Opinion is Not Fact

In the second week of the George Zimmerman trial last week Dr. Shiping Bao, the medical examiner for Trayvon Martin was called to the stand, and his testimony was utter magic. The defense team questioned Dr. Bao about a change in his opinion and this was his response, behold:

Based on another autopsy I did in our office. We have a case very similar to Trayvon Martin’s case three weeks ago. First, I need to explain to you what is opinion. Opinion can be changed. That’s why you asked jury to be open minded, to have open mind, right. Opinion there’s no truth or force just right or wrong. If you have new information, you have new experience, if you read a new book, you will change your opinion. If someone never change opinion, you can call mentally retarded or you never learn, right.

Just wow.

Also on today’s #TWiBRadio, went in on medical examiner Dr. Shiping Bao and his testimony in the George Zimmerman trial (21:00) and Twitter’s quality handling of Flight 214’s crash in San Francisco (39:00).

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And this morning on #amTWiB, L.Joy, Imani, and the rest of the #TheMorningCrew discussed extreme measures including nature’s extreme response to climate change (18:00), the veteran’s extreme response to the rainbow flag (44:00), and Ljoy’s suggestion to deal with gun violence in Chicago (57:00).

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75 replies
  1. 1
    trollhattan says:

    Holy crap, that’s an amazing quote. In my opinion, Dr. Bao is a very astute fellow.

  2. 2
    efgoldman says:

    @trollhattan:

    In my opinion, Dr. Bao is a very astute fellow.

    I’m sure he is, but he’s another one of them furriners.
    This trial is in Florida, after all.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    I’ve got a bad feeling about the Zimmerman trial. It’s just been so…bullshitty.

  5. 5
    efgoldman says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    I’ve got a bad feeling about the Zimmerman trial. It’s just been so…bullshitty

    Professor Pierce’s tagline since this mess started is “nothing good can come of this. Nothing.”
    I think he’s probably right.

  6. 6
    rikyrah says:

    Trayvon Martin was

    stalked
    hunted
    murdered

    for the crime of Walking While Black.

    he was ‘armed’ with skittles and iced tea

    as a Black woman, the trial has been illuminating. nothing I didn’t already know…just confirmation.

  7. 7
    ChrisNYC says:

    I’ve been working my way through the videos (full) of the trial. I saw those couple of articles about the pros not making the case. I’m only to day 3 but, man, that witness, a neighbor who testified and has the crazy emotional 911 call. I just think the preemptive Zimmerman will walk thing is overdone. That tape of the emergency call is a witness, directly outside the fight, seconds after the shooting and she’s basically a wreck because “that young man was somebody’s son.” She’s telling the operator that she wishes she had run outside but she was scared. That was her immediate reaction. Without knowing anything about either of them. If I were a juror that would count for a lot.

    Also, pros did a good job of showing Z to be a paranoid. President of the HOA, asked by Z’s lawyer, “Wasn’t that a good thing (Z’s setting up neighborhood watch)?” Pres said, :”I didn’t think we needed it.” The cops instructed them to lock their damn sliding doors and the burglaries would be reduced. No shooting necessary!

    I know GZ just needs to muddy the water but my take is def is very worried about 1) the hunting behavior and 2) the ear witnesses.

  8. 8
    Kay says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    It’s a terrible case. The defense is bitching that 90% of the state’s case is circumstantial, but 90% of the defense is circumstantial too.
    I was judging the state’s lawyers harshly because I read Zimmerman’s series of statements and interviews and I think he’s lying, but I listened for 4 hours and they have a hard job.
    The circumstances are such that the defense are able to sort of flood the zone with Zimmerman’s version of
    events. They’re TRYING to “speak for Martin” on the state side but they have so few words from him!
    It must be hugely frustrating. I hope the jury keeps that it mind. All these words you heard from Zimmerman? One side. His version. You didn’t hear from the other guy.

  9. 9
    dr. bloor says:

    It’s a shitty case to prosecute because the cops did a shitty job up front. I expect that Zimmerman will walk.

  10. 10
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Spaghetti Lee:

    With everything I’ve read about Florida’s utterly fucked-up version of Stand Your Ground, I think the initial prosecutor was probably right that Zimmerman could have claimed SYG and then sued the ever-living fuck out of that town for daring to charge him with a crime. Because that’s exactly how fucked up their particular version of the SYG law is.

