by C. M. Albrecht
There has been a media frenzy and a great deal of polemic over the Trayvon Martin tragedy. But despite everything that has been advanced and argued — to my knowledge — not one person has addressed the real issue here.
Was Mr. Zimmerman’s nose broken or not? Was the back of his head bloody? Was he attacked by Mr. Martin? Did Mr. Martin threaten him? It goes on and on, yet the one vital fact that everyone chooses to ignore is this:
Mr. Zimmerman, a self-appointed vigilante wannabe police officer followed Mr. Martin down a public street and at some point got out of his vehicle and there was a confrontation.
Because of his telephone conversation, we know Mr. Martin was already (rightly) concerned that he was being followed.
If you or I or anyone else were walking down a sidewalk in the evening and felt someone was following us, we’d have to be concerned. If that person got out of his vehicle and approached us, our concern would certainly be heightened, and if that person accosted us, either verbally or physically, we would feel completely justified in refusing to answer any questions, such as where we are going, what we’re doing or anything else.
If Mr. Zimmerman had then tried to lay hands on me, I’d certainly feel threatened and here I firmly believe is where the “stand your ground” law comes into play. I believe it would be Mr. Martin’s right — even his obligation — to stand his ground. Running away was not much of an option when Mr. Zimmerman had a car and perhaps he even presented his firearm to get Mr. Martin’s attention.
Mr. Zimmerman clearly had no authority either to accost a civilian walking down a sidewalk nor to present a weapon. Even real policemen seldom draw their weapon in such a situation.
The defense will doubtless draw up numerous scenarios for what happened after Mr. Zimmerman exited his vehicle. Several possibilities spring to mind even as I write. But everything we’ve heard so far and every defense Mr. Zimmerman’s attorney may dream up are of necessity without merit, designed solely to mitigate Mr. Zimmerman’s actions. The crux of the matter is that Mr. Zimmerman followed Mr. Martin down a street, stopped and exited his vehicle and accosted the victim. There’s no getting around that fact. If he had stopped following Mr. Martin as suggested by the 911 operator, a terrible tragedy would have been averted.
I believe the chief of police should be considered an accomplice in this matter. He knew — or certainly should have realized — that Mr. Zimmerman has issues. Mr. Zimmerman couldn’t get on the police force, probably for psychological reasons. At some point he assaulted a police officer, a felony that family ties evidently got reduced to a misdemeanor. Obviously Mr. Zimmerman should never have been permitted to carry a weapon. Rather than give him a handbook and encourage him to become a neighborhood vigilante, the chief should have dissuaded him. Certainly after some 47 calls to 911 to report “suspicious a persons” in, I believe, three months, should have alerted authorities to Mr. Zimmerman’s mental state. True, without a weapon and against instructions by the chief, he might have continued to patrol his neighborhood, but then the entire onus would have rested on Mr. Zimmerman’s shoulders alone. Under the circumstances, I firmly believe the chief of police must share the blame and he should be indicted too.
I feel very sorry not only for the Martin family and their loss, but for Mr. Zimmerman as well. He was let down by a system that should have foreseen his mental state and his thinking processes and stopped him well in advance of this tragedy.