There is a continuing racial divide in this country and the Trayvon Martin case illustrates it. I say this because here are the facts in this particular case, George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white man shot and killed Trayvon Martin an unarmed 16-year-old black boy, after buying a bag of Skittles and a iced tea from a local 7-Eleven store as he was returning to his father’s girlfriend’s apartment inside their gated community. Trayvon Martin was an unarmed, 16-year-old who was killed by a neighborhood watch member as he walked to his father’s home in a gated community.
George Zimmerman, the man who admitted to shooting and killing him, was not initially arrested or charged. After nearly 6 weeks and considerable public outcry, prosecutors charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder in the case, which has become a flashpoint in the conversations about racial profiling and gun laws. February 26, 2012, a 17-year-old African-American named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed As he returned from a local 7-Eleven after buying a bag of Skittles and iced tea. by was George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white man. The shooter admits killing Martin, but claims he was acting in self-defense.
After that he was then spotted by Zimmerman while returning to his father’s girlfriend’s apartment inside their gated community when Zimmerman called 911, explaining that Trayvon, who was wearing a hoodie at the time, a pair of blue jeans, and red/white sneakers, looked suspicious. Zimmerman then pursued Trayvon even after he was told not to by the 911 dispatcher. When Zimmerman approached Trayvon, the two got into a scuffle, resulting in Trayvon taking a bullet to the chest at point blank range. Here is what everyone should know about the case:
1. Zimmerman called the police to report Martin’s “suspicious” behavior, which he described as “just walking around looking about. ” Zimmerman was in his car when he saw Martin walking on the street. He called the police and said: “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about… These a**holes always get away” 2. Zimmerman pursued Martin against the explicit instructions of the police dispatcher: Dispatcher: “Are you following him? ” Zimmerman: “Yeah” Dispatcher: “OK, we don’t need you to do that. ” 3. Prior to the release of the 911 tapes, Zimmerman’s father released a statement claiming “[a]t no time did George follow or confront Mr. Martin. ” 4. Zimmerman was carrying a 9 millimeter handgun. Martin was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea. 5. Martin weighed 140 pounds. Zimmerman weighs 250 pounds. 6. Martin’s English teacher described him as “as an A and B student who majored in cheerfulness. ” 7. Martin had no criminal record. 8. Zimmerman “was charged in July 2005 with resisting arrest with violence and battery on an officer.
The charges appear to have been dropped. ” [Huffington Post] 9. Zimmerman called the police 46 times since Jan. 1, 2011. [Miami Herald] 10. According to neighbors, Zimmerman was “fixated on crime and focused on young, black males. ” [Miami Herald] 11. Zimmerman “had been the subject of complaints by neighbors in his gated community for aggressive tactics” [Huffington Post] 12. A police officer “corrected” a key witness. “The officer told the witness, a long-time teacher, it was Zimmerman who cried for help, said the witness.
ABC News has spoken to the teacher and she confirmed that the officer corrected her when she said she heard the teenager shout for help. ” [ABC News] 13. Three witnesses say they heard a boy cry for help before a shot was fired. “Three witnesses contacted by The Miami Herald say they saw or heard the moments before and after the Miami Gardens teenager’s killing. All three said they heard the last howl for help from a despondent boy. ” [Miami Herald] 14. The officer in charge of the crime scene also received criticism in 2010 when he initially failed to arrest a lieutenant’s son who was videotaped attacking a homeless black man. New York Times]
15. The police did not test Zimmerman for drugs or alcohol. A law enforcement expert told ABC that Zimmerman sounds intoxicated on the 911 tapes. Drug and alcohol testing is “standard procedure in most homicide investigations. ” [ABC News] The Martin case had been turned over to the Seminole County State Attorney’s Office. Martin’s family has asked for the FBI to investigate. The “Stand your ground” law is covered in Florida, by Florida Statute 776. 032 “Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force. This law states: (1) A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776. 012, s. 776. 013, or s. 776. 031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force, unless the person against whom force was used is a law enforcement officer, as defined in s. 943. 10(14), who was acting in the performance of his or her official duties and the officer identified himself or herself in accordance with any applicable law or the person using force knew or reasonably should have known that the person was a law enforcement officer.
