Trayvon Martin

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Postby vison » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:11 am

Many respectable writers agree that if a man reasonably believes that he is in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm from his assailant he may stand his ground and that if he kills him he has not succeeded the bounds of lawful self defence.


I think this applies to Trayvon Martin as much as to Zimmerman.

But there are times when being right is being dead right.
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Postby Dave_LF » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:18 am

What it all boils down to is whether Martin was justified when he attacked Zimmerman. If Zimmerman approached the guy out of the blue gun in hand, then I think Martin acted in legitimate self-defense and Zimmerman belongs in jail. But if Martin initiated the violence as Zimmerman claims based on nothing more than the fact that he didn't like a stranger following him, then I think Zimmerman is off the hook. But again, I don't see how anyone could work out what actually happened at this point.

It's also possible--maybe even likely--that both men had a legitimate case for self defense. And what do you do then?
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Postby Jnyusa » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:52 am

Yeah, I think it matters very much whether the victim knew that the vigilante had a gun.

When I have night classes I have to walk to my car or to the subway in the dark through a neighborhood that is not the greatest ... so I've taken a number of self-defense classes, and the first thing they tell you is to run from a knife but never to run from a gun. Guns do more damage at a distance than they do up close. Someone comes at you with gun, angle in close as fast as you can and go straight for the eyes with your keys, fingernails, whatever you've got. That's what the victim did in this case. You are likely to get shot because people only carry guns when they mean to use them, but the probability of surviving a through-and-through are a lot higher than the probability of surviving a shot in the back as you run away. We practice it with stage guns and stage knives, how to duck a knife, how to angle your body to take a gunshot where it won't kill you. The victim in this case was really unlucky. If he knew the vigilante had a gun, he actually responded in the smartest way.

Although a gray-haired white woman and a young black guy in a hoodie would not represent the same threat level to a vigilante, it is easy to imagine that the guy who was killed was also acting in self-defense, and the killer is never going to admit that his gun was already out at the time of the attack.
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Postby hamlet » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:55 am

Democritus wrote:Err, you are representing some of that American mentality I just don’t get, in terms of seeing everything so black and white, good-guy, bad-guy. You admit that an unarmed kid was killed, and in great probability unjustifiably so, and yet you argue that the killer should not have to spend jail-time waiting for the court-case like everyone else because he “wasn’t an awful murderer”, well isn’t that up to the courts to decide if he was? He very well might be, and I don’t see why he shouldn’t be detained behind bars like everyone else who killed someone, until that is in-fact established.

And as for “But it's not like this was a nice young man headed to a good college.” What on earth does that have to do with everything? Since when was a unarmed person’s right not to be unlawfully killed by a citizen abrogated because they are not “a nice young man going to college"? Are you saying that only nice people going to college should continue to have the right not to be unlawfully killed?? It is clearly irrelevant how nice this kid was, it is only relevant as to how and why he was killed.


Can't speak for Silverberry, but the reason he hasn't been jailed isn't because "it's not a terrible murder" but because according to the law he's claimed protection under, he cannot be. He's claimed, and been granted, protection under the stand your ground law which says he can't be slapped into jail over this. It does not protect him from further investigation and prosecution, though, and a smart prosecutor would go after him saying he falsely claimed coverage under the Stand Your Ground law and, in fact, precipitated the incident and needs to go to jail for that.

Nobody here has at any point said that Zimmerman didn't commit murder. At most, we've said that the situation is not as simple and black and white as it has been portrayed by others.
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Postby vison » Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:58 am

If it was simple we wouldn't be talking about it.
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Postby hamlet » Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:32 am

vison wrote:If it was simple we wouldn't be talking about it.


I know. I'm responding to the way it's being portrayed by some and in some quarters. Cerin has explicitly said that it's a case of a hotheaded racist bigot murderer and he should go to jail end of story.

The truth of the matter, what little actual truth we may know about it, is that it's not that easy.

Yes, Zimmerman had a gun. Yes, it's possible, perhaps even probable, that he had it out when he "pursued" Martin and initiated the confrontation. Yes, it's probable that Zimmerman used a racial epithet, though I take that with some grain of salt since people tend to hear those epithets where they are not: we are dramatically over sensitized to that.

Another fact, though, is that Zimmerman had his had smacked against the concrete several times. And here's the rub. It really all depends on how and when in the sequence of events those injuries to Zimmerman occured. If, as he claims, Martin attacked him while he, Zimmerman, had turned away and was on his way back to the car, then the situation is quite different than if Martin was merely defending himself from a perceived threat from a man with a gun.

