Zimmerman's Justified Lethal Force, and Self-Defense Law
We know, of course, from the testimony of PA Lindzee Folgate, Dr. Valerie Rao, and the forensic pathologist that Trayvon Martin successfully hit George Zimmerman's head on the concrete sidewalk with varying levels of force numerous times.
We know from the testimony of eyewitness John Good and George Zimmerman and the botched identification of Jane Surdyka that Trayvon Martin was the "final aggressor" in this conflict. He had established a powerful dominant position that left George Zimmerman nearly defenseless.
Trayvon Martin was able to deliver punishment at will, and chose to use concrete, a deadly weapon.
He refused to stop as George Zimmerman offered no effective resistance. He refused to stop as George Zimmerman screamed for help. He refused to stop when John Good told him to stop -- John Good then went back inside to call 911.
Self-defense law is based upon a reasonable person standard when determining the legitimate use of deadly force. George Zimmerman had offered virtually no effective resistance in a fight 40 seconds long. He was quickly downed and mounted, and suffered repeated punches including having his head smashed against a concrete sidewalk multiple times. He cried for help. Only one neighbor came out at all, and he didn't intervene. George Zimmerman was under a continuous assault from a much younger, stronger, and relentless opponent. In terrible physical shape -- as testified to by his fitness trainer -- he was physically unable to fight back, and what little strength he had was ebbing.
Feeling he was about to potentially lose consciousness with the next strike of his head against concrete, and with neighbors around him refusing to offer any assistance at all, George Zimmerman must have felt something like Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed to death over a period of time in Queens, New York, in 1964 as her neighbors ignored her cries for help.
As use-of-force expert Dennis Root testified that George Zimmerman had “no choice” but to match Trayvon Martin's lethal force attack to save his own life.
Fortunately for him, George Zimmerman had one advantage over Kitty Genovese. He had a Kel-Tec PF9 pistol tucked into a black nylon holster inside the waistband of his pants, just behind his right hip. He either twisted to his left a small amount or raised his hips in a maneuver known as a "bridge" just long enough to slip his hand into his holster and to draw his pistol. Forensic pathologist Vincent Di Maio -- who wrote the book Gunshot Wounds used by pathologists and medical examiners -- says the evidence shows Trayvon Martin was still in an attacking position when George Zimmerman tucked his elbow against his body and fired his gun one time as it touched Trayvon Martin's shirt.
The expanding gasses from the fired cartridge pushed past the bullet, and it was actually these gasses which ripped a hole through Trayvon Martin's clothes and stippled his chest four inches away. An instant later, the bullet followed and penetrated Trayvon Martin's chest, ending his life minutes later.
It was a horrible turn of events, and an avoidable turn of events. It could not have happened if either man had acted even slightly differently that night. From a self-defense law perspective, however, the shooting of Trayvon Martin was not ambiguous.
Angela Corey, Bernie de la Rionda, John Guy, and Richard Mantei knew, as did two previous potential prosecutors, that there was no valid criminal case to bring against George Zimmerman. It was a textbook self-defense shooting. That is why they brought the slanderous, deceptive, and circumstantial case that they did.
Trayvon Martin was the first and only person who committed crimes that rainy February night. As Mark O'Mara noted during his closing: if Trayvon Martin had survived his shooting, George Zimmerman would have never faced charges, and Trayvon would have faced a long prison sentence, tried as an adult for two counts of aggravated battery.
There are no "winners" in a case such as this, but the jury's reliance on the laws of self-defense and use of deadly force assured that a corrupt prosecution did not, as defense attorney Don West stated, "turn a tragedy into a travesty."