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Monday, April 2, 2012

“The Donning of a Hood Is Not Consistent With This Rule:” The Latest Martin/Zimmerman Shooting News Roundup

Update: As you will see below, several Cnn videos did not embed properly.  There is some kind of bug in their software that keeps causing the same video to embed.  So in each offending case, I replaced the video with a link.


Update (II): I just saw where ABC news admits that video it showed does in fact show evidence of Zimmerman being injured.  Scroll (way) down for the info.

So this is the latest in my Trayvon Martin round-ups.  You can see all the posts where I discuss the case by using this link to aggregate them.

Now as preliminary matter let’s remind ourselves about the law again.  Whether Zimmerman was following Martin or not is beside the point; there is no law that says that you must run the other way when you think a person is a criminal.  At most it goes to Zimmerman’s credibility—that is if he lied about that element of the story, one wonders what else he might’ve lied about, and if he told the truth about it, you have that to contend with, too.

What does matter are three crucial questions:

1.      Who struck the first blow?
2.      At the moment he shot, did Zimmerman have a reasonable fear that Martin was about to either kill him or cause serious bodily injury?
3.      If Zimmerman struck the first blow, could he have reasonably escaped without endangering his own life?

And let’s point out something else.  Once he invokes the self-defense defense—as he is almost sure to do so at trial—it is not his burden to prove he acted in self-defense.  Instead it is the State of Flordia’s burden to prove he did not.  So bluntly, it was self-defense until proven otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.  That is how the presumption of innocence works and it works that way in every state but one.

What The Narrative Against Zimmerman® maintained from the very beginning was that this was a case of profiling—a euphemism for racism, really, in this case.  You could see it from the beginning that The Narrative Against Zimmerman® was that George was a typical white racist who assumed that a black child was a criminal based on nothing more than the color of his skin and hunted him down and killed him in the street.  The irony of all of this, is that it represents the left’s “profile” of a bigoted shooting.  They were so attached to this Narrative®, that when it turned out that Mr. Zimmerman was not exactly a white dude, they called him remarkably a “white Hispanic.”  And meanwhile, they maintained it was somehow unfair and wrong to point out any facts that might support Zimmerman’s initial suspicions.  I would go as far as to say that if George Zimmerman had been named Jorge Zapata, this story never would have gained national attention.  But because he had a “white” sounding name, The Narrative® was set.

By the way, as a general rule black people are most likely to killed by black people, white people are most likely to be killed by white people, and “other” is most likely to be killed by “other.”  That is by FBI statistics, which you can read about at the link.

This is a point Juan Williams made in this excellent commentary:


And what is really happening in the Zimmerman case something more akin to a lynching.  No, no one has actually been lynched, yet.  But when the New Black Panthers are putting out a reward of $1 million for his capture, when Spike Lee is tweeting out his home address (only it was the wrong address, as we will see in a minute), and Rosanne Barr is tweeting out his parent’s house on some bizarre theory that not only is George guilty of murder but his parents are guilty by proxy, there is a definite lynch mob mentality right now.

Contributing irresponsibly to all of this is Representative Wilson in Florida who said this (video at the link) on the floor of the House:

This is Treyvon Martin. Trayvon Martin's murderer is still at large. It's been one month, thirty days, with no arrest. I want America to see this sweet young boy who was hunted down like a dog, shot in the street, and his killer is still at large.

Not one person has been arrested in Treyvon's murder. I want to make sure that America knows that in Sanford, Florida, there was a young boy murdered. He is buried in Miami, Florida, and not one person has been arrested even though we all know who the murderer is. This was a standard case of racial profiling. No more! No more! We will stand for justice for Treyvon Martin.

So to review, she has saying Zimmerman definitely murdered Martin.  And she says “not one person has been arrested” as though she thinks that more than one person should be.

Now you might ask, “isn’t she risking one hell of a defamation suit?”  Well, it is true that falsely accusing a person of a crime is defamation per se in most jurisdictions.  In such a case Zimmerman would be required to prove his innocence by a preponderance of the evidence, but even if that is the case, he can’t sue Rep. Wilson for those remarks (at least not with any chance of winnng).  Why?  Because of a portion of the Constitution called the Speech and Debate Clause.  It says: “for any Speech or Debate in either House, [Congresspersons] shall not be questioned in any other Place.”  This has been interpreted as immunizing their comments on the floor of Congress from defamation suits and it applies a little further than that, but I have not reviewed the rules in a while.  But this is definitely covered.

But I would wonder if this was a violation of any of the rules of ethics.  My guess is that judging by the lack of uproar, it isn’t, although it should be.  You should not be able to contribute to a lynch mob mentality on the floor of the House.