Here's another fact. We do not, nor can we really, know the truth of the matter here. We don't know for sure what, precisely, happened, and that just sucks all around. All we have are people reading into the situation what they think is true, what they want to be true, what they need to be true, personally, politically, and . . . "Truthiness"-wise.

Is Zimmerman a racist? I dont' know and I can't say. And neither can anybody else here no matter what they might think.

Did Martin attack Zimmerman? I don't know. Can't say. And neither can anybody else here.
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Postby Tookish_Traveler » Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:21 am

One of the things my mom always said when we were kids…. ‘If you go looking for trouble, you’re gonna find it.’


IMO Zimmerman was looking for trouble, and he found it. If he would have minded his own business Trayvon would be alive and Zimmerman himself wouldn’t be in a heap of trouble.


If a law allows this type of behavior, we are really heading for trouble.
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Postby Democritus » Wed Mar 28, 2012 10:22 am

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/28/1078514/-Rep-Bobby-Rush-kicked-out-of-the-House-for-speaking-on-racial-profiling-wearing-a-hoodie#comments

Love this, and am ironically amused by the speaker of the house from Mississippi getting upset by some one putting on a hood.... :wink:
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Postby Cerin » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:10 am

portia wrote:I am not trying to defend either Martin or Zimmerman. I am simply trying to point out that in an attack situation, there is not time or mental leisure for nice legal distinctions.

I would like to point out that there would have been no attack situation if it had not been precipitated by Zimmerman taking his gun and leaving his car to follow an unarmed person who was innocently walking home from the store and whose only offenses were his skin color and attire.


Many respectable writers agree that if a man reasonably believes that he is in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm from his assailant he may stand his ground and that if he kills him he has not succeeded the bounds of lawful self defence.

I submit that Zimmerman can't possibly have thought himself in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm when he was sitting in his SUV and decided to follow Martin on foot. This is not about standing ground. This is about one man pursuing another without cause.


Dave_LF wrote:What it all boils down to is whether Martin was justified when he attacked Zimmerman.

I disagree. I believe what it boils down to is whether Zimmerman was justified when he exited his car to pursue Martin with a firearm.


It's also possible--maybe even likely--that both men had a legitimate case for self defense.

Zimmerman had no cause for self-defense when he decided to pursue Martin. Zimmerman is the aggressor here. Pursuing someone with a firearm without provocation is an act of aggression.


hamlet wrote:Cerin has explicitly said that it's a case of a hotheaded racist bigot murderer and he should go to jail end of story.

The man was clearly obsessed with blacks committing crimes in his neighborhood, going by his history of reporting incidents and the 911 tapes. Anyone who uses the term 'coon' to describe a black person is a racist in my book. He followed an unarmed person without cause because he was black, and shot him dead. Yes, he should go to jail, end of story. I wouldn't mind seeing every legislator who voted for this disgusting law go to jail as well; they are also responsible for this death.
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Postby Faramond » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:21 am

Sometimes, in an NFL game, a player will make a catch -- a great catch -- and to most observers it seems that there is no question it is a catch because it looked like a catch as it happened. But then the team vicitmized by the catch throws the challenge flag, and the official goes under the peep-show hood and watches the play, in slow motion, or even as static frames, dissecting each moment of the catch to see if it checks every condition to legally be called a catch. The catch is no longer an entire thing, complete in itself, but a series of unrelated parts, any of which can be made bigger than the catch itself and turn the catch into nothing at all, an incompletion.

I understand why they do it this way, and I don't know if I could say it is wrong, but it leads, sometimes, to something that looks like a catch being ruled as something else entirely, and it feels wrong -- it feels, on a very small scale, like an injustice.

And here, with the Zimmerman incident, we may have a similar situation, with much higher stakes. It looks like murder to me, and to a lot of other people. Zimmerman aggressively follows an unarmed teenager and the teenager ends up dead by Zimmerman's hand. That's murder -- and it's also the action of a sociopath. The only way to make it not murder is to ignore the entirety of what happened -- to play things back in slow motion, to find a moment, freeze there, blow it up to be more important than everything else that happened.

Zimmerman is running the tape back in slow motion, picking out the moment when Martin is on top of him, hitting his head into the sidewalk, and there -- BAM -- freeze it there, blow it up -- self defense! -- BAM -- he's dead. And this might legally work. Should I say it will probably legally work? It would have if this had not become a national story, certainly.

Of course, the "replay tape" in this case is Zimmerman's own version of events -- his self-serving version of events. Still, it might be true. I am skeptical that his version really reflects what happened, but I can't say for sure it is just a fabrication. Certainly he got his injuries somewhere. Maybe enough of it is true to exonerate him under Florida Law. And if so, that will be a horrible, terrible injustice. If the legal system says he is innocent then we have ignored a series of anti-social actions in favor of a single, heated moment.


