

  59. 59
    Provider_UNE says:

    It’s the Republican War on Anyone Who Looks Like He or She Might Not Be a Republican.

    Perfectly put, we should make some t-shirts!
    .

  60. 60
    Elizabelle says:

    Cannot look at Trayvon’s photo without grief. He’s a high school kid. Same age as a loved one. A whole world of possibilities who did not get to grow old.

    Here’s a James Fallows post; I’d noticed what this reader did too.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/nat.....ce/254774/

  61. 61
    El Cid says:

    @Culture of Truth: Ain’t no way anyone coulda broke my powerful grip unless they’uz on PCP!

  62. 62
    Culture of Truth says:

    Zimmerman claims he was outside his car to check a street sign

    “No Blacks Allowed”?

  63. 63
    Elizabelle says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Apparently the gate in this gated community was sieve-like, too. People could roam in and out if they approached from the woods.

  64. 64
    Brachiator says:

    @Moonbatman:

    I hope there is no video of the encounter to allow Zimmerman to get off like the so-called DNA evidence for the Duke Lacrosse rapists.

    Huh? There were no Duke Lacrosse rapists.

    So the take-home message to Black youth now is to always carry a piece and shoot first before the other guy does

    The NRA should approve of this.

  65. 65
    Elizabelle says:

    @Elisabeth:

    Makes me wonder if those police did not want to find Trayvon’s next of kin. Not very fast. It’s refreshing the cell phone apparently has not disappeared.

  66. 66
    pluege says:

    even under Florida law.

    you’re basically talking about an insane asylum where the inmates run the place – THAT is Florida.

    So Florida law is anything the cranks feel like interpreting it to be today, tomorrow, or yesterday. And just to be clear, like everywhere republicans are in control, there is no moral underpinning to anything going on in Florida.

  67. 67
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Hill Dweller:
    The toxicology screening is part of the autopsy process. It’s not George Zimmerman who’s dead.

    As for the case itself, I’m as amazed as anybody here that Zimmerman isn’t in custody. It seems glaringly obvious that this was an unprovoked attack by Zimmerman on an unarmed kid much smaller than he.

  68. 68
    trollhattan says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    I don’t suppost there’s any chance they ran a tox screen on Zimmerman?

  69. 69
    Loneoak says:

    @El Cid:

    Sign me up.

  70. 70
    wrb says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I’m as amazed as anybody here that Zimmerman isn’t in custody.

    See Kay @ 22

    It is an amazing law. The police could get in trouble for charging him.

  71. 71
    wrb says:

    @El Cid:

    Perhaps everyone who doesn’t look republican should start packing- and flaunt it.

  72. 72
    pattonbt says:

    Again, the cops told him to back off. He didn’t. The circumstantial evidence from this and the calls easily shows Zimmerman was looking for an altercation and wanted to provoke even after the cops told him to back off.

    Cold blooded, premeditated murder. End of story. Life in prison, or if Florida has the death penalty, then death.

    How Zimmerman is walking free boggles the mind.

    If he walks the law basically is saying, as long as no one witnesses it, you can say you were scared and kill whomever you want. Or provoke someone enough to do anything (raise their voice, whatever) and you can murder them.

    Of course, if the kid were white and the shooter black, the story would be a whole hell of lot different.

  73. 73
    Culture of Truth says:

    I don’t suppost there’s any chance they ran a tox screen on Zimmerman?

    @trollhattan: Oh, I hardly think that’s necessary. The man is a trained neighborhood watchman, with long experience with law enforcement. Look at how many times he’s dialed 911.

  74. 74
    Emma says:

    @Dork: I’m trying to figure out how the police could be so brazenly inept (intentionally neglectful?) with witness statements, evidence collection, and drug/EtOH testing the suspect and thought nobody would ever notice what a shitty job they did.