On the other hand, there is apparently a strict rule on the house floor against headwear (and yes, I got the title of the post from this incident):


That would be Representative Rush, donning a hood and reading from the Bible.  Which all presumes that Zimmerman is guilty, as usual.  Also I thought the Democratic party didn’t believe in faith-motivated policy?

Oh, right, they are against invoking faith in relationship to policy, unless black people are involved.

And of course you get Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, going on Fast Eddie Schultz’s radio show and declaring that not only was Zimmerman guilty, but that it was a lynching.  You can listen, here.  It is worth noting that unlike the last two people, this is not made on the floor of Congress and therefore, I don’t believe that the Speech and Debate Clause would protect her from liability for defamation.

And for extra hilarity, we get Congresswoman Corrine Brown who made a very big deal about Trayvon arguing that she cares equally for all people killed no matter what their color, especially about that white girl who two years ago, whatshername:


Heh.

At the same time, a few twitter accounts have sprung up with various versions of killing Zimmerman, like @killzimmerman.  Breitbart’s site has a report on one of them.  Lovely.

Speaking of dumb vigilantism, as I reported before that Spike Lee tweeted what was allegedly the home address of George Zimmerman, I am sure so that his followers could leave flowers for the man.  (Note: sarcasm.)  I am not saying that Lee specifically wanted Zimmerman to be murdered.  There is no evidence that he specifically envisioned that outcome and of course, if any celebrity wants to plea to being such a complete dumba-- that they cannot anticipate the obvious consequences of their actions, given how shallow the average celebrity is, I tend to believe that person.  So I wouldn’t call it necessarily intentional, so much as negligent as any regular person wouldn’t be so incredibly stupid.

Ah, but then again maybe he is hard up and hoped for that $1 million reward from the New Black Panthers.  I mean when was the last time Spike Lee had a hit?

Of course I am making light of it, but as they say “sh-- got real” for two random people in Florida:

A school-cafeteria lunch lady and her husband have received hate mail, unwanted visits from reporters and fearful inquiries from neighbors — all because their Sanford address is being disseminated on Twitter as belonging to Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman, her son said late Tuesday.

The woman, 70, who has a heart condition, and her husband, 72, have temporarily moved to a hotel to avoid the spotlight and possible danger, said son Chip Humble of Longwood.
Description: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/images/pixel.gif
The woman has another son named William George Zimmerman who lived with her in 1995 and still lives in Central Florida. He is no relation to George Zimmerman, 28, who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Feb. 26, sparking national outrage and international interest.
William Zimmerman isn't sure how his mother and stepfather's address became public. He said he used it to register a car, get a drivers license and vote when he lived there briefly after college.

As I joked on twitter, Spike Lee has managed to give lynch mobs a bad name.

Now you might reasonably think, “gosh, that sure as hell sounds like the sort of thing that could lead to a lawsuit.”   And yeah, you are probably right, which is why Spike Lee apologized to the family and gave them a little money in compensation:

Spike Lee has reached an agreement with the Florida couple forced to flee their home after the film director retweeted their home address and they fled to a hotel to avoid problems associated with the shooting of Trayvon Martin, it was announced Thursday.

Elaine and David McClain, in their 70s, left their Sanford, Fla., home after their address was tweeted by a man who thought he had found the home of George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old who shot Martin, 17.  Lee then retweeted the McClains’ address to his followers on Twitter.

The McClains have a son, William George Zimmerman, who is not related to the George Zimmerman who shot Martin and whose arrest is being sought by Martin’s family and civil rights supporters.

 “The McClains’ claim is fully resolved,” Matt Morgan, their attorney, said in an email. “Mr. Lee personally called them to give a very heartfelt apology. Further, he agreed to compensate them for their loss and the disruption to their lives.

“The McClains were very moved by Mr. Lee's apology,” Morgan said. “They would like the Lee family to be left in peace,” Morgan said.

Meanwhile Roseanne Barr apparently learned nothing from this, tweeting the correct address of Zimmerman’s parents, on the theory that they deserved to suffer for raising him, or something:

[O]n Wednesday, Barr tweeted the correct address for Zimmerman's parents, then deleted the tweet, then threatened to tweet it again.

“If Zimmerman isn't arrested I'll rt his address again. maybe go 2 his house myself," Barr tweeted....

According to the Smoking Gun, the information Barr circulated was correct. However, she later admitted, “I don't know if the address is accurate or not.”

And eventually the backlash was enough that she apologized for her threat to publicize it again.  I would say that this threatened to harm her career, but um... what career?

Speaking of moronic celebrities apologizing, Geraldo apologized for his hoodie comments, here.

Now, some of you might think that this is just online or just talk, that there are no real world consequences.  Tell that to the owners of this Walgreens:

North Miami Beach police said surveillance video shows dozens of high school students demonstrating in the Trayvon Martin case Friday ransacking a Walgreens store.

