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Tragic Scenarios

March 22nd, 2012 · 115 Comments

I think it’s fairly clear, at this point, that the initial police investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin was shamefully slipshod, and that George Zimmerman’s shaky story needs to be heard and evaluated by a jury, not accepted on faith by sympathetic law enforcement. But I’ve also been mulling the facts that have been made public and trying to figure out if there’s any plausible scenario that makes it genuinely “tragic”—not in the modern sense of “really sad” but in line with the classic Greek formula, where the protagonists come to grief, not as a result of outright wickedness, but flaws in basically decent characters. Is there a way for this to be a story without villains? Having just written that Zimmerman’s actions seemed unreasonable under any believable set of circumstances, I figured I should at least try to come up with a counterexample. Here’s one possibility that seemed plausible—though with luck, an actual jury will soon get to determine what actually happened:

We start with Zimmerman spotting Martin on the way back from the convenience store and concluding that he seems “suspicious” in light of recent burglaries. Maybe it’s just because he’s an unfamiliar black teenager and Zimmerman is applying a racist stereotype, or maybe there’s something else that Zimmerman misunderstands—the boy is walking slowly to prolong the trip home while he talks to his girlfriend, which on a rainy night, Zimmerman perceives as someone “casing” houses. Failing to understand how creepy his own slow-motion monitoring of the teen from his SUV seems, Zimmerman takes it as a further confirmation of his suspicions when Martin breaks into a run.

Stupidly disregarding the 911 dispatcher’s advice, Zimmerman gets out of his car to ensure he can point the boy out to police when they arrive. After all, he thinks, if this is the guy who’s been breaking into local houses, it would be crazy to let him slip away to strike again, and he only intends to get a closer look and maybe ask a few questions. This would be dumb, but not inherently criminal. He either approaches Martin, or Martin himself finally decides to confront this determined stranger to demand an explanation for why he’s being followed. Zimmerman, in turn, demands to know “what he’s doing in the neighborhood,” meaning “explain what I regard as suspicious behavior.” Martin seems visibly edgy—as you would be with a creepy stranger tailing you!—and maybe Zimmerman simultaneously exposes the holstered firearm, hoping it will deter the teen from trying anything.

But Martin isn’t connecting the question with the recent spate of break-ins, which he has no reason to know about: What he hears is a threat from an armed and menacing stranger who has been stalking him from his vehicle, and now sounds angry to see a black teenager in “his” neighborhood. And when Zimmerman exposes the gun, Martin reasonably concludes that he’s about to become the victim of a hate crime.He could run—but he won’t outrun a bullet, and risks being shot in the back. It seems like his only chance is to disable and disarm this nut before he can draw the weapon. It’s a risky gambit, but in another few seconds, Zimmerman will have time to draw the gun and fire, so Martin doesn’t see any other good options. Making a split-second decision, the football player goes for the tackle, thinking he can get the gun away and hold this creep for police.

Zimmerman, meanwhile, has no idea what Martin is thinking. All he knows is he’s on the ground taking hits from someone who now appears to be going for his gun. He shouts for help but doesn’t see anyone coming, and  doesn’t realize the teen had regarded him as an imminent threat. He assumes Martin’s making a grab for the gun in order to use it against him. Panicked, flat on his back, and seeing no alternative, Zimmerman fires.

This is, obviously, complete speculation, but as far as I can tell, it’s consistent with the public facts—and with the general principle that fear and stupidity are more common than malice. If it’s accurate, both parties would have honestly believed they were acting in self defense. And, incidentally, the “Stand Your Ground” law wouldn’t appear to be relevant, because neither of them would have regarded retreat as a viable option at the time they reasonably believed themselves to be threatened. Again, I think it clearly ought to fall to a jury to figure out whether this is what happened—or at least a believable possibility, once all the evidence is on the table. But I figured it was worth throwing out this scenario as a reminder that we should insist on justice for Trayvon Martin without insisting that we’re certain in advance what that means. We need a real investigation and a trial—not a particular verdict.

Update: Just in case it wasn’t clear enough, I’m not saying I think this is what happened, or even especially likely compared with other alternatives. I’m just wary of repeating the error of the Stanford police: Seizing on the first version of events that fits the initially available facts, and then locking yourself into that as the only possibility. It is, as a rule, a good idea to generate alternative hypotheses even when you think your first one is probably correct.

Tags: Law



115 responses so far ↓

  • 1 joey // Mar 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    did megan tell you that you couldn’t come over for flawless robotically created bechamels if you didn’t ape her conspiracy theories? anything tangentially related to the “public facts” = speculation grounded in fact?

  • 2 Julian Sanchez // Mar 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    How is this a conspiracy theory, exactly? It’s one possibility that fits the facts we know, and seems at least as plausible as “Zimmerman shoots the kid in cold blood for no reason at all, with police due to arrive any minute and potential witnesses everywhere.” Just pointing out that “this guy needs to be charged and tried” isn’t the same as “we can already be certain he’s guilty.”

  • 3 Mike // Mar 22, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Having read media coverage of many, many self-defense cases, I’m perfectly comfortable to accept that the publicly available facts of the case are a very poor way to judge the innocence or guilt of anyone involved.

    I hope the police do a thorough investigation and that the prosecutor proceeds as his job dictates from there – neither a witch-hunt brought on by media attention, nor a racist attempt to sweep this under the rug.

  • 4 joey // Mar 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    this gives up the game: “Having just written that Zimmerman’s actions seemed unreasonable under any believable set of circumstances, I figured I should at least try to come up with a counterexample. ” it lowers the bar to “anything plausible” which provides some (but not much) cover to your friend and colleague.
    you are right, though, conspiracy theory is the wrong term. my apologies for that.

  • 5 Julian Sanchez // Mar 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I’m not trying to give anyone cover. I’m thinking about different possibilities because it’s always tempting—and dangerous—to decide that the first story you can tell on the basis of sparse facts has to be the right one, and get locked into defending it at all costs. A good antidote is to occasionally ask yourself: “OK, how could I be wrong? Is there another hypothesis consistent with the facts?”

  • 6 Chuck Rudd // Mar 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I almost feel bad dropping this term into such a tragic discussion – but you’ve touched on the problem: asymmetric information. Zimmerman was acting on info that Martin had no way of knowing.

    I think that if anything, Martin would have had a claim under the “Stand Your Ground” law which brings up the question, can two people have a claim to the same law at the same time?

  • 7 joey // Mar 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    i have no reason to disbelieve you Julian, except that i can come up with a scenario where you and yglesias and the mcsudermans were at the casa de blenderella clinking glasses and talking about the mean old trolls who dared to question mcmegan’s “no one can know anything, so substitute this fantasy that conforms to my narrative” argument and you all decided that you would give her a hand–because it is embarassing to her.

  • 8 Steve // Mar 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    So, in your scenario, a man stalks a teenager and flashes his gun at him (assault), which provokes a self-defense response in the teenager, leading to the stalking assailant shooting his prey. Yeah, sure, that’s “not guilty.”

  • 9 Julian Sanchez // Mar 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Oh good. That will come in handy if I’m ever brought up on criminal charges of, uh… not doing that, I guess.

  • 10 Zimmerman’s Other 911 Calls « Gucci Little Piggy // Mar 22, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    […] A good piece by Julian Sanchez arguing that Zimmerman was pursuing Martin based upon a different knowledge set […]

  • 11 Julian Sanchez // Mar 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Assault requires intent. That’s the trouble: Martin could be acting in self-defense, on the basis of a reasonable belief that Zimmerman was threatening him or preparing to attack, whether or not Zimmerman had actually intended to threaten or attack him.

