George Zimmerman claims that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense to prevent Martin from seriously injuring or killing him. According to news reports, Martin punched him in the nose fracturing it and was slamming the back of his head against a sidewalk when he shot him. The police and the prosecutor’s office agreed that he killed Martin in self-defense because the police released him after interviewing him about the circumstances of the shooting and the prosecution did not seek a grand jury indictment charging him with a crime.
Let’s take a look at Florida’s stand-your-ground self-defense statute to determine whether we agree or disagree with their decision.
The stand-your-ground law in Florida simply means that a person has no duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense.
The Florida statute provides:
776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
(1) 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;
Florida Statute 776.013(3) adds two important conditions; namely, the person who uses deadly force must not be engaged in unlawful activity and must have a right to be where they are.
A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
More importantly, pursuant to Florida statute 776.041(2), the person who uses deadly force cannot claim self-defense if he is the aggressor, unless,
(a) Such force is so great that the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger other than the use of force which is likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the assailant; or
(b) In good faith, the person withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assailant continues or resumes the use of force.
Zimmerman was not a law enforcement officer and we know from his 911 call that he ignored the 911 dispatcher’s admonition not to follow the “suspicious person” whom he called about. We also know that nothing Zimmerman said about the “suspicious person” was reasonably suspicious. That is, the facts and circumstances that he described (i.e., walking down the sidewalk while Black and wearing a hoodie) would not cause a reasonable person to suspect that Martin was committing a crime.
Nevertheless, Zimmerman initiated contact with Martin and apparently attempted to detain him without waiting for police to arrive. Since Zimmerman was not a police officer, he had no right to detain Martin and Martin was free to leave without identifying himself or answering any questions. Zimmerman would be considered an aggressor under Florida law, if he used or attempted to use any force to prevent Martin from walking away.
Also, under Florida statute 776.012, Martin could have stood his ground and would have been entitled to use force, but not deadly force, in self-defense to prevent Zimmerman from assaulting him. He would have been entitled to use deadly force in self-defense under 776.013(3), if Zimmerman were attempting to inflict serious bodily harm or kill him.
This case does not appear to be complicated to analyze. Zimmerman ignored the 911 dispatcher’s advice and, according to his own version of what happened, he attempted to detain Martin without a reasonable suspicion to believe Martin was committing a crime or lawful authority to detain him. Therefore, Zimmerman was the aggressor and Martin was entitled to stand his ground and use force to prevent Zimmerman from assaulting him, including using deadly force, if necessary.
We do not actually know if Martin used any force because the police videotape of Zimmerman arriving at the police station does not support Zimmerman’s claim that he sustained a broken nose and abrasions to the back of his head. But even if Zimmerman did sustain those injuries, (1) he was the aggressor, (2) Martin was entitled to use force in self-defense, (3) and Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense is barred by the statute.
At this point, racism and corruption appear to be the most likely explanation for the failure to arrest and prosecute George Zimmerman for intentionally killing Trayvon Martin.
Two independent voice analysis experts using different analytical methods have compared George Zimmerman’s voice from his 911 call to screams and a gunshot that are audible in the background during a 911 call from a neighbor calling for police assistance regarding the confrontation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin that was going on behind her house.
Both experts have excluded George Zimmerman as the source of those screams to a reasonable scientific certainty.
CAUTION: The recording may cause emotional upset.
In addition, EMS documents obtained by the New York Daily News do not support Zimmerman’s claim that he sustained physical injuries during his confrontation with Trayvon Martin.
Based on George Zimmerman’s declared intention during his 911 call to follow Trayvon Martin, ignoring the 911 operator’s warning not to do so, and what now appear to be Trayvon Martin’s screams, I think we can reasonably conclude that George Zimmerman, who was armed and fired the fatal shot, confronted Trayvon Martin and was the aggressor.
Zimmerman’s claim that Martin, who was unarmed, was the aggressor breaking his nose and slamming the back of his head into a cement sidewalk, is not supported by the evidence.
Therefore, Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense should be rejected and he should be charged with intentional murder.