More on Zimmerman

Here’s a pretty solid piece of reporting on the events that may have shaped George Zimmerman’s frame of mind prior to the shooting of Trayvon Martin. None of it changes the basic facts, though, that Zimmerman felt he was suspicious because he was black, shouldn’t have had a gun on him while doing neighborhood watch, should not have followed him as he was told not to, and shouldn’t have confronted him.






106 replies
  1. 1
    Martin says:

    Yeah, good piece. Looks like the housing collapse in Florida had a contributing role in screwing everyone up a little bit. Not that it’s an excuse in any way, just standard urban policy stuff – that we like to ignore because heaven forbid we should make urban life better for anyone.

  2. 2
    AA+ Bonds says:

    Here’s my suggestion for what shaped Zimmerman

    High ratings on the authoritarian aggression questions reflect attitudes that imply dislike toward minority groups and the belief that deviations from authority deserve severe punishment. It was thought that a person high in authoritarian aggression had probably had a strict childhood, preventing him or her to indulge in few desires, which led to this person projecting his or her frustration onto other people who participated in “morally unsound” practices . . . .
    __
    Superstition and stereotypy show the extent to which a person feels that his or her fate depends mostly on external forces and that he or she cannot personally influence outcomes of situations.
    __
    A strong belief in two types of people (e.g., strong and weak) will be reflected in power and toughness questions. Authoritarian personalities prefer strong leaders who can maintain order by severe punishment of those who deviate.
    __
    The destructiveness and cynicism variable again addresses the authoritarian personality’s aggression, but this time the aggression is not based on morality. The idea here is that people with authoritarian personalities harbor aggression and are just waiting for an opportunity to act on it.
    __
    The projection items on the F-scale are used to tap subjects’ repressed urges (which were mentioned in relation to authoritarian aggression) by asking them about the negative attributes of others. For example, an anti-Semite’s view that Jews are hostile may actually reflect his or her own repressed hostility projected onto someone else.

  3. 3
    AA+ Bonds says:

    BTW Mark Ames had a good piece on the economy, the housing crisis, and the Kandahar massacre which may be of interest to anyone who read the story in the FP

  4. 4
    cathyx says:

    I bet he’s a road raging type too.

  5. 5

    What will matter in a legal sense, was precisely what caused whatever physical confrontation between these two people. Or, who initiated physical contact. Everything we know so far, including the conversation with Trayvon’s girl friend, shows Zimmerman as the aggressor, up to the point of physical contact and GZ killing Trayvon with his handgun. As I understand it, Trayvon did start running at some point, per his GF/ But Zimmerman says that he caught up with TM, but then suddenly decided to turn around and walk back to his car, and TM jumped him from behind. That just does not make sense. Also, the acoustics of who was screaming will also be important, I think, if it can be certified with enough confidence by the experts as evidence in a criminal trial. I don’t know of any witness who saw the entire thing unfold, rather than at some or another during the tragedy.

  6. 6
    Scamp Dog says:

    It’s interesting to get some actual reporting on this case, especially when much of the stuff we were getting at first turned out to be crap. Thoreau at Unqualified Offerings has a good take on it here.

    I’m starting to think that Thoreau’s speculation that Martin may have thrown the first punch may be correct, but Zimmerman still carries the moral responsibility for the Martin’s death. Where the legal responsibilities lie is a different question, unfortunately. The “Stand Your Ground” law may let him walk, and almost everybody on the right will refuse to acknowledge the law’s perverse incentives and unintended consequences.

  7. 7
    FlipYrWhig says:

    FWIW, Bob Somerby has been on the warpath against MSNBC coverage of the Martin/Zimmerman case. Like he was with Ambassador Joe Wilson and the Plame case.

  8. 8
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Scamp Dog: It’s rather unhelpful that the “Stand Your Ground” concept ping-pongs between both parties in an altercation the way it does. If Martin got fed up with Zimmerman hanging around in the shadows asking questions and began to fear for _his_ life, under SYG thinking Martin could have bashed in Zimmerman’s head and been A-OK. (Good luck getting the Sanford cops to buy that one!)

    But then once Hypothetical Martin was in the midst of self-defense via bashing in Hypothetical Zimmerman’s head, Zimmerman might have begun to fear for _his_ life, and then pull his gun and pull the trigger, and legally been A-OK. That’s just a stupid way of writing law, it seems to me.

  9. 9
    eemom says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Somerby is still around?

    I thought he had spontaneously combusted by now.

  10. 10
    cathyx says:

    @FlipYrWhig: It sounds like a legal way to have a duel.

  11. 11
    jncc says:

    Oh noes, we already know all we need to know about this case.

  12. 12
    jncc says:

    “insurance-fraud investigator”

    That’s about the most damning way I’ve ever heard him described.

  13. 13
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    I’m stuck on the notion that the cop told Zimmerman to get a gun to defend himself against a pit bull. I’ve never fired a gun in my life, but wouldn’t you pretty much have to be Raylan Givens– Wyatt Earp for the non-TV-junkies here– to whip it out [used advisedly] and drop a charging dog? As the same cop said, a pit bull can be on top of you in a quarter of a second. That’s some fancy shootin’ there, ain’t it pards? Since they knew which dog it was and whose it was, mightn’t the sensible thing been to, I don’t know, call the fucking dog catcher?

  14. 14
    trollhattan says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Does Florida’s SYG law explicitly extend to those armed with Skittles? Because I can see the problem right there.

    I’ve said it a half-gazillion times since first reading about this case, I want no part of any community with an armed neighborhood watch. Folks like Zimmerman need a padded room and warm glass of milk, and I suspect we need a lot of padded rooms.

