George Zimmerman's Version of Events Surfaces

There are new details of George Zimmerman's account of the fatal encounter with Trayvon Martin.

In an account given to Sanford police that was passed on to the state attorney’s office, George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26, said that Trayvon had punched him and then repeatedly slammed his head into the sidewalk in the moments leading up to the shooting.

....In Mr. Zimmerman’s sequence of events to the police, he returned to his S.U.V. after he was unable to find him, Trayvon then approached Mr. Zimmerman from behind and they exchanged words. Then. Mr. Zimmerman said, Trayvon hit him hard enough that he fell to the ground — which, if true, would explain what Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, Craig Sonner, has said was a broken nose—and began slamming his head into the sidewalk.

More details of the leaked police report revealed by the Orlando Sentinel are here. The Sun Sentinel also describes a witness' account: [More]

One witness, who has since talked to local television news reporters, told police he saw Zimmerman on the ground with Trayvon on top, pounding him — and was unequivocal that it was Zimmerman who was crying for help.

Zimmerman then shot Trayvon once in the chest at very close range, according to authorities. When police arrived less than two minutes later, Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose, had a swollen lip and had bloody lacerations to the back of his head.

All of the 911 calls, police reports, Zimmerman's prior reports while on Neighborhood Watch, and details of the Neighborhood Watch Program are online at the City of Sanford website here. The city's explanation of why Zimmerman was not charged is here. The Miami Herald has the details of Trayvon's three suspensions from school, none of which involved violent conduct.

Since Zimmerman is facing both character assassination and conviction by media before charges or trial in a court of law, at least now those so inclined can consider both sides' accounts -- that of the Martin family and their lawyers and Zimmerman's-- as well as personal history details of both Martin and Zimmerman, before reaching their verdict.

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    Would the autopsy of Trayvon (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Edger on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:08:28 PM EST
    aside from whatever else it might evidence, show whether or not there were powder burns around the bullet entry point? In other words, whether Zimmerman's gun was pressed right up against Trayvon's chest when he was shot?

    If so, would that support a self defense claim by Zimmerman? And would the absence of such burns discredit a self defense claim?

    The autopsy report apparently remains under seal.

    I've come to the sad conclusion that, (4.00 / 4) (#11)
    by Anne on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:14:37 PM EST
    even if Zimmerman is eventually arrested, or indicted, there is no chance on God's green earth he is convicted.  Why?  Because of the massive failures of the Sanford PD: no photos, no blood alcohol, no tox screen, no examination of the weapon, nothing.  They just decided on the spot that his story made sense, and let him go, with the gun that killed someone.

    I am not a lawyer, but it doesn't take a law degree to know that this case isn't ever going to conclude in a way that satisfies anyone.


    FYI, they did not (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:28:52 PM EST
    let him go with the gun.  Turns out they did confiscate the gun and it's still in the PD's possession now.  Frankly, given that information, I'm no longer confident they didn't take blood for a tox screen or his clothes for examination, etc.  They may have, they may not.

    There's a great deal of false information floating around about this, unfortunately.


    According to the PD itself, they ... (none / 0) (#43)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:35:35 PM EST
    ... didn't perform a tox screen on Zimmerman because he was never placed under arrest and booked. That makes sense. They can't compel someone to undergo a tox screen when he's not being held in formal custody.

    I agree, there's a lot of conflicting informationcurrently floating around out there. It's almost as though the Sanford police now want to muddy the waters publicly, too.


    they could have gotten a search warrant (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 01:08:49 AM EST
    for his blood even though he wasn't under arrest.

    § 933.02(3), Fla. Stat. (2010) authorizes the state to secure a warrant for "property [that] constitutes evidence relevant to proving that a felony has been committed."

    Blood is property according to the Florida Supreme Court. See 2011 case, Florida v. Geiss.

    They didn't think there was probable cause a crime was committed -- they believed the facts supported his self-defense claim.

    Also, if they didn't suspect he was intoxicated, there was no reason to get a blood test.

    On the other hand, testing is a routine part of an autopsy.


    Although Sanford P.D. didn't (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 01:38:28 AM EST
    "arrest" Mr. Zimmerman, they handcuffed him, transported him to a police station, placed him in an interview room.  Doesn't seem like he was free to leave.  

    yes he was in a custodial situation (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 02:14:16 AM EST
    Handcuffed and taken to the police department for questioning. That part of my comment was directed towards Donald's comment above which said they couldn't test because he wasn't formally placed under arrest.

    The City of Sanford's statement says:

    Why was George Zimmerman not arrested the night of the shooting?

    When the Sanford Police Department arrived at the scene of the incident, Mr. Zimmerman provided a statement claiming he acted in self defense which at the time was supported by physical evidence and testimony. By Florida Statute, law enforcement was PROHIBITED from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time. Additionally, when any police officer makes an arrest for any reason, the officer MUST swear and affirm that he/she is making the
    arrest in good faith and with probable cause. If the arrest is done maliciously and in bad faith, the officer and the City may be held liable.

    They cite the immunity statute:

    776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.--

    (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s. 776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force...(unless victim is a police officer)

    (2) A law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection (1), but the agency may not arrest the person for using force unless it determines that there is probable cause that the
    force that was used was unlawful.

    My point is that they could have applied for a search warrant for his blood if they thought a crime had been committed and were investigating it, even though Zimmerman wasn't under formal arrest. But apparently, they didn't think a crime had been committed because they thought the facts established at the time showed he acted in self-defense.

    Whether that belief was reasonable will undoubtedly be the subject of ongoing investigations.


    Um, (5.00 / 1) (#175)
    by diogenes on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 03:54:54 PM EST
    Zimmerman's story seems to be consistent with his physical injuries and with what at least one witness told the police happened.  Why would they immediately arrest him absent any evidence showing that he WASN'T defending himself.  Also, by not arresting him they didn't Mirandize him (which would have shut him up right away as per the Jeralyn rule of being questioned by the police).
    The grand jury can always indict him later.  

    Negatives cannot be proved. (1.00 / 1) (#176)
    by Edger on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 04:00:14 PM EST
    But you just proved, once again, that you still need new batteries for your lamp. Wandering in the dark with a lamp that doesn't work could result in forehead or even nose injuries.

    Per ABC News today, Jeralyn, ... (5.00 / 2) (#181)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:10:40 PM EST
    ... we've now learned that the lead homicide detective in the Sanford PD, Chris Serino -- who took over for the narcotics investigator initially dispatched to the scene of the shooting -- "disbelieved" George Zimmerman's account of what happened and wanted to charge him with manslaughter.

    However, Serino was apparently overruled by Seminole County State's Attorney Norman Wolfinger, who has since been replaced by Florida Gov. Rick Scott as lead attorney in this case.

    The plot thickens.


    Surely that's not what you meant (none / 0) (#188)
    by sj on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 12:37:15 PM EST
    Donald, your comment reads as though Florida Governer Rick Scott will act as lead attorney while actually he has replaced Wolfinger with Angela Corey.

    On further reflection, it seems to me (none / 0) (#58)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 12:36:54 AM EST
    Sanford P.D. detective responding to the scene could have contacted prosecutor's office by telephone (on call prosecutor), ran the situation by him or her, and requested the prosecutor contact the on call judge to request a search warrant to obtain blood sample, clothing, etc. from Mr. Zimmerman.  

    I tend to agree, Anne. (none / 0) (#13)
    by Edger on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:24:10 PM EST
    It seems to me like a lot of effort was put into muddying the water as much as possible.

