I'M SURE THERE'S A REASONABLE EXPLANATION

Just a quick update on Monday's post regarding Trayvon Martin. Apparently the attorney for the boy's family has a (recording? transcript? This remains unclear.) of a cell phone call between Martin and his girlfriend as he was being pursued.

"He said this man was watching him, so he put his hoodie on. He said he lost the man," Martin's friend said. "I asked Trayvon to run, and he said he was going to walk fast. I told him to run, but he said he was not going to run."

Eventually, he would run, said the girl, thinking that he'd managed to escape. But suddenly the strange man was back, cornering Martin.

"Trayvon said, 'What are you following me for,' and the man said, 'What are you doing here.' Next thing I hear is somebody pushing, and somebody pushed Trayvon because the head set just fell. I called him again, and he didn't answer the phone."

The line went dead. Besides screams heard on 911 calls that night as Martin and Zimmerman scuffled, those were the last words he said.

Remember: self-defense.

I still believe that the most likely outcome is a trial wherein a jury of Zimmerman's peers – 12 old white people from the Orlando suburbs – will hand down a Not Guilty verdict. Alternatively, Zimmerman could be convicted of something as a way to take heat and attention off the Sanford police. Or there might be so much evidence piled up that jurors and Federal investigators cannot help but come down hard on both the police and the shooter.

It will be very interesting in the next few days to see if (when?) the Sanford police realize that their optimal strategy is to thrown Zimmerman under the bus and run over him repeatedly until the story goes away.

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46 Responses to “I'M SURE THERE'S A REASONABLE EXPLANATION”

  1. Scott Says:

    If I remember correctly, the rationale given to the public for the "stand your ground" law was to protect home owners from prosecution if they shoot someone that breaks into their home or harms a family member. What I'm hearing from the people that are defending Zimmerman (yes, there are quite a few down here), is that he was in reasonable fear for his life and acted accordingly. Zimmerman picked a fight with someone and then shot that person and claimed self-defense; this is hardly what even the NRA had in mind when they wrote this law.

    What I don't understand about this situation is the lack of ANY response from the Sanford police (which is a really nice small town, aside from the racial tinged shootings, BTW). Zimmerman did all the wrong things, from not listening to the 911 operator to wait for police, to assaulting this kid and finally SHOOTING him. There's got to be something in there that constitutes an arrestable offense. Even police officers are put on administrative leave after they shoot someone, even in the most straightforward of cases.

    The number of justifiable homicides in Florida had tripled since the law went into effect and I'm really afraid that it's going to be acceptable to shoot someone for looking at you funny.

  2. Middle Seaman Says:

    The law that allows shooting, or otherwise attacking, another individual was instigated by the NRA and voted in by the crazy party. The governor of Florida at the time and the force behind the medieval law was no other than Jeb and the Bushes.

    Sanford police just enforces the spirit of the law, except that it appears that not everyone agrees with having the Wild West in the baking East. It's not as if the whole country is behaving differently from Florida. We attacked Iraq for no obvious reason and continue the war in Afghanistan more than 10 years after it was supposed to end.

    It's all in support of selling more arms and killing more people.

  3. Hazy Davy Says:

    Scott,
    The 911 call makes clear that Zimmerman was chasing Trayvon.
    But that, apparently, isn't the story he told police:
    http://www.theprovince.com/news/Trayvon+Martin+case+Witnesses+recall+unarmed+teen+cries+before+shooting/6325434/story.html
    "Zimmerman had a damp shirt, grass stains, a bloody nose and was bleeding from a wound in the back of his head, according to police reports."

    What's amazing—they didn't test him for drugs, or confirm that the blood on his nose was his own (or whether it was Trayvon's, which he might have gotten splattered with by shooting at close range). Apparently, if you're injured, you can claim self-defense…

    But yeah, the PD did respond. And the neighbors are not exactly lining up behind the PD: http://www.wftv.com/videos/news/interview-with-witness-of-sanford-teen-shooting/vGYPW/

    Aside from the horrible tragedy, I'm trying to figure out the PD behavior, too. I can't even figure out how they rationalize it…

  4. HoosierPoli Says:

    Voluntary manslaughter would be getting off easy.

