If the name "Trayvon Martin" doesn't resonate with you, the you've probably been too caught up with "March Madness," "Timsanity" or Westhampton Free Library's move to usurp the prerogatives of the Village.
It also means that President Obama's statement, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon," either escaped your attention, or failed to pique your curiosity.
It's a terrible story: a 17-year-old black in the Orlando suburb of Sanford, Florida, was on his way back to his father's home from a 7-Eleven where he had purchased a bag of Skittles for his younger brother and a can of Arizona iced tea for himself.
A 28-year-old of mixed Hispanic heritage, George Zimmerman, acting as a volunteer for the homeowner's association of the gated Twin Lakes community, observed Martin and began following him.
Shortly thereafter, young Martin was dead of a single gunshot to his chest, delivered by Zimmerman.
Martin had been unarmed. Zimmerman was not, being legally in possession of a pistol.
This being 2012, Martin and Zimmerman were both using cell' 'phones at the time of the incident, Martin with his girlfriend and Zimmerman with a police 911 operator.
Authorities have audio recordings from each man's mobile device at the time of shooting.
Martin's body was taken to the morgue with a "John Doe" tag attached to his toe.
Zimmerman, invoking Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law1, stated that he had "acted in self-defense," and was not charged.
The event occured around 7:00 pm on Sunday, February 26th, and what to responding police had seemed a relatively simply matter, began to build and surge, aided by talk radio, the Internet and, of course, the Reverend Al Sharpton2.
What is known at this point is this:
- Trayvon Martin had no criminal record.
- George Zimmerman had a 2005 charge of Battery on a Police Officer while interfering with the arrest of a friend, but entered a pretrial diversion program by which he avoided a conviction on his criminal record3.
Zimmerman had previously been accused of domestic violence4 by an ex-girlfriend, who had filed for a restraining order against him.
- The Sanford Police did a dreadfully unprofessional job of investigating the circumstances of Trayvon Martin's homicide, because of the increasing number of unanswered questions.
- Police Chief Bill Lee, following a 3-2 vote of "No Confidence" by the Sanford City Council, stepped down... temporarily.
Following the shooting, when asked why no arrest had been made by responding police, Chief Lee had incorrectly stated that his officers had been precluded by Florida law from making such an arrest.
By the end of this week, this was a common headline:
(The story has also gone international, courtesy of Reuters: "America's Wild West gun laws.")
In short, there is a media feeding frenzy, and in case anyone's wondering which way the media is going on this, consider the photos displayed... those seen above.
[Continued... with the other photos.]
The police officer who was on the phone with Zimmerman told him not to use his gun and he shot him anyway. Additionally, neighborhood watch people are not supposed to carry guns.
- I don't know that the 911 dispatcher was a "police officer," but what is clear from those recordings is that Zimmerman was instructed to not engage with the person later identified as Martin.
- The "neighborhood watch" is an ad noc group of volunteers, and their position on their members being armed is unclear.
Hopefully the attention to this sad and tragic event will lead to a much more thorough investigation into exactly what happened. The Sanford PD appearing woefully inept at this point apparently dismissing any sort of investigation out of hand, if what we are reading is true.
One has to wonder what the actions of the PD would have been had the shooter been black and the unarmed civilian been white.
Everytime some nut with a firearm goes "postal" it threatens my right to keep and bear arms. The gun lobby will hopefully add voice to concerns and objections that these incidents are a greater threat to firearm ownership than the usual "gun control" drivel that drives their membership.
And when the phrase "gun lobby" is used, everyone thinks "NRA," of which organization I am a long-disgruntled 25-year Life Member. They need to stay out of this other than to reinforce what former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has just asserted: "This law does not apply to this particular circumstance."
Interestingly, even Zimmerman's attorney, Craig Sonner, agrees.
I listened to this story over and over on the radio all weekend and not once did I hear Zimmerman reported as anything but Hispanic. I also read on-line yesterday that it was not Zimmerman, but Martin who had a bloody nose and was bleeding from the back of the head according to eyewitnesses.
I'm serious! I don't know what you listen to (though I suspect it's NPR), but it's clearly one with an agenda and "truth" be damned!
Or, you mis-heard. Your choice.
I think your third sentence indicates why your second sentence is erroneous.
You acknowledge the possibility that Zimmerman was the aggressor.
The Sanford authorities cited the "Stand Your Ground Law" as the reason for not charging Zimmerman, hence ending the investigation.
The lack of investigation surrounding Martin's death, eliminating any possibility of trial for the killing, is the reason the incident became so inflammatory.
"Self-defense" was an affirmative defense in Florida long before §776.012 was enacted.
You seem to be of the opinion that Zimmerman's use of Deadly Physical Force was not justified in his encounter with Martin, yet you have nothing substantitive on which to base that opinion.
There will be a trial, whether a Criminal one under Florida statutes, or a Federal one under some form of "deprivation of Civil Rights" act. How 'bout everyone skip the tabloid stuff, ignore Nancy Grace and Sean Hannity, run Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson out of Florida, and wait for the process to complete itself.