    I’m expecting a hung jury and then for Zimmerman to be immunized from prosecution by another judge under SYG. That seems to be a pretty common outcome.

  11. 11
    burnspbesq says:

    @Kay:

    Unfortunately, I think there’s a good chance that Zimmerman will walk on the second-degree murder charge. I don’t think there can be reasonable doubt as to what happened, and I don’t think that the defense is going to be able to establish self-defense, but I think there is room for reasonable doubt on the mental state.

    Voluntary manslaughter looks, with the benefit of hindsight, like it would have been the better charge.

  12. 12
    efgoldman says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I’m expecting a hung jury and then for Zimmerman to be immunized from prosecution by another judge under SYG.

    You forgot the part about making millions$ on the TeaHadi grifter speaking circuit.

  13. 13
    Cacti says:

    @rikyrah:

    Trayvon Martin was

    stalked
    hunted
    murdered

    for the crime of Walking While Black.

    And the stalker, hunter, and trigger man was a wannabe cop, girlfriend beater, gun enthusiast, and mixed martial arts practitioner, just itching for his chance to go all Dirty Harry on one of those “fucking punks”.

    Sadly, I’ve believed he would walk from the very start, and for reasons utterly unrelated to his guilt or innocence.

  14. 14
    Kay says:

    I have to say, too, part of this is my just not getting this idea Zimmerman’s defenders have that he was somehow performing this huge public service.
    I don’t want armed volunteers patrolling my neighborhood. I don’t want armed volunteers patrolling my son’s school, either.
    Stop helping me! For God’s sake. Please.
    I don’t get the attitude that this shit makes me safer. I want some individual right to demand they STOP ” protecting” me.

  15. 15
    Cacti says:

    @dr. bloor:

    It’s a shitty case to prosecute because the cops did a shitty job up front. I expect that Zimmerman will walk.

    Everything you need to know about law enforcement handling of the initial investigation can be summed up by this fact:

    The dead black kid was drug tested. The non-black shooter wasn’t.

  16. 16
    Lee says:

    I have never doubted that Zimmerman will walk and it all boils down to SYG and shitty police work from the beginning (which you can also give partial attribution to SYG).

  17. 17
    Cacti says:

    @Lee:

    and shitty police work from the beginning (which you can also give partial attribution to SYG)

    I don’t think Sanford PD’s handling of it was much more than good old fashioned law enforcement racism. Dead black teen = open and shut case of self defense. They racially profiled the corpse for fuck’s sake.

  18. 18
    Kay says:

    @burnspbesq:

    I looked at that! There’s problems there too, sadly.
    My husband does criminal defense and he was a prosecutor. He does 2 or 3 trials a year.
    He keeps telling me one can’t predict a jury, and this is true. He doesn’t even make a call anymore, because he was wrong so often.
    So that’s what I’m hoping on.

  19. 19
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kay:

    I don’t get the attitude that this shit makes me safer. I want some individual right to demand they STOP ”protecting”me.

    They think the world is a basically unsafe place, and the only way they can feel comfortable is if they’re heavily armed so they can fight off the people who want to attack them. You think that makes them crazy and dangerous themselves. They’re basically incompatible worldviews.

  20. 20
    Roger Moore says:

    @burnspbesq:

    Voluntary manslaughter looks, with the benefit of hindsight, like it would have been the better charge.

    Isn’t a lesser included charge with the Murder 2?

  21. 21
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    If the family is willing to bankrupt themselves, or can find some deep-pocketed angel to fund it, the best outcome for any sort of “justice” would be a civil suit, although it is a dead certainty that they’d spend more than they get. And they may well spend years and millions and get nothing.

  22. 22
    Quarks says:

    Given Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which is not working in the prosecution’s favor at here, I really wish that the prosecution had added a voluntary or involuntary manslaughter charge, since Zimmerman killed someone, whatever his motivations.

    @Roger Moore, according to local TV stations, in Florida Murder 2 just means that Zimmerman didn’t plan this in advance. Murder 1 means it was planned.

  23. 23
    burnspbesq says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Don’t know FL law well enough to even guess. We’ll know when we see the jury instructions.

  24. 24
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    The dead black kid was drug tested. The non-black shooter wasn’t.

    @Cacti: I did not know that.

