The February 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin has shaken Sanford, a small city near Orlando, Fla. The 17-year-old was shot by George Zimmerman, the white neighborhood watch captain of a local gated community. His only crime was walking from a 7-Eleven to a nearby home in the pouring rain.
Martin's parents and black community members are outraged at the way Sanford Police have handled the investigation. There have been no charges in the neighborhood watch shooting, and there are accusations of police misconduct and witness contamination.
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee claims he does not have probable cause to arrest Zimmerman, but that may not actually be true. Just before the shooting, the neighborhood watch leader called 911 to report a suspicious person, explains the Orlando Sentinel. Sources tell ABC that he was ordered to wait for officers to arrive.
Instead of listening, Zimmerman got out of his car and went after the teen on foot, chasing him between two rows of townhouses. A fist fight broke out, and a 13-year-old boy told the news outlet that he saw them on the ground but separated. Even though he outweighed Trayvon Martin by more than 100 pounds, Zimmerman claims he then shot the unarmed teen in self-defense.
Based on these facts alone, there appears to be enough evidence to arrest George Zimmerman in the neighborhood watch shooting. He admits to going after the teen, which led to a fist fight. He stopped that fight with a gun.
Yes, Zimmerman has claimed self-defense, but its presence is anything but clear. The issue of self-defense is supposed to be decided by a jury in these types of situations -- not the police. Perhaps now that the investigation has been handed over to the Florida State Attorney's Office, George Zimmerman will be charged.
- Trayvon Martin shooting case goes to State Attorney's Office today (Orlando Sentinel)
- First Degree Murder Defenses (FindLaw)
- Can I Shoot a Burglar in Self Defense? (FindLaw Blotter)