    Because I live in Florida, I can categorically state that if ths story hadn’t been picked up by the national news, they would have gotten away with it. However, now that it’s news and the DoJ is coming over, every little shitty piece of the job will be examined under a microscope. The local government is in for the bath of their lives.

  75. 75
    Culture of Truth says:

    “Because I have a hard time believing that a defense lawyer would put a 14 YO girl on the stand to testify and expose her to cross-examination.”

    With a life in prison at stake I have a hard time believe they would not.

  76. 76
    Culture of Truth says:

    The law is crazy, but even under this batshit law, I don’t believe he qualifies. Certainly some form of investigation would seem to be called for.

  77. 77
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Mouse Tolliver:

    Zimmerman clearly called Martin a “fucking coon” during the 911 call.

    Yes, right at 1:51 on the video at http://www.dailykos.com/story/.....al-epithet . It’s perfectly clear.

  78. 78
    BerkeleyMom says:

    I live in CA and am in the process of helping my son decide whether to stay here for college or go to one that he likes in Florida. Not a good week for the Florida Tourist Board. There are many folks who find groups of teenagers to be threatening. Is that really all it takes???

    WTF??

  79. 79
    srv says:

    This is definetly one of those cases where Adam Corolla’s “Germany or Florida?” would be a bye.

  80. 80
    Provider_UNE says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    And as I and a few others (possibly even yourself have mentioned, the phone call with the friend would indicate that Martin had far more standing to be protected by the law in question than Zimmerman. As soon as Zimmerman laid a finger on Martin, Martin had every right to beat the crap out of him, at least lay the dude out so he could get away.

    I happen to be about 155 lbs, and I can’t imagine trying to tangle with a 250 pound dude unless self defense was required.

    .

  81. 81
    slightly-peeved says:

    @47: I’d say American society rather than polite society. I wouldn’t necessarily describe much of Australian society as ‘polite’, but even the thugs and bogans are generally happy to settle things with their fists.

  82. 82
    ciotog says:

    I am wondering when “the right to bear arms” turned into “only people bearing arms have rights.”

  83. 83
    salvage says:

    How the hell is that self defense, even under Florida law?

    Because Florida is a very shitty place full of very shitty people.

  84. 84
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @ciotog:

    When we decided to model our laws on what people see in the movies (“You see in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend. Those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.“), and fictional ones at that, rather than reality.

  85. 85
    Thymezone says:

    Zimmerman will go down for the crime. He has been heard uttering a crude racial epithet during the 911 call, confirmed by many sources. The cretin’s days of freedom are numbered.

  86. 86
    uila says:

    Police say Zimmerman is white; his family says he is Hispanic.

    Damn, even this guy’s family wants him locked up. If he loses his white card, he’s going down for sure.

  87. 87
    Sammi says:

    Where is Trayvon Martin’s cell phone? He must’ve dropped it very close to where he was struggling with Zimmerman. Didn’t the police find it? And why did they send him to the morgue as a John Doe when the phone could have identified him. Why did his dad have to wait all night before he was told what happened to his son?

  88. 88
    Ben Cisco says:

    @Hill Dweller: Surprised they didn’t just sprinkle some crack on him.
    __
    Zimmerman is one of the biggest cowards of our age; on a just planet, his name would become forever synonymous with irrational, pants-pissing fear. Both he and every single induhvidual involved in the “investigation” should serve lengthy prison time for this.

  89. 89
    rikyrah says:

    the information about the girlfriend explains so much about why his phone ‘ disappeared’.