    The phrase “travesty of justice” is really the only appropriate sentiment.

  25. 25
    Kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I keep going back to Martin’s perception. This individual without any authority or uniform is ACTING as a police officer would act. I have a 19 year old. He would be one of 2 things; scared OR belligerent and defensive.
    I mean, what are we supposed to DO with this, in the general public? What are the rules? Do I have to accept this guy’s assumed authority? I don’t. I didn’t consent to this.

  26. 26
    Linda Featheringill says:

    It looks to me like the defense is trying to avoid conviction of outright murder, and of course that’s their job.

    But Zimmerman hunted the child down. What did he plan to do when he caught him if not kill?

    In the end, it’s the opinion of the jurors that matters.

  27. 27
    Starfish says:

    Thanks for including summaries in these posts. I never have a whole hour to listen to a podcast, but the bit about the lactose intolerance was cracking me up.

  28. 28
    Kay says:

    @burnspbesq:

    They had a hearing on discovery w/out the jury present where manslaughter was raised, so I think it’s in there.

  29. 29
    Roger Moore says:

    @Linda Featheringill:

    But Zimmerman hunted the child down. What did he plan to do when he caught him if not kill?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t thought that far in advance. If he had thought of anything, it was probably that he would either subdue the kid with his size and MMA training or he’d hold him at gunpoint until the police could get there.

  30. 30
    mai naem says:

    I happened to see a little of the beginning of Dr. Bao’s testimony. He really impressed me. Granted there weren’t a lot of good witnesses for the prosecution, but he was the best of the bunch.

  31. 31
    Kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    What bothers me so.much about Zimmerman’s words are, the elements of self defense just jump right out at you, if you’re used to looking at a statement in terms of “elements”

    That’s what must be so frustrating for the state. “I was in fear for my life”
    If they were printed on a page and highlighted you could match them up with a statute. It’s the state’s theory of the case, and I sure see how they got there, reading it all together. It was jumping off the page for me before I listened for the state’s theory.

    Just maddening and so sad.

  32. 32
    Hungry Joe says:

    The quote is a variation on one by John Maynard Keynes (him again!). No one is quite sure what he said, exactly, but once, somewhere, at some time or other, someone pointed out that he had changed his position on some matter. Keynes responded with (something like), “I received new information. What, sir, do you do with new information?”

  33. 33
    Suzanne says:

    My grandfather, who was a wonderful man, but definitely had a large racist streak, headed up Neighborhood Watch in our neighborhoods, both on Long Island and out here in PHX. And while he most assuredly would have given Trayvon Martin a second, third, and fourth glance, there is ABSOLUTELY no way that he would have carried or pulled a weapon on him. People who really know Neighborhood Watch know that it is in large part about “eyes on the street”, and defensible space, and creating an atmosphere of community so that people know one another and don’t have distrust. It is NEVER about weapons. My grandfather even turned in the one gun we owned, which was my great-grandfather’s WWI handgun from France, and it was broken and there was no ammunition made for it anyway, even though it was a valuable antique. Zimmerman specifically looked for reasons to be distrustful. That isn’t Neighborhood Watch. That is paranoid bullshit.

  34. 34
    Kay says:

    @mai naem:

    He was driving me crazy, too. I thought he was distracting with all his explanations. He kept looping around and back. I think he’s more persuasive if he resists the urge to match on each point. Some shit simply doesn’t matter. I don’t want unrelated rhetorical points clouding it all up. He “won” that round, but where does it get him?

    But, the whole thing is making me unhappy, so there’s that. My general crankiness was like “everyone! Do better! Focus!”

    I knew I shouldn’t have listened. I’m unbearably critical.

  35. 35
    Chris says:

    @Cacti:

    I don’t think Sanford PD’s handling of it was much more than good old fashioned law enforcement racism. Dead black teen = open and shut case of self defense. They racially profiled the corpse for fuck’s sake.

    Yeah, I always thought the local cops simply didn’t want to be bothered with the hassle of an investigation for the death of an unperson.

    @Roger Moore:

    They think the world is a basically unsafe place, and the only way they can feel comfortable is if they’re heavily armed so they can fight off the people who want to attack them. You think that makes them crazy and dangerous themselves. They’re basically incompatible worldviews.

