Morning Links

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012
  • California liberals worry that federal pot raids will make people distrustful of government. Let’s hope so!
  • National Guard Units aiding state drug war efforts. And possibly in defiance of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kyllo.
  • This article on the Otto Zehm killing aptly demonstrates the many problems with police unions.
  • Both Reuters and Walter Olson throw water on the notion that Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws are filling the streets with blood.
  • The sponsors the 1978 California law that substantially expanded the state’s use of the death penalty are now arguing for its repeal.
  • Clark County, Nevada DA won’t charge a cop who was caught on film repeatedly kicking a man in the head. The man was in diabetic shock at the time. The officer has a history of misconduct, which the DA apparently didn’t know about until it was uncovered by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  • Union claims it should be able to force anyone who wants to work in a particular field to join the union and pay dues, and that it should then be able to use a portion of those dues for political activities. And it claims that preventing it from doing so is a violation of the union’s free speech.
  • How the pun changed world history.
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100 Responses to “Morning Links”

  1. #1 |  Miko | 

    #7 is a really silly argument. “Right”-to-work laws are a violation of freedom of contract, not of free speech.

  2. #2 |  Mugen | 

    About that Clark County beating…

    tldr; “You can’t prove malicious intent when he was trained to brutally beat anyone during an arrest rather than just this one guy”

    Small wonder people fear police as much as they fear criminals. After all, the police get away with it.

  3. #3 |  Joshua | 

    I’m sorry, but is the Clark County DA admitting that it is specific department policy that officers are supposed to repeatedly kick unconscious people in the head, and that the officers are given training on how to do it?

  4. #4 |  capn_amurka | 

    What would it take to mimic the heat signatures referred to in The Fix article? If a organization paid people to set up grow lights and to grow
    hops or orchids, wouldn’t there be do many legal sites having the requisite signature that it would be effectively useless?

  5. #5 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    “•Clark County, Nevada DA won’t charge a cop who was caught on film repeatedly kicking a man in the head. The man was in diabetic shock at the time. The officer has a history of misconduct, which the DA apparently didn’t know about until it was uncovered by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINOfNkbamE
    Ahh, the infamous gruesome “Don’t resist, motherfucker” beating of a guy in shock from those sworn to serve and protect.
    “But as a lawyer, I have to think, can I prove evil intent when he was trained to be able to use a kick?”

    As if “evil intent” would ever be required from a non-police defendant…

  6. #6 |  rmv | 

    @ 1 Miko

    “#7 is a really silly argument. “Right”-to-work laws are a violation of freedom of contract, not of free speech.”

    Freedom of contract violation? As opposed to compulsory union membership/contracts?

  7. #7 |  La Rana | 

    You and (almost) everyone else miss the point about whats wrong with SYG as a legal matter. The immunity process is irrelevant. The problem is that as a matter of public policy we want to discourage violence, and thats what the criminal law typically does. Thats what the duty to retreat typically does. Once you remove the duty to retreat, you remove any obligation on any party to attempt to de-escalate a confrontation.

    In what used to be the consensus rule (until everyone starting going insane re: criminal law in the last 20-30 years), self-defense was about proportionality and a duty to retreat. SYG essentially allows someone to escalate a confrontation in the absence of good witnesses. Which, as we can see with the Trayvon debacle, that is really really dumb idea.

  8. #8 |  Danny | 

    Unions don’t control entire “fields.” They control individual “shops.” One can choose between working for a union-shop employer or a non-union-shop employer in most any private sector of the economy.

    Ergo, if you choose to work for a union shop, you might expect that the union can use your dues money for political speech, just like if you choose to buy stock in a particular corporation, you can expect that the corporation will use your investment money to (pre-dividend-tax) pay for political speech.

  9. #9 |  Danny | 

    Police unions are different from other public-sector unions, like teachers or trash collectors, because they represent a direct and unique threat to police accountability (like civil-service protections).

    Thus, union-busting laws that exempt police unions (like Wisconsin) are a much graver threat to liberty than union-busting laws that apply equall to all (like Ohio’s).

