CARS HOMES JOBS

Right verdict, but the wrong charge

Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Text Size: A | A

The jury in the George Zimmerman trial had little choice but to acquit: There simply were too many questions about what took place in the moments before 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida 17 months ago, and no witnesses or conclusive evidence to disprove his version of what happened.

Still, it is hardly surprising that the verdict has outraged millions across the country because even if it wasn’t an act of murder, or even manslaughter, the shooting never should have happened.

And it wouldn’t have if (1) Zimmerman had only listened to police when they told him to stay in his car and not pursue the 17-year-old who he decided didn’t belong in his neighborhood; or (2) he wasn’t carrying a gun.

Zimmerman may, or may not, have been physically attacked by the teenager he’d been following around the neighborhood. Enough evidence suggests he was, at least to some extent, roughed up by Martin — thus buttressing his claim that he fired in self-defense. Evidence also indicates that Martin knew Zimmerman was following him around; thus it could be argued he had cause to confront him. But thanks to Florida’s misguided “Stand Your Ground” law, Zimmerman was entitled to defend himself — even with a gun — if he felt threatened.

Unfortunately, the truth about what took place will never be known, and with so many questions, a murder conviction would have been wrong. Even for the more reasonable option, manslaughter, there was reasonable doubt. But given that Zimmerman bore most of the responsibility for what took place that night, and that Martin is dead, it hardly seems right that Zimmerman was simply allowed to walk. Perhaps some lesser charge would have been more appropriate.

The wrongful death civil suit reportedly under consideration by Martin’s family would punish Zimmerman financially, but all the money in the world won’t bring Trayvon back. A civil rights prosecution, on the other hand, might be as hard to prove as murder. Zimmerman’s suspicions well have been stoked by Martin’s race, but there was no indication of that in his discussion with the police dispatcher until she asked him; he made no disparaging comments regarding Martin’s race; and his only caustic utterance was his use of the word “punk.”

It was a bad situation that escalated, then became tragic, because Zimmerman decided to take the law into his own hands rather than defer to police; because he was carrying a gun; and because — whether he knew about “Stand Your Ground” or not — he felt entitled to use it.

For all the good they do, neighborhood watch volunteers everywhere should be barred from carrying weapons, and police need to work with them so they know that their job is to watch, not to do cops’ jobs for them.

 
Share story: print print email email facebook facebook reddit reddit

comments

July 16, 2013
5:07 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

The "Police" did not tell Zimmerman to stay in his car and not pursue Martin. The dispatcher said he didn't need to follow him. Two totally different things yet one sounds as though somebody disobeyed a police order and incited an incident. That is the power of the press. Continually calling Zimmerman a wannabe cop, doctoring the audio tapes and referring to Martin as a child were all left wing attacks on someone who defended himself. This escalated and became tragic because Martin decided to attack Zimmerman. PERIOD. I guess now anytime we feel a liberal is following too close we can beat the crap out of him huh? Good news there, liberals believe others should defend them so no worry about time. We'll have enough before police show up.

July 16, 2013
6 a.m.
reader1 says...

A dispatcher telling someone "you don't need to follow him" is telling anyone with common sense do not follow him, wait for the police.

Martin was followed by a suspicious person and eventually had an encounter with his pursuer. Your cherry picked version of events makes it sound like two adults simply met, one attacked the other, and the to save his life one shot the other.

July 16, 2013
6:17 a.m.
reader1 says...

Agree with the editorial - private citizen acting as the police, contrary to what police dispatchers advised him - and ultimately there is a confrontation and a 17 year old kid, and yes he's a kid, not committing a crime gets shot.

Tragic, avoidable and it's unfortunate that Zimmerman will not be held accountable, although he should never have been charged with Murder 2nd, based on the evidence.

July 16, 2013
7:19 a.m.
wmarincic says...

NEWSFLASH, Zimmerman was neighborhood watch captain, he was doing his job....The thug that was high and had a racist chip on his shoulder (cracker ass following me)decided he was going to confront Zimmerman and show him who's boss. The evidence proved that Zimmerman was punched in the face and was having his head beat into the pavement, Martins only problem was that Zimmerman was armed, unfortunately Martin died, but had it not been Martin, it could easily have been Zimmerman. More proof that strict gun laws cost lives. Thank God it was Fla.

