Uncharted Sunday Night and Trayvon

I spent the better part of last night running around getting shot, stabbed, or otherwise killed last night. Not in a real world sort of way, mind you — my brother in law invited me to download a free to play game called Uncharted 3, and after explaining the way the game worked (Basically it was a kill or be killed sort of “tag” game with plenty of extra information you do not particularly need to know for the purpose of this article) we got into a five versus five match that pitted us along with three strangers against five strangers. The purpose? Kill them fifty times before they could do the same to us.

I couldn’t help but think of Trayvon Martin and the meaning of the “Stand Your Ground” law. Here is how I understood the sequence of events :

Trayvon was walking through the neighborhood, having just purchased an iced tea and Skittles. He was spotted by Zimmerman, who called the police and reported suspicious activity. If I had been in a similar situation and had been suspicious of someone for whatever reason< I would have done exactly the same thing. The police, however, explicitly told Zimmerman not to follow Martin.

Here is where we are different. When the police tell me to do or not to do something, I listen. I have found that it tends to keep things running as they should, so to speak, and it also tends to keep me from being arrested.

If Martin was approached in what he perceived as a hostile manner, did he not have the right to stand his ground?

The death of Trayvon Martin to me was entirely tragic and preventable. He was approached by someone that appeared to be a bully, and he stood his ground. I believe that if he had been approached by the police in a similar manner, things would have played out entirely differently.

Let us say that all of the negative things written about Martin are true — that he was not carrying iced tea but a watermelon flavored beverage intended for making into purple drank (You have to love comments sections for how angry they get) — if he had been approached by an armed police officer who asked him where he was going, would there have been a fight and a shooting, or a simple response and an “Oh, have a good night” instead?

I would like to believe that it would have been the latter. Then at least I wouldn’t be thinking of a gunned down hooded black teenager who wanted to go from point A to point B and never made it. Unfortunately, the real repercussions of this case have already started appearing, with teenagers getting shot for playing music loudly.

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8 thoughts on “Uncharted Sunday Night and Trayvon

  1. “Trayvon was walking through the neighborhood, having just purchased an iced tea and Skittles.”

    The author Jack Cashill is I think writing a boot on this. Seen some of his articles on American Thinker. From surveillance video looks like Trayvon stood outside store a long time until could get some older guys to buy him some “blunts” (some type of cigar I think) used to facilitate smoking pot. The autopsy showed he had smoked pot before he died.

    “He was spotted by Zimmerman, who called the police and reported suspicious activity.”

    According to Zimmerman he was walking around in rain, not apparently purposeful, looking into buildings etc. Probably “casing” the property for a burglary. Trayvon was caught at school with a burglary tool and another one was found only feet away from his body in the bushes by the police.

    The timeline fits. Trayvon had a lot of time to make the trip back and forth many times over. He was wandering around doing something.

    “The police, however, explicitly told Zimmerman not to follow Martin.”

    No, they did not. First Zimmerman was talking to a civilian dispatcher, not a police officer. The dispatcher told him exactly “you don’t need to do that” and Zimmerman replied “ok.” Its all on the tape.

    Zimmerman claims he didn’t continue to pursue Martin and he was ambushed by Martin on the way back to his car. We will probably never know if that is exactly true or not. Basically those that claim Zimmerman kept following Martin as simply following their imagination. There is no evidence for it.

    I can imagine if Martin was on pot and hoping to score a burglary that he might get pissed at Zimmerman who is frustrating his intentions. We know form Martin’s phone messages (not allowed in court) that he was big time into Mixed Martial Arts fighting, that he liked to fight, and bragged about beating people up. So Zimmerman’s account of Martin approaching him and asking him if “You got a problem?” and Zimmerman replying “No” followed by Martin saying “Well you do now!” and punching him and breaking his nose and knocking him down sounds plausible.

    In any case we don’t have evidence to show something else happened.

    “If Martin was approached in what he perceived as a hostile manner, did he not have the right to stand his ground?”

    Actually as it turns out the “Stand Your Ground” doctrine has little relevance to what most likely happened. Prior to “stand your ground” the idea in most states was that if you had the opportunity to retreat then you should do that. So if Martin is on top of Zimmerman beating the shit out of him, there is no opportunity to retreat. He either decides to take a beating and hopes the kid doesn’t kill him, or he shoots the kid. Zimmerman is a fat, pudgy guy probably way out of shape. Martin was in good shape from all the fighting he had been doing.

