EDIT FOR MAJOR CORRECTION: I wrote that Trayvon was shot in the back. I was mistaken. It severely changes the story knowing the gunshot wound was in the chest. I apologize for the error.
“What are you doing?” led immediately to a scuffle, a charge that sent both men to the ground. There was more yelling as they grappled on the ground, then the smaller man found himself pinned facedown on the ground. The larger man, blood streaming from his nose and a wound at the back of his head, straddled him.
“Help. Somebody help me. Please help,” one of them was screaming as the man on top drew his pistol. A shot ran out, the yelling stopped; the man on the bottom was dead from a gunshot wound to the
Trayvon Martin, age 17, 6 foot 3 inches and 140 pounds, was dead. George Zimmerman, age 28, 5 foot 9 inches and 250 pounds, was alive. When police arrived he told them he’d shot the person on the ground and that he was armed. He obeyed all instructions, his pistol was taken, and he was taken into custody. After an interrogation with a senior detective he was released.
George Zimmerman claimed self defense. He’d been attacked, he was in fear for his life, he shot his assailant.
Because of Florida’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” law, the fact he’d straddled and pinned his assailant didn’t matter. Nor did any of the events leading up to the event. Trayvor was still struggling, still might reverse the situation, and George had no legal obligation to withdraw or minimize the situation.
We don’t know who swung first. We don’t know if Zimmerman charged Martin or if it was the other way around. We know there was a scuffle, we know Zimmerman’s back was wet and he was bleeding both from the nose and from the back of his head. We don’t know of any wounds on Martin, but who besides the coroner catalogs the wounds of the dead?
Trayvon Martin was at a friend’s house watching the basketball playoffs. He decided to walk to the store and get some skittles and iced tea. He was walking back.
George Zimmerman was on his way home when he saw someone he didn’t recognize walking in his neighborhood. There had been a recent rash of burglaries and he was a captain of the neighborhood watch. The watch wasn’t registered with the police, but that’s not all that unusual. Regardless, he slowed to follow the person and called 911.
Trayvon knew he was being followed. An SUV had come up from behind, then slowed and was pacing him. It was cloudy, off and on raining, and he couldn’t see the driver very well. He stopped and came closer to look, then decided he needed to go away. He called his girlfriend and discussed it, said he’d speed up but wouldn’t run, see if he could lose the follower.
George saw the speed up and took it as running. At first he was going to meet the police near a fixed point, then changed his mind and decided to drive around looking for the suspect. He asked the police to call when they were inside the gates of the community and he’d give a location then.
We don’t know why George got out of his vehicle. He says he was out to get the name of the street where he’d stopped. Whether by luck or intent it was near where Travon came back to the street from his route. According to Trayvon’s girlfriend, Trayvon yelled “Why are you following me?” and George yelled “What are you doing here?” At that point someone charged or hit someone and Trayvon lost his headset.
All the witnesses talk of yelling. On a couple of the 911 tapes you can hear the yelling, hear someone start screaming for help, and hear the gunshot.
George Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense appears to be within the law. It appears to fall within the broad bounds of the law as changed in 2005.
But I keep returning to a simple fact. George, at almost twice Trayvon’s weight, had wrestled Trayvon
into a face down position to the ground. Instead of pinning Trayvon’s arms he pulled his pistol and with no warning (of which we’re aware, not even by his own testimony) shot Trayvon in the back. Since when is shooting someone in the back self-defense?