July 16, 2013
10:12 a.m.
albright1 says...

Gazette, you guys are disgraceful. The police 911 dispatcher did not tell Zimmerman to stay in his car. The dispatcher said you don't have to follow him. According the Zimmerman, he returned to his car. Also, Florida's Stand your Ground law had absolutely nothing to do with this case. Zimmerman couldn't have run away because Martin was on top of him and beating him up. The Florida prosecutors and police have all clearly said that this case had nothing to do with "stand your ground". Why do you bring it up? Is it pure ignorance on your part?

When everything is peeled away from this case, the one factor that is overwhelmingly the cause of the problem was that Trayvon Martin decided to jump and attack someone. Who does that kind of thing? Where did he learn that beating up somebody is a good decision? Unfortunately for Trayvon, he decided to put a "whoopin" on an armed man and he died. That is why there are self defense laws in all the states. To protect innocent people from being hurt by thugs who decide to beat you up. I wouldn't be surprised that some thugs down in Florida have decided against mugging someone since Trayvon Martin's death, precisely because they don't want to end up the same way.

July 16, 2013
11:31 a.m.
reader1 says...

Neighborhood Watch Captain = private citizen, he has no more authority than any other citizen. NW is charged with see it report it, not "see them, deem who think is suspicious, then follow them" contrary to dispatchers directions.

GZ alleged that TM looked at his exposed firearm and said - "You're going to die tonight." Too bad, no one is here to verify that story

Zimmerman followed Martin, not the other way around. Had GZ not followed after Martin this would not have happened.

wmarincic - big surprise how you come out on this. Yeah, that's all we need private citizens armed and following people they deem suspicious. Was GZ getting pummeled? - I suspect he was, that is why he should have listened to the dispatcher in the first place and none of this was happened.

Question - If TM was so determined on jumping and attacking someone, why did it not happen until he and GZ crossed paths, or more accurately when GZ followed the path of TM?

Yep, we can all feel safer now that an armed private citizen decided someone looked suspicious and then that person winds up dead.

July 16, 2013
11:44 a.m.
albright1 says...

So reader1, if you had been in TM's shoes, would your preferred course of action be to punch some guy in the face and jump on him and beat his head into the ground? Nevermind preferred course of action, would you even think about doing it? I doubt it. Where did TM learn to think that this would be a good idea??? I think we can all agree that it was a very stupid idea.

July 16, 2013
1:52 p.m.
reader1 says...

Anything that gets you killed walking back from the store is probably not the best idea.

July 16, 2013
3:51 p.m.
justapto says...

Lets punish Zimmerman 'just because'! He was found innocent by his peers, there is no reason for any other actions against him, there is no double jeopardy in the law-period.
White guilt; and fear of offending the minority community is what this is all about. Reverse discrimination.
Get over it.

July 16, 2013
4:25 p.m.
wmarincic says...

It came out on that lib nutcase Piers Morgan show last night that his girlfriend told Trayvon to run because she thought Zimmerman was gay and looking to rape Martin....Maybe little Trayvon thought he was gonna beat up some homosexual, guess what? He picked the wrong guy.

July 16, 2013
5:17 p.m.
reader1 says...

There will be civil actions, doubt DOJ litigates this, does not meet the criteria.

And, let's not forget - the reason why the federal govt. started retrying cases was that minority victims couldn't get a fair hearing in southern courts.

White guilt, fear of offending minorities, reverse discrimination - the usual meaningless and worthless clichés.

And to top things off, wmarincic creates a hypothetical scenario in which Travvon was guilty of violent hate crime against a homosexual. Then gloats about his death - delusional and classy.

July 16, 2013
5:47 p.m.
justapto says...

wmarcinic; I agree. This is all about the liberal press catering to the right. Why no tears for the thousands of 'kids' dying in foreign wars, Chicago or NYC teens killing each other, sympathy for the victim's of robberies and rapes in these communities that have to hire their own watchmen and gate their entrances?
Take one instance where you can ostracize a white guy for imaginary transgressions against behavior that fits a stereotype. Is there justification for a neighbor hood watch man to be suspicious of some stranger late at night in a crime ridden community; or do you just want to vent against him because it makes you feel big and self righteous?