    Defending Wisconsin’s law with its law-enforcement carve-outs as the prelude to some imagined incrementalist future attack on police unions is more than just naive, and more than just profoundly wrong. It abets the creation of an impunity for police that is even more exaggerated and more extreme than the status quo ante.

  10. #10 |  Radley Balko | 

    You and (almost) everyone else miss the point about whats wrong with SYG as a legal matter.

    I support the Castle Doctrine, but I think Stand Your Ground laws go too far, for the very reasons you mention. But that doesn’t mean I’m okay with false media reports about how these laws have caused the streets to erupt in gunfire. It’s possible to both agree with the general premise (SYG is too much), and believe that the issue should be debated with actual facts, not conjecture and hysteria.

    And it isn’t at all clear that SYG has any relevance on the Martin case.

  11. #11 |  David | 

    As if “evil intent” would ever be required from a non-police defendant…

    Sure it is. It’s just assumed that non-police harbor evil intent at all times. If they didn’t, they’d be police.

  12. #12 |  Brandon | 

    Miko, what if I don’t want to join a union, and an employer who does not have a contract with a union wants to hire me regardless of union membership? Do I have the freedom to make that contract?

  13. #13 |  nigmalg | 

    I suppose preventing or hindering a companies ability to block abusive unions wouldn’t be a violation of their speech?

    Miko,

    I would also argue that union “contracts” under threat of government force would be the very definition of “under duress”.

  14. #14 |  Bob | 

    Wow, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson isn’t even trying to conceal his “Protect the Police at any cost” view.

    The police there are also trained to escalate encounters into a shoot, too. I guess they’ll start doing that. Oh wait! Already doing that!

  15. #15 |  Bobby Black | 

    Ah “stop resisting mother fucker”…they won’t charge him. Wonderful example of the grossly under-trained idiocy of modern police departments. Let this be a warning to all. Don’t you DARE have a seizure or we will pound the SHIT out of you. How DARE you have a seizure on the streets where officers are just so scared of not “being able to go home to their families after their shift? ” How dare you question their methods when all they are doing is serving (themselves) and protecting (each other) in their communities. Sheer madness when they have a blanket around them like “prove that there was malicious intent” even when it is obvious that kicking a cursing an already subdued captive is as malicious as it gets. The police need oversight from their communities. Bottom line, they (the Police Unions) are too powerful, and out of control, and the rising groundswell that is brewing in the land will one day, and soon, break wide open. What are the cops going to do when the people finally beat their plowshares back in to swords? Cowards, jackals and highwaymen to a man. Fuck this attitude. Shouting “Stop resisting” to them, thwarts the camera, and maintains a degree of plausibility so they can say that theie victims were still asking for enhanced compliance techniques…or “drawing contact” as they love to say. i am tired of this. i am tired of being more afraid of the idiots in black than the criminals they claim that are everywhere. When America, when will we take our country back? When? What will it take for people to wake the hell up and pull this gang in black back under control?

  16. #16 |  nigmalg | 

    As far as I understand, SYG was adopted primarily to curtail ridiculous criminal (and civil) trials after an instance of self defense. Historically, you were to make an affirmative defense $50,000 into your trial.

    It was made clear to me that several “defendants” ended up blowing their life savings defending themselves from the State, after having defended themselves against the criminal. Only followed later by the fevered abuse of our civil process to make sure the “defendant” can no longer build a savings into the near future.

    Yes, I understand this is more of an outrage in regards to our legal system, but sometimes we have unintended consequences when we require trials as a matter of procedure, instead of cause.

  17. #17 |  Mattocracy | 

    “SYG essentially allows someone to escalate a confrontation in the absence of good witnesses.”

    No, that’s not what these laws do. They are designed to allow someone to defend themselves from imminent threat without fear of being sued by their attacker or charged by the state. Escalating the scenario (such as engaging your attacker as he/she is trying to leave) takes the scenario outside the parameters of “stand your ground.”

  18. #18 |  Robert | 

    The cop was just doing a live performance of Frank Zappa’s song Lonesome Cowboy Burt:

    Jimmy Carl Black:
    When I get off, I get plastered.
    I drink till I fall on the floor.
    Find me some communist bastard
    N’ stomp on his face till he don’t
    Move no more.

