Why I Called George Zimmerman a Murderer, and Why I Was Wrong
On March 17, I thought I had it all figured out. I wrote a post on my blog in which I pronounced America's most famous neighborhood watch captain guilty:
Martin, a wispy 17-year-old-black teen, was walking to the home he was staying in after going to the convenience store for a bag of candy and a Coke. George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, stalked Martin from his car, and then well, you can read the rest.
It seems self-evident from the 911 tapes that he was psyching himself up to justify a confrontation. Zimmerman initiated the confrontation by leaving his vehicle. He then asks us to believe -- absent any living witness to conflict with him -- that a teen some 100 lbs. lighter than him started a fight, and that Zimmerman “had” to shoot the kid in self-defense. Does anyone but Zimmerman’s father -- and an apparently incompetent Sanford PD -- buy Zimmerman’s claim this was a justifiable case of self-defense?
I’ll admit that I do not know the idiosyncrasies of Florida law, but if an armed person initiates a conflict, then uses that conflict as an excuse to draw his weapon and kill the person he confronted, that sounds a lot like murder in my book. No wonder Martin’s parents are furious that the Sanford PD hasn’t filed charges against Zimmerman.
In light of the just released 911 tapes, which suggest Martin plead for his life before Zimmerman fired a second, killing shot, both Zimmerman and the Sanford PD better prepare for very expensive civil rights cases, and hope that a vigilante doesn’t act to correct a perceived injustice as some have already threatened.
How naive that post now seems. The narrative created by the media at that time was one of an innocent life taken for no reason at all, by a much older, heavier, and racist man itching for a confrontation.
That was before we found out there was only one gunshot and no coup de grâce. That was before we found out that George Zimmerman had not deluged the local police with 46 paranoid 911 calls in one year, but 46 calls over a period of eight years, which isn't unreasonable for a community watch volunteer. The media had either lied about how often he called, or purposefully compressed the timeline.
That was before we learned that Zimmerman didn't know Martin's race when he made the call, and that race didn't play a roll in any of the 911 calls the local police had on file.
That was before we discovered that George Zimmerman wasn't the 240-plus pound bruiser in the five-year-old picture the media used as much as possible, but was listed at a much smaller 170 pounds by none other than the New York Times. That's a nominal 20 pounds heavier than a teen that stood four inches over him.
That was before we found out that two eyewitnesses placed Martin on top of Zimmerman as the aggressor, and that at least one of them claims it was Zimmerman crying for help.
That was before ABC News attempted to claim police surveillance video disproved Zimmerman's claim of being injured in what may have been a purposeful deception. The very same news organization was forced to later admit the presence of two lacerations on the back of George Zimmerman's skull consistent with his claim of self-defense. In the end, details of the beating Zimmerman suffered at Trayvon Martin's hands were only given a brief mention in the local news.
That was before NBC News was forced to fire a senior producer for selectively editing audio of Zimmerman's 911 call in a deliberate effort to make him sound racist.
And of course, almost no one knows that on the night he took Trayvon Martin's life, George Zimmerman willingly consented to take a voice stress analyzer test, a kind of lie detector test used by the Sanford police. He passed it.
The narrative has changed in the wake of new details, eyewitnesses, and embarrassing retreats. The actual story may in fact have been a textbook example of the proper use of deadly force.