The scene is set: George Zimmerman and Mark O’Mara are sitting at the defense table intently looking at lead prosecutor Angela Corey as she approaches the podium, acknowledges the court, looks at the defense table, acknowledges their presence, paces a few steps from the podium and finally turns to the jury and just before her lips part to say the first word, Mark O’Mara holds his breath. Angela Corey has two choices: she can present to the jury that Zimmerman was engaged in a wrongful act just as he encountered Trayvon Martin or she can show that George Zimmerman was the first aggressor. These two choices have different implications and although she can argue both, the evidence she will use to convey either theory to the jury would essentially be the same, rather, it will the only other side to the story.
This article will discuss the first of two choices, which involves showing that George Zimmerman was engaged in wrongful activity just as he encountered Trayvon Martin on that dark and rainy night. This simply means that the prosecution would have to present evidence that George Zimmerman did something wrongful within the purview of § 776.013 of the Florida Statutes. Angela Corey will likely show that George Zimmerman, the 28 year old “self-appointed” neighborhood watch captain, who has sought on more than one occasion to “solidify [his] interest in law enforcement,” intended to capture and detain the “punk/asshole” (Trayvon) to keep him from getting away from the imminent arrival of the police.
Corey will likely begin her case by using the fact that Zimmerman took affirmative steps to “protect his community” at all costs, perhaps enough to rise to the level whereby local law enforcement would take notice of his efforts. For instance he formed a community watch, went on several ride-alongs with the Sanford Police Department, called the police numerous times to report suspicious people and voluntarily followed Trayvon even to the point where he got out of his vehicle to pursue him on foot despite dispatcher’s plea to cease his pursuit. Undoubtedly Zimmerman was so convinced that Trayvon was a drugged-out criminal on the prowl for a smash-and-grab operation that he called the police. On that call with dispatch Zimmerman can be heard saying words of affirmation such as “yep” and “uh-huh,” after stating his reasons for suspecting Martin was up to no good and possibly about to break into an unsecured home. It was as if he was rationalizing and therefore self-justifying the actions he was about to take.
In addition to his suspicions about Trayvon, Zimmerman thought it necessary to mention Trayvon had his hand in his waistband and attached the iteration that Trayvon was a black male (I wonder what image that is supposed to convey). A few seconds later, Zimmerman states with surety that Trayvon indeed had something in his hands and made a plea to have officers come immediately. This demonstrates to the reasonable person that Zimmerman believed that Trayvon had a weapon of some sort and that Zimmerman had reason to be at least cautious if he were to confront Trayvon. This “reasonable belief” that Trayvon was carrying a weapon is heightened by the fact that it was George carrying the only weapon. In other words George was ascribing his own thoughts, feelings, and attitudes to Martin, a term psychologist call projecting.
Understanding the state of mind of George at this point is an important part of lead prosecutor Corey making her case to the jury. The question that now remains is why would George get out of the safety of vehicle to pursue an up to no good Trayvon on a dark and rainy night who, in George’s mind, may be carrying a weapon in his waistband. (I suspect his defense team has preemptively positioned itself to combat this question via an interview with Sean Hannity, too bad it’s tainted) Here is where the fireworks begin.
From this point Corey has a few choices based on the evidence she has gathered. And depending on that evidence, she can likely show the jury that Zimmerman was engaged in wrongful activity either by detaining Trayvon against his will or brandishing his weapon. Both are more than likely to be wrongful under § 776.013 of the Florida Statutes. The first would be false imprisonment/arrest and the other would be felony aggravated assault. It is not unreasonable to get to this point if the evidence is weighed and reasonable inferences are drawn.
According to § 787.02 of the Florida statutes false imprisonment “means forcibly, by threat, or secretly confining, abducting, imprisoning, or restraining another person without lawful authority and against her or his will.” Even if the unlawful restraint were to last a mere second, under Florida law it would still be classified as false imprisonment. It is an undisputed fact Trayvon did not, by any means, want to converse with or be detained by Zimmerman. Trayvon was on his way to his father’s place to finish watching the last half of the NBA all-star game with his younger brother. Ironically it was Zimmerman himself who stated Trayvon took off running after he was most likely spooked from being followed on a dark rainy and lonely night.
At common law a person (arrestor) may detain another (arrestee) against their will, if the arrestee has in fact committed a misdemeanor that rises to the level of breaching the peace and it was committed in the presence of the arrestor. An arrestor can also detain an arrestee against their will if the arrestee has in fact committed a felony even if the arrestee did not commit the felony in the arrestor’s presence. This privilege applies to private persons who are not law enforcement or something similar such as a shopkeeper or security officer. Zimmerman for all purposes was acting as a private individual. Thus the only way Zimmerman would be able to detain Trayvon without committing a wrongful act is if Trayvon committed a misdemeanor that breaches the peace in his presence or Trayvon committed a felony and Zimmerman is aware of it.
After weighing the competing interests of Trayvon and Zimmerman, so to speak, a reasonable person can infer the motives of both Trayvon and Zimmerman based on the evidence. Trayvon’s motivation was to seek safety and return home because not only was he in a neighborhood he did not know, but a man whom he has never seen before was watching him and following him in a vehicle while alone on a dark rainy night. On the other hand Zimmerman, pressed with a series of break-ins in his neighborhood and his conviction that Trayvon was a fleeing threat, his motivation was to make sure the police captured the criminal Trayvon, because “those assholes always get away.”
On the second point when the facts are viewed in its entirety is it reasonable for Zimmerman, armed with a pistol, to get out of the safety of his vehicle to pursue someone he believes is a burglar with his hand in his waistband (an odd term to begin with waistband is often used in conjunction with guns) on a dark and rainy night without his gun drawn? Is it reasonable for any armed individual to pursue a stranger in the dark they just reported to the police on the suspicion of that have or is about to commit a felony without at least having their weapon in a ready position? More importantly how was Zimmerman able to catch, detain or cut off Trayvon’s escape? (unfortunately for Trayvon when you wear a hoodie it cuts off your peripheral vision) Moreover according to Zimmerman’s own statement he never threw a punch, could it be because a gun was in his hand and a struggle ensued over control of that weapon? At this point, I am asking my readers to listen to the audio recording once again with those questions in mind. Listen intently and I promise you will hear a few things you may not have heard before. Click! To be continued . . .
STOP tired of visiting apleblog.com and finding no new stories? Before you leave, subscribe to the website it will save you time and let you know when there is a new story posted. Folks, stay tuned this story has a Part III and it’s the continuation of the legal arguments based on Zimmerman being characterized as the first aggressor then tying it all together. I welcome your comments, please be civil, as I understand this is a contentious story and people often get emotional.
If you have not read my earlier post, which is Part I of this story click here. Thank you for your readership.