    BTW George Zimmerman is 28 years old. As far as I'm concerned 28 is still fucking childhood. What's a child doing running around with a gun on "neighborhood watch" duty?

  5. Tim H. Says:

    "Are you paranoid enough? Being black seems to a ticket to the leading edge of degradation, but there's no reason to think it'll stop with them, dehumanization is in everyone's future."
    The point I'm trying to make is if shooting kids because they look different becomes remotely acceptable, (All those wingnuts shoving the "Overton window".) it can't need much more rationalization to shoot anyone that doesn't "look right", including young people in any tone, working class, unemployed, nearly anyone else. Consider people of color as the canary in the coal mine, warning of a coarsening society, tolerant of beatings, rape, murder, as long as it doesn't happen to the "right people". Enforcing the civil rights of "People of color" isn't altruism in the long run, it's self defense.

  6. Lelus Says:

    Oh yes, *let's* hope the police get creative and find a way to punish the guy who did something legal but unpopular. After all, there's an angry mob about, and it would be the politically expedient thing to do!

  7. c u n d gulag Says:

    The death of Martin was a selffulfilling prophesy by Zimmerman, who called 9/11 almost 50 times in 2 months.

    Now, either he lived in the worst "gated" community in the country, or the boy had some issues.

    He is probably paranoid, and has am extremely low self-esteem. And by being the neighborhood 'watch' captain, he felt he had a chance to be a hero, instead of the zero that he is. And everyone walking by his home instantly became a suspect in his mind, and his chance to be a hero.
    And Martin, a young black male, fit the profile for the man who wanted to be a hero. And so, with little or no provocation, except that which he himself provided, he grabbed his chance to be a hero not a zero.
    If Martin had a 9mm Glock on him, we would know nothing about this case. It would have fit perfectly with the NRA, FOX, and Rush narratives.
    It's unfortunate for Zimmerman, that the only things that Martin was "packing" were some Skittles and an Arizona Iced Tea. Neither one of which could be considered using "deadly force," unless your definition of "deadly force" includes tooth decay.
    More unfortunate, though, for Martin and his family.

    Note to police: If some clown calls 9/11 almost every day, maybe the problem isn't in the neighborhood he/she lives in, maybe it's the person on the other end of the line making the calls.
    This clown cried "WOLF!" so much, someone on the police should have figured out that a person this paranoid was more likely to mistake a lamb for a wolf, and shoot it, than ever find a real wolf to take aim at.

    Oh, and Ed, you bring up a good point, about an all-white jury.
    In the idiotic "War on Drugs," actually, more accurately, a "War on Black People," when you're convicted, not only do you lose your right to vote, you are also, then, taken out of the jury-pool.
    That's a nice little double-feature that people don't think about, and that helps insure that MORE black people end up in jail – or, in FL, on Death Row.

    I hope the DOJ nails this asshole to the wall.
    But we already know the response from the delusional right:
    That Nigra President just sent his Nigra AG to frame a nice white(r) man for killing that trouble-making teenage N*gger.

    One last mini-rant:
    We have too many mental defectives in this country. And somehow or other, a lot of them seem to find gainful employment as local, state, and even federal legislators.
    AKA: Politicians.
    Which means that we have more than enough mental defectives in this country to elect these f*cking idiots.
    If you're a f*cking idiot, why would you vote for someone other than another f*cking idiot? The only language you're fluent in is "f*cking idiot," so how could you be expected to understand anyone who's not?

    Rush and FOX have been far more effective at destroying this country than any "Fifth Columnists" we were warned about ever could have been.
    Too many people in this country are stupid, ignorant, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and/or homophobic. And the Righties exploit that for fun, power, and profit.

    In the words of the great classic cartoon, "Pogo:"
    "We have met the enemy and he is us."

