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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

George Zimmerman on Trial in Florida for Shooting Trayvon Martin in 2012



The Trayvon Martin case is currently being tried. I listened to the recording of accused George Zimmerman being interviewed by the police after he shot Trayvon. The officer read him his Miranda rights, asked him if he understood everything. He did, and said he wanted to speak without a lawyer. It sounded as if he truly didn’t think he’d done anything wrong, that his shooting of Trayvon was totally justified. He wasn’t arrogant about it, though. In fact he sounded quite na├»ve.

The officer said she had not seen the crime scene yet and asked him to tell her what happened from his perspective, including everything that led up to the shooting. He said the neighbourhood had had a lot of crimes. His wife saw the neighbours getting broken into and was afraid so he started a neighbourhood watch.  

“There’s been a few times when I’ve seen a suspicious person. We call the police and our emergency line and these guys always get away—“

“What made them suspicious?” 

“This gentleman in particular, I had never seen him in the neighbourhood, nor all the residents. [Presumably he meant none of the other residents had seen him. Which he couldn't possibly have known if this was the first time he'd ever seen Trayvon.] 

"It was raining out and he was leisurely walking [sic], taking a stroll, staring into the houses, taking his time. When I drove by he stopped and looked at me.”

“Had you seen him before?”

“Never.” [His voice suddenly became assertive and self-justifying.] “I know all the kids in the neighbourhood,” he continued, “I know all the adults. Like I said he was just walking casually, it’s not like he was trying to get out of the rain.”

At that point a crime scene officer interrupted by radio to ask if there were video cameras in the neighbourhood. Zimmerman replied that there were but to his knowledge they weren’t working. When asked if he knew who was responsible for the cameras he did. He knew the contact’s name and had their cell number in his own cell, which had been taken from him at the crime scene. I wondered why, if he was so concerned about crime and obsessed with criminals getting away, he hadn’t made sure the cameras were in good order.

The officer left the room. She returned with his cell, retrieved the number and continued with the questioning. She backtracked a little and asked Zimmerman again if he had ever seen Trayvon before. This time he said “probably about half a dozen times”. 

By now he was clearly confident that not only had he done nothing wrong, but he was actually some kind of neighbourhood hero. And there was an element of self-pity that grated.

Trayvon was walking past a house whose owner doesn’t lock his doors when Zimmerman by his own account drove by and called the non-emergency line. He lost visual of Trayvon while he was on the phone with the police. Then suddenly Trayvon was circling his car. He disappeared again. 

Zimmerman got out of his car and walked around a bit trying to find him. The police dispatch said they didn’t need him to do that because the police were on their way. He said he was walking back to his car when Trayvon jumped out at him from the bushes and said “what’s your problem homey?” It was later revealed that there are no bushes. And minutes before the incident Trayvon had been in conversation with a friend and allegedly told her that this creepy guy had been following him. 

The rest of Zimmerman’s story is that Trayvon punched him in the nose and he fell onto the grass. Then Trayvon slammed his head into the sidewalk violently, got on top of him and repeatedly hit him in the head. Terrified, fearing for his life and unable to defend himself he screamed for help. 

None came. He pulled out his gun and shot. Trayvon fell to the side and Zimmerman pinned him down. The police arrived and he willingly gave up his gun, saying he shot in self defense.

First of all, that was a pretty seamless segue from ‘these guys’ to ‘this gentleman in particular’. Secondly, Zimmerman either had never seen Trayvon before or he’d seen him half a dozen times. And there are so many reasons why a person could be walking in the rain in an area he doesn’t live in. I sometimes walk around neighbourhoods I don’t live in and I look at the houses. I don’t usually do it when it’s raining, because it rains in winter here and it’s cold, but some people like walking in the rain. If I’m taking a stroll and somebody drives slowly past, I’m going to look at them also, and wonder what they’re up to.

By the end of the interview Zimmerman's self pity, the contradictions, the total lack of remorse that he had killed a kid in his late teens had eroded away any empathy I initially felt for him. 

Three witnesses for the prosecution have since stated that, judging by what the two were wearing, they saw Zimmerman on top of Trayvon. Zimmerman’s neighbour testified the opposite. Dr. Rao,  Jacksonville medical examiner, testified that Zimmerman’s injuries were insignificant and the head injuries resulted from one blow. The photographs show a few tiny scrapes on his face, his nose unbroken, and a couple of marks on the back of his head with trickles of blood running down. Under cross examination Dr. Rao had to admit that the injuries on the back of the head could have resulted from multiple blows.

This is going to be difficult for the prosecution to win because they have to convince the 6 jurors that Zimmerman acted with ill will or hatred and an indifference to human life. Otherwise, he gets off, the laws in Florida stating that a person can use deadly force when they feel threatened, even if they could escape.