  90. 90
    Rick Taylor says:

    Speaking purely as an observer uneducated in the law, it seems to me you’re right. The main fault seems to have been with the local police, who just didn’t seem to care when some black kid was killed, rather than with the law (though they may have used that as an excuse. From what I’ve read, they had Trayvon’s cel-phone, with the phone numbers of his relatives, but they didn’t bother to call any of them; his family only found out what happened when called 911. Even giving Zimmerman and the police every benefit of the doubt, it’s unfathomable they didn’t arrest him, or test him for alcohol or drugs. Witnesses are saying the police only made cursory interviews with them; the Martin’s attorney said they never spoke to Martin’s girl friend. This is unfathomable. An unarmed man has been shot to death, you have his cel phone, it records several conversations that took place in the minutes leading up to his death, and you don’t interview the person he was talking to? It sounds like they just interviewed Zimmeran, took his word for everything, sent him home with their condolences, and called it case closed.

  91. 91
    PeakVT says:

    I don’t think having the actual cellphone matters all that much these days. There should be call records for both ends, plus some log for each cell Martin traveled through.

  92. 92
    the fugitive uterus says:

    the tapes are damning. they have been released to the public. the cops obviously have them. still, no arrest??

  93. 93
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    It would appear as if the “stand your ground” clause isn’t being applied to the correct person. Pick yer reason.

  94. 94
    cmorenc says:

    VERY interesting factoid:
    Over at RedState, you know what they’re saying about the Martin case and Zimmerman?
    NOTHING. Absolutely nothing, not a thread, not a comment, nothing comes up in that site’s search box.

    Apparently the case doesn’t merit enough importance to merit their attention, in their alternative universe, not any posts that are mean-spirited, not any posts that are racist, not any posts that disapprove the act but defend Fla’s self-defense act and the right to carry and use guns in self-defense, nothing. Silence.

  95. 95
    VividBlueDotty says:

    This full interview of one of the eyewitnesses made my cry. The degree of police incompetence here is unbelievable. http://www.wftv.com/videos/new.....ing/vGYPW/

  96. 96
    Joel says:

    I wonder what esteemed philosopher Wyldpirate has to say on this matter.

  97. 97
    Will says:

    @Mouse Tolliver:

    I really tried hard to carefully listen and see how it could have been another word, but no, it’s obvious: Zimmerman called him a “coon”. It’s a whisper, but a clear whisper. Good God.

  98. 98
    Mike in NC says:

    @Thymezone:

    Zimmerman will go down for the crime. He has been heard uttering a crude racial epithet during the 911 call, confirmed by many sources. The cretin’s days of freedom are numbered.

    Either that or he might have a bright future in Florida politics.

  99. 99
    Sammi says:

    Having the cell phone matters for the immediate police investigation because the police can 1) identify the kid who is dead. Just call the last person dialed and ask; and 2) seeing if he was on the phone immediately before he was shot. If he was on the phone right before getting shot, it is not credible that Trayvon was the attacker. Therefore, the self-defense argument fails.

  100. 100
    kc says:

    @elmo:

    24.elmo – March 20, 2012 | 5:23 pm · Link

    @Maude:

    The local PD didn’t gather evidence?

    Where do you get that idea? Of course they gathered evidence: they took a picture of the black kid, didn’t they? What, do you think it didn’t show the color of his skin or something?

    They observed that he was wearing a hoodie. what else do ya want?

  101. 101
    kc says:

    @Geoduck:

    I read that Trayvon’s father had the cellphone. Don’t know whether he got it from the cops or the funeral home. He is the one who checked it and saw that Trayvon had been talking to his girlfriend.

  102. 102
    Elie says:

    @cmorenc:

    Whether or not Zimmerman is charged with murder, he WILL have a civil, wrongful death case against him. With any luck, and the nature of the evidence is suggestive but remember, its Florida, the boy’s family will own every stick of furniture and his cars, guns and whatever. He will also have to be at least A LITTLE careful about black folks who have the same idea about justice as HE does. Maybe he needs a facial transformation and a new address?

    What a fool. Stupid stupid fool. Just like what is the Republican leadership these days. And I used the correct pronoun — WHAT is in the Republican leadership these days? Is it animal, vegetable or what?

