The first three updates In the Martin case have focused on background information relating to the criminal justice system. That information may be found in the SMM Trayvon Martin Case Archive. I’ll begin this article with a map of the area where events occurred, and explain the issues relating to self defense, including how the police tend to view it. I’ll refer back to the map as the article progresses.
The doctrine of self-defense has its origin, arguably, in the beginning of God’s history with the Jews. In his excellent book The Gifts of the Jews, Thomas Cahill asserts that it was only when God spoke to Abraham, and Abraham heard and obeyed, that everything changed for mankind. Prior to that moment, man lived in obedience to kings, to gods dreamed up by man. He had no past, no future, and all of life was an eternal cycle, a never-stopping wheel with each human animal occupying only a place to be filled by any other human animal at some undefined point in the future. An individual human life was worth nothing, for each man lived only a very short time and died with no hope of eternity, living to serve only his or her king.
But God holds all human lives to have inestimable value, for we are made in his image. Once we became the people of God, once we began to understand all that involves, everything changed for the better. No longer were men content to serve kings and gods invented by man. They had destinies, destinies over which they had control. They were individuals, unique and valuable because of their everlasting souls, souls which had an eventual destination, a destination they directly controlled through their faith lived day to day. Because of God and his promise, because of his most precious gift—life–each man is valuable. Because each life is precious, each man has the inalienable right to protect and preserve it, and the lives of others.
The Second Amendment does not confer the right to keep and bear arms, it merely reminds government to keep its ever-grasping hands off, for what government cannot grant, it cannot take away. This is true of all inalienable rights, rights we possess because we were born human, creatures of God.
In writing the majority opinion in District of Columbia ET AL. v. Heller (2008—the case that affirmed the individual right to keep and bear arms), Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court noted that the Second Amendment “codified a pre-existing right,” noting further: “As we said in United States v Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542, 553 (1876) “[t]his is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence.” He further referred to Blackstone who described it as “the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence.”
And it is here that the Martin case inadvertently touches on the contemporary gun control argument, an argument the anti-freedom/anti-gun forces have been steadily losing for more than two decades. A great many of the usual suspects have tried to use the Martin case to gin up support for gun control policies. Vice President Biden has broadly hinted at the need for more gun laws. Anti-gun NYC Mayor Bloomberg and the Brady Campaign have leapt onboard the Martin anti-gun bandwagon even as its wheels creak and fall off. And the New York Times tried to make a case for hand-wringing and second guessing about the Second Amendment at the recent NRA national convention.
All of these anti-gun voices miss the point, or at the very least, hide their foundational beliefs. Even the most cursory examination of the Martin case reveals that it has virtually no relation to contemporary firearm issues. None, that is, unless one denies the inestimable worth of the individual, and as a result, believes them to have no inalienable right to self-defense, a right which can only be fully and effectively exercised if each man and woman can own and carry the weapons most commonly and appropriately employed for the defense of self and others.
Many of these anti-freedom forces, particularly those in high office, oppose the ownership and use of arms by the common man–those God and gun clingers–because it offends their compulsion to amass and control as much power as possible. Free men own and carry arms. Subjects of an all-encompassing, all-powerful state do not and cannot for such people are always a threat to the state and its self-appointed and self-important rulers.
The fundamental question in the Martin case is whether George Zimmerman legitimately employed self-defense and whether the force he used in so doing was reasonable and thereby lawful. The tool Zimmerman employed matters not. If Zimmerman was justified in the use of force, or whether he was not, the instrument he used—knife, screwdriver, hammer, motor vehicle, baseball bat, or even a rock—is simply not the issue. However, if Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force, his legally carried handgun did precisely what it was designed to do, precisely what we expect such weapons to do: it saved his life and stopped a potentially deadly crime. The gun control argument must always ignore the undeniable utility and value of firearms to the individual, particularly those who are not young or strong.
The Requirements of Self-Defense:
Self-defense is implicated when one has the legitimate need to defend themself or another. This presupposes an attack. When someone attacks, you may defend yourself. It is always best to avoid such confrontations, or even to flee, but in most states, neither is required, and may not be reasonably possible. When someone attacks another, you may intervene to protect them. In other words, if a criminal assaults your wife, you need not stand meekly by waiting for her to assert her right to self-defense by word or deed. You may intervene on her behalf. Simply being called names, simply being threatened by one not in a position to immediately carry out that threat, does not implicate self-defense.