  15. 15
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    So basically Zimmerman was out to punish someone because his neighbors were burgled. Ya, we really want a guy like that running lose.

  16. 16
    AWL says:

    Just skimmed through some of the recent Daily Howler entries… When did Bob Somberby become a ‘Both sides do it too!’ hack?

  17. 17
    Martin says:

    @AA+ Bonds: It may not be as much authoritarianism as you think. I grew up in NYC in the 70s – there was quite a lot of crime around me. Eventually it wears you down and you lose faith in public institutions to function. Detroit has gone through that cycle. We’re here remembering the LA riots where that happened. Some degree of that has happened in communities around the country that were particularly hard-hit by the housing crisis – large numbers of foreclosures lead to really broken communities. Friends are separated. Even those that avoid foreclosure are often under stress as their homes are almost certainly under water and its uncertain what their future is. Abandoned homes become targets for all kinds of crime. Police funding is dropping precisely at the time that crime is rising (particularly with asshole like Rick Scott in office). At some point you decide ‘fuck it, I can’t count on the authorities’ so you replace them.

    What you’re describing is more of a deviation from authority, with the presumption that the authority state is still functioning. What happens when that isn’t functioning, though? The part about projecting frustration is certainly apt, but what’s the difference between an authoritarian neighborhood watch that arises when the police are unable to keep crime in check due to budget cuts and an inner city gang that arises when the police refuse to serve the interests of a minority population? Aren’t the drivers there pretty much the same, without excusing the resultant behavior?

    I don’t know if that area rises anywhere near the level that you might expect to see that kind of result, so it could be entirely unique to Zimmerman, but it could equally be an urban dynamic that we’re pretty familiar with and somewhat sympathetic to provided it doesn’t spiral out of hand as it too often does.

  18. 18
    gaz says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I found that mace is much more effective than bullets when it comes to aggressive dogs.

    I like animals, but I’ve no interest in mace’s non-lethal effect, in this case. Or, IOW: If it killed the attacking animal, I don’t care.

    What I like about it is it’s cloud-like dispersal, and the terror it inflicts in the animal, (even something like a security trained doberman, that probably wouldn’t break stride going for your throat, even with a non-fatal bullet wound).

    Against a dog, Mace > Guns. Any fucking day.

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Scamp Dog:

    The “Stand Your Ground” law may let him walk, and almost everybody on the right will refuse to acknowledge the law’s perverse incentives and unintended consequences.

    I can’t get to the link from work right now, but I came across a case where a murder charge was dismissed against a guy who went to his ex-wife’s house and was confronted by her new boyfriend. He had just happened to go to his ex-wife’s house armed and killed her boyfriend.

    But since they had an argument beforehand, legally he was in the clear under Stand Your Ground even though he had brought a gun to his ex-wife’s house and there was testimony that he had been talking about killing her and her new boyfriend.

    That law is seriously fucked up.

  20. 20
    Mnemosyne says:

    @trollhattan:

    Apparently, the way the new SYG laws are written allows you to use deadly force against an unarmed opponent if you can claim you feared for your life.

    There was a guy in Florida who stabbed his unarmed neighbor during a dispute and was freed under SYG. It’s a seriously fucked up piece of legislation. Thanks, ALEC!

  21. 21
    feebog says:

    This tells me a lot:

    Police found Demeacis’s laptop in the backpack of 18-year-old Emmanuel Burgess, police reports show, and charged him with dealing in stolen property. Burgess was the same man Zimmerman had spotted on February 2.

    Burgess had committed a series of burglaries on the other side of town in 2008 and 2009, pleaded guilty to several, and spent all of 2010 incarcerated in a juvenile facility, his attorney said. He is now in jail on parole violations.

    So the balck kid who was committing the burlaries had already been caught. And Zimmerman knew that. What reason was there then to suspect Martin, other than the fact he was young and black?

    Oh, and pepper spray is highly effective on dogs, I have personal experience, once being a letter carrier. Works on any kind of dog, even a pit bull.

  22. 22
    gaz says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Also, for personal protection, when walking about, a stun baton is a nice defensive item.

    It’s got reach, plus it tazes. Even when the batteries are out you can strike with it. You can defend against a knife with it (reach+tap to disarm, yay), and you can more easily take multiple assailants in close quarters than you could with most sidearms.

    The only disadvantage it has, is against an assailant with a gun. But even having a gun yourself doesn’t save you in these situations. It’s about luck. People with more ego than sense are the only ones that believe otherwise.

  23. 23
    tuna says:

    Are you aware that a max of 2 min. elapsed between the time Zimmerman left his car and a shot was fired. I will always believe there was a struggle for the gun.

  24. 24
    kc says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Somerby also went on the warpath against Henry Louis Gates, and, if I remember correctly, Gates’s daughter.

    The only time I ever look in on that old crank these days is to confirm that his priorities are as warped as they were then.

  25. 25
  26. 26

    @Mnemosyne:

    Apparently, the way the new SYG laws are written allows you to use deadly force against an unarmed opponent if you can claim you feared for your life.

    I could be wrong, but I think the key for using the SYG defense, is who initiates physical contact, and the person that does that cannot use SYG, and the legal permission falls back to common self defense standards, and all that goes with it, like proportional force, and fleeing if possible;

  27. 27
    kc says:

    @trollhattan:

    I don’t think the community knew he was armed. They just thought he was a nice volunteer guy, from what I’ve read.

  28. 28
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I think the implication is the cop was hinting to Zimmerman was the next time the dog is out and get shot from like 20 yards that no questions were going to be raised. Since they wouldn’t arrest him for shooting another human shows how that police force thinks.

