By the legal standards that were in play during the trial of George Zimmerman, he was a victim of Trayvon Martin’s aggression, in fear of his life, and therefore justified in shooting and killing his attacker. In one sentence, that is the way the recent trial unfolded and ended with a “not guilty” call by the jury.
But Trayvon was a victim as well; the unfortunate subject of Zimmerman’s multiple lapses in behavior. Let us count the ways.
(1) Training as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer includes the advice not to “pack” while on patrol.* Carrying a firearm is actively discouraged though it cannot, by law, be prohibited. Zimmerman, armed on patrol, had turned his back on the very training he had received.
(2) On the phone to the 9-11 Dispatcher and steadily tailing Martin, Zimmerman was specifically told to back off and “not do that”. He disobeyed that explicit instruction.
(3) During the trial, Zimmerman’s defense team made much of a four-minute interval during which Trayvon could have come to a halt, identified himself and his place of residence in the immediate vicinity, but failed to do so, choosing instead to eventually confront Zimmerman and start a physical altercation. By the same logic, why didn’t Zimmerman, the adult on patrol, engage in some active measure(s) of restraint? For example, he could have identified himself as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, asked Martin to stop and provide some evidence that he belonged where he was. There isn’t the slightest indication that Zimmerman did anything of the sort.
Though not in any legal sense, Zimmerman is “guilty” of failing to adhere to his training, of insubordination, and finally, of a complete lack of mature, responsible behavior prior to the fight that ended when he killed Martin. It is because of just these sorts of lapses that volunteers are discouraged from taking a gun on patrol.
We may never know what was going through Zimmerman’s mind as he began following Martin, or when those pivotal 4-minutes were ongoing. But, one thing that Zimmerman had said earlier, gives us a hint: “These f–king punks always get away”. Perhaps Zimmerman was committed to not letting that happen again.
*Your blogger and his wife both underwent training as “Citizens on Patrol”. So, my knowledge here is first-hand.