  • 12 Jess // Mar 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    It’s pretty clear that Zimmerman is a stupid incompetent coward who should not carry a firearm in public. No competent gun user would ever do what he did. Cowards should not be armed outside of very controlled private situations such as a gun range. To arm oneself is to be held to a higher standard, and cowards such as Zimmerman do not measure up.

    No reasonable law can be enforced specifically against cowards, but the law is able to hold citizens responsible for their actions while armed. Whether cowardice, stupidity, laziness, pride, or incompetence are among the character flaws that lead one to use lethal force in unjustified fashion, the law still may be applied. It’s true in this case as well, or would have been if the police had attempted to properly fulfill their function. This constant cavalcade of what-if scenarios serves only to obscure the fact that the law, properly applied, can hold citizens responsible for their actions. I won’t speculate why anyone would want to foster such a misunderstanding of the law, but I do note that it plays right into the hands of gun-control advocates and others who favor unfettered power for law enforcement.

    It seems likely that “no duty to retreat” is a pretty terrible idea when applied outside one’s private or inhabited property, and I say that as a citizen who occasionally arms himself. The only possible justification for this law I can see is that it might limit prosecutorial discretion to harass justified shooters. I think that must be balanced against society’s basic interests in justice. You have a right to your day in court; you have no right to avoid court completely. Any limitation on civil penalties is a very bad idea. The wealthy should not have greater access to the tools of self-defense than the rest of us, and only civil suits can counteract their effective immunity from criminal punishment.

    We shouldn’t imagine that Zimmerman is “on our team”. He murdered a child, and for that he should spend many decades in prison, as an example for other cowards who imagine they might feel a bit more adequate by using a gun to menace citizens. Firearms are tools for killing; if you need to feel better about yourself then buy a puppy.

  • 13 K. Chen // Mar 22, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    The reactions (no comment on the underlying fact) convince me beyond a shadow of a doubt that the public at large is operating under the “just-world hypothesis.” A 17 year old kid died who wasn’t doing anything wrong. Clearly, someone(s) Evil and horrible must be found to explain away the event. Likewise, posturing on comment threads makes us feel righteous and somehow less impotent against this awful, awful world.

    Related to that, I disagree with the notion that somehow a jury is a superior or even adequate fact finder, or that a criminal trial is a good way to determine the real facts. It is, if anything, a way to throw off responsibility for finding the truth, and ignore the very real limitations any non-divine person has for discovering the truth

    This is part of why we rely on police and other government investigators, who have superior, but still limited ways of discovering these things.

  • 14 Mike // Mar 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm


    I’m almost with you, but your narrative falls apart at this point:

    “Panicked, flat on his back, and seeing no alternative, Zimmerman fires.”

    As you observed yesterday, Zimmerman had over 100 lbs on Martin. The idea that Martin could overpower him to such a degree that Zimmerman feared for his life strikes me as highly implausible.

  • 15 christoballs // Mar 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    The scenario you dreamt up, as you recounted it, sounds perfectly plausible but if the situation did play out the way you imagine it, it would still make Zimmerman the aggressor.

    His decision to stalk and confront the boy implies a willingness to start a confrontation that any reasonable person should have known had the potential to turn violent, so by seeking out such a confrontation Zimmerman could not claim to be acting in self defense. I don’t know about FL, but in NC the concealed carry class specifically mentions a clause in the law regarding self defense, that says you CANNOT claim self defense even against a lethal attack IF that attack came as a result of a conflict you actively sought out and provoked. You can’t insult someone so grievously they strike you or pull a knife on you, for instance, then shoot them and claim it was self defense.

    If Zimmerman did show his pistol to Trayvon, he was guilty of assault with a deadly weapon or “brandishing” – it’s not lawful to display your weapon as a threat or show of force.

    I agree, the case needs to be argued before a jury – charges should be filed. I’m not arguing that Zimmerman’s guilt is a foregone conclusion, but there was more than enough evidence to arrest and charge him.

  • 16 Julian Sanchez // Mar 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    That is certainly the weakest point in this hypothetical. Supposedly Zimmerman was knocked on the ground at one point, and that or the head injury may have partly negated the weight advantage. But yeah, still a stretch. Again, this is an exercise in coming up with the most favorable scenario, not the one that seems most likely.

  • 17 K. Chen // Mar 22, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Why is the weight advantage of such significance? Are larger people always to be assumed to have actually or constructively to factor in their weight advantage in any physical confrontation?

    I would think a number of other factors would weigh on a fighters mind, including, their past experiences, their ability to fight, the physical shape that they are in, the rush of adrenalin, and other equalizers, like weapons i.e, a pistol.

    I’m probably quite a bit heavier than a number of 17 year old kids who could kick my ass, from here to Sunday.

    This objection of course convert easily into a criticism/defense of handgun ownership.

  • 18 Mike // Mar 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    K. Chen,

    I mean, there’s weight advantage and there’s weight advantage, right?

    Trayvon Martin was 6’3″ and 140 pounds. That’s pretty damn skinny, by BMI standards at least.

  • 19 K. Chen // Mar 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    I’m about Zimmerman’s age, 5’7 and an embarrassing 180+ pounds (190 on a bad week), and I have found no reliable information on Zimmerman’s size. Despite a 22% mass advantage, Martin would have, based on your numbers, significant reach on me, and apparently in much better shape. I don’t know that being 220 pounds and somehow approximately in the same shape would make me feel all that confident.

  • 20 Thomas // Mar 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    The story being sold here is that George Zimmerman is a resident of a gated community in a suburb in the south, and he attacked a kid because he’s racist, and the cops in this town let him off for the same reason.

    The fact that Zimmerman is Latino and more likely to be the object of police mistreatment than special dispensations is ignored by changing Zimmerman into a “white” man, likely for the first time in his life.

    And the suburb is majority non-white, and the gated community is not lily-white–it has black and Latino residents. And the cops are apparently as diverse as the community.

    Once we get past the easy story we’re being sold, we are forced to ask, what really happened? And this scenario, or something like it, is, unfortunately, more than plausible–it’s the only one consistent with all the available evidence.

    We needn’t suppose that Zimmerman brandished a weapon. Martin might have felt threatened by the mere fact of a large Latino asking for answers. Is it possible that Martin feared Zimmerman due to Zimmerman’s ethnicity? Zimmerman’s tone and presence (and Martin’s possible racial bias–for which we have as much evidence as we do for Zimmerman’s, before anyone complains) might have triggered a fight-or-flight response from Martin, who chose to initite a physical confrontation. Zimmerman gets the worst of it, because he’s a slow, fat out of shape guy, and Martin is tall and strong. After Zimmerman sustains injuries, he calls for help, but no one comes. Fearing that the beating won’t stop, he uses his weapon to end the fight. If that’s what happened, there is no criminality on Zimmerman’s part, and if the police believed that’s what happened, they are right to have refused to arrest him, and if the prosecutors believe that’s what happened, they should refuse to indict him.

  • 21 Mike // Mar 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm


    At the very least (even if you discount the alleged “fucking coons” comment on the 911 call), there are statements by Zimmerman’s neighbors that he made them feel uncomfortable because of his attitudes on race:


    There is exactly zero evidence that I am aware of that suggests that Martin harbored any prejudice against Latinos.

  • 22 Jess // Mar 22, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Nice straw man, K. Chen. No one said Zimmerman is evil. He did stalk an innocent adolescent, and he did disobey police instructions, and he did seek unnecessary conflict while armed, and he did shoot an unarmed adolescent. All of those things are facts in evidence, disputed by no one at the scene. We don’t then have to prove he is also evil to justify an expectation that the police would at least investigate the crime and produce their findings within a month. If that was the bar, no crime would ever be investigated.

