The evidence has been presented and duly weighed by six jurors who were unpersuaded by the state of Florida’s case, and today George Zimmerman is a free man — or as free as one can be under his present circumstances. But to watch the news today, it’s almost as if there was never a trial.
Zimmerman stands as demonized today as he was before the trial began, perhaps even more so. He is barraged with death threats, not just against him but to his family as well. There is nowhere in the country he can go where his name and face would not be recognized and where he would be free from fear of attack.
From the outset, even before Zimmerman was charged, I was skeptical that he would be convicted of any crime. As I wrote here at PJ Media in March of last year, “I fail to see how prosecutors can win a conviction unless they can produce some damning evidence not yet revealed.” None was.
With your permission, if you haven’t grown weary of the Martin-Zimmerman matter, I have some random thoughts on the case that I hope will clear up some of the many misconceptions that persist despite the thorough airing of the evidence the trial provided. None of what I present below will be new or startling if you paid even passing attention to the trial.
The Sanford Police
Some still believe that Zimmerman was given a free pass on the night of the shooting, that the Sanford Police Department was somehow less than thorough in its initial response and investigation. This is false. When police officers respond to the scene of a shooting and find one person dead and another standing there with a gun, the default position is and ought to be to disarm and detain the one with the gun. This was done, and Zimmerman remained handcuffed until being taken to the Sanford police station.
Zimmerman waived his Miranda rights and provided a statement to detectives on the night of the shooting, and he cooperated in a videotaped walk-through of the incident the next day. The preponderance of witness accounts supported Zimmerman’s claim that he fired his gun in self-defense after Martin attacked him, knocked him to the ground, and pummeled him. In other words, police had no compelling evidence contrary to Zimmerman’s account and therefore no probable cause to support his arrest.
Did Zimmerman Follow Martin?
One still hears the claim, “The dispatcher told him to stay in his car.” The dispatcher’s advice and Zimmerman’s response to it are irrelevant to the murder charge he faced. The evidence was that Zimmerman, after spotting Martin and telephoning police from his car, followed him for a time until being told by the police dispatcher, “We don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman then returned to his car but, after losing sight of Martin, exited and began walking through the complex until the fatal encounter. Zimmerman’s disregard for the dispatcher’s advice may have been imprudent, but it was not even remotely illegal. Yes, the shooting could have been avoided had Zimmerman remained in his car until police arrived, but a similar claim could be made of Martin’s behavior. If Martin in fact was troubled by the “creepy-ass cracker” following him, why did he not go immediately home rather than linger in the area? His father’s fiancé’s condo, where he was staying during a suspension from school, was about 300 feet from the site of the shooting. He had more than enough time — about four minutes — to walk there if he had chosen to.