George Zimmerman Verdict is Unlawful
Was the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict lawful? One does not have to be a legal scholar to analyze the fact pattern and determine if at any point the facts meet the first two requirements of the law. It is upon the completion of this analysis that a reasonable mind could conclude that the verdict of “not guilty” for Zimmerman was unlawful. Zimmerman needed to be not involved in unlawful activity and must have been attacked where he had a legal right to be. Based on these two elements not being met within the legal framework of “Stand Your Ground,” the subsequent events can be summarily dismissed of being in favor to Zimmerman. However, the law goes on to state that there must be a threat of injury including death to oneself or to others or to prevent a “forcible felony” before the elements of the law can be met. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the relative facts are as follows:
Zimmerman was in his car when he saw Martin walking on the street. He called the police and said: “There’s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around looking about… These a**holes always get away”
Zimmerman pursued Martin against the explicit instructions of the police dispatcher. Dispatcher: “Are you following him?” Zimmerman: “Yeah” Dispatcher: “OK, we don’t need you to do that.”
On February 26, 2012 – “George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida, calls 911 to report “a suspicious person” in the neighborhood. He is instructed not to get out of his SUV or approach the person. Zimmerman disregards the instructions. Moments later, neighbors report hearing gunfire. . .
“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony (See FLA. STAT. ANN. § 776.013(1) (West 2005 & Supp. 2008);
The United States Supreme Court, quoting “Of the Enemy Within, The Castle Doctrine, and Self-Defense” stated in Runyon v. State in relevant part:
“[E]stablishes the doctrine that when a person, being without fault and in a place where he has a right to be, is violently assaulted, he may, without retreating, repel force by force, and if, in reasonable exercise of his right of self-defense, his assailant is killed, he is justifiable. . . Runyon v. State, 57 Ind. 80 (1877);
The relevant facts are: 1) According to Zimmerman, Zimmerman was following Martin in his SUV and stated that Martin looked suspicious because Martin was “walking around looking about” on a rainy day; 2) Zimmerman stated that “these a**holes always get away;” 3) Zimmerman is told by police dispatcher that he is not to follow Martin and not to get off of his SUV or approach the person. The law requires that 1) A person not engaged in unlawful activity; 2) Is attacked in any place where they have a right to be; 3) No duty to retreat if the first two requirements are met; 4) Providing such, the person standing their ground has a right to use any force necessary including deadly if it is to prohibit harm or death to the person, others, or to prevent the commission of a “forcible felony.”
According to the aforementioned Florida statute, the person claiming stand your ground must not be involved in unlawful activity. Here, Zimmerman was engaged in illegal activity. Florida law defines stalking as:
“Credible threat” means a verbal or nonverbal threat, or a combination of the two, including threats delivered by electronic communication or implied by a pattern of conduct, which places the person who is the target of the threat in reasonable fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her family members or individuals closely associated with the person, and which is made with the apparent ability to carry out the threat to cause such harm. It is not necessary to prove that the person making the threat had the intent to actually carry out the threat (FLA. STAT. ANN. § 784.048 (c) (2012)).
The fact that Zimmerman, an adult male, was following a minor in his SUV could be reasonably perceived by Martin a “credible threat.” The threat reasonably placed fear in Trayvon for his safety. According to the Stalking laws as defined by Florida State law, Zimmerman was involved in illegal activity—“Stalking.” Secondly, the person claiming stand your ground must be attacked where they have a right to be. While Zimmerman may or may have had a legal right (questionable since he was stalking) to be where he was, he was not attacked by Martin. The indisputable facts state that Zimmerman was instructed not to follow Martin and was to remain in his vehicle. By Zimmerman disobeying the police dispatcher, it can be reasonably inferred that because Zimmerman was stalking Martin, as defined by Florida State law and therefore attacked Martin. The element of protecting one’s self, others, or preventing one from committing a “forcible felony” as provided by statute can be summarily dismissed. A juvenile walking in the rain looking about (outside of his mother’s home) with a bag of skittles and a can of Tea does not pose a threat to anyone’s safety nor could lead any reasonable mind to believe that this minor was preparing to commit a forcible felony.
It is based on these facts that Zimmerman clearly did not meet the threshold for the statutory requirement of “Stand your Ground.” In fact, if anyone met the legal requirements to stand their ground was Trayvon Martin. He was not involved in unlawful activity, he had a right to be where he was, he was attacked by an adult man 100 lbs. heavier, and was carrying a 9 mm handgun while stalking him in his vehicle. It is not unreasonable that Martin was in fear for his life. If the law had been evenhandedly applied, it would have been Martin who had a right to stand his ground. Problem is—he only had a bag of skittles and a can of tea. The law did not protect Trayvon and justice died with Trayvon. For these reasons, the verdict was unlawful.