    Also, if you doubt the importance of weight in a fight, you have clearly never been in a fight. If Martin had at least three years’ experience in wrestling or jujitsu (we have no indication this is the case), it might have somewhat ameliorated a fifty-pound difference, but I doubt it would make up for it entirely. Even if Martin were a 4th-degree black belt jujitsu master (impossible for someone his age), Zimmerman would still be accountable for initiating conflict while armed and then shooting without justification. When he loaded that bullet in his magazine, he made himself accountable for its destination. Nothing Martin is alleged to have done changed that fact.

  • 23 MFarmer // Mar 22, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    What I can’t understand is a panel on cable news today calling all whites racist because whites haven’t talked enough about this issue. According to these pundits only “blacks”, their description, have talked about it. Why are some on the Left trying to make this about white racism. Zimmerman is hispanic if I’m not wrong, and I don’t know the make-up of the police department, but it seems silly to go straight to racism. I know the city manager in Sanford is African-Amercian, and it would be interesting to know the racial makeup of the police department. I think this type of discussion demeans the tragedy and misleads everyone from learning what needs to be learned.

  • 24 Julian Sanchez // Mar 22, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    As anyone who has examined the photograph at the top of this Website should be able to ascertain, “white” and “Hispanic” are not mutually exclusive categories. I hear even we highly enlightened Hispanics are capable of racism, much as it saddens me to say it.

    Also, I don’t watch cable news, but I’ll give Mike $100 if he can produce a recording from any mainstream cable news show today on which a panelist made the verbatim claim “all whites are racist.” I realize discussions of the continuing role of racial bias in American life make people uncomfortable, but there’s something awfully desperate about reading every attempt to broach the topic as tantamount to claiming “all whites are racist.”

  • 25 Mike // Mar 22, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    “Also, I don’t watch cable news, but I’ll give Mike $100 if he can produce a recording from any mainstream cable news show today on which a panelist made the verbatim claim “all whites are racist.””

    Far be it from me to turn down free cash, but I’m not the one who made that claim.

  • 26 K. Chen // Mar 22, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    “Nice straw man, K. Chen. No one said Zimmerman is evil. ”

    While this is almost certainly true (I have not bothered to check) I am also talking about blaming the police, or the prosecutors, or anyone else. (Which could of course make your accusation of my use of a logical fallacy that same fallacy on your part. Which is just another example of why arguing about logical fallacies frequently both useless and childish). The just world hypothesis is a way of explaining/asserting a human tendency to find someone – anyone – to blame during tragedy, be it the victim, the police, or God. An innocent died. We (the news reading, blog thread commenting community) are finding someone to blame for the horror.

    The issue of Zimmerman’s weight isn’t whether weight actually matter, or to what degree it matters, but rather to the reasonable perception of someone in a fight with whether it matters. In the hypothetical confrontation between me and the non-deceased Martin, I have certain advantages on paper that I, being someone as you astutely pointed out, have not gotten into a [real] fight, scarcely matter when I’m faced with a tall, athletic, better fit young adult in the evening when my perception is shot.

    Now, the various issues with Zimmerman carrying a gun, disregarding dispatcher instructions, apparently with a bad case of the viliganties and so on may make him ultimately responsible in a moral and or legal sense. I’m perfectly willing to buy that. I’m making a smaller, separate point which is that in a fight between a 28 year old male and a 17 year old male, and the only presented facts are the 17 year old male was tall and skinny, and the 28 year old male was 100 lbs heavier, and that there was a gun, there are a number of scenarios why the 28 year old may subjectively and reasonably be afraid.

    And, I don’t know about you all, but I was way stronger at 17 than at 28, and possibly more vicious.

  • 27 Mike // Mar 22, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    K. Chen,

    “The just world hypothesis is a way of explaining/asserting a human tendency to find someone – anyone – to blame during tragedy.”

    This is not correct. A just world hypothesis would have posited that Trayvon Martin was somehow to blame for his death, or asking for it, since good things don’t happen to bad people. It would not lead one to the conclusion that Zimmerman was an evil man. Quite the opposite, in fact:


    “I’m making a smaller, separate point which is that in a fight between a 28 year old male and a 17 year old male, and the only presented facts are the 17 year old male was tall and skinny, and the 28 year old male was 100 lbs heavier, and that there was a gun, there are a number of scenarios why the 28 year old may subjectively and reasonably be afraid.”

    I understand that, and I’ll grant you that those situations may theoretically exist. But they are so far removed from the reality of the situation at hand as to seem more or less implausible to me, barring further evidence.

    Furthermore, I don’t think there is anything in the wording of my comment (“As you observed yesterday, Zimmerman had over 100 lbs on Martin. The idea that Martin could overpower him to such a degree that Zimmerman feared for his life strikes me as highly implausible.”) that suggested that in any and every case a 100 lbs advantage automatically bestows one the upper hand in a fight. If that is how you read it, I would ask for a more charitable reading on your part.

  • 28 Liberty60 // Mar 22, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    That Zimmerman could be a villain as presented and a tragic figure both, is not a contradiciton.
    As Greek tragedies tell us, flawed heroes don’t merely make errors, or even harmful blunders- they make truly horrific choices that are evil in effect, even when done for ostensibly good motives.

    It seems more likely than not that Zimmerman saw Trayvon and instantly categorized him as a dangerous thug, heaping upon Trayvon every injustice and outrage which had motivated Zimmerman to pick up a gun in the first place.

    Zimmerman didn’t “just happen” to be out with a gun nearby; he went out on a mission, to confront someone; The moment Trayvon came into his sights, was scanned and pronounced guilty, he was as good as dead; nothing Tryayvon could have done or said would have changed Zimmerman’s mind.

    This is the tragedy- that Zimmerman was so unaware of his own bigotry, so blind to how much his actions were fueld by rage that he himself was the most suspicious and dangerous person in Sanford that night.

    Had Trayvon stood his ground, pulled a gun and shot Zimmerman as he approached, it would have fit the spirit and intent of that outrageous law.

  • 29 K. Chen // Mar 22, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    I’ve always understood the just world hypothesis to be an explanation for the phenomena of victim blaming, not victim blaming in and of itself. Or, to put it another way, victim blaming is one of many forms the just world hypothesis manifests itself, thus the lead sentence of the Wikipedia article: “The just world hypothesis describes a cognitive bias in which people believe or assume that the world they live in is one in which situations occur as the result of some universal force of desert or justice.”

    I think (and as it so happens, how I understand self-defense law to function) there is a separate inquiry as to subjective perceptions of person, in this case Zimmerman, could have registered Martin as a threat to his life, and then another as to whether those perceptions, for someone in Zimmerman’s situation were reasonable, and whether or not Zimmerman was culpable of putting himself in the situation in the first place. Of those three issues, the reporting seems to shed some light on the third and somewhat the second, and little on the first. With this lack of data, Hanlon’s razor cuts towards mutual perception of threat at the first step, even if its increasingly suggested that Zimmerman put himself in that situation by his own lack of care or even malice.

  • 30 MikeS // Mar 22, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Mr. Farmer is also a Mike. As am I.

    And I have to agree with Mr. Farmer that the most notable thing about this incident is that it’s causing people on cable news shows to say stupid things.

  • 31 David // Mar 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    Funny… I brought up pretty much this exact scenario in a discussion with a colleague as the most charitable interpretation of events for Zimmerman. Only I was making the opposite point: under this scenario he would at least still be guilty of manslaughter. How is tailing someone, who is doing nothing threatening or illegal, on a dark, rainy evening, verbally accosting them, and possibly brandishing a firearm at them not reckless behavior that foresee-ably could lead to a fight and ultimately someone getting shot?