July 16, 2013
6:06 p.m.
Phils2008 says...

reader1, You ignore every "FACT" in this case and inject "OPINION" to reach your conclusion. Like most liberals common sense is simply lost on you. This was Geroge Zimmermans neighborhood. He had every right to watch out for his neighbors after numerous robberies. Simply following someone to see what they may be doing is what the watch is all about. Its simple ignorance to claim that had GZ not followed this would not have happened while pretending that TM attacking is a a non-sequitor. You are just part of the race baiting idiots aligned with Sharpton to keep his pockets lined and black people oppressed and dependent. You somehow think defending TM makes you so above reproach about race that you have standing to then attack all others. You decide Martin had rights but then you "DECIDE" that GM had none. Simply pathetic. This was provably unrelated to race, so get off you horse.

July 16, 2013
8 p.m.
wmarincic says...

“And people need to understand, he didn’t want that creepy ass cracker going to his father or girlfriend’s house to go get — mind you, his little brother was there. You know — now, mind you, I told you — I told Trayvon it might have been a rapist,” Jeantel told CNN host Piers Morgan.
http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/16/glaad-...

July 16, 2013
8:20 p.m.
wmarincic says...

justapto, I'm tired of the PC crap. Let's get real, the leading cause of death of black kids is other black kids, 92% to be about exact. I'm sick of the Al Sharptons calling for riots and the NBPP calling for the murder of Zimmerman and nobody even acknowledges it. What about the 60 black kids murdered in Chicago last week, what about the black kids that shot the white baby for fun a couple months ago, where is that news. I know the realities, I started an inner city youth group in Schenectady 10 years ago to deal with these issues, that youth group is still going strong. It is the lack of parental guidance and race baiters like our own President that are the causes of these problems. We need to get these kids educated, if they wont go to school then they have to do mandatory military for three years, we need to start thinking out of the box. It is not the 50s anymore, racism as you well know works both ways. As long as we continue to use race as an issue, race will always be an issue.

July 16, 2013
11:46 p.m.
ChuckD says...

Hoo boy, the temps go up and the Right's out there, speed-baggin' the facts and Whack-A-Molin' anyone who thinks different.

Here's a fact: 89% of registered Republicans are white, non-Hispanic. Look it up, it's generally agreed on.

Now tell us why you wmarincic or any of the others cramming the race card down Americans' throats has any credibility at all on this subject.

Once again, the smoke and mirrors.

July 17, 2013
6:04 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Well too bad ChuckD, I'm not a registered republican, Sorry, the difference between me and you is I have and continue to work for true change, you just run you're mouth.

July 17, 2013
10:42 a.m.
reader1 says...

Phil - Last time I will respond to you as you have the annoying habit of name calling.

Quit with the straw man arguments - no one said he didn't have aright to be in the watch, look out for his neighborhood. But, the Dispatcher informed him he need not follow TM, but he did - had he not done that or followed from a safe distance this never would have occurred.

If someone follows me for walking through a neighborhood, I'll ne stopping to ask them why as well. The reason why he was told not to follow him is to avoid the citizen from being at risk or creating an unnecessary dangerous situation. Seems like the dispatcher was on to something. Again, he follows the advice of a trained expert - none of this happens.

GZ was armed with a deadly weapon, in civilian clothes, no police authority. Police officers working in plainclothes units are trained that when they do make contact with their target, they need to ID themselves as quickly as possible. The reason for that is to avoid situations like this. It keeps the officers and the citizens safe.

July 17, 2013
10:57 a.m.
reader1 says...

wmarincic - What group did you start?

July 17, 2013
5:57 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Youth group at First Presbyterian Church on State St. I started this with Pastor Chan Harold and his wife Goldie and my wife of course.

July 17, 2013
7:24 p.m.
reader1 says...

Totally a different issue from this thread, but, I agree, groups like you referenced and other non-profits like that are key but they have to start coordinating their efforts better.

July 17, 2013
9 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Agreed

July 17, 2013
9:06 p.m.
wmarincic says...

