The drum beats from conservatives over the last few days have been to paint Trayvon Martin, the slain 17-year-old, as the “aggressor”. From phony Facebook pictures to digging up his suspension from school, there has been an all-out effort on the part of a number of conservatives to paint Trayvon as the one who was aggressive, and that Zimmerman was defending himself.
Zimmerman is most likely a racist, from his profiling of Trayvon to his “F-ing coons” muttering as he got out of his truck. He likely went after Trayvon with the intent to not let another “asshole get away” to paraphrase him.
Again – So what?
All of these are side issues and certainly point out flaws in the case. The Sanford PD botched this from the beginning, and have done a poor job of trying to cover their tracks. They didn’t collect evidence, they tried to get people to change their stories.
And yet again, I ask – So what?
It isn’t that I don’t care about Trayvon. Or racism. Or incompetent police work. It’s that this case comes down to one thing, and one thing only. Was it self-defense?
That’s Zimmerman’s claim. And it’s unsupportable. See, he thinks the Stand Your Ground law applies. And he’s dead wrong. The SYG law applies to protecting your property (why it’s also called the Castle Doctrine). Zimmerman was not on his property. The general law in FL says that to use deadly force, you must be in danger yourself. But Zimmerman wasn’t in danger, at least not until he put himself is a position to be in danger.
The SYG law, and the general rules of self-defense apply when you are defending. But that’s not what happened, by Zimmerman’s own admission, and by the evidence of the released 911 call. On that call, he describes Trayvon as approaching him, looking at him, walking away, then running away. There was no attack.
There’s a reason the 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman they didn’t need him to follow Trayvon. They are looking out for the safety of the individual calling. The moment Zimmerman chose to step out of his vehicle, he chose to put himself in harm’s way. What happens after that is irrelevant. He went looking for Trayvon. He wasn’t standing his ground, he was pursuing. And at that point, all bets are off.
Had he “stood his ground” and stayed in his truck, there would be no discussion. But Zimmerman chose to pursue. If you get yourself into trouble, if you choose to get in harm’s way, you lose the expectation of self-defense. That’s like the idiots who’ll circumvent all safety precautions and climb in with the lion at the zoo, then claim the zoo was negligent when they’re mauled. No, stupid, you jumped in with the lion. You created the situation.
All these other points are certainly things that need to be addressed. We need to find a way to minimize racism in our society. We need to examine proper police procedure. We need to address whether the Stand Your Ground laws are too vague and confuse people into thinking they can pull a gun whenever they want. But none of these matter to the number one focal point of this case. Did George Zimmerman fire the gun in self-defense?
Not by Florida law.