Minutes after walking out of their school Friday, a large group of students walked through the streets of North Miami Beach. Along the way, they stopped at a Walgreens at 163rd Street and 15th Avenue at about 10:40 a.m.

Surveillance video shows dozens of teenagers running through the store. Police said about 80 to 100 students stormed in, ransacking the shelves, before the school's vice principal ordered everyone outside.

You can watch video of it, here.  It’s not the most horrible incident ever, but I worry it is a sign of things to come.

Next up we have some discussion of facts and evidence.  Imagine that!

We start with video, via Mediaite, that ABC News aired of George Zimmerman at the police station that night.  As you will recall right from the original police report it was claimed that Zimmerman had a bloody nose and cuts on the back of his head.  Later his lawyer stated that they discovered that the nose was broken.  I have been on the receiving end of a broken nose due to stupidity as a child (meaning I did it to myself, stupidly), and I can say that if he broke his nose we will know.  Either it will heal on its own and look awful, or he will need medical help in fixing it.  In my day it required surgery.  That means medical records and a paper trail.  Yes, I suppose all of that can be faked, but really only a true sociopath would do so.

So ABC News aired this video claiming it proved that Zimmerman was uninjured.


Okay, first let me get the really important question out of the way.  Is he wearing a Michael Jackson “Thriller” jacket in that video?

Joking aside (and no, I don’t think that is what it is), one major problem with that video as evidence is that Zimmerman was already treated to a degree.  So, much of the blood would be mopped up and they would have stopped the bleeding.  A few people tweeted to writer Brad Thor that the police would never let the man bleed in their cop car if they could avoid it, which makes sense, but you can’t trust someone just talking on the internet.  So ignore the appeal to authority and recognize only that what this person is saying is logical, and also recognize that just because something is logical—or even standard procedure—doesn’t mean that someone did it.

The other problem is the quality of the video.  First it gets oddly blurry at moments and I don’t know why.  Let’s be charitable and say it’s just a technical problem.  Or maybe the Sanford police put some blurring in, in a misguided attempt to preserve Zimmerman’s anonymity.  On top of that, in some versions of the video, ABC News bizarrely put their own graphics right in the way.

The Daily Caller did an excellent job showing that even on this blurry video, you could still see something on the back of his head that looked like a crease or a line, possibly signifying a cut that had been mopped up.  But more useful is the HD version of it (via Breitbart):


So the crease is a little clearer, but the video is shortened and that is unfortunate because I have a question I haven’t seen anyone else ask: can we see blood in the video?  No, no on Mr. Zimmerman’s skin, they allegedly mopped that up, but what about on his clothes?  I have looked very close at the low-res videos, and I just can’t say.  Obviously with its red and blacks, it wouldn’t have shown up on that sweater or jacket he is wearing on top, but what about the undershirt?  It’s gray so presumably blood would be visible.  Of course maybe it wasn’t open, at the time, or maybe you can’t see one way or the other.

Update (II): I just saw where ABC News has aired new, clearer video and admits now that you can see signs of injury on Zimmerman's head.  Good for them for admitting that, but shame on them for the lame reporting in the first place.  I will post something directly from ABC when I can, but probably not video because ABC News video starts on its own, which is annoying.


Update (III): Here's a link to the video.  Warning: it is ABC News video so it will probably start on its own.

But hey, it’s good enough for Bill Maher to call Zimmerman a liar (note: NSFW video):


On the other hand we get this news report from a neighbor that backs up Zimmerman’s claims of injuries:

The neighbor is talking for the first time about what he saw on George Zimmerman's face less than 24-hours after Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

"I saw George. He was banged up. His head had two big bandages, that weren't flat, had a bump on them," the neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said.

He described where the injuries were.

"I seen him have a big bandage on his nose and his nose swollen. On the side, where his eyes were at, it was swollen," he said.

He points out exactly where on a picture.

"I seen the bandage right here, and this side of his nose and this side of his nose was swollen.

The surveillance video was released by Sanford police of Zimmerman when he was brought in for questioning after the shooting. Bruises and bandages aren't visible, but you can see an officer looking at the back of his head.

"Once you get into a fight you don't show bruises that day, it shows the next day," he said.

The neighbor says Zimmerman had to have acted in self-defense.

"I think something happened that night where he had to defend himself," the neighbor said.

He says that the voice heard screaming on the 911 call is that of George Zimmerman.

Meanwhile, the Daily Caller has uncovered a number of twitter accounts related to Martin and some, um... less boyish photos of him.  You can peruse them here if you are inclined.  What I take away from it is that like many young people he strikes a pose of being “gangsta.”  Where I lived, at that age, I saw that there was a lot of pressure on black kids to act in an almost stereotypical fashion, or else they would be accused of “acting white.”  I confess to having no idea how common that is today.  But that experience tells me that it could all just be an act.  He could be a lot worse, or a lot better than those images and twitter accounts suggest.

