Justice and Security: Neighborhood Watch Captain Attacks, Kills Unarmed Teenager

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Justice and Security

    Racial tensions are rising in Florida after a neighborhood watch captain apparently shot an unarmed teenager in a gated community. Seventeen year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead after George Zimmerman confronted him for the apparent crime of walking to his father's house.

    Zimmerman has not been charged in the shooting, and Sanford Police Chief Billy Lee says there is no reason to, as there is no evidence that the shooter did not act in self-defense. Matt Gutman and Seni Tienabeso explain:

    Martin had been staying at his father's girlfriend's house during the night of the NBA All-Star game Feb. 26.

    The teenager went out to get some Skittles and a can of ice tea. On his way back into the gated suburban Orlando community, Martin, wearing a hood, was spotted by Zimmerman, 28.

    According to law enforcement sources who heard Zimmerman's call to a non-emergency police number, he told a dispatcher "these a..holes always get away."

    Zimmerman described Martin as suspicious because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and walking slowly in the rain, police later told residents at a town hall.

    A dispatcher told him to wait for a police cruiser, and not leave his vehicle.

    But about a minute later, Zimmerman left his car wearing a red sweatshirt and pursued Martin on foot between two rows of townhouses, about 70 yards from where the teen was going.

    Lee said Zimmerman's pursuit of Martin did not of itself constitute a crime.

    Witnesses told ABC News a fist fight broke out and at one point Zimmerman, who outweighed Martin by more than 100 pounds, was on the ground and that Martin was on top.

    Austin Brown, 13, was walking his dog during the time of the altercation and saw both men on the ground but separated.

    Brown along with several other residents heard someone cry for help, just before hearing a gunshot. Police arrived 60 seconds later and the teen was quickly pronounced dead.

    According to the police report, Zimmerman, who was armed with a handgun, was found bleeding from the nose and the back of the head, standing over Martin, who was unresponsive after being shot.

    An officer at the scene overheard Zimmerman saying, "I was yelling for someone to help me but no one would help me," the report said.

    Witnesses told ABC News they heard Zimmerman pronounce aloud to the breathless residents watching the violence unfold "it was self-defense," and place the gun on the ground.

    But this is where things get even stickier: A narcotics detective established the narrative by questioning Zimmerman instead of simply letting him tell his story.

    A police officer is said to have corrected a witness who said she heard Trayvon Martin call for help. ABC News spoke with the witness, a schoolteacher, who confirms that an officer tried to change her statement.

    Officers at the scene accepted Zimmerman's word that he had no police record; an officer told Tracy Martin, the dead boy's father, that Zimmerman was "squeaky clean". Zimmerman was arrested in 2005, and charged with battery against an officer.

    Trayvon Martin, on the other hand, had no arrest record, and his school record included no reports of violent behavior. He was carrying a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea when he was attacked.

    We will see what comes.


    Gutman, Matt and Seni Tienabeso. "Orlando Watch Shooting Probe Reveals Questionable Police Conduct". ABC News. March 13, 2012. ABCNews.Go.com. March 13, 2012. http://abcnews.go.com/US/neighborho...-probe-reveals-questionable/story?id=15907136
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  3. Saturnine Pariah Hell is other people Valued Senior Member

    Just another case of racial profiling...can't belive this happend in Florida and didn't even hear about it? I've lived here nearly half my life...maybe i should pay attetion to the news more often!
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
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  5. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    Where is Dexter when you need him?
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  7. Nasor Valued Senior Member

    Sadly, thanks to Florida's incredibly badly written self defense laws, it will probably be very difficult for a prosecutor to convict him.
  8. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    I and many others would like to see him get the chance to defend his actions in court. The fact that this isn't happening is an outrage.
  9. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

    I think it was pretty easy to see this coming when Republicans started making these laws in states all across the country a few years ago.
  10. Nasor Valued Senior Member

    That's how it would be in most states in the US; if you kill someone in self defense, you are practically guaranteed to be charged with homicide and will have to claim self defense at your trial. Florida changed the law to make it much harder for the police to arrest people for self defense killings. This was done in part because under the standard system, your life is basically destroyed by an arrest and criminal trial (that you probably can't afford to defend yourself in) even if you legitimately kill someone in self defense. Even if/when you eventually win, you can look forward to losing your job and going bankrupt trying to pay your defense attorneys...