Proportionate Force: The general rule is that you may use whatever force is reasonably necessary to overcome the force employed against you so long as it is proportionate–not unreasonably exceeding the force used against you. This is where matters can become complicated. Some suggest that when attacked, only force equal to that used against you may be employed, but this concept has several obvious flaws. How do you know what force is being used? By counting the number of stars you see when struck in the face? How can you tell what force the next blow might impart? How can you tell what damage it might cause? If a criminal attacks a man of approximately the same size and strength and the victim is allowed to use only equal force, is the victim required to restrain the somewhat greater force that might quickly end the attack in favor of beating each other bloody until both collapse in utter exhaustion?
This example may sound far-fetched, but I use it to make the point that the force employed in any self-defense situation will be later judged by the reasonableness standard. In other words, what would a reasonable man (woman) do in the same or similar circumstances? In some cases, using deadly force would be inherently unreasonable. In others it would be the only reasonable course of action.
Disparity of Force: The law recognizes the issue of disparity of force. For example, if a 6′ 180 pound man in good shape attacks another of similar size and fitness with empty hands, the person being attacked is not required to engage in a lengthy session of boxing or dojo ballet. He may use greater counter force–but generally not weapons–to quickly and decisively end the assault. However, whenever the attacker ceases to attack, or is no longer able to attack, the victim must stop as well. Continuing to rain blows on someone incapable of resisting may certainly be considered assault.
Virtually any woman attacked by virtually any man will be considered to be on the weak side of the disparity of force equation. Virtually any man will be stronger than a woman, particularly in upper body strength. Simply put, a woman attacked by a man might reasonably need to employ deadly force much more rapidly than a man in similar circumstances. The law does not expect women to be trained fighters, nor does it expect them to be capable of taking the same level of physical punishment as men.
Height, weight, strength, arm length, martial training and experience and ferocity do indeed matter which is why there are weight classes in combat sports. Relatively few people know what it means—thank goodness—to be the recipient of a violent assault by someone larger or stronger than themselves. The brutality, the overwhelming viciousness involved are absolutely stunning and for many, completely paralyzing. Two-legged predators know and rely upon this.
People are severely and permanently injured or beaten to death by people employing only their hands and feet each and every day. However, some prefer to rely on weapons. On April 21, 2012 in Mobile, Alabama, Matthew Owens had words with several adolescents playing in the street near his home. They left and a short time later, as many as 20 black men arrived and attacked Owens, who was on the porch of his home, beating him with pipes, brass knuckles and other weapons, leaving him close to death. Owens’ sister, a witness to the attack, said one of the attackers said: “now that’s justice for Trayvon.” Owens is white. Some arrests have been made, but one wonders if the people who beat Owens nearly to death would look like Mr. Obama’s son–if he had one.
One viciously assaulted without provocation may well be justified in drawing a knife or firearm and brandishing it to stop the assault. They need not wait until they are so seriously injured they are milliseconds from passing out to do so. If they have time, and if the assailant will not stop, they may surely use to use it to stop the assault. This is particularly true of female victims attacked by men.
The point is there is a great difference between someone who shoves you to the ground or strikes you a single blow and does little or nothing more and someone–or a gang–who continues to brutally attack you. The former might require nothing more than a later call to the police. The latter might require immediate action necessary to preserve life. It is always a good idea to be aware of the specific laws of your state on this and other matters.
Hollywood has done us a great disservice in this and a great many other ways. Watching movies, entire generations of Americans have romanticized violent confrontations. After watching countless battles where characters punched and kicked each other relentlessly for many minutes, they have developed the idea that they too may engage in such behavior. They fail to realize that what they are seeing is not fighting, but fight choreography, a carefully timed and filmed dance between experienced actors and stunt men and women, meticulously designed to give the impression of powerful blows given and endured. Stage blood is not real blood, the result of lacerated skin and ruptured organs and blood vessels. Reality is very different. Most fights quickly end up on the ground, in the dirt and blood. Human beings simply can’t take the kinds of repeated blows action heroes absorb and dish out without serious, immediate and long-lasting consequences.