    “The death of Trayvon Martin to me was entirely tragic and preventable. He was approached by someone that appeared to be a bully, and he stood his ground.”

    You absolutely do not know that. There is no credible evidence that Zimmerman deliberately approached Martin and that triggered Martin to hit him. Let me repeat, you are just spreading hearsay without evidence.

    The death of Martin, or any kid, is tragic. One of my sons flirted with delinquency in high school and if had kept going that way he could have ended up in a bad way too. Fortunately he straightened up enough to get in the Marines and they helped straighten him out. See the picture of Martin dead on the scene gave me pause to think it could be a lot of kids.

    Having said that, and having seen a lot of the evidence discussed, I think Zimmerman was most likely justified in what he did. His problem will be living with it. A lot of people who kill other people, even everyone thinks they were justified sometimes suffer a lot due to it.

    Happened to a cousin of mine. He killed a man who broke into his house intent on killing him and his girlfriend (who had previously been the other guys girlfriend). There was no trial. The prosecutor “no billed” him in a “New York minute.” It was clear the man planned homicide and attempted it. My cousin and his girlfriend would have been dead right then if he hadn’t acted. He had come back from the Army not long before and was capable.

    But not long after he took his own life. He couldn’t live with having killed someone.

    So, nothing is ever simple, and those wishing for justice in the Trayvon/Zimmerman deal are just trying to make themselves feel better about their prejudices in too many cases. I have been on a jury that tried a very serious case, attempted murder. The basic idea is that you as a juror have to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a tough standard if you are honest.

    If I had been on the Zimmerman trial, based on what I know, I would have found him not guilty. “Not guilty” doesn’t mean “innocent.” It just means reasonable doubt prevailed.

    lwk

    • If the civilian dispatcher told him not to follow him, it follows that he must have approached him. I do appreciate your comment but I do not think that, even if he had been casing the neighborhood and had beaten up Zimmerman, that he deserved to die. By not listening to the dispatcher and following him, he acted as his own jury and judge.

      • “If the civilian dispatcher told him not to follow him, it follows that he must have approached him.”

        What we know is that Zimmerman had left his car to continue to observe Martin so he could direct the police to him when they arrived. At some point he told the dispatcher that he had left his car, and the dispatcher advised him that “you don’t need to do that.”

        To “observe from a distance” and “approach” are not the same thing, so I must disagree that your conclusion follows from your premise.

        ” I do not think that, even if he had been casing the neighborhood and had beaten up Zimmerman, that he deserved to die.”

        From my Christian teachings we all deserve to die. But what is the alternative in the picture you have given in your sentence above?

        Martin is on top of Zimmerman beating him unmercifully. Did Zimmerman deserve to die then? Because any reasonable person in that situation could be afraid that if he didn’t stop the beating he may die, or suffer great bodily injury.

        From the liberal/non-Christian viewpoint (not saying that is yours, just using rhetoric here) neither “deserved” to die. The real question is whether Zimmerman had the legal right at that point to defend his life with lethal force.

        As a person who also carries a loaded handgun in public (legally) I believe he did.

        lwk

  2. If you do not necessarily feel that I have a liberal / non-Christian viewpoint necessarily, why bring it up? As it turns out I do not feel I necessarily have a strictly liberal perspective on all matters. I do, however, have an entirely Jewish perspective.

    I again must stress that the dispatcher told Zimmerman that he did not need to leave his car. He could have observed from the safety of his car. He also could have been carrying a tazer, a more sensible form of self defense that does not turn you into judge and jury. Imagine if all women carried guns with them and just shot anyone who they thought were about to assault them sexually?

    I too would wish the beating to stop — however, I would not have left the car to put myself in a position to allow it to begin. I would have allowed the professionally trained police to handle that. Even the voluntary police assistants that we have in New York are armed with nothing more than a shoulder radio to alert the police should they find trouble.

    Leave the police work to the police. Stay in your car and observe if you wish, but do not interfere. Was he trying to be The Doctor? (Doctor Who reference, sorry!)

  3. “If you do not necessarily feel that I have a liberal / non-Christian viewpoint necessarily, why bring it up?”

    I don’t know you well enough to put that label on you, and I don’t want to appear to be insulting you or making unwarranted assumptions about you. Just my way of saying that “what follows shouldn’t be taken personally, it is just a general comment.”

