Chris Francescani’s otherwise solid Reuters article about George Zimmerman, with previously undisclosed and illuminating background info, is marred by Francescani’s baseless assertion that Zimmerman “disregarded police advice against pursuing Martin.” Actually, there’s no known evidence that Zimmerman continued to follow Martin after the police dispatcher “suggested” he halt, but the lynch mob has brainwashed a lot of people into perceiving fiction as fact.
There needs to be probable cause (incriminating evidence) that the shooting was unlawful. The use of deadly force when it’s reasonable to fear great bodily harm or death is a right, not just a defense that can be used in response to charges. That’s why the State of Florida submitted a probable cause affidavit. In other words, it’s unlawful to prosecute someone without probable cause. Renowned criminal defense attorneys such as Jeralyn Merritt and Alan Dershowitz have explained (here, here and here) why the affidavit is terribly flawed. If the best refutation of their criticism is that it’s common to prosecute people who’ve shot others, the State has failed to meet its evidentiary burden.
One needn’t be a legal expert to recognize that nothing has been disclosed which indicates Zimmerman violated any law. There’s a huge and discrediting gap between that nothingness, and the phony certainty of the lynch mob.
Francescani’s “reporting” (as if it were an undisputed fact) that Zimmerman “disregarded police advice against pursuing Martin” is typical of the pro-prosecution bias that dominates our culture. It’s not even complicated. Quite simply, nobody is known to have witnessed what George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin did or said between the moment Zimmerman finished speaking with the police dispatcher, and when the Zimmerman/Martin encounter thereafter began. Zimmerman said “okay” when the dispatcher implied he shouldn’t keep following Martin. He then sounds (in the recording of his conversation with the dispatcher) as if he indeed aborted his pursuit. Zimmerman later told police that after the call, he did what he and the dispatcher agreed he should do, which was find an address so he could tell the responding cops exactly where to meet him. How does this add up to Zimmerman chasing Martin with murderous intent – or chasing him at all – after the phone call?
That such a flub is contained in even a basically impressive piece of journalism, and that nobody (to my knowledge) has commented on it, shows how deeply ingrained the bias is.
Of course all killings should be thoroughly investigated. My beef is with the public’s rush to judgment, and special prosecutor Angela Corey’s decision to charge Zimmerman with second degree murder when no evidence has been presented that supports it. Corey is placating the lynch mob instead of honoring established evidentiary standards.
It’s not as if charging Zimmerman with second degree murder was a prerequisite to uncovering evidence. Corey’s ample investigative powers would not have been diminished had she decided Zimmerman should not be charged.
Those who demanded a criminal prosecution see themselves as righteous defenders of a victim, but they fail to realize Zimmerman is also a victim, because he’s been denied the due process rights to which he’s entitled. Moreover, the lynch mob’s phony certainty undermines the stalwart and important efforts of reputable watchdogs who are working to eradicate police misconduct, particularly the sort of racial profiling that infringes on the liberty of innocent Americans. In the name of justice, misguided supporters of Trayvon Martin and his family are rallying around a ridiculously weak case, and ignoring incidents in White Plains, NY and Los Angeles that deserve greater scrutiny.
This story was also published by The Huffington Post.