The human body is at once amazingly resilient and terribly fragile. I have seen people take unbelievable punishment in car accidents and assaults and suffer no long-term ill effects. I have also seen people sustain single blows in assaults or minor car accidents that have crippled them, left them paralyzed, destroyed their intellects leaving them near-vegetables, or even killed them. When under brutal and continued assault, how do you tell what the likely outcome will be? Will you merely suffer painful but rapidly healing injuries, or will you be disfigured, crippled or worse?
Being struck forcibly in the face or head is a stunning, intensely painful experience. The eyes, soft tissues and bones of the face are particularly vulnerable to serious, disfiguring, even crippling damage. A blow to the nose sufficient to break it is unbelievably painful and stunning. In many cases, it directly interferes with vision and thinking, leaving a victim unable to understand what is happening to them (so much for running away) and unable to protect themselves for some time.
In the same way, being struck forcefully anywhere in the head—even if the skull is not fractured–can cause short term brain damage—that’s what a concussion is—or permanent damage. Saying: “Oh, it’s only a mild concussion,” indicates a lack of understanding of medicine. Concussions can be deadly. I’ve known victims of assaults—including fellow police officers—who suffered head injuries and literally couldn’t think straight—couldn’t function normally–for days, in some cases, weeks. They were all fortunate to make full recoveries; many do not.
One may certainly suffer serious, permanent, even fatal damage from being struck in a wide variety of places on the body. I’ll not bother to mention them for obvious reasons. While I am a large, strong man, and while I have experience and training in a variety of martial disciplines, as well as experience in physical confrontations, I have always gone out of my way to avoid such things. Despite my abilities, I am no longer as young as I once was. I get older every day while criminals tend to always be in their teens and early 20s. And while my reflexes and abilities are still superior to a substantial portion of the population, they’re certainly not what they were in my 20s and 30’s, or even my 40’s, for that matter. I’d be a fool to try to employ only empty-handed defense against a younger attacker or attackers. I might prevail, but I would almost certainly sustain real damage in the battle. I’m no longer willing to do that unless it’s absolutely necessary to protect my life or the life of another. Violent physical confrontations are not a game, contest or a measure of testosterone.
Those interested in exploring this and similar issues in greater depth might want to review my seven part series on the rationale for gun ownership. The first article in that series is available here. The rest are available in the SMM firearms archive.
The Police Perspective:
For the police, the world is often divided into victims and suspects. One attacked by a robber is the victim. One who willingly engages in a fight with another, is either a suspect, stupid or both. This sounds simple, but is more difficult in application than one might expect.
Two young men decide to duke it out on a point of imagined honor. They trade several blows and the blood flies. They are engaged in mutual combat. Depending where they are fighting, they might be arrested for disturbing the peace, but the police will have no sympathy for either of them.
Eventually, one decides he’s had enough and holding up his hands, indicating supplication, tries to back away. The other combatant presses the fight, raining blows on the retreating man. He has just become the aggressor–the suspect, and his fellow combatant, the victim. The police can arrest him for assault, and depending on the injuries he inflicts, perhaps even felony assault. They will tend to think that both are idiots, but will recognize that one was merely foolish while the other was criminal. On the other hand, if the fellow that continued the attack suddenly regains his senses, ceases and begins to walk away only to be smacked on the back of the head and killed by the other man who has picked up a handy shovel, the dead man is now the victim and the shovel wielder the criminal suspect charged with a felony. The police will consider both to be idiots.
When someone ends up dead, the police become very interested and very careful. The questions then become: (1) How did they die? And: (2) Was that particular use of force at that point in time, reasonable/non-criminal? Did they reasonably believe that if they did not use that force they—or another—would suffer serious bodily injury or death? Some states specifically authorize the use of deadly force when some crimes like rape or kidnapping are being committed. This is a good thing. There are few people more likely to be absolutely correct about what is happening to them and the likely result than the victims of rape or kidnapping. I would hope that no one would argue that society is a better place with rapists and kidnappers about, but I’m sure some will. Diversity, you know.
It is much easier to pass judgment on such confrontations after the fact, and the police know this. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes made this point in writing: “Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an upraised knife.” The principle to which Holmes was referring applies to incidents other than those involving knives. There are indeed circumstances in which the use of weapons—including handguns–against unarmed people is not only inherently reasonable, but necessary. However, those assessing the reasonableness of the use of deadly force after the fact in comfort and safety must keep Justice Holmes’ admonition in mind.