    This is even worse than Martins’ example – the authorities abdicating their job to the citizens.

  29. 29
    JGabriel says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    It’s rather unhelpful that the “Stand Your Ground” concept ping-pongs between both parties in an altercation …

    Feature, not but. SYG ensures that only one will survive, and his story will be the accepted version of the altercation.

    .

  30. 30

    Feature, not but. SYG ensures that only one will survive, and his story will be the accepted version of the altercation.

    And dead children tell no tales

  31. 31
    Martin says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Yeah, the suggestion for a gun is a pretty iffy one. It’s not a bad suggestion if you see the dog coming from a distance, as a gun is pretty much the only hope you have until the dog is so close that it’s on you no matter what. Even a shot in the air might be enough to scare the dog off (would scare the fuck out of my dog, at least).

    Once the dog is near, you want something more like a baseball bat or crowbar. I’ve been in that spot before (and wished I had a gun on me with at least the hope of stopping it as I watch it charge the person near me), but dogs are so fast as to make anything at arm length too late – gun included.

    But the sense I get from that read is that the dog catcher was budget cut long ago, as were regular police patrols. From what I can tell, Sanford has one of the higher foreclosure rates in Florida, home prices have plummeted, the tax base and city budget is fucked, etc. Same kind of stuff as everywhere else, of course, but every place runs through their own local issues in their own way.

  32. 32
    kc says:

    @kc:

    Just skimmed the latest. Crap, Somerby’s right to some extent about MSNBC’s coverage, as much as I hate to admit it.

  33. 33
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Martin:

    Well a man named Theodor Adorno had some stuff to say about class I understand which may also answer your question about gangs

    To me Zimmerman is like any number of people in the 20th century interwar period . . . Waiting For Röhm

    And yeah those people were heavily frustrated by what was going on around them too

    My point is that all that frustration tends to out

  34. 34
    ding says:

    Zimmerman was going to the store; he was NOT doing a Neighborhood Watch.

    Zimmerman may have been suspicious because he knew Trayvon was not a resident of the community

    How do you know who confronted who?

  35. 35
    Nutella says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:

    So basically Zimmerman was out to punish someone because his neighbors were burgled. Ya, we really want a guy like that running lose.

    He was out to punish anyone of the same age and race as the burglar and wasn’t at all particular about actually identifying his victim as the actual burglar.

    I’m sure if a Hispanic person had been observed committing a crime, Zimmerman would have been more than happy to surrender to cops or neighborhood vigilantes since he would have been guilty by association in that case.

  36. 36
    AA+ Bonds says:

    George and the Zimmermen

  37. 37
    cathyx says:

    @ding: lol.

  38. 38
    The Sailor says:

    @Scamp Dog: Why would you call that ‘actual reporting’ when only one person went on record and it’s a total fluff piece?

    Actual police reports would be reporting, this is just PR push back.

    Zimmerman stalked and shot an unarmed black teenager after stalking him. If Mr. Martin confronted him, and had a gun, he would have been justified in shooting Zimmerman. But I’m willing to bet that the Sanford PD wouldn’t have seen it that way and let him walk.

    John Cole, why are you saying this is ‘context’? It’s not. It’s rumor & PR orchestrated by his family with legal connections.

    A cop wannabe was itching to shoot someone and did, and now it doesn’t feel the way he thought it would. Fuck him.

  39. 39
    Martin says:

    @AA+ Bonds: Perhaps. I’m not trying to defend Zimmerman so much as highlight the costs associated with permitting communities to deteriorate. Zimmerman has to answer for what he’s done, but at the same time we’re not a nation of rugged individualists either. I’m uncomfortable attacking the GOP over their suggestion that we are all possessed of adequately strong bootstraps and then instantly dismiss the notion that social policy (or the lack thereof) doesn’t carry consequences for all communities, even gated ones.

  40. 40
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @Martin:

    I’m not trying to defend Zimmerman so much as highlight the costs associated with permitting communities to deteriorate.

    I agree here, that’s capitalism’s kitchen and if you stick around long enough Auschwitz is always for dessert

  41. 41
    The Sailor says:

    @Martin: “We’re here remembering the LA riots where that happened.”

    You mean when the cops repressed and vilified and killed black people and finally they’d had enough?

    I lived in LA during the riots. I was rooting for the rioters. Daryl Gates drew back his cops to protect rich white people’s property, instead of, you know, doing actual police work and applying the law fairly.

  42. 42
    ding says:

    @cathyx: why the lol?

  43. 43
    The Sailor says:

    @ding: “How do you know who confronted who?”

    The stalker who called the cops and was told not to pursue?

    Simple answers to simple questions.

  44. 44
    gaz says:

    @The Sailor:

    A cop wannabe was itching to shoot someone and did, and now it doesn’t feel the way he thought it would. Fuck him.

    That about sums it right the fuck UP, now doesn’t it?

    Sailor, FTW!

  45. 45
    Middlewest says:

    So some over-privileged people freaked out over a brief, minor crime spree, and a young black man had to be sacrificed to appease their bottomless cowardice. Ain’t that America.

  46. 46
    cathyx says:

    @ding: Do you really believe that? I figured you were making a bad joke.

  47. 47
    ding says:

    @cathyx: Read the actual transcripts and not the widely circulated edits

    – btw Jeff Burnside, a 13-year veteran of the local WTVJ station, was fired Friday for making questionable edits to George Zimmerman’s call to police (My guess is Jeff is not lol’ing anymore)

  48. 48
    The Sailor says:

    @ding: I’ve heard the tapes, and Zimmerman said “fucking coon”.

    I’m amazed that hate crimes weren’t tacked on to the murder charge.

