OK, I know there is no need to tell you who Trayvon Martin is or why his case is getting all this attention, so let me jump right in to the issue as I see it. Yes, Florida has an absurd self-defense law when it states that you can use deadly physical force without having to retreat. Just to be clear, in NY the only time you don’t have to retreat before using deadly physical force is when you are in your home. And yes, it has absurdly easy permit requirements to allow you to carry a concealed weapon. In NY, it would be easier to obtain a healthy hot dog from a street vendor than get a concealed carry permit.
But the issue is why was it determined on the street and in the precinct that George Zimmerman (the shooter) had a complete defense to the crime? Self defense is an affirmative defense which means the burden is on the defendant to prove he was justified in killing the decedent. Once he presents sufficient evidence of that, the burden then shifts back to the prosecution to disprove justification beyond a reasonable doubt.
So why wasn’t he arrested and then allowed to have his day in court and prove whatever defense he wanted to prove? There was obviously sufficient probable cause to arrest him for shooting Trayvon Martin and then placing the case in the hands of the prosecutor, his defense attorney and the judge and jury. I don’t know that young, Black, hoodied, Trayvon Martin would have gotten the same courtesy.
The internet is now flooded with images of Zimmerman after police got on the scene that show him in handcuffs without any apparent injuries to his hands or face. Sanford Florida police wanted him to be charged with a crime but a local prosecutor said there wasn’t enough evidence. What? How about a dead Trayvon Martin, the 911 calls that show Zimmerman was suspicious of and pursuing Martin and no weapon on Martin. That adds up to a murder. Now, if Zimmerman wants to allege that he was in the middle of a death struggle and he has evidence to prove it that’s fine. But police are not judge and jury. Neither is the prosecutor. Letting Zimmerman go at this stage may have allowed him to fake injuries to bolster his defense , we don’t know. His release without being charged sets a dangerous precedent. Now if there are just two people around and one of them ends up dead, the other can say he was acting in self defense and the prosecutor should deem it unwise to arrest that person. If this holds, we could have a pile up of corpses in Florida in no time.
A special prosecutor has been appointed. Part of the investigation must be examining why George Zimmerman was cut loose. That’s the first central issue in this horrible event.