The Martin Case Map:
I’ve complied the map at the top of the article using Google Earth as its foundation, and by piecing together information available to the public from a variety of sources. It is certainly not drawn to scale (nor is the map that follows), and I do not for a moment represent that it is correct and to-the-meter accurate in every detail. Given what I know from what is available to me, I believe that what I’ve represented is reasonably accurate, and it is presented not as unerring evidence, but merely to assist readers with a visual representation of the terrain and circumstances facing George Zimmerman on the night of February 26, 2012. Keep in mind the 911 phone call Zimmerman made lasted only seven seconds longer than four minutes. This transcript appears to be among the most accurate I’ve found. Also keep in mind that the mailboxes mentioned in the transcript are about a quarter block to the west of Zimmerman’s parked vehicle. The clubhouse is to the immediate west of the main entry to the gated community, just to the north of the mailboxes.
The Sequence of Events:
Zimmerman originally reported a suspicious person on his 911 call, at about 00:25 (into the call) saying:
“This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about.”
The dispatcher asks for his race, and Zimmerman answers:
“He looks black.”
At this point, Martin was apparently near the clubhouse and heading in the direction of Zimmerman’s parked vehicle (east). Because of his hood, the darkness and the rain, Zimmerman could not clearly see him.
At about 00:48 this exchange took place:
911 Dispatcher: He’s just walking around the area, the houses? OK.
Zimmerman: Now he’s staring at me. [00:48]
911 Dispatcher: OK, you said that’s 1111 Retreat View or 111?
Zimmerman: That’s the clubhouse.
911 Dispatcher: He’s near the clubhouse now?
At 1:03, Zimmerman said:
Zimmerman: Yeah, now he’s coming toward me. He’s got his hands in his waist band. And he’s a black male.
911 Dispatcher: How old would you say he is?
Zimmerman: He’s got something on his shirt. About like his late teens.
At about 1:20 Zimmerman says:
Something’s wrong with him. Yep, he’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands. I don’t know what his deal is.
911 Dispatcher: Let me know if he does anything, OK?
911 Dispatcher: We’ve got him on the wire. Just let me know if this guy does anything else.
Zimmerman: OK. These assholes. They always get away.
At this point, the dispatcher is asking Zimmerman to keep him informed about the suspect’s actions and position, which is precisely what dispatchers are supposed to do. Zimmerman continues to give the dispatcher directions for the responding officers.
I’ll now switch to the account provided by my former Confederate Yankee (now closed to all but archival access) co-blogger Bob Owens. The time frame of this account is only one second earlier than that of the first account.
At 2:07, Zimmerman tells the dispatcher, ‘He’s running.’
At 2:09, you can hear a car door open and an alarm begins that is undoubtedly the “door open, keys in ignition” warning on Zimmerman’s truck.
At 2:13, you can clearly hear the car door slamming shut, and the alarm stops.
At 2:17, Zimmerman’s voice wobbles and he starts breathing heavily into the phone, indicating that he has started running.
At 2:22, without any prompting other than the aforementioned noises and breathing, the dispatcher asks ‘Are you following him?’ to which Zimmerman responds, ‘Yeah.’
At 2:26, the dispatcher says, ‘Okay, we don’t need you to do that,’ to which Zimmerman responds, ‘Okay.’
Zimmerman proceeds to give the dispatcher his name. Then he says, ‘He ran.’
Zimmerman can still be heard breathing into the phone until about 2:39, at which point the heavy breathing stops entirely, a mere 13 seconds after the dispatcher asked him to stop following. A very calm and collected Zimmerman then proceeds to give the dispatcher his own information, directions and a description of his location for another 1 minute and 33 seconds.
This clearly indicates that Zimmerman was not, in fact, in hot pursuit of the running Martin. Zimmerman was, at best, briefly walking rapidly or perhaps trotting in the direction of Martin’s flight (eastbound), obviously trying to keep Martin in sight so he could keep the dispatcher informed, as the dispatcher was continually asking him to do.
At this point, it would be helpful to review the maps once more. Notice that Martin’s truck is to the west of the nearest row, and across the street—Twin Trees—from three condo units which are apparently organized in three separate detached units of six condos each, oriented with the long sides of their rectangles north/south. The backyards of these two adjacent rows of condos face an open area with a sidewalk running between them.