  49. 49
    Brachiator says:

    Here’s a pretty solid piece of reporting on the events that may have shaped George Zimmerman’s frame of mind prior to the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

    I don’t know. A lot of speculation and background fluff that doesn’t much go beyond what was already known.

    None of it changes the basic facts, though, that Zimmerman felt he was suspicious because he was black, shouldn’t have had a gun on him while doing neighborhood watch, should not have followed him as he was told not to, and shouldn’t have confronted him.

    Sadly, the dumbass “stand your ground laws” negates all the common sense “shoulds” in the world.

  50. 50
    Nutella says:

    The article has a lot about what a nice young man Zimmerman is, from such a nice family, but that doesn’t jibe so well with his two recorded violent incidents (with the ex-girlfriend and the cop). Not so much detail available for those. A solid piece of reporting would have included some interviews with the people involved in the altercation with the cop or witnesses.

  51. 51
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Re: Somerby, I see a lot of parallels to Greenwald, in that he wants things to be a certain way, hates it when they’re not that way, and never lets go. Greenwald is right that presidents keep expanding executive power, Somerby is right that the biggest would-be liberal media outfits are mistake-ridden dens of hackery, and there’s something commendable about the way they’re so uncompromising about the shortcomings and bad acts they spot. But their zealotry and narrow focus make their work hard to read, they’re never satisfied, and they nurture grudges and spite for years upon years.

  52. 52
    karen says:

    And the article tries Zimmerman better than any defense attorney can.

    Why even bother with this trial, after the media is done deifying him there won’t be one jury who will convict him.

    Even if all he gets is involuntary manslaughter. Something to show that Treyvon’s life is as important as if Zimmerman had shot a white teenager. Something to show that if it had been reversed and Zimmerman had been the one shot by Treyvon because Zimmerman had “made him fear for his life” that Treyvon wouldn’t be the one rotting in jail now.

    I hope so for this country. Otherwise I’m afraid that you might see Rodney King style riots. And they’d be justified.

  53. 53
    karen says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Oddly when Fox does the same thing it’s never called hackery except by liberals. Never in the “liberal media.”

  54. 54
    Martin says:

    @The Sailor: Hate crimes are federal. The charges filed were state.

  55. 55
    karen says:

    @Nutella:

    And no mention of the fact that Mr. Daddy Retired Magistrate had spoken to the Attorney General. And no mention of the inconsistencies in Zimmerman’s story.

    You could hear the HOSANNA in the air when the media was able to glom on to something, ANYTHING to make Zimmerman justified for shooting. And whoever edited Zimmerman’s call to the police dispatcher may not have meant to but he was the lynchpin in the grenade of the “real story” of what happened to Treyvon.

  56. 56
    ornery_curmudgeon says:

    “None of it changes the basic facts, though, that Zimmerman felt he was …”

    No the basic facts concern the handling of the case before public attention was drawn to it. Instead we have the circus media yelling ‘SQUIRREL!’ daily in their OJ II trial.

    And now … we have good folks discussing squirrels.

    It’s about anything but looking into the facts, Cole.

  57. 57
    Brachiator says:

    @karen: @karen:

    You could hear the HOSANNA in the air when the media was able to glom on to something, ANYTHING to make Zimmerman justified for shooting.

    I am not quite seeing this. The only thing that matters legally is whether Zimmerman reasonably felt in fear of his life.

    I don’t know whether Zimmerman’s “reasons” for following and confronting Martin matter very much.

    But here is a question for legal eagles. Could there be a civil suit no matter the outcome of the criminal trial?

    Here’s what bothers me about this “background” story. There is a lot of blather about past crimes in the neighborhood and Zimmerman’s frustration. But the bottom line was that he was not a cop, not a trained investigator in any way, shape or form. And so I would dispute his ability to judge or recognize “suspicious” behavior. There could have been burglaries in his neighborhood every hour of every day. The fact remains that Zimmerman could not distinguish between a burglar and a kid walking home. And he lacked the sense or judgment to rethink his initial assumptions. Then, having a gun and confronting Martin, Zimmerman’s behavior became reckless, and likely to result in harm being caused. Which is what happened.

  58. 58
    NPFisher says:

    Those aren’t “facts”.

  59. 59
    NPFisher says:

    Those aren’t “facts”.

  60. 60

    @FlipYrWhig:

    But then once Hypothetical Martin was in the midst of self-defense via bashing in Hypothetical Zimmerman’s head, Zimmerman might have begun to fear for his life, and then pull his gun and pull the trigger, and legally been A-OK. That’s just a stupid way of writing law, it seems to me.

    I’ve seen it claimed by a person who said he was an attorney that, if Zimmerman initiated a confrontation, and Martin was afraid, and acted in defense, then Zimmerman had to retreat, and attempt to de-escalate, and only if he’d made a strong attempt to do so, could he claim self defense.

    This makes sense – basically, if you start a confrontation where a person can reasonable expect to be in danger, *you* have to prove that you’re not a danger so that the person no longer has any reasonable basis for fear – only then, if the conflict continues (against your attempts to flee) are you no longer the aggressor.

    *Is* that how the law is written? I don’t know.

    But I saw the claim made.

  61. 61
    liberal says:

    @Brachiator:
    We have a lot of property crime where I live. Our own house was burglarized a few months after we bought it. (Goodbye, flat screen TV!)

    But the idea that someone would walk around outside their house packing heat looking for “criminals” would scare the crap out of me. Thank God I don’t live in FL.

  62. 62
    The Sailor says:

    @Martin: “Hate crimes are federal. The charges filed were state.”

    Many states also have Hate Crime laws. I should have expected Florida not to have one.