  8. Jimcat Says:

    The real problem is the "stand your ground" law itself, which was voted in by the people. Without it, this would have been much easier to prosecute as a straightforward murder.

    I'm sure that many of the people who voted for the law didn't realize that events like this would be among the possible consequences. But it certainly could have been anticipated. Maybe a lot of them were too busy thinking "Yeah! I get to shoot someone."

    Had I written an article on this, my headline would have been: "American voters: short-sighted idiots or violent idiots?"

  9. c u n d gulag Says:

    "Lelus," above, is a perfect example of exactly what I was just talking about.

    Lelus, maybe if Martin came to Zimmerman's door, there might have been some sort of justification to shoot him (one more reason not to be a door-to-door salesperson, these days). Especially if he knocked on, or burst through, his door and flung the Skittles and Arizona Iced tea at him.

    But you're defending a guy who left his house, gets in his car packing a gun, and then creates a circumstance where he can pull his gun and kill someone.
    Maybe a person in his house has no recourse if he/she feels threatened/attacked.
    But a person in a car has at least two:
    "D" and "R."

    Zimmerman could have driven off. But he didn't, now did he?
    No, despite being told by the police NOT to follow the "suspect," he drove around until he found him, got out of his car, apparently initiated a confrontation with an unarmed teenager, and shot him in the head.
    And that Florida's law makes using 'self-defense' in that case even a remote possibility, is an indication of how stupid, ignorant, and paranoid, the people and politicians of the state are.

    Maybe that's a state, or country, you might want to live in.
    But not me.

  10. TomW Says:

    I think c u n d gulag has summed the situation up nicely. And also made me realize that I don't want to set foot in the state of Florida anytime soon.

    Perhaps someone should start a boycott effort against Florida tourism or at least find a way to get Disney & Co. to realize that this law could wind up scaring people away from their overpriced theme parks.

  11. JBerardi Says:

    I say this without a hint of snark or hyperbole– I don't want to live in America anymore:

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40088_Fox_News_Commenters_React_to_Trayvon_Martin-_Good_Shot_Zimmy

    We've got no jobs. If we do our wages suck. Our economy is fundamentally broken. We've got no health insurance. Public schools, public libraries, public colleges, we've got no money for them. The best we can hope for from our police departments is simply that they leave us alone. Continuous wars that eat up the federal budget and destroy the lives, bodies and minds of our [typically poor and disadvantaged] youth. Our media are literally a bunch of morons who want to show "both sides" of this story, and quickly too, because there's a new iPad out and someone said it gets kinda hot and that's really the greater injustice in the world. Our social services are underfunded. Our highways and bridges are falling apart. We've got shittier internet access than random southeast asian and former Soviet block countries, and no plan to help get our poorest citizens access to this increasingly indispensable resource.

    Alright, so that's a partial list of what we're up against, right? Pretty daunting I'd say. Now, consider that what seems like 50% of the country is dead convinced that we'd solve all these problems if we could just get rid of the damn blacks, mexicans, gays and any woman who actually wants to be involved in the decision of when she should get pregnant. How does one work with this situation? What can possibly be accomplished with an unruly mob of violent, hyper-uninformed thugs seemingly running EVERYTHING?

    I have no love left for America. I can't make any more excuses for it. I can't even pretend I take any pride in being American any longer. I simply do not wish to live in such a barbaric, backwards, hateful, ignorant nation any longer. It's that simple.

  12. RosiesDad Says:

    Here's the injustice, based on what is publicly known (and acknowledging that it's possible that there are facts not publicly known)):
    If a Black self appointed vigilante had gunned down a white kid armed with no more than a can of ice tea and a bag of skittles, the shooter would have been arrested the night of the shooting, arraigned the following morning and–in the Deep South where the town of Sanford Florida is located–he would have shortly thereafter been dispatched to Death Row at Raiford State Penitentiary.
    But because this was a light skinned guy who shot a dark skinned kid, 3 1/2 weeks have gone by and no arrest has been made.
    Also too, I heard they drug and alcohol tested the dead kid but not the guy who shot him.
    The outrage should begin at the level of the Sanford Police Department and should head up the chain through the local DA's office, the state attorney's office and end up at the governor's feet. And heads should roll. They probably won't but they should.