    And in the same vein, they say that being heavily armed is the only way they can resist the government should it become tyrannical. Whereas I say that the kind of people who patrol their neighborhoods with loaded firearms just itching for a chance to use them are far more likely to become brownshirts than La Résistance if it comes to that.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Cacti:

    Actually, from the stories I read at the time, the Sanford PD really wanted to charge Zimmerman, which is why we have the tape of his interrogation. It was the local DA who told them to back off and stop investigating since he thought Zimmerman would cry SYG.

  37. 37
    Chris says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    UGH. I stand corrected and it does make me feel better about police departments.

  38. 38
    Kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I don’t know. I can’t decide. Reading the interviews, they’re prodding him to provide details, but they already have the self defense frame in their heads, so one could read it as providing that to him, helping him to fill in holes.
    It bothered me a little. It may have been unintentional, but it still bothered me.
    I would be happier if they had knocked him off script a little more, seen what happens if he was allowed to wander off “this was self defense!”

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Kay:

    I would need to delve into the previous threads and I’m feeling too lazy to do it right now, but I definitely remember there was at least one detective at Sanford PD who wanted to arrest Zimmerman that night but was warned off by the local DA.

    ETA: Remember, this is Florida, where “self defense” includes chasing a thief down the street, stabbing him to death, and selling the car radios the thief was carrying. The guy who did that was released thanks to “Stand Your Ground.”

    ETA 2: Link

  40. 40
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Kay: I keep going back to what Martin must have thought too. It’s easy for me to believe that he thought HE was being mugged. OK, this is what I imagine: All he’s doing is walking home at night, and then there’s this random guy who appears and starts giving him a hard time. He tries to make this dude go away and he won’t. Dude puts his hands on him and a fight breaks out. Then at some point the gun is revealed. Holy shit! This is for real! This is why I’d like to know why Zimmerman didn’t think to identify himself as part of neighborhood watch. That’s kind of key, like the cops said, to defusing the tension.

  41. 41
    Kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    No, I get it. I know what they said. The part that bothered me was their prompts. They say (for example) “people are going to want to know how that happened” which could be completely innocent (I can’t tell the tone of voice) and a good way to question him, or not.

    I can read it both ways. It did bother me, though, when I was listening and realized what the state was trying to prove, that Zimmerman carefully constructed this story to match up with all the elements of self defense.

    In that frame, the prodding could look different, that they were helping him out a little.

  42. 42
    Kay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Thank god someone else sees it. I don’t know why he didn’t identify himself either.
    I just can’t help.but think that his approach was going to end badly, almost inevitably. Martin can’t read his mind. I have one son who is “all head”. He would react very differently than his younger brother, who at this age, anyway (17) was all nervous system. He would flee or fight, and maybe both. I think Martin did both. I understand that.

  43. 43
    Cacti says:

    @Kay:

    Thank god someone else sees it. I don’t know why he didn’t identify himself either.

    Like I said upthread, that’s one of the reasons why I think this was murder and not manslaughter. George wasn’t hoping to be a good neighborhood watchman and prevent crime (real or perceived). He was aggrieved that a “fucking punk” was going to “get away with it”. Not this time, by god.

  44. 44
    AxelFoley says:

    @Chris:

    And in the same vein, they say that being heavily armed is the only way they can resist the government should it become tyrannical.

    That “logic” of theirs always cracks me up. You can be as armed as you want, but the government has WAY more fucking guns than you do. And theirs are bigger and more powerful.

    Fuck you gonna do when the government has guns, jets, bombers, bombs, missles, nukes, tanks, and DROOOOONES?

    If the government really wanted to fuck their shit up, there’s nothing those Aryan Nation assholes can do about it, and their compounds would be ground into dust.

  45. 45

    @AxelFoley: They’re people who think Red Dawn was a documentary. Hell, they probably think The X-Files was a documentary.

  46. 46
    AxelFoley says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    This. So very much this.

  47. 47
  48. 48
    Yatsuno says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass: Bad choice. Everyone dies at the end of the original Red Dawn.