    There are levels of reckless and stupid behavior that, if they lead to someone getting killed, are illegal, especially if the person committing that behavior is carrying a lethal weapon. It doesn’t matter if Zimmerman thought we was doing a public service, I’m sure the drunk guy driving his even drunker friend home thinks the same thing.

  • 32 Thomas // Mar 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    Julian, it’s a fair point to say that white and hispanic are not mutually exclusive. I would only say that, if some hispanics are subject to discriminatory treatment based on their appearance (e.g., “driving while hispanic”), Zimmerman is among them.

    Mike, I’ve listened to the call, I don’t hear what some people imagine they hear. Nor is there any evidence of racial animus in the article you linked to. The fact that he described suspects by reference to their race doesn’t show racial animus or discriminatory attitudes. The evidence for Martin’s racial animus is every bit as strong, because it comes down to this: lots of people harbor racial prejudices, and Martin was a person. If we can imagine evidence into a recording that otherwise lacks it, surely we can imagine that Martin isn’t that different from so many others.

    David, following someone isn’t threatening them, and is no more illegal than walking in a manner that someone else found suspicious. Nor is asking someone what they’re doing illegal, nor would it be likely to initiate a physical confrontation. None of what you set out gets you to manslaughter.

  • 33 Mike // Mar 22, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    “Mike, I’ve listened to the call, I don’t hear what some people imagine they hear.”

    This is a pretty presumptuous way to put it. If you didn’t hear it, fine, but please don’t assume bad faith on the part of those who do.

    “Nor is there any evidence of racial animus in the article you linked to. ”

    I mean, if you genuinely read it and still aren’t seeing it, I doubt there’s a whole lot I can do to convince you, but I’d like to submit for evidence the following excepts, just in case anyone reading this thread is taking your reading at face value:

    “Zimmerman went door-to-door asking residents to be on the lookout, specifically referring to young black men who appeared to be outsiders, and warned that some were caught lurking, neighbors said.”

    ““I fit the stereotype he emailed around,” he said. “Listen, you even hear me say it: ‘A black guy did this. A black guy did that.’ So I thought, ‘Let me sit in the house. I don’t want anyone chasing me.’ ”
    For walks, he goes downtown. A pregnant Quianna listened to her husband’s rationale, dropped her head, and cried.”

  • 34 Chuck Rudd // Mar 22, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Thomas, Mike:

    Jonathan Haidt has a really interesting book just out on the topic called “The Righteous Mind”. It reiterates something that we all know – that we hear what we want to hear. Listening to all of the other 911 calls out there – and the fact that he otherwise called Martin an “asshole” and also said “I *think* he’s black” on the call – suggests to me that Zimmerman didn’t use a racial epithet in the call. If he did, it would be the only epithet he’d said.

    But that doesn’t address the deeper question of subconscious racial bias.

  • 35 Thomas // Mar 23, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Mike, I didn’t hear it because there are no words that can be made out. You can imagine what you want. As for the exchange you want to highlight, you seem to have misunderstood it as well. Zimmerman went door to door in his racially mixed neighborhood. When he read the door you want to talk about, well, here’s how his neighbors recount the story:

    Zimmerman told neighbors about stolen laptops and unsavory characters. Ibrahim Rashada, a 25-year-old African American who works at U.S. Airways, once spotted young men cutting through the woods entering the complex on foot, and later learned items were stolen those days.

    “It’s a gated community, but you can walk in and steal whatever you want,” Rashada’s wife, Quianna, said.

    They discussed the topic with Zimmerman when the watch captain knocked on their door late last year. Zimmerman seemed friendly, helpful, and a “pretty cool dude,” Ibrahim Rashada said.

    “He came by here and talked about carrying guns and getting my wife more involved with guns,” he said. “He said I should have a weapon and that his wife took classes to learn how to use one.

    Yeah, his black neighbors thought he was “friendly, helpful” and a “pretty cool dude.” Forgive me for reading that and thinking it less than obvious that he was racist.

    BTW, just in case you missed it, it’s his black neighbor who says “A black guy did this. A black guy did that.” It’s not Zimmerman, the thought isn’t attributed to Zimmerman. If you want to say that his black neighbor is racially biased against blacks, great, good for you.

  • 36 JeffW // Mar 23, 2012 at 5:32 am

    MikeS wrote: “And I have to agree with Mr. Farmer that the most notable thing about this incident is that it’s causing people on cable news shows to say stupid things.”

    “TV news” (of which cable news shows are a subset) is an oxymoron.

  • 37 MFarmer // Mar 23, 2012 at 8:42 am


    The implication of the host on the cable news show was that whites haven’t talked about the Martin case, and therefore they are racists. The host was Af-Amer and the guest was white, and the point they were making is that blacks are protesting and whites are remaining silent (except the enlightened guest who was ashamed of his race) — you tell me what to make of it, You might think I’m being hyperbolic, but if you are as smart as you pretend to be, you’ll understand how this type of rhetoric implies racism and subtly sends the message that whites are racists. If you don’t see it then you are a part of the problem.

  • 38 MFarmer // Mar 23, 2012 at 8:55 am

    I want that 100 dollars, but I can’t remember the host’s name. She is pretty and has light dark skin, can anyone help me with her name? She also has a commercial spot on MSNBC talking about soldiers not being white or black but Americans. I will look up the transcript if they have it, and if someone can help with the name. She explicitly says that “white people aren’t talking about the Martin case”, then she goes on to talk about racism and how whites profile blacks. Julian might wiggle out because I can’t produce the exact words ” all whites are racists”, but that would be dishonest on his part.

  • 39 Julian Sanchez // Mar 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

    No, Mike, that’s my point. I want to hear the literal claim, not your hypersensitive parsing of any discussion that suggests race might ever be a factor in anything.

  • 40 Robert Hutchinson // Mar 23, 2012 at 11:38 am

    “This is indicative of racism–”

    “I’m not a racist!”

    “Well, no, I’m not saying you are, but racist *behaviors*–”

    “I’m not a racist!”

    “No, I’m talking about the institutionalized, often unconscious racism that our society–”

    “Not a racist not a racist not a racist!”

  • 41 MFarmer // Mar 23, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    “not your hypersensitive parsing of any discussion that suggests race might ever be a factor in anything.”

    You see, Julian, this is what I find amusing. I report that some leftwing pundits are making false accusations against a whole race regarding this issue, making it an issue about white racism, and you automatically accuse me of hypersentivity. What if I said that Hispanics dislike wasps, so they steal from them without a problem of conscience, because they think whites have screwed them in the past? These pundits made broad sweeping statements about whites not discussing the Martin case, when I’ve heard plenty of whites discussing the Martin case and showing outrage at the injustice. We live in a hypersensitive race-charged society. These bogus charges make the race situation worse. It’s not helpful and demeans the tragedy of the situation – it brings Racism Inc into the picture when it should be about the particulars of this case, and about the individual lost, Trayvon Martin. It’s about demanding justice. That you automatically dismiss my concern and accuse me of hypersensitivity, while ignoring my concern, tells me a lot about you that’s not positive. Feel righteous my friend.

  • 42 MFarmer // Mar 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    That’s cute Robert Hutchinson — denying racism is a sure sign of racism, right? Well, that’s not even the issue. It’s that the afric-Am pundit can’t see the racism is her claim that whites are not discussing Martin and that this is indicative of white racism. First, it’s not true. The fact that this is how she’s reading the situation, and this is what she feels is most important, tells me she is more concerned with her ideas of racism than with the tragedy of a young life lost and a possible killer going free. The Left will likely stretch the White racism meme in this story to make it partisan and pointed at White Conservative Republ;icans — the Others. They already have by pointing at Fox’s lack of coverage compared to MSNBC — incredible. This is a sad, enraging story, and politicizing it is disgraceful.

