Friday, May 18, 2012

Treyvon Martin Case: Zimmerman Was Injured


The flow of available evidence now seems to indicate that Zimmerman was telling the truth.

Looks like I, like a lot of people, jumped to a conclusion about this case.

Interesting that the only picture of Martin that was released for months was the one in which he was a little kid...and there was no conceivable way that Zimmerman could have been acting in self-defense against the person in the picture.  Now we've been seeing more recent pictures, and it's clear that Martin wasn't a child. Weirder still is the case of the rumor that Zimmerman was entirely uninjured when, in fact, he was pretty seriously injured. Also weird is the alleged presence of THC in Martin's system...  Who the heck starts a fight on weed? Weed is like the anti-Jack Daniels. It makes fighting the last thing on your mind...

Anyway, the tide of evidence is turning...though could easily turn back again. If Zimmerman's version of the story is true, though, I doubt that the initial national first impression about the case will ever completely go away. Dunno who's to blame for this, but the media does come to mind...


Blogger The Mystic said...

This doesn't really substantiate Zimmerman's story to any interesting degree. I thought the standard belief regarding this case was that Zimmerman needlessly chased Martin down and started a confrontation he couldn't finish without his gun.

That's my take, anyway. What we know, and what this police report confirms, is that Zimmerman contacted law enforcement because he thought Martin was "looking suspicious." Law enforcement told him to stay where he was, but he got out and approached Martin anyway.

That is all the evidence I need to know that Zimmerman is 99% likely to be the problem here. He directly disobeyed law enforcement so he could go play police officer as a part of his desperate lifelong fantasy to be a big important man. To any rational observer, an unarmed man walking down the street is not suspicious. I can't even fathom an explanation for Zimmerman's behavior that would make him out not to be a power-hungry madman.

My guess is that Zimmerman approached Martin aggressively. Martin reacted aggressively - perhaps even to an unwarranted extent - and Zimmerman shot him when he realized he couldn't win the fight he so pitifully and desperately wanted.

There's really not much of interest to this case for me. I haven't heard any factual corrections to this case that strike me as important. Zimmerman remains quite obviously a standard-issue power-hungry douchebag who is generally a life failure, and Martin is most likely a standard-issue, overly aggressive teenager. The police failed at their job because they're probably standard-issue shitty police officers.

Everything here seems perfectly average and positively uninteresting to me. Am I missing something?

12:21 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

This new info radically changes the--now apparently false--story promulgated by the media immediately after the incident.

Rather than Zimmerman chasing down a child and murdering him, we now seem to have Zimmerman following Martin, Martin beating Zimmerman, then Zimmerman shooting him in what appears to have been self-defense.

A following B does not, under normal circumstances, give A the right to beat B. Now, there are ways to fill in the missing part of the story that make Zimmerman's actions unjustified. But Zimmerman need not have acted perfectly here. He need only have acted permissibly.

Especially given the history of crime in the neighborhood, Zimmerman's role in the neighborhood watch, and so forth, the story about Zimmerman being some kind of madman who chased down and Murdered Martin seems to have been utterly false.

That doesn't yet get us to *Zimmerman acted permissibly*, but it gets us way farther downfield in that respect than the original, irresponsibly off-base story we got initially.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

WS writes:
A following B does not, under normal circumstances, give A the right to beat B.

As I understand Florida's "stand your ground" law, if B feels endangered when followed by A, then B is entitled to shoot A. If B is entitled to shoot A, why is B *not* entitled to assault A, if B does not happen to be carrying a gun?

Did Martin feel threatened when the larger Zimmerman followed him? We don't know, but if I think of myself in Martin's position, I can imagine feeling threatened and turning and confronting the stalker.

Zimmerman had no cause to follow Martin, yet did so. Zimmerman had been advised by competent authorites not to do so, yet he did.

I am with the Mystic on this one:
"Zimmerman contacted law enforcement because he thought Martin was "looking suspicious." Law enforcement told him to stay where he was, but he got out and approached Martin anyway.

That is all the evidence I need to know that Zimmerman is 99% likely to be the problem here."


8:58 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Zimmerman's injuries don't indicate self-defense. In conjunction with the witness testimony regarding the situation, they merely indicate that there was a fight.