What are you thinking right now? What are your intentions, what is driving you to do what you do? Even if you tell me what you honestly think is the truth, I may not really know. If I try to understand your intentions and motives only by your actions then I have even less chance of knowing, unless those actions are so clear and blatant that there is only one reasonable interpretation.

In the Zimmerman case actions are all we have to go on, our only way of knowing intent. I don't know for certain that Zimmerman was motivated by racism -- but -- I think it is very likely that he was. If not racism, then what fueled Zimmerman's suspicion and hostility to the victim? I don't know. However, I think this question of racism is irrelevant to his moral guilt, and I hope also his eventual legal guilt. If the same thing had happened to a white kid Zimmerman would be just as guilty. I think this very scenario could happen to a white kid -- though it is far less likely. Black persons are far more likely to be falsely accused or under false suspicion than white persons.

The question of racism also applies to the police department. I think they have a better case for avoiding racism than Zimmerman does, though, because even people who have shot white victims in Florida have gotten away with some pretty shaky claims of self-defense. Even so, I think it is more likely than not that racism plays some part in there inaction in this case. But it is also certainly true that racism isn't the only problem here -- this "stand your ground" law or at the very least the widely accepted flawed interpretations of it are also a big problem.


One odd thing is that under Zimmerman's version of events "stand your ground" would appear to be irrelevant -- it wouldn't matter if it was the law or not. At the moment when Zimmerman claims self-defense was justified, he also claims that he he under Martin's power, on the ground, incapable to getting up, or, presumably, fleeing. If you can't flee then "stand your ground" can't be an issue.
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Postby Cerin » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:26 am

Excellent analogy, Faramond.
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Postby hamlet » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:53 am

Faramond: That's the nature of our legal system, though. That one tiny segment of the event, that one quarter of a second can entirely change how the whole situation is understood legally.

If Zimmerman shot Martin in the heat of the moment, or shot him as Martin was trying to wrest the gun away from what he saw as a lunatic out to kill him, then Zimmerman is guilty of murder.

If, on the other hand, Zimmerman's version of events is more accurate (or accepted), and Martin attacked him after Martin had turned away and was headed back to his car (i.e., had "ended" the confrontation he started and Martin started a new one), then it can be argued that Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force.

And, unfortunately, we just don't know what happened. You can sit there and say, by your reading and by your understanding of the situation, Zimmerman is a horrible racist who picked a fight and ended up shooting somebody dead and he's guilty of murder. And hell, you're probably right.

But can you prove it?

Legal system doesn't care about "if it smells, sounds, and looks like a duck . . .", they are only concerned with what can be proven in court, and the byzantine system of laws we have means that one error on the part of any investigator or police (i.e., the police arrest Zimmerman regardless of the fact that he can claim protection under the Stand Your Ground Law) means that even if he is guilty, you may not be able to prosecute him later, and he goes free. A murderer gone free because what you thought you "knew" got in the way of doing it the right way.

Our legal system is like that by design. And yes, it does permit people who know what they're doing, or are savvy enough to figure it out, to exploit loopholes and literally get away with murder. But that's the price you pay for having an evidentiary based legal system where the burden of proof is upon the prosecutor.
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Postby Jnyusa » Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:11 pm

Yes, that is an excellent analogy, Faramond.

And Hamlet is right too that "justice" as such is not the objective of our legal system.
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Postby The Heretic » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:46 pm

Minardil wrote:I have already stated that I am not interested in the "racial" element of this case, however that said, just because someone "tutors" black kids or has "black friends" doesn't mean that they don't also hold "racist" views to some degree, any more than Zimmerman's alleged use of the word "coon" in the 911 tape automatically means that he IS a "racist".

Does holding some "racist" veiws make one a racist?
I note your circumspect (and correct) use of "alleged". The alleged word that he used is also 'punk'. Do you, if you have lstened to the audio in isolation, hear 'coons' or 'punks'?
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Postby portia » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:31 pm

Tell me again how Zimmerman knew that Martin was unarmed. Or innocent.

Tell me again why Zimmerman was not engaged in a legitimate activity when he was acting as a volunteer neighborhood watch person, in an area that had had incidents.

Maybe Zimmerman acted unwisely when he got out of his car to follow Martin. Yet, he was the one on the scene, not the 911 dispatcher, and how was he to learn whether Martin was an innocent walker or a potential burglar? What if Martin had been a robber or had killed someone in the complex because Zimmerman did not follow him?