  49. 49
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Cacti: I don’t know about murder, exactly. My impression of Zimmerman is that he’s a loser-ish wannabe. He has gear, he knows cop lingo, he has fantasies… It’s kind of like that commercial for DirecTV where the chunky guy takes karate and calls himself the Fist of Goodness and then crashes through a skylight into a dinner party while trying to be the kung-fu vigilante. So I imagine Zimmerman thinking this is his chance to scare off the suspicious black kid and be the neighborhood hero, so he steels himself to act tough, but then it starts to go awry — because from Martin’s perspective, which Zimmerman can’t comprehend because he’s so locked into thinking of himself as Totally Almost A Cop, this random guy is hassling him, so he’s going to fight back. And Zimmerman starts losing the fight, and it’s all not going according to plan, and everyone is going to laugh at him for getting his butt kicked, and so he feels like he has to pull the trigger to validate having gone down this route in the first place. Or maybe he thought he might get beaten up and have his own gun taken away from him and used to shoot him. In his mind, IMHO, the whole thing really is totally justified. But it all happened because he was totally convinced he was the obvious cop surrogate.

    If this speculative account of mine is correct, I don’t know what that means relative to the state law. But as Kay was pointing out, it’s certainly fishy that the version he tells has every term of art and red flag for self-defense, because to me it suggests he thought about ways to polish his story and inadvertently over-polished it.

  50. 50
    Chris says:

    @AxelFoley:

    That “logic” of theirs always cracks me up. You can be as armed as you want, but the government has WAY more fucking guns than you do. And theirs are bigger and more powerful.

    Yes, and any hypothetical totalitarian government wouldn’t get anywhere unless it had a large number of the people with guns on their side, too. Sooo…

    To be fair, it is possible for groups using asymmetric warfare to seriously fuck up a conventional army’s day – the last decade has proven that if nothing else. Trouble is that I doubt if the militia nuts have any idea the hell that that kind of total war would rain down, not only on them but on their whole communities, or if they’d have the stomach to fight it. I also doubt if they have any idea what it takes for such a militia to be successful (among other things, a foreign patron is a huge help – can anyone see the militia bosses abasing themselves before any foreign country asking for it?)

  51. 51
    Xenos says:

    He gave that answer on cross-examination? Holy crap that is some serious malpractice by Zimmerman’s lawyer. Even in re-direct, that testimony should have been blocked if at all possible.

  52. 52
    nemesis says:

    Zimm will walk.

    Im just an interested layperson who feels Trayvon was stalked and murdered by a delusional, wannabe cop. But what I think has nothing to do with the eventual outcome of this trial.

    Agree totally with those who say this is a shit case for the prosecution to prove. There are no eye witnesses. Only Zimm’s account. The on-lookers did not see the actual shooting, although it is in evidence that Trayvon was on top of Zimm and thrusting his arms in a downward motion toward Zimm. This will be enough “evidence” to aquit. Hell, Zimm isnt even using the SYG law as his defense.

    Unlike most who comment on this trial, I have watched/listened to prly 50-75% of this trial and I can tell you it does not look good. The case againt Zimm has not been proven.

  53. 53
    Betty Cracker says:

    @nemesis: What I find fascinating about this case is how incredibly different people’s perceptions of the exact same testimony and evidence are. Even people who are rooting for the same outcome (punishment for Zimmerman).

  54. 54
    joes527 says:

    @Kay: Are you saying that TM was right to stand his ground?

    I’m not getting all the complaints about the SYG law in this case. Yes, it is a shitty law, and yes, it does lead to people walking on murder, but I thought it didn’t apply here.

    Isn’t GZ’s story that he turned back to the truck, was attacked from behind, that TM was on top of him and beating him.

    Believe or disbelieve GZ, but that doesn’t sound like a SYG defense. That sounds like straight self defense … defense (I’m talking about the defense strategy here, not what happened. This all depends on whether you believe GZ’s story) His claim is that he was unable to flee and in fear of his life.

    So what is all this talk about SYG? Am I missing something?

  55. 55
    Kay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    There’s an alternate series of events that is perfectly consistent with Zimmerman’s injuries. Much more consistent than Zimmerman’s account, actually. Zimmerman tries to restrain Martin. Martin hits Zimmerman in the face and pushes Zimmerman back. Zimmerman’s head hits the concrete. Zimmerman then enraged or scared, shoots and kills Martin.

  56. 56
    joes527 says:

    @trollhattan:

    Holy crap, that’s an amazing quote. In my opinion, Dr. Bao is a very astute fellow.

    Go read the rest of his testimony. (which is largely composed of “I don’t remember,” and “that’s not my job”)

    You might want to revisit that opinion.