  103. 103
    kay says:

    JR, I feel as if you’re reading that as an affirmative defense to a crime, say, murder.
    But that isn’t how I read it, and I don’t believe that’s how it’s intended.
    It’s a protection from arrest, a charge,
    etc.
    They need probable cause that those elements do not apply or it’s “lawful”.
    They’re seating a grand jury to charge, right?
    He’s not defending on a charge by raising self defense.

  104. 104
    jnc says:

    Some interesting factoids I heard on NPR this afternoon:

    Zimmerman was self-appointed captain of the neighborhood watch. There was not a formal neighborhood watch program with police sanction. (That might explain why Zimmerman called 911 47 times in the previous 15 months – he didn’t he van have a radio to contact the police when he was out “patrolling”.)

    Martin had attended 3 different high schools and was on suspension from the third. No word why. Also, no word about Martin’s possible criminal history because he’s still a juvenile. (Not that this necessarily means anything but if Zimmerman’s arrest years ago is somehow relevant… I guess all dirt is.)

  105. 105
    R. Porrofatto says:

    @VividBlueDotty: Wow, the boy was shot in her back yard but she says the sounds of struggle were reported by her neighbor several houses away — she didn’t hear any struggle in her back yard. I hadn’t heard that before. If true, it means that Zimmerman chased the kid into the back yard after whatever altercation they got into, meaning self-defense is no longer operative, and deliberate intent to do harm should be considered a serious possibility.

  106. 106
    Origuy says:

    He claims to have gotten out of the car to look at a street sign. In his own neighborhood? Where he claims to be captain of the neighborhood watch? Maybe he should have spent more time with a map and less time with a gun.

  107. 107
    Rick Taylor says:

    This full interview of one of the eyewitnesses made my cry. The degree of police incompetence here is unbelievable. http://www.wftv.com/videos/new…..ing/vGYPW/

    Unbelievable. This just keeps getting worse and worse.

  108. 108
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @jnc:

    Martin had attended 3 different high schools and was on suspension from the third.

    I fail to see how this is relevant. Since when does being suspended from school equate to criminality? Is there a folder in the principal’s office that gives Zimmerman permission to commit murder? Did Zimmerman hack into the local police database to see if this dangerous teen was wanted dead or alive? Patrolman Zimmerman isn’t even familiar with street signs in his own neighborhood.

  109. 109
    jnc says:

    Is there a folder in the principal’s office that gives Zimmerman permission to commit murder?

    Why, yes, that is exactly what I meant to say. When I wrote “(Not that this necessarily means anything but if Zimmerman’s arrest years ago is somehow relevant… I guess all dirt is.)” I was clearly being vague. Thanks for distilling my thoughts like that.

  110. 110
    trex says:

    @jnc

    Zimmerman was self-appointed captain of the neighborhood watch. There was not a formal neighborhood watch program with police sanction. (That might explain why Zimmerman called 911 47 times in the previous 15 months – he didn’t he van have a radio to contact the police when he was out “patrolling”.)

    Clearly, Batman he is not.

  111. 111

    The local PD didn’t gather evidence?

    You gather evidence if there was a crime committed.
    There was no crime committed.
    No evidence was collected. QED

  112. 112
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @jnc:

    Missed your parenthetical. My apologies.

  113. 113
    KS in MA says:

    @Emma: Amen, may it be so.

  114. 114
    jnc says:

    Kay posted above:

    (3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

    Does this mean that if Martin’s family brings a wrongful death suit and the court (jury?) determines that Zimmerman was acting in self defense, that Zimmerman get costs/fees from Martin’s family?

    I didn’t read it as providing for fees from the gov’t if Zimmerman is charged and found immune under self defense. Is this how you read this?

    @Shawn – no problem. It’s an emotional issue.

  115. 115
    jharp says:

    Thanks to whoever posted the link to the witness interview.

    That Mary Cutcher was awesome. At the very end she did kind of fuck up with her assertion that Zimmerman should have been charged and then have to prove his innocence but so be it. She is an amateur and she made up for it with her obvious truth telling.