It's hard for me to consider that Zimmerman was defending himself since, by all available evidence, Zimmerman must be blamed for starting the confrontation. He specifically asked police for help and they specifically told him to stay where he was, and he, unprovoked, ignored the command and chased Martin down for "looking suspicious."

I never suspected Zimmerman just followed Martin around until reaching an arbitrary point in time where he spontaneously shot him. It seemed obvious from the start that some sort of altercation resulted in Martin's death.

And now we're left with only Zimmerman's word as to how the fight began. Given the conditions and evidence which we know, I don't see how he can be trusted or why we should suspect that he was simply accosted and had to defend himself.

If we allowed everyone who chased down an unarmed man for no good reason, against police instruction, and shot him dead to then give the only account of the situation and thereby be set free, we'd be pretty foolish.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

J and M,

I'm not seeing how anything you are saying is inconsistent with what I wrote.

What I wrote, and believe:

1. We were initially told what now seems to be a radically false version of the story: Z basically hunted down and killed a child as that child plead for his life; Z was entirely uninjured.

2. Now it seems that what actually happened was completely different. Z shot a teenager of approximately the same size as himself, *while said teenager had him down on the ground and was beating him.* It was Z who was crying for help.

None of what I wrote suggests that we know how to fill in the blank between the 911 call and the point at which the witnesses saw Martin beating Zimmerman. The only point is that the current take on the facts does not clearly indicate Zimmerman's guilt in the way that the initial stories did.

Anyway, you guys are, it seems to me, rushing to make a case against Zimmerman. I'm actually inclined to think he's in the wrong...but that point shouldn't be raised until the next step in the argument. All I've said so far--and I don't see that anything here undermines it--is that the case against Zimmerman is much, much, much weaker than it initially seemed. In fact, it now seems as if the burden is on those who want to make this NOT self-defense by Zimmerman. That's a *huge* turn-around.

The case as initially reported was so crazy that I should have known that it couldn't be true anyway.

10:10 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

That part about the burden of proof being on those who argue that this wasn't self defense is the part with which I most primarily disagree for the reasons I gave. I don't know how the facts we have about this situation give you cause to believe that.

Zimmerman clearly and needlessly started the confrontation against police instruction. In my estimation, that alone places the burden of proof squarely on Zimmerman in regards to the claim of self defense.

I may have had the benefit of never believing or even having cause to believe the initial report you seem to have drawn from the media. So this might be a turn of events for you, where it is no such thing for me.

Glad I don't pay attention to the media all that much, and especially when it comes to issues such as these.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, again, this is to leap to a different argument, but that's ok.

When witnesses report seeing Martin on top of Zimmerman beating him, Zimmerman is crying for help, and then Zimmerman shoots Martin, that makes the self defense claim pretty powerful.

If you want to deny the self defense claim, you have to make the case--which you're already trying to do. But, again, that was my point.

So we've left my main points behind--I take it that they still stand.

And we've moved on to another point. The point now is: the burden is on the Martin side to show that the prima facie reasonable self-defense claim is false.

Again, I think I'm right about that.

*Now* we can start with the more complicated arguments against the self-defense claim. I'm sympathetic to these arguments, but they're pretty far down the road.

I still worry that Zimmerman is being railroaded in a way, despite my inclination to believe that he is largely at fault. The crazy version of the story that was everywhere--and you *did* hear it if you knew anything about the case... Now the immediate search for new anti-Zimmerman arguments given that the initial story turned out to be false.

I worry that we've got a kind of moral inertia worked up here, and that, even if the guy is guilty, his case is not going to get a fair hearing in the court of public opinion.

11:00 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

I still don't understand how any facts about the fight which you've presented make Zimmerman's self-defense claim any more or less plausible.

All we know about the fight is that Zimmerman was losing at some point, and then ended the fight by shooting Martin.

That gives us practically nothing when it comes to the issue of self-defense. We need to know how the fight began in order to draw conclusions about defense and offense, right? The mere fact that Zimmerman was perceived to be losing the fight at some point tells us nothing about the identity of the defender and the aggressor.

This is why I don't understand your belief that the tide of evidence has turned in Zimmerman's favor. I mean, I guess I understand that there's a change in available evidence if you believed there was no fight or injury to Zimmerman at all, but that evidence doesn't seem to me to help us out with the issue of self defense.

If you examine only the fight and only the cries for help, I can see how you might be inclined to believe Zimmerman is the defender, but I've personally witnessed more than a few assholes start fights and then cry for help from their friends when they start losing.