  • 43 Robert S. // Mar 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    In reply to MFarmer’s question:

    You are almost certainly talking about MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry. She is a beautiful mulatto women who frequently race baits on MSNBC.

  • 44 stu // Mar 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    shorter julian update: i’m not saying this happened. i just want to suggest someting that fits the narrative that zimmerman should not be charged.

  • 45 Julian Sanchez // Mar 23, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Obviously, Zimmerman should be charged. How many times can I possibly say that?

  • 46 K. Chen // Mar 23, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    If you jump up and down, screaming at the top of your lungs in bloodlust, probably only a few more times. Making snide comments at bloggers isn’t getting justice, but the self-righteous high is nearly as good.

  • 47 Mike // Mar 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm


    Even in Julian’s counterfactual, Zimmerman should be charged. Your comment makes no sense.

  • 48 stu // Mar 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    like your friend and colleague, blenderella, you are providing rhetorical cover for those who desire that zimmerman not be charged. which is fine. we should all just acknowledge it. there is not a functional difference between what you do here and what geraldo does on fox with his hoodie idiocy.

  • 49 stu // Mar 23, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    i confined my shorter to just his update.

  • 50 Mike // Mar 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Shorter (longer?) stu:

    Explicitly saying that Zimmerman should be charged, and then presenting a counterfactual in which Zimmerman should still be charged somehow provides rhetorical comfort for those saying Zimmerman should not be charged.

  • 51 stu // Mar 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    that is a bit longer, Mike. here is what i find objectionable: JS says that we should resist making the same snap judgment that the police did and suggests (mirroring his friend and colleague, the ex-jane galt) that the proper thing to do is come up with any plausible explanation and just coincidentally the one he and blenderalla choose echo the blame the victim narrative that is being pushed today. plausibly a coincidence? sure. i don’t have to buy it though. JS and mcmegan traffic in doing just this for their galtian overlords.

  • 52 K. Chen // Mar 23, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    So, lazy cynicism them? Also, Rivera’s comments, aside from being of a different class, were given, as I recall, today, the 23rd. Julian’s post is on the 22nd. That would make Rivera’s comments the echo.

    Actually arguing the point with you I think would be less than pointless, the point where good debate skills advise saying the simple truth, i.e., your saying facially ridiculous things, instead of getting into the weeds with you.

  • 53 D // Mar 23, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Talking about this without any knowledge of what the police report says is unethical and should be a crime. Maybe Zimmerman didn’t declare himself as neighborhood watch, and a scared 17 year old went for a stranger’s gun (just like I would). Maybe a pissed off 17 year old attached Zimmerman on his way back to his car just like he said. None of you know, and you should be ashamed of your gossip loving selves for even speculating about something you know nothing about. A kid died and you use it as an opportunity to soap box… really? I bet you tell your doctors how to do their job too; probably think you know what’s best for the country as well huh? I’m moving to Australia.

  • 54 Dan Glick // Mar 24, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Even this version of this events would not be sufficient to exonerate Zimmerman, as far as I can tell. Neighborhood watch are not law enforcement. A civilian is not entitled to chase someone, flash a gun at them, and then claim self-defense when their quarry attacks them.

  • 55 Alan // Mar 24, 2012 at 2:31 am

    I tend to think this might be a reasonable reading of what happened. I doubt Zimmerman set out to kill a black man, but I think he did set up a situation that was likely to end in tragedy.

    If I’m walking through a strange neighborhood minding my own business and some thuggish-looking guy asks me what I’m doing there, I’m guessing that he’s a gang member protecting his turf. As a white man and not a criminal, I know that even in such circumstances I can probably talk my way out of trouble, but I also know that black men are (justifiably) a bit jumpier.

    What could Zimmerman have done in order to not frighten Martin? I find that being polite is a good start. “Pardon me, Sir, but I haven’t seen you in this neighborhood before,” is a good way to begin a conversation.

    Besides, most crime is home-grown anyway. The thief is very likely someone Zimmerman knows and trusts.

  • 56 MFarmer // Mar 24, 2012 at 11:08 am

    “JS and mcmegan traffic in doing just this for their galtian overlords.”

    LOL. I guess Julian knows I feel now. Whoops, my galtian overlord is calling, I have to go spread more hyperbole and rightwing propaganda.

  • 57 SIV // Mar 25, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    A gated community is private property. Zimmerman is an “owner” Martin was a “guest”.

    A property owner certainly has the right to ask a stranger why he is on the property.

  • 58 Drew // Mar 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

    “A gated community is private property.”

    That doesn’t really make it Zimmerman’s property though. I don’t have a cite, but I believe this particular “gated” community had private-ownership of each plot. So Martin had as much right to be there as Zimmerman, and was not actually a “stranger” in the area, even if he was to Zimmerman.

  • 59 Avattoir // Mar 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    D: “I’m moving to Australia”.

    For the more rational & safer gun laws, then? Because it surely wouldn’t be for the lesser racism, (saying nothing of the misogyny). That said, rational safe gun laws may be more than sufficient: if something like Julien’s counterfactual turns out to be close to what happened (that is, what’s available to be inferred from the facts brought out in a court setting), then this is tragedy well beyond two young men & their families.

  • 60 Mark // Mar 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Zimmerman had his opportunity to tell the police his story. Unfortunately, only a thorough investigation can tell the dead boy’s story, and he deserves to be heard. We owe him that.

  • 61 'Stand Your Ground' May Have Nothing to Do With the Trayvon Martin Case - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine // Mar 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    […] is no evidence that he "systematically target[ed]…black people." Martin may have died because of mutual misunderstandings, Zimmerman's unjustified panic, or Zimmerman's reasonable fear of death or serious injury (as […]

  • 62 Kurt // Mar 26, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    Your hypothetical scenario is interesting, but does leave some gaps. For example, why would Trayvon repeatedly slam Zimmerman’s head on the pavement if he was merely holding Zimmerman down until the police arrived? It seems as though Trayvon was enraged that Zimmerman was following him and was determined to seriously hurt him or possibly even kill him to teach him some type of lesson.

    I also don’t believe that Zimmerman brandished the firearm before Trayvon attacked him. If he had pulled out the weapon, Trayvon would have probably reached for the gun and certainly would have at least knocked it out of Zimmeman’s hands. Zimmerman probably started screaming as Trayvon viciously beat him and when he realized nobody was coming to help, Zimmerman must have pulled out the gun and shot Trayvon in self-defense.

  • 63 Gary // Mar 27, 2012 at 9:21 am

    @Thomas: I really wish more people shared your perspective. I feel as though the media and some public figures (Sharpton, Jackson, etc.) are playing up the race card, and that’s a very irresponsible thing to do with a story that likely has no roots in race. A kid got killed by a guy who may or may not have felt that he was acting in self defense, albeit he put himself in that scenario. If the law as it is currently written states that he did not commit a crime based on the evidence, then peoples rage and emotion should be directed at amending the law, not castrating the police and Zimmerman.

  • 64 New Details About George Zimmerman's Account of His Fight With Trayvon Martin - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine // Mar 27, 2012 at 11:14 am

    […] his gun or Martin caught a glimpse of it. In other words, something similar to the scenario outlined by Julian Sanchez, in which both Martin and Zimmerman reasonably feared for their lives, may […]

  • 65 Weldon // Mar 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I don’t know… what do *you* call an armed man who follows a 17 year old kid after being told by dispatch not to do so?

