Posts tagged ‘Hold Your Ground’


Still No Arrest in Florida Murder

Since first writing about Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old unarmed black kid who was gunned down by a 28-year-old blended Hispanic-white guy named George Zimmerman, additional facts have surfaced, but they still don’t alleviate the need to arrest Zimmerman and charge him with murder. An arrest is reasonable if there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed, and that the defendant committed it.

On the night in question, Martin was walking down a street near where his father was staying in Sanford, Florida, when Zimmerman called the police, and speculated, after noting Martin was black: “This guy is up to no good.” In fact, the boy was simply returning from a convenience store, where he picked up a bag of skittles and a can of iced tea. Zimmerman then engaged in nothing but pure conjecture as he said: “He is on drugs or something.”

When he informed police he was going to pursue the black boy, dispatch directed him not to do so, advising him: “We don’t need you to do that,” but Zimmerman, who had been charged with Resisting Arrest and Battery Upon a Police Officer in 2005, and was also subjected to a Domestic Violence Restraining Order in 2005, ignored the dispatcher, took his gun, and went off after the black kid. Since Zimmerman was not a law enforcement officer, he had no authority to pursue, stop, detain, or do anything else he did.

With regards to what ultimately happened, Zimmerman should not be able to use the “Stand Your Ground” law, which Florida applies to public places, since he was not defending a home, and as he took off after the boy, he became the aggressor, and when they met in a neutral place, it was Martin who had the right to “Stand Your Ground,” which means the black kid had the right to use force, not Zimmerman.

This is why what Zimmerman says happened next is problematic. If you believe him, he said after he went out to get Martin, he lost him, gave up, and was returning to his vehicle, when the black kid inexplicably caught up to him from behind, and for no reason started an encounter. Let’s remember Martin weighed only 140 pounds, and the 28-year-old Zimmerman tipped in at 250, some 110 pounds more. It’s hard to believe an unarmed 17-year-old light-weight would start a fight with a 28-year-old man, who was a heavy-weight.

In any event, when the police arrived they noted Zimmerman had blood on his nose, and in the back of his head, and that his back was wet, and had grass on it, which inferred some sort of struggle.

The problem is Zimmerman is the only one who can testify as to what Martin allegedly said or did. No one will ever know for sure if his version is true, since the boy is dead, and unavailable to rebut him. Unlike civil cases, where interested parties can be barred by the Dead Man Statute from testifying as to what a deceased said, in a murder case, the Constitution requires the court to allow a defendant to give his version of the events.

Acknowledging that a prosecution may be challenging, an arrest should nevertheless proceed, since there is evidence contradicting Zimmerman’s story. As Zimmerman went after Martin, the black kid called his girlfriend stating a concern about a strange man who was following him. The girlfriend heard Martin say: “What are you following me for?” and a response: “What are you doing here?” She then heard a pushing sound, as the phone went dead. This implies an immediate encounter and disproves Zimmerman’s account.

Mary Cutcher and her roommate heard the incident as it was going on in her backyard. They heard a young whining voice, until the sound of a gun abruptly ended it. Although Zimmerman claimed those sounds were from him, this would mean he was crying while holding a gun in his hand. Zimmerman’s account does not line up with the audio evidence of the gunshot suddenly silencing the voice. When the two homeowners went outside, they observed Zimmerman on his knees, pinning Martin to the ground, which also contradicts Zimmerman.

Although Martin was found by the police face down, they reported he was shot in the chest. It is unclear if any autopsy was done, and what was found in terms of entry and exit wounds.

The lead homicide investigating officer filed an affidavit recommending the filing of manslaughter charges, but the State’s Attorney took no action, as he was concerned about a lack of evidence. Hopefully, the new prosecutor will proceed with this challenging case, so the evidence that still remains can be heard, and justice may be done.


Black Kid in Florida was Murdered

Since a black youth was fatally shot in Florida a few weeks ago by a white neighborhood watch volunteer, law enforcement officers have failed to arrest the suspect, or turn the case over to the local District Attorney for prosecution, despite evidence the black kid was unarmed, and just walking down a public street, as the white man pursued him on foot, pulled out a gun when he caught up to him, intentionally squeezed the trigger, and killed him.

Attention has focused on a relatively recent Florida statute known as “hold your ground,” but no matter what it provides, Florida never repealed the law against murder. Since all the elements of the crime exist, there is no reason not to arrest the suspect, and no explanation except racism, for not seeking prosecution. Local Florida authorities seem to be viewing the law upside down.

“NO RETREAT” APPLIES AT HOME: Everyone would agree if one is attacked in their own home, they need not engage in any sort of retreat. This has always been true, but the Florida incident, did not occur in a home. It happened outside on a public roadway.

WHITE GUY HAD NO RIGHT TO PURSUE OR USE FORCE: One who initiates contact (the white guy here) is considered the aggressor, and as such, he had no right to use any force. More importantly, deadly force may only be used, if imminent death, or great bodily harm, is threatened.

BELIEF OF LAWFULNESS: It is no defense for the white guy to now say: “I believed my acts were legal.” If that were permitted, every defendant would make that argument.

BLACK KID HAD RIGHT OF SELF-DEFENSE: Generally, an individual, without fault, may use such force as is reasonably necessary to protect against imminent unlawful force by another. Since the white guy came at the black kid with a gun, for no reason, if anyone had a right to self-defense, it was the deceased. He had a right to “hold his ground,” not the other way around.

The execution of the black kid in this case cannot be justified. The only way to look at it, based on the undisputed facts that have been made public, is to call it what it is—a racially-motivated murder.