So why does this evidence cast the burden of proof on Martin('s defenders)? If I were only examining the evidence you seem initially focused on, I would consider the matter unresolveable without further important information. There is little reason to decide for either party.

Therefore, what's more important to me is that we know Zimmerman voluntarily chased Martin down, against the instruction of police. Squaring that with claims of self-defense seems most improbable, does it not?

11:30 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, again, we've moved beyond anything claimed in the post, and certainly beyond the main claim that the case against Z is *much* weaker than it was initially said to be, and we're focusing now on the very strongest claim I made, the one about the burden of proof.

Actually, it may be that the burden of proof always lies on those who use deadly force, so legally that claim might be false.

The point, however, is that if we only know this about a case: X is holding Y down and beating him, Y shoots X to stop X from beating him, then what you've go there is a prima facie plausible claim of self-defense.

What's needed is collateral information to support a case *blocking* the self-defense claim.

So, again, we've gone from *looks like a completely indefensible case of murder* to *looks like a prima facie plausible claim of self-defense.*

That's a huge shift caused by the revelation of what appear to be the actual facts of the case.

So, again, I don't see that anything in the original post--nor even the strongest claim in the subsequent comments--is wrong.

This leaves the question of Z's guilt or innocence open, of course.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

WS writes:

If we only know this about a case: X is holding Y down and beating him, Y shoots X to stop X from beating him, then what you've go there is a prima facie plausible claim of self-defense.

We actually know more. In particular, we have:
1) Direct evidence that Zimmerman, while carrying a weapon (possibly concealed), set out to follow Martin, against the advice of the cognizant authorities.

2) One witness claims that Martin was straddling Zimmerman very shortly before Zimmerman shot Martin.

3) The detective's affidavit of probable cause, which asserts that “Martin attempted to run home but was followed by Zimmerman” and that "During the recorded [911] call Zimmerman made reference to people he felt had committed and gotten away with break-ins in his neighborhood. Later while talking about Martin, Zimmerman stated 'these assholes, they always get away," and also said 'these fucking punks.'"

4) Zimmerman was injured (although we do not know when or how he was injured)

5) Zimmerman admits to having shot and killed Martin.

There are two likely scenarios (others, far less likely, are possible).

A) Zimmerman follows Martin, Zimmerman initiates a confrontation with the fucking punk he has been following, they fight, Zimmerman is injured, Zimmerman shoots and kills Martin.

B) Zimmerman follows Martin, Martin initiates a confrontation with the man who has been following him, they fight, Zimmerman is injured, Zimmerman shoots and kills Martin.

In scenario A, can Zimmerman (having directly initiated the altercation) claim self-defense? I would hope not (although Florida law might allow this).

WS's concern is scenario B. Zimmerman follows Martin, Martin initiates the confrontation.

Could Martin have claimed self-defense in this case? According to Florida statute (776.013):
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 ..."

If one is being followed by a stranger for no apparent reason, then one might "reasonably believe" that the person following is a mugger, and that one is in danger of suffering "great bodily harm". Under the circumstances, Martin most likely had cause for that belief. Zimmerman did not have cause to follow Martin, and had been advised by the authorities not to follow Martin, yet chose to follow Martin anyway.

If Martin believed he was threatened (and it appears that he had cause to), he had the right (in Florida) to attack Zimmerman. Having been attacked (this is case B, remember), did Zimmerman have the right to use deadly force to defend himself--even though it was his actions that led to Martin feeling threatened? If so, then there ain't nobody guilty -- we just got another corpse.

Personally, I cannot see how Zimmerman was in the right to follow Martin after having been advised by the authorities not to do so. (Note that I am not saying Zimmerman is guilty of breaking a law here by following Martin, I'm simply saying it was wrong for him to follow Martin.) (Also note that I am not saying Zimmerman had no right to follow Martin, I'm simply saying he was wrong to so.)

Even if Zimmerman is innocent under Florida law, he did not stop following Martin when he was told to do so, which led to the ultimate result: Trayvon Martin is dead. In my book, that makes Zimmerman responsible, even if he is not guilty of breaking Florida Law.


5:32 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Well, Jim, I'm starting to think WS meant a lot less than we are reading into his post. All he seems to be saying is that the initial reports of this matter indicated that no scuffle occurred whatsoever, and we now know that there was one, meaning Zimmerman could at least plausibly be telling the truth rather than obviously and outlandishly lying.

