Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trayvon Martin, From Pursuit to Gunshot - What Part Am I Missing Here

So far we have a 911 call in which we hear that George Zimmerman is following Trayvon Martin, despite being instructed by the police not to do so. Consistent with Zimmerman's report that, part way through his following Martin, Martin started running, we have the report of a friend of Martin's that he had noticed that he was being followed by a strange man and that she had told him to run.

Next we have the police recitation of Zimmerman's account of how he came to shoot Martin,
Police disclosed to the Orlando Sentinel that there is about a one-minute gap, after Zimmerman called police and before he fatally shot Martin, during which police say they're not sure what happened.

In Zimmerman's version of events, he had stopped following Martin and had turned around and was walking back to his SUV when Martin approached him from behind. The two exchanged words, then Martin punched him in the nose, sending him to the ground, and began beating him.
The police department is apparently attempting to overcome concerns over its competence in handling the investigation by leaking like a sieve - but only information prejudicial to Martin. But what I want to know is this: How did we go from having Zimmerman warm and dry in his car, being told by the police not to follow Martin, to having Zimmerman out of his car and engaging in fisticuffs with Martin?

Even if we assume that Martin got the upper hand at some point, and even if we're willing to take Zimmerman's story at face value, are we to believe that Martin turned around, ran toward Zimmerman, used some form of superpower to stop Zimmerman's moving car, pulled the door open, pulled Zimmerman out and then started to beat him? That doesn't seem very likely, does it?

So what I want to know is how Zimmerman came to be out of his car and in a physical confrontation with Martin, and why it would not have been perfectly reasonable for a 17-year-old who was not doing anything wrong to be very concerned about being stalked then accosted by a man who had no legitimate business accosting him, and who outweighed him by a good 100 pounds. Perv? Mugger? What would go through your mind?

It is inescapable that it was Zimmerman who created the context for Martin's fears, and that it was Zimmerman who in flagrant disregard of the instruction he received from the police chose to continue to chase Martin, and who chose to get out of his car and physically confront Martin. Are we to believe that after all of his bravado, and after starting that confrontation, Zimmerman didn't try to get physical with Martin when Martin continued to try to get away from him? Had Martin shot Zimmerman at that point, wouldn't he have the stronger case for self-defense?

And if that's the case, how the bleep does Martin's act of self-defense, after being stalked by a dim-witted, gun-toting police officer wannabe, become legal grounds for Zimmerman to kill him? Even a keystone kop should be able to see the problem with allowing a person who creates a violent scene to claim self-defense based upon his victim's acts of self-defense. What was Martin's supposed reason for breaking off his stalking of Martin and returning to his SUV, and his explanation for how Martin went from fleeing from being stalked to being a physical aggressor?

Whomever is leaking stuff out of the police department, do us a favor: rather than leaking irrelevant information about Martin, how about leaking the rest of Zimmerman's statement, as surely at least one officer involved in the investigation thought to inquire as to what happened between the time he was safely in his car and when he was being punched in the nose. And how about leaking the autopsy report, as it surely sheds some light on the distance between Zimmerman and Martin at the time of the shooting, and whether Zimmerman was on the ground with Martin on top of him or standing clear of Martin and removed from any reasonable fear of harm.

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