The situation didn't go wrong until someone actually attacked someone else, or called him a name, or otherwise created a confrontation.

(I can't wait until hoodies are no longer fashionable wear for the innocent, and go back to being the uniform of thieves and muggers. Many situations will be less ambiguous.)
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Postby The Heretic » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:33 pm

Cerin wrote:
hamlet wrote:Zimmerman was probably not intending to shoot Martin as in "I'm gonna kill me a darkie" as Cerin seems to think.

I did not suggest that Zimmerman set out to kill Martin. There are some things we do know. The man had made 46 unsubstantiated complaints to police in a short period of time, about suspicious activity in his neighborhood; this is not normal behavior.

What is a short period of time?
The 46 calls were made over the course 8 years.
http://www.sanfordfl.gov/investigation/ ... istory.pdf
We know he was heard using a racial epithet to describe Martin.

We do not know that, see above post.
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Postby Denethor » Wed Mar 28, 2012 11:36 pm

hamlet wrote:If, on the other hand, Zimmerman's version of events is more accurate (or accepted), and Martin attacked him after Martin had turned away and was headed back to his car (i.e., had "ended" the confrontation he started and Martin started a new one), then it can be argued that Zimmerman was justified in using deadly force.


In situations of self defence where the self defence involves use of lethal force, the force must have been "absolutely necessary" (and a reasonable person's definition of absolute necessity at that).

Frankly, I think the prosecution would have still won.
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Postby Cerin » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:29 am

portia wrote:Tell me again how Zimmerman knew that Martin was unarmed. Or innocent.

What a bizarre question. You're acting as though Zimmerman was an officer of the law and had reason to suspect criminal activity. He was not, and he did not. It was not his place to follow Martin. He made the call to 911, and that should have been the end of it.


Tell me again why Zimmerman was not engaged in a legitimate activity when he was acting as a volunteer neighborhood watch person, in an area that had had incidents.

He was engaged in a legitimate activity when he was in his vehicle patrolling his neighborhood. He was engaged in a legitimate activity when he called in his groundless suspicions. He was engaged in reckless and unprovoked behavior when he got out of his car with a gun and followed Martin.


Maybe Zimmerman acted unwisely when he got out of his car to follow Martin. Yet, he was the one on the scene, not the 911 dispatcher, and how was he to learn whether Martin was an innocent walker or a potential burglar?

Zimmerman certainly acted unwisely. It was not his place to determine these things! That is the job of the police, who are trained to deal with such situations.


What if Martin had been a robber or had killed someone in the complex because Zimmerman did not follow him?

I am astonished that you are posing these bizarre and baseless hypotheticals. Martin wasn't a robber, and he wasn't a killer, and there were absolutely no grounds to suppose that he was. He wasn't doing anything wrong! Your 'what ifs' are preposterous. Is this what we've come to? Arm yourselves and pursue your fellow citizens; they might be up to no good?


The situation didn't go wrong until someone actually attacked someone else, or called him a name, or otherwise created a confrontation.

The situation went wrong when Zimmerman exited his car and pursued a fellow citizen with a firearm for no reason. He is not an officer of the law, it was not his place to do that, there was no justification for his action in this case, and the fact that he did it led to the death of an innocent man.
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Postby basil » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:33 am

Denethor wrote:In situations of self defence where the self defence involves use of lethal force, the force must have been "absolutely necessary" (and a reasonable person's definition of absolute necessity at that).


It seems that Zimmerman is a fast healer or somebody is, or several somebodies are, lying.

Sonner’s account of Zimmerman’s injuries is consistent with the Sanford Police Department report, written by the officer at the crime scene who handcuffed Zimmerman. “I could observe his back appeared to be wet and was covered in grass, as if he had been laying on his back on the ground,” the officer wrote. “Zimmerman was also bleeding from the nose and back of his head.”


Video record shows no apparent bloody injuries.

Jnyusa wrote:Guns do more damage at a distance than they do up close


If someone has a gun pointed at you, even if you have one concealed with you, you're screwed. If you are close enough to attack, your advice is good, but if there is some distance running for nearby cover or shelter may be the better option.

But there can be so many variables.

Advice from the dozen or so POs I've known over the years.

One thing is certain, you'll never ever know the intent of another person coming toward you with a drawn gun who is not identifiable as police.


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Postby basil » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:38 am

Cerin wrote:Zimmerman certainly acted unwisely. It was not his place to determine these things! That is the job of the police, who are trained to deal with such situations.


This is my greatest fear out of this mess. We have thousands of licensed CC around the country. Who knows how many, what %age, are wannabe heroes like Zimmerman?