    “I again must stress that the dispatcher told Zimmerman that he did not need to leave his car. He could have observed from the safety of his car.”

    And also again, that is not 100% clear to me, whether Zimmerman left his car before, or after the dispatcher dispatched his advice “you don’t need to do that.” I don’t know the geography there but it may be that he saw Martin heading to a place where he couldn’t continue to observe him from his car. Don’t know for certain.

    ” He also could have been carrying a tazer, a more sensible form of self defense that does not turn you into judge and jury.”

    Tasers are a bit iffy if you are betting your life on them. Thick clothing can make them ineffective. Range is short, and I think you only have one shot on any I have personally seen. So if you screw up and miss then you better be good at hand to hand. If I am going to attempt to defend my life I am going to use a lethal weapon. If I need to use it then the person I am using it against has forfeited their right to life.

    “…form of self defense that does not turn you into judge and jury.”

    If a cop has to shoot someone trying to kill him does that also make him the “judge and jury”? Self defense is just self defense. No one is “judging” so much as trying to stay alive and unharmed as much as possible.

    ” Imagine if all women carried guns with them and just shot anyone who they thought were about to assault them sexually?”

    The “Shall Issue” concealed carry movement started in Florida. It started because there was a large upswing of attacks on women. It got a lot of press, and fortunately some people pushed to allow anyone who wasn’t basically a criminal, a drug addict, or mentally ill who could pass a test to get a permit.

    The result was that these attacks went back down pretty sharply and the narrative was set so that over time the majority of states have some form of “shall issue” (vs. “may issue”) system and many states allow reciprocity. For example having a permit in Texas I can legally carry in many other states too.

    One last comment on what you said above. Some people lately have been saying that now people can shoot anyone they want and justify it as self defense, saying they were afraid for their life.

    That is not really how the system works. In most states I know about, especially Texas, if you kill someone and claim self defense you must have been afraid for your life, or feared great bodily injury. Now the police and then District Attorney will look at the evidence and try to determine if there was indeed questionable conduct (why waste money on a trial where you know the person is going to be found not guilty, unless like the Zimmerman case it is highly politicized)?

    Ok, so if the D.A. thinks this looks a little fishy she will probably call a Grand Jury who’s job it is to judge whether there is enough evidence of wrongdoing to warrant a real trial. They can “no bill” the case, meaning no charges, or they can endorse the D.A. to bring charges.

    By the way, in Florida the original local prosecutor wasn’t going to bring charges, most likely because he thought it was an “open and shut” case of not guilty. Then it got politicized and the governor brought in a special attorney who did _NOT_ call a Grand Jury (I guess that is legal in Florida), probably because she also saw the case was weak. We saw what happened in the trial. I think that vindicated the judgment of the original prosecutor.

    Anyway, getting back to my point, if you have shot and killed someone and do go to trial, then you have to convince the jury that NOT ONLY were you in fear for your life, you also have to convince them that a REASONABLE PERSON would have felt the same way in the same circumstances. That is a lot higher standard than just being scared.

    “Leave the police work to the police.”

    I don’t know that we will ever know exactly what happened. I don’t know if Zimmerman was trying to do the work of the police, or just trying to be a good citizen and pointing the police to the person he suspected. I really don’t think we can know that, although a lot was made in the trial of Zimmerman wanting to be a policeman.

    It is perfectly legal to be in a place where you have a legal right to be and observe what other people are doing. If Zimmerman didn’t threaten with words or actions (more than observing from a distance) then he was not trying to act as the police.

    Our country would be better off in my opinion if citizens did observe and help police get the bad guys. Also there have been a few instances of citizens with a concealed carry license saving the life of a police officer.

    I carry a concealed handgun legally. If, for example, I was in the mall and some guy ran in with an AK-47 and started shooting at people I wouldn’t call the police and run away, at least I hope not. I would return fire and try to stop him. Fast is fancy but accuracy is fatal … 🙂

    lwk

    • Thank you once again for your comments. I don’t think some of your examples are comparable — we do know a man running shooting an automatic gun is intending lethal force and should be brought down in any way possible. I generally believe that the IDF handles things best — trying to stop civilian injuries and deaths and minimize them when possible. Even in the case of the shooter I would rather he be shot in a way to disable him — Israelis made rubber bullets for exactly this purpose. It would be better that he see a judge and jury than be shot dead, I think.