    I call him “the aggressor”, personally.

  • 66 rea // Mar 27, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Unfortunately, it is a crime to pull a gun on someone to “deter them from doing anything”. At this point in your version, Martin is “acting edgy,” but hasn’t posed a physical threat. Your version isn’t a simple tragedy, it is a crime by Zimmerman.

  • 67 S // Mar 27, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I’m a reporter, so I know that most stories are infinitely more subtle, ambiguous and complex than they appear from initial reports.

    So yeah: this COULD have happened.

    But the problem, no matter what happened, is the gun.

    If Zimmerman hadn’t had a gun, no one would be dead. If Zimmerman hadn’t had a gun, it would have been a fist fight. If Zimmerman hadn’t had a gun, he wouldn’t have felt safe enough to follow Martin in the first place.

    No matter what scenario you can envision, the gun turned Zimmerman into an instigator. And then it turned him into a killer. Without it, he would be at best a concerned citizen and at worst a racist bully. With it he is at best a vigilante and at worst a murderer.

  • 68 New Details About George Zimmerman’s Account of His Fight With Trayvon Martin | Libertarios of America // Mar 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    […] his gun or Martin caught a glimpse of it. In other words, something similar to the scenario outlined by Julian Sanchez, in which both Martin and Zimmerman reasonably feared for their lives, may […]

  • 69 Trayvon Martin and the Moral Clarity Hypothesis // Mar 27, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    […] no reason to back off calls for a more thorough independent investigation. But it does reinforce my feeling that we’re all prone to inferring, from sparse data, that an unambiguously tragic event must […]

  • 70 repsac3 // Mar 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    You can believe me or don’t, but I independently (and without knowing this post ever existed) came up with pretty much the exact same scenario earlier today…

    Wingnuts and Moonbats: Trayvon Martin: My Hypothesis As To What Happened

    I’m with you… This was tragic, but neither Trayvon or Zimmerman were intentionally evil. (I do hold Zimmerman morally responsible, and hesitate to even guess at where this ends, legally.)

  • 71 “This is gonna sound racist, but…” « BC Humanist Blog // Mar 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    […] a good argument can be made that if Martin was white, nobody would have died that day. Julian Sanchez presents an excellent argument […]

  • 72 Repsac3 // Mar 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    I wrote essentially the same post earlier today, completely unaware of this one. I’ve seen no villains in this story (aside the folks making things worse after the fact with bigoted, ugly rhetoric, unwarranted attacks on the character of George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin, or calls for violence), and I’d really like to believe there aren’t any.

    It was just a tragedy of errors and misjudgements, largely made possible by a few profoundly bad decisions by George Zimmerman. While there’s no doubt in my mind who’s morally responsible, I couldn’t even begin to venture a guess as to how the story will play out legally.

    Anyway, I just wanted to make you aware that your scenario is at least plausible enough that some guy on another blog could independently envision the same scenario (though perhaps, not write it quite as clearly and consicely.)


    (Second and last try, in case the first, submitted about 3 hours ago, got sucked into the Internet void rather than stuck in an invisible moderation queue you’ve just not noticed yet. [If my post says nothing else, it should tell you I prefer to see the best in folks…])

  • 73 Jeff barnes // Mar 28, 2012 at 2:19 am

    I’m 6’3″ and 250. At a part one night I got in half serious scuffle with a buddy from high school who had been on wrestling team but not sure he was any good. This guy was puny. Maybe 5’5 and 160 or something. He had me down and pinned in less than 10 seconds. I got up and he did it again. He could very easily have killed me and not a thing I could have done. In a fight what counts in experience, training, strength, adrenaline, killer instinct etc. An extra 100 lbs without the other factors does zero for you.

  • 74 MikeL // Mar 28, 2012 at 6:58 am

    S – how can you be so sure no one would be dead? How do you know Zimmerman would not be dead if he didn’t have the gun? It is impossible for us to tell and speculation only flames the fire of misunderstanding. Your rhetorical fallacy coupled with claims of being a reporter are concerning!

  • 75 Marva Smith // Mar 28, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I came up with a close scenario as yours once I read all the facts as well. It had to do with frame of mind Zimmerman thought that Martin was a hoodlum and Martin was threathened by Zimmerman as a stranger threat.
    Parents and schools teach children to first try to run from a stranger and not go with them or get in their car, yell as loud as you can and if that does not work and the stranger continues to approach to fight, bite, kick and scratch to get away. This is the Stranger Danger technique. Martin did all of those techniques and it cost him his life and post death his dignity.
    There are Rumers that Zimmerman was not investigated because of his family ties to the Department of Justice in Florida. How true this is is unknown at this time however I believe that
    specific instructions by law enforcement/Justice Departments should become made available to the public and Neighborhood Watch Groups. Always call 911 when suspecious behavior or activity is observed. Once 911 has been reported to remain at home or find a safe inviornment until contacted by the dispatched police person.
    We can not reverse what has happened in the past but we can change what is possible in the future. We do not need to loose another American citizen due to over zealous neighborhood watch groups or vigilantes.

  • 76 JonInVa // Mar 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    That theory was close to what I came up with, as well. But nobody really knows except Mr. Zimmerman. The police took him to the station, asked him questions, saw his injuries, questioned witnesses, and did not feel that he was lying or otherwise chargeable at that time. That doesn’t mean he won’t be in the future if further evidence dictates that action. But this vigilante mob stuff is definately wrong, and they are laying all kinds of inflammatory and even reverse racist stuff out there that could truly lead to further violence (and further division between races) if somebody doesn’t put a damper on all this heated baloney.

    Everyone immediately wants him arrested, tried, and convicted. Of what? We all know he didn’t shoot the kid down in cold blood no matter how much you want to believe that. Instead, the facts show that there was a physical scuffle of some sort, which led to the unfortunate shooting. And we know that even though following a stranger in a neighborhood that’s had quite a bit of petty crime seems “weird” or “paranoid” or whatever, isn’t that what neighborhood watch people do? Isn’t that why it’s called neighborhood watch? To look for strange people, loitering people, and other suspicious behavior in your neighborhood?

    I’m sure this is going to piss some people off, but the other problem with the original article is that, like most people today, the author’s fear of being branded a racist, makes her have to disparage Mr. Zimmerman as a weirdo paranoid stalker, a kook, as well as make up the scenario that Zimmerman showed or pulled his gun in an effort to intimidate Trayvon for some reason or another.

    There is zero evidence of that. If the truth be told, the most likely scenario is that for Zimmerman to have had to leave his vehicle to “find” Trayvon, means that he “lost him”. From Zimmerman’s story and the fact that he got his nose broke and his head beat in, plus the witnesses seeing him on his back getting pummeled, I think it’s safe to say that whatever words (if any) happened between them escalated to a physical confrontation when Trayvon came out of hiding and likely confronted him about who he was and what he was doing following him. From all indications, and from what has come out since, there is no evidence that Trayvon was some shrinking violet when it came to altercations.

    Now, the thing the author won’t even think to say is that here you have a young man, clearly with some issues at school, and even possibly took a swing at a bus driver (per his gangta-named twitter and facebook accounts), maybe sold weed, etc, who we’re talking about here. Doesn’t make him evil, or a thug, or deserving of being shot, or anything else. It’s just some things to consider when you think about how a person might react to being followed.

