Correcting George Zimmerman

ERIC C. JACOBSON gives his take on the possibility, actually necessity, of federal prosecution of George Zimmerman for violating the civil rights of Trayvon Martin. The key, he writes, is not to insist on prosecution for violation of civil rights because of race but merely because Trayvon Martin was targeted for exercising his civil right to walk around freely, shop and return home.
“However this “because of race” facet is not an element of 18 USC § 245 (b)(1)(B). That section of the U.S. code proscribes private individuals (or government personnel) from (in sum) harming any person “because he is participating in or enjoying any benefit…privilege…facility, or activity provided…by the United States.” (Emphasis added.)
The case law is clear that this prong does not require the prosecution to prove the defendant had any racial animus towards the victim.”

see Why the Justice Department Can (and Must) Criminally Prosecute George Zimmerman

There is evidence that would support such a charge, right from George Zimmerman’s lips, as he told his story to anyone who would listen outside the court. He did go after Trayvon Martin with a firearm despite having used the non-emergency police number to report a suspicious person and police were dispatched. That’s clear evidence that there was no justification to exit the vehicle to pursue Trayvon Martin except to violate his civil rights. There was no emergency and the police could have checked out the situation very well. They arrived shortly after the shooting.

I think there would have been little need for such a federal prosecution if Florida had done the job properly:

  • police didn’t collect nearly enough evidence at the scene
  • the post mortem didn’t collect nearly enough evidence from the body
  • the police didn’t track down the woman who was on the phone seconds before the killing
  • the police officer in charge practically defended Zimmerman
  • the judge allowed a jury with no black juror despite the certainty of whites having no clue how blacks lived, talked, or felt about being followed in the dark by armed white men
  • the prosecutor utterly failed to tell a reasonable story that fit the facts despite pointing out that Zimmerman could not have got his firearm in his hand if Trayvon Martin was on top and beating Zimmerman
  • the prosecutor, the judge and the defence lawyer utterly failed to follow the rules when the lead policeman was allowed to answer a question about the veracity of Zimmerman – telling the jurors hours later to ignore that statement was too little and too late
  • the jurors utterly failed to apply common sense to sorting through the evidence
  • no one in the court asked anyone the questions, “If the pistol was in a holster at the back of Zimmerman, under his pants and jacket as Zimmerman claimed, did Zimmerman not have it in his hand when Trayvon Martin acted in his own self-defence?” and “If the pistol was in a holster at the back of Zimmerman, under his pants and jacket as Zimmerman claimed, did Zimmerman pull it out after Trayvon Martin backed away?”.
  • the jurors utterly failed to consider that Zimmerman might be lying and ignored all kinds of valuable evidence

Like the crash of an air-liner resulting from a bunch of things going wrong, justice was not served. The US federal government must step in to fix this. It’s their job. The constitution and laws of the USA require it. Justice demands it. The consequences of not fixing this include more young men arming themselves and race-relations being set back decades. Children who know they may be killed for walking around while black will not grow up to trust and share with other races.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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2 Responses to Correcting George Zimmerman

  1. bw wrote, “The fault here was not with the police or the investigation efforts or with the jury.”

    The police collected DNA only from under Trayvon Martin’s fingernails. They collected nothing from Zimmerman. They did not collect DNA thoroughly from the firearm or the holster. The police treated Trayvon Martin as the culprit and Zimmerman as the victim. That severely weakened the evidence the prosecutor had. Even so, there was plenty of questionable evidence submitted to the jury who promptly ignored the few key pieces of solid evidence, like where the holster was. That was described by Zimmerman and the police on the scene. The only clear account of the altercation was from Zimmerman and it clearly conflicted with where the firearm came from. This one thing made Z guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He either had the firearm out at the outset and was the aggressor or he pulled it out after T backed off. Either way, he had no grounds to shoot. The jury was not told this story by the prosecutor and did not figure it out on their own. They did not apply common sense. The prosecutor did show the firearm was inaccessible if it had been in the holster at Z’s back but the jury ignored that, choosing to be ignorant. It is telling that the first thing the jury did was vote on guilt/innocence and all had made up their minds despite instructions from the judge to consider all the evidence. They did not consider the evidence but merely bullied each other to support their bias.

  2. bw says:

    if Florida had done the job properly

    The fault here was not with the police or the investigation efforts or with the jury. The fault was with the State’s Attorney who initially ignored the case as a priority and caused the thing to become a national outcry for justice due to the misjudgment that it was a racial disgrace.

    Zimmerman was out and about with his gun pretending in his mind to be a force for good and a protector of his neighbors’ homes and property. He was horribly ill-trained, having had a couple of hours of lecture at a HOA meeting and many more hours of experience achieving nothing by driving around and calling police to investigate what he saw as suspicious persons.

    In the Martin case, he grossly misidentified Martin as a likely burglar. As we know for a fact, Martin was a teenage resident on his way home from a convenience store. Why Martin was so identified is likely due to his race and general demeanor. A trained police officer or deputy sheriff would not see him as suspicious. In the past, a number of such persons had been investigated, if only briefly, by the Sanford PD and found to be non-suspicious or else not found at all, which added to Zimmerman’s frustration level.

    So what we have here is Zimmerman stalking or at a minimum harassing Martin by following him in his car, alerting law enforcement along the way. The testimony at trial from the friend on the phone was that Martin was at least agitated if not worried by this and ran away. Zimmerman told the call center operator that “He’s running!”, corroborating the girl’s testimony. Zimmerman exited his truck to give chase so that he wouldn’t “get away” as these “—holes” had done in past incidents.

    It seems fairly clear that the actions that Zimmerman took, without authority to do so, were interpreted by Martin as threatening and Martin made an effort to escape. In Florida, that is at least a misdemeanor assault. In Florida, if the victim of the assault is a minor, as was Martin, the crime escalates to a first degree misdemeanor or even a felony if any contact is made. Further, Zimmerman possessed a gun during the act, which is another escalation to the charge. The chain of events is cloudy after that but we know Zimmerman ultimately produced the firearm, discharged it, and struck Martin.

    Each of those further escalates the assault to a first degree level and there is a 20+ year prison term associated with that. That is the case that should have been brought and it doubtless would have stuck.

    What happened instead is that the media and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson created so much pressure on the legal system to crack down that Governor Rick Scott gave the case to Angela Cory, noted for incredible overcharging of perpetrators. She had her staff bring a dramatic case that could not be proved and so George walked due to prosecutorial idiocy and an effort to get revenge rather than justice.

    The really bad result here is that the gun nuts, already running around daily armed to the teeth, are now feeling completely vindicated and protected by the law of the land. We just had a similar case come up in Louisiana wherein a homeowner opened his door and shot a 14 year old who was at least trespassing and possibly intent on robbing the homeowner. He has been similarly charged with second degree murder. He has a better case than George, in that the teen did climb his fence and was on his property, but the law in Louisiana may not be as favorable. Time will tell.

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