  63. 63
    jncc says:

    Well, we all know that Zimmerman is a stone-cold murderer, of course, but just for shits and giggles, imagine for a second that Z and M exchanged a couple of words, that M hit Z first putting Z on the deck and that M then got on top of him and was slamming Zs head into the sidewalk while Z screamed for help.

    If those were the facts, SYG would be irrelevant because even laws that require people to retreat only require it where it is possible. There’s nowhere Zimmerman could retreat to when he’s on his back on the ground.

    Now a bonus question, if you were Zimmerman in that scenario and you’re laying there having your head pounded into the ground, how many times do you think you would allow that to happen before you pulled your firearm and shot Martin? Twice? Ten times?

  64. 64
    jncc says:

    @ding: Has it been established whether Z was “on patrol” or just also out going to to the store?

  65. 65
    revrick says:

    Picture this scenario: both parties behave in exactly the same way, but instead of Trayvon Martin, it’s Tracy Martin, a teenaged white girl. How would that change the conversation?

  66. 66
    rageahol says:

    Please, Mr. Cole, post more sob stories about which i do not give a flying bucket of rat vaginas.

  67. 67

    @jncc:

    Well, we all know that Zimmerman is a stone-cold murderer, of course, but just for shits and giggles, imagine for a second that Z and M exchanged a couple of words, that M hit Z first putting Z on the deck and that M then got on top of him and was slamming Zs head into the sidewalk while Z screamed for help.

    You started your statement with bullshit, so there’s not a whole lot of point in responding.

    But: that’s quite an imagination you have there. You really want to run a justice system on what we can imagine?

    And, I notice that you’re willing to insist on reasonable doubt for Zimmerman, but completely willing to throw it away for Martin. We’re supposed to ignore any reasonable doubt about whether Martin threw the first punch, we’re not supposed to require any strong evidence of that. How is that fair? How is that justice?

  68. 68
    jncc says:

    @revrick: I’ll answer yours right after you answer mine.

  69. 69
    The Sailor says:

    @jncc: “Z screamed for help.”
    It’s been established that George Zimmerman was not the one screaming.

    Edit: Why yes, I do trust science over te just us system, why do you ask?

  70. 70
    jncc says:

    But: that’s quite an imagination you have there. You really want to run a justice system on what we can imagine?

    It’s called a hypothetical question. It also happens to coincide with what Zimmerman supposedly said happened.

    And, I notice that you’re willing to insist on reasonable doubt for Zimmerman, but completely willing to throw it away for Martin.

    What the fuck are you talking about? I said no such thing.

    We’re supposed to ignore any reasonable doubt about whether Martin threw the first punch, we’re not supposed to require any strong evidence of that. How is that fair? How is that justice?

    You are just confused. I guess you just heard the phrase “reasonable doubt” mentioned on a television show featuring a trial or something. You should try and learn what that phrase means and when it’s used.

  71. 71
    jncc says:

    @The Sailor:
    “It’s been established that George Zimmerman was not the one screaming.”

    The accounts I’ve read said that Zimmerman said he was yelling for help but nobody was responding. I’ve also read that Martin’s mom said it was definitely her son’s voice you could hear in the background of the 911 call.

    Why do you think it has been established that it was not Zimmerman?

  72. 72
    lacp says:

    I regard this background story pretty much the same way I regard using a crappy childhood as an excuse for violent adult behavior. Sux 2 b u, but you’re either responsible for your behavior (background noise or not) or you’re nuts. The most that all this fluff explains – maybe – is why Zimmerman felt he should be following Martin. It doesn’t shed any light at all on what happened.

  73. 73
    Brachiator says:

    @jncc:

    Well, we all know that Zimmerman is a stone-cold murderer, of course, but just for shits and giggles, imagine for a second that Z and M exchanged a couple of words, that M hit Z first putting Z on the deck and that M then got on top of him and was slamming Zs head into the sidewalk while Z screamed for help.

    You are engaging in what I call an “idiot hypothetical,” constructing a scenario in which you think you can be proven correct.

    But even taking your opening gambit, here, imagine that Martin hit Zimmerman because Martin feared for his life, based on the words exchanged with a creepy guy following him and questioning him for no valid reason.

    Now continue with your hypothetical.

  74. 74
    Amir Khalid says:

    @jncc:
    One man has a gun. The other has a pack of Skittles. Would Mr Gun let Mr Skittles come close to him, let alone force him to the ground and start “slamming his head into the sidewalk”, without at least warning Mr Skittles that he was armed? Your scenario seems even more implausible than Zimmerman’s claim that an unarmed boy chose to attack an armed man who had already retreated to his vehicle.

    I don’t believe George Zimmerman intended to murder Trayvon Martin. I do believe that Zimmerman showed a breathtaking lack of common sense. He handled every part of the situation in the worst possible way, from carrying a gun on neighborhood watch to confronting Trayvon against police advice, with the worst possible consequences.

  75. 75
    The Sailor says:

    @jncc: “Why do you think it has been established that it was not Zimmerman?”

    I should have phrased that differently, it’s been established that Zimmerman could not have been the one calling for help.

    By science. His voice, thru independent audio analysis, was not capable of making those sounds. Voice prints lie no more than fingerprints do.

    And frankly none of it matters, he stalked a kid and shot him. He did not stand his ground, he pursued someone who had not only committed no crime, but was just returning home after buying snacks at a quicky mart.

  76. 76
    jncc says:

    But even taking your opening gambit, here, imagine that Martin hit Zimmerman because Martin feared for his life, based on the words exchanged with a creepy guy following him and questioning him for no valid reason.
    Now continue with your hypothetical.