  13. c u n d gulag Says:

    RosiesDad,
    I beg to differ.

    If an adult black male shot an unarmed white teenager, the police would most probably be investigating killers motives posthumously.

    They'd be more likely to shoot the armed black suspect on the spot, and ask questions later, than arrest him.

    We've seen that movie before.
    Too many times.
    Just ask 23 year-old Guinean (read: Black) immigrant Abner Diallo, in NYC, who was shot 41 times by 4 cops, when all he might have been reaching for was his wallet to show some ID.
    Oh, wait, no you can't…

  14. RosiesDad Says:

    c u n d gulag:

    Sadly, you are probably right. Although they probably would have beat him within an inch of his life before they killed him and then explained that he was resisting arrest.

  15. c u n d gulag Says:

    Also too – I'm a middle-aged white male, and you couldn't pay me to step foot in Florida or Arizona anytime soon.

    Or SC, MS, AL, AK, GA, LA, TN, etc…

    Basically, anywhere the gun-toting-Crackers/FOX viewers/Rush-listeners vote in greater numbers than normal people.

    Or, is being a "gun-toting-Cracker/FOX viewer/Rush-listener" the new "normal?"
    Sure seems like it sometimes…

  16. c u n d gulag Says:

    Yeah, you got that right, RosiesDad.

    If the police can Taser White Senior Citiizens nearly to death, or TO death (Google it – there are a lot of examples) – tasering and beating an armed black male, and then shooting him for resisting arrest, would not be an unlikely occurrence.

  17. Admiral_Komack Says:

    "It will be very interesting in the next few days to see if (when?) the Sanford police realize that their optimal strategy is to thrown Zimmerman under the bus and run over him repeatedly until the story goes away."

    -Too late.

  18. xynzee Says:

    @JBerardi: That is some of the most depressing crap I have ever read.

    It comes back to what Ed mentioned in his "Are We Having Fun" post, on moral relativism. There comes a point where certain types of stupidity needs to be stamped out (literally). Where you put a post like that out there, a group of "concerned citizens" gets to show up at your place of work and stomp you to death.

  19. Xynzee Says:

    Pity the irony would be lost but:

    I was thinking how the city authorities would handle a large group of tourists showing up at the chamber of commerce dressed in hunting attire, wanting to hire themselves a hun'in' guide cause they'd heard the hun'in' was real good in Sanford for co**s. Then spread themselves throughout the city, diners, bars, etc cause they was there bag themselves some n*****s, and they'd heard on Fox it was open season on 'em in Sanford.

    Sadly, it Probably would go over the heads and below the knees of the avg Fox viewer.

  20. ladiesbane Says:

    Sorry, but to me the problem at trial would be the hideously bad job done by the police. They sent a narcotics detective to the scene rather than a homicide detective. That officer did not ID the victim or contact his family (easily done with the cell phone), but hauled him to the morgue as a John Doe. Zimmerman was not given a breathalyzer test or toxicology test, and his vehicle was not impounded. They took it as reported by the shooter rather than trying to figure out the facts.

    Lack of evidence may well prevent this from ever going to trial. And it's the police who failed to gather that evidence.

    I'm more interested in what the Fed investigation will show.

  21. baldheadeddork Says:

    One quick correction to c u n d gulag – Zimmerman called police 46 times between January 1, 2011 and February 26 of this year. It was over 14 months, not two.

    (Also, and this is pretty remarkable, Zimmerman made up just over 10 percent of the calls to 911 from that community in that time. According to a really good piece in the Miami Herald, "police had been called to the 260-unit complex 402 times from Jan. 1, 2011 to Feb. 26, 2012." (Link to the story at the bottom.) Gated community doesn't just mean something on a golf course. I used to live in Ft. Lauderdale and most of the condo complexes built or converted in the last 15-20 years are gated, especially if they're in a borderline neighborhood.)