    She is a cool and heroic lady for speaking out. I tip my hat to you Mary.

    And Zimmerman is fucked. And so is the Sanford Police Department.

  116. 116
    jharp says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    You gather evidence if there was a crime committed.
    There was no crime committed.
    No evidence was collected. QED

    I don’t think you know what in the fuck you are talking about.

    Wouldn’t you gather evidence if you might suspect a crime had been committed? And judge it from there?

    I think you are at the wrong weblog. Try redstate. Or Michelle Malkin. They love the stupid. You aren’t gonna last here with stupid posts like that.

  117. 117
    Laertes says:

    @jharp:

    And Zimmerman is fucked. And so is the Sanford Police Department.

    Here’s hoping. It’s got to be tough to make a case when the local PD is actively working to sabotage it.

  118. 118
    Rick Taylor says:

    I don’t think you know what in the fuck you are talking about.

    I’m going to take a leap her, and say I believe that was snark.

  119. 119
    VividBlueDotty says:

    @jharp: I have read so many articles on this story and still have so many questions that are unanswered. And I guess that’s because the Sanford Police Department want it that way. I DID find an interview of an officer stating disputing what she is saying in this video, but I find her more trustworthy than him, if only because she has no “skin in the game” and the PD does. Anyway, can’t find the link to that one again, but I would say there will be many interesting revelations in the next few days.

  120. 120
    VividBlueDotty says:

    @R. Porrofatto: I kept searching for more information on this till I found something. The thing is, I never could figure out if Zimmerman was in danger how Trayvon got shot in the CHEST. Made no sense to me whatsoever. Witness descriptions that started making their way into the media simply did not add up to any conceivable situation of self defense. If what this witness says is true, combined with information now that Trayvon was on his cell phone at the time, things are about to go very bad for the Sanford PD.

  121. 121
    Laertes says:

    but I find her more trustworthy than him, if only because she has no “skin in the game” and the PD does

    Word. At this point, it’s reasonable to view the Sanford PD as co-defendants. Any statements or “evidence” that they produce should be seen as entirely self-serving, and weighed accordingly.

  122. 122
    Rick Taylor says:

    Now the Sanford police have been denying Cutcher’s testimony, and claiming she did not want to talk to them.. She’s angry at being called a liar.

    Edit: And I see VividBlueDotty already pointed this out.

  123. 123
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    I’ve seen many people speculate on how this case would be different had the shooter been black and the victim white.

    Well, there’s no need to speculate. Barely 100 miles across Florida from the place where Trayvon Martin was shot, there’s a town called Valrico. In 2010, Trevor Dooley, a black homeowner and Sheriff’s Department volunteer, got into an argument with David James, a white, 41-year-old Air Force veteran. Dooley went back to his house, retrieved a handgun and confronted James. The two men struggled. Dooley shot and killed James in front of James’ 8-year-old daughter.

    Trevor Dooley was arrested three days later and is currently charged with manslaughter.

  124. 124
    VividBlueDotty says:

    @Rick Taylor: Yes, but I couldn’t find my way back to the link. Thanks for posting it.

  125. 125
    Ruckus says:

    @Paula68154:
    Actually requiring/accepting responsibility makes you, at the least, not a conservative.

  126. 126
    honus says:

    @jnc: That’s exactly what it reads. It’s an unbelievable law. They have similar laws to protect gun dealers from civil suits. I don’t know of any other class of defendants who are so protected. There are a lot of laws where you can recover attorneys fees if you win as a plaintiff (civil rights actions come to mind) but not as a defendant.

  127. 127
    Jebediah says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    For those with a strong stomach, the readers of the Fox website would like to offer comment.

    I went to look; Comrade Dread is not kidding about the strong stomach part. I feel very queasy right now. But the link goes to LGF not Fox, so you won’t be getting too far out of the boat. But you will feel ill – I can pretty much guarantee that.