  57. 57
    Kay says:

    @joes527:

    I didn’t say anything about SYG.

    I know Zimmerman says Martin attacked him. I don’t believe him. I think his account is implausible. I don’t think.the whole tenor of the encounter changed between Zimmerman’s first contact and the altercation. Zimmerman needs that to be true.

  58. 58
    joes527 says:

    @Kay:

    I didn’t say anything about SYG.

    True. But there seem to be an odd undercurrent of agreement with the concept of SYG in TM supporters, and that was touched on by your comment.

    The line goes that TM felt threatened by GZ’s stalking, and his standing up to GZ was justified because GZ was acting in a threatening manner. Instead of running away, TM stood his ground, and any actions that he took against GZ should be understood not as aggression, but as standing his ground.

    It just seems like an odd line to take in a community where SYG is a dirty word.

    Any yeah, the rest of my comment was totally off on a tangent.

  59. 59
    Kay says:

    @joes527:

    I think Martin did run away. So does Zimmerman. “He’s running”

  60. 60
    Mnemosyne says:

    @joes527:

    I think the reason people frame it that way is to point out that, if the outcome had been different and Martin had killed Zimmerman instead of vice versa, Martin would have had just as good a claim to a SYG defense as Zimmerman. Because that’s just how effed up Florida’s SYG law is — it basically immunizes the winner of a fight from prosecution no matter what they did prior to or during the fight.

  61. 61
    D58826 says:

    @nemesis: While I agree that reasonable doubt will get Zimmerman off the hook, I find his version of the events totally unbelievable. I’m not sure why the state hasn’t put on a stronger case.

    Zimmerman carried his gun in a holster, back near his kidneys, under his pants, a shirt and a jacket. Yet he was able to get the gun out, cock it and fire it while being beaten senseless by Martin who was straddling his body. I would assume that Martin was at waist level or higher, since if he was across Zimmerman’s legs it would be rather awkward to be punching his face. I would think Houdini would have a hard time getting the gun out of the holster under those circumstances.
    Of course may the gun was already out of the holster, either pointed at Martin or in the jacket pocket . Either way it would indicate that Zimmerman was expecting/looking for trouble. Not sure why the state hasn’t made a bigger deal of this.

    The other thing that seems so odd is the framing that Martin was the aggressor. Even if he did throw the first punch, he was the one being followed. The girlfriends testimony certain makes it sound like Martin was concerned about the guy who was following him

  62. 62
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    The whole thing is problematic – from event to investigation to trial, and Pierce is right – nothing good can come of this. I’ve kind of studiously avoided careful attention to the trial, because I know I’d be critical of performance. Which isn’t fair given that I don’t know FL criminal law, or FL jury tendencies.

    I am of course pessimistic. What I do know, like Mr. Kay does, is that juries are impossible to predict. I’ve tried about 75, civil and criminal. In both arenas, I’ve won cases I should have lost and lost cases I should have won. You truly cannot tell. And I’m sure Kay’s husband can tell you that when a jury surprises you, it’s often based on some point that a) was not at all germane to a result, b) you considered but in a 180 degrees fashion from the jury, or c) a combination of both types of details.

  63. 63
    Pogonip says:

    I would like to know if the prosecution is deliberately trying to throw the fight. Most prosecutors have political ambitions. If local sympathy is mostly with Zimmerman (don’t know if that’s so or not), then an ambitious prosecutor might not want to be known as the one who sent him to the clink. What say you, legal beagles?

  64. 64
    D58826 says:

    @Pogonip: I’ve wondered the same thing. The prosecutors seem to be allowing the defense to ‘turn’ prosecution witnesses into defense witnesses with out raising much of an objection. Look at how the case evolved –
    1. white man kills black kid, no big deal.
    2. cops not really interested in pushing the investigation
    3. public outcry
    4. local cops and prosecutors look bad and some lose their jobs
    5. the special prosecutor over charges,
    6. the locals go thru the motions.
    7. the jury comes back with reasonable doubt and the locals are off the hook.

    Now where did I put my tinfoil hat!!

  65. 65
    Paul in KY says:

    @Kay: If he doesn’t have a badge, fuck him (is my default posture). Although, being white probably helps me get away with that attitude.

    Of course, if a gun comes out, then I would be ever so much more polite.

