In eight years as a police officer, I encountered hundreds of “Trayvon Martins.” You, the reader, can choose to interpret that first sentence in various ways. What I mean is the following: A teenager ambling down the street. Period. Now, some teenagers are up to no good. Some are walking away from the scene of a crime. But some are just walking home in anticipation of chomping down a bag of Skittles. This particular case makes me sick to my stomach because it didn’t have to happen. I have ALWAYS hated “citizen patrols” and this case is exhibit #1 for evidence of my loathing. It doesn’t matter if Martin was an honor student or a kid walking away from a car burglary. He was unarmed and did not need to die on that particular day.
Based on George Zimmerman’s account of what took place, and I post this with a caveat that the only information that I am privy to regarding this case is what I have read in the media. From my personal experience with the media we can believe about 50% of what is written. Having said that, I believe that Martin is dead because of the intentional actions of Zimmerman. I am not going to address the perverse, “stand your ground” law that is in place in Florida, I will save that for another day, another blog.
Zimmerman was told by the police dispatcher to cease following Martin, whom he identified as a suspicious black male in the gated community he “patrolled.” I do not believe Zimmerman is racist, nor do I believe the dreaded Hoodie played a part in this event. Zimmerman was just an overzealous, under-trained citizen on patrol. A man who when advised by the REAL law enforcers in the city to back off, simply ignored their command. He pursued and engaged Martin in a conversation that became physical, then deadly. Why deadly? Oh yeah, because Zimmerman and NOT the suspicious black male was walking around a GATED community with a loaded, deadly weapon.
Zimmerman says he was in fear for his own safety and had to resort to deadly force. Okay, I lied….one reference to the “stand your ground” law. The law in Florida allows for someone to use deadly force if they fear that they will suffer bodily injury or death at the hands of another. They DO NOT have to retreat, but can stand their ground (insert any John Wayne movie quote here) draw their weapon and use it to defend themselves. So when Martin toting a drink and some candy is encountered by Zimmerman, not a cop, he probably told him to F-off, just like I would have in that situation. Zimmerman remember was told by police dispatch to back off, what was his reasonable suspicion for the contact?? Had he witnessed Martin commit a crime? NO. So Zimmerman generates the situation, brings the deadly weapon to the party, then escalates it by displaying it (deadly force in and of itself). He created the entire situation and then claims self defense….this is LUDICROUS!!
By Zimmerman’s account of the incident, I could have killed one person a month in my eight years of patrol…probably more. I could have created situations every night in dark alleys, on Main Street, in grocery store parking lots. Drunks would have been the easiest, they never liked being handcuffed. Under the “Zimmerman Rule” I could have just used a few choice words, pushed them, pulled out the cuffs and start to wrestle with them on the side of the road. Wait a minute, this guy is bigger than me! I feel he might be getting the best of me, he might be trying to take my weapon from my duty belt. DRAW and FIRE!!! SELF-DEFENSE!!
Oh yeah, right….I had more than adequate training in all facets of law enforcement. Patrol, engaging suspects, traffic safety, handcuffing techniques, weapon use and safety in handling….self-defense…hand to hand combat….I can go on….but you get my point.
What would have happened if Zimmerman would have used a few of his IQ points and backed off until a patrol officer arrived? The officer would have pulled up to Martin, got out of his car and asked a few questions. ( The 1968 Supreme Court case Terry v. Ohio gives police the right to stop and ask a few questions if there is a reasonable suspicion to do so. They can even frisk the outer clothing of the individual for officer safety reasons, again if they have reasonable suspicion he just committed a crime or was about to…or they have suspicion the subject is carrying a weapon.) Hey guy, what’s your name? Where are you headed? Oh, your parents live down the street? Coming from the store with some Skittles? Yeah, I love those little suckers too. This citizen patrol guy thinks you are up to no good. If I check on the radio, have you got a record? How about juvenile? Ok, you aren’t doing anything that rises to the level where I need to check. Don’t worry about it…have a good one kid.
Have a good one kid. A kid he will forever be because some idiot decided he was being suspicious and created a situation that resulted in him not being anything anymore.