    Unfortunately the law in Florida just opens up a whole new set of problems...
  11. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    I doubt they could prove (not "beyond a reasonable doubt") that this was race-based. I do agree that but for Florida's "He's Coming Right For Us" style self-defense laws, Zimmerman would have been arrested.

    As it stands the Florida law prohibits his being arrested because the police have only limited evidence that his self-defense claim is bullshit, and the law covers anyone so long as "he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another" or "to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony". It doesn't matter that Zimmerman pursued Martin, or initiated the confrontation in the first place, and it really doesn't matter that he was wrong, save to the extent that impacts our post hoc judgement of how "reasonable" his apprehensions of death or bodily harm were.

    I am surprised that the police have deemed Zimmerman's assessment of the situation "reasonable" though. Granted, it was dark, Martin wasn't a local, and he was holding something (a cell phone, at least). Maybe it's down to the "phantom gun effect". In essence, when you are holding a gun, you are more likely to perceive others as holding a gun. If you are holding a neutral object, like a ball (or nothing) you are less likely to perceive others as holding guns. It's an interesting point because, although the phantom gun effect seems irrational, most people are prone it (or so studies suggest).

    If most people have the same cognitive bias, can it be said to be "unreasonable?"

    It highlights why I've tented to defend the duty to retreat. I never understood the opposition to it. (Except be people who didn't understand what it means...some people think it means you have to retreat even through a hail a bullets a criminal is firing at you. If that were accurate (it isn't), then I would understand the opposition, because that would be dumb.) It essentially is a rule that encourages people not to kill one another...to escape a dangerous situation where one can escape safely so that everybody lives.

    In contrast, the Florida law sets up a situation like this. Zimmerman shot and killed a non-criminal and is not being pursued for it (except by the feds, and I don't see them proving this was a hate crime beyond a reasonable doubt) and it is beyond obvious that had Trayvon Martin been armed, and killed Zimmerman, that he'd have also been justified under the Florida law. It's a situation where, due to a mistake, two law-abiding citizens meet at night, and Florida law entitles either of them to kill the other, no crime required.

    Self-defense is a principle I support, but surely one should try to end confrontations without loss of life where possible. I am not sure why some people (and the laws of Florida) disagree.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  12. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Not sure why it would matter - does FL have hate crime laws?

    As it is, it's still unclear whether he'll even face charges, so worrying about sentencing aspects seems premature.

    Or is this an aspect of the federal investigation?

    It's unclear to me why said laws preclude his arrest, even if they would prevent him being convicted, or even charged.

    Meanwhile, the police pretty much blew off any semblance of an investigation, which I'd hazard has as much to do with his arrest status as anything. Of course the police have no basis to hold him on, when they didn't even make a cursory attempt to investigate. They didn't even manage to identify the victim, let alone contact his relatives in the neighborhood.

    Well, again, that's exactly because they didn't even do a cursory investigation, and Zimmerman just so happens to have shot the only witness to death before their arrival. It's a trainwreck, and has already led to the resignation of the Chief of the involved Police Department. Now that the FBI and Justice Department are involved, probably more heads will roll and maybe we'll see court challenges to this idiotic law.

    From what I gather, those things actually matter very much under this law. Or are supposed to, anyway. If the police and prosecutors just decide to blow off any pretense of doing their jobs, as they have, then the law pretty much goes out the window anyway.

    The officers in question have been reprimanded for cover-ups before, and are more-than-likely racist Florida hicks to begin with.

    Way to talk around the obvious racism. Go and read up on how many times Zimmerman has called 911 to report innocuous black people doing nothing in particular near his neighborhood. Or just look at the way such presumptions and perceptions exhibit systematic racial bias across the USA. Nobody ever seems to bother bringing up those kinds of idle speculations to exonerate a murderer when the races are reversed from this case.

    What, exactly, does the word "unreasonable" mean to you? Because I'm pretty sure that it has something to do with "reason," and not "bias."

    This is probably the best object lesson on why "Stand Your Ground" is a fundamentally flawed legal approach that we are likely to witness.

    Yep. And this is exactly why the right-wing gun nuts who supported its passage like it. These things were passed in the wake of hurricanes that messed up parts of Florida and led to lots of looting and disorder featuring many poor, black people. So the Florida rednecks demanded a law allowing them to shoot any black male who looks at them funny, without concern for any legal repercussions of any kind. And now, predicatably, we have vigilante-wanna-be's like Zimmerman spending their nights hunting unarmed, innocent black youths with total impunity.

    This case goes so far beyond even that question that it's ridiculous. Dude stalked, accosted and murdered an unarmed minor over absolutely nothing, and is getting away scott-free by making up silly lies about being attacked by an unarmed boy half his size.
  13. Bells Staff Member

    You see quad, you are seeing this from a reasonable perspective. In a case where a racist man guns down a minor, some will see reason in claiming that white people will feel fear when seeing a black kid in a hoodie:

    Speaking on Friday's "Fox and Friends," Rivera said, ""I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was."


    However, he maintained that Martin's hoodie was to blame for his death. He denied that he was "blaming the victim" and called it "common sense" for minorities to avoid wearing hoodies. He said that he was "reminding minority parents of the risk that comes with being a kid of color in America."

    [Blame it on the hoodie]

    And there we have it folks! If you wish to prevent racial profiling of coloured minors, dress them like a white kid and hope like hell it works when confronted by individuals like Zimmerman.

    He then goes on to qualify his statements, by saying that Zimmerman should be investigated. However:

    When asked to clarify his remarks, Rivera said that he cautioned his own son against wearing hoodies. He explained, "When you, when you see a kid walking — Juliet — when you see a kid walking down the street, particularly a dark skinned kid like my son Cruz, who I constantly yelled at when he was going out wearing a damn hoodie or those pants around his ankles. Take that hood off, people look at you and they — what do they think? What’s the instant identification, what’s the instant association?"

    "Uh-oh," remarked Doocy, who nodded in agreement.

    At the end of the day, stand your ground laws stop applying when you get out of your car, and chase a kid down a couple of streets against direct orders from a police dispatcher, before tackling him to the ground and then shooting him in the chest. It stops applying when when you are the aggressor and take to harrassing minors on the street, follow them, chase them and then tackle and shoot them.

    When all else fails, blame the black kid for being black and for wearing a hoodie which falls directly into all of racial stereotypes of people like Zimmerman and even Rivera.
  14. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    true floridians call it the shoot first ask questions later law
  15. Balerion Banned Banned

    So the police hear "White person in a gated community is in trouble," show up a minute later (take note of that) and establish the narrative to prevent Zimmerman from talking himself into a jail sentence.

    Sometimes I wonder why we didn't just let the South quit us when they wanted to.
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    President Obama has weighed in on this one. He says all Americans have some "soul-searching" to do after the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin, and that a full investigation is needed into the shooting of the unarmed Florida teen.

    Mr Obama said this was a "tragedy" that had made him think of his own two daughters.

    And this from Newt Gingrich, who called Obama's remarks about Trayvon Martin "disgraceful" in an interview with Sean Hannity, according to CBS/National Journal.

  17. wellwisher Banned Banned

    It was sad and tragic what happened to the teen, but the inflated news coverage by the propaganda wing for the democratic party seems to be geared at creating an irrational extrapolation that will divide people. It takes this one data point and draw a conclusions for 300,000,000 people. One would have to be irrational to fall of that tactic. For example, I never did that, but based on the analysis and conclusion, I am guilty because of race problems?

    Here is how the manipulation game works, for those who lack the power of objectivity. The tragic events make you feel sad for the teen and his family. It may even make you feel mad for them. While you are under the spell of this reinforced emotion (saturate the airwaves for days to also sell soap), they throw in other ideas with the hope those feelings will be overlap, and become confused. If this works, you will be manipulated to jump through a hoop thinking one data is enough to prove a global premise based on millions of people, based on a feeling.

    This manipulation technique is based on how feelings impact how you look at the world. On a nice day , when you are feeling good, the kids can fight and you are not disturbed. It feels good to be alive. On the other hand, if we have a bad moody day, little things that don't normally bother you, can become mountains. The second one is useful for this manipulation, since one little data can look like a mountain of data. We just need to give everyone a bad day or week is even better.

    Again, I have sympathy for the teen and his family, but I am not letting my concern for those specific people become manipulated into an irrational generalization geared toward dividing the demographics, so one political party can steal part of the herd. I prefer look at the majority off data which says things today,are better in most objective fronts. In terms of the effectiveness of the manipulation games subjectively things are the worse ever.