Which segues into my next story.  The Washington Post sat down and talked to Martin’s parents about it all:


So first up you get their account of what the police told them Zimmerman said happened.  Which lawyers call “double hearsay.”  The cop speaking to them is hearsay, and them saying what the cop said was double hearsay.  And that is assuming the cop heard it from Zimmerman in the first place.  So that is really not terribly reliable evidence.  And so we see several inconsistencies with what the story that Martin’s father said the police told him that Zimmerman told them, the most obvious being that they make it sound like just as Zimmerman got out of the truck, Martin approached him, which is directly contradicted by Zimmerman’s 911 call.  But it’s double hearsay, so what can you do?

Another story comes from the funeral director who prepared Martin’s body for burial came forward and said that he didn’t see any signs of a struggle:


The problem with that is that he admits he wasn’t really looking for damage to the kid.  So it was a question of whether anything stood out so much that he would notice regardless.  And I don’t know how much a funeral director would know about this.  Are they supposed to be trained like a coroner?  I admit to not knowing the answer.

And it’s not quite evidence but it is interesting that an officer investigating the shooting did want to arrest and charge Zimmerman with manslaughter, but was overruled by the State’s Attorney there (what they call a District Attorney in many other states):


This is verified by an ABC News report, which states:

The lead homicide investigator in the shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin recommended that neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting, multiple sources told ABC News.

But Sanford, Fla., Investigator Chris Serino was instructed to not press charges against Zimmerman because the state attorney's office headed by Norman Wolfinger determined there wasn't enough evidence to lead to a conviction, the sources told ABC News....

Serino filed an affidavit on Feb. 26, the night that Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman, that stated he was unconvinced Zimmerman's version of events.

And in the same report, the Martin family attorney veered into conspiratorial territory:

Crump alleged that the Sanford police had leaked damaging information about Martin into order to muddy the case, calling it a "conspiracy." Crump called the school disciplinary problems "irrelevant" to the case that "an unarmed 17 year kid was killed."

Of course conspiracies do occur and really do exist.  It is a historical fact, for instance, that the killing of Lincoln was part of a larger conspiracy that largely failed to kill most of the rest of his cabinet.  Al Qaeda has been in a conspiracy to attack the United States for well over a decade and 9-11 itself was a conspiracy.  And indeed they are common enough that there is a cause of action in most states for conspiracy and often even a separate crime of conspiracy.  But still leaping to the conclusion about the existence of a conspiracy is generally a mistake and harms your credibility.

For what it is worth, by the way, my guess is that the town of Sanford is not really ready for this media onslaught and have people leaking all over the place.  So no conspiracy, just a bunch of people unready for the limelight.

We also get another witness interviewed by Anderson Cooper.  It is a little frustrating that the person is so protective of their identity that we can’t determine how likely he is to be right, and so on.  But that has been a problem plaguing the case from the beginning.  For instance, how sure are we that this is not the same “John” who spoke in another video?  Hopefully prosecutors and defense attorneys will know the real identities of each of the people speaking anonymously.

In any case here’s that video:

Update: There was a problem embedding this video.  But you can watch it, here.

It is really to Cooper’s credit that he drilled down into the question of whom was on top of whom.  I will add this.  The police report says that Martin was face down at the scene.  They also say that Martin was shot in the front and there is no contradiction of that, that I know of.  I mean if he was shot in the back, then that would be pretty much the end of Zimmerman’s self-defense claim, wouldn’t it?  So if Martin was on the bottom, that would mean that Zimmerman rolled him over onto his front.  And it doesn’t appear that Zimmerman had the time to do that unobserved.

We also get another video showing a pair of witnesses who purport to contradict the Zimmerman account.  I can’t embed it here, so I suggest you go here and view it.  You can also read a news report about it, here.  I find them less than persuasive.  They apparently didn’t see anything after the fact, and they are reasoning based on what they heard.  They are not claiming to know what Zimmerman or Martin sounded like, only reasoning that because the crying stopped when the shot stopped, that it must have been Martin, something anyone can conclude from listening to the 911 tapes and its frankly wrong.  If Zimmerman is calling for help, then when he shoots the kid he doesn’t need to do that anymore.  Really it’s the Oliver Stone school of analysis, here.

More credibly, we get this information about the 911 recordings.  You can listen to them for yourself for this omnibus Mother Jones post, but again we are returning to the question of who is crying for help on the tape?  Two lives witnesses say it was the guy in the red sweater (which would be Zimmerman), as does Zimmerman himself.  But some experts doubt it:

As the Trayvon Martin controversy splinters into a debate about self-defense, a central question remains: Who was heard crying for help on a 911 call in the moments before the teen was shot?

A leading expert in the field of forensic voice identification sought to answer that question by analyzing the recordings for the Orlando Sentinel.

