Tag Archives: “Stand your ground”

Unjustified Homicide of Trayvon Martin

22 Mar

Imagine your 17 year-old kid is at home watching college basketball, and during a break in the action he goes to the 7-11 to get some iced tea and Skittles. On his way back, as he’s walking through the apartment complex, he sees a hulking man in an SUV, talking on the phone and staring ominously at him. Your kid stops and checks the guy out. Something doesn’t fit here. It’s scary. In fact, your kid is on his own phone with his girlfriend. She tells him to run. He says no, he’s just going to walk fast. After all, while he’s scared of this weird guy in the truck, he’s not doing anything wrong.

The man gets out of his car and starts chasing your kid. Your kid runs too, but he’s no match for his larger predator. They end up wrestling on the ground. The whole neighborhood hears the tussle, and calls to 911 are made. On one of the calls, your kid’s voice is clear as a bell, screaming, pleading for help – for this unprovoked attack to stop. Suddenly, a shot rings out. The 911 caller gets away from the window. The screaming has ended abruptly. Your child is lying on the ground, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, bleeding from his chest.

He’s shot by a guy with a police record involving violence; a part-time rent-a-cop security guard. A guy who packs a 9mm while running a neighborhood watch in a gated apartment complex.

I mean, there had been 8 break-ins at the complex in recent months, all allegedly done by young black kids. Trayvon Martin was a young black kid. Ipso facto, right?

When the cops come and find the shooter and your dead kid, the shooter is taken into custody for an investigation to take place, but he’s quickly released. You see, you live in Florida, and the self-defense statute has been amended to take away any requirement that the person claiming self-defense first retreat before using deadly force; under this new rule, drafted and promoted by the powerful gun lobby, a gun owner can “stand his ground”.

Meanwhile, your kid is dead on the ground – armed only with an Arizona iced tea and Skittles – for the crime of, at worst, looking at someone funny.

Trayvon Martin wasn’t breaking any law when he was shot and killed. And when all the nonsense shakes out, we’ll quickly learn that this case doesn’t really invoke the much-criticized “stand your ground” law. Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, didn’t “stand his ground”; he affirmatively chased Martin down before shooting him. He was a predator hunting what he called “f*cking coons” on his 911 call to Sanford Police – the same police department that instructed Zimmerman to not pursue Martin.

It’s not just the facile prejudice that Zimmerman had about a black kid wearing a hoodie that’s distressing here; Martin, after all, had every right to be in the complex – he was at his father’s apartment there.

There was no moral or legal justification for this homicide. In fact, the police department here appears to have interfered with its own investigation – to call it a cover-up isn’t out of line. As witnesses recounted their stories – some said the shooter yelled “help”, others said it was Martin, the police on the scene made sure to “correct” them and insist that it was Zimmerman who yelled for help.

Help from what – a kid who weighed 100 lbs less, who had tried to flee from him?

“Stand your ground” may indeed be a horribly misguided law that has led to terrific difficulty in prosecuting gun crimes in Florida, but this case doesn’t even invoke that statute.

I think it’s pretty clear that George Zimmerman committed a murder. He shot and killed a kid who was unarmed and unable to harm him. He had no reasonable fear of imminent death or severe bodily harm – he had subdued his victim to the point where Martin was screaming for help.

The shot to the chest shut him up, and now the only criminal running around that gated apartment community is its own self-appointed “neighborhood watch captain”.