Michael Tabman

The Trayvon Martin Shooting – Where Do We Stand Now?

In Crime and Security on April 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm

As always, my rules for discussing any pending criminal case: 1) The accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty; 2) More facts will become known as the investigation continues and 3) Things rarely are as they first appear to be. In my blog, dated March 21, 2012 I clearly stated that probable cause to arrest George Zimmerman existed.

The most recent video released by the Sanford Police Department shows that Zimmerman was arrested. Taken from the scene of a crime, handcuffed, in a police car to a police station is an arrest.

The video of George Zimmerman arriving at the police station has led many to claim that there were no signs of Zimmerman being injured from a fight with Martin, as he claimed. Zimmerman did appear composed, steady on his feet and free of serious injuries. Yet, just the other morning, an enhanced video appears to show injuries on the back of Zimmerman’s head. I was concerned by the “casualness” of the police handling of Zimmerman. While handcuffed, he got the police car with no assistance by the police and walked with the police as if he was one of the guys. I was surprised by police not maintaining at least the routine “hand on the elbow” to escort and maintain some control over someone just arrested for shooting an unarmed individual.

According to news reports, Zimmerman was released after the State Attorney declined to prosecute Zimmerman. This added more fodder to the claims that this tragic incident was mishandled from the very beginning, which I stated in my appearance on Fox 4 News, Kansas City. From the information that has recently been leaked, the declination to prosecute appears to have been premature. I maintain that looking at the facts and circumstances in toto, probable cause existed to charge Zimmerman and Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law was not applicable to this matter. Again, that does not mean Zimmerman is guilty or will be convicted. It means only that more work needed to be done.

Now, where do we stand? Public outrage and racial tension are forcing this case to be tried in the media. That is not where justice should be served. Videos, recordings, public statements and everyone rushing to get their message out will hurt both the prosecution and the defense. Witness memories will be affected and biased. This is turning into a lose-lose proposition.

So what should we do? We should do exactly what we are all claiming the police and prosecution did not do – let the process work properly. A grand jury will be convened. A federal investigation may run concurrently and the State will review this matter in its entirety. The police chief and the prosecutor have appropriately stepped aside. We are getting a second opportunity for the system to work – let’s give it a chance.


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