What If George Zimmerman's Version of Events Is True? The Logical Flaw at the Heart of This Verdict
By Dennis Loo (7/14/13)
For the sake of argument and to illustrate a central point, let us assume that the version of events that George Zimmerman claims in his pre-trial statements is entirely true.
Shall we see what is left after we examine this even just a little bit?
Zimmerman declined to take the stand in his defense, no doubt because his legal team could see that Zimmerman would surely look like a liar if the prosecutors had been given a chance to subject him to cross-examination on the stand. This would likely be true even if the prosecutors proceeded in the half-hearted manner in which they conducted the entire trial. The prosecutor’s office, it should be remembered, was unwilling to bring charges against Zimmerman in the first place and were only forced to do so when public protest made them do it. Once in the courtroom they carried out their case in at best, a C- effort.
But, let us give Zimmerman’s story 100% credibility and assume that it’s all true.
He says that he had to shoot Trayvon in the heart – the firearms' forensics expert showed that when Zimmerman pulled the trigger the muzzle was up against Trayvon’s heart – because he was being beaten by Trayvon and feared for his life. His shooting Trayvon in the heart was in self-defense. This is what the jury found: that there was reasonable doubt that Zimmerman shot Trayvon in something other than self-defense and therefore they could not convict.
Let us further assume that Trayvon laid in wait for him and jumped out at him and got the better of him, even though this version is contradicted by the audio track and dialogue in the cell phone call between Trayvon and his friend Rachel Jeantel. It is also contradicted by Jeantel’s testimony about that call and also wholly contradicted by the fact that Zimmerman, as everyone knows and Zimmerman admits, was pursuing Trayvon. There would not have been any encounter between Trayvon and Zimmerman if Zimmerman had not been pursuing Trayvon.
But according to Zimmerman at some point, Trayvon became the pursuer and Zimmerman became the pursued. This has to be true for you to not convict Zimmerman on Murder 2 or even Manslaughter.
This logically brings up in Florida the “stand your ground” defense: Trayvon was being stalked – by someone who also had a loaded gun – with belligerent intent by someone who was dressed as a civilian and therefore Trayvon, even if he thought Officer Friendly was his best friend, would not have any reason to think that this guy who kept chasing him, was being anything but hostile. Trayvon was not engaged in any criminal activity or mischief. He was minding his own business, returning from half time of the NBA All-Star Game after buying an Arizona Ice Tea and Skittles. Therefore he was all the more likely to be bewildered and feel threatened by this pursuer.
Under what circumstances does Trayvon not have the right to defend himself, including apparently, the right to kill someone in self-defense? That is what the jury verdict just found for Zimmerman – that Zimmerman had the right to kill in self-defense.
If that is true, if Zimmerman’s story is true, then it is still the case then, isn’t it, that Trayvon’s standing his ground against Zimmerman was entirely justified? Because this is exactly what the court just found in finding Zimmerman innocent of murder and of manslaughter: that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense. Moreover, Trayvon had grounds to believe that his life was in danger prior to and during the encounter. Zimmerman, on the other hand, offered no grounds prior to the physical wrestling match - that he alleges to have been initiated by Trayvon - to fear for his life.
Thus, there is, even if one accepts Zimmerman’s story as entirely true, a fatal flaw in logic in this court verdict. Because if Zimmerman’s innocent, then so is Trayvon’s “assault” upon Zimmerman because Trayvon had a right to stand his ground and defend himself.
In other words, if you accept Zimmerman's account as true, then you cannot logically find him not guilty. Because if you do find him not guilty, then his stated rationale for killing Trayvon is unsustainable since it conflicts with Trayvon's greater right to self-defense. Put another way, if self-defense is the guiding principle here, then it has to apply to both parties in this instance and the weight of the evidence goes to Trayvon, for reasons that are evident even within Zimmerman's own version of events.
The only reason that some people in this country can’t see this is not because they are unaware of the “Stand Your Ground” law. Most if not all of these people are well aware of “Stand Your Ground” and most I would imagine see the law as good.
The reason why some people can’t see this verdict as unjust, immoral, illegal, and racist, is because they don’t see Zimmerman and Trayvon as equally able to legitimately fight off others in self-defense.
If someone stalks and murders a young black person and claims self-defense, then he is justified in “standing his ground” even if the killer initiated the confrontation.
If a young black person does it, on the other hand, it justifies his being killed. That is what this verdict means. What this verdict means, in other words, is that there is a double standard in this country, embraced by the dominant forces of the state and by all too many people in this country: one standard for white people and another one for black people.