Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Affidavit

In April 2012, the office of Florida State Attorney Angela Corey drew up an affidavit of probable cause against George Zimmerman for the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin.

The affidavit was loaded. Martin was walking back to the townhouse "where he was living" when Zimmerman "profiled" him. Zimmerman "assumed Martin was a criminal." He called the police. The affidavit cited Martin's phone "friend" to attest, "Martin was scared because he was being followed by an unknown male and didn't know why." Again, according to the affidavit (and this was critical): "Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued." Martin's mother then "identified the voice crying for help as Trayvon Martin's." Zimmerman admitted shooting Martin, and that apparently was good enough for the prosecutors.

This affidavit is telling in how weak the state's case is against GZ. GZ profiled him? How would that be proved one way or the other? He called in as a neighborhood watch captain because he saw someone walking in the rain that he did not recognize, and tried to maintain visual contact with that person. The implication is that GZ was a madman or racist with an axe to grind, but every other aspect of GZ's life that has been introduced into this trial paints the picture of a guy who is anything but a racist or hot head.

TM was scared? TM walked up to GZ's car, and walked around it, while GZ was on the phone with the police department.

GZ "confronted" TM? According to what evidence? There is none. TM had plenty of time to get to his residence if what he wanted to do was to get away from GZ. It's not clear why he did not do that, but claiming that TM was afraid is in conflict with the fact that he could have gone home with time to spare before GZ and he crossed paths.

In the struggle that ensued when the two met, GZ was injured, and the testimony indicates that GZ was being beaten up by TM, with TM on top of GZ in a position referred to in MMA fighting as "the mount". The mounted position is dominant, and makes an untrained opponent very vulnerable to the kinds of injuries GZ received from TM.

The statement that TM's mom identified the phone call screams as being those of her son might be the only factual statement in the affidavit - but since she's the only one to do so, that is not a particularly compelling "fact" no matter how horrifying it may be to think of a mom suffering through such an event.

Here's what I see. Just like people don't want to see the JFK murder as the act of a crazy ex-marine with a $12 mail order rifle, there are many who just cannot accept that TM died for no reason. There were no monsters in this affair. TM was a typical, aggressive, athletic 17 year old male, who liked to fight and thought he could take down GZ - and he was right. He just wasn't used to fighting armed opponents, and made a major mis-calculation.

GZ was also no monster - he may not be a saint, and he perhaps should have been able to defend himself without killing the 17 year old - but he did what most of us would do in that situation: broken nose, likely concussed, bloody mucous flowing back into his throat making breathing very difficult, the recipient of multiple punches and having had his head slammed into a concrete sidewalk, having yelled for help over and over (after which TM tried to cover his nose and mouth and threatened to kill him), and with no prospect for a way to end the pain and fear and confusion - he defended himself the only way he could. The circumstance was monstrous but the choice was human.

TM's assault on GZ was not justified. GZ legally defending himself. It was tragic for both of them, and for those who love them. The defense was right - there are no non-political monsters here.

The choices made by those wielding the power of the state, however, have been monstrous.

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