  66. 66
    DavidTC says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    So I imagine Zimmerman thinking this is his chance to scare off the suspicious black kid and be the neighborhood hero, so he steels himself to act tough, but then it starts to go awry — because from Martin’s perspective, which Zimmerman can’t comprehend because he’s so locked into thinking of himself as Totally Almost A Cop, this random guy is hassling him, so he’s going to fight back.

    And the thing is, this part isn’t actually under dispute, at all.

    It’s somewhat astonishing how the paranoid right seems to think that people running around, with guns, hassling other people, is reasonable behavior. They don’t quite seem to understand that the rest of us would rather have a ‘suspicious person’ (Even one who is _actually_ suspicious, not just being ‘suspiciously black’.) walk down the street not bothering anyone than to have _them_ walk down the street acting like they have the right to question every single person with an implied threat of _shooting_ if they don’t go along with it.

    And then they run into someone who _doesn’t_ go along with it.

    ‘An armed society is a polite society’ is exactly correct. Or, rather: An armed society is a society where gun owners who don’t think you’re polite enough will _shoot you_. (And also a lot of them are racist and think that black people not tugging their forelock’ and saying ‘sir’ to white people is impolite.)

    And Zimmerman starts losing the fight, and it’s all not going according to plan, and everyone is going to laugh at him for getting his butt kicked, and so he feels like he has to pull the trigger to validate having gone down this route in the first place. Or maybe he thought he might get beaten up and have his own gun taken away from him and used to shoot him. In his mind, IMHO, the whole thing really is totally justified.

    I don’t quite understand even if Martin threw the first punch, why _that_ wasn’t allowed under SYG. I mean, the dude had been chased quite some distance by a guy with a gun.

    That’s what gets me every time about this case…under SYG, it _appears that _Martin_ would be been legally allowed to pull out a damn gun and shoot _Zimmerman_.

    Of course, black people can’t actually _use_ SYG laws. I’m fairly certain that’s actually in the law.

    I’ve mentioned it before, in regard to that ‘I am allowed to shoot a prostitute because she didn’t fulfill her verbal contract with me to my satisfaction’ nonsense that happened recently, but it applies here also:

    Someone needs to actually track down the asshats who pass these laws and justifiable end up shooting them. It’s _really_ easy to manipulate circumstances as to allow you to shoot them.

    (Everyone please note, I’m not advocating murdering anyone. I’m advocating _legally killing_ them under the fucking stupid laws they themselves passed. It ain’t murder if it’s legal.)

    But it all happened because he was totally convinced he was the obvious cop surrogate.

    It’s not so much ‘cop’ state-of-mind as it is ‘I have the right to exercise power over you’ state-of-mind. Which, admittedly, a lot of cops _do_ have, but it’s Zimmerman wasn’t thinking he was a ‘cop’, he was thinking he was a ‘good guy’ and the black guy was obviously a criminal.

  67. 67
    nemesis says:

    @D58826:

    Yet he was able to get the gun out, cock it and fire it

    Perhaps you know more about guns than I, since I know so little, but the gun in question is a double action pistol. The testimony lead me to understand that a round is always ready to go in this gun, hence, no cocking the trigger. Pretty big point for sure.

    As to the location of the gun, I do not remember the testimony regarding this, other than the defense on re-direct referencing how Zimm was able to access the gun while, supposedly, Trayvon was fumbling/fighting to take the gun from Zimm’s holster.

  68. 68
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Pogonip: I think the prosecution is trying, but they’ve been dealt a lousy hand. My sense on public opinion (I live within 150 miles of Sanford) is that most people think Zimmerman will get off, and my guess is that a majority think he should be acquitted. It’s not that they’re all racist assholes who think non-black people should be able to shoot black teenagers at will (there are some people who feel that way, but not many). They seem to view it as a tragic misunderstanding that is really nobody’s fault.

  69. 69
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    They seem to view it as a tragic misunderstanding that is really nobody’s fault.

    Not to wander too far off-topic, but this is apparently what happens most of the time when a bicyclist is seriously injured or killed by a motorist — the jury thinks of all of the times they were driving while distracted and decides that the poor, innocent motorist has been punished enough by having to live with the guilt of having injured or killed someone.

