Why George Zimmerman Killed Trayvon Martin

Should George Zimmerman be found guilty for killing Trayvon Martin?  Yes, but not on 2nd degree murder charges.

 george-zimmerman

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.

At no time, from the moment Zimmerman began tracking Martin did he make the young black kid aware of his role as a neighborhood watch member and what his concerns were.  Zimmerman had already stated to the police dispatcher just prior to the shooting that he was sure that his suspected perp was “up to no good” and likely on drugs.  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.  Trayvon Martin had to be thinking that he was being subjected to yet one more example of racial profiling, felt threatened and took his frustration to a level that forced Zimmerman to pull his weapon and shoot the angry young man he suspected of being a criminal.

The bottom line here is that a mixture of fear and bravado between the people who played this tragic scene out has left one young man dead and another whose life will never be normal.  Both acted irrationally.  But history and a deadly weapon however brought this to an unnecessary conclusion.   Zimmerman allowed his worse fears to play out as he tracked Martin.

When people like Zimmerman are put into positions of authority, with little or no training and empowered with gun laws that can be stretched, it will come as no surprise to any astute observer that the events that unfolded in Sanford, Florida back in February 2012 are likely to occur.  Zimmerman’s failure to sense Martin’s consternation about being followed by a white “cracker” played into the deadly outcome and blinded him to why Martin would have attacked him.  One who was more experienced in such encounters wouldn’t have made this fatal mistake.

Trayvon Martin is not dead at the hands of a cold-blooded killer deserving to be charged with 2nd degree murder.  He’s dead from the mind games people develop in a society that harbors prejudices and rationalizes deadly force by those who are not always qualified to act on their fears.  It’s cowboy justice of the type that plays on raw emotion and takes thoughtful considerations about human behavior out of the picture.  When innocent people die from such actions, the Zimmerman’s of this world shouldn’t be allowed to walk away scott free.  It will only encourage more dysfunctional behavior like it and more wrongful deaths.

 oppic-300x234

Advertisements

24 responses to “Why George Zimmerman Killed Trayvon Martin

  1. I can’t tell what happened in this case. The media as always became judge and jury and hyped up what they wanted and dismissed covering anything else that didn’t fit in what the story they wanted to tell. I don’t know either the victim or the “murderer” but neither of them are innocent in my book. Zimmerman was a hero wannabe and that is dangerous. Martin was not the sweet innocent teen his family wants us all to believe. Did he deserve to die like this? No, but I am tired of the race card being played all the time. Frankly, it’s time we let the court hammer this crap out and not the Huffington Post and Twitter. Each year, we hear about prisoners being released from prison because they were railroaded by police and now the media. It’s time that media just back off and stop overexposing these cases that deny many people fair trials because they are tried on the Internet.

    • “Zimmerman was a hero wannabe and that is dangerous. Martin was not the sweet innocent teen his family wants us all to believe. Did he deserve to die like this?”

      These factors and multiple others Donna led me to conclude that had Zimmerman not stepped beyond the boundaries of a neighborhood watch to observe and report, the deadly incident would have never occurred. His failure to see his limitations and some idealistic belief that Martin would recognize his “authority” contributed to a wrongful death, and thus he must be punished for that. For Martin’s foibles, he has already paid a price too dear.

  2. For me, this whole case is just one more reason why we need to get rid of the damned guns. If we can carry concealed weapons, we can kill each other. There will always be conflicts, scuffles, misconceptions, overreactions and people with vivid fantasy lives. If George had been unarmed, he could have simply called the police and watched Trayvon. If he had been unarmed, the worst case scenario would have been a bruised head and not a dead boy.

    • Sadly momshieb both sides will dig their heels in and defend their views, creating an atmosphere that prevents the rationale dialogue necessary to make certain compromises.

  3. Sensible commentary.

    Whilst in the US last time i stayed in Colorado Springs with a gun nut. This man, and his wife, slept with loaded pistols under their pillows. I’m not kidding. Loaded guns under their pillows. After picking me and my friend up from the airport he proudly showed his latest purchase on the back seat (a glock 9mm, the newest addition to a small armory he had back in his house) and happily informed us both that the “Make My Day” law had just passed and he was as happy as rain. “I can shoot anyone who comes on my lawn and all i have to do is call the police and tell them to come and clean up the mess.”

    ‘Dazzled’ doesn’t even begin to describe the thoughts going through my head as i heard these words spoken.

  4. “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.”

    If Zimmerman had been killed instead of Martin, THIS would have been Martin’s defense.

    • “If Zimmerman had been killed instead of Martin, THIS would have been Martin’s defense.”

      Exactly. But would it have been readily accepted by those who support Zimmerman. Such a law opens a door to allow things to get way out of control.

  5. It all came about because we tend to lump people into groups and assign them “behaviors” like or unlike our own and then act accordingly. A gun gives one the “bravado” one would not otherwise have. An innocent kid is dead for no good reason. Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter surely but I have a feeling he will walk. The case was handled badly by the Prosecution as far as I’m concerned and the white public contributed to give Zimmerman the very best legal help in the country. Unfair fight, as they usually are at that point.

    • “Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter surely but I have a feeling he will walk.”

      Maybe not Sherry. I think most people feel that Zimmerman is at fault here to some degree but not for a 2nd degree murder charge. The lesser manslaughter charge allows thoughtful people to still punish a wrongful action based on variables that Zimmerman could have contained and controlled, but chose not to.

  6. I haven’t tuned into the ins and outs of this, though lord knows it’s been difficult to avoid altogether. So it’s impossible for me to make a judgement, but I suspect the key here is that Zimmerman should have done as instructed and not assumed the role of Dirty Harry. In so many ways it feels like we’re sinking back to the days of the KKK.

  7. Thank you for writing this. I think it makes a lot of sense. This case is dividing the country into two extremes, however, I agree that Zimmerman is not a cold blooded killer, but does deserve a punishment not of 2nd degree murder but something less harsh and more reflective to what happened that night. Z made a series of awful choices that night, but it doesn’t seem like he’s a natural killer.

    • Hey Adam. Long time no hear from.

      “Z made a series of awful choices that night, but it doesn’t seem like he’s a natural killer.”

      Agreed, just a stupid one who’ll regret his actions for the rest of his life.

  8. Now that all 50 states allow people to carry guns, my guess is that this sort of confrontation will become more common. With both parties firing.

  9. Martin might not have been a “sweet innocent teen,” but he was in no way engaging in unlawful conduct that warranted his stalking and subsequent murder. The pro-gun folks would have us believe that we’re all safer when responsible citizens carry guns. “We’re” not all safer – as long as you look different and don’t “belong” in a community, you won’t be safe from vigilante types like Zimmerman. He must be convicted of a crime, because a crime occurred. And sick of hearing the “race card” used? Seriously? That’s twisted. We should be thoroughly sick, Donna, of incidents like the Zimmerman-Martin one BECAUSE it involves RACIAL PROFILING. I don’t care what the hell Martin did outside of this one incident in his daily life. He was murdered. It wasn’t premeditated, but he was stalked by someone who should never have been allowed to carry a gun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s