I gotta say, though, if that's really the limit of the strength of your post, WS, you might have avoided suggesting that the "tide of evidence is turning.". Seems a little much.

Further, I wouldn't think self-defense to be prima facie implausible without evidence of a physical altercation. One can defend oneself before matters reach that point. Of course, you also noted initial reports of Martin downplayed his age and size, so there's that.

So anyway, if I'm right about these things and now correctly grasp your initial post, I downgrade my critique to the level of nevermind-ish.

I will defend myself against the charge of jumping to conclusions about Zimmerman's guilt, however, for his innocence still seems to me wildly implausible. Of course, none of us are jury members at the trial, so whatever conclusions we do draw must remain pretty tentative.

10:55 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

So all this debate made me go back and re-read your initial post again, and I think I see my problem. I was misled by your statement "The flow of available evidence now seems to indicate that Zimmerman was telling the truth."

I took that to mean that you now thought Zimmerman's assertion that Martin attacked him was accurate, and not that he was merely correct about a fight occurring. That's why I immediately said I didn't think the evidence corroborated his story to any interesting degree; we know of a fight, but we don't know who was acting in defense or offense.

At any rate, your main points seem decidedly weaker than that which I inferred from a few phrases in your post about evidence tides and truth telling. Again, if these observations of mine are correct, nevermind.


11:30 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Well, I feel like I'm just repeating myself, but I think my only point was:

The initial reports said that Zimmerman chased down and murdered a child who was crying for help.

Now the evidence clearly indicates that Zimmerman, while crying for help, shot a teenager who was pummeling him.

These differences alone, regardless of anything else, are huge. I really don't see how anyone could say that this isn't huge. I'm absolutely baffled that there's no outrage at the misleading story that was promulgated, well, just about everywhere, and for weeks.

You don't have to think that Zimmerman is innocent to think that the initial accounts in the media were ill-founded and unfair.

However, if you look at the story that Zimmerman tells, it's nothing like what we were told, and, even if false, it is coherent and plausible, and much, much less damning than even the version recounted by at least the Mystic in this thread. Zimmerman says that he stopped his car, got out, then, as soon as the 911 operator told him to stop following Martin, he did so. On his way back to the car, he says that Martin accosted him, then started beating him. Then he says that Martin saw and went for his gun, and said he was going to kill him (Zimmerman).

Again, possibly false, but, if true, exculpatory.

I fear that the nation has jumped on a bandwagon here. The initial false story got the momentum all going in one direction, and now it's going to be really hard to significantly modify the trajectory. Maybe it will turn out to be the right trajectory...but that's in no way clear.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Jim Bales said...

WS -- fair enough, and your point is well taken.

Yes, in both the specific details and overall impression, media reports were simply misleading about the details of the event.

But, my particular concern is that both parties may have acted legally under Florida law, yet events escalated until Martin was dead. That says, to me, that there is a problem with the law. My personal interest is more in identifying and trying to fix that problem rather than in the question of Zimmerman's guilt. (YMMV)

Ta-Nehisi Coates summed it up well:
"What always shook me about this case, was not the belief that Zimmerman ruthlessly slaughtered a 17-year old child, but the act of putting myself in that child's place, and seeing how I just as easily have ended making a decision to defend myself."

Jim Bales

10:12 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


I agree that that's a different, and more substantial, problem. Since I am not an opponent of the right to bear arms, and I also support reasonable stand-your-ground laws (though not ones that permit the use of force any time anyone happens to "feel" threatened), cases like this bother me a lot.

Seems to me that this particular case hinges on claims we aren't in much of a position to verify--was M really up to no good, and obviously so? (seems not very likely). Was Z justified in watching/following M? (Very likely, given the history of crime in the neighborhood, and also given his role as community watch.) Did Z follow M in a threatening manner? Did M turn around and initiate a confrontation after Z had already started to leave? Did M really go for Z's gun? Did he really threaten to kill him?

What we know is consistent with M being entirely innocent and Z being entirely at fault, with Z being entirely innocent and M being entirely at fault, and with all distributions in between, so far as I can tell.

It does bother me that most everyone seems to be lining up on this one in accordance with predictable partisan predispositions...but that's a completely different thing.

8:32 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home