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2 Stories- George Zimmerman v. Trayvon Martin

Posted 02 Apr 2012 by


Was This Image Doctored?

Has It Gone Too Far?

As a trial lawyer, my job is to tell a story- my client’s story. I gather evidence like chapters in a book from experts, doctors, friends, medical records, photographs and other sources to produce that story. I used to not be able to “PICK” my clients. Now I do. I pick cases I believe in and it often shows during the process and especially at trial.

I wanted to force myself out of the box a little and tell the stories of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin and draw my own conclusion and looked at 100’s of articles, reviewed interviews, 911 calls and much more. Here are their stories. My conclusion is at the end.


Trayvon Martin’s Side

Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old high school junior from Miami Gardens and the son of divorced parents. He grew up in working-class neighborhoods north of Miami’s downtown. He and his father, a truck driver, were active in the Miramar Optimist Club, an organization that runs sports and academic programs for young people. Tracy Martin, the teen’s father, coached his son’s football team. Martin was tall and lanky — only 140 pounds and his nickname was “Slimm.”The boy was a swift athlete, according to a friend, and played a range of positions up to about age 14.

After he stopped playing, he remained active in the organization, volunteering six days a week from June through November of 2011 to help run the team’s concession stand. Martin cooked hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken wings alongside his father at the stand. He loved talking to the kids, asking them what position they played and whether they were good. He would call the mothers “Ma’am,” and if they had a stroller or an item they needed help with, Martin stepped in.” Everyone out there loved him,” Horton said.The teen spent a big part of his week living with his father in a one-story, peach-colored home. Neighbor Fred Collins, Jr., said he would see Trayvon Martin outside every week mowing the lawn and trimming the trees. The teen also helped Collins’ son learn how to ride a bike. “He was coaching him, giving him words of advice, encouragement,” Collins said. Tracy Martin often recounted how his son saved his life. The elder Martin had begun heating up some oil to fry fish and fell asleep. The grease caught fire, and when Tracy Martin awoke and tried to put out the flames, he spilled the oil on his legs, severely burning himself. Trayvon Martin pulled his father out of the home and called 911.He was influenced, like other teenagers, into assimilating into the rap culture and found some minor trouble.  It was the third time Trayvon Martin was disciplined at school, so this time his parents sent him to a quiet, racially mixed gated community in Sanford with his dad to get his priorities straight.  Like most teens, he spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone. On that Sunday, he talked for nearly five hours, mostly with his girlfriend.

On February 26, 2012-

On February 26, 2012, he went to seven-eleven for a snack.  It was getting dark and rainy in Sanford, Florida as 17-year old Trayvon Martin hurried back to his dad’s girlfriend’s home.  He was carrying a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona iced tea.  He was in a hurry to reclaim his seat in front of the TV to watch the NBA All-Star game, slated to begin in just minutes, at 7:30 p.m.

Unbeknownst to Trayvon, Zimmerman made racially charged comments to the 911 dispatcher and chased his target based on a stereotype that plagued the neighborhood.  He did not wait for police by the mailboxes or give the police time to handle it.  He was angry and wanted to bust another person he had already tried and convicted in his own mind.  Zimmerman acknowledged he planned to keep looking for the teen instead of simply waiting for a patrol car.  Zimmerman, who possessed a concealed carry permit, was breaking every major rule of being in a neighborhood watch that night.  He was armed.  He was making his presence known to the person he was following.  He was mis- and pre-judging “suspicious” activity.  He pursued his target. He confronted his target.

Trayvon noticed a man staring at him and talking about him on the phone. Was he paranoid? Maybe. Then, the man got out of a car, some 200 yards away and began to pursue him. This confirmed it to be real. A T-Mobile phone log provided by the family’s attorney shows Trayvon’s girlfriend called him again at 7:12 p.m., just moments after having hung up with him. “I think this dude is following me,” Trayvon told her, according to her account. The girl says she offered Trayvon advice: “Run!” He took a 9-millimeter bullet to the chest at close range.

George Zimmerman was questioned by a narcotics (not homicide) officer and was released. Zimmerman claimed it was self defense.

Calls came in to 911-

Selma Mora Lamilla heard no fighting, only what she says was the wail of a child and the distinct crack of gunfire that silenced it. She ran outside her back porch, where she said she saw Zimmerman standing above Trayvon, apparently holding him down. “I asked him, “What’s happening here? What’s going on?” Mora said. “The third time, I was indignant, and he said, ‘Just call the police.’ Then I saw him with his hands over his head in the universal sign of: ‘Oh man, I messed up.’ ”

Trayvon was dead.

Problem child?

“There’s no way I can believe that, because he’s not a confrontational kid,” said Jerome Horton, who was one of Martin’s former football coaches and knew him since he was about 5. “It just wouldn’t happen. That’s just not that kid.”