    I reckon if the prosecutor can convince a jury that it’s reasonable to hit someone whom you find creepy, then the next step would be whether it’s reasonable to then get on top of them and pound their head into the ground – I mean, hypothetically and all.

  77. 77
    jncc says:

    The other has a pack of Skittles. Would Mr Gun let Mr Skittles come close to him, let alone force him to the ground and start “slamming his head into the sidewalk”, without at least warning Mr Skittles that he was armed? Your scenario seems even more implausible than Zimmerman’s claim that an unarmed boy chose to attack an armed man who had already retreated to his vehicle.

    Well I don’t know what happened here – unlike so many of he balloon juice commentariat who know exactly what went down that night – but the account I read was that Zimmerman said he was walking away from Martin when Martin hit him from behind and knocked him to the ground.

    And as to why Mr. Gun would let Mr. Skittles come close to him, from what I understand, it is a bad idea (for both legal and tactical reasons) to pull a gun out and point it towards someone just because they are walking towards you.

  78. 78
    jncc says:

    “By science. His voice, thru independent audio analysis, was not capable of making those sounds. Voice prints lie no more than fingerprints do.”

    So you looked into the qualifications of those guys who offered themselves as experts and the methodology they used?

    If the prosecution does retain someone to do audio analysis, it will be interesting to see how the cross-examination unfolds.

    Voice prints do not have anywhere near the level of acceptance that fingerprints do and, if you followed the case of the Oregon attorney who was arrested after his fingerprints were found on bomb-making materials in Spain following the Madrid bombings and who was positively identified by 4 separate experts including two at the FBI lab and who was subsequently exonerated, I suspect you will have a bit less faith in fingerprints than you do now.

  79. 79
    Brachiator says:

    @jncc:

    I reckon

    A tiresome evasion. It’s your opening gambit. You want to imagine the consequences if Martin and Zimmerman “had words,” but you don’t want to consider any reason that Martin might have had for fighting. What if Martin was in fear for his life? This is at the heart of asinine “stand your ground laws.”

    This is your hypothetical. Don’t try to shift it off to some fantasy prosecutor. Deal with it.

  80. 80
    Amir Khalid says:

    @jncc:
    You said

    And as to why Mr. Gun would let Mr. Skittles come close to him, from what I understand, it is a bad idea (for both legal and tactical reasons)

    to pull a gun out and point it towards someone

    just because they are walking towards you.

    I said
    One man has a gun. The other has a pack of Skittles. Would Mr Gun let Mr Skittles come close to him, let alone force him to the ground and start “slamming his head into the sidewalk”, without at least warning Mr Skittles that he was armed?
    You also said

    I reckon if the prosecutor can convince a jury that it’s reasonable to hit someone whom you find creepy, then the next step would be whether it’s reasonable to then get on top of them and pound their head into the ground – I mean, hypothetically and all.

    All the evidence available so far suggests that Zimmerman instigated a confrontation, which ended when he shot Trayvon. You keep putting forward a scenario in which an armed Zimmerman backed off after he first confronted the unarmed Trayvon, only to be attacked by Trayvon. Why on Earth would Trayvon do that?

  81. 81
    jncc says:

    “but you don’t want to consider any reason that Martin might have had for fighting. What if Martin was in fear for his life?”

    In fear for his life? Worry less about insults and more about writing a coherent sentence in engrish.

    without at least warning Mr Skittles that he was armed?

    Like I said, I believe that Zimmerman’s version is that he was walking away and was hit from behind and knocked to the ground. And, like I said, my understanding is that you don’t want to warn someone that you are armed because they will then try to take your gun from you. In theory.

    All the evidence available so far suggests that Zimmerman instigated a confrontation, which ended when he shot Trayvon. You keep putting forward a scenario in which an armed Zimmerman backed off after he first confronted the unarmed Trayvon, only to be attacked by Trayvon. Why on Earth would Trayvon do that?

    “All evidence available”? You mean all the different 2nd and 3rd hand stories that have been printed in newspapers and on the inter webs?

    I have seen evidence unsubstantiated, unsworn, 3rd hand accounts that Zimmerman said he was walking back to his car, Martin asked something like “You got a problem?” Zimmerman said “No” And Martin said “You do now” and hit Zimmerman in the head. Is that bullshit? Might be.

  82. 82
    gaz says:

    @jncc: Shorter jncc: It’s a conspiracy!

  83. 83
    jncc says:

    @gaz: Shorter gaz: I like to play with my poo!

    (If you have an actual point, feel free to make it, but if you want to just vomit out random insults, I’m up for that, too.)

  84. 84
    Mnemosyne says:

    Look, guys, you will never be able to convince jncc that it’s wrong to shoot an unarmed teenager for the crime of walking while black. He will always be able to come up with another bullshit scenario as to why Martin deserved to die. Give it up.

  85. 85
    Evolving Deep Southerner says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: You quite obviously have not seen “No Country For Old Men.”

  86. 86
    gaz says:

    @jncc: The insult was not random, twit.

    It had to do with your teetering pile of random hypotheticals stacked on suppositions, and glued together with finely pureed bullshit. The ingredients of any good bugfuck conspiracy theory.

    I’m not sure what you’re doing, but if you are gunning for the position of dumbest troll on the board, that spot has been permanently occupied by Cato. And no, you can’t have it.

    If on the other hand, you’re just being a moron to assuage and justify your own racism, well then * yawn *, seen it before champ, nothing new here. You’re just another white trash relic. Next!

    ETA: You must be new here. My insults are never random. If you don’t get it, it’s because you’re a cretin.

  87. 87
    FlipYrWhig says:

    By Stand Your Ground standards, it seems like an armed rapist confronted in the middle of a rape by a good Samaritan would be able to say that he was justified in shooting the good Samaritan because he had been suddenly attacked and feared for his life. And the cops could arrest him for the rape, but not for shooting the defender of the victim. If this is really how the law works, SYG is one of the most vile doctrines ever promulgated.

  88. 88
    gaz says:

    I’m making this comment in honor of jncc. It puts the comment count up to 88, which seems apropos, all things considered.

  89. 89

    @jncc:

    It’s called a hypothetical question. It also happens to coincide with what Zimmerman supposedly said happened.

    So, rather than run a justice system based upon imagination, you want to run it based upon hypothetical questions (hmm – I think that would be the same as “imagination”) coming from self-serving statements of admitted killers? Not a very good idea.

    You are just confused. I guess you just heard the phrase “reasonable doubt” mentioned on a television show featuring a trial or something. You should try and learn what that phrase means and when it’s used.

    No, you really shouldn’t assume other people are as ill-educated as you are. You should, before engaging in such discussions, understand the allusion to “reasonable doubt” in the vernacular, in addition to learning about it as a legal term.

    Look, here’s what you’re doing: we have an admitted killer. You’re saying “let’s *pretend* that we know what happened!”

    I say “no. Let’s let the killer establish his defense, since he’s an admitted killer, and self-defense is supposed to be an affirmative defense.

    I’m not going to assume Trayvon Martin did something wrong just because it would get a killer off the hook – I find it astounding that people like you are trying to get people to do so!

    I’m not even going to consider it as a hypothetical. I’m going to let the killer bring it up, and try to establish that this is what happened. Because while killers are entitled to all evidence gathered by the police and the prosecutors, and are entitled to try to establish that their killing was lawful, they are not entitled to the assumption that the people they killed were engaged in criminal activities.

    Now – if, from this, you still can not understand my statements regarding “reasonable doubt” – please feel free to look up “vernacular” if necessary – you should not blame your lack of mental flexibility on anyone but yourself.

  90. 90
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I’m stuck on the notion that the cop told Zimmerman to get a gun to defend himself against a pit bull.

    According to what some of my fellow toy-dog owners have been told in similar cases, the idea is not to stop the dog. The idea is that the Neighborhood Nuisance who allows his unaltered, untrained, hyper-assertive pit bull to “challenge” other dogs, small children, and elderly walkers gets told “Next time your dog comes within 50 feet, he’s a target.” Doesn’t help if the Nuisance is a hardcore ‘banger, or even a committed wannabe, but it’s amazing how many otherwise functional individuals fail to comprehend that “Oh, Big Boi would never hurt anybody on purpose” doesn’t help when their dog “playfully” crushes a little dog’s, or a toddler’s skull just like BB likes to crush his dogtoys.

    How this relates to the death of Trayvon Martin: All too often it’s not the criminals that really fvkk stuff up, it’s the idiots.

  91. 91
    gaz says:

    @LongHairedWeirdo: All of that pithy eloquence for naught!

    Pearls before swine, man.

  92. 92
    Peter A says:

    @The Sailor: Yes, you are an expert, sir. Thank you for yet more uninformed opinion. No one other than Zimmerman and Martin knows what happened. Punish Zimmerman for his actions,yes, but making baseless assertions about his motivation doesn’t help anyone.

  93. 93
    Peter A says:

    @kc: Somerby’s right. MSNBC has been irresponsible, and through their egregious errors have been giving ammunition to right wing cranks defending Zimmerman. I find the willingness of lefties to go all out to demonize Zimmerman pretty stupid as well. In a just society we punish people for their crimes, not their thoughts. It is also possible for fairly decent ordinary people to make horrible unforgivable mistakes from time to time, which may well be the case here. None of us really know. And just as a practical matter, the demonization of Zimmerman as some kind of crazed racist vigilante obscures the issue of how stupid the SYG law is in the first place.

  94. 94
    Unsympathetic says:

    1) Zimmerman’s not racist. If he was, he wouldn’t have spent time defending the homeless black man named Sherman Ware – who was beaten to death by the son of a Sanford policeman.

    2) Zimmerman had every right to be suspicious of the young black man standing in the rain looking slowly back and forth at the apartments in his complex. In the 14 months before that day, there were 8 grand larceny burglaries just in Zimmerman’s complex alone – with no arrests made. All 8 were [allegedly] performed by young black men.

    3) Why, exactly, was Trayvon in Zimmerman’s complex? He wasn’t “walking home from a convenience store” – the nearest convenience store is over 2 miles by foot away from Zimmerman’s place. In the rain. Google maps has a use – get to it.

    4) Zimmerman didn’t “stalk” Trayvon – it’s a total of 50 yards from where Zimmerman lives to where the confrontation happened, and that took Zimmerman over 2 minutes to cover.

    5) Trayvon Martin was a boxer – check his Youtube channel. You’re going to have a hard time convincing me that the over-30, out of shape, short Zimmerman wins the fight against Trayvon.

    6) How, exactly, did Zimmerman get the open bruise on the back of his head? If Zimmerman won the fight against Trayvon, he wouldn’t have needed the back of his head examined and treated — and the statements made by the EMT’s and police at the scene [describing their treatment of Zimmerman’s immediate wounds] would therefore be accessories after the fact to homicide or worse.

    However, if Zimmerman lost that fight – and was mounted MMA-style by Trayvon – then the back of his head is an injury caused by Trayvon slamming Zimmerman’s head into the ground. And, if Zimmerman was mounted by Trayvon, the “stand your ground” law doesn’t apply, because that law assumes the ability to leave the scenario.