    I'm just a guy whose lived in some bad neighborhood (Southern Avenue Phoenix, represent!) and watched The Wire too many times, but how the fuck does the Sanford PD not even check Martin's cell phone for activity? My first reaction when Martin's girlfriend came out yesterday was this had to be made up, because any cop with a pulse would have checked the phone and called people he had talked to. Even if they totally bought Zimmerman's story and this was a really high crime area, wouldn't they want to check the phone for people he might have been working with?

    The overarching theme of The Wire, and Simon's earlier non-fiction works, was that the change in policing that began with the war on drugs, mandatory sentencing and statistical analysis had created generations of police who think about clearance rates instead of solving crimes. Goddamn if that doesn't look like the situation in Sanford. Yes, the stand your ground laws do make it much more difficult for police to charge someone who claims self-defense. But, just like we've seen with the drug laws in countless places, that has become an excuse for the police to not even attempt to do their job. If Zimmerman has a scratch on the back of his head he must have been on his back at some point, which means he was defending himself. Type up the report and put it on the board in black. It's down.

    Link to the Miami Herald story from last Friday. Excellent reporting. http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/17/2700249/shooter-of-trayvon-martin-a-habitual.html

  22. c u n d gulag Says:

    baldheaddedork,
    Two things:
    Thanks for the correction. I "Oooopsed" that one.
    Second, THAT could easily be my moniker, too! :-)

  23. Major Kong Says:

    If I shot someone every time I "felt threatened" the body count would be quite large indeed.

  24. Southern Beale Says:

    Apparently George Zimmerman is Hispanic, which according to the people at Breitbart means this can't POSSIBLY be racially motivated because … well … um … because SHUT UP that's why.

    However, being cynical I'd say Zimmerman now has a greatly increased risk of going to jail, seeing as how he's now a Brown Person, coupled with the national outrage the case has generated. Only white people know how to responsibly handle guns, don't you know that?

    However, what I'd like to know is when the Sanford PD gets a new police chief. Interestingly, this guy hasn't been on the job all that long; the last one was forced to resign in January 2011 after he looked the other way when an officer's son, who had a history of violence, assaulted a homeless man.

    I'd say Sanford has a police problem as well as a racist gun loon problem.

  25. acer Says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I was waiting for conservatives to give that angle a try. I'm sure it'll come up in the inevitable Takimag piece exonerating Zimmerman.

    There's certainly a racial component to this insofar as Martin basically died for being a young black male, a group that still apparently has no "ground" to "stand" in much of America.

    Beyond that, maybe it's not a good idea to let NIMBY paranoiacs shoot people for no reason, regardless of who they are.

  26. acer Says:

    The Sanford PD probe is the only thing here I'm remotely optimistic about.

    The Rodney King officers may have walked, but the furor did eventually lead to a slightly, slightly less sociopathic LAPD.

  27. Arslan Says:

    Zimmerman, that's a real LATINO name! For fuck's sake, don't these people ever notice when they are filling out forms that right next to the box they check for "WHITE, NOT OF HISPANIC ORIGIN", there is another one saying "WHITE, HISPANIC ORIGIN?" All throughout Latin America, including places like Cuba, you will find "white" people.

    The fact remains- Martin was shot for being a young black male.

  28. Southern Beale Says:

    @acer:

    It's gotten worse, now they're outright lying about this whole thing (shocker, I know.) Now they're saying that Zimmerman was "standing his ground" on his own property, which is a blatant lie. Martin was chased down in the street.

    LGf has the details on the lies here. I can't stomach going over to sites like Beck's or Breitbart's. Though I must say the fake Bono "scoop" has given me great pleasure today.

  29. Jeff Says:

    cund gulag: excellent, excellent post. (the first one. I have not read past that one, yet.) do you have your own blog? If not, you should.