His result: It was not George Zimmerman who called for help.

Tom Owen, forensic consultant for Owen Forensic Services LLC and chair emeritus for the American Board of Recorded Evidence, used voice identification software to rule out Zimmerman. Another expert contacted by the Sentinel, utilizing different techniques, came to the same conclusion...

Do read the whole thing.  Of course my common-sense question would be whether you needed a sample of Zimmerman screaming to compare it, to.  And over at Just One Minute, Tom Maguire does a lot of digging and discovers that this is exactly the case. Really read his whole post where he fairly tears apart the analysis.

Also touching on that question is this interview with Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Jr.:

Update: For some reason Cnn keeps embedding the same video from Kurtz's show, even though I keep specifically taking the embed code from different videos.  So I can't embed this video as I wanted.  But you can watch it, here.

The problem being that right out of the gate he contradicts the Zimmerman 911 call.  He was following Martin.  Reports state that Zimmerman’s account to the police state that he had given up the chase and was headed back to his car when Martin confronted him, but he was stating on the 911 call that he was following him at one point.

But Robert does note that to him in the now-famous police station video his nose looked swollen.  Given that we don’t know how it normally looks, that seems reasonable.

And he does seem to say that it is definitely George screaming on the 911 tape.

Meanwhile, we also get this interesting break down of the original police report, which provides some illumination, but not a lot:

Update: This video wouldn't embed properly for the same reason that the Robert Zimmerman Jr. video wouldn't embed properly.  So you can view it, here.

And via Howard Kurtz, we get a look at one of the local reporters covering and breaking a lot of the news I have covered, Frances Robles, talking about how the public has been reacting to her reporting:


At the same time, early on I wondered how all of this would play with the Hispanic community, to see Obama invoke the fact that Trayvon looked like a hypothetical son he might have and thus imply that his view of the matter is influence by his race.  Well, according to this article no official Hispanic group has taken Zimmerman’s side against the lynch mob.  But you do have to wonder what the community itself feels about this.

Getting to the silliness, on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show Zimmerman’s attorney skipped out so he interviewed an empty chair, telling him he would ask him tough questions and so on.



Of course only a few moments before, O’Donnell called him “the cowardly liar representing Zimmerman.”  So plainly this lawyer was leaving behind a fair and balanced interviewer:



Really, all in all a silly display, which Jon Stewart mocked him for:


Meanwhile NBC (which I believe is a fully separate entity from MSNBC by now, but don’t quote me on that), actually edited the recording of Zimmerman’s 911 call to make him sound racist:

The NBC segment in question featured anchor Ron Allen and ran on the Today show on Tuesday. On Thursday, Sean Hannity and guest Brent Bozell played the NBC version of the 911 call and compared it with the unedited version.

In the NBC segment, Zimmerman says: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”

The full version, though, unfolds like this:

Zimmerman: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.”

911 operator: “Okay. And this guy, is he white black or Hispanic?”

Zimmerman: “He looks black.”

So they cut out the specific reasons why Zimmerman felt that Martin was behaving suspiciously, and make it sound like the only reason was his skin color, or that at least Zimmerman mentioned Martin’s color unprompted, when in fact it was in response to a question.  And you can watch Hannity and Bozell go after them here:


As Erik Wemple noted at the Washington Post:

The difference between what “Today” put on its air and the actual tape? Complete: In the “Today” version, Zimmerman volunteered that this person “looks black,” a sequence of events that would more readily paint Zimmerman as a racial profiler. In reality’s version, Zimmerman simply answered a question about the race of the person whom he was reporting to the police. Nothing prejudicial at all in responding to such an inquiry.

And as Wemple noted, NBC is investigating how this occurred.  Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Tour├ę and Pierce Morgan had this dustup:


On the other hand, I found this commentary to be downright interesting.  In an unsigned piece by the AP, they wonder if it is distorting the story to use photos over five years old for Zimmerman and Martin.  I would say the obvious answer is yes.  In Zimmerman’s case, they keep using an old mug shot in prison orange.  That is considered so prejudicial that defendants are generally allowed to change into civilian garb during trials absent unique circumstances, and if memory serves there is even a constitutional dimension to that tradition.  In Martin’s case, since he was a newly-minted seventeen year old, using a five year old picture means they are showing you a twelve year old.  Of course that biases things.  And it is nice of the AP to be so circumspect about it.

Meanwhile, the clueless commentary continues.  For instance, at the charmingly named “Femininisting” they direct us to this commentary by Kai Wright:

Sadly, it’s necessary to point out that there isn’t an imaginable scenario in which an armed man can shoot an unarmed child to death and it be okay.

Well, “okay” is an ambiguous term.  If he means it can’t be legal, he is dead wrong.  If he means it can’t be justified morally, I would have to disagree.  Reasonable mistakes do occur.  If he means that even if we don’t “blame” Zimmerman for the killing, we shouldn’t be okay with that happening, I agree.