    I think we have all been in a position where we were originally scared, and then when we found out it was somebody doing something stupid that scared us, we got angry at that person. Anyone who ever had a kid go missing in a mall, or not come home on time knows what I’m saying. You’re scared out of your mind, but when you find out everything is okay, your relief turns to anger at being made to feel so frightened. Everybody has had that happen. And so, to me, the most likely scenario, if we’re going to make up scenarios outside what the police already have, is that Trayvon, when he saw that his pursuer wasn’t some criminal looking to hurt him, but instead was an overweight white/hispanic, probably got angry instead of scared, and confronted Zimmerman on his way back tohis truck about just what the heck he was doing (in more youthful and flowery language, I’m sure). When Zimmerman responded that he was just making sure who he was, etc, or asked a question about his suspicious feeling, Trayvon probably had enough of that, and with his stress level at full throttle for being followed in the first place, probably punched him. Again, this comes from the witnesses who say Trayvon smashing Zimmerman’s face into the concrete. You couldn’t do that if your hands were trying to wrestle with a gun.

    There is no evidence Zimmerman has ever in his entire life shown his gun, or threatened anyone as a neighborhood watch guy. And being such a Barney Fife type, I seriously doubt that he would think he could apprehend or detain somebody simply for walking through the neighborhood, no matter how suspicious he looked. He knew the police were coming and they would ask Trayvon what he was doing, or tell him to move along or get home, etc. He had no reason to want to detain the kid or otherwise. And with all of the 911 calls he’s made, not once was there any showing of guns or detaining of potential criminals.

    So while this sounds like I’m defending Zimmerman, I’m not. I’m just saying that the facts as we know them, and with the police knowing even more, there is no cause at this time to want to lynch Zimmerman unless or until he is found guilty of doing anything other than wait he, and witnesses claim he was doing. It was a tragedy, and an unfortunate encounter between a kid and a man with two different backgrounds and reasons for doing what they were doing, and acting how they were acting.

    If it comes to be that Zimmerman is charged with something, and the facts dictate a sentence, that’s fine with me. But let’s cut the race war stuff before things really get out of control. If you want to march against something, march against black on black crime – the facts again show that the leading cause of death of a young black man is another young black man. They are killing each other left and right, and over a heck of a lot less than this unfortunate set of circumstances.

  • 77 Rebecca // Mar 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    This is a very insightful discussion. I would add, perhaps this was a perfect storm. Zimmerman, who was uneasy over recent break-ins in a gated community, was wondering how Martin got in and where was his car. Were there others with him? Martin was already angry about being thrown out of school and was hyped. He was away from his girlfriend. Regardless of how uncool it is to attend school, it is a blow to be rejected, even for 10 days. He had a history of dealing with his stress by acting out. It all came together in a very sad way.

  • 78 Ashley // Mar 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Doesn’t the mere fact that Zimmerman decided Trayvon was guilty of a crime just because he looked like (being black) like someone else that committed a crime make this a racial case? I don’t understand excusing murder with ignorance. Who cares what happened before to either party, Trayvon was just walking home that night. Zimmerman saw him a decided he was guilty and chased a 17 year old, who was retreating. He escalated the confrontation and I believe human life is worth more than an, “Oops… guess I wrong about this one.”
    At the very least, Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter because if he would have left Trayvon alone he would not have ended up shooting him. We know this because Trayvon was walking home. Before we get to the fight and the life and death choice, Zimmerman could have exercised better judgement instead of racially profiling. If he was really concerned about crime in the neighborhood, he could have approached Trayvon in a respectable manner to begin with by saying something like, “Hey… you look lost. Can I help you find where you’re going?” Trayvon could have been lost, it wasn’t his neighborhood. But instead, Zimmerman took the lazy way out, deemed Martin guilty and was determined to stop a non-existent crime. Mistakenly racially profiling is not an excuse for murder.

  • 79 agent00kevin // Mar 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Martin never ran. His own girlfriends account states he did not run and refused to do so. Her account also has Martin confronting Zimmerman, not the other way around. Zimmerman did not pull a gun on Martin until his head was being beaten into the ground.

    Its pretty obvious by all witness accounts, even the ones on Martin’s side, that Martin was the agressor, not Zimmerman. He picked the wrong guy to snap on.

    I dont even understand why theres any question about the legality of what happened. Not only witnesses on both sides corroborate the story but the physical evidence. People must be so blinded by hate and skin color that they cannot even see the facts.

    And I painted a scenario just like JonInVa did a few days ago on Yahoo as well as Facebook.

  • 80 Ashley // Mar 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    George Zimmerman says in the 911 tapes that Trayvon was running and Trayvon told his girlfriend that he was going to “walk fast”. Regardless of the pace, Martin did attempt to retreat from Zimmerman which gave him the right to defend himself. If Martin didn’t run, why did Zimmerman have to chase him?

  • 81 agent00kevin // Mar 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    There are several facts almost everyone is getting wrong or just plain making up out of the clear blue sky:

    1. There was no chase. Martin never ran, and Zimmerman did not approach Martin, he followed at a distance. Martin’s own girlfriends account of what happened states this. Phone records prove she was on the line just prior.

    2. Martin confronted Zimmerman. Not the other way around. His own Girlfriend’s account clearly states that too.

    3. The gun was never produced until Zimmerman was on the ground. Never until then was the weapon produced.

    4. There is absolutely no reason to assume Zimmerman would not have followed a white person or another hispanic walking around in the rain at night wearing a hoody. Absolutely none.

    Anything else is pure speculation and guesswork. You cant assume if Zimmerman was not armed there would have been no fight or death. You cant assume Zimmerman would have ignored any other ethnicity – especially having called authorities over 40 times in a relatively short period of time. (What would the odds be that every single one of those calls was about a black person? Slim to none.) You cant assume had Zimmerman not been armed he would not have been confident enough to tail Martin – that alone is borderline racist. You are basically saying he would have been afraid of a black man if he didnt have a gun. If you want to argue that he would have been just as afraid of a white guy or another hispanic then you are saying that he was NOT racially profiling. You cant have it both ways.

    What we have is media inflamed racial tension, and most people dont seem to be able to step back and look at what the evidence shows. Most people cant clear their heads enough to look at it logically and be impartial. Emotions have completely clouded judgement here…all people see is an old photo of a child and another old photo of a man who was never convicted of a crime in an orange jumpsuit.

    For all those who say appearence doesnt matter…then why isnt the media posting the current photos? Why didnt his family provide a current photo instead of one of him as a child?

    Because apperance DOES indeed matter when it comes to the public eye. Had they provided a recent picture of Martin in his Doo rag, gold teefs, baggy pants and hooded sweatshirt, he would not have been viewed as a victim. Both parents also lied to media initially in an effort to make him appear to be an angel; and we now know that is far from the truth.

  • 82 SteveB // Mar 28, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    This is one of many possibilities and a very well thought out one with a few exceptions. When it came to the gun itself, perhaps the simple struggle of the two cause the gun to discharge.

    That would make the shooting an accident instead of a direct response to being beaten to the ground. In his (then) current state of disarray Zimmerman might not have had the clear thought to process such a task as obvious as pulling the trigger directly.

    I believe that both parties felt they were in the presence of someone who could potentially do harm to them. The young thought process of Trayvon attempting to defend himself from a would be attacker vs. the over protective nature of Zimmerman thinking this could be the culprit in the string of burglaries.

    Neither one were in their right frame of mind and the results are tragic. Is Zimmerman a racist…my opinion is no. Was Trayvon a kid looking for a fight when he confronted Zimmerman…my opinion is no. Both are victims in this. One who will never tell his side and the other who has to live with the guilt of taking a young life for the rest of his.

    This is a tragic accident by all means and not a racial profiling fueled murder. I really feel bad for both sides but I have nothing but disgust for the followers trying to use this as a social set piece for racial confrontation.

    This country is enough financial troubles and to rebuild from (potential) rioting if “justice” isnt served to THEIR liking will cast us down even further.