  30. Admiral_Komack Says:

    Trayvon Martin case: Sponsors of Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law say George Zimmerman should be arrested

    ‘They got the goods on him. They need to prosecute whoever shot the kid,’ former GOP state lawmaker say

    The Florida lawmakers who crafted the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law said neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman should be arrested for shooting and killing unarmed teen Trayvon Martin.
    Former state Sen. Durell Peaden and current state Rep. Dennis Baxley said the law they wrote in 2005, which allows someone who feels threatened to "meet force with force" without backing down first, was being misapplied in the shooting death of the 17-year-old, the Miami Herald reported.
    "They got the goods on him. They need to prosecute whoever shot the kid," Peaden, a Republican, told the Herald. "He has no protection under my law."

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/trayvon-martin-case-sponsors-florida-stand-ground-law-george-zimmerman-arrested-article-1.1048164#ixzz1pmoSpoap

  31. Sharkbabe Says:

    We imagine we still live in a country of laws and fairness and basic decency. But look around. Institutionally, from top to bottom, it's gone.

    Even with the utter outrageous circumstances of this case (clear nutcase stalking and murdering super squeaky-clean AA kid), the Sanford PD obviously saw it on the same order as littering or jaywalking.

    Insanity breakdown everywhere. So glad my life's more over than not. There's no fixing this.

  32. c u n d gulag Says:

    Jeff,
    Thanks, I don't.

    But I'm thinking about it.
    Reading people like Ed, Charles Pierce, maha, Steve M, Tbogg, Ed Kilgore, Steve Benen, the writers at LG&M, BJ, and C&L's,etc., makes me a bit nervous to even try. Those people can write the sh*t out of a sentence!

  33. Sarah Says:

    Personally, I think the police chief and the officers who were on the scene and botched this investigation (especially that one who "corrected" that witness) ought to be charged with aiding and abetting, or accessory after the fact.

  34. Xynzee Says:

    @Sarah: excellent idea. I think there's also Tampering and Destruction of Evidence in there.

    We cannot expect change in the Zimmermans of the world until they realise that there's no de facto institutional support of their actions. As long as the cops and courts are saying "we'll help you hide the bodies", the lynchings will continue.

  35. eau Says:

    Yep, it seems the cops' actions leave only two possible conclusions.

    1. Criminal conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
    2. Criminal negligence.

    Can anyone give me a third option here?

    BTW – I live in a place where we still have a law on the books that says you can violently "defend yourself" if you think a gay guy may be making a pass at you – even if he doesn't touch you. But just killing an unarmed black kid in the street? You gotta be a uniformed police officer to get away with that. We do have *some* standards.

  36. Southern Beale Says:

    This just in: the Sanford City Commission has passed a no confidence vote agains tthe police chief.

    He's toast.

  37. cromartie Says:

    Here's how this works.

    The local DA puts Zimmerman on trial to make appearances to the minority community and the minority non-crazy cracker community as if he's doing his job.

    The crazy cracker community jury is either hung or lets Zimmerman off.

    The feds step in, re-arrest Zimmerman for a civil rights violation and he ends up pleading out to a slap on the wrist in a federal penitentiary.

    Everyone looks like they're doing their job.

    Everyone feels as if they got a little justice served.

    Everyone still gets to hate everyone else.

    Nothing changes. The wheel continues to turn in circles.

  38. cromartie Says:

    What eau and others are referring to are Castle Doctrine, which I whole heartedly support. If you are breaking into my house or attempting to carjack me, I can, and will beat, electrify or shoot you until you are physically unable to threaten myself or my spouse any longer. I'm pretty damn liberal, but I don't lose a minute's worth of sleep over it.

    These laws aren't perfect, and they can be abused, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  39. RosiesDad Says:

    I hope that the outrage expressed at places like this is transmitted to the greater world. This shooting is one of the most depressing news stories in recent memory (remarkable since the news generally is packed full of depressing stories); the notion that Black parents have to teach their sons how to act when pulled over for "Driving While Black" is something I had never thought about before but think about continually now.

    We need to be better than this. Maybe the death of this poor kid will put us back on the path.

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