And then things get…  overwrought:

Trayvon Martin did in fact have it coming. He was born black and male in the United States and was thus marked for death. The cruelness of our economy and of our criminal justice system isn’t reserved for men or for black people. But there is a particularly gendered and particularly racist way in which black men are set upon in this country, most acutely those who don’t have the resources to push back. And it has a very long, still relevant history.

For the entirety of American history—from the first African captured and enslaved to the moment Geraldo Rivera opened his mouth to pimp Martin’s death for ratings—black men have been relentlessly caricatured as menaces to society. We were dangerous, so chattel slavery was necessary, and a nation’s wealth was born. We are still dangerous, so a police state is necessary in black neighborhoods all over this country, and the wealth of a prison-industrial complex flourishes.

And sadly, it just keeps going on and on.  He even mischaracterizes Florida’s law as a “kill at will law” referring back to articles like this one:

Under common law, a person has the responsibility to do everything in their power to avoid using deadly force in self defense, “up to and including turning around and running away,” said Bob Dekle, a law professor at the University of Florida.

“But the stand your ground law provides that no matter where you are you can stand your ground and meet force with force, up to and including deadly force. Even if that’s offered to you, you don’t have to turn around and retreat.”

There are of course two problems with that.  First, if he is implying that for the most part the common law imposed a duty to retreat, Professor Dekle is dead wrong.  Most states rules on self-defense are exactly what Florida’s is.  The claim that this is unique is simply wrong.  Moreover, the claim that stand your ground has anything to do with protecting Zimmerman’s pursuit is wrong too.  The duty to retreat—in retreat jurisdictions—doesn’t kick in until the moment you are about to apply deadly force.  Then at that moment you ask if the person couldn’t have retreated at that moment.  And we have seen two eyewitnesses that said that Martin was on top of Zimmerman beating him.  If those are the facts, then even in a retreat jurisdiction, the duty to retreat has been satisfied.

To be blunt, this case is being used dishonestly as a full-frontal assault on the right of self-defense.  And I find it interesting that so many African Americans are buying into that.  Aren’t we told for instance, that the police and other emergency services don’t respond as quickly in black neighborhoods?


Aren’t we being told that at best the Sanford police are being lazy in this case, and being racist, corrupt scumbags at worst?  And yet if you let organizations like the Brady Campaign effectively outlaw self-defense, then you are essentially saying that you would prefer the same police to be your sole means of protection when your life is threatened.  If you thought that the police were so racist, and you were in a minority group, wouldn’t you prefer to be allowed to protect yourself?

Or perhaps you would prefer a middle course, such as returning to the bad old days where the person asserting self-defense had to prove that it was self-defense—instead of how it is virtually in every state in the union where the state has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt it was not self-defense.  But again, if you think our system is hopelessly racist against black people, then you would almost certainly believe that black people are going to be more likely to be wrongly convicted under that scheme.

Alas, that clueless article goes on, finding another clueless professor:

“Martin had no weapon, he was clearly no threat to Zimmerman’s life, nor is there evidence that Martin posed the threat of great bodily harm,” said Sam Walker, a criminologist at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “So when he invokes the law, he’s wrong.”

No, you are wrong.  Here’s what Florida law says on the subject:

a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if... [h]e or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony[.]

Now later the statutes do impose a duty to retreat if you are the aggressor, but what I want to point out is that the legal standard is not whether you are actually in danger, but whether you reasonably believe that you are in such danger.  And no, this is not some crazy feature of Florida law—the reasonable belief part is pretty much par for the course in all states.  They only vary on whether to impose a duty to retreat and most states don’t for non-aggressors.

“Stand your ground laws shouldn’t be called that,” said Victor Rios, a sociologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara. “It’s essentially giving citizens permission to do what cops have been doing forever to black and brown men: shoot first.”

Which is, as you know by now, wrong as a matter of law.  Sigh.  And I will note the irony of them using this to try to declare that Zimmerman, a “brown man” in Mr. Rios’s words, should be in prison

Alas, Rios goes on, incoherently:

“People like Zimmerman are now thinking with this law: hey, this protects me from violently attacking this person and the law has told me that they are criminals because that’s how law enforcement treats them—so let me take the law into my own hands.”

So this protects Zimmerman “from violently attacking this person”?  Oy.  And notice that Rois fits into that pattern I outlined above, where people believe that 1) the police are racist, and 2) the police should be the only ones who can use force, ever.  You even see later in the same article where they almost seem to notice the contradiction, but still miss its significance:

“There’s a sense of, ‘When is the law going to arrive?’ When are we going to see some way in which justice isn’t something that has to be demanded but something that’s given to citizens in the country,” said Katheryn Russell-Brown, a law professor at the University of Florida.

