Trayvon Martin Case Shadowed by Series of Police Missteps

Mistakes by the Police Department in Sanford, Fla., and circumstances beyond its control, could make it more difficult to pursue a case against George Zimmerman.

To make one thing clear at the outset: I don't intend to choose any side over the other here. What happened is a huge tragedy. I am now looking at this from the perspective of what I would do if I were on the jury, given the facts that have been reported on these pages of the NYT so far and assuming that I have a complete grasp of these facts. Assuming this is the case, it comes down to this: Who was following whom immediately proceeding the scuffle that ended with the shot being fired? If it was GZ who was cornering TM, who then responded by reasonably fearing for his own safety (as you are making a good point of) then TM was exercising his right and the blame rests solely with GZ. If on the other hand GZ lost sight of TM, did in fact return to his car (as has been stated here many times before) and TM sneaked up on him (perhaps because he was upset having been followed in the first place) and initiated the scuffle, then GZ can possibly claim self-defense, provided the forensic facts match his story.
It will all depend on how the case is going to be presented and what can be proven and what not at the time of the trial.

0 2018-07-18 08:05:45 - JJ

The only substantial mistake the police made was not appreciating the racial and 2nd Amendment political aftermath of the incident. The cops did enough to get the right answer, which is that there's insufficient evidence to convict Zimmerman of a crime. He was playing the Dudley Do-Right role, and Martin obviously took umbrage at being approached by a stranger, and he tragically, fatally chose to fight a man who was lawfully carrying a gun. Martin was the better street fighter, so Zimmerman shot him rather than lose the fight and possibly lose his life. I don't see a crime.

5 2017-12-06 11:08:31 - Tom

Not an NRA supporter, but I wonder who would have been the victim if Zimmerman didn't have the gun. And what we would have heard about it? Two days max and gone from the news?

20 2017-07-23 04:27:08 - bhound56

Alright, so what does it change? Nothing. They did that, just not as fast as you want. No new facts.

0 2017-07-16 02:31:09 - B.D.

This is the most stunning part of this Stand Your Ground law. In any altercation between two people, only the one left standing can claim self defense? The other party is then simply assumed to be the aggressor? Florida sounds like a serial killer's paradise. Maybe Ted Bundy could've claimed that women were accosting him in deserted areas and he was forced to defend himself.

6 2017-05-26 01:01:45 - InNane

Now that the case is falling apart and, all the evidence points to the fact that it was a good shooting on the part of Zman, NYT has resorted to blaming the police for their "MISSTEPS" for not making a concocted case. What a farce!!!!

6 2017-05-19 13:54:06 - Martin
All speculation, perhaps it was completely the the other way.
2 2017-05-16 15:18:57 - DP

Seriously. What, they don't have Radio Shacks down there?

5 2017-05-04 02:05:44 - Deering

This article is dealing with the limitations of a small city police force. Although the article leads one to believe that had police missteps been avoided, different evidence might have been available is somewhat editorializing and speculation. The only area where that might be true is in the confiscation of the vehicle and securing the ground on which the struggle took place. The rest of the story is just hand waving filler, as that evidence either was not available at the time or wasn't going anywhere until such time as it was under investigation.

It also amazes me that so many readers have already drawn their conclusions from their emotions. They are assuming that George Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon Martin, gun drawn, with malicious intent. They are assuming that, of course it was Mr. Zimmerman who confronted Mr Martin, again gun drawn. They also assume that Mr Zimmerman can be prosecuted outside the law. Perhaps perverse justice does sometimes allow that to happen, but are we to favor a perversion of justice because we disagree with the law? Its no wonder that jury selection is such a painful process.

It may well be that both Mr Zimmerman and Mr Martin both showed poor judgement in dealing with each other. Let us deal with this case, and each other with more gentle ration.

6 2017-03-19 04:14:37 - Stephen Schedra

I am a former Military Policeman and first I was taught is to secure the crime scene, to include vehicles used as transportation to the scene for the Investigators. Once the Officer decided to take picture, he should have taken facial, full head (front back and sides) Full Body and Pics of the scene blood, Vehicles. The excuse that evidence was lost due to weather is no excuse at all unless it was raining before the fist vehicle was on the scene. The mistakes in this case are too blatant to overlook. I am quite sure that the Investigators know all the Basics of Crime Scene integrity, preservation and documentation. Though no pics of Z's injuries were taken, there are the the Paramedics that treated him. Did they document the injuries? If not what did they say regarding the injuries. I do not have an opinion either way due to the way the so called facts have been presented in the media. There are too many unanswered questions here. As far as 2 different Prosecutors coming to different conclusion that's questionable. Lets see how this plays out. Florida we are watching you. If he is Guilty he deserves his due punishment.. This sounds more like a Manslaughter case. Intent has everything to do with the Charges.

2 2017-03-11 03:57:05 - Tony

It is not clear from this story whether the police who questioned Zimmerman even knew about the 911 call and whether they had listened to it. To me, that call says everything--that he was following Martin, that it was suggested that he not do it, and that he still went out in search of Martin. That, plus the fact that he was armed, indicates malicious intent.
I have an acquaintance who's a big gun nut who insists that when people are carrying, they're "always" on their best behavior and go out of their way to avoid confrontation. Following someone around in the dark is not best behavior, and it certainly is not a way to avoid confrontation.

205 2017-02-24 16:33:32 - steve

Zimmerman's patrol is nothing more than him agreeing to look around each night as he walks his dog. This was a trip to the store, not a patrol or related to NW, that is just Crump prepping for the civil suit.