    It would be good if someone came out of the woodwork who had video'd the entire encounter from a nearby widow...


    Are there grounds for a lawsuit against (none / 0) (#17)
    by observed on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:29:16 PM EST
    the PD?
    It's not just that they screwed up on this case--what was their past history with Zimmerman?
    Had he "helped" them before, in inappropriate ways?

    Based on what, at this point? (none / 0) (#77)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:13:36 AM EST
    I'm pretty sure (none / 0) (#88)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:43:40 AM EST
    you just re-asked the question already being asked.

    It seems (none / 0) (#90)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:51:06 AM EST
    The questioner has a viewpoint that a lawsuit should be filed and is asking how could that be done.  My question is what kind of lawsuit?  What would someone sue for?

    It seems to me (5.00 / 2) (#101)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:17:38 AM EST
    that the questioner is actually asking a question.  I could be wrong.

    i'm simply asking. Morally, the PD is (1.00 / 1) (#170)
    by observed on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 01:29:24 PM EST
    guilty of at least two sins. I'm asking if there is any legal culpability.

    cpinva (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:27:33 PM EST
    According to other reports Zimmerman said OK when told not follow and had returned to his truck when attacked by Martin.

    True? Don't know.

    But we do know Zimmerman had a head injury and a broken nose.. Another witness has said he saw Martin on top of Zimmerman banging Zimmerman's head on the sidewalk.

    True? Don't know.

    But it is plain that it isn't as cut and dried as it has been painted for the past week.

    BTW CP (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:30:07 PM EST
    I don't know if you have ever been in a sure enough bare knuckles fight... but I can testify that who ever hits first wins. Especially if it is a blow to the nose.

    By the way, how was Martin supposed to (5.00 / 1) (#68)
    by observed on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 02:51:22 AM EST
    know that Zimmerman had stopped following him?
    That seems quite relevant. I'm not sure your data point has any legal significance at all---it doesn't change the fact that Zimmerman instigated the confrontations through his actions.

    It's VERY convenient to say that (3.67 / 3) (#19)
    by observed on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:32:46 PM EST
    Zimmerman decided to return to his truck and start obeying the police, and only THEN did the  young hoodied thug beat him up.
    We don't know all the facts here, obviously, but there is NO QUESTION that the lion's share of responsibility for this death resides with Zimmerman, for his intimidating, suspicious actions; next, the police are outrageously culpable for a coverup.

    It is even more convenient to say (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:41:12 PM EST
    that Zimmerman did not turn around when told.

    We don't know. Your bias says Zimmerman is an evil tool of the police.

    My bias says, we don't know.

    BTW - If someone is following you and then after they turn and walk away you attack them then you have initiated the physical action. That makes you responsible.


    Why on God's green earth (5.00 / 3) (#40)
    by gyrfalcon on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:23:48 PM EST
    would a slim 17-year-old boy with a box of candy and a can of iced tea in his hands assault an older, heavier adult stranger on the street in the middle of the night when he's expected back at home in minutes?

    There's zero possible motivation for it, except if he felt himself to be under really serious threat.  It makes no sense whatsoever.

    And just curiously, how do we know he had a box of candy and iced tea?  The only reason I can think of that we know this is because the police found them right next to his body.

    Think about that one for a minute in terms of who attacked whom.


    well, (2.33 / 3) (#51)
    by bocajeff on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:59:09 PM EST
    maybe the poor kid hated white mexicans? maybe he was offended? maybe he was rightfully pissed off at being profiled. The key words are maybe. You and I don't know. I admit I don't know. You have your mind made up for whatever reasons that fit your world view.

    teens arent known for their stellar judgment. (1.00 / 1) (#70)
    by jpe on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:39:45 AM EST
    You may or may not know that.  

    You ONLY report the details which support (1.00 / 1) (#25)
    by observed on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:47:35 PM EST
    your preconceived notion of events. If there were a blog in Australia which had a petition signed by hundreds of people supporting Zimmerman's version of events, you would cite that before you would cite ANY story which shows Zimmerman at fault.

    heh (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:55:02 PM EST
    the Orlando Sentinel is a blog?

    No, it doesn't (1.00 / 1) (#93)
    by Yman on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:54:49 AM EST
    If someone is following you and then after they turn and walk away you attack them then you have initiated the physical action. That makes you responsible.

    "Initiating the physical action" (even assuming that's true) does not make you "responsible".  "Initiating the physical action" (whatever that means) does not, per se, justify the use of deadly force.


    start obeying the police (none / 0) (#173)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 02:21:53 PM EST

    Wow! He never disobeyed police in the first place.  The PD dispatcher did not give him orders but rather gave him some advice.



    Or, alternatively, (5.00 / 1) (#126)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:05:22 AM EST
    We could actually learn about it.
    we all respond to the world that we have been told exists.

    That would require... (5.00 / 2) (#136)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:14:18 AM EST
    independent thought.  Not exactly a strong suit of some people.  

    I was just reading (5.00 / 1) (#150)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:44:12 AM EST
    the preliminary (partial) Police Report that Jeralyn linked to up thread.

    According to it there are 6 witnesses. I assume they have been interviewed multiple times at this point.

    I also went to Google Earth and took a look at the site of the incident. Lots and lots of apartments/condos/townhomes mixed in with single family dwellings. Reminds me of south Littleton and Highland Ranch (Denver 'burbs.)

    In the report Zimmerman is quoted as saying, "I was yelling for someone to help me, but no one would help me."

    They've always had a little (none / 0) (#187)
    by jondee on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 11:31:03 AM EST
    trouble getting God and Smith & Wesson mixed up down there..

    Massive failure by the Sanford police dept. (4.83 / 6) (#12)
    by Angel on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:23:14 PM EST
    I am not inclined to believe anything they say at this point.  

    Agreed that if this story is true (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by Towanda on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:28:04 PM EST
    then Zimmerman would have been quite bloodied and obviously injured, so police would have taken him to a hospital.  

    And then there would be evidence to support his story.


    he was given first aid (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:32:33 PM EST
    by the Sanford Fire Department Rescue Department (Unit 38) at the scene while in the back of the patrol car. The same unit attempted to provide aid to Trayvon. See the initial police report.

    Thanks; I've read the reports (none / 0) (#139)
    by Towanda on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:23:23 AM EST
    linked and don't see all of that information, though.

    According to reports (none / 0) (#23)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:42:26 PM EST
    the police offered but he refused.

    According to unnamed sources (none / 0) (#140)
    by Towanda on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:24:00 AM EST
    to media is all that I find.  No official statement.

    Now according to new reports (none / 0) (#177)
    by Towanda on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 04:55:35 PM EST
    Zimmerman requested it, and the cops would not take him.

    Also note that the linked ABC story says that the police investigator wanted him charged, but the state AG refused.  No wonder the DoJ had to step in.  

    But now I wonder whether this gets the Sanford police chief back on the job, if the state AG was the obstacle.


    If the Sanford police had conducted (4.43 / 7) (#2)
    by caseyOR on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 09:11:51 PM EST
    a decent investigation  we might know if this account of Mr. Zimmerman's has any truth to it. We would know if the blood on his shirt was his or Trayvon's. We would know if he had any wounds on the back of his head from allegedly having it pounded on the sidewalk. We would know if he was under the influence of intoxicants.

    As it is all we know is that Mr.Zimmmerman made the decision, based on no information at all that Trayvon was up to no good, to track Trayvon as the boy walked back to the condo he was visiting and ignored the 911 dispatcher's request that he stop following Trayvon. And we know he shot and killed Trayvon.