    Mark Volman & Howard Kaylan:
    He stomps on his face till he don’t
    Move no more.

    Jimmy Carl Black:
    I fuss an’ I cuss and I keep on drinkin’
    Till my eyes puff up an’ turn red.
    I drool on m’shirt.
    I see if he’s hurt.
    Then I kick him again in the head, let’s

    Everybody:
    Kick him again in the head boys!
    Kick him again in the head now!
    Kick him again in the head!

  19. #19 |  David | 

    No, that’s not what these laws do. They are designed to allow someone to defend themselves from imminent threat without fear of being sued by their attacker or charged by the state. Escalating the scenario (such as engaging your attacker as he/she is trying to leave) takes the scenario outside the parameters of “stand your ground.”

    What the laws are designed to do and what the law actually allows as a practical are not necessarily the same.

  20. #20 |  David | 

    As a practical MATTER. I R professional writer.

  21. #21 |  La Rana | 

    I agree with almost everything you said Radley, except the last bit. In a non-SYD state, leaving your vehicle with your gun to pursue someone who is simply acting suspicious, against the direction of the 9-1-1 operator, would be prima facie evidence of being the aggressor. If there was no SYD, Zimmerman would be in jail, charged with 2nd degree murder or 1st degree manslaughter. And the important point about that is that zimmeriman would likely have known that, as a community patrol type, would never have gotten out of his car, and Trayvon would be alive. QED.

  22. #22 |  DTM119 | 

    “could be charged with oppression under color of office, a felony. To prove it, prosecutors would have to show the officers had malicious intent, ”

    This prosecutor seems to be one of the dim bulbs. Why not charge aggravated assault? And, yes, I do know why.

  23. #23 |  fwb | 

    Rights, as enumerated by the Framers, come from God. God made no unions. Unions have no rights.

  24. #24 |  David | 

    Ah, but the entire purpose of declaring independence from the Crown was to secure a more perfect union!

  25. #25 |  Jim Collins | 

    I’m going to have to disagree with you on SYG laws. I have had an armed security license for over 20 years. When I first took training for it, part of the training was on the current self defense laws. The instructor asked “How many of us lived in two-story homes, where all of the bedrooms were upstairs?”. The reason for asking this question was that under the current law, if everyone in my family was upstairs and somebody broke in downstairs, I wasn’t allowed to go downstairs with my weapon. If I did and there was a confrontation, even if the intruder was armed, self-defense would not apply.

    The only time, other than in the military, that I ever had to pull my weapon, I was in a position with good cover. If I would have stayed in that position and fired, it wouldn’t be considered self-defense because I would have made no effort to flee.

  26. #26 |  el coronado | 

    Anybody else notice that the anti-SYG lady refers to the guy who shot (quite possibly in self-defense; quite possibly not) as “Zimmerman”…but the dead 6’3″ choir boy/thug wannabe, depending on whose sources you trust, is “Trayvon”?

    It *does* change the dynamic some, don’t it – which I suspect is the reason the tactic was used. Try it yourself: take a look at a famous old murder case. Instead of “Leopold/Loeb”, frame it as “Nathan and Richard ‘confessed to’ killing Franks after hours of the intense, ofter brutal ‘questioning’ the Chicago PD is infamous for.”

  27. #27 |  derfel cadarn | 

    First Otto Zehm,someone was severely injured and eventually died,it does not seem onerous that investigators woulds consider ALL present for wrong doing. WE see now the cops do not like being suspects. Too goddamn bad. Second Clark Cty one would imagine that police misconduct and disiplinary records would at least be available to the DA if not the public this looks like the Da is incompetent but collusion is the more likely culprit. Lastly union claims right to force people to join,pay dues and spend dues as they see it. Rights are held by people what about the peoples rights here what if I want to keep my money What if I pay and then do not like the unions political position? As always on the left only they have rights,it does no matter what you may want only what they want. That is why in private industry unions are dying.

  28. #28 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    With this many union stories, I predict 150+ comment thread. If unions are so great, let them compete for members.

  29. #29 |  Cynical in New York | 

    #25

    Are you serious? In regards to the two story house factor? Wouldn’t the castle doctrine trump the stand your guard in this instance? I mean granted your primary rooms are up stairs but it’s still your entire home.

