Trayvon Tragedy: Separating Fact From Fiction

There are a few things about the confrontation between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, FL, that are in the gap, known only to the combatants. There are many things clearly evident, however, that have been badly spun, erroneously conjectured and even lied about.

Major news media, by and large, stopped reporting hard news decades ago, and increasingly fall in line with social engineering efforts, a term to which one of the Martin family attorneys admitted after her disappointment in the acquittal of Zimmerman.1 My wife, an NBC watcher, was surprised by the Zimmerman verdict. Thanks to Fox News, Glenn Beck, and online outlets with journalistic integrity, I wasn’t.

To those suffering an insatiable desire for victimhood, Trayvon Martin’s death was prompted by racial profiling or even racial hatred. Why else do you coin a new racial category “white Hispanic” for a man, Zimmerman, who is no more white – and no less – than Barack Obama? Do we call our President a white black?

To all except these social engineers, perhaps, that assumption is squelched by the fact that the prosecutor—not Zimmerman’s defenders but the person trying to prove guilt—said after the trial “it was never about race.”2

These were not vetted at trial, but I don’t think the Today Show or Brian Williams’ evening propaganda ever informed my wife that Zimmerman has a black business partner, his wife’s best friend is black, the couple tutored black children in their home even after funding for the program expired, Zimmerman raised funds for a black mistreated by Police or that Zimmerman had taken a black girl to his high school prom. I can’t verify the legitimacy of any of those points, but something obviously steered the prosecution away from the race card.

The Blame Game Gets Desperate

Next object of unfairness, the social engineers contend, is that conviction was denied by what they apparently consider modern-day Jim Crow legislation – Florida’s stand your ground statute.

And was he even standing his ground? In the three-hour closing statement, Zimmerman’s defense attorney spoke only of self defense, never stand your ground. The principle of stand your ground allows you to fight back even if you have the option of running away.3 With Martin on top of him and reaching for Zimmerman’s gun (albeit Zimmerman’s version of the story), escape didn’t seem much of an option.

At least 21 states have stand your ground laws, including Illinois which brings up an interesting paradox. In 2004, Barack Obama sponsored legislation to strengthen Illinois’ stand your ground statute.4

Unfortunately, the Trayvon Martin tragedy – and the senseless death of a 17-year-old is tragic – isn’t the only case in which misreporting is evident, but due to the passion this case elicited it is a useful retrospective.

Pressured Into Prosecuting

Keep in mind that charges were not filed against Zimmerman until April 11, 2012, about six weeks after the incident. Several actions of interest occurred prior to the charges:5

  • On March 12, Bill Lee, then Police Chief of Sanford, concluded: “There is no evidence to dispute Zimmerman’s assertion that he shot Martin out of self-defense.”
  • On March 13, Sanford Police turned over the case to Norm Wolfinger, state’s attorney.
  • Also on March 13, the NAACP sent a letter to the Eric Holder’s Justice Department.
  • On March 20, the Justice Department announced an investigation.
  • On March 22, Chief Lee “steps aside temporarily” and Wolfinger recused himself.
  • Also on March 22, Florida Governor Rick Scott appointed Angela Corey, state’s attorney in the Jacksonville area, as special prosecutor.
  • On March 23, President Obama said that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin.
  • On March 26, CNN reported that the New Black Panther Party offered a $10,000 bounty for the “capture” of George Zimmerman. To date there has never been word of the Justice Department taking action against this group.
  • On March 31, civil rights leaders descended on Florida to incite a “Justice for Trayvon” rally.
  • On April 3, the FBI announced it’s investigating the case.

Prosecutor Corey bypassed convening a grand jury in the case, filing second-degree murder charges.

The protests
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/fibonacciblue/9302029618/)

Phone Calls the Fatal Night

In assessing events of that night, it’s commonly overlooked that the first action about which there can be no dispute is that George Zimmerman called the police. He called the Police! Zimmerman’s 4-minute call started 7:09:34 and lasted until 7:13:41. Listen for yourself and you’ll understand that Zimmerman described:6

“A real suspicious guy….it’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about.” He reports that whom he would later learn was Martin was near the residential community’s clubhouse but “now he’s coming toward me.”

“Something’s wrong with him. He’s coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands; I don’t know what his deal is.”

Zimmerman is attempting to provide a location to meet the responding officer. He’s having difficulty ascertaining an exact address, however, because he’s at a “cut in” behind some townhouses. While explaining, he’s observing and occasionally reporting Martin’s actions, prompting this exchange:

“He’s running….down toward the (back) entrance to the neighborhood.”

“Are you following him?” the dispatcher asks.

“Yes.”

“Ok. We don’t need you to do that.”

“He ran,” Zimmerman says, before turning his attention back to specifying a location to rendezvous with the officer. The dispatcher asks for his home address. Zimmerman starts to provide one then stops himself.

“Ah crap, I don’t want to give it out load; I don’t know where this kid is.”

Unless Zimmerman was fabricating Martin’s actions to the dispatcher, might some not conclude Martin was toying with Zimmerman, possibly even goading him?

Clever media spin has people believing Zimmerman was “ordered” to stay in his car.

Listen to the unedited 911 conversation yourself, and see if you think CNN reported what it termed “fast facts” accurately:

“He (Zimmerman) is instructed not to get out of his SUV or approach the person. Zimmerman disregards the instructions.”7

Dispatcher Authority

Actually, Zimmerman was speaking with a non-emergency dispatcher who indicated police didn’t need him to follow Martin, which he agreed not to do. Although it isn’t verbalized on the call, Zimmerman indicated in interviews with USA Today8 and Sean Hannity9 that he had exited his vehicle before being told it wasn’t necessary to follow Martin.