It was a great outreach for the kids. Every Christmas I had a bunch of Schenectady cops give out presents plus we had basketball games throughout the year with the kids against the cops, the kids always won. It was a very satisfying experience, I had to quit due to work schedule. I think we changed some minds on both sides of the isle.

July 18, 2013
5:30 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

reader1, good don't respond. You can pretend what Ive said is a straw man argument all you want. Part of being a good liberal is pretending. If Martin doesn't pummel GZ none of this happens. If Martin simply continues on to his home none of this happens. If you liberals don't jump on your race baiting horses, none of this is news. I made zero straw man arguments about this case or your biased position concerning it. You left wingers turned GZ into a "white" guy for a reason. You treat TM like a "child" for a reason. We were well on our way to being race irrelevant, and liberals are fomenting a racial divide not seen since the 60s. Blacks are unfortunately nothing but pawns to you guys. To the Sharptons and Jacksons. Money pits and votes.

July 18, 2013
8:23 a.m.
reader1 says...

Phil - Unless you are as blind as you are obnoxious, you can read my response above.

GZ's acts were contrary to the Sanford Police NW Manual he is supposed to operate by. Look it up.

I can do a lot of things but I cannot determine people's race (make people white) or determine their age (make TM a kid).

You are also very poor at making assumptions - I'm not liberal and I have no idea how you could assume what my race is.

Again - take race completely out of this- private citizen disregards directions by trained police dispatcher and follows TM which leads to a confrontation and ultimately a 17 year olds death. And he was a NW Captain who also disregarded his training and written manual by following and getting into a confrontation with TM. Those are facts you cannot change or name-call away.

July 18, 2013
3:44 p.m.
albright1 says...

Reader1.....here are the facts........thug jumps a guy so he can be cool and put some whoop-azz on him......gets shot and dies.......

July 18, 2013
3:46 p.m.
albright1 says...

the lesson is.....don't jump somebody and try to beat him up because the guy might shoot you....

July 19, 2013
6 a.m.
reader1 says...

If that is what allows you to sleep well at night, sweet dreams - but that doesn't make it reality.

July 19, 2013
6:29 a.m.
Phils2008 says...

reader1, if only you could stay focused. I never implied anything about your race. You certainly don't understand my reference to White and child. You are without a doubt a liberal but apparently dont know it. Here's a clue, if you live in an alternate reality you're probably a liberal. And since you cant seem to grasp this let me try once more. The dispatcher said "we dont need you to do that". Does that sound the same as "do not do that"? Oh yea one other salient point, GZ was never shown to have confronted TM. You assume once again based on nothing more them mere conjecture given to you by other left wing agitators.

July 19, 2013
10:02 a.m.
reader1 says...

You are without a doubt clueless re: what my political beliefs are. So, stop pretending you know what they are.

If you do not think that a Dispatcher saying "We don't need you to do that" is analogous to saying that is nota good idea do not do that - you are the one who is in denial. And, following TM to the point where a confrontation ensues is in direct conflict with NW Manual he is supposed to abide by. Look it up. The reason for that regulation is to avoid exactly what occurred in this situation.

The confrontation occurred because GZ disregarded the NW Manual and the directions of the Dispatcher. If someone were following me home from the store - I certainly would stop and ask them why they were following me.

July 19, 2013
10:04 a.m.
reader1 says...

This society is far from being race irrelevant, although you need not bring race into this discussion to be concerned about armed private citizens shooting and killing other private citizens.

July 19, 2013
6:14 p.m.
Phils2008 says...

Touching how concerned you are. No sympathy at all for the man getting his brains bashed in. Why, because of his color. You're no where to be found if its the other way around. That's why the discussions are about race not the event. its called hypocrisy. Lets examine your beliefs and what we know. 1: No one should be armed. 2: no one should use deadly force to save their own life. 3: You ignore facts in this case and create alternate realities 4: You create justification for assault 5: You want an innocent man "held accountable" 6: reason and logic are foreign concepts and finally 7: You try and pretend you're something other then liberal. Surprise!!!!!!!!!!

July 19, 2013
7:32 p.m.
reader1 says...

It's clear - there is no value in attempting to communicate with you.

Log-in to post a comment.
 

columnists & blogs


Log into Dailygazette.com

Forgot Password?

Subscribe

Username:
Password: