Zimmerman charged

Stuff reports:

, charged with second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, faces his first appearance before a Florida judge on Thursday where his lawyer said he will try to get the crime watch volunteer’s release from jail.

The hearing, currently set for 1.30pm EDT, will be the first appearance by Zimmerman, 28, since he became a national and highly divisive figure by shooting and killing Martin, 17, in a quiet gated community in the central Florida town of Sanford.

I’m of the view that you only use a gun in self defence if in real fear of your life. From what we know, this does not appear to be the case.

However that is not the test under Florida law.

That previous decision cast a spotlight on Florida’s ”Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force when they believe they are in danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm.

What is great bodily harm? Is it being punched in the face, as Martin allegedly did to Zimmerman.

Arrested and charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday, Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, will not appear physically at the court for the hearing, local courthouse officials said. 

The media have tried to make this into a race case. NBC had to sack a staffer who edited a tape recording to make it sounds like Zimmerman was saying he was following Martin because he is black, when in fact they deleted out the 911 dispatcher asking him the race.

Also note how Zimmerman is described as “white and Hispanic’ rather than “Hispanic”. Have you ever heard someone of mixed ancestry before described that way? Is Obama called “white and black”. Would you call someone who is part-Maori “European and Maori”.

The Florida law states:

a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony

So it will be an interesting and high profile court case. I would makee two observations at this stage:

  1. If Zimmerman hadn’t followed Martin (who was not committing any crime at all) on the basis of his suspicions, then Martin would still be alive
  2. If Martin had not attacked Zimmerman, after being followed by him, then Martin would probably still be alive also

People will disagree on whether it was reasonable for Zimmerman to follow Martin, and also on whether Martin’s responses were reasonable (if I saw a stranger following me and running after me, I’d not react too well to it either), and finally on whether Zimmerman’s use of the gun was appropriate and lawful.

Also what we do not know (and may never know) is whether Martin was given an opportunity to retreat, after Zimmerman pulled out his gun.

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