Some people want to blame Zimmerman for disobeying a police command. But whether he pursued Martin or was walking to meet the responding officer, a dispatcher has no authority to dictate the caller’s actions.10

This mural depicts want many want to believe about the incidcent.
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/tyreseus/9291973776/)

Martin Never Called Police

Trayvon Martin had a cellphone in hand. This we know because Martin was conversing with Rachael Jenteal, a prosecution witness, from 6:54 to 7:12. This call apparently disconnected unintentionally because they reconnected almost immediately, a phone connection that lasted until cell records show Martin’s phone disconnecting within the fateful minute of 7:16 p.m.

This is not a recorded call, so what we know of it comes from Ms. Jeantel’s court testimony. Martin tells her he’s being observed by a man whom at one point he describes as a “creepy ass cracker.”

Some say Martin was scared. But he did not call police, nor did he give Ms. Jeantel the impression he was frightened, nor did he ask her to call 911 on his behalf.

By the way, Martin along with his father was visiting the home of is father’s girlfriend in Sanford because he had been suspended from his high school in Miami Gardens for evidence of marijuana in his backpack. Some reports said it was his third suspension from school. There was also evidence of marijuana in his system that night.

Security cameras at the 7-Eleven recorded his purchase of Skittles an iced tea at 6:24 p.m. The store is less than a mile – 8/10ths of a mile – from the home at which he was staying; a 15- to 20-minute walk, possibly even a quicker pace because of the rain. But he was shot 52 minutes later! Is it accurate to say he was walking home? Or could he have been prowling the neighborhood? Regardless, with cell phone in hand Martin never called anyone for help.

The Judge never permitted recent Martin text messages into evidence at trial.11 Those messages, the Miami Herald reported, indicate Martin was “getting into fights, getting high on marijuana, getting suspended from school and talking with friends about getting a gun.”12

And Then The Shot

At 7:16:55 p.m., three minutes and 15 seconds after the conclusion of Zimmerman’s non-emergency call to police, a shot is recorded on a 911 call placed by a neighbor who had heard someone screaming. A dark and rainy night, various witnesses provided sketchy information and conflicting accounts about who was atop whom.

The Martin-Jenteal phone line was open until at least a minute before the shot. Ms. Jenteal testified that Zimmerman approached Martin.

I suppose it’s possible but highly implausible that the 28-year-old Zimmerman could run down a 17-year-old who really wanted to get away. But that’s conjecture. I’ll also conjecture that quite possibly Zimmerman was trying to keep an eye on Martin – or relocate him since the last word with the dispatcher was that Martin had gone out of sight – because his call to police also included a statement that sounded more like muttering:

“These a__holes always get away.”

Zimmerman was also vague about a location in which to meet the responding officer, even asking that he be called once the officer reached the neighborhood. I think he wanted to keep an eye on Martin so that police could question him. I don’t believe he was seeking a confrontation, or he would have already done so. Whether he was merely walking back to his vehicle, or snooping to locate Martin, is legally immaterial.

It’s a fact that Martin’s body was found face down on the grass. Other than the fatal shot, the autopsy report indicated no injuries on Martin’s body. Zimmerman suffered injuries to his nose and cuts on the back of his head. An expert testified that Martin’s clothing was about two inches from his body at the moment the bullet entered, consistent with the possibility that he was leaning forward.

No matter how they came face to face, it certainly sounds as if Zimmerman was on the bottom, getting the worst of the altercation. In the Hannity interview, he claimed to be the one screaming as heard on the neighbor’s 911 call, hoping for immediate attention from the responding officer. Zimmerman told Hannity that as he squirmed on the ground his jacket lifted and Martin spotted and reached for Zimmerman’s holstered gun. But Zimmerman admittedly pulled the weapon and fired.

Less than a minute after the shot, the responding officer arrived at the scene.

I wish Zimmerman would have pulled his gun the moment he and Martin met, in time to scare the teen into stopping or in position to fire a non-fatal shot. Had Martin turned and run, of course, there would be no justification for firing.

Well Beyond Reasonable Doubt

A police chief stepped aside, a state’s attorney punted, and a jury acquitted. But from Al Sharpton13 to Oprah Winfrey14 to our President15 and attorney general,16 this is an issue they won’t let a court case settle.

1http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/17/greta-van-susteren-vs-trayvon-martin-family-attorney-who-claims-to-be-a-social-engineer-ill-put-my-career-up-against-yours-any-day-you-want/

2http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58aw2ptiSjo

3http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/30/obama-attacks-stand-your-ground/

4http://www.newsmax.com/Reagan/Obama-IllCo-Sponsor-Stand-Your-Ground/2013/07/26/id/517322

5http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_shooting_of_Trayvon_Martin

6http://www.wftv.com/videos/news/raw-911-call-zimmerman-made-to-sanford-police/vGZq9/

7http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/05/us/trayvon-martin-shooting-fast-facts

8http://www.usatoday.com/interactives/news/nation/trayvon-martin-zimmerman-case/

9http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/hannity/2012/07/18/exclusive-george-zimmerman-breaks-silence-hannity

10http://www.realpolice.net/forums/ask-cop-112/100862-question-about-florida-911-dispatch.html

11http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/10/judge-wont-allow-trayvon-martins-texts-in-zimmerman-trial/

12http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/23/3413343/#storylink=cpy

13http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/07/12/geraldo-rivera-blames-al-sharpton-for-zimmerman-case-brought-because-of-political-pressure-race-politics/

14http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/08/06/glenn-beck-calls-oprahs-trayvon-martin-comparison-a-slap-in-the-face-to-memory-of-emmett-till-in-heartbreaking-segment-comparing-the-cases/

15http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/19/politics/obama-zimmerman

16http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/19/politics/obama-zimmerman

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