  • 83 SteveB // Mar 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    Just to add…

    What does this situation and possibly the outcome say to the use of the Neighborhood watch program?

    I can speak for myself and say that i have seen suspicious people strolling through my neighborhood. Would i approach them and question them?

    This now casts doubt on anyone ever doing such a thing to protect themselves or their neighbors and could lead to an increase in neighborhood related break-ins.

    It could give the robbers the idea that people would be afraid of being caught up in a similar situation and therefor cower in fear while they take what they want.

    Just a thought.

  • 84 Ashley // Mar 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    1. Zimmerman tell the 911 dispatcher than Martin was running. The dispatcher told Zimmerman, “We don’t need you to do that.” Zimmerman followed anyway. If Zimmerman had not followed Martin, he would have been attacked near his truck instead of where the struggle took place. Also, Trayvon said he wasn’t going to run but that he was going to walk fast. He was trying to get away from Zimmerman.

    2. No one knows how the confrontation began. No one saw “the puch” Zimmerman claims. And even if Trayvon responded violently, he had already attempted to run from someone giving chase.

    3. No one knows when the gun was produced but it doesn’t change the fact that Zimmerman engaged Trayvon Martin by giving chase.

    4. And although we can’t be sure, I’m basing this on the fact that he and his supporters are claiming they found Trayvon suspicious because of the break-ins done by black males.

    You can have your own opinion on what justified Zimmerman’s actions but I just don’t see any excuses. Had he not chased the teen none of this would have ever happened.

  • 85 Ashley // Mar 28, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    And video of George Zimmerman from the police station emerges and he doesn’t appear to have any visible injuries, especially not to the extent to which he described. I don’t see any cuts on the back of his head that would require stitches like he claimed. This guy is a liar and he’s been trying to cover up murder since day one.

  • 86 D // Mar 29, 2012 at 4:33 am

    “If Zimmerman hadn’t had a gun, no one would be dead.”
    Are you crazy? A 6’3″ guy tackled and beat at dude till he had to be shot because no one would help Zimmerman… Zimmerman only shot because it saved his life. Should Zimmerman have followed Trayvon? Probably not. Should Trayvon have battered Zimmerman? Not if he wanted to still be alive. As the leaked portion of the police report shows, Zimmerman was saving his own life. Good for him.

  • 87 O.F. // Mar 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    A comment on the comments…

    I have read the comments from first to last. What is “really amazing” is how often contributors insert “assertions”, in combination with a few “known” facts, and then argue from the position that they are “all” facts. According to Martin’s girlfriend, his telling her that he is being followed, and his question, “Why are you following me?”, occur within seconds of each other. This means that Zimmerman had to have come up close enough to Martin for him to ask the question. And this contradicts Zimmerman’s assertion that he had lost sight of Martin and was on his way back to his truck when Martin came out of nowhere and attacked him.

  • 88 Robert Riversong // Mar 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm


    I think your hypothetical scenario is the most likely and it’s the story I’ve been trying to share with others who have jumped to one or another conclusion.

    But I think you misunderstand Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute when you suggest that it wouldn’t apply because retreat was not an option. The law specifically allows the used of deadly force when feeling seriously threatened – even on the part of the initial aggressor – if “he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape”. At the moment at which the gun was used, it appears that both parties felt there was no escape (as your scenario suggests).

    If not the initial aggressor, then the law stipulates that “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat”.

  • 89 jason // Mar 30, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Interesting scenario. It could be one theory and will have to see how it stands up. Also, should Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute be brought into the case? It may not be pertinent as the hoodie or clothing Martin was wearing. It depends. What is George Zimmerman being charged with? He claimed self defense and the police claim they did not find evidence to contradict his claim. Now, evidence is being found to the contrary. I am awaiting whether Zimmerman gets arrested or not. Initially, it appeared that manslaughter charges could be brought against Zimmerman, but they were dropped. If he is arrested, then more facts could be uncovered to shed light on this case. It should not be a mystery and I agree with your theory that it could be a case of both sides misunderstanding the other’s intentions. Plenty of skepticism to go around any of the other claims.

  • 90 JonM // Mar 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I think this is the most likely scenario. It closely matches my own conclusions.

    But in the end I think Zimmerman is at fault for (probably) initiating the confrontation by following the teen.
    Race shouldn’t even come into question.

  • 91 NYC55 // Mar 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Add in the fact that the kid is looking for a possibly unfamiliar house, at dusk, in the rain, and you could account for an observer imagining the kid to be casing the neighborhood.

    If Trayvon did jump Zimmerman, it’s a scenario just like this. Innocently explains the mindset on both sides of the equation.

    There remains some question as to Mr. Zimmerman’s actions and their legality. Can a pursuer legitimately claim immunity under Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law? That will be for a D.A. and possibly a jury to decide.

  • 92 Sidney18511 // Apr 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Julian, this is the same conclusion that I came to.
    Zimmerman was wearing his gun on a holster on his waist which would of been vey visible to Trayvon. When trayvon asked Zimmerman “why are you following me?”, Zimmerman responded with “what are you doing here?” .
    Had Zimmerman said “I’m a member of the watch group and we have had a lot of robberys, and I don’t recognize you as being from the area”.
    This would of had a different ending.

  • 93 Powers // Apr 17, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Julian, there is one flaw with your theory. We know for a fact that Martin ran initially. He was up to no good. Maybe he had a bag of weed on him and his initial thought was that Zimmerman was a cop, but after he seen that Zimmerman was walking back Martin realized that hes no cop, cops would never walk back they would keep chase. He decided Zimmerman is just some punk so he got his rage up, ran back to Zimmerman and started to beat him down.

  • 94 cowboys, cops, and race | The Handsome Camel // Apr 18, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    […] this will turn out to be a very sad story. I’m not just talking about the possibility, raised by Julian Sanchez, that this will turn out to be a horrible clusterfuck of bad decisions and misunderstandings. I […]

  • 95 Matt // Apr 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Based on what we know now, if the law is interpreted correctly–big “if” because juries are stupid–then I don’t see how he can be convicted. No evidence I have seen proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he wasn’t defending himself. Some witnesses say Zimmerman was the aggressor, but others disagree. Now, if something else exists that the public doesn’t yet know about, that could obviously be a game changer. But at this point I would not be shocked at all to see the judge dismiss all charges before it even goes to trial. Second-degree murder requires 1) willful intention to kill and 2) absence of heat of passion. It simply does not apply here.

  • 96 Apparently Zimmerman is a monster or not, part II - Page 45 // Jul 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm

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  • 97 Dustin Charles // Jul 30, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I agree that much of this scenario is very possible.

    There is just one fact that was not addressed. You said “He (Zimmerman) shouts for help.” Your scenario would make more sense if it said “They both shout for help.” But then you would have to entertain more gruesome possibilities.

    TWO people WERE screaming for help that night. Listen to two 911 calls specifically. The 911 call made by the woman who was horrified by the dead body she saw outside of her back window and the 911 call in which the screams and gunshot are heard.

    There are two people yelling. One is screaming help. The other yells help. Listen to both voices. They are distinguishable. Then find the recording of Zimmerman yelling “Help” and “Help me” for the police. If you hear what I heard, your heart will drop a mile.

    There is also a television interview of a female witness saying she heard two people yelling/screaming. I believe it is the same witness from the first 911 call I mentioned.

  • 98 Dustin Charles // Jul 30, 2012 at 11:54 am

    When I say that there are two distinguishable voices, I mean that they are distinguishable in both pitch and the level of fear behind them. One is bloodcurdling… and it sounds nothing like the ones police obtained from Zimmerman

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