    Maybe Trayvon was the one standing his ground using his hands which were the only weapons he had.

    actually, (3.67 / 3) (#48)
    by bocajeff on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:51:12 PM EST
    you don't know all the facts but from the tone of your post you have made up your mind. Maybe Trayvon was pissed that someone stopped him and decided to take the anger he had since his suspension from school and beat the guy. Who knows? This is a tragedy, but no one really knows what happened and yet people all over the place have made up their minds.

    Most of the protesters, I'll assume, don't really want an investigation. They want a conviction. Their minds are made up. Don't have all the facts but are assuming.

    My guess: Right cause but wrong case...


    Boca Jeff (5.00 / 1) (#189)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Mar 28, 2012 at 05:42:17 PM EST
    "you don't know all the facts but from the tone of your post you have made up your mind."

    "Most of the protesters, I'll assume, don't really want an investigation. They want a conviction."

    Do you see the contradiction in your post?


    Read my comment again, please. (3.00 / 2) (#55)
    by caseyOR on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 12:17:32 AM EST
    At no point do I claim to know all the facts. Given the p!ss poor job done by the Sanford PD, we may never know all the facts. And the only thing I have made up my mind about is the god awful response by the Sanford PD.

    I don't know what "most of the protestors" want. People have been asking for an investigation, though, ever since his parents found out Trayvon had been killed.


    Claiming the Sanford PD did (5.00 / 2) (#94)
    by Buckeye on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:55:52 AM EST
    a "piss poor job" is pure speculation at this point.

    I dont think so (5.00 / 2) (#97)
    by PatHat on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:06:09 AM EST
    Not investigating a killing? Not notifying the kid's parents for 2-3 days that his body is in the morgue?

    piss-poor is a good adjective.


    If what you said turns out to be true, (5.00 / 1) (#102)
    by Buckeye on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:19:14 AM EST
    I will agree with you.  We do not know the facts yet as nothing has been presented in a court of law.  Everything is speculation.  I was simply pointing out a flaw in the poster's reasoning.  The poster said "at no point do I claim to know all the facts" and then promptly states he knows something as fact when it has not been establishied as fact.

    Pretty sure characterizing ... (1.00 / 1) (#108)
    by Yman on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:34:35 AM EST
    ... the Sanford PD's job as "piss poor" is an opinion.

    Read again (none / 0) (#114)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:50:39 AM EST
    The commenter said that she didn't know all the facts.  That doesn't mean we don't know some facts.

    Although there are some educated guesses in there.


    The girlfriend says she was on the phone when she (none / 0) (#174)
    by jawbone on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 03:25:00 PM EST
    heard a loud sound (iirc), and Trayvon's cell phone went silent.  She would have heard the conversation Zimmerman reports, so she becomes an even more important witness.

    I imagine she'll be asked to take a lie detector test?

    Also, if there was head pounding which drew blood, certainly the police collected samples ASAP (it was drizzling, right?) and have tested it?

    Or not....


    One fact we know (4.33 / 6) (#128)
    by Repack Rider on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:05:48 AM EST
    ...that shows how shoddy the police work was is that the body was unidentified for three days, even though Trayvon had a cell phone and his parents had called police several times to help find a missing boy who matched the description of a dead kid found a few blocks from where Trayvon was last seen.

    Police work at its finest.  How sherlockian of them to take three days to put one and one together.

    If someone accosted me on the street (4.29 / 7) (#5)
    by Edger on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 09:26:28 PM EST
    and threatened me with a gun I think I would probably try - since there wouldn't, imo, be a lot of point in trying to outrun a bullet - to knock him down, and if I was able to without being shot would damn well jump on him and do my best to smash his head into the street to knock him unconscious.

    Since the only weapon I usually carry is my hands...

    of course, (2.33 / 3) (#49)
    by bocajeff on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:53:30 PM EST
    you have no idea that is what happened. Do we know if he was threatened with a gun? If you had a gun would you get close enough to get punched? No, but you are ready to convict based on that supposition, no?

    I said what I said (3.67 / 3) (#71)
    by Edger on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 06:00:14 AM EST
    Good luck trying to make what I said say what you said I said.

    So far both of your comments (3.00 / 2) (#92)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:54:38 AM EST
    would be completely appropriate if not for the fact that the commenters said pretty much the opposite of what you are claiming.

    The new witness changes nothing. (1.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Mitch Guthman on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 02:13:31 AM EST
    I don't find the two version of event difficult to reconcile.  Unless there is some plausible version of events that indicates that Martin was somehow "at fault" then clearly Zimmerman is the initial aggressor and therefore cannot claim self-defense because Florida Statute Sec. 776.041(2) provides that the right of self defense is not available to a person who initially provokes the use of force against himself.  By his own admission, Zimmerman  stalked Martin and, even under the leaked defense theory of the case, was certainly the one who precipitated the physical confrontation.  The fact that it didn't go according to Zimmerman's plan and he was getting the crap beaten out of him would not the fact that (1) under Florida law Martin was entitled to respond with force and (2) as the initial aggressor Zimmerman did not have the right of self-defense and needed to withdraw to reclaim it.

    Under the circumstances, it seems to be very likely that Zimmerman followed Martin and, according to the testimony of Martin girlfriend Zimmerman confronted Martin who could very reasonably have believed himself in danger of imminent harm thereby justifying the use of physical force to protect himself.  As the initial aggressor, Zimmerman is not entitled to claim self-defense.  What's more, even if Martin had been the first to launch a physical attack, as the initial aggressor, Zimmerman would still have had to withdraw to regain the right to self-defense.

    I don;t think that's correct (5.00 / 1) (#67)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 02:49:48 AM EST
    Keep reading -- there's an exception that may apply here:

    § 776.041.  Use of force by aggressor

    The justification described in the preceding sections of this chapter is not available to a person who:

    (2) Initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself, unless:

    (a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant;

    So even assuming Zimmerman was the initial aggressor, which is not yet known, if Martin attacked him, broke his nose and was beating on him, causing him to believe he was danger of great imminent bodily harm, he'd be able to claim self-defense.

    In addition, that instruction is only given when the person claiming self-defense is charged with an independent forcible felony. See Giles v. State,  831 So.2d 1263 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002). They give this fact pattern:

    Defendant and the victim got into a fight while playing poker. The victim threw a beer bottle at defendant, but missed. Defendant hit the victim in the mouth with a brick. The appellate court held that the trial court's wording of the self-defense jury instruction was misleading and required reversal. The instruction given improperly told the jury that the very act defendant sought to justify precluded a finding of justification.

    Thus, even if the jury found that defendant's act of aggravated battery was committed in self-defense, the use of force was not justifiable because the act itself was a forcible felony. That reading was erroneous because the proper test for determining the applicability of the instruction was whether, at the time of the self-defense, the accused was engaged in a separate forcible felonious act. Defendant was not engaged in a separate felonious act at the time of the alleged aggravated battery and so the instruction was inapplicable. At the very least, the instruction given was circular and confusing to the jury such that it basically negated defendant's defense.

    Zimmerman hadn't committed a felonious act and the state law states the use of the gun to kill the victim is not an independent forcible crime.

    If didn't have my own briefs to write tomorrow, I'd write one on this.