    IOW, the people you’re talking to can picture themselves making the same kind of mistake (shooting/injuring an innocent person after assuming they’re up to no good) and that’s why they want Zimmerman to get off. They want that societal reassurance that it really wasn’t a big deal, and certainly wouldn’t make them a criminal if they did it themselves.

  70. 70
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: I think your bicyclist analogy is a good one and captures the zeitgeist very well. It’s not that people think it’s okay to go around mowing down cyclists, but they seem to have a “shit happens” attitude about it. Insanely enough, guns are regarded as just another tool like a car (albeit not one you can REGISTER or have to insure), and every other asshole around here has a piece stashed somewhere. I think a million people in FL have a concealed carry permit, and you don’t even need one to carry a gun in your car. It’s crazy.

  71. 71
    D58826 says:

    @nemesis: The information about the location of the gun was from Lisa Bloom on L. O’Donnell last night. She was making the same point that it seems odd that the prosecutors havn’t made a bigger issue of where the gun was located and level of difficulty in getting at it.

    I’m not much of an expert on guns either and what I thought the witness said was since it was a double action revolver, even with a round in the chamber, it was a 2 step process to fire it. But my expertise on guns doesn’t extend much beyond Matt Dillion and Gunsmoke!!

  72. 72
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @DavidTC: To me the tone of the phone conversations with the cops suggests that Zimmerman thinks the cops aren’t willing to get tough, and that’s about to change, because there’s a new cop on the beat, George Zimmerman, Volunteer Badass, and he’s had about enough of your wimps and mollycoddlers in blue. And then he realizes in the heat of the moment that he’s not the ninja badass he’s been fantasizing himself to be, and it dawns on him that if he doesn’t use the gun, he’s going to get badly hurt. At any rate, he thinks he’s in a life or death struggle with a hardened thug, which makes him feel desperate to defend himself; and meanwhile Martin thinks he’s getting mugged, which makes him feel… desperate to defend himself.

    And, again, the whole thing dissolves into nothing if Zimmerman just says “Hey, what are you doing?” and Martin says “Nothing, what’s it to you?” and Zimmerman says “I’m on neighborhood watch and there have been some complaints about suspicious activity. Do you live here?” Then Martin says where his parent lives, and Zimmerman stays put and watches him walk that way. And Martin gets back on the phone and laughs to Rachel about how this punk-ass cracker tried to give him a hard time, and Zimmerman feels important for being on patrol, and both of them go about their lives.

  73. 73
    StringOnAStick says:

    @<a href="@FlipYrWhig: I wish that this was what actually happened. Sadly, the ever increasing frenzy around legalizing concealed carry makes this version of potential reality less and less likely.

  74. 74
    DavidTC says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    To me the tone of the phone conversations with the cops suggests that Zimmerman thinks the cops aren’t willing to get tough, and that’s about to change, because there’s a new cop on the beat, George Zimmerman, Volunteer Badass, and he’s had about enough of your wimps and mollycoddlers in blue.

    Yeah, I wasn’t as much trying to say that Zimmerman didn’t think of himself as a cop, as I was trying to saying that Zimmerman idea of how cops behaved was…well, it is, in many cases, accurate, but it’s not actually what we _want_.

    Zimmerman didn’t think of himself as a ‘cop’, he thought of himself as an _asshole cop_. Although he would probably think of it as a ‘rogue cop’. Which in his head is how cops are supposed to behave toward ‘intruders’, and all that ‘finding out if suspicious people are actually breaking the law in any manner’ is a stupid waste of time.

    And then he learned that, unlike TV, it doesn’t just cut to commercial when the ‘cop’ catches the ‘suspect’, and the ‘suspect’ doesn’t raise his arms in the air and give up, and we don’t come back from commercial with the suspect in an interrogation room while the lazy-do-nothing police are annoyed at him for breaking procedure, but glad he ‘caught the guy’.

    Sometimes the suspect fights back, sometimes he’s actually not doing anything wrong, and sometimes _you’re not a fucking cop_.

  75. 75
    Pogonip says:

    I’ll be glad when it’s all over because I am inundated with e-mails from conservative relatives and acquaintances about what a jerk Trayvon was. My patient attempts to explain that, even if Trayvon WAS the Worst Person in the World, Zimmerman could not have known that at the time and therefore it’s not germane to the trial, have got nowhere. Only the end of the trial will stop this. And not a moment too soon.

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