Zimmerman Tapes: Variations Versus Differences
We need another thread to continue the analysis of the George Zimmerman statements, interviews with police and crime-scene re-enactment.
So many were released yesterday, I doubt anyone but true case afficionados have listened to them all. I know I haven't. Yet across the internet, people are cherry-picking, pointing to minor variations as if they are contradictions affecting the totality of George Zimmerman's version of events.
If George Zimmerman told the exact same story over the course of days, people would say it was rehearsed and false. Variations are to be expected, human memory is not like a video recorder, it changes over time. So what is a reasonable test? How about this? [More...]
Forensic document examiners (handwriting experts) compare a known document to an unknown document to determine whether the same person wrote both. The known document might be a letter the person wrote in the past. The unknown document might be the ransom note.
One test for concluding if the same person authored both is whether there are a substantial number of similarities in the absence of a significant dissimilarity. Only a significant dissimilarity is considered a difference. Put another way: Are there are a sufficient number of significant characteristics and an absence of any significant inexplicable differences
A variation is not a difference. It is not a significant dissimilarity. How do these experts tell whether something is a variation or a difference? That's subjective, up to the examiner. (And why handwriting analysis is not considered science -- it's too subjective.)
Here, since we're dealing in the court of public opinion and with opinion not science, we can all be like document examiners.
There may be many variations in George Zimmerman's multiple accounts, but which, if any, amount to a significant dissimilarity that rises to a difference over a variation, and warrants someone concluding the essential elements of his version are not true?
My opinion: This is self-defense. Zimmerman was not the aggressor, he did nothing to provoke Trayvon Martin’s beating him, breaking his nose and slamming his head into concrete. He had every right to respond with deadly force to stop Trayvon’s physical attack on him and to prevent Trayvon from getting control of his weapon.
Here’s my interpretation of George’s version of events, which undoubtedly will be disputed by the state. Again, these are not undisputed truths, but my interpretation of George’s version.
George’s suspicion was aroused because he saw someone milling around between houses in the rain. He knew this person didn’t live at the house he was standing by because it had been
burglarized the subject of a suspicious person report before and he knew who lived there. The guy wasn’t exercising. He did nothing to get out of the rain. He thought to himself, who stands out in the rain and stares at houses? He did what the Sanford Police had instructed members of the community to do when they see something suspicious. He called the non-emergency number for the police to report his suspicion.
He pulled over at the clubhouse to make the 911 call. Trayvon walked past him, staring at him and turned down Twin Trees Lane. He drove to Twin Trees Lane while he was still on the phone with the non-emergency dispatcher and parked at the cut-through, in front of the white truck which happens to be located at 1211 Twin Trees Lane. He saw Trayvon go down the path between the shared backyards. Then Trayvon returned and circled his car. The dispatcher tells him police are on their way.
George tries to give him directions to where his truck is parked. The dispatcher isn’t understanding him (perhaps because the dispatcher didn’t realize George had moved his car from the clubhouse to the cut-through.). Then Trayvon took off running. The dispatcher asks him which way Trayvon had gone. He gets out of his car to look. He says toward the other entrance, and confirms to the dispatcher that would be the back entrance. The dispatcher tells him they don’t need him to follow Trayvon, and he says “okay.” But he still wants to tell the dispatcher where he is so the cops can find him, and he doesn’t know the name of the street since there is no street sign. Trayvon had gone off and was out of his sight.
He keeps walking to the front of Retreat View Circle to get an address. He had a flashlight but it wasn’t working. His purpose at this point was not to follow Trayvon, who had left the immediate area. He told the dispatcher he would stop following him and he did. He continued walking to Retreat View Circle to get the address for the dispatcher to give the cops who were on their way, and then he turned around to walk back to his car.
Just west of the “T” Trayvon appeared out of the darkness and confronted him. He (GZ) was right by the bushes on the sidewalk along the side of the house at 1211 Twin Trees Lane. Trayvon was on the shared back path, near the back of 1211 Twin Trees Lane. Trayvon confronted George, asking him if he had a problem. George said he didn’t and reached for his phone to call 911. As he reached for his phone, Trayvon punched him, he stumbled. Trayvon got on top of him and started banging his head into the cement. His body was on the grass, his head on the cement. He struggled to get up. As they continued struggling, George was crying out for help. Trayvon put his hands over his mouth and nose and told him to shut the F* up. He thought he was going to lose consciousness.
A neighbor behind them (W-6, John, at 1221 Twin Trees Lane) yelled out asking what was going on and if he should call 911. George yelled for help again. He wanted W-6 to help him get away from Trayvon, rather than call 911, because he knew police were already on their way. But W-6 went inside to call 911. No one came to help George as he kept struggling to get out from under Trayvon. W-6 says they were moving as they were struggling, first in the grass, then onto the sidewalk. As George tried to move so his head would be on the grass and he could get Trayvon’s hands off his mouth and nose, his jacket lifted and his gun was exposed. Trayvon reached for his gun and told him he was going to die.