“There has to be something done, some acknowledgement for this harm and the harm that I’m referring to is the [33] days and counting,” Russell-Brown said.

“Police tend to police poor people and young people of color when they don’t need to, and when we need them they’re not even there to give us the justice we deserve,” said Rios. Rios and Russell-Brown highlighted the simultaneous fatigue with the criminal justice system and outrage over the lack of movement so far.

By the way, if you think that these laws are the product of the radical republican agenda or something, the Daily Caller points out some inconvenient facts:

Despite liberal protesters’ claims that Florida’s so-called “stand your ground” gun law demonstrates that Republican policymakers are responsible for the February death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an analysis of its legislative history shows that it was a bipartisan effort — and that no Florida Democratic state senator voted against it.

One Democrat, Fort Lauderdale state Sen. Mandy Dawson, missed the vote. But the rest of the Senate chamber supported it, 39-0.

The Florida House vote was 92-20. Twelve Democrats voted in favor.

And of the 15 states that have passed variations of the law since 2005, the year Florida’s model legislation became law, eight — a majority — had Democratic governors when the laws were enacted. None issued a veto.


And for sheer silliness, we get this:

A party at a local strip club scheduled in honor of Trayvon Martin was called off after a social media backlash branded the effort as insensitive.

According to the event flier, which has gone viral, the party at Bentley’s Lingerie Lounge — organized by outside promoters — was scheduled for this past Wednesday as part of their “We Like to Party Wednesdays” promotion.

Stripping for justice.  It’s like the march on Selma or something.

Final item, but Talking Points Memo has its own aggregation of sources on the Martin shooting.  Yes, presumably from a more liberal perspective so whatever your politics is, it is probably worth a read.

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Follow me at Twitter @aaronworthing, mostly for snark and site updates.  And you can purchase my book (or borrow it for free if you have Amazon Prime), Archangel: A Novel of Alternate, Recent History here.  And you can read a little more about my novel, here.

9 comments:

  1. >> I just saw where ABC news admits that video it showed does in fact show evidence of Zimmerman being injured.

    Boy, that's bad reporting... on your part. ABC News admitted no such thing. They talked about "what appears to be" or "what could be" on Zimmerman's head, which isn't an admission of FACT.

    That said, what is on the back of Zimmerman's head appears to be a comb-over. It's not even on the back of his head, but on the crown, which would be an unusual place to have the injury if one's head was being "smashed" against the sidewalk.

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  2. Ken

    > [me] I just saw where ABC news admits that video it showed does in fact show evidence of Zimmerman being injured.

    > [you] Boy, that's bad reporting... on your part. ABC News admitted no such thing. They talked about "what appears to be" or "what could be" on Zimmerman's head, which isn't an admission of FACT.

    Wow, as usual your reading comprehension skills serve you well. I didn't say it was a FACT he was injured, only that it was EVIDENCE of his injuries.

    And a comb over? the man has a frickin' buzz cut.

    You're just bound and determined to declare that he is guilty, with or without sufficient evidence, aren't you?

    > which would be an unusual place to have the injury if one's head was being "smashed" against the sidewalk.

    Not at all.

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    1. >> You're just bound and determined to declare that he is guilty, with or without sufficient evidence, aren't you?

      LOL. Right. Because your writings on the topic are so fair and even-handed. What you've been writing is straight from The Narrative FOR Zimmerman ® playbook.

      What you have failed to understand from the get-go is that the outrage isn't against Zimmerman per se. It could very well be that Zimmerman isn't guilty of violating any law. And that's where a lot of the outrage is coming from -- the fact an innocent kid can be killed and the law provides for no accountability.

      In other words.... but for the public outcry, Zimmerman would be a free man today, not facing any criminal charges. Oh, wait. He IS.

      Hence, the public outcry. THAT'S the narrative.

      And to the extent that race plays a role, it's because of the likelihood that if the victim was white and the possible aggressor was black, someone would be in jail right now. The black community knows that, and I'll bet even you know that.

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    2. Ken

      > What you've been writing is straight from The Narrative FOR Zimmerman ® playbook.

      You mean like the time when I declared that it sounded like Zimmerman said, f---ing coons? I mean I changed my mind later, but that clearly proves that I am on the side of Zimmerman, instead of being on the side of justice, clearly. (note: sarcasm)

      > What you have failed to understand from the get-go is that the outrage isn't against Zimmerman per se.

      Of course it isn’t. Its about an evil white racist killing a black kid. The actual facts of this situation are invisible to people in an Ellisonian sort of way.

      > And that's where a lot of the outrage is coming from -- the fact an innocent kid can be killed and the law provides for no accountability.

      So you are endorsing a “zero error” approach to self-defense law, eh?

