Friday, July 19, 2013

Trayvon Martin Part 2: Breaking Down Stand Your Ground Law

A lot of talk out there about the Trayvon Martin case.

A lot of talk about the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida.  What is it?

Is it an invitation for NRA crazed, Timothy McVey types to unload full clips at someone on their porch?  Is it the last bastion of American freedom, protecting us from zombies and Bolsheviks?

I think it's time that we found out.  So, if you've been babbling about this law and have never read it, you now have now excuse.  Unless its dyslexia.  Er uhm...I'm sorry...lysdexia.This is a link to the law itself.

The vast majority of the law speaks on forced entry situations which I am in full support of.  It becomes problematic because it is opened to the interpretation of the resident/ property owner, and he/she might misinterpret situations as threats that are not.  However, no law is a complete catch-all.  I fully support the right to defend your home, vehicle, or family from an intruder.

The part of this law that's relevant to the Martin case is the third provision.  That is, if a person who is legally allowed to be in a location is attacked (presumably physically) by another, he or she has the right to meet the assailant with anything up to and including deadly force.  If, of course, the assailed party is not breaking a law his or herself.  Here's the kicker with this law though: the victims life doesn't actually have to be's if the victim believes he or she is in danger of grave bodily harm.

So if I can convince a jury that I believed the nerf gun was a real gun, or a bag of skittles was a glock 9, then I can use deadly force in a stand your ground situation.  This is important because it more or less exonerates Zimmerman in and of itself.  If there was reasonable doubt as to Trayvon attacking first, and that Zimmerman believed his life was endangered, and Zimmerman broke no law in the occupancy of his personal space...then, Zimmerman cannot be statutorily convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.

I actually believe Zimmerman was ethically wrong for running around with a gun on a neighborhood watch shift.  He, essentially, was acting as a sworn officer of the law without the training, background  check, and psychiatric make-up to do real police work.  This is an amateur masquerading as law enforcement.

I'm not sure we should destroy the stand your ground law.

But we need to amend the law before more lunatics decide they want to play The Shield today.  Maybe throw in a provision nullifying the law if the citizen is following the suspect around.

As for Zimmerman? Legally, the verdict was correct.

Ethically...I believe he was guilty of at least manslaughter.  His following of Trayvon was negligent.  Neighborhood watchers should alert law enforcement, not play Officer McGruff.


  1. "I actually believe Zimmerman was ethically wrong for running around with a gun on a neighborhood watch shift."

    What is unethical about carrying a gun?

    By the way, he was NOT on a neighborhood watch shift. Research it. You will be able to confirm that.

    The whole "following" thing has been overblown, exaggerated, etc.

    The officer on the phone told Zimmerman that "we don't need you to do that" and Zimmerman said "ok." When asked the next day in a police interview (they went through the recording of the phone call point by point) what he thought when informed that they didn't need him to follow the suspicious person Zimmerman stated that he agreed.

    I don't believe that it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman "followed the suspect around." That is the pop-media-narrative. But it is not an established fact.

    It is possible that Zimmerman "followed the suspect around," but we don't convict people of crimes based on "it is possible." We do so when it is established beyond a reasonable doubt.

    There is nothing ethically wrong with carrying a gun.

    There is nothing ethically wrong with getting out of your car.

    There is nothing ethically wrong with moving your body closer to something that you find suspicious in order to understand better, even if that something is a person.

    Even though I am not convinced it happened- there is nothing ethically wrong with following someone that you believe might commit a crime in your neighborhood. Although I hope you would be wise and careful about it.

    It all started with this pop-media-narrative. "A white guy saw a black guy walking through a neighborhood and pursued him and gunned him down because he thought he was a criminal."

    Well whadya know. The white guy was not white. He didn't even mention that the "suspicious person" was black until asked by the police. He wasn't even sure at first. He very well may have not pursued him, and he didn't gun him down until he was assaulted by a punch in the nose, ground and pound MMA techniques, and having his head smashed into the concrete.

    Boy. They really missed that one.

    A better narrative: A man in Florida (I could say hispanic man but why? It's not important) saw a young man that he did not recognize walking through his neighborhood and felt suspicious due to recent robberies and the way the young man was behaving. He called police and tried to find out the information that the police asked of him by walking away from his car. The young man circled back for unknown reasons and assaulted him in a way that made him frightened for his life and he then shot the young man and killed him. He claims it was in self defense.

    Sounds different than the media account, doesn't it?

    1. ThirstyJon's account sounds different from the media account because the media has better grasp of the facts. Zimmerman himself admits to chasing Martin and losing him. ThirstyJon repeatedly claims this didn't occur - I don't know about anyone else but I for one believe Zimmerman.

      The key prosec. witness also said Martin hung up the phone saying he had to run, corroborating Zimmerman's admission to chasing Martin. Martin came back around and confronted him.

      According to Stand Your Ground in FL, Martin had the right to not retreat because he had suspicion of an unlawful threat to his person based on the fact that Zimmerman had followed and chased him. SYG says he does not need to retreat in the face of such an unlawful threat, and is authorized to use lethal force.

      Stand Your Ground gives you the right to defend yourself against a threat to your person, not the right to chase someone who doesn't even know you are there and who therefore presents you no threat of physical harm.