    If you have Lexis access, look up the IN RE: STANDARD JURY INSTRUCTIONS IN CRIMINAL CASES - REPORT NO. 2009-01.,No. SC09-622,SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA, 27 So. 3d 640; 2010 Fla. LEXIS 2; 35 Fla. L. Weekly S 1, January 7, 2010, Decided.

    It revises the self-defense jury instructions based on the various old and new laws. If you don't have access, let me know and I'll upload them to TalkLeft.

    So as long as he maintains he was in fear of imminent serious bodily harm from the beating and broken nose he says Martin inflicted on him, he can say he was afraid Martin would keep beating on him and gravely injure him, justifying his use of deadley force.


    In other words (1.00 / 1) (#69)
    by markw on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 03:34:55 AM EST
    In other words, under some circumstances, two people could BOTH be legally justified in killing each other: the first because somebody with a visible gun came up and pushed him (making him feel his life was in danger), and the second because the first person then started to get the better of him in a fight (making him feel he was in danger of great bodily harm).

    Great law.


    But does he have to show he (none / 0) (#72)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 06:31:03 AM EST
    exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant

    That is why I am interested in the time between when Trayvon allegedly had him on the ground and when the shot was fired. What was Zimmerman doing to try to get away? Was shooting Trayvon the only way out?

    Is this a case where Zimmerman as a defendant would have to testify on his own behalf if there are not any witnesses to the whole episode?


    If Zimmerman was lying on his (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 06:49:42 AM EST
    back with Martin on top of him repeatedly banging Zimmerman's head on the cement, Zimmerman has no means to retreat.

    But he had means to get out his gun? (2.00 / 1) (#80)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:18:56 AM EST
    I just think we are missing a minute or so of the story.

    Except (none / 0) (#82)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:49:22 AM EST
    That's kinda the while point behind Stand Your Ground.

    No (none / 0) (#161)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:32:21 AM EST
    there is no duty to retreat in Florida (and many other states.)

    Again, I think that instruction is given only when the defendant committed an independent felony before the shooting.

    There are many self-defense instructions for various factual circumstances -- the jury instructions tell the court which one applies in various situations. The one cited in the comment I replied to was not only incomplete providing for an exception, it is not one applicable here because of the independent felony requirement. There are many Florida opinions explaining this.


    Reasonable means available to escape danger (none / 0) (#83)
    by vicndabx on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:56:11 AM EST
    In order for the exception to apply, wouldn't Zimmerman have needed to shoot from a prone position?

    One would think Zimmerman had ample opportunity to withdraw. It seems unlikely Martin would rush Zimmerman while held at gunpoint.


    I think you are correct (none / 0) (#167)
    by Mitch Guthman on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 01:10:00 PM EST
    I didn't read far enough or completely enough. Also, I'm too lazy to go to the law library so I'm getting a lot of this from footnotes in Florida cases which is evidently not adequate.  

    It would appear that in Florida even the initial aggressor is entitled use deadly force without first withdrawing.  Also, Florida would seem to have revised it's laws on homicide and self-defense more substantially than I originally thought.  

    I no longer have Westlaw or Lexis access so, yes, I would very much appreciate seeing this material when you have time.  Also, if you know of a source for just the Florida statutes on homicide and selfdefense that would also be much appreciated.


    Here you go (none / 0) (#186)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:42:57 PM EST
    Here is the 2010 report of the changes to the self-defense instructions. The pertinent one is the portion of instruction 3.6(f), Justifiable Use of Deadly Force beginning on the bottom of page 3.

    3.6(f) is prefaced with:

    Because there are many defenses applicable to self-defense, give only those parts of the instructions that are required by the evidence.

    But also look for the ones that say "read in all cases."

    Getting to  the changes required as a result of the Stand My Ground Law, § 776.013 and section 3 specficially: It prefaces the instruction with:

    No duty to retreat. § 776.013(3), Fla. Stat. See Novak v. State 974 So. 2d 520  (Fla. 4th DCA 2008) regarding unlawful activity. There is no duty to retreat where the defendant was not engaged in any unlawful activity other than the crime(s) for which the defendant asserts the justification.

    and then states :

    If the defendant [was not engaged in an unlawful activity and] was attacked in any place where [he] [she] had a right to be, [he] [she] had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand [his] [her] ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if [he] [she] reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to [himself] [herself] [another] or to prevent the commission of a forcible  felony.

    Also note:

    Read in all cases.

    If in your consideration of the issue of self-defense you have a reasonable doubt on the question of whether the defendant was justified in the use of deadly force, you should find the defendant not guilty.

    Here is an html version of Instruction 3.6 (f) .

    Here in one document are the 2011 versions of:

    776.012 Use of force in defense of person

    776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm

    776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.--

    Again, see Section 3 of the 776.013:

    (3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    Any other place refers to places other than a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle.


    What new witness? (none / 0) (#91)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:51:20 AM EST
    All I'd trust the police report to be... (1.00 / 1) (#86)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:20:00 AM EST
    is biased at best and fabricated at worst...full on CYA mode now for the bungling (at best) or complicit (at worst) police department, and I definitely wouldn't put it passed them to smear a dead boy who isn't here to defend himself.

    Zimmerman, with the mob crying justice, has lots of incentive to be less than truthful as well.  

    If it is true, after stepping to Trayvon, that Trayvon began to mop the floor with the guy, a legal justification for the killing seems reasonable.  Key words if true.  But morally?  Zimmerman's behavior cannot be excused even if he get his beek busted and head smashed on the concrete.  Like my pops always said you should never start a fight, but you're damn well allowed to finish it.  Zimmerman started this and bears responsibility for the events that followed...morally speaking.  

    Morally?? (1.00 / 2) (#96)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:04:55 AM EST
    Kdog, do you say that neighborhood watches are immoral? Or that a single individual shouldn't act to prevent what they think is a crime about to be committed?

    Isn't what you are saying the same attitude that says "don't drop a dime" to report a crime?

    If someone has you on the ground and is bashing your head on the ground you are not allowed to make him stop? Zimmerman says that Martin attacked him after Zimmerman turned around and was leaving.
    But even if that is not true, anyone is allowed to try and protect themselves from lethal harm.

    Who started this? How about all the criminals that committed crimes in that neighborhood? How about a society that paints black teenagers in a hoodie as a threat?


    Immoral (5.00 / 2) (#98)
    by PatHat on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:09:20 AM EST
    I believe kdog is saying it's immoral to shoot dead an unarmed boy who was walking through your neighborhood.

    Who started this? It's obvious that Zimmerman started this by following the boy, against police directions, and not stopping until the boy was dead.


    Which is why I said... (5.00 / 2) (#100)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:15:47 AM EST
    Zimmerman's use of lethal force may be legally justified.  Morally, Zimmerman was wrong to follow and initiate contact with a perfect stranger for simply walking down his block.

    I don't get where Zimmerman had any reason to believe a crime was being committed, except in his suspicous paranoid delusional mind...walking the street is not a crime, last I checked.  

    Then again, walking the street while brown is probable cause for a stop and frisk in NYC, so maybe I'm out of the loop.


    Add... (none / 0) (#104)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:22:50 AM EST
    as to my take on "neighborhood watch", I ain't down with the Zimmerman version.  Having your neighbor's back if they are in the process of being robbed is one thing, I like to think I'd try to stop a thief from robbing a neighbor...being a nosey busy-body profiling every passerby is not a neighbor I want, we would not get along.  An armed one especially so.

    Kdog, the concept of (5.00 / 1) (#127)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:05:26 AM EST
    a Neighborhood Watch organization is having your neighbor's back.