At that point, in my opinion, anyone in that situation would reasonably fear serious bodily or death. He was unable to extricate himself. He was justified in using deadly force under traditional self defense principles even without Stand Your Ground. But Stand Your Ground also applies. He was in a place he lawfully had a right to be – a public area in his community. He was attacked. He did nothing to provoke a physical assault. He reasonably feared imminent serious bodily injury or death. He had no duty to retreat, but even if he did, since he was unable to extricate himself by any lesser means, he was justified in using lethal force.
George used one arm to pin Trayvon’s hand against him, and with the other, unholstered his gun and shot Trayvon in the chest. Trayvon didn’t die right away. He was still talking, and George thought he missed. He heard Trayvon say something like “You got me.” Not realizing his shot hit Trayvon, and thinking Trayvon had something in his hands he had been using to hit him, he got out from under him and on top of him to separate his arms.
Zimmerman did not violate any law by getting out of his car. He didn’t violate the law by reporting Trayvon as suspicious or trying to keep tabs on him while waiting for police. The dispatcher asked which way he had gone and for an address. It’s perfectly reasonable he would get out of his car to locate one if none was visible from where his car was parked.
He told the dispatcher to have the police call him because he had been unable to explain to the dispatcher where he was located. His truck wasn’t at the mailboxes. It was at the cut-through by Twin Trees Lane. Why should he have to drive it back to the mailboxes? He thought he could better explain where he was to the police when they arrived. There’s no duplicity here or sinister intent.
Trayvon confronted Zimmerman. Both GZ and even phone friend DeeDee say Trayvon initiated the verbal confrontation. Witnesses 11 (the first 911 caller) and her housemate Jeremy, W-20, who live at 1211 Twin Trees Lane, first heard the sounds on the north side of their house, which is to the west of the T. They think it moved around the corner to the back of their house, along the shared path, where they first heard the yells for help. W-11 says in interviews with police the men were moving as they were struggling on the ground. W-6 says he saw them move as they struggled from the grass to the concrete behind his house. Trayvon’s body is situated behind his house. In the re-enactment, George points to 1221 Twin Trees Lane as the house where the neighbor whom he asked for help (rather than call 911) lived.
W-13, who lives at 2861 Retreat View Circle, also at the top of the T, came out right after the shot. George’s face and the back of his head was bloody. He took the iPhone photo of the back of George’s head. When police arrived and handcuffed George, George asked W-13 to call his wife and tell her what happened. He told W-13 he had no choice, he had to shoot Trayvon. W-6 heard George say he acted in self-defense.
Why George followed Trayvon or thought he was suspicious is irrelevant to whether this was self-defense in my opinion. Even if he did follow him, which he denies, instead saying he was looking to see which direction he had gone and for a street address, that is not provocation for a punch in the nose.
While Trayvon didn’t break any law by not going back to where he was staying though he clearly had time to do so, or by remaining at or returning to the area of the “T”, he did commit an act of unlawful force against Zimmerman, by attacking him without adequate provocation.
We’ve seen no evidence or witness statement to suggest that GZ intended to capture or detain him for police. There is no witness who saw the initiation of the physical encounter or evidence that GZ initiated either the verbal or physical encounter. There is no evidence we’ve seen that that would justify Trayvon’s physical attack on Zimmerman.
Zimmerman’s injuries are consistent with his version of the attack. Zimmerman says he cried out for help. The witnesses’ statements the night of the event support Zimmerman’s version of events, even as to the struggle beginning at the T and then moving down towards W-6's house.
If the state has no evidence George initiated the verbal confrontation, then the affidavit for probable cause for second degree murder contained a lie. The affiants swore Zimmerman confronted Trayvon and a struggle ensued. But not a single witness statement says Zimmerman verbally confronted Trayvon. Zimmerman, and even Dee Dee, say Trayvon confronted Zimmerman first, asking why Zimmerman was following him or if he had a problem. If the state had no evidence Zimmerman confronted Trayvon before the struggle ensued, that should be dealt with by the Court.
There is no animus or hatred or ill-will in this case. There was a guy hanging out in the rain for no apparent reason, looking at houses, including one that had recently been the subject of a suspicious person report, in a neighborhood in which there had been several recent break-ins. Zimmerman considered and discounted other possibilities – such as that the guy was not wearing workout clothes or exercising. He knew the guy didn't live at the house where he was standing. He could not figure why he wouldn’t try to get out of the rain. He did what Sanford Police told citizens to do: He called the non-emergency number to report him.
I see variations, but I see no significant dissimilarities. I see nothing that amounts to a contradiction or a difference. I see a valid claim of self-defense.
What do you see? And remember to state your opinions as such, and not misrepresent disputed facts as undisputed truths.
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