With the recent "stand your ground" laws in 23 states, who are these armed citizens accountable to, but to themselves?

They are at once police, judge, and executioner.

If you follow the politics and money associated with this, and know the history of ALEC and the NRA, and the corporate powers in the gun industry, it's profit and power.


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Postby hamlet » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:59 am

Cerin wrote:
The situation didn't go wrong until someone actually attacked someone else, or called him a name, or otherwise created a confrontation.

The situation went wrong when Zimmerman exited his car and pursued a fellow citizen with a firearm for no reason. He is not an officer of the law, it was not his place to do that, there was no justification for his action in this case, and the fact that he did it led to the death of an innocent man.


It wasn't for "no reason." It was for a reason that you don't agree with. There's a difference.
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Postby portia » Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:02 am

Cerin wrote:
portia wrote:What if Martin had been a robber or had killed someone in the complex because Zimmerman did not follow him?

I am astonished that you are posing these bizarre and baseless hypotheticals. Martin wasn't a robber, and he wasn't a killer, and there were absolutely no grounds to suppose that he was. He wasn't doing anything wrong! Your 'what ifs' are preposterous. Is this what we've come to? Arm yourselves and pursue your fellow citizens; they might be up to no good?




Hindsight is certainly a wonderful thing, isn't it?
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Postby vison » Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:47 am

It wasn't Mr. Zimmerman's job to accost this kid. It was his job to report "suspicious" activity to the real police.

Cerin wrote:Is this what we've come to? Arm yourselves and pursue your fellow citizens; they might be up to no good?


Maybe it is. It's starting to look that way.
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Postby Dave_LF » Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:55 am

I don't know what things are like in Florida, but in Michigan, GOP-sponsored tax cuts and falling property tax revenue has gutted police departments to the point where "report suspicious persons to the police, then go about your business" is a way to virtually guarantee that nothing will happen; certainly not before the person in question is long gone.
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Postby Tookish_Traveler » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:06 am

I'm still not convinced there was any 'suspicious activity', other than a teenager walking home while talking to his girlfriend on the phone.


But this should be fun....looks like we are going back to the days of the willd wild west. yee-haw!


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Postby hamlet » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:27 am

Dave_LF wrote:I don't know what things are like in Florida, but in Michigan, GOP-sponsored tax cuts and falling property tax revenue has gutted police departments to the point where "report suspicious persons to the police, then go about your business" is a way to virtually guarantee that nothing will happen; certainly not before the person in question is long gone.


Much the same in NJ, actually. It's actually policy, unspoken, that the police won't respond to non-violent and non-emergency (i.e., something or somebody is on fire, crashed, or in imminent danger of death) unless at least two separate calls are logged.

That, and they're shooting at police here in NJ.
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Postby vison » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:31 am

They didn't shoot at me in NJ. I really liked NJ and miss my annual visit there. :( The Garden State. :)
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Postby hamlet » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:38 am

vison wrote:They didn't shoot at me in NJ. I really liked NJ and miss my annual visit there. :( The Garden State. :)


The Garden State is having trouble. Can't afford to pay police, so they're laying off hundreds of them at a time. Certain elements of society have taken the opportunity to "thin the heard" in their words, and even small town police are getting shot at. My friend is chief of police at a small town nearby and was, earlier this year, shot in the leg when he was performing a routine traffic stop during his day on the street. Now he's stuck behind a desk for at least 6 months, and he's really upset about it.

On top of that, unlivably high property taxes (as in, people can't afford to pay them), not enough tax revenue to cover neccessities, and the beginnings of a drought.

Fun times.
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Postby Griffon64 » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:48 am

Over in my neck of the woods we're beginning to buckle a little under the sweetheart retirement deals my city lavished on its police force. We're not quite under the wave yet, and there's been some scaling back of the excess, so maybe we won't suffer too much and only have to carry a percentage through their overly rich retirements while still able to afford upkeep.

That aside, some video in this article on CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/29/justice/florida-teen-shooting/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1

shows a couple interesting things: Zimmerman was at least detained in handcuffs, and he doesn't show any injuries to the back of his head in this video. His attorney says the video doesn't prove or disprove anything.
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Postby hamlet » Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:51 am

Griffon64 wrote:http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/29/justice/florida-teen-shooting/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1

shows a couple interesting things: Zimmerman was at least detained in handcuffs, and he doesn't show any injuries to the back of his head in this video. His attorney says the video doesn't prove or disprove anything.


To be entirely fair, the video isn't clear enough to show things in great detail. Treated wounds may simply not be visible.

But, if there was, in fact, no assault at all, as this video might support, then Zimmerman is murdering scum and needs to go to jail for the rest of his life.
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