Martin, walking east on or near the east/west leg of Twin Trees passed Zimmerman’s truck and began to run east, almost certainly on the north edge of the twin rows of condos directly east of Zimmerman’s vehicle. Because of the darkness, rain and the relative position of Zimmerman’s vehicle and the condo buildings, if Zimmerman did not get out of his vehicle, he would lose sight of Martin within seconds. The condo complex provides numerous places to hide, particularly in the dark.
The distance from Zimmerman’s truck to the north/south sidewalk between the two rows of condos appears to be about a quarter block. From that point to the condo where Martin was staying appears to be approximately a block, perhaps a bit further. If Martin intended to run home, he had an open, unobstructed path. It is the distance a fit teenager like Martin could have easily covered within a minute. A block is around 500 feet (many are less). An average teenaged sprinter can cover 100 yards—300 feet—in just a bit over eleven seconds. Martin could have easily covered that distance and been indoors, lost to Zimmerman and the police, long before Zimmerman’s phone call to the police ended. From the moment Zimmerman told the dispatcher that Martin was running until the call ended, 1:59 elapsed.
Please keep in mind that I do not know with certainty precisely what Trayvon Martin did. But given what we know, the two potential paths I’ve reproduced above seem most likely. As you can see, in the dark there would be a multitude of hiding places for Martin. I also am not absolutely certain of the path of Zimmerman, but it is likely that he walked to Retreat View Circle–the north/south street immediately east of where Martin was staying–because he had lost Martin by that time and would have needed to go there to look north and south for him. He may or may not have walked some short distance to the north and/or south. There is nothing in the currently known time frame that would rule out these paths for Martin or Zimmerman.
Returning to the original transcript, consider this exchange between the dispatcher and Zimmerman:
911 Dispatcher: Alright, George, we do have them on the way. Do you want to meet with the officer when they get out there?
911 Dispatcher: Alright, where are you going to meet with them at?
Zimmerman: Um, if they come in through the gate, tell them to go straight past the clubhouse and, uh, straight past the clubhouse and make a left and then go past the mailboxes you’ll see my truck. [3:10]
911 Dispatcher: Alright, what address are you parked in front of? [3:21]
Zimmerman: Um, I don’t know. It’s a cut-through so I don’t know the address. [3:25]
911 Dispatcher: OK, do you live in the area?
Zimmerman: Yeah, yeah, I live here.
911 Dispatcher: OK, what’s your apartment number?
Zimmerman: It’s a home. It’s 1950 – oh, crap, I don’t want to give it out – I don’t know where this kid is [inaudible] [3:40]
At this point, Zimmerman is almost certainly on the north side of the condo building in the row where Martin was temporarily living, near its northeast corner. He was obviously trying to orient himself and get directions and street names for the dispatcher and was likely standing on the sidewalk near the north/south leg of Retreat View Circle. He was reluctant to give his condo number because he was in the area where he last saw Martin and had no idea where Martin was. Within less than 30 seconds, he would be on his way west, walking toward his truck and his meeting with the responding police officers.
From this point, I do not have a second-by-second breakdown of events. Judging by what I know of human behavior and of the terrain, I suggest the following occurred:
Walking west on the sidewalk, Zimmerman either saw someone—perhaps Martin—to the south between the rows of condos, or Martin approached him. Zimmerman’s statement to the police indicated that Martin approached him, and perhaps Zimmerman walked toward him as he did, perhaps merely in a common human gesture toward lessening distance, perhaps to find better light, simply to walk down that sidewalk to look for Martin, or for some other reason about which we’re currently unaware. It is also possible that the confrontation took place further north, at the intersection of the sidewalks.
What is clear is that it is at this point that the prosecution’s contention that Martin was trying to run home appears to fall completely apart. As I noted, if Martin was actually trying to run home, by this time he could easily have been a full minute—even more—indoors, out of the rain and out of Zimmerman’s sight. If Martin were really the frightened teenager being aggressively pursued by an unknown man, this would certainly be the logical, reasonable thing for him to do.
Zimmerman ended up no more than 50′ south (probably less—remember, I’m guesstimating from the Google Earth depiction) of the east/west sidewalk he was following back to his truck. At a training pace, I cover about a yard per step. I could cover this distance in about 15 running steps taking only about five seconds. Even at a walking pace, it would take little longer
There is another possibility. Dan Linehan at Wagist has been doing fine work on this case. In a March 25, 2012 post, he provides background on Trayvon Martin you won’t see in the lamestream media.