      > And to the extent that race plays a role, it's because of the likelihood that if the victim was white and the possible aggressor was black, someone would be in jail right now.

      I don’t accept that premise. Let’s not forget that Zimmerman ain’t a white guy, but he is walking free.

      But we do know that if George Zimmerman was instead Jorge Zapata, we wouldn’t have this national outrage. We know this because of the way they portrayed this as an example of "white" racism and when that collided with the facts, they called him a "white hispanic." See my argument is based on facts, not assumptions.

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    3. >> ME: What you have failed to understand from the get-go is that the outrage isn't against Zimmerman per se.

      >> YOU: Of course it isn’t. Its about an evil white racist killing a black kid.

      No, it's about a black kid being denied his life without due process. And if Zimmerman is found culpable under existing law, then justice is done. On the other hand, if Zimmerman isn't found culpable under existing law, then you have an even bigger problem of a system of laws where people can have their life denied -- not by "accident" --without any sort of due process.

      >> So you are endorsing a “zero error” approach to self-defense law, eh?

      Of course not, but that doesn't mean self-defense laws should invite "error". Self-defense statutes should be written so as to avoid ANY death -- error or deliberate -- if at all possible.

      The macho "shoot first and ask questions later" is barbaric. Something I would expect from a corrupt backwater third world country. Not from a society that believes in the rule of law and due process.

      >> I don’t accept that premise. Let’s not forget that Zimmerman ain’t a white guy, but he is walking free.

      LOL. Of COURSE he's white.

      That's like saying Obama ain't a black guy because his Mom is white.

      >> But we do know that if George Zimmerman was instead Jorge Zapata, we wouldn’t have this national outrage. We know this because of the way they portrayed this as an example of "white" racism and when that collided with the facts, they called him a "white hispanic."

      Which is what he is -- a white hispanic. That's not a made-up term -- it's typical (you find it on all kinds of employment or census forms).

      But that just shows how ignorant the right is. They think "Hispanic" is a race, not an ethnicity. (Bigots typically don't know the difference). Zimmerman's race is "white". Ethnically, he's "hispanic". So it's correct to call him "white" AND "white hispanic". Either way, he's still racially "white", just like Martin Sheen, Raquel Welch, Rita Hayworth, Christine Aguilera, and Cameron Diaz ("White Hispanics" all).

      Nice try.

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    4. Ken

      > No, it's about a black kid being denied his life without due process.

      So again, you fundamentally do not believe in a right to defend yourself.

      > Of course not

      Come back when you have hammered out the contradictions in your own thinking.

      > The macho "shoot first and ask questions later" is barbaric.

      Oy, so its macho to tell a woman she has no obligation to retreat from her abusive husband before shooting the prick?

      No, but that statement reveals much about you. In your mind your prissy concern for not being “macho” is far more important than enabling people the legal room to protect your own life. Because in your mind it is better to be a modern man and dead than “macho” and alive.

      > Something I would expect from a corrupt backwater third world country. Not from a society that believes in the rule of law and due process.

      Oh, yes, hey let’s look how our more civilized betters behave across the pond:

      > Four years ago, Shirley Best, proprietor of the Rolander Fashion emporium, whose clients include Zara Phillips, was ironing some clothes when the proverbial two youths showed up. They pressed the hot iron into her flesh, burning her badly, and then stole her watch. "I was frightened to defend myself," said Miss Best. "I thought if I did anything I would be arrested." There speaks the modern British crime victim.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/3613417/An-Englishmans-home-is-his-dungeon.html

      > LOL. Of COURSE he's white.

      He doesn’t think so, who are you to contradict him?

      > a white hispanic.

      Ahahahahahahahahaha.

      Seriously, do you know any Hispanics? The ones I know think that is a laugh-out-loud joke.

      They are not treated as “white” in any context except when they are accused of murdering a black guy.

      Indeed go into lexis and search for cases where they found that discrimination between "white" and "hispanic" was racial discrimination. you will find hundreds of cases.

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    5. And how did i let this go by?

      > No, it's about a black kid

      Again, you are color obsessed.

      Delete
  3. The initial police report is here:
    http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/86948628
    From the last page "Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of the head."
    And:
    "Zimmerman was placed in the rear of my police vehicle and was given first aid by the SFD"

    I presume SFD is the Sanford Fire Department. Shouldn't they have a record of what they did, and if George did go to a hospital the next day, there should be a record of that as well.

    Thanks for the analysis Aaron

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  4. Trayvon was not innocent nor a "kid". He was SLIMM@NO_LIMIT_NIGGA, a stripling thug like the gangsta culture he embraced extols. He attacked Zimmerman with the intent to kill him for racial reasons just like the two freaks down the street attempted to kill an old white dude with hammers in retaliation for Martin's oh-so-timely and justified death. Too much? Well, this fits with all the available evidence.

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