The Law and George Zimmerman
While George Zimmerman chose to arm himself and follow Trayvon Martin against the wishes of the authorities, neither of those actions were a crime. Did George Zimmerman open up an opportunity for an altercation? You bet. Did he use stereotypes to decide whether to follow Trayvon? Absolutely. Did he kill Trayvon in self defense? No idea. That’s the point. We have no idea what actually happened in that altercation. We have one physical witness George Zimmerman, a young woman on the phone, a 911 call, and a dead teenager.
It’s quite reasonable that the injuries sustained by the wannabe cop George Zimmerman were in self defense. Does that necessarily mean that the injuries were the result of Trayvon attacking him? No idea. Do you honestly think a jury comprised of 6 women weren’t sympathetic to a dead teenager? They wanted to provide justice. They even asked about manslaughter. Ultimately however, there’s the issue of the standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”. The criminal court didn’t find George Zimmerman “innocent”. They found him not guilty of criminal actions.
Can a civil trial hold George Zimmerman responsible? It sure can. George Zimmerman will likely lose a civil trial due to a lower burden of proof standard in civil ligation. He’ll pay for his false bravado and reckless behavior in following Trayvon Martin. No matter how he pays, it will not bring back Trayvon Martin.
I’ve seen this case draw parallels to the Marissa Alexander case due to her invoking Florida’s Stand Your Ground. She is a 31 year old black woman who was estranged from her husband and had a restraining order against him. She went to their marital home to retrieve belongings. He was there and they got into a confrontation. She went to the garage and retrieved a gun in her car. She then went into the house and fired a bullet into the kitchen ceiling.
Her advocates claim that he cornered her and she fired a warning shot into the ceiling to scare him off. He claims that he told her that their newborn was probably fathered by her ex-husband and in reaction to that she said, “I got something for your ass.” Then went to the garage, retrieved a gun, went back into the kitchen and shot a bullet into the ceiling.
Two courts went against her. While I find her husband’s behavior horrid considering the restraining order, the admitted accusation, and third party witnesses to his physical abuse, I don’t understand the parallel when she went to the garage, claimed the garage door was jammed (it was shown to work later), retrieved a gun, went back inside to the kitchen, and shot the gun.
I also have seen this case paralleled to the John White and Daniel Cicciaro Jr.
“According to court documents and the Suffolk County Police, a black teenager, Aaron White, 19, arrived. A girl at the party became upset and told guests that Mr. White had posted an Internet message threatening to rape her. Mr. White was told to leave the party, and did, but he and Mr. Cicciaro began arguing by cellphone. Mr. Cicciaro’s friends told the police that Mr. White challenged him to come to his house in nearby Miller Place to settle the dispute.”
A drunken Daniel Cicciaro and four friends showed up on John White’s doorstep to fight his son. No calls to the police were made. John White went to the garage to retrieve a loaded .32 Beretta pistol. Both John White and Aaron White were armed. The group of teenagers yelled racial epithets at the Whites. According to police, John White screamed, “I’m going to kill you,” Daniel Cicciaro challenged him and said, “Go ahead and shoot me!”.
What happened next is what is disputed. John White and his son claimed that the group threatened to rape John White’s wife. John White claimed that while being raised in Brooklyn he was told family stories of lynch mobs in Alabama and that he feared for his family’s safety with 5 teenagers at his doorstep. John White claimed the gun went off accidentally when Daniel Cicciaro lunged for the gun. The teenagers claimed that he pointed the gun menacingly at all of them and shot Daniel Cicciaro point blank in the face after Daniel Cicciaro verbally challenged him.
John White was convicted for manslaughter and sentence for 3-5 years, but was pardoned 5 months after the conviction by outgoing New York governor Paterson.
In retrospect, was it really self defense? It was shown that Aaron White and Daniel Cicciaro were friends. I understand the racial overtones due to what the teenagers screamed, but I find that a man who grew up in Brooklyn claiming fear from childhood stories of Alabama lynch mobs interesting. He could have called the cops, but he went to garage to arm himself.
I personally find all these connections to the Trayvon case hard to stomach because the reality is… there is only one Trayvon Martin. There is only one George Zimmerman. Attaching some other “self defense” case to it that also has racial overtones defeats the point in discussing what occurred with Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. It makes the case about race.
Why are we putting the a jury of 6 women on trial when we should put the whole system of education and healthcare on trial? Why do we have racial and socio-economic issues? Why do we have huge disparities in wealth? Why do we have huge disparities in healthcare and education? We know why the poor urban population commit crimes, but why are so many of our poor urban population black? Why do we suppress voter turnout? Why do so many citizens have no understanding of civic involvement? etc. etc. etc.
We’re putting the wrong systems on trial. We have substantive issues to be upset about that might prevent future George Zimmermans from profiling future Trayvon Martins.