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The Tragedy That is Trayvon

A brief explanation of Florida's stand your ground law and how it applies in the Trayvon Martin case written prior to charges being filed.

He was 17. He had recently purchased iced tea and Skittles at a local convenience store.Trayvon Martin was wearing a hoodie sweatshirt while walking back to his father’s fiance’s residence to finish watching a basketball game. He is now dead, shot at the hands of George Zimmerman, a member of the neighborhood watch for the subdivision in which Martin was visiting.

Those facts, in addition to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson showing up to Sanford, Fla. for a rally calling for the head of Zimmerman are all we know at this point. That’s it.  

As of March 28 nothing else conclusive is known... This is my blog and so I’ll write it from my perspective. Did Zimmerman have the right to shoot Martin? No one knows at this point. Is it a tragedy that a young man is dead? Absolutely. Do I believe in the stand your ground law we have here in Florida? You’re darn right I do. Do I believe in the right of a civilian to be armed and further to carry a concealed weapon? Yes. I am a middle of the pack voter, feeling extremity at either end of the spectrum will do nothing but divide society and political issues even further apart than they already are. I am not a card carrying member of the NRA, nor do I cry for trees and drive a car with a hamster shelling out as much horsepower as his fat little legs can chug out. With that being said, hopefully I can give a neutral perspective on this issue, aside from the liberal media, reverends jockeying to get facetime on TV, and conservative gun rights zealots screaming that Martin deserved it.  

In April 2005 Florida Statute 776.012 and 776.013 were passed, thereby extinguishing the necessity of an individual to make an effort to flee from harm. Florida Statute 776.012 is the applicable statute for Trayvon’s case and the language of the statute is as follows:

Use of force in defense of person.—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.This statute is self explanatory in that an individual that reasonably believes their use of deadly force is necessary to prevent getting killed or coming close, can fire away.

No need to run, no need to hide.  As applied to Trayvon, many questions exist. Who attacked who?  If Zimmerman attacked Trayvon and Trayvon got the upper hand, Zimmerman could not just pop Trayvon as Trayvon would not have been using “unlawful force” against Zimmerman.  Under this scenario, Trayvon had the right, under the same statute, to defend himself. Zimmerman should be prosecuted under this scenario.  

Conversely, if Zimmerman ran his mouth to Trayvon and Trayvon proceeded to beat Zimmerman to a pulp and Zimmerman reasonably believed he had to shoot in order to avoid his brains from getting bashed in, Zimmerman likely would enjoy the right to use deadly force and Trayvon would have then been using “unlawful force” in his attack.  As any 2nd year law student knows, sticks and stones may break bones, but words don’t warrant beat downs.

Contrary to the latest wave of press justifying Zimmerman’s actions via an independent witness attesting that Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman and that Zimmerman received a broken nose and had injuries to the back of his head, this in and of itself is not conclusive.  What in total, did the witness see?  Going the preceding paragraph, if Zimmerman was playing super cop and attacked Trayvon, I argue Trayvon has a right to fight back.  What about Zimmerman’s alleged broken nose and skidmarked head?  Again, this proves nothing as there is no conclusive evidence as to the aggressor.   Alas, there is supposedly  a police video that shows no conclusive video of injury to Zimmerman.

Unfortunately, I have my doubts this case will ever be resolved conclusively and to the satisfaction of all parties. My gut tells me the special prosecutor won’t have enough to convict on a charge against Zimmerman. I don’t agree that this is race issue, though I respect the right of those who do to voice their opinions just as I respect the right of gun owners to bear arms. I know this is a very tough case for a prosecuting body based on the facts or lack thereof. No law is perfect and the aforementioned statutes aren’t meant to justify the use of negligent deadly force, but rather to add a layer of protection to the law abiding citizen who fears for his life at the hands of an assaulter with criminal intentions. Whether or not the law did its job in this case is yet to be known. Aside from the legal mumbo jumbo, posturing, and talking heads yapping, it’s a tragedy that a young man died before his time and my heart goes out to the Martin family.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Erin Henderson April 19, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Great read!
Bill H. April 20, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I don't tink anyone will ever know for sure what hapened that night, even the jurors. So, Zimmerman will walk, imo.
Dominick La'Carro Lumpkin April 20, 2012 at 04:27 PM
We know what happened! Racial Profiling! It all could have been avoided, if rather than following, and stalking the young man; if Zimmerman had just calmly asked the CHILD if he lived around there. Or even had simply spoken to the CHILD, rather than assuming A black young male walking "IN THE RAIN", with a Hoodie was a criminal of some sorts. A simple Hello, with a smile greeting, as normal people do. Would have brought about a peaceful solution. Its 2012! if you still have a racist bone in your body; GO to the Doctors office and have it removed. God Made us All and He seen us ALL to be Good! Once people stop educating their kids out of hatred and fear, and infuse knowledge and wisdom, then we can actually step into this century. May God Above bless us all; for we need it!!!! -Dominick La'Carro Lumpkin
DJH April 20, 2012 at 06:08 PM
It's important to remember that the SYG are designed to do is to prevent the workaround that people such as Benjamin Crump thrive on. They are designed to protect the victim (the person who defended himself) from being ruined by the demands of mobs and the spinelessness of certain prosecutors. Trayvon's "skittles and iced tea" are utterly irrelevant. Whether George Zimmerman is a racist or a law and order freak is irrelevant. The only thing that was relevant was that the prosecutor decided not to charge Zimmerman- as was the proper choice and way to handle this. That a mob on the warpath goes dancing and screaming for the press and the governor responds by appointing a prosecutor who does decide to charge is trampling local government, by Republicans no less. How is prosecutor-shopping morally or legally superior to judge-shopping? Now both Sybrina Fulton and Benjamin Crump have let it out that , well, Trayvon may well have been the aggressor as if we didn't know that. This case stinks. And to have Lawrence O'Donnell, Amy Goodman, and every other POS out there exploiting this in their contempt for the Second Amendment and civil rights in general is enough to make a person want to go on the warpath himself.
garth goodman, esq. September 23, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Excellent article. I am curious if the purported evidence of the dispatcher telling Zimmerman not to pursue is relevant to the reasonableness of Zimmerman's position re standing his ground. If Trayvon was walking in the opposite direction of Zimmerman and minding his own business and Zimmmerman pursued him, is Zimmerman than standing "his" ground or invading Trayvon's. I think this case should be litigated and decided by a jury.

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