    You know, I'd like to see a list of the crimes committed in the neighborhood Zimmerman was in.


    No, the concept of Neighborhood Watch (5.00 / 2) (#144)
    by Towanda on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:26:41 AM EST
    is being the eyes of the police, observing only and taking no action other than to contact police, who are the ones who have your back.

    Really, so many people are speaking about Neighborhood Watch as if they know about it.  And, by this statement, you do not.


    Why? (5.00 / 0) (#171)
    by Repack Rider on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 01:46:57 PM EST
    I'd like to see a list of the crimes committed in the neighborhood Zimmerman was in.

    It was a gated community, which is usually low crime, but...  Why do you care?  Is it beyond possibility that a white person might commit a crime in a majority white neighborhood?

    If Trayvon had not committed any of those [speculated] crimes, and there is no evidence that he did, what difference would it make that someone else committed a crime?

    Are you saying that if your neighbor's house is robbed and nobody knows who did it, you get to shoot a black man, because ...?


    Unless of course... (3.67 / 3) (#138)
    by kdog on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:18:34 AM EST
    neighborhood watch ends up harassing a neighbor, or a visitor with no ill intent.  You can take it too far, as we can plainly see from this tragedy.

    Not sure how the crime rate in the community is relevant...Trayvon wasn't robbing anybody.  Living in a high crime area isn't justification for pulling a Charlie Bronson on an innocent kid.


    I think it's manslaughter (1.00 / 1) (#165)
    by valency on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:42:06 AM EST
    Zimmerman claims that Martin jumped him as he was returning to his SUV. The girlfriend claims that Trayvon was talking to her, walking quickly away from the scene, when he was challenged by Zimmerman, there were the sounds of scuffling, and the phone went dead. One of these witnesses is lying, and given the phone evidence allows a fairly accurate reconstruction of the events, it should be fairly easy to decide who, even without the use of eyewitnesses.

    As for the claim Zimmerman was on the bottom being punched by Trayvon, unfortunately eyewitnesses are notoriously inconsistent on these things. We do know that the police established a narrative early and then "corrected" witnesses who deviated from it.

    It's entirely possible Zimmerman found himself on the losing end of the fight he started. The 911 tape recording the fight in progress has the altercation going on for at least 30 seconds. Other witnesses have Zimmerman and Martin "wrestling." If Zimmerman shot Martin because he started losing the fight he (Zimmerman) initiated, it ought to be a manslaughter charge at least, irregardless what recent bizarre "Stand Your Ground" precedents say.

    Jeralyn, have you formed an opinion (none / 0) (#1)
    by me only on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 08:54:00 PM EST
    or is it too early?

    I am not a juror (5.00 / 5) (#4)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 09:25:34 PM EST
    I am an advocate.  With the possible exception of a few police and military misconduct cases, I view criminal cases through the lens of the Constitution and in a way that promotes the rights of those accused of crime.

    I wasn't there, no evidence has been introduced in court and my concern in cases like this is more with the fairness of the process. If Zimmerman is to be convicted of anything, it should be based on evidence admitted in court, not what one side or the other is telling the media. Trials should take place in courtrooms, not living rooms


    Do you think the media (none / 0) (#6)
    by me only on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 09:55:06 PM EST
    coverage has helped or hindered in this case?

    I have not gotten attached to this (none / 0) (#3)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 09:22:50 PM EST
    story.  I am sort of on news blackout for various reasons pertaining to my own life, but between the blogs and FB, I was made aware of the controversy.

    Weirdly, it struck me as a dispute that was for no good reason other than instinct on my part going to yield more information - some of which might surprise people who were politicizing it on both sides.

    Having said, "weirdly", it isn't really that weird for me to kind of hang back before picking a side on these crime stories.  I've found that more often than not first impressions from initial police and media reports are either totally erroneous or that they completely miss hugely important facts.

    Anyway, I think that we will probably find out even more as time goes on and I hope that the poor dead kid and the poor live adult both get the justice they deserve.  That's all we can ever really ever hope for in these tragic situations.  No matter how you cut it - not matter which side you'd like to pick - two people's lives have been ruined - and however many people they are each connected to are in serious pain and agony at present.  It is all just a damn sad shame.

    Information starts to float to the surface (none / 0) (#7)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 09:59:55 PM EST
    that puts the media frenzy in a different light.

    With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk, leaving him bloody and battered, law-enforcement authorities told the Orlando Sentinel.

    That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say. There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about.


    In his version of events, Zimmerman had turned around and was walking back to his SUV when Trayvon approached him from behind, the two exchanged words and then Trayvon punched him in the nose, sending him to the ground, and began beating him.

    Zimmerman told police he shot the teenager in self-defense.

    Orlando Sentinel

    I think you highlighted the wrong part: (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by Anne on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:06:08 PM EST
    There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about.

    Good lord.


    Indeed (none / 0) (#152)
    by ks on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:54:12 AM EST
    It's amazing that these two sentences were put together.

    "That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say. There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about."

    In fact, much of it has not been corroborated by witnesses.  There is no witness corroboration that Zimmerman stopped persuing Trayvon as he was earlier told to and headed back to his car (changed story from losing Trayvon and being at his car when attacked).  

    There is no witness corroboration that Trayvon approached Zimmerman. The account of Trayvon's girlfriend strongly suggests otherwise.  

    There is no witness corroboration on the intial punch.

    The only witness corroboration is for the struggle and the conflicting accounts as to who called for help.


    And we have no idea (5.00 / 1) (#157)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:08:45 AM EST
    What was really said between Trayvon and his girlfriend either.

    Well, "we" might not but, (5.00 / 0) (#158)
    by ks on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:27:34 AM EST
    I'm sure she does.  The phone records confirm that she was speaking to him until he came into contact with Zimmerman and if this ever goes to trial, I'd imagine she's be a key witnesses for the prosecution.  

    Well, the Sanford police apparently ... (5.00 / 4) (#21)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:40:22 PM EST
    ... never talked initially to Mary Cutcher, a resident at the Twin Lakes condominum complex, except in a cursory manner. Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in her back yard. She insists that George Zimmerman was the aggressor, and that the police never interviewed her properly that night and blew off repeated attempt on her part to tell them what she saw.

    Finally, out of frustration two weeks ago, she approached WESH-TV in Orlando with her story, and only then did the police finally follow up and interview her and her roommate, Selma Lamilla, about what they saw and heard. Cutcher described hearing what she thought was a young person in distress, just before they heard the gunshot that killed Martin:

    "It sounded young. It didn't sound like a grown man is my point. It sounded to me like someone was in distress and it wasn't like a crying, sobbing boo-hoo, it was a definite whine."

    And Ms. Lamilla said that she saw Zimmerman over Martin on the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and that Martin was face first to the ground, with Zimmerman pressing him down, making no attempt to provide first aid.

    If Martin attacked Zimmerman by his SUV, as Zimmerman has alleged to the police, and knocked him to the ground and repeatedly slammed his head against the sidewalk, then how did they end up some length away in the back yard commons of Lamilla's and Cutcher's condominium? And why did the police never question these two women in detail until prodded by the Orlando media?

    I think what's clear, Jim, is that the Sanford police grossly violated established protocol in conducting a homicide investigation, and have thus seriously compromised this case. At this point, because of their failure on so many fronts, I think that justice delayed might well end up becoming justice denied.

