The Trayvon Martin case is quite out of hand, and thanks to such unworthies as Al Sharpton and Barack Obama, has the real potential to descend into the kind of delightful, free-spirited, full-blown race rioting we haven’t see since the Rodney King case.  High school students have already taken advantage of the circus atmosphere to right the injustice of it all by looting a North Miami Beach Walgreen’s pharmacy. It now appears inevitable that Attorney General Eric Holder will get that conversation on race about which he once lectured “cowardly” Americans, even if he has to use the New Black Panthers to get it.

I recently wrote an article for PJ Media explaining a portion of the Florida statute that has been so broadly abused and misused in the early coverage of the case.  Since, I’ve seen even worse misapplication of every legal and procedural principle involved.

This will be the first in what may be a continuing series of articles on this case.  I say “may” because apart from the media narrative and the political/racial incitement involved, it really is an unremarkable case.  I don’t mean to minimize or trivialize the Martin family’s loss–they surely have my prayers–but there truly is nothing special about this case.  To the degree that I think I can provide information that might help to cut through the fog, I’ll write.  If not, there is little point in being one hand clapping or just another voice crying in the wilderness.  In this first installment, I’ll try to explain to the layman what actual police and prosecutorial procedure looks like, so they can better judge what’s actually happening in the Martin case.  Reality and the Lamestream Media’s preferred narrative have little in common, and are in most respects, incompatible.

As to my background and authority to discourse on these matters, I have nearly two decades of experience in police work in the USAF and civilian law enforcement.  I’ve served as a patrol officer, patrol supervisor (Sergeant), division commander, detective, juvenile/school liaison officer, SWAT operator, field-training officer, crime scene photographer, firearm instructor, in-service trainer, and taught many courses at a state law enforcement academy.  I’ve investigated every crime from traffic violations to homicide and made thousands of arrests.  I’m currently an NRA-certified instructor and hold instructor’s credentials for the American Small Arms Academy (Chuck Taylor’s school).

In this series, I’ll refrain from making absolute pronouncements of innocence or guilt; possibilities and probabilities based on what is known, probably.  I suspect that what will be most useful for most Americans is explaining how to rationally consider and to put into context what is currently known, and what is likely to occur.  Before I begin, a few preliminary observations:

* The involvement of Florida state agencies in this case can be a valid and just exercise of executive authority.  I worry that in the current climate that it will be anything but.  State involvement may make the arrest and overzealous–perhaps even unwarranted–prosecution of George Zimmerman a foregone conclusion.

* The rare and extraordinarily rapid involvement of the Department of Justice and FBI in this case—under the direction of what is surely the racially biased leadership of Eric Holder–makes the federal prosecution and persecution of George Zimmerman a virtual certainty, regardless of the facts and for blatantly political and racial reasons.

* In most respects, the shooting of Trayvon Martin is unremarkable.  Similar cases occur all the time and garner not a tiny fraction of the media attention focused on this case.  The Martin case is all about slanting, hiding–even manufacturing–the “facts” to fit the preferred Media and progressive (but I repeat myself) narrative.

* The case, without a doubt, is now being manipulated for racial reasons and with the most base political motives.

* Mr. Obama, by once again injecting himself into a local police matter about which he knows less than nothing, has greatly complicated things.  By posthumously rhetorically adopting Martin, Mr. Obama has handed Mr. Zimmerman’s future defense attorneys a powerful issue: he has essentially prejudiced the jury pool—all of America—to a degree that might make it impossible for Zimmerman to receive a fair trial.  He has also stirred up racial animus and tensions rather than serving to calm them.  Surely he couldn’t have intended that?

* Regardless of the eventual outcome of this case, it is likely that the ultimate victim will be justice.

STEP ONE: INITIAL RESPONSE

Upon receiving the call of a shooting, patrol officers are almost always the first on the scene.  Their job is simultaneously simple and complex.  They must:

* See to the medical needs of everyone involved;

* Ensure that suspects are detained and ensure the safety of everyone present;

* Protect the crime scene, preserving and protecting all evidence and ensuring that none is tampered with or taken;

* Conduct preliminary interviews with everyone present to determine not only what happened, but who was involved, who is a witness, who is a victim, who is a suspect, etc.;

* Establish a perimeter to keep unauthorized people out and to keep those necessary to the case in;

* Call all necessary support personnel (supervisors, detectives, crime scene technicians, medical personnel, etc.) and be prepared to tell them what they need to know to do their jobs.

Patrol officers must do all of this and more, simultaneously, very quickly, and without error.

STEP TWO: INITIAL INVESTIGATION

The shift supervisor on duty will commonly call the detectives on call, or perhaps the detective division head.  Only in agencies so small as to lack a separate detective division does this step not take place.  In those agencies, the chief of police or Sheriff might fulfill that role.  Some small agencies have cooperative agreements with larger or state agencies to assist when necessary.  However, the Sanford Police Department, with 140 sworn officers and 24 civilian employees. is more than large enough to have the necessary resources to investigate virtually any crime, including a potential homicide.

NOTE:  A “sworn officer,” is an officer required by state law to meet certain minimum requirements of education, training, etc.  They must also “swear” an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the state and city where they work.  Only sworn officers may actually make arrests, carry weapons, and perform all of the functions required of police officers.

The investigators or detectives (some agencies prefer one term, some the other) assigned will first ensure that all necessary preliminary steps have been taken.  They’ll ensure that all known evidence has been identified and protected, all known suspects and victims have been identified and secured, all known witnesses have been identified, preliminary personal information has been secured and preliminary interviews have been done.  They’ll call their crime scene technicians who will photograph and diagram the crime scene, and will collect all necessary evidence.

All unattended deaths are investigated as potential homicides until it can be proved they are not.

If the police have any reason to believe that anyone involved should be tested for alcohol or drugs, they will arrange for this to be done.  However, unless the police have a warrant, anyone may refuse such testing.  Much has been made of the assertion that George Zimmerman was apparently not drug or alcohol tested.  The most likely explanation for this (remember, I am not privy to all the details of this case) is that the police had no reason to believe drugs or alcohol were involved.  Most law enforcement agencies will not demand such testing unless they have valid reasons to believe it is necessary.

Only when they are satisfied that they are no longer needed at the crime scene will detectives begin to take in-depth statements from all witnesses, suspects, and if possible, victims.  This will commonly be done at the police station, but detectives will not begin these interviews until they have debriefed the officers at the scene and until they have a good idea what happened.  During this process, detectives are trying to understand not only what probably happened, but how and why it happened, and the roles of those involved.

STEP THREE: INTERVIEWS AND FORMULATING A THEORY OF THE CASE

Detectives know that the interview process is time consuming.  Particularly where suspects are concerned, if they are fortunate enough to speak with a suspect before he “lawyers up,” they will take their time and cover every potential detail, attempting to place each and every action in it’s proper sequence and second.  Time is critically important, as is motive and opportunity.  They’ll do their best to establish an accurate and unbreakable time line, not only to be certain they have all the facts, but to help to prevent false alibis from springing up.  In this case, Zimmerman apparently  cooperated completely with the police.

Above all, detectives know that interviews will inevitably reveal apparent contradictions.  They know they’ll learn things they didn’t know, or things that will require them to re-interview witnesses, suspects and victims to clarify times, facts, and even to solidify opinions.  They know that they may have to re-interview some witnesses several times, and that the entire process will likely take days, perhaps weeks, and in some more complex cases–the Martin case is not a complex case–even months.

At the same time, detectives know that it is virtually never possible for them to be absolutely certain about everything.  Five people witnessing the same event will almost certainly have differences—small and large—in their memories.  Sometimes, it’s simply not possible to know everything that happened or why.  There will almost always be doubts.  Detectives are never comfortable with this, but they accept it as reality.

During this process, they also review evidence in light of statements and known facts. Claims of self-defense–for example–that are not supported by physical and other kinds of evidence, will tend to be quickly discounted.  They review and consider laboratory reports (if any are involved).  They eliminate as many possibilities as possible, and they work to develop a theory of the case that fits the known and plausible facts.  In this process, it is not at all unusual for some detectives to disagree about matters small and great, but the determining factor must always be the evidence.

STEP FOUR: CONSIDERING CHARGES

From the first step of this process, police officers are considering potential charges based on what they know at the time.  In considering charges, there are two essential issues, issues that are not well understood—or known at all—by the general public: the elements of crimes and probable cause.

Elements:  In order for a law to be valid, it must be clearly written and easily understood by the average, reasonable man.  The reasonable man must know what conduct is legal and what is not (don’t get me started on the 2700-page ObamaCare monstrosity).  If this is not the case, the courts commonly strike such laws down as being too vague to understand.  For the police the issue is quite simple: if a suspect’s actions fulfill the elements of the statute, they may have committed that offense and may generally be arrested for it.

A theft statute might read something like this: 

One is guilty of grand theft when they:

(1) With conscious knowledge,

(2) and without permission;

(3) Take the property of another to keep or convert to their use;

(4) When such property shall have a fair market value of no less than $500.00.

In simple terms, if it’s worth at least $500 and it’s not yours and you know that and take it anyway, it’s grand theft.  In order to make an arrest for a violation of this particular statue, the police must be able to prove each and every element.  If you sit down on a park bench and without your knowledge, a $10,000 check that blew across the park and landed on the bench sticks to your pants and you find it only when you get home–and you report it–you had no prior knowledge, no criminal intent, so no arrest.  If you took a lawnmower from a neighbor’s garage and the wife wants you arrested, but the police discover that the husband gave you permission to borrow it without the wife’s knowledge, no arrest.

It would be worth your time to visit a post by my former Confederate Yankee co-blogger, Bob Owens.  Consider the elements of the Florida Murder statute with the facts of the Martin case as they are currently known.  As Owens notes, they simply don’t match what happened, yet a great many people are crying “murder,” and commanding the microphones of the national media to do it.

Probable Cause:  This too is widely misunderstood, but the police deal with it every day.  Generally speaking, probable cause may be understood to be facts and circumstances that would lead a reasonable police officer to believe that a specific crime or crimes had been committed and that a specific person or persons committed them.  Many crimes reported to the police have no known suspects, so the police search for suspects and when they have some in mind, seek to develop “PC,” or probable cause to believe they committed the crime.  No PC, no arrest, regardless of the elements.

In the Martin case, there would seem to be no doubt that the police had PC–at least to believe Zimmerman was involved–where George Zimmerman was concerned.  Not only did he tell them he shot Martin, all of the physical and witness evidence was apparently supportive.  With PC established, the Sanford police had to determine whether George Zimmerman’s actions fulfilled the elements of any specific Florida statute(s).  Homicide and its various lesser permutations are always state statutes, not municipal ordinances, though an always-expanding federal code has adopted some variations of homicide for its purposes.  That the Sanford Police did not arrest Zimmerman would suggest that the evidence caused them to accept his self-defense claim and/or that the elements necessary for arrest on specific Florida statutes were simply not present.

Mitigating Factors:  In any case where one person has injured or killed another, self-defense is the primary mitigating factor the police must consider.  Self-defense applies not only when one is protecting their own life, but when they are protecting the lives of others.  In determining whether self-defense actually occurred, the police will consider these primary issues:

(1) Was the incident a matter of mutual combat?  Did those involved agree–in one way or another—to engage in a fight?  If so, it is harder—but not impossible—to claim self defense.  Generally speaking, even in that situation, when one person clearly tries to end the contest, when they clearly and unmistakably try to withdraw, if the other person continues, they may well be arrested for assault, and the person trying to withdraw might legitimately use force in self-defense.  However, in these circumstances, the police are not going to tend to be terribly sympathetic toward either person.  On the other hand, their sympathies will surely be extended to the victim of an unprovoked attack.

(2) Did the person claiming self-defense reasonably believe that they had to act to prevent injury to them self or another?

(3) Did the person claiming self-defense have reasonable options other than the use of force?  In Florida, one who is legally in a place and who is essentially minding their own business, need not try to run away and can “stand their ground” and defend them self.  Few rational police officers expect people to turn tail and run, but they generally have a keen eye for people who seemed to want to use force when it was reasonably possible they could have avoided it.

(4) Did the person claiming self-defense use appropriate levels of force to protect them self or others?  Shooting someone who calls you names is inherently unreasonable.  Shooting someone who has pulled a knife and is advancing on you is another matter.  Shooting someone who has beaten you to the ground and who may, in the next few seconds, render you unconscious and at their mercy–which may have been the situation in the Martin case–may also be reasonable.

(5) Does the evidence support the story of the person claiming self-defense?

Keep in mind there are two primary trains of thought in the criminal justice system about this: (1) Some police officers believe that the power to arrest should be used only when necessary.  If their investigation indicates that self-defense was reasonably necessary, they generally will not make an arrest.  They know that anyone arrested is in for a rough and very expensive ride, and they refuse to make arrests that aren’t clearly justified.  (2) Some police officers believe in the “arrest ‘am all and let the courts sort ‘em out” rule.  Even if their investigation indicates that self-defense might have been justified, the guy still shot someone, so arrest them and let their attorney make the argument in court.  Sure it will cost the guy tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars and months or years of agony even if they are found to be not guilty, but hey, the system worked—or not.

Who Decides?  In most cases, the investigators involved will decide whether to arrest anyone.  However, in homicide cases, the police will almost always directly involve the local prosecutor’s office.  In such cases, a deputy prosecutor is usually assigned early on to confer with the police.  Detectives and prosecutors commonly speak with each other on a near-daily basis anyway.  When the time comes to make a final charging decision, everyone is therefore well-informed and familiar with the case.

In such cases, the police are essentially deferring to the prosecutor and it is they that make the charging decision.  For the police, this has a number of benefits.  If the prosecutor makes the decision, they own the case, and will tend to want to pursue it to its conclusion.  It also tends to focus any negative public relations attention on the prosecutor’s office rather than the police.

Another important factor to consider is that there is often disagreement among police officers in cases.  One detective might be convinced that suspect Billy Bob is as guilty as sin and should have the book thrown at him, while another detective simply doesn’t see it that way.  One detective might think there is plentiful probable cause while another isn’t quite comfortable with what they’ve developed.  It can be useful–on many levels–to have an uninterested third party make such decisions.  Much has been made by the media, for example, of the assertion of a lack of complete agreement in the Martin case within the Sanford PD.  I have no idea of the accuracy of this assertion or of the degree of any disagreement, if any existed.  However, it is not at all uncommon for disagreement to be present within the ranks of investigators or between investigators and police or civilian administrators.

While I have no idea if the Sanford Police conferred with and deferred to the local prosecutor—and the local prosecutor does not appear to be saying a word on that or any other issue related to this case, which, considering the political firestorm involved is hardly surprising—this would be common for a great many law enforcement agencies.  I would be surprised if there was not this kind of contact between the Sanford Police and the local prosecutor’s office, and at least one news report suggests there was.

STEP FIVE: OUTSIDE AGENCIES AND GRAND JURIES

As I mentioned earlier, police agencies tend not to involve outside agencies–unless forced to do so by political concerns–except for two primary reasons:

(1) Officer involved shootings or substantial charges of police misconduct.  In such situations, many law enforcement agencies will use other local agencies or state police agencies to conduct the investigation to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.  This is a wise thing to do, and where it occurs, the involved agency usually has written policies and the necessary agreements to more or less automatically implement it.

(2) The agency is so small that they lack the necessary expertise or resources to properly investigate certain kinds of crimes.  Even if the police chief or sheriff have the necessary experience and expertise, their duties usually won’t allow immersing themselves in one case to the exclusion of all else.  Again, such agencies commonly have written policies and standing agreements with the agencies that will, when necessary, provide additional resources.

Grand juries are an entirely different kind of animal.  They are commonly drawn from standard jury pools, and consider cases for far longer than a common jury.  Common juries may sit on a single case that lasts a day or two, but a grand jury may meet over the course of up to 18 months.  They usually don’t meet every day, but only when called by the local prosecutor to consider evidence.  They don’t actually decide cases–guilt or innocence–but can issue subpoenas, compel testimony, and ultimately, after hearing testimony and considering other evidence, decide who shall be charged with crimes.

The common saying in the criminal justice system goes something like this: “a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict [charge] a ham sandwich.”  There is much truth in this.  Prosecutors love grand juries because they completely control them.  They decide what evidence to present, defense attorneys aren’t allowed to be present, there is no judge present, and the jurors—average citizens all—have no real way to know whether the prosecutor is withholding evidence of innocence or otherwise manipulating them.  In fact, if a witness invokes the Fifth Amendment, they can be granted immunity and forced to testify.  If they refuse, they can be held in contempt and jailed until the term of the grand jury ends.

For the most part, local prosecutors make the overwhelming majority of their charging decisions without a grand jury, but if one happens to be in session, there is always a strong temptation to use it.  It takes little imagination to see how a grand jury could be misused for political ends.

In the Martin case, the local prosecutor’s office announced on March 19 that a grand jury would review the evidence, but not until April 10.  Keep in mind that the shooting of Martin occurred February 26.  Also on March 19, the Holder Department of Justice announced that it would investigate the case.  The FBI conducts such investigations at the direction of the DOJ.

DOUBLE JEOPARDY:

The Fifth Amendment states [emphasis mine]:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Keep in mind, however, that double jeopardy does not apply in different jurisdictions.  In the Martin case, George Zimmerman could very well find himself on trial for murder—or some lesser variation thereof—in the state courts of Florida, and also face essentially similar charges in the federal courts, and the Fifth Amendment prohibition against double jeopardy would not apply.  It matters not that the same evidence, the same witnesses, and the same issues would be involved, the law is quite clear on this matter.

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH AND THE POLICE:

The Media narrative requires one to believe that Zimmerman was some sort of deranged police-wannabe vigilante, just looking for an opportunity to shoot helpless, innocent, black, candy eating children who happened to be wearing hoodies.  Evidence has begun to come out to directly contradict that line of “thinking.”  Some have implied and others have made explicit the idea that only the police may legitimately watch for or interdict criminals.  Let the professionals handle it—that line of “thinking” goes—it’s what we pay them to do.  Consider:

* The police have no obligation to protect the life or property of any individual.  In a December 25, 2011 article at PJ Media, I outlined the Supreme Court case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales which upheld the lower courts in ruling that the police have a duty only to investigate and deter crime for the public at large.  They have no duty to protect individuals.  As outrageous as this sounds, it is entirely rational and necessary.  Visit the article to see what I mean.

* American citizens enjoy freedom of movement and association.  If neighbors wish to band together to keep an eye on their neighborhood, they are within their rights and the law to do so.  There is nothing at all illegitimate or potentially evil about such behavior.  They are equally able to watch, even follow people that don’t appear to belong in their neighborhood or who are behaving suspiciously.

* Most Americans would be horrified to learn how few police officers are actually available to patrol their communities at any hour of the day or night.  In semi-rural and rural areas, it’s well known—certainly well known by criminals—that police response time to dire emergencies is measured in hours.  Considering America’s current budget woes, this situation will not improve anytime soon.

One can certainly argue the tactical or common sense merits of Zimmerman’s second-to second actions–and this is already well underway despite the fact that virtually no one but the Sanford police have all the facts–but we are all responsible for our own personal safety and that of our homes and families.  The state does not own us and our property–not yet at least.

STALKING:

The known evidence suggests that Zimmerman, for a relatively short time–a matter of minutes–followed Martin to keep him in sight until the police could arrive.  Some have suggested that Zimmerman was therefore “stalking” Martin.  In my years of police service, I specialized in catching stalkers and taught other police officers every facet of those investigations, which always took many months and the careful gathering of voluminous evidence.  George Zimmerman was not stalking Trayvon Martin under even the broadest possible interpretation of the most vague, loosely written stalking statute, not even close.  All stalking statutes require very specific behaviors occurring over time–weeks, even months, not minutes–in fact, even the definition of “stalking” as commonly applied to hunting doesn’t remotely fit.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Cases like this constantly occur across the nation.  Thousands of cases of black victims, or white victims have drawn not the slightest interest from the Lamestream Media or from the President.  In the overwhelming majority of similar cases across America, the local police investigate, consider the evidence, and make the charging decision.  Local prosecutors review their cases and prosecute or lessen—occasionally dismiss—the charges and the only people who are aware of those essentially unremarkable cases are those who have reason to be directly involved or interested.  They do not become symbols or metaphors or elements in the preferred narrative.  This is the way our criminal justice system is set up to work, and it generally works quite well.

It must be remembered that the police do not have to do everything absolutely perfectly for their decisions and work to be valid and reasonable.  In hiring they are sadly limited to choosing only from the human race.  It is entirely possible, indeed it’s likely, for the police not to have done a given thing as well as it could possibly have been done by the most capable human beings in the same set of circumstances, yet their efforts were still within the boundaries of the reasonable and lawful exercise of police discretion and practice.  I don’t mean to excuse incompetence, malfeasance or criminal conduct, but those are different matters.

NOTE:  For those tempted to suggest that I am reflexively and unfairly supporting the police, a visit to the SMM Erik Scott Case archive or the SMM Jose Guerena Case archive might be instructive.

Considering the nature of the evidence as it is currently known—and knowable—the Sanford PD had sufficient time to consider all of the evidence, to interview all witnesses, and to come to a well-informed charging decision.  I am not aware of any competent evidence that suggests a rush to judgment, racial or any other kind of bias, or incompetence on their part.  Remember that most Americans didn’t have the slightest inkling of the Martin case until nearly a month after it occurred, though media accounts commonly left the distinct impression it just happened.

The mere involvement of Florida state authorities and the Federal DOJ has not only injected an overpowering racial element into the case, but has virtually ensured that Zimmerman will be arrested and prosecuted in two distinct jurisdictions, even if there is not sufficient evidence to justify it.  We are almost certainly—and I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised—now in the “arrest ‘em and let every court that wants a crack at ‘im sort ‘im out” phase of the case.

The media is not covering itself in glory in reporting this case, but they are faithful to their warped narrative.  Consider these examples, which are far from all-inclusive:

* CNN has presented a very one-sided version of witness statements, omitting the testimony of the single most important witness.

* NBC has been forced to announce that it is investigating its Today Show for selectively editing the 911 call in which Zimmerman reports Martin acting suspiciously.  In fact, they’ve released a statement apologizing--probably to try to ward off a libel suit–for their behavior.  This is far from NBC’s first foray into making rather than breaking the news.  In 1993, for example, they rigged the gas tanks of a pickup truck to explode to make a story about unsafe GM trucks.

* There are credible indications that ABC lied about police video, possibly even doctoring it, to support the narrative that Zimmerman was not injured in the incident.  ABC is also backpedaling, having released “enhanced” video that shows that Zimmerman did appear to have head injuries.

Consider too the influence the full weight of the racial grievance-mongering industry, led by Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama—the President of the United States—will have in this case.  When outside interests have any influence in the decision-making processes of the criminal justice system, particularly when there is no evidence of corruption in those processes—the results are most commonly not rational, reasonable or just.

Media reports have, until recently, suggested that Zimmerman was much physically larger than Martin, who has been reported and depicted as a slight, cherubic pre-teen.  We now know that Martin was at least 6’1″ tall, muscled, and weighed at least 150 pounds while Zimmerman was only 5’9″ tall and weighed only 170 pounds.

Finally, visit Nicholas Stix, Uncensored for March 29, 2012 where you’ll see, in two photographs, a very different view of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman than the Lamestream Media would have you see.  I’ll leave it to you, gentle readers, to decide which photos are most consistent with the true character of Martin and Zimmerman on February 26, 2012.

UPDATE, 04-05-12, 2200, CST:  Whenever I find myself in even partial agreement with Geraldo Rivera, I begin to worry.  Rivera asserted that wearing hooded sweatshirts–“hoodies”–was a contributing factor in Martin’s death.  He has since apologized for political insensitivity, but not for his advice, which is, in part, rational.  Others, including Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) have taken to wearing hoodies with full hood deployment as a sort of bizarre solidarity with Martin, though I’m unaware of any evidence that hoodies were Martin’s trademark.

In this case, and for the police, the issue is quite simple: hoodies are the preferred garments of many criminals, and therefore, those wearing hoodies are certain to be more closely watched by the police than those that do not.  I am not for a moment going the full Rivera and suggesting that no one–particularly black people–refrain from wearing hoodies.  Hoodies are nothing but common items of athletic, casual clothing.  It is intent and behavior that transforms wearing them into probable cause of criminal involvement, or in the Martin case, a potential factor in weighing the validity of Zimmerman’s self-defense claim.

Hoodies are favored by criminals because they can partially or completely obscure their head and face, making identification difficult or impossible.  Someone wearing a hoodie with the hood down, merely walking down a city street is likely showing no criminal intent.  Someone with the hood up, obscuring their face, walking about a residential neighborhood at night, a neighborhood where they don’t appear to belong, might be demonstrating criminal intent by their undeniably suspicious behavior.

Might the Sanford Police, knowing that Martin was wearing a hoodie, a hoodie that was obscuring his face, make at least a mental check mark on the “possibly criminal” side of the evidence ledger?  Possibly, and if so, it would not be unreasonable.  This has nothing to do with “profiling” of any kind.  We expect the police to learn from experience and to apply those lessons in their duties.  There is no doubt that some people use hoodies for criminal rather than fashion purposes, to a degree and with a frequency that is noteworthy.  Some even use them as a sort of fashion that speaks to their criminal affiliations and tendencies.

At the moment, I plan to have at least one follow-up article on this case in the near future.  When will be determined by developments.   I hope to see you there.