We find a contemporary photograph of Martin, older, not at all the cute child the media has depicted. In the recent photo, Martin is muscled, obviously growing facial hair, heavily tattooed and sporting a great many gold teeth—all of his frontal lower teeth and many of his upper teeth appear to be gold-capped—and in the photo, he is plainly displaying them. We also learn:
* A few days before his death, Martin was suspended from school for ten days. A suspension of that length would indicate a very serious matter and certainly a repeat offender. Out of school suspensions, particularly ten-day suspensions, are generally not handed out unless the student has had multiple prior in-school detentions and suspensions. In most school districts, a ten-day suspension would be a final, cautionary step before expulsion for a semester or more. Students receiving this kind of discipline are virtually always among the worst discipline problems on campus and are usually also involved in substantial criminal activity.
* Martin’s twitter screen name was “SLIMM@NO_LIMIT_NIGGA.” This account, which has apparently been removed by persons unknown, featured a Feb. 21 tweet from “Tray’s Big Bruh,” saying: “yu ain’t tell me yu swung on a bus driver.” As Wagist suggests, if Martin did assault a bus driver, a ten day school suspension would be the least one might expect.
* It appears that Martin was temporarily living in the community—which is quite distant from the attendance area of his school–because of his school suspension.
* There is also evidence to suggest (by all means, take the link and read the whole article) Martin’s potential involvement in drugs.
Wagist also provides several useful maps—also apparently using Google Earth—and solid analysis.
Taking into account what we know of Martin from Wagist, it is possible that Martin, rather than being a slight, frightened, candy-eating child, was behaving more as a tattooed, gold-toothed gangster, with the aggressive and easily aroused attitude and behaviors that accompany such a mindset. I have substantial experience with such people, not only as a police officer, but as a teacher. There is no doubt they can be aggressive, volatile and prone to strike out at any affront, perceived or real, as a matter of deranged honor.
Do I know with certainty that Martin was thus motivated? Of course not. I don’t know Zimmerman’s motivations with certainty. Like everyone else, I’m working from partial information in the public domain. However, this kind of behavior would be expected from a juvenile behaving and representing himself as Wagist has convincingly described, and would certainly provide a reasonable and understandable motive for Martin to have laid in wait, or to have doubled back to confront Zimmerman, rather than running home while being pursued by Zimmerman as the prosecution affidavit and the media and victimhood narrative would have us believe.
At this point in the incident, according to Zimmerman, Martin has approached and confronted Zimmerman and has surprised him with a punch that broke his nose and knocked him to the ground, flat on his back. Jumping astride Zimmerman, Martin begins to repeatedly beat his head on the concrete sidewalk.
NOTE: For those not aware of such matters, a single punch can indeed cause people to fall to the ground. One does not react merely to the amount of force imparted by a punch which may often be insufficient by itself to knock one off their feet, but to the shock, surprise, pain and psychological trauma. One might simultaneously reflexively pull away or back, losing one’s balance. Zimmerman’s account of being felled by a single punch is inherently reasonable and easily possible.
Zimmerman’s account is supported by police reports that indicate the back of his clothing was wet (more than one would expect from the rain) and had grass stains and/or actual grass on it. In addition, Zimmerman did have a broken nose and multiple head injuries, particularly on the back of his head. As I noted in the first article on this case, the media did its best to obscure and deny those injures. For a photo of Zimmerman’s head wounds and substantial blood, visit this post by Bob Owens, which contains a photo taken of those injuries only about three minutes after Martin was shot. Remember too that the sole known, solid eyewitness saw this happening and described it for the police.
Some, while not denying Zimmerman’s injuries, have attempted to minimize them. Consider the potential damage to your head if someone repeatedly struck it with great force with a brick or large piece of concrete. Would you consider yourself to be in serious danger, perhaps even deadly danger? Would you reasonably believe that you were in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or even death, or would you truly consider it to be inconsequential?
In fact, having one’s head slammed into a sidewalk or a masonry wall might be even more dangerous than being struck by a brick or chunk of concrete. In the latter case, one’s head can move to at least some degree to lessen the impact. In the former, one’s head is being smashed against something very hard, unyielding and massive, transmitting far more force and destructive power. Again, Hollywood has given us very odd ideas about such things as we see action heroes absorbing and merely shrugging off blows and falls that would incapacitate or kill most people.