  30. #30 |  MikeZ | 

    La Rana,
    Technically speaking the 911 operator never told Zimmerman to not follow Martin. If I remember correctly he said “We don’t need you to do that” which is an almost completely meaningless statement that could be interpreted just about any way you want it too. You want to know the last person who said something like that to me was? It was my mother after getting her some flowers for mothers day I’m pretty sure she meant that as a thank you and not as an admonishment of my incompetence.

    I don’t disagree that it seems like Zimmerman was being the aggressor although nothing really illegal about confronting somebody on the street, but I do think the cops first mistake was that poor 911 advice. I’m not real sure SYG has anything todo with the current case, and would be any different than the self defense claim we’d be talking about if florida didn’t have SYG.

  31. #31 |  David | 

    #25: Bear in mind that SYG laws are not Castle Doctrine laws. Castle doctrine says you have no duty to retreat inside your own home. SYG says you have no duty to retreat in any location where you “have a legal right to be.”

  32. #32 |  picachu | 

    “National Guard Units aiding state drug war efforts. And possibly in defiance of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Kyllo.”

    And how many divisions does the surpreme court have? Basically our militarized police along with this National Guard Unit can ignore the actual law. After all, who’s gonna hold them accountable?

    Police in this country have finally realized that the non-armed parts of the government can’t touch them and that the ycan basically do anything they want, laws be damned.

  33. #33 |  La Rana | 

    “I don’t disagree that it seems like Zimmerman was being the aggressor”

    [BUT]

    “I’m not real sure SYG has anything todo with the current case, and would be any different than the self defense claim we’d be talking about if florida didn’t have SYG.”

    These two statements are irreconcilable. If Florida did not have SYG, Zimmerman would not thereby be guilty, but he would have been arrested and indicted for the reasons you’ve already conceded. You just don’t seem to like that conclusion.

  34. #34 |  EBL | 

    Radley, I agree with your comments at #10. I support the Castle doctrine, a debate on the limits of SYG are warranted. The Zimmerman-Martin incident seems like a situation more tragic than malice, but there may have been a crime (it is not murder but it may be manslaughter). Who was pursuing who when the gun was pulled by Zimmerman and Martin was shot? If Zimmerman backed off and was returning the the vehicle (even if he initially provoked matters) and Martin did attack him as some reports state–then I do not see a crime being committed by Zimmerman.

    The race baiting is deplorable, but I do understand the anger over a teenager being shot and killed when he did not have a weapon.

  35. #35 |  Chris Rhodes | 

    @La Rana (#21)

    “If there was no SYD, Zimmerman would be in jail, charged with 2nd degree murder or 1st degree manslaughter.”

    False. A “duty to retreat” only takes effect when your life is threatened. If Trayvon did indeed tackle Zimmerman to the ground and start pounding his head into the pavement, then at that point, Zimmerman feared for his life and was unable to retreat. Still self-defense.

    Merely walking on a public street with a concealed carry weapon on your person does NOT make you an aggressor, even if a police operator informs you beforehand that you “don’t need to” walk on that street.

  36. #36 |  Chris Rhodes | 

    More:

    If Florida did not have SYG, Zimmerman would not thereby be guilty, but he would have been arrested and indicted

    That’s fair enough, actually.

  37. #37 |  Bill Poser | 

    One thing that the Zehm beating and other similar incidents reveal is that police are poorly trained in martial arts. My reaction to many videos and descriptions of attempts at subduing a suspect is that I’m watching the brutal alter egos of the Three Stooges.

    With regard to Stand Your Ground laws, one benefit is that they remove the pressure to retreat when doing so is likely to increase the danger. While it is true that sometimes withdrawing can defuse a confrontation, it often will not. Withdrawing may encourage an assailant (anyone who has handled confrontations with aggressive dogs or bears knows this) and may force you to turn your back or to move onto unfavorable ground. Furthermore, sometimes the best defense is offense. If faced with an assailant who attacks and breaks off repeatedly, attacking and disabling the assailant may be the only safe course. Similarly, withdrawing may have undesirable side effects, such as drawing the assailant closer to other vulnerable people or additional, more powerful, weapons. SYG laws do not remove the need to make such decisions, but they allow you to make an unbiased decision as to the safest course of action.

