Should George Zimmerman be found guilty for killing Trayvon Martin? Yes, but not on 2nd degree murder charges.
George Zimmerman: Guilty of 2nd degree murder or his own fantastical sense of crime fighter?
As we wind up the case of the Trayvon Martin Shooting I think those expecting a guilty verdict against George Zimmerman should be prepared to be disappointed. Zimmerman may be guilty of playing out some fantasy of his like kids do when they pretend to be Batman, Superman or some other super hero who defends the weak and punishes evil, but he’s not a cold-blooded killer that deserves to be charged with 2nd degree murder. I hate what he’s done and that a young life was snuffed out because the forces that brought these two men together that fateful day prey on others everyday.
The law that will protect Zimmerman against the 2nd degree murder charge is one that exists in Florida as well as 29 other states, from Alabama to Alaska and California to Massachusetts. But should it? Under Florida’s Justifiable Use of Force statute, 776.013, section 3 states that “A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
It is a law that tells some people like Zimmerman that they can now push the envelope and not fear prosecution. Zimmerman may not have been a racist but he had come to view about “those people” who fit a certain description as someone who needed to be dealt with. Trayvon Martin, walking through the gated community that Zimmerman was the neighborhood watch coordinator for was subject to suspicion based on Zimmerman’s stereotypes. It had only been a few weeks earlier that a young black male had been caught after robbing a resident in the Retreats of Twin Lakes where both Zimmerman and Martin resided. Others had gotten away however and Zimmerman was determined that this one wasn’t, despite the fact that he hadn’t seen Martin do anything illegal.
Clearly Zimmerman had a right to be where he was at considering his role in the neighborhood watch program. But in violation of the command the police dispatcher issued to him, Zimmerman left the security of his vehicle and went on foot looking for Martin. It was this point that Martin, who had been trying to evade someone he thought was stalking him, approached Zimmerman and got into a scuffle with him. This may not be sufficient to charge Zimmerman with 2nd degree murder but on a lesser charge that entails a sense of wrongful death, Zimmerman I think can be found guilty.
George Zimmerman’s actions that led to Trayvon Martin’s death were, I believe, the result of a prevalent attitude about guns and criminal stereo-types.
This view seems to have developed recently in the opinion of the trial judge. Judge Debra Nelson instructed the jury yesterday that they may also consider charging Zimmerman with the lesser offense of manslaughter. Something the prosecution has been wanting and the defense became outraged over upon hearing the instructions to the jury. To me, this manslaughter charge makes more sense. It’s clear that there is enough “reasonable doubt” to persuade a sensible jury to find Zimmerman not guilty of 2nd degree murder. But manslaughter, yes. And here’s my thought on why.
George Zimmerman’s actions that led to Trayvon Martin’s death were, I believe, the result of a prevalent attitude about guns and criminal stereo-types. Zimmerman isn’t a hero by any stretch of the imagination. He comes across as someone who has watched too many “Dirty Harry” type movies while lacking any real self-esteem. He has no background in how to handle criminals or suspects to crime and was guilty of profiling Martin as someone likely to commit a robbery in his neighborhood based on appearances. At the time, Zimmerman was taking criminal justice courses at a local junior college and told police in later interviews that he hoped to become a judge.
Zimmerman’s actions leading up to the shooting reflected that of someone whose super hero attitude was not in sync with grounded reality. He was not yet the judge he hoped to be but clearly this aspect was working on him as he watched the suspicious character wearing the hoodie. Was he slowly losing the sense that as a neighborhood watch member he’s only expected to observe and report, nothing more? Confronting any suspect is not in the purview of such amateurs. But clearly Zimmerman put himself above such a lowly status.
Martin, a young black male from a broken family, who apparently had been known to be quick to fight, was a guest in the community where his father resided with his fiancé. Like most young blacks from lower-income families Martin was prone to feel how reactions by white people toward black men develop when a crime has been committed. Though of a mixed ethnicity, Martin likely perceived Zimmerman as white.
These misconceptions can not only begin to effect how one behaves but can begin to show through on one’s physical demeanor. This likely didn’t go unnoticed by the recipient of Zimmerman’s gaze as he tracked Martin.