  128. 128
    Sasha says:

    How the hell is that self defense, even under Florida law?

    How the hell is waterboarding not torture?

  129. 129
    Culture of Truth says:

    Does this mean that if Martin’s family brings a wrongful death suit and the court (jury?) determines that Zimmerman was acting in self defense, that Zimmerman get costs/fees from Martin’s family?

    Yes, in the sense that it’s not a determination of self-defense, but rather application of the SYG law. But if it does apply, the civil suit is automatically dismissed, and Martin’s family would have to pay Zimmerman costs/fees. So obviously no suit would be brought until that issue is settled, if it is.

  130. 130
    The Crafty Trilobite says:

    The statute is stunningly badly written, and/or insane. Observe:

    s.776.032
    A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012…is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action
    s. 776.012
    A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force…if:
    (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm …

    Now, I would have thought the Florida legislature meant that justifiable use of deadly force is a subset of justifiable use of force. As in, you can use deadly force in imminent defense of life & limb, if you also reasonably believe such conduct is necessary to defend against imminent use of unlawful force.

    But if the Leg meant that, it really messed up, because another part of the statute already does that.

    776.013
    (3) 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

    So the first part I quoted must mean something else.
    It really does look like under this law:
    you can use only reasonable force against unlawful non-deadly attack,
    but you can use deadly force against any mortal threat no matter how lawful.

    You may freely stalk and then kill another person lawfully defending against your unlawful attack — like Trayvon Martin. You could also, say, hide on a construction site and blow up a bulldozer that threatened your hiding place. Tie yourself to a railroad track and blow up an approaching train. If you “reasonably believe” a fetus is a person — and after all, any belief shared by so many people must be deemed at least ‘reasonable’ — you can freely hide in an OR and kill a doctor imminently about to perform an abortion. Blow up the Senate (if it were in Florida) because it’s the only way in your power to stop the Senators from voting more funds for the war.

    Florida, ladies & gents! The Sunshine State!

  131. 131
    JR says:

    @Kay #103: I’m reading it as establishing the legal presumptions that will apply. There are factual elements necessary to establish that the “stand your ground” provision will apply to Zimmerman, but the same elements seem to be at play throughout the process when establishing a presumption of justifiable homicide, and the inquiry at that stage appears to me to very closely resemble what an affirmative defense would look like at the trial stage (should we reach it).

  132. 132
    stratplayer says:

    @kay: “Probable cause” to arrest is a relatively low standard of evidence. If a reasonable person could believe that a crime has been committed and the person in question is likely to have committed it, then an arrest is permissible. To put it another way, an arrest is impermissible only where it would be manifestly unreasonable to conclude that a crime may have been committed. Police officers need very little to justify an arrest.

  133. 133
    stratplayer says:

    @JR: Quite so. This shouldn’t be a terribly difficult case for a reasonably competent prosecutor. There is strong evidence that Zimmerman was the aggressor, which vitiates self-defense altogether, and also that he knew or should have known he was facing an unarmed opponent, and therefore employed excessive force, which also defeats any claim of self-defense. We have to remember that the “stand your ground” statute is not the sole governing law in this instance.

  134. 134
    Rick Taylor says:

    I found this news story from the day after the killing. It includes a witness account that’s more supportive of Zimmerman than any other I’ve seen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hy7bBN8Xb58

  135. 135
    kay says:

    @stratplayer:

    Probable cause” to arrest is a relatively low standard of evidence

    I know what probable cause is. Read the statute.

    Section 4. Section 776.032, Florida Statutes, is created to read:
    776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.—(1) A person who uses force as permitted in s.776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943.10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer. As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.
    (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.
    (3) The court shall award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, compensation for loss of income, and all expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff if the court finds that the defendant is immune from prosecution as provided in subsection (1).