As used in this subsection, the term “criminal prosecution” includes arresting, detaining in custody, and charging or prosecuting the defendant. To further understand this law, we must examine the permitted circumstances provided under Florida Statutes 776. 012, 776. 013, and 776. 031. Florida Statute 776. 012 “Use of force in defense of person” states: A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force.
However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or (2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776. 013. Florida Statute 776. 013 mostly provides circumstances related to residential settings, acts during burglaries, suspected burglaries, and the likes except section (3) of the Florida Statute.
Florida Statue 776. 13 section (3) states “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. ” What these Statutes ultimately provide for George Zimmerman is immunity from prosecution for using deadly force.
To further explain, we must first depict the specifics and lack thereof contained in these statutes. George Zimmerman claims that he was following Trayvon, lost sight of him and was returning to his vehicle. During the process of returning to his vehicle, Trayvon snuck up behind him, punched him in the face, knocked him to the ground and beat his head to the ground. What the media claims happened, is that Zimmerman chased down Trayvon, attacked him, and shot him due to racial profiling.
Now, we must examine the applicability of the “Stand your Ground” Law in Florida. This law both covers some areas of law and ignores others. For example, both claims regarding how the altercation was initiated- whether Zimmerman chased after Trayvon or Trayvon came up to Zimmerman are inapplicable. Under the Florida statute, neither case really matters. Why? Because under Florida Statute 776. 013 provides both individuals immunity for being at the location. Whether either or was following the other does not matter because both individuals had a right to be there.
What puzzles most individuals and has turned into a media circus of “Arrest Him” is the fact that no one really knows who attacked who first. According to reports from Robert Zimmerman; both Sr. and Jr. , father and brother of George Zimmerman, Trayvon struck George first. Neither man was at the scene when the attack took place, so both were simply relaying information provided by George. If this stands true that George Zimmerman was attacked by Trayvon Martin, the two wrestled on the ground, and George Zimmerman ultimately ended up shooting him, this law protects Zimmerman.
Now, what the majority of Americans believe is that George Zimmerman “stalked” Trayvon Martin. So, we shall apply the Florida Statute for Stalking into this story in order to determine whether or not George Zimmerman was indeed stalking Trayvon Martin. The crime of “Stalking” is covered under Florida Statute 784. 048 “Stalking; definitions; penalties. ” I want to you to recognize this term, used commonly throughout this statute. “Course of Conduct. ” Under Florida Statute 784. 48 section (b) “Course of Conduct” is defined as a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time.
Now through this, we can see that this claim of “stalking” because George Zimmerman is believed to have followed Trayvon does not apply as a “series of acts” but we shall further analyze what stalking is, with “course of conduct” applied in the statute. Stalking is defined under Florida Statute 784. 048 section (2) as “Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyber stalks another person commits the ffense of stalking, a misdemeanor of the first degree. ” Now through this, we can clearly see that “stalking” is not the applicable term that applies to George Zimmerman, thus the act, if at may have been, of “following Trayvon” is not, by any Florida Statute, an illegal act. Because George Zimmerman was not stalking Trayvon Martin, does this mean George Zimmerman is innocent? There is no guarantee that George Zimmerman is innocent. Following someone may be viewed as “wrong,” but by means of legality, it is not a legal act.
Ultimately, this will come down to two things. Who struck who first, and; if Trayvon struck Zimmerman first, if he truly did fear for his life. This is not something we as Americans have the ability to determine. We have not seen any release of a medical record, but yet everyone says George Zimmerman is guilty and needs to be punished. So, if applicable, this law demonstrates that George Zimmerman was not in the wrong for following Trayvon and ultimately if it is a crime it is to be determined by who hit first and if there was a reasonable fear to justify the killing.
Courtney from Study Moose
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