Martin dreamed of becoming a pilot. He had flown on school vacations to various places around the country with his mother, skiing in Colorado one year, going off to Texas another. “There’s no little black kids that want to be pilots,” Horton joked with him when he was about 13. “Well, I’ll be the first one,” the teen replied.

Friends said Martin liked rap music and funny movies. He had written some lyrics, though he hadn’t had a chance yet to perform them. Martin was especially a fan of a student musical group at his school called Bison. He had two of the group’s pins on his backpack and helped spread the word about shows.

The Fort Lauderdale funeral director who handled the arrangement for Trayvon’s family has told reporters that he saw no bruises or blood on the teen’s knuckles.

At the wrong place at the wrong time, he was murdered by an overzealous neighborhood watchman.

Aftermath-

Zimmerman was handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car. Sanford Fire Rescue administered first aid. Zimmerman was taken to the Sanford police department in handcuffs.


A time stamp on the precinct security camera video shows Zimmerman got to the police station at 7:52 p.m. An officer patted him down at that time. The video shows no obvious sign of injury or blood stains on his clothes, although one shot shows an officer examining the back of Zimmerman’s head, then wiping his hands on his uniform pants. Zimmerman was questioned by police and released without charges.

The Real Zimmerman-

According to an anonymous account from someone who worked with George Zimmerman between 2002 and 2005, Zimmerman worked at two different agencies providing security to house parties.  “Usually he was just a cool guy. He liked to drink and hang with the women like the rest of us,” the alleged former co-worker said, “But it was like Jekyll and Hyde. When the dude snapped, he snapped.”

He said Zimmerman was fired after a particularly violent incident: “He had a temper and he became a liability. One time this woman was acting a little out of control.
She was drunk. George lost his cool and totally overreacted,” he said. “It was weird, because he was such a cool guy, but he got all nuts. He picked her up and threw her. It was pure rage. She twisted her ankle. Everyone was flipping out.”

In 2005, Zimmerman, then 20, was arrested and charged with “resisting officer with violence” and “battery of law enforcement officer,” both which are third-degree felonies. The charge was reduced to “resisting officer without violence” and then waived when he entered an alcohol education program. Contemporaneous accounts indicate he shoved an officer who was questioning a friend for alleged underage drinking at an Orange County bar.

In August 2005, Zimmerman’s ex-fiancee, Veronica Zuazo, filed a civil motion for a restraining order alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman counter-filed for a restraining order against Zuazo. The competing claims were resolved with both restraining orders being granted.  Zuazo claimed that she saw Zimmerman, her ex, driving near her home in August 2005. She called him and he said “he was just checking up” on her. After they spoke for an hour at her home, Zuazo claimed she asked him to leave. He grew upset, snatching her cellphone away from her, pushing her, she said. A pushing match ensued and her dog jumped up and bit him on the cheek.  Zimmerman contrarily claimed she initiated a battle, slapped, clawed and tried to choke him.

 

George Zimmerman’s Side

George Zimmerman is the son of retired Supreme Court Magistrate Judge Robert J. Zimmerman and Gladys Zimmerman, a court clerk. He has grown up around the Courts and legal system. Zimmerman is, or until recently was, an employee at the Maitland office of Digital Risk, LLC, a mortgage risk-management firm.

George Zimmerman has seen his gated townhome community become a rough place to live since the housing market went south. Foreclosures plagued the areas and, with it, an increase in crime was noticed by all. The people at the Retreat at Twin Lakes have had missing bikes, grills stolen and a few times thought strangers were casing their townhomes.When the homeowners association wanted to start a neighborhood watch, only one man stepped up: George Zimmerman. The neighborhood has been estimated at 50% minority. Police records show that 50 suspicious-person reports were called in to police in the past year at Twin Lakes. They also show eight burglaries, nine thefts, and a shooting just in the past year. In all, police had been called to the 260-unit complex 402 times from Jan. 1, 2011 to Feb. 26, 2012. “He (Zimmerman) once caught a thief and an arrest was made,” said Cynthia Wibker, secretary of the homeowners association. “He helped solve a lot of crimes.”Licensed to carry a firearm and a student of criminal justice, 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. Zimmerman called police 46 times since Jan. 1, 2011 to report disturbances, break-ins, windows left open and other incidents. On nine occasions, he saw someone or something suspicious. As a minority himself, he’d zealously state it’s not a racial issue, but one where his first hand accounts lead him to suspect young African American males in the area.On February 26, 2012-

On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman was on his way to a grocery store when he saw Trayvon Martin walking through his gated community. It wasn’t someone he was familiar with. He was hooded and roaming around the secured community. Break-ins had occurred before and, as George said in the call to 911, “they always get away.” It was raining and the young man seemed to have no destination in mind. His hands were in his pants and he was just roaming around suspiciously.Zimmerman called the police and reported a suspicious person, describing Martin as black, acting strangely and perhaps on drugs.
Here is the 911 call. During the call, George reported Trayvon spotted him in his car and started staring at him and approached him. “Something is wrong with him,” he said, “he is coming to check me out. He’s got something in his hands. I don’t know what his deal is. Get an officer over here.” And then, “They always get away.”