  38. #38 |  EBL | 

    David, I would support SYG if it had a limited duty to retreat or avoid use deadly force. But it is real fact specific and depends on the circumstances. As a gun owner, I would take the position using a weapon on anyone should be a last resort.

    I do not know the facts about Zimmerman and Martin. Very few people do. So treat this as a hypothetical. But it seems very probable that there was some sort of physical altercation between them immediately before the shooting:

    If you are carrying a weapon and a fight breaks out (and it is on your person) and you fall to the ground with the other person on top of you are you going to risk them getting the gun or would you use it? That seems what happened in the Zimmerman-Martin matter. Had Zimmerman pulled the gun earlier, I would assume Martin would not have tried to jump him. The question over whether Zimmerman is criminally guilty or not is did the alleged attack occurred when he was following Martin (which you could argue he created the situation that led to the death–supporting a manslaughter type charge) or did Martin break it off and was returning to his vehicle and then Martin decided to pursue him (which would support no crime).

  39. #39 |  MikeZ | 

    Well hypothetically if Zimmerman was the aggressor for the entirety of the event how would SYG even apply? Zimmerman had no way of knowing if any crime was being committed by Martin. Perhaps being a gated community, Martin may have been trespassing, but Zimmerman wouldn’t know unless he asked every resident in the community whether or not they had given him permission. So what ground would Zimmerman have been standing if he was the aggressor? SYG doesn’t seem applicable without some underlying threat/fear.

    The first real threat would have come when/if Martin initiated an attack, in that case it seems like self defense applies.

  40. #40 |  Bill Poser | 

    In my post above I mistakenly referred to the Zehm beating when I meant the Clark County incident.

  41. #41 |  Woog | 

    Assuming Zimmerman’s account and that of the eyewitness is accurate, being straddled and pummelled by someone removes SYG laws from the discussion entirely. YOU CANNOT RETREAT FROM BEING STRADDLED AND PUNCHED.

    Fear of death or great bodily harm should never require someone to retreat. If you inspire fear of death or great bodily harm in others, perhaps you should re-examine your approach.

  42. #42 |  Mattocracy | 

    “If Florida did not have SYG, Zimmerman would not thereby be guilty, but he would have been arrested and indicted.”

    Again, this isn’t a failure because of a law. This is a failure because of the DA’s office. The fact that they are interpreting the law incorrectly isn’t the fault of the law itself.

  43. #43 |  JThompson | 

    @Woog: You can retreat before you escalate the situation to the point of being straddled and punched.

    I can’t follow you around harassing you, initiate a physical altercation, then when you begin kicking my ass pull a gun and insist I was standing my ground.

  44. #44 |  Robert | 

    @ #7: Sorry. Everyone knows that you don’t run away from bears, dogs, cougars or any other dangerous animal, as it only encourages them. Same with criminals. I suuppose if someone is carjacking you and your 2 yr old is in the back seat you are just going to let them go? Or if it’s your 16yr old daughter and the jacker says “No, she stays in the car with me”. Yeah, right.

  45. #45 |  Chris Rhodes | 

    @JThompson (#43)

    1. What did Zimmerman he say, and how did it constitute harassment? (e.g. Were they “fighting words”?)
    2. Did Zimmerman initiate the physical altercation?

    Duty to retreat comes into play when you are being threatened, not before. If Zimmerman asked Martin a question, turned to go, and then got jumped, he at no point had a duty to retreat, even without a SYG law.

  46. #46 |  Robert | 

    “leaving your vehicle with your gun to pursue someone who is simply acting suspicious, against the direction of the 9-1-1 operator…”

    No such thing happened. Why lie about it?

    “We don’t need you to do that” != “I am ordering you not to do that”.

  47. #47 |  Robert | 

    Note: There are two different Robert’s posting in this thread..

  48. #48 |  lunchstealer | 

    #44 Robert – in the case of a carjacking, SYG does not apply, at least as formulated in Florida, but rather the castle doctrine. Their formulation of the castle doctrine involves both houses and motor vehicles, specifically.