    If Trayvon mounted Zimmerman and was ground-and-pounding Zimmerman’s head into the pavement, that’s a clean shoot. And that’s the only determination the law needs to make when considering if charges will stick long-term. The police investigator at the scene recommended no charges be filed.

  95. 95
    Mary says:

    Eh….the article starts off immediately with pit bull hysteria. I think I’ll pass, thanks.

  96. 96
    ornery_curmudgeon says:

    Mmmmm … squirrel …

  97. 97
    brantl says:

    @tuna: None of that changes that Zimmerman pulled the gun on the kid, didn’t make any effort to identify himself, and got in the kid’s face WITHOUT IDENTIFYING HIMSELF, AFTER CHASING THE KID AROUND THE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT.

  98. 98
    ricky says:

    Mr. Cole you should be ashamed for posting a puff piece which allows us to see the shooter in some sort of human context.

    The more I think about this the angrier I become.

    How dare that reporter imply Zimmerman was, er, er,
    not a redneck white bigoted son of a powerful Supreme Court Judge armed by ALEC and out for blood.

    This devalues my preconceived notions.

  99. 99
    brantl says:

    @jncc: A 140 pound kid (at 6’2″, skinny as hell) slamming the head of a guy that outweighs him by (from what I heard) 100 pounds? Get real.

  100. 100
    Calming Influence says:

    O.K., maybe Trayvon threw the first punch. He was being pursued by someone, not a police officer, who might have been holding a gun in his hand at that point. So he turned and stood his ground.

    So now you have two people standing their ground, and legally each has the right to kill the other without fear of prosecution.

    What a fucked up law.

  101. 101
    Unsympathetic says:

    Martin was very much in shape as a boxer. Also, your head weighs <5 pounds. When you've mounted an opponent MMA-style, that's not much. Being an athletic boxer with adrenaline flowing, he knocked Zimmerman down quickly. Trayvon's YouTube channel is very real.

    "didn’t make any effort to identify himself"

    What on earth makes you assume that Trayvon would have done anything different if only Zimmerman had identified himself? That's an unprovable counterfactual.

    You have zero way of knowing whether or not Zimmerman did, in fact, ID himself – and Trayvon's response was to flatten Zimmerman with one punch.

    "AFTER CHASING THE KID AROUND THE HOUSING DEVELOPMENT."

    Define "around." Remember that Zimmerman is completely out of shape. It's not a coincidence that the encounter was defined by the EMT's and police as happening at the entrance to the U-shaped apartment complex, and the door to Zimmerman's apartment is about 50 yards from the entrance.

    Perhaps your phrase "chasing the kid around" would be more realistically typed as "walked up to the kid at the entrance to"

    "Zimmerman pulled the gun on the kid"

    Of course they fought before the gun was drawn. What's the assertion here, that a fat old guy got the drop on a young athletic boxer with a greater reach? If Zimmerman "wanted" to shoot Trayvon, why would Zimmerman have bothered to confront him? If Zimmerman's intent was simply to shoot, there wouldn't have been a fight.

    Here's what I think went down:

    Trayvon was looking for his next apartment to rob. Zimmerman calls 911. Zimmerman walks up, ID's himself. Trayvon flattens him, mounts him and begins to bash Zimmerman's head into the sidewalk. Zimmerman shoots – and didn't need to pull it out of his pocket because Trayvon was on top of him. Clean shoot, case closed.

    If you've discovered something that the police investigator missed, by all means let's hear it.

  102. 102

    @Unsympathetic:

    If Trayvon mounted Zimmerman and was ground-and-pounding Zimmerman’s head into the pavement, that’s a clean shoot. And that’s the only determination the law needs to make when considering if charges will stick long-term. The police investigator at the scene recommended no charges be filed.

    So, let’s get this straight. If a criminal attacks someone, and that person defends themselves effectively, and the criminal kills the person they originally attacked, that’s a “clean shoot”, in your opinion?

    The law disagrees, from what I’ve seen. The arguments I’ve seen say that if a criminal has started a fight, then the criminal *must* attempt to disengage and remove the fear of danger from the victim. Only if the victim is found to have pursued vengeance after the threat had vanished can criminal charges be applied.

    So, what you’re asserting is that we should assume that Martin engaged in criminal behavior, so that we can excuse his killer.

    Why should we make that assumption? Because a guy who was once sent to court-ordered anger management therapy *never* crosses the line into criminality?

    No, I’ll let Zimmerman try to establish his version of events, but after killing someone, I’m going to assume he was wrong (killing people *is* wrong, you know) until I have something other than supposition. For all we know, he started a fight, found Martin was tougher than he looked, panicked, and killed Martin. That would make it entirely his fault.

  103. 103
    jncc says:

    A 140 pound kid (at 6’2”, skinny as hell) slamming the head of a guy that outweighs him by (from what I heard) 100 pounds? Get real.

    Yeah it wasn’t just 100 pounds, it was 100 pounds of muscle!

  104. 104
    The Sailor says:

    “Of course they fought before the gun was drawn.”

    Assumes facts not in evidence.

    The homicide officer at the scene wanted Zimmerman arrested and charged with manslaughter.

    Please link to a police report describing Zimmerman’s injuries & what hospital he was taken to. Cops don’t blithely take a person to jail that has a broken nose and possible concussion. Broken noses result in much bleeding, so do scalp wounds, no blood is in evidence in his booking video.

  105. 105
    The Sailor says:

    “Here’s what I think went down:

    Trayvon was looking for his next apartment to rob.”

    You are a delusional racist.

  106. 106
    George says:

    So is it true that Martin was really a Muslim super ninja terrorist, and Zimmerman was a humble American hero who was in danger all along?

    So many stories. So many lies.

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