    Further, I'd think the shoddy police work renders it very difficult for George Zimmerman to even receive a fair hearing and trial, should it come to that. He might walk away from this legally unscathed, but not morally. A cloud will be over his head for the rest of his days, because he would have no real opportunity through legal due process to clear his name to anyone's satisfaction.

    I'll try to find the original WESH interview with Mary Cutcher, and post a link to it when I do.



    I don't have a dog in this fight (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:53:07 PM EST
    But I agree that the police blew it.

    As to the counter claims, it is now becoming a he said - she said as we have obviously conflicting stories.

    I know one thing, having pulled some Shore Patrol duty during my early days, fights are rarely the clean knock down in one spot and its over with shown to us on TV.

    And you're right. The involvement of the press and Sharpton, et al, has absolutely poisoned the jury pool. There is no place on this Earth Zimmerman can get a fair trial.

    I mean, just read the comments here.


    It's all Sharpton's fault! (5.00 / 0) (#179)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:07:34 PM EST
    Seems to me the leaker inside the Police Department is the one breaking laws and causing problems, not Al Sharpton. He has a right to speak. They do not have a right to selectively leak whatever 'evidence' they actually bothered to collect in an effort to convince the public that their 'let's do nothing' approach to a dead body was in fact remarkably prescient, Sherlock Holmes material.

    Doesn't jury tainting go both ways, hmm...?


    Most likely, he can't be convicted of (none / 0) (#50)
    by observed on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:58:26 PM EST
    any crime. In that case, it Zimmerman who is getting off lightly for a possible murder.
    Suppose he actually was swearing racial insults at Martin before he killed him. What kind of crime would that be?

    I'm not convinced that Zimmerman can't get a fair trial, unless you include the possible interpretation that police malfeasance make it impossible to convict him, if he is guilty.


    Suppose?? (5.00 / 1) (#169)
    by jeffhas on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 01:18:56 PM EST
    and suppose he was conducting himself as he says he was (returning to his vehicle and was punched so hard it broke his nose).... that no racial insults were spoken... that he felt he had to use deadly force because his head was being bashed into the concrete ground??  What crime would you call that?  Where does he ever go to get his good name back?

    The operative word is suppose.  None of us really knows for certain, but it sure seems like you have made up your mind.

    Seems to me he has a right to have his day in court and presumption of innocence if he ever faces charges.  Until then, I guess he's just guilty in your eyes (and Sharptons, et al).


    Where is the part in this story (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by ruffian on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:57:10 PM EST
    where Zimmerman managed to get out his gun and shoot Trayvon in the chest? Was this while he was on the ground with Trayvon sitting on top of him?

    Why were the first moments and the final moments left out of this account?


    Also (1.00 / 1) (#59)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 12:39:01 AM EST
    If Zimmerman was the one screaming "HELP! HELP! HELP!!!!" at the top of his lungs, apparently unimpeded despite having a broken nose and someone on top of him, why did he stop screaming the instant he pulled the trigger? How is he so sure that his assailant is dead?

    Doesn't Occam's Razor say that the reason the screaming stopped was because Trayvon was the one doing it, and he stopped doing it because he'd been shot to death? Isn't that how these things usually work? Guy screams, is shot, dies?


    No, not necessarily (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:11:45 AM EST
    Wouldn't you be in shock and probably quiet if you pulled a trigger and shot someone?

    I believe if I shot someone (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by Buckeye on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:04:27 AM EST
    and they collapsed dead next to me, I would stop screaming.

    I can see that (3.00 / 2) (#103)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:20:46 AM EST
    But I believe if I shot someone and they collapsed dead next to me, I would start screaming.

    Not really (none / 0) (#180)
    by scarshapedstar on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:10:35 PM EST
    Quiet? In the middle of fighting for my life and hollering bloody murder?

    When I stub my toe, I make more of a fuss. Sorry but your explanation is not the most likely - surely you at least acknowledge that.


    Not so much floating to the surface (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by ruffian on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:03:22 PM EST
    as being leaked by someone at the Sanford PD. The acting Chief is investigating and the leaker may lose his job. I hope it was worth it to him/her to get this version of events out there.

    Curious. Instead of dancing around the issue, (none / 0) (#14)
    by observed on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:24:27 PM EST
    why don't you just say straight out what your'e thinking.
    Based on what you know now, do you believe Zimmerman was justified in shooting Martin?
    Do you see Zimmerman as bearing any responsibility whatsoever for Martin's death?

    I have already stated in a thread last week (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:36:27 PM EST
    that I think Zimmerman followed Martin.. They got into a fight and Zimmerman killed him.

    Now we have been told that Zimmerman, when told to by the 911 person to not follow said OK, turned around and walked back to his truck. Martin turned and followed Zimmerman and attacked him.

    Based on that and I say Zimmerman is not guilty.

    Plain enough?


    So (3.00 / 2) (#99)
    by PatHat on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:15:33 AM EST
    Given the story BY THE SHOOTER, that offers a possible sequence of events...he's not guilty. Well duh, what's the shooter going to say happened??

    Do you really feel the need to defend this guy? Is it simply because some on the left are using this to portray the pro-gun folks as potentially dangerous?


    Defending? Not really (5.00 / 1) (#113)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:47:50 AM EST
    That is the account Zimmerman gave police, and much of it has been corroborated by witnesses, authorities say. There have been no reports that a witness saw the initial punch Zimmerman told police about.

    But as I quoted above from the Orlando Sentinel the facts appear to be shifting in Zimmerman's favor.



    Facts don't shift (5.00 / 0) (#115)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:54:06 AM EST
    They are what they are.  

    But the spin is definitely shifting in his favor.


    Zimmerman's version of events ... (5.00 / 1) (#135)
    by Yman on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:14:01 AM EST
    ... are now facts "shifting in Zimmerman's favor"?



    I think it's probably habit (5.00 / 0) (#119)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:58:54 AM EST
    Do you really feel the need to defend this guy?
    Otherwise he might end up mostly agreeing with people instead of maintaining his reputation as a contrarian.  

    Exceptionally casuistic, given that (none / 0) (#24)
    by observed on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 10:44:38 PM EST
    the NYTimes article, based on Zimmerman's own account, states that Zimmerman returned to his car because he was unable to find Martin.
    Furthermore, you elide the question of what words were exchanged before blows were exchanged.

    obviously in that order. (none / 0) (#168)
    by rise hillary rise on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 01:17:26 PM EST
    With a single punch, Trayvon Martin decked the Neighborhood Watch volunteer who eventually shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old, then Trayvon climbed on top of George Zimmerman and slammed his head into the sidewalk, leaving him bloody and battered, law-enforcement authorities told the Orlando Sentinel.

    yeah, makes total sense to me


    All good questions (none / 0) (#32)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:06:06 PM EST
    But I can't fault Zimmerman because the police screwed up.

    I don't know how close you've ever been to violent death but I have and I know how traumatic it is. So if Zimmerman acted a little strange I can accept that.

    This whole thing is just so sad.

    It's not Zimmerman's fault that ... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:18:24 PM EST
    ... the police did such a remarkably bad job.

    I find it terribly ironic that the police at the scene may have initially thought at the time that they were doing Zimmerman a favor in letting him go home -- with the weapon used in the shooting, no less! -- only to subsequently discover to their chagrin that not only did they compromise the department's reputation, they may have also precluded any possibility of Zimmerman ever being able to clear his name to anyone's real satisfaction.

    It may well be that the only justice to be derived in this horrific affair is of the poetic variety.



    Correction: (none / 0) (#47)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:50:09 PM EST
    It's been pointed out that Zimmerman's gun was confiscated by the police that night prior to letting him go home, and that it remains in their possesssion. I therefore stand corrected.

    I wonder if Zimmerman was Mirandized? (none / 0) (#35)
    by ruffian on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:11:54 PM EST
    Or ever called a lawyer at all before he started talking? I guess the police's good cop - good cop routine lulled him into a false sense of security.

    One correction there (none / 0) (#36)
    by ruffian on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:18:20 PM EST
    The police did take away Zimmerman's gun that night.

    At least there was one thing done right.

    If that's indeed the case, then ... (none / 0) (#39)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:20:18 PM EST
    ... I stand corrected.

    I deleted the comment (none / 0) (#44)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:35:45 PM EST
    falsely stating they let him keep his gun.

    Thank you. (none / 0) (#46)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:48:15 PM EST
    I was clearly mistaken. See comment #45.

    cpinva's comment deleted for false information (none / 0) (#38)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:19:37 PM EST
    stating there is no neighborhood watch program in Sanford . I provided the links to the Neighborhood watch program on the City of Sanford's Trayvon Martin page, here and here.

    I'm glad you deleted my comment ... (none / 0) (#45)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 11:46:29 PM EST
    .. in which I stated that Zimmerman walked away with the gun, when I was apparently mistaken. There are a lot of conflicting reports and misinformation out there right now about this case, and I don't like compounding it.

    Zimmerman hasn't been charged with any crime as of yet, and I'll be more circumspect in my comments. I won't speculate as to his guilt or innocence, but the conduct of the Sanford police is fair game. If they botched this as bad as it seems to be, that could end up screwing Zimmerman, too, particularly if the authorities react reflexively to the increasing public pressure for them to arrest someone.


    you know what else? (5.00 / 3) (#53)
    by bocajeff on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 12:05:10 AM EST
    This can't end well. Zimmerman has to be found guilty of murder. Anything less will be seen as racism rearing it's ugly head. I don't know exactly what happened but my gut is telling me this isn't going to end well no matter how the law is disposed.

    I agree (none / 0) (#78)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:16:56 AM EST
    No matter what happens - God Almighty himself could come down and say, "Here's what happened," and there would be people so entrenched on their positions that they'd say he was lying.

    Not end well? (none / 0) (#166)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 12:13:36 PM EST

    If it is in fact viewed as an act of white racism if Zimmerman goes unpunished it will end well for any politician that will benefit from an energized and angered black community.  

    Hmmm, I can even think of one.  Care to take a guess as to who that is?



    I"m having trouble loading that (none / 0) (#52)
    by observed on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 12:02:05 AM EST
    powerpoint file, but I have a question.
    Is it correct that Zimmerman was part of a Neighborhood Watch program AND authorized to carry a gun while on his duties?

    Two different issues (none / 0) (#63)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 01:32:42 AM EST
    Yes he was part of a neighborhood watch program. The City of Sanford says:

    Police have determined that George Zimmerman was serving in the role of neighborhood watch member, when he and Trayvon Martin had an encounter which resulted in the shooting death of Mr. Martin.

    He was authorized to possess a weapon under Florida's concealed permit law, not the Neighborhood Watch program.  he could lawfully possess it on his person, in his car and everywhere else. His authorization to carry a weapon had nothing to do with his Neighborhood Watch activities. The Watch Program cautions members not to try and make an arrest but to leave that to the police department.

    Mr. Zimmerman holds a concealed weapon permit issued from the State of Florida....Mr. Zimmerman was not acting outside the legal boundaries of Florida Statute by carrying his weapon when this incident occurred.

    The Neighborhood Watch program handbook is here.

    So yes he was part of a watch program and yes he was authorized to have a weapon, but the authorization didn't come from the Watch program, which discourages it. It comes from his permit.


    I am in Neighborhood Watch (5.00 / 1) (#111)
    by Towanda on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:43:41 AM EST
    (as previously noted), and I have to reiterate that weapons are not "discouraged;" they are not allowed.  As the handbook states, having a weapon is an indicator of criminal behavior, not the actions of an NW observer.

    Jeralyn, wrt to Neighborhood Watch links (5.00 / 0) (#164)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:38:16 AM EST
    That's not enough information to know if that neighborhood has a NW program.  Those PP presentations are pretty generic.  The city may offer it, but the neighborhood doesn't have to implement.

    Denver offers it, but my old neighborhood rejected it.  

    And just like in the "C" family of programming languages, "neighborhood watch" != "Neighborhood Watch".


    I have yet to read that Zimmerman (3.00 / 2) (#75)
    by Anne on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:11:34 AM EST
    or the community association was affiliated with any registered Neighborhood Watch program; I think it's telling that the reference in the Sanford PD's press release refers to whatever it was Zimmerman was a member of with lower-case "n" and "w" and they certainly did not claim that Zimmerman was a member of their program or that of the local sheriff's department.

    Somewhere - and I'm sorry I don't remember where - there was an interview or quotes from the police department representative of "the" Neighborhood Watch program, who was invited to make a presentation to the community about getting an "official" program started.  It is my understanding that the community declined to participate in this official program; it seems to me that if Zimmerman and the community were participating in an official program, we would have heard something from those in charge - and we haven't.  In fact, I can recall only one other person who claims to be a member of whatever program Zimmerman was associated with.  I can't be the only person who finds that odd.

    Reading through that handbook, this seems like one of the most important things:

    What you will not do is get physically involved with any activity you report or apprehension of any suspicious persons. This is the job of the law enforcement agency.

    Maybe everyone is so afraid of being sued that no one wants to come forward and claim responsibility for or authority over the community's watch program - I don't know - but Zimmerman has pretty much been left to twist in the wind, with only one other person of whom I am aware who has come forward to say he, too, was a member of the patrol group.

    If anyone has any better information, I'm happy to stand corrected - there's so much out there that it's getting hard to keep track of it all.


    Sanford PD and national NW (5.00 / 0) (#148)
    by Towanda on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:33:42 AM EST
    aka Neighborhood Watch disagree, as the latter has stated that Zimmerman was not in an authorized Neighborhood Watch program.

    Therefore, what we may (from the links provided by Jeralyn) have here is the city of Sanford setting up its own program, illegally using the name of the national organization, and illegally using -- without purchasing -- the handbook (and other materials) of the national organization.  


    Doesn't seem that uncommon (none / 0) (#149)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:42:40 AM EST
    A wide range of neighborhood watch organizations exist across the country. Some have patrols,while others like Sanford's do not. But the National Sheriffs' Association, which sponsors the program nationwide,is absolutely clear on one point: guns have no place in a watch group. A manual distributed by the association repeatedly underscores the point: "Patrol members do not carry weapons."

    The manual warns that watch members should "not attempt to apprehend a person committing a crime or to investigate a suspicious activity." It should be emphasized to members of patrols,the materials state, that "they do not possess police power and they shall not carry weapons." The consequences of not following the guidelines are severe,the manual states: "Each member is liable as an individual for civil and criminal charges should he exceed his authority."

    The neighborhood watch movement came together some 40 years ago through the efforts of the National Sheriffs' Association. Chris Tutko,the national director for the program at the association,said there were 25,000 registered neighborhood watch groups in the United States today,and far more unregistered groups like the one in Sanford.



    It DOESN'T seem to be uncommon (5.00 / 0) (#154)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 10:57:56 AM EST
    You're right.  But I wonder if Neighborhood Watch -- The Official Version -- might be a little more protective of their name from now on.  

    It's a big deal to get NW designation and requires approval from X percent of the neighborhood and official coordination with local police.  I don't recall what the percentage is/was but I know that the efforts to establish one in my neighborhood failed due to community opposition.  I couldn't understand it at the time, but I kind of do now.  Kind of.


    Yes, we had the same situation in our neighborhood (5.00 / 1) (#155)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:03:54 AM EST
    Could not get enough of the homeowners to sign the petition. We have a very mixed-ethnic neighborhood and I am wondering now if some were worried about it being a method of unwarranted 'watching' of their kids.

    And when neighbors don't want it (3.00 / 2) (#159)
    by Towanda on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:28:12 AM EST
    as was the case in Zimmerman's neighborhood, according to many reports, then it is not a Neighborhood Watch.

    It is, if two more are involved, a posse.

    It is, if only one is involved, a vigilante.


    I keeping going back (none / 0) (#54)
    by NYShooter on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 12:13:15 AM EST
    To the "Stand your Ground Law."

    Was it invoked, and were the Police acting under its guidance?

    If the answer is yes then that helps explain a lot of the Police Department's behavior.

    A question was asked here regarding the possibility of lawsuits vs. the Sanford PD for, presumably, inept investigating. But, my understanding is that under the "Stand" Law, civil litigation is prohibited, and certain, otherwise normal, police procedures are also restrained.

    I would love to hear from any attorneys here to explain the law and it's applicability to this case.

    Thank you.

    I see the attitude that the law (1.00 / 1) (#79)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:17:17 AM EST
    created here in FL. Until I heard the name of the shooter in this case I was waiting to see if it was one of 2 people I know here that are regularly armed and would have done the same thing. They fully believe they are fully justified in using the ultimate force in 'defending themselves' from 'suspicious characters', and from their own words I know just who they find suspicious.

    If this is indeed a misapplication of the law, as BTD, Jeb Bush, and others have said, maybe the Zimmerman case should be the test case that shows that to the people of Florida. This is apart from any racial factors that may or may not have been present.


    See this (none / 0) (#81)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 07:42:50 AM EST
    From Prawfsblog

    So what is truly distinctive about Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law? It is this: while self-defense conventionally is just that -- a defense, to be raised at trial -- self-defense under the Florida law acts as an immunity from prosecution or even arrest. Section 776.032 of the Florida Statutes provides that a person who uses deadly force in self-defense "is immune from criminal prosecution." This odd provision means that a person who uses deadly force in self-defense cannot be tried, even though the highly fact-intensive question of whether the person acted in self-defense is usually hashed out at trial. The law thus creates a paradox: the State must make a highly complex factual determination before being permitted to avail itself of the forum necessary to make such a determination.

    Not only that, Section 776.032 provides immunity from arrest unless the police have "probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful." Again, the law creates a Catch-22: police cannot arrest the suspect unless they have probable cause, not just to believe there was a killing, but also that the killing was not in self-defense; and where, as is often the case, the defendant is the only living witness to the alleged crime, the police likely will not be able to form probable cause without interrogating the suspect.

    Yup. It is a horrible law. (5.00 / 0) (#85)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:15:28 AM EST
    Makes the police judge and jury.

    Actually (5.00 / 1) (#87)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:30:21 AM EST
    It ties their hands.

    I wonder... (none / 0) (#106)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:30:01 AM EST
    is there a penalty against the police if they do arrest someone even if they think it was probably a legitimate 'stand your ground' defense, but want a judge to decide?

    Claims of false imprisonment? (none / 0) (#109)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:35:24 AM EST
    Maybe the city and police force can be sued?

    They handcuffed Zimmerman (none / 0) (#117)
    by Towanda on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:57:31 AM EST
    and took him in custody, so this law must mean that he can sue them.

    Tell me how this is any different (none / 0) (#89)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:50:23 AM EST
    from any other investigation of a suspected crime?

    Are the police stopped from investigating a bank robbery? Etc?

    The law thus creates a paradox: the State must make a highly complex factual determination before being permitted to avail itself of the forum necessary to make such a determination.

    Not only that, Section 776.032 provides immunity from arrest unless the police have "probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful."

    That's what I'm wondering... (none / 0) (#107)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 09:32:16 AM EST
    what does 'immunity from arrest' mean? What is the penalty for arresting someone that is 'immune from arrest' because he invokes 'stand your ground'? Can the police be sued?

    That's not making sense (none / 0) (#172)
    by sj on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 02:13:02 PM EST
    to me either.  It sounds like fertile ground for anarchy.  The bad kind.

    Taking (none / 0) (#74)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 06:50:32 AM EST
    the Sanford Police Department's ineptness out of the equation, the bottom line is that the Stand your Ground laws are disastrous. I really don't see Zimmerman being charged because of this law.

    Has anyone seen a diagram of the entire site (none / 0) (#84)
    by Angel on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 08:08:54 AM EST
    showing where Martin was found, where Zimmerman's 911 call came from, each of the witnesses' locations?  That's what I need to  be able to piece this thing together.

    I'm wondering if the police dept even did that.

    And the girlfriend's account doesn't reconcile with Zimmerman's account either which makes me wonder even more if Zimmerman didn't follow or chase Martin to the rear commons area, scuffle ensued and killing occurred.  

    the city of Sanford (none / 0) (#162)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:33:47 AM EST
    has cautioned against relying on media diagrams and says they are pure speculation.

    Zimmerman told police that ... (5.00 / 1) (#183)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:40:06 PM EST
    ... he had walked back to his truck when Martin confronted and attacked him, knocking him to the ground and then banging his head on the pavement. Yet the shooting occurred some length away in the rear commons area outside Mary Cutcher's condominium, and about 70 yards from the rear entrance of Tracy Martin's fiancee's condominium. I'm also having trouble reconciling Zimmerman's statements.

    And frankly, the Sanford police initially claimed that Mary Cutcher's statements supported their contention that Trayvon Martin was the aggressor, which she has vehemently denied, and has since taken to the media in an effort to get them to retract that contention. So I don't know if I take anything they say at face value here.

    And further, we now hear from ABC news that Sanford PD Homicide Det. Chris Serino didn't believe Zimmerman and wanted him charged with manslaughter, but was overruled by the State's Attorney's office. I'd say that, more than ever, Sanford authorities have some very serious explaining to do regarding their conduct.


    And according to another witness, (5.00 / 0) (#184)
    by shoephone on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 05:57:22 PM EST
    the woman who lives near the back of the building, the police challenged her sense of events and tried to coerce her into changing her story. (She said she heard a boy screaming before the shot was fired.)

    The fact that Zimmerman said he went back to (5.00 / 1) (#185)
    by Angel on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 06:01:03 PM EST
    his truck and was attacked but Martin was found dead in the rear commons area is the part that doesn't make sense to me.  That's why I'd like to see a scale drawing - official, Jeralyn - marking each of the places we know Zimmerman, Martin and the witnesses were.

    I, for one . . . (none / 0) (#163)
    by Chuck0 on Tue Mar 27, 2012 at 11:35:44 AM EST
    wouldn't believe anything put out by anyone in the PD. Cops lie. Cops lie a lot. Cops especially lie when their asses are on the line.

    Secondly, police reports are huge works of fiction. I've seen more than one that so rife with error, you'd be better off using it for TP. Simply things like direction of travel, the name of a road, etc. I  put no stock whatsoever in the police reports. Those are written specifically to CYA anyone in law enforcement.