Trayvon Martin was a 17 year old child who was shot in the chest while walking from a convenience store. He was shot by the self-appointed captain of a neighborhood watch who believed Martin “looked suspicious.” Martin had Skittles and an iced tea in his hands. His killer, George Zimmerman, had a gun.
Zimmerman has yet to be arrested because he claims he acted in self-defense. The police say they have no evidence to discredit Zimmerman’s version, despite 911 calls where Zimmerman admits he was the one pursuing Martin, and Martin’s girlfriend who was talking on the phone with him at the time, who says Martin was scared because a man was following him.
Some are saying the whole case, which has been the subject of national outcry for justice, focuses on the controversial Stand Your Ground law of Florida. But even the writers of the law say Zimmerman can’t invoke immunity under the self-defense law.
The law allows for people to use up to deadly force when they feel they are being threatened with that same level of force. “Nowhere does it say that a person has a right to confront another,” according to the Miami Herald.
Former state Senator Durell Peaden and state Rep. Dennis Baxley, who wrote the law, say that Zimmerman should be arrested.
When on the phone with dispatch, Zimmerman said he was pursuing Martin. Dispatch told him not to and he ignored them. “When he said ‘I’m following him,’ he lost his defense,” said Sen. Peaden. “He has no protection under my law.”
Other legislators are saying the law needs to be clarified, that it’s too vague. But there’s little doubt that those who approved it didn’t mean for it to be applied to “some weird Batman who would go out and kill little kids like Trayvon,” as Senator Braynon described it.
The case has garnered national, if not international attention and people are calling for Zimmerman’s immediate arrest. The Department of Justice and the state have opened an investigation as well. But, Zimmerman remains free.
When you are in your home and someone breaks down the door with a gun, you have a right to defend yourself and your property. If you are on the street and someone attempts to rob you, you can defend yourself. But to follow someone at night and possibly illicit their self-defense gives you no right to then shoot them.
Self-defense is a tricky strategy to use in any violent crime. However, if it can be proven that you acted in self-defense, you may be able to avoid something like an assault conviction, for instance. If you are facing charges and curious about defense strategies like this, get help from a local Florida attorney.