Here is full version of 911 call

As a neighborhood watchman, he wanted to keep an eye on Martin and ensure arrest.. Zimmerman got out of his SUV to follow Martin on foot. When a dispatch employee asked Zimmerman whether he was following the teenager, Zimmerman said yes. The dispatcher told Zimmerman he did not need to do that. He did not tell him NOT TO follow Trayvon.

Zimmerman told Police he had lost sight of Martin and was walking back to his SUV when Martin approached him from the left rear, and they exchanged words. Martin asked Zimmerman whether he had a problem. Zimmerman said no and reached for his cell phone, he told police. Martin then said, “Well, you do now” or something similar and punched Zimmerman in the nose.

Here is the call where someone’s screaming ends by gunshot-

Zimmerman fell and Martin got on top of him and began slamming his head into the sidewalk, Zimmerman told police. Zimmerman began yelling for help. Several witnesses heard those cries, and there has been a dispute about from whom they came: Zimmerman or Martin. Zimmerman then shot Martin once in the chest from very close range, authorities said. Zimmerman is described as 5-foot-9 and well over 200 pounds while Martin was 6-foot-3 and 150 pounds. He was athletic from playing and excelling in sports.

A nearby resident, named John, saw Zimmerman on the bottom of an altercation. He was interviewed off camera. He said he’d call 911. He looked back out his window and noticed Trayvon was now the one on the ground and appeared dead.

That interview is here

When police arrived less than two minutes later, Zimmerman was bleeding from a broken nose, had a swollen lip and had bloody cuts on the back of his head. Paramedics gave him first aid, but he said no to going to the hospital. He got medical care the next day.

Police played the 911 tape for Trayvon Martin’s father, who told police that the voice screaming was not the voice of his son. He was also noticeably shaken in this interview taken the next day-

Zimmerman’s mugshot-

As for any past legal blemishes, Zimmerman was once arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer when he interfered in a friend’s arrest. The charge was reduced to simple battery, and he entered a plea that allowed him to have a clean record and qualify for a concealed weapons permit.

Not the child you’ve seen on television-

The Miami Herald reported Trayvon Martin had been suspended from school three times.

A Miami-Dade Schools Police report shows that on Oct. 21, staffers monitoring a security camera at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School spotted Martin and two other students writing “W.T.F.,” an acronym for “what the f—,” on a hallway locker. A security employee who knew Martin confronted the teen and looked through his bag for the graffiti marker. According to the Herald, the police report said that Martin’s backpack contained 12 pieces of jewelry, in addition to a watch and a large flathead screwdriver, which was described as a burglary tool in the report. Martin was asked whether the jewelry, which was mostly women’s rings and earrings, belonged to his family or a girlfriend. “Martin replied, ‘It’s not mine. A friend gave it to me,’ ” the Herald quoted the report as saying. Martin declined to name the friend. School police impounded the jewelry and sent photos of the items to detectives at Miami-Dade police for further investigation. “Martin was suspended, warned and dismissed for the graffiti,” according to the report prepared by the Miami-Dade Schools Police.

That suspension was followed by one in February after in incident in which Martin was caught with an empty plastic bag with traces of marijuana in it. The Herald said it had obtained a school police report that specified two items: a bag with marijuana residue and a “marijuana pipe.” That suspension was the third for the teen. On Monday, the family also acknowledged that Martin had earlier been suspended for tardiness and truancy.

Trayvon Social Media-

Allegedly using the Twitter handle, @NO_LIMIT_NIGGA, Trayvon is attributed to tweeting the following

It shows a youth, caught up in the slang and life you hear in rap songs and on the streets. It shows a far different picture than the innocence portrayed on television.

He indicated on social media he didn’t have a phone, yet supposedly had one at the time of the incident. On the same day, he shared an exchange about someone needing marijuana who wanted some business with Trayvon. He also was mentioned as involved in an altercation with a bus driver. There are a lot of missing pieces about the young man.


CONCLUSION

Both men had their issues and the media has sensationalized this case far beyond reality. At then end of the day, Zimmerman was NOT a police officer. He was an overzealous citizen and had no business acting as enforcer or upholder of the law. No permit or license gives anyone the right to hunt another human. Whether he intended to shoot Trayvon or not, he did. He did so because he elected to carry a firearm with him. Why? To protect a neighbor’s grill or other property? Unacceptable. It led to a tragic death. He initiated and instigated the confrontation. Self Defense or not, he killed Trayvon Martin, because he took justice in his own hands. The video of him at the police station impeaches his credibility- no grass or dirt stains on his clothes and no blood, swelling and minimal abrasions are present. Minor head swelling might confirm an attack, but he’s seemingly lied about the nature of the events.

He should be tried for the killing of Trayvon Martin. He took the law into his own hands when he stepped out of his truck to find Trayvon. To do so, with a gun, was grossly improper.

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