    Also, your hypotheticals involve someone else who is unable to retreat, and thus you’d go from defense of self to defense of others, so again, SYG wouldn’t necessarily apply.

    There are cases where your best bet with a cougar or a bear is to retreat. If you’re on your back porch and the bear is across the back yard, you might want to just step inside the door. And if you go following a bear through the woods and then kill it when it turns to attack, you’d better have a hunting license.

  49. #49 |  lunchstealer | 

    #46 Robert

    “leaving your vehicle with your gun to pursue someone who is simply acting suspicious, against the direction of the 9-1-1 operator…”

    No such thing happened. Why lie about it?

    “We don’t need you to do that” != “I am ordering you not to do that”.

    “You don’t need to get me a gift” is a suggestion. An emergency dispatcher saying “We don’t need you to do that” is saying “Please do not do that”. It may not be an order not to do it, but it’s reasonably a ‘direction’ not to do it.

  50. #50 |  lunchstealer | 

    This business with lefties and their insistence that Citizens United was about money and not about speech is maddening. It is not a violation of the First Amendment to suggest that one person may not give another person money, or that one organization may not give another organization money. That wasn’t what happened in Citizens United. The problem wasn’t that corporations gave money. It was that Citizens United produced political speech.

    The union can say whatever it wants. It just can’t coerce donations.

  51. #51 |  MikeZ | 

    To me that emergency operator is saying something like, “I can’t advise you to maintain pursuit as this may not be a safe course of action for you, If you do pursue and you get hurt please don’t sue us because I technically told you following the individual was not something we requested. “

  52. #52 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    SYG laws became popular enough to become law because the “Duty to Retreat” standard didn’t work very well, and people were sick of it. In time the SYG laws will have made enough people angry to get overturned, but I don’t think that time has come yet, and I hope that the eventual cause is better founded than the notion that the kid in this instance was as innocent a babe as he has been portrayed in some quarters.

  53. #53 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Burgers link:

    http://www.standard.net/stories/2012/04/09/video-shows-chaotic-scene-fatal-raid-shooting

    basically they have released some choppedup video of the Matthew Stewart pot raid where Jerry Farncom took a few too many in the face (and so fresh off his stunning victory over Todd Blair). The fact that these videos were released isn’t the interesting part. The interesting part is that the commentators think the gunfire was dubbed in and are beginning to look at the video like Dan Rather shot it. I hope that goes somewhere.

    Related side note: I think the “siren” (car alarm really) may have been dubbed into the Jose Guerena video. No one else picked up on it this time. If it turns out that the shots were dubbed in the Stewart, I can’t take credit for the scoop — thank the commentariat at the Ogden Examiner Standard.

  54. #54 |  a comment | 

    Richmond VA police idiocy tip — http://www.nbc12.com/story/17364222/richmond-police-officers-to-give-overnight-wake-up-calls

    If you leave your cell phone on the seat of your car, Richmond Police could come knocking in the middle of the night.

    Officers in Sector 412, which includes the Bellevue, Ginter Park, Northern Barton Heights and Carver neighborhoods, will be participating in a new “Wake Up Call” initiative.

    Officers will patrol neighborhood streets between the hours of midnight and 4:00 a.m. looking for any items of value (such as a GPS, music player, or computer) in plain view in a parked car. If they see anything left out, they will match the vehicle to its registered owner. If the owner lives in the neighborhood, midnight shift officers will knock on the front door for an unexpected wake up call.

  55. #55 |  Burgers Allday | 

    @10: fair but weak. La Rana’s right. btw, this is exactly how we learned in for the bar exam in my state, at least as of a few years ago. We learned not merely that this particular jurisdiction has a duty to retrreat, but WHY.

    What is kind of funny about this is all the laws we had to learn that have no reasonable justifications. In duty to retreat states, the lawyers actually are made to understand the law as a matter of policy, which is a really rare commodity in post-9/11 jurisprudence.

  56. #56 |  Dante | 

    I still have a question about George Zimmerman:

    If Trayvon was on top of him, and Zimmerman shot him, why was there no blood on Zimmerman’s clothes? It would seem that gravity would put some there.