Not police, a dispatcher advised, "we don't need you to do that" Many news sources conveniently leave out Zimmerman's reply, OK.

If you only look at known facts, and discard the story Crump created, its easy to see this was not about race, just a teenager who thought beating up a smaller man who followed him was ok and it went bad.

Why didn't Tracy Martin tell his son, there is a NW watch guy named George, just tell him you are visiting here if you see him.

DeeDee is Trayvon's GF, Crump met with her, and arranged an interview with ABC before she spoke with police or prosecutors. ABC has three version of the edited interview that can be found.

Many people are wound up in the legal details of this case, the incredible bias in the media reporting, but Crump didn't put the great effort he made into arresting or convicting Zimmerman. This is ground work for a civil suit, and an attack on the Stand Your Ground law, which will proceed regardless of the outcome of this case.

6 2017-02-24 05:48:11 - Mikado Cat

Mr Zimmerman has been charged with a degree of murder, not a criminal violation of civil rights. That is as it should be; I am not convinced that this is a racism based case; I am convinced that the minute Zimmerman followed Martin, ignoring a police directive to NOT follow him- the police HE called for help- 'Stand Your Ground' and 'self defense' were thrown out the window.

9 2017-02-22 10:08:08 - estelle79

When Trayvon Martin was shot, his father was not home. He lived about 100 yards from the shooting and did not arrive home until around 10:30 when the "thorough" investigation at the crime scene was over. No police tape around the scene, nothing but the work of Mr. Zimmerman. I don't care how small your town is, these police are clowns.

22 2017-02-03 17:24:03 - maggieast

I believe a sensible person would realize that he could just as easily get shot in the back if he turned his back on someone brandishing a gun for no reason, and just scream for help.

1 2017-02-02 00:57:54 - DJBF

This is a balanced report that shows how hard it is for police to be thorough in their investigation in the heat of the moment. This is why training and continuous improvement are very very important. What is also clear is that the "stand your ground" law is dangerous and can be used to commit crimes, although I do not believe that was the case here. What is even more clear is the utter insanity in the ever increasing sale of small firearms, all in the false name of second amendment. There is a big distinction between shooting game and sport and self-defense. There is an even bigger difference between living in the 1700s when carrying a sword or a pistol was more important than today. Insanity rules, a poor kid is dead, and a trigger-happy man, who most probably did not have any malicious intent is fighting charges. It is a sad day all around except for the NRA and its apostles.

74 2017-01-17 14:33:52 - chickenlover

I don't see what "stand your ground" has to do with the right to defend oneself when pinned to the ground and therefore unable to flee. I don't see what Zimmerman or Martin's race has to to with that right. If Zimmerman was an intrusive nosey busybody who should have stayed in his vehicle, that does not remove his right to defend himself once he found himself being assaulted and unable to flee. Whatever misunderstanding brought the events to that point do not remove the fundamental human right to act in self-defense. The marches, the obsession with Zimmerman and Martin's race, the repeated specious reference to "stand your ground" when traditional doctrine of self-defense apply suggest that Zimmerman is a victim of a racial lynching hijacked by a political cause. Martin was likely a victim of Zimmerman's nosiness, his own paranoia, excess testosterone and lack of judgement. A tragic unnecessary clash followed by mob injustice. And all the comments attacking Zimmerman for arming himself are only valid if they come from people who live in his community in his circumstances. The level of violence in many communities are several orders of magnitude greater than they are in the neighborhoods of most of the readership of the NYT--and the police farther away.

16 2017-01-09 22:48:13 - KBronson

NO, I dont really think we can feel sorry for Mr Zimmerman here. I don't. Even if he didn't have malicious intent, so what? A KID is still dead. And he did that. I hope that haunts him for the rest of his life.

And as many here so accurately point out, Mr Zimmerman became the aggressor in this the minute he decided NOT to stand down and not follow that kid, as he was instructed. He decided instead that HE knew better than the cops, and HE would take matters into his own hands.

As for the police not even bothering to identify Trayvon, that is simply sickening and proves the point of racism better than many of the other points made here. They just assumed he was another black gang banger and why bother? Meanwhile, Trayvon's family gets to wait all night for him to come home, not knowing their son is already dead.

Shameful doesn't even encompass that.

1 2016-12-31 11:00:22 - liz

I'm not as certain that this was just "sloppy" police work. Intensionly botching proper police procedure is a good way to insure that it will be difficult to convict a son of a judge for killing a black man.

5 2016-12-21 07:10:14 - Bates

The Times apparently has to keep tellingus basically nothing. While a tragedy occurred, the case is actually political. According to Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel (not a conservative newspaper), support for Stand Your Ground is quite strong in Florida and probably elsewhere.

It does not look possible to find out for sure whether this was a case of brave Mr. Zimmerman standing his ground against a hooded hoodlum. That is, legally. There is no doubt, however, that Mr. Zimmerman acted in the spirit of Stand Your Ground - somehow he got conditioned to feel that way.

As for sloppy work of the local police, I do not think that NYPD or LAPD are that much better. They may just have better ways of hiding their missteps. Will the prosecutor be able to persuade any jury that murder took place? I doubt it but I am not going to be a juror.

At one point Zimmerman behaved (or was reported to behave) erratically but, with his new and improved attorney, he does not do it any longer.

Any deeper meaning here? Just what we all have kinown for a long time. Despite electing an African American president, we have a long way to go to a color blind society. As a matter of fact, such a society is just possible, we are genetically predisposed to discriminate against almost everyone who does not behave exactly as we do. And sometimes we blast even our twins... Nasty species we are.

2 2016-12-11 05:13:08 - Ladislav Nemec

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