      Vis a vis police shooting and being judge and jury vs a civilian doing — incomparable as the police have extensive training and the average civilian does not.

      Thank you again for your comments. I do not think either of us will sway the other in either direction, tho…

      • “I do not think either of us will sway the other in either direction, tho…”

        It’s ok if you come to at least understand what people with different beliefs think and why, as opposed to the stereotypes and outright falsehoods in the media.

        “Vis a vis police shooting and being judge and jury vs a civilian doing — incomparable as the police have extensive training and the average civilian does not.”

        Honestly, how do you know this?

        In real life police get a lot of training, but the vast majority isn’t on the firing range. They get a _lot_ of training on the law itself, their rights, enforcement tactics, dept policy, etc. The police get a lot more training on how to deal with a situation without shooting than with shooting (and that makes a fair amount of sense). Some police departments make if fairly clear to police recruits that if they shoot someone they damn well better not make even a tiny mistake. Cities don’t like getting sued.

        Police get in most cases the least amount of firearms training the dept can get away with because it is expensive, and most of it is target shooting, not real life simulations. Some police spend a fair amount of time and their own money improving on that.

        But so do a lot of non-police folks. I can show you plenty of non-police who could shoot rings around your average policeman (not that there aren’t superb police shots – there are). There are lots of people who shoot USPA matches that are superb shots. Some of them can do things that actors pretend to do in movies. Check out Jerry Miculek on youtube sometime (although in all honesty he is probably one the best men with a revolver that ever lived). Or check out hickok45 on youtube (he is a school teacher).

        The fact is that your average policeman will _never_ fire their gun in the line of duty against a real assailant in their whole career. Some do, obviously, and some get in horrendous gun fights, but your average police doesn’t (which is ok by me). More police will commit suicide with their gun than kill a bad guy (which makes sense if you think about some of the horrible sights some of them have to see in their line of work).

        “I generally believe that the IDF handles things best…”

        I was in Israel not long ago. Have a picture on my web page of a civilian lady guarding school children with an M1 carbine. Lot’s of young kids in the IDF in Jerusalem running around with automatic weapons. In Israel they have had concealed carry too, although some elements in that society resisted it bitterly (a suprising number of Israelis have views on gun control similar to their relative in New York City it seems).

        I remember reading a story about Israel that happened a couple years ago. A couple terrorists type guys came into a restaurant planning to commit mass murder with automtic weapons. A number of patrons had concealed guns and took them out. The one suriving terrorist was apparently suprised that they had concealed weapons – guess no one had told him. 🙂

        “It would be better that he see a judge and jury than be shot dead, I think.”

        Maybe it is better if it is possible, but the reality is that when one side initiates deadly force it isn’t a movie and the good actors have to do what they can to save their lives, and usually a gun is the best tool for that, a gun with real bullets, not rubber ones.

        Re your rubber bullets, you probably know little or nothing about wound ballistics. Not criticizing. Most people don’t. Here is a suggestion for some research. Research why the FBI went to a more powerful handgun after a famous shootout in Florida some years ago, initially it became a special FBI load for the 10mm, then that evolved into the 40 S&W used by a lot of police departments today.

        There is a funny story about that too (if you have a warped sense of humor). In the FBI official report they covered the issue of overpenetration (fearing a bullet would penetrate the bad guy, keep going, and wound a bystandaer). Their conclusion was that since in the real world trained FBI agents missed the bad guy 80% of the time it really didn’t matter. They were a lot more likely to kill the innocent bystander by missing the bad guy than through overpenetration.

        Guys on drugs may not be stopped by a complete magazine of high power handgun cartridges. By “stopped” I mean “stopped right now before he hurts you.” It is real invididual thing. Oh yea, the guy who takes 5-10 bullets may die in a few minutes when his blood pressure drops to a critical level, but the shootout in Flordia proved that sometimes they can still kill a lot of people before that happens.

        If you have to stop a person right now there are only a few places that work all the time and they all involve hitting a place that severely damages the higher nerve center. My son in the Marines was taught a drill in advanced training. Clearing a room he was taught to “double tap” (shoot twice) into the center or mass (chest) and then one to the head. That is what the military is taught – with a rifle, not a handgun.

        Anyway, sorry for rambling on. Interesting conversation.

        lwk

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