Friday, April 27, 2012

George Zimmerman's 911 Call: You Decide

A friend and colleague of mine did not like my last post. Thought that I, a criminal defense lawyer by trade, was too harsh on Mr. Zimmerman. Then, like all good conservatives, i.e. Fox "news" viewers, practically knocked himself out with his own knee after reading a headline, opening few sentence of a news article and/or 30 second t.v. news story i.e. sound bite about the NBC reporter who was canned and rightly so, for not disclosing that the audio excerpt of Zimmerman's 911 call was edited, for time constraint purposes no doubt, but which could still leave an inaccurate or not totally true impression of Mr. Zimmerman's state of mind.

My friend went so ballistic on me, in fact, he accused me of a rush to judgment, defamation, demanded a retraction and on and on. It got so bad that at one point I had to question my own opinion, for that is what my site is, mostly opinion, hopefully informed but opinion nonetheless. I liken it to a newspaper column in that most sophisticated readers (i.e. not tea baggers or people who comment on news articles) know that they are reading an opinion piece, not a Jack Webb "Just the facts Ma'am" news story where the strict rules of journalism including multiple independent sources of corroboration apply.

So I instant messaged my friend a request to the link of the full transcript and waited...and waited...and waited.  Much like the cops I catch lying on the witness stand, I detected the frozen fear in my friend that the jig was up.  In two seconds I pulled up the full transcript and guess what, knock me over with a feather.  My conservative friend, not a trial lawyer, had taken one line out of the transcript and in the perversion of self righteousness known only to gay closeted Republican Senators, tea baggers and self-proclaimed "Christians", and turned it into a narrative that justified his contrarian support for a "... racist little pussy ass"... who got ..." bitch slapped and then like the true punk he really...was, escalated "... to deadly force instead of taking his beating from a teenager packing a bag of skittles".

But why take my opinion for it, you decide for yourself.  But as you read it ask yourself what is descriptive as opposed to what is conclusory.  Remind yourself that one person is, theoretically, a mature adult , who trained and qualified for a concealed carry license and was a neighborhood watch volunteer who was presumably educated on the most basic constitutional rights, and the other was someone's kid who has the right to be left alone when walking to the local store for some candy, no matter the color of his skin.

Although Florida has the so called Castle law, which means whether you are at home or in public, you do not have to retreat if threatened with death or great bodily harm before responding with lethal force, there is no jurisdiction in this country which allows someone to become a self-anointed vigil ante, illegally seek out trouble, violate the rights of others and then when the tables are turned and the kid you thought you could bully because you are a big Man with a gun, justifies escalating a fist fight or wrestling match into the use of deadly force just because you are getting your much deserved come uppence.

Dispatcher: Sanford Police Department. …
Zimmerman: Hey we've had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there's a
real suspicious guy, uh, [near] Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can
give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he's up to no good, or
he's on drugs or something. It's raining and he's just walking around, looking
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?
Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or
sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He's [unintelligible], he was just staring…
Dispatcher: OK, he's just walking around the area…
Zimmerman: …looking at all the houses.
Dispatcher: OK…
Zimmerman: Now he's just staring at me.
Dispatcher: OK—you said it's 1111 Retreat View? Or 111?
Zimmerman: That's the clubhouse…
Dispatcher: That's the clubhouse, do you know what the—he's near the
clubhouse right now?
Zimmerman: Yeah, now he's coming towards me.
Dispatcher: OK.
Zimmerman: He's got his hand in his waistband. And he's a black male.
Dispatcher: How old would you say he looks?
Zimmerman: He's got button on his shirt, late teens.
Dispatcher: Late teens ok.
Zimmerman: Somethings wrong with him. Yup, he's coming to check me out, he's got
something in his hands, I don't know what his deal is.
Dispatcher: Just let me know if he does anything ok
Zimmerman: How long until you get an officer over here?
Dispatcher: Yeah we've got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does
anything else.
Zimmerman: Okay. These assholes they always get away. When you come to the
clubhouse you come straight in and make a left. Actually you would go past the
Dispatcher: So it's on the lefthand side from the clubhouse?
Zimmerman: No you go in straight through the entrance and then you make a left…uh
you go straight in, don't turn, and make a left. Shit he's running.
Dispatcher: He's running? Which way is he running?
Zimmerman: Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.
Dispatcher: Which entrance is that that he's heading towards?
Zimmerman: The back entrance…fucking [unintelligible]
Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Zimmerman: Yeah
Dispatcher: Ok, we don't need you to do that.
Zimmerman: Ok
Dispatcher: Alright sir what is your name?
Zimmerman: George…He ran.
Dispatcher: Alright George what's your last name?
Zimmerman: Zimmerman
Dispatcher: And George what's the phone number you're calling from?
Zimmerman: [redacted]
Dispatcher: Alright George we do have them on the way, do you want to meet with the
officer when they get out there?
Zimmerman: Alright, where you going to meet with them at?
Zimmerman: If they come in through the gate, tell them to go straight past the
club house, and uh, straight past the club house and make a left, and then they
go past the mailboxes, that’s my truck...[unintelligible]
Dispatcher: What address are you parked in front of?
Zimmerman: I don’t know, it’s a cut through so I don’t know the address.
Dispatcher: Okay do you live in the area?
Zimmerman: Yeah, I...[unintelligible]
Dispatcher: What’s your apartment number?
Zimmerman: It’s a home it’s 1950, oh crap I don’t want to give it all out, I don’t
know where this kid is.
Dispatcher: Okay do you want to just meet with them right near the mailboxes
Zimmerman: Yeah that’s fine.
Dispatcher: Alright George, I’ll let them know to meet you around there okay?
Zimmerman: Actually could you have them call me and I’ll tell them where I’m at?
Dispatcher: Okay, yeah that’s no problem.
Zimmerman: Should I give you my number or you got it?
Dispatcher: Yeah I got it [redacted]
Zimmerman: Yeah you got it.
Dispatcher: Okay no problem, I’ll let them know to call you when you’re in the
Zimmerman: Thanks.
Dispatcher: You’re welcome.

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