The Trayvon-Zimmerman Evidence
Everybody loves a good mystery. My family has been watching reruns of Law & Order. Detectives Olivia Benson and Elliott Stabler go wherever the evidence leads them. Hunches help them to find evidence, but without the evidence itself our Constitutional government doesn’t allow an arrest. The cops can’t just arrest people for no reason. There always has to be probable cause first. Evidence is everything.
After various twists and turns, a current “mystery” looks thusly: Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old in a hoodie, had been to a store to buy some Skittles and was on the way back to the house of his father’s girlfriend, where his father had sent him to serve out a 10-day suspension from his Miami high school for “being in an unauthorized area” the very day of his death (but a tweet from his brother suggests it was for assaulting a bus driver) – the latest in a string (1) of 3 suspensions within the last year officially involving potential drug use or dealing (as supported by tweets (2) from his customer) and graffiti (since the school made no police referral based on the jewelry and suspected burglary tool found in his backpack when he was caught for graffiti) – to “disconnect (3) and get his priorities straight”. Trayvon tweeted (4) late last year under the name “T33ZY_TAUGHT_M3”, including one that said, “Plzz shoot da #mf dat lied 2 u!”. The photo uploaded for him, taken when he was 15, showed him (with his unique arm tattoo) making a vulgar gesture. After one month on that account he switched to an account under the name “NO_LIMIT_NIGGA”, the first tweet being “NEW NAME, NEW BACKGROUND, NEW TWEETCON, I MAKE CHANGS B4 NEW YEARS!” His tweets in the last month are available here (5).
Hispanic 28-year-old George Zimmerman was on his way home from getting groceries when he saw Trayvon. Zimmerman had headed up a Neighborhood Watch in response to a string of burglaries in the area and (according to his father’s account (6) of what Zimmerman told him afterwards) thought it suspicious that a young person he didn’t know and appeared to be high was walking behind the townhouses but not on the street or sidewalk. He called (7) the the police and reported what he saw. Though selectively edited out (8) of the recording played on NBC, GZ said, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” Only after being specifically asked by the dispatcher whether the person was white, black, or Hispanic did Zimmerman say, “He looks black.” The dispatcher asked if Zimmerman was following the young man and said they didn’t need him to follow. Zimmerman continued walking to try (9) to find a street sign to give an exact location. At the end of that call Zimmerman said he was going to his vehicle to go home.
Within minutes (10) there was a call (11) to 911 from a neighbor who said there was a fight. Screams for help were heard in the background. According to the incident report (12), when police arrived they found Zimmerman with a bloody nose, a gash on the back of his head, and wet and grassy shirt – and he kept saying, “Nobody would help me”. His gun had a full magazine (13) and no bullet in the chamber – which suggests (14) there was a struggle for the gun, since the next bullet was stopped from entering the chamber. One shell was found. They attempted and failed to resuscitate Trayvon, who had a bullet wound to the chest. They made sure Zimmerman was fit to travel, handcuffed him, had the Sanford rescue squad give first aid for his injuries, and took him to the station for questioning, in addition to canvassing the area for witnesses and taking sworn statements from all witnesses they found.
Zimmerman claimed he shot in self-defense. According to the police, all the witnesses agreed (15) (although one witness, Mary Cutcher, later appeared on TV and radio claiming the opposite (16) of what was in her sworn statement, according to the police). Zimmerman’s injuries and the 911 recording corroborated that there was a fight. The person who called 911 said (18)that Trayvon was on top of Zimmerman and that Zimmerman was the one who was screaming for help. Since there was no evidence to refute Zimmerman’s claim that he had shot in self-defense and no probable cause for an arrest, the police let Zimmerman go, though the lead investigator had wanted to arrest him.
Since that time, the police have had an opportunity to forensically analyze the scene of the crime for ballistics, listen to the recordings, and see the autopsy report for Trayvon. They presumably have access to Zimmerman’s medical records as well as the reports from their own EMT’s. Although ABC apparently deliberately covered (19) it up with a graphic on video in order to claim otherwise, video footage of Zimmerman when he arrived at the police department showed a gash (20) on the back of his head, still visible after being treated by the EMT’s – even on the blurred video but inrrefutably visible on enhanced (21) video, which ABC could have provided the public but didn’t. And his neighbor says (22) he saw him with swelling and bandages the next day. The police have repeatedly insisted (23) that Zimmerman’s claims are consistent with the evidence they have. Evidence available to the public, including reports, audio, and video recordings, is posted here (24).
A large funeral was held for Trayvon, and about 2 weeks after the shooting the Martin family appeared on CNN claiming that the shooting was a racist hate crime that police were covering up. It was implied that an innocent little kid in a hoodie, with nothing but Skittles in his hand, had been singled out for scrutiny by a racist white for simply walking down the street, and that if Zimmerman had just minded his own business Trayvon would still be alive. That is still the story being claimed by large portions of the public, including Barack Obama, Rick Santorum, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, former Black Panther Congressman Bobby Rush, and thousands of protesters demanding the arrest of Zimmerman. The New Black Panther Party has a $10,000 bounty for Zimmerman and claims to have a posse of 1,000 blacks looking for him. Zimmerman is hiding for his own safety. His family has received thousands of death threats and after Spike Lee tweeted a mistaken address for George Zimmerman the elderly couple at that address has had to live in a hotel because of death threats made to them.
If the police department is telling the truth about the evidence they have it is clear that Zimmerman shot in self-defense. The Martin family knows that, and at this point they are claiming that the police are fabricating evidence. The 911 recording, public statements (25) by the person who called 911, and video footage showing the gash on the back of Zimmerman’s head all corroborate what the police say they have as evidence. The Martin family’s attorney accepts the genuineness of the video footage – calling it (26) the “smoking gun” proof that Zimmerman had no gash, since there is no blood showing at that point. But the gash is visible in that video even though the blood had been cleaned up by EMT’s before that.
Those who are threatening violence to George Zimmerman and his family are wanting to take the law into their own hands. To this point, nobody in the Obama Administration has condemned the threats of violence or “vigilante justice”. Their silence is stunning. Former DOJ prosecutor, J Christian Adams, has said that a President injecting race into a criminal investigation is unprecedented, and the failure to rebuke the Black Panthers’ bounty on Zimmerman is chilling lawlessness.
The thousands of protesters who are calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman are either advocating that our police abandon the principle of probable cause – the need to have EVIDENCE of a crime before arresting someone – or else they are relying on claims of a vast police conspiracy including fabrication of police reports, witness statements, 911 recording, and police video that even the Martin family’s attorney accepts as genuine. The media finds nothing unseemly about large numbers of people claiming a police conspiracy that would require fabrication of official video and audio as well as affidavits and police/forensic reports.
An independent investigation by the state attorney has been authorized, to audit the police department’s handling of this case. The US Department of Justice will also be reviewing the evidence – not an encouraging thought after the obstruction of justice (including alteration of evidence and withholding critical evidence), perjury, and refusals to honor Congressional subpoenas shown by AG Eric Holder’s DOJ in the Fast & Furious investigation, and after political DOJ operatives dismissed an already-won case of what career prosecutors at the DOJ have called the most blatant instance of voter intimidation they’ve ever seen – by members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia, PA. AG Holder has insisted that Blacks cannot be guilty of racial crimes and that he will not prosecute what he calls “my people”.
Barack Obama has said that this incident should spark some soul-searching. Yes, it should.
The next article in this series will address some serious questions raised by the apparent facts in this particular case. The final article will place this case into a larger context that raises even more serious questions.