  57. #57 |  Goober | 

    The Otto Zehm case is a classic case of officers resorting to violence and force way too soon. They saw a guy acting strange. Immediately, they think “perp. On drugs. Criminal. Must. Subdue” instead of what the case really was, which was a mentally retarded man who had a reputation for being completely harmless in every way in his community.

    If Thompson and his buddies had just approached this with some questions and talk first, they likely would have found out that Zehm was a harmless mentally challenged individual who just needed to be asked nicely to leave.

    What they decided upon entering the store is that he was a tweaker who needed to be subdued at all costs. After beating the unholy hell out of the poor guy, he spit at the officers (or, they claim that he spit at them). They put an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth WITHOUT IT BEING HOOKED TO OXYGEN. This, they determined, essentially suffocated Zehm to death.

    So yeah, Thompson is not a very nice guy. Neither are his buddies. My guess ist hat the detectives in the case made them feel like suspects BECAUSE THEY WERE, AND RIGHTFULLY DAMNED SO. The ultimate travesty of the whole mess is that except for Thompson, all the other officers are still on the force.

  58. #58 |  Goober | 

    @ #55 Dante – Where did you read that there was no blood on Zimmerman’s clothes? I had read just exactly the opposite, which, in the end, is the defining condition in this case – no one except Zimmerman knows what happened.

  59. #59 |  Goober | 

    #49 – Lunchstealer – The 911 operator has no authority to tell anyone what to do. They can’t give direction, and not following a direction that they give is not against any law. This argument is pretty thin. Try something else.

    By a lot of accounts, Zimmerman gave up the tail soon after and headed back to his truck, anyway. Again, the accounts vary, and leave enough in between for anyone to believe whatever they want as long as it fits their worldview. Are you so blind that you cannot see that?

    Do you really wish to risk railroading an innocent man who acted in self-defense simply based upon reporting that to date ahs shown itself to be ridiculously biased and wrong? (MSNBC – “He looks black!” MSNBC – “zimmerman is 240 pounds and trayvon was 165″ Zimmerman is 170 pounds, BTW. The entire media showing a pic of Trayvon at 12 years old while they show a pic of Zimmerman in jail orange mugshot.)

    Try to accept the fact that the reporting has been very agenda driven to date, and that there may be more to this story than you or I know.

  60. #60 |  Goober | 

    Lunchstealer – one more thing. I agree in theory with your impeachment of the hypothetical SYG in your hypotheticals – you don’t get to start a situation, excalate it, and then kill a guy in self defense because he wanted to kick your ass for starting a fight with him. That’s not what SYG means, though.

    SYG was created in response to a lot of prosecutions of folks who acted in self-defense, legitamately, who were then monday-morning quarterbacked by a overzealous prosecutor who said “he could have ran away or gotten out of this.”

    SYG is merely to protect innocent folks from being prosecuted whenever anyone could look at a situation and say “see! he could have done X! Or Y! Why did he choose to stand and fire!”

    Most folks saying this sort of thing have never been in a life-and-death situation. You can’t monday-morning QB something like that.

    That being said, SYG does not allow a man to break a beer bottle over another guy’s head, then shoot him when he gets up to beat his ass, and not fear prosecution. It is not the proverbial “following a bear through the woods, then shooting it when it turns to attack” that your side of tha rgument is twisting it to be. It is what I said it is – protection from monday morning quarterbacking about the “retreat first” rule.

  61. #61 |  Goober | 

    @ 43 – JThompson – Where is your proof that Zimmerman “initiated a physical confrontation?” Pretty please?

    As for “harrassing”, people forget that Zimmerman technically has every right in the world to follow anyone he wants to follow. There is nothing illegal about that. Your entire premise is hinging upon Zimmerman “starting a physical confrontation” of which you have absolutely zero proof other than that seems to be how you “feel” about the situation.

    Back off. Take a breath. Think logically, not emotionally. You’ll benefit from it.

  62. #62 |  EH | 

    Still waiting for Radley’s victory lap over Andrew Thomas!

  63. #63 |  M | 

    NYTimes article on the evidence against long term