    I would like to hear from scientists to see if one data point is enough to draw the conclusion they hope to program?
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2012
  18. Bells Staff Member

    I take it your data does not go far enough to consider that a man shot an unarmed teenager, after stalking and attacking him and then claimed self defense and this man continues to roam the street without charge? Do you also fail to recognise that the police department completely and utterly misshandled the case, which resulted in the killer remaining free and without charge?

    Leave the politics out of it for now and consider the case itself. Are you not concerned with the way this happened and what happened afterwards?
  19. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    I suppose the whole point being what constitutes "reasonable belief."
    The thing is...the duty to retreat says nothing about pursuing a "suspicious person," a stranger in your neighborhood who runs away when accosted.
    We have Castle doctrine in this state-you can actually use lethal force to defend your property here if you choose....
    and no, I could not set upon a fleeing person unless they were visibly fleeing with stolen stuff in their hands.

    What the shooter should have done is tried to be friendly and casually engage the kid in conversation: "Oh ,hey I don't know you, I'm George, are you new here?"

    If I walked up to someone in my neighborhood that I did not know I would not automatically assume they were up to no good.
    Well, I might, actually...but my way of dealing with that is (broad grin and) "HEY! howya doin'?" Because then they know they've been seen.

    And while talking I'm trying to look for features that I could later use to ID them, also a clearer indication whether they were harmless or not.

    If they ran off when accosted, I might call the police...but I doubt I would unless I actually saw them up to no good, as...why???
    I have no positive evidence of anything .
    It was dark and I may have scared the crap out of them.
    Too, if they have been seen, and were up to criminal intent, they have been properly scared off and won't be back to steal for a bit.

    ANYway, rambling...
    But he had no justification to chase down and physically detain even a suspicious person under the law, as I have been taught it in class.
  20. Bells Staff Member

    It's dark and a child is walking home. What child/teenager would not run away from a strange man getting out of a car and approaching them?

    He could have looked as friendly as he liked, but his presence, his stalking this boy and then getting out of his car and approaching him.. I'm not surprised he ran. Most children would have.

    He then lied and said he was the one calling for help when the 911 calls clearly show it was the boy screaming for help before he was shot.

    This case is horrific, not just because someone was shot and killed in cold blood, but also because the killer remains free, without charge and apparently still able to wield a firearm.
  21. Saturnine Pariah Hell is other people Valued Senior Member

    Really, i always called it self defense or caslte law and remember you don't say i "killed" him or her i had to "stop" them, i was afraid for my life and i had to "stop" them by shooting them five times in the chest with my M1911.45 ACP with hollow point rounds.
  22. Saturnine Pariah Hell is other people Valued Senior Member

    I'll be frank here...i don't really care in the slighest over wither or not it was "ethical" or " lawful" for 3 reasons
    1: I've seen this shit happen before and it usually just ends up with some bleeding heart liberal just aching for some BS excuse to restrict gun laws even further.
    2: It happend...nothing you can do about it they are dead, just suck it up and get over it.
    3: Self defense is self defense, your mind is going to react to this senario in two ways: fight or flight..it's all about self preservation.
    I don't want to hear any more bs about it. After reading your post i exempt post # 2 from my record
  23. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    You should check the law on that (if you are going to rely on it). The Castle Doctrine in general merely says that you have no duty to retreat when you are within your own home (your castle). In most states, there still have to a threat to life or of grave bodily harm. Generally, you cannot use lethal force against someone over mere property even in Castle Law states (most states have that doctrine as an exception to the duty to retreat), or even in Florida and other "stand your ground" states. You can use lethal force in many states to prevent a felony (which the theft may be), but that is separate from the Castle law and only in a very states is it true (absent a risk to life or of grave bodily harm).

    There are states that allow you presume a risk of death or bodily harm under certain circumstances (an intruder in your home at night), but in most Castle Law states you can't shoot a fleeing criminal in the back and rely on a "he had my stuff" defense.

    There are a few states that do allow the use of lethal force to protect property (like Texas), but there are conditions on when that may be done even there. In Texas, if you meet the conditions, you are even allowed to pursue a fleeing thief and gun him down to recover stolen goods (but only if your reasonably believe there is no other way to get them back).

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