    All I’m saying, over and over again, is you have to look at the Florida law. Don’t put it within whatever ideas you have about self defense as a defense to a charged crime, because it’s bigger than that.
    The whole point of these “stand your ground” laws is to stop, delay or complicate arrest and charges.
    The defendant can also use this law as a defense if he’s charged, but he hasn’t been charged yet.
    Advocates are not asking that he be convicted. They’re asking that he be arrested and then charged. Police and prosecutors are saying they have to grapple with this law when doing that.
    What’s making me a little crazy reading about this is there seems to be some dogged insistence that this law is like all duty to retreat and castle doctrine laws, and it’s not.

  136. 136
    kay says:

    @stratplayer:

    To put it another way, an arrest is impermissible only where it would be manifestly unreasonable to conclude that a crime may have been committed. Police officers need very little to justify an arrest.

    Not here, because of this:

    As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant.

    Another case under litigation in Florida highlights the effect of the law. In September 2010, David James was playing basketball with his 8-year-old daughter on an outdoor court in Valrico. A boy was skateboarding on the court at the same time, and Trevor Dooley, a man who lived in the area, told the boy he shouldn’t be skateboarding there. James stood up for the boy, and he and Dooley had a confrontation.
    Dooley was carrying a gun and wound up shooting James dead. Dooley asserted that he felt threatened by James, and has asked that the case be dismissed before trial under the “stand your ground” law. (The judge will soon make a ruling.)
    In both of these cases — in the deaths of both James and Martin — the legal defense for the shooters appears to rely almost completely on the “stand your ground” law. In the death of David James, prosecutors are doing their best against tough odds. In the death of Trayvon Martin, it’s prosecutors who are taking the heat for failing, thus far, to bring any charges against George Zimmerman.

    Look, I know what you’re doing. You’re saying “everything I know says they should be able to arrest and charge this guy” and that’s correct. But you’re not listening to what police and prosecutors are saying, and you’re not reading this law.

    There’s two parts to this law. There’s the immunity from prosecution (which includes arrest ), and then there’s the defense once charged. It’s absolutely fair and reasonable to doubt what prosecutors and police are saying about the effects of the stand your ground law, re: arrest and charges, but you can’t just ignore what they’re saying, and what the law says, and insist it’s an affirmative defense. It’s broader than that. This law makes a difference here.

  137. 137
    stratplayer says:

    @kay: @kay: I’ve looked at both the statute and at Florida law beyond the statute, and I stand by my position that this is a perfectly prosecutable case. Probable cause to arrest is a very easy standard to meet, unlike proof beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. It would be extremely difficult for Zimmerman, if he were merely arrested and not charged, to establish in a civil suit under this statute that no reasonable police officer would find probable cause to arrest and detain him pending an investigation. An unarmed teenager was shot dead, and the shooter’s own account of events, taken in light of the other evidence, including and especially the statement of Travon’s girlfriend concerning their contemporaneous phone conversation, most certainly justifies an arrest under the probable cause standard. The statute does not define “probable cause” any differently than it is defined in other contexts, so the same definition obtains.

    Florida courts also apply the well-established rule that one may not use excessive force in self-defense. Zimmerman knew or had very good reason to know that Martin, who defended himself only with his fists, was unarmed and did not pose a threat of death or serious bodily injury to a man with a 100 pound weight advantage. A reasonable jury could easily find beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman knowingly and intentionally employed excessive force under the circumstances, and no appellate court worth its salt would substitute its judgment for that of a jury and find insufficient evidence to convict. Given the public safety issues involved, a good and conscientious DA’s office would consider prosecution well worth the risk of a civil judgment in the event of an acquittal.

  138. 138
    stratplayer says:

    To put it simply, if the courts correctly assess the actions of the police and prosecutors under the objective “reasonable person” standard, then the case should not be dismissed and there should not be a civil cause of action. This statute does not exist in a vacuum. It needs to be read in light of the whole body of Florida law.

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