As this was happening, it would be reasonable to assume that Zimmerman was confused and stunned to at least some degree and from moment to moment. His statement indicates that he was crying out in panic for help, and again, witness statements support this. He would certainly have reasonably been in fear of serious bodily injury or death, for if he lost consciousness, Martin had already demonstrated his intentions. Zimmerman apparently also stated that Martin saw his handgun and told him he would die and/or made some attempt to reach it. Zimmerman was apparently faster and fired a single round, apparently at near-muzzle contact or muzzle contact range into Martin’s chest, which more or less immediately ended the attack. All of this does seem to be confirmed by forensic evidence, including the pattern of gunpowder residue on Martin’s clothing.
At this point, some would say that if Zimmerman were not armed, Martin would be alive. This is potentially true. However, the implication that Zimmerman—and by further implication, all of us—should therefore be disarmed, is dangerous nonsense.
If the incident is as Zimmerman recounted it, and the evidence indicates that it was, and the prosecution admitted in the bond hearing that they had no evidence to suggest otherwise, Zimmerman appeared to have waited until virtually the last second to employ his handgun, and potentially, only because his assailant reasonably appeared to be about to try to use it on him. Rather than his handgun having caused the incident to escalate to deadly force, it was apparently used when it should have been used, as a last resort to keep deadly force from being used on Zimmerman. This is precisely why we carry concealed handguns and how they might ideally be used.
Without that handgun, we might never have heard of George Zimmerman, who would have been just another Hispanic male severely injured or beaten to death one rainy night in an obscure Florida town, a story covered, if at all, only by the local media and likely never solved as Trayvon Martin quietly returned to his old school at the end of his suspension, out of sight and out of mind of the Sanford Police.
The Media and Prosecution Narrative:
Let’s take a moment to explore the preferred narrative of the media and prosecution. In this narrative, Trayvon Martin was a cherubic, slight and innocent teenager visiting relatives, on his way home from a 7-11 where he purchased iced tea and Skittles. Those pursuing this narrative have made a great deal of the fact that Martin did not steal the iced tea and Skittles, and the tea and Skittles were even prominently mentioned in the affidavit, which, as I pointed out in Update 2, makes no rational or legal sense at all. The food Martin was carrying has no more bearing on the case than the color of socks he wore or the amount of change in his pockets.
Seeing Martin, Zimmerman immediately and falsely “profiled” him as a black criminal and pursued him. Martin fled for his life, desperately trying to get home, with Zimmerman in hot pursuit. Somehow during this time, Martin managed to call his out- of-town girlfriend and tell her that someone was watching him.
Zimmerman, who was as tall and much heavier than Martin, caught and “confronted” Martin and a “scuffle ensued.” During this “scuffle”–which has never been explained–Zimmerman somehow shot and killed Martin in cold blood. This obviously proves that Zimmerman was a “white-hispanic” racist who targeted and killed the cherubic Martin for no reason other than that he was black.
Consider this narrative in light of what we know to be fact:
(1) Zimmerman did not know Martin and did not know to any degree of certainty, until moments before Martin started running, that he was black, and only identified him as being possibly black when specifically asked by the dispatcher. Not long before the Martin shooting, Zimmerman went out of his way to obtain justice for a black man abused by a relative of local authorities. Media attempts to selectively edit the 911 transcript to make him appear to be racist and to hide Zimmerman’s injuries have blown up in the media’s respective faces. There is simply no evidence of racism present in this incident.
(2) The food and drink carried by Martin, whether tea and Skittles or a Coke and hamburger, has no practical or legal bearing on this case.
(3) Zimmerman was only about 20 pounds heavier than Martin, and was at least four inches shorter and in poorer physical condition.
(4) Considering the weather, the place and time, and Martin’s clothing and behavior, it was reasonable to believe him to be behaving suspiciously, particularly when after staring at Zimmerman, who was doing nothing more threatening than sitting in his truck watching Martin, began to run.
(5) Zimmerman moved in the direction of Martin’s flight, but not in hot pursuit. In accordance with his neighborhood watch role and in response to requests by the police dispatcher with whom he was continually speaking, Zimmerman tried to keep Martin in sight for the responding police officers, but quickly lost him.
The 911 recording makes clear that Martin ran not because he was yelled at, approached by, or chased by Zimmerman. When Martin decided to run, Zimmerman was still in his vehicle, his windows up, on the phone with the police dispatcher, doing nothing more threatening than watching Martin. Martin ran by Zimmerman’s vehicle so rapidly, he quickly–within a matter of seconds–lost Zimmerman. The idea that he had to strike Zimmerman because he was being actively chased, or that striking Zimmerman was self defense, is not supported by the known evidence, and remember: the prosecutor’s investigator admitted that the prosecution has no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s account.
(6) Realizing that Martin was gone, Zimmerman started back west to his vehicle. If Martin really were trying to run home, he would have been indoors and out of sight for at least a full minute at that point.
(7) We know the confrontation took place and apparently ended about 50′ south of the east-west sidewalk Zimmerman was following back to his truck. This inescapably suggests that Martin either waited in hiding for Zimmerman to return, or at some point doubled back to confront him.
If Zimmerman were in hot pursuit of Martin, the confrontation and shooting would have occurred much earlier, while Zimmerman was on the phone with the dispatcher. If so, Zimmerman should be running long distance races for the US Olympic team as he has supernatural breath control.
(8) Zimmerman’s injuries have now been well documented and directly support his account, as do witness statements.
(9) One of the prosecution’s star investigators has admitted that the prosecution has no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s account. For those that understand the law and the criminal justice system, that pretty much closes the case and absolutely calls into question the prosecution’s choice of charge, and the prosecution itself.
Some have suggested that everything George Zimmerman did was wrong, and that if he only did this or didn’t do that, Martin would be alive. Let’s briefly explore a few of those assertions:
*If Zimmerman hadn’t watched Martin, all would be well. Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch captain. That’s what he was supposed to do. We should all keep an eye on our neighborhoods.
* If Zimmerman hadn’t called the police, all would be well. As the neighborhood watch captain, Zimmerman initially remained in his vehicle and called the police, staying in direct contact with them the entire time he believed he might have a hope of keeping Martin in sight.
* If Zimmerman had only stayed in his vehicle, all would be well. Zimmerman left his vehicle because the dispatcher was asking him to keep Martin in sight, and stopped trying when asked.
* If Zimmerman hadn’t chased Martin, all would be well. Again, Zimmerman was trying only to keep Martin in sight for the police. If Martin simply went home, Zimmerman would have returned to his vehicle and there would have been no confrontation.
* If Zimmerman hadn’t confronted Martin all would be well. The best available evidence indicates that it was Martin that confronted and almost immediately assaulted Zimmerman.
* If Zimmerman hadn’t been carrying a gun, Martin would be alive. The best available evidence suggests that if Zimmerman had not been carrying his handgun, he might not have survived.
From what we know at the moment, this does appear to be a more or less classic—though surely a tragic–case of self-defense. If we assume that Zimmerman’s account is accurate, and there is substantial reason to make that assumption—including the admission of one of the two chief prosecution investigators that there is no evidence to contradict it—Zimmerman, being beaten, possibly on the verge of passing out, being told by his attacker that he had seen his handgun and intended to use it on him, had every reason to believe he was in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death. That Zimmerman was in no position to retreat is likewise unchallenged.
Until I saw the prosecution’s affidavit, I was far more open to alternate scenarios, certainly not the media’s idiotically simplistic fairy tale, but to other possibilities at least somewhat more favorable to Martin. However, at the moment, it appears that Martin may be dead because his aggressive adolescent attitude forced him into a violent and ultimately deadly confrontation with a stranger who probably wanted nothing more than to learn who Martin was and why he was present.
This does not lessen the tragedy of this incident for the Martin family or for George Zimmerman and those that love him. Zimmerman is probably in equally deep trouble if acquitted or convicted. And thanks to our national race hustlers, the media and even our President and First Lady, America will be the worse for it regardless of the outcome.
It is still possible that additional evidence will come to light, but that seems unlikely, and after the prosecution’s performance in the bond hearing, would probably cause more problems that it would solve.
I’ll continue to report on this case as developments warrant.
UPDATE: 04-26-12 1715 CST: Since posting this article, more than sufficient information has become available–including some spectacularly angry and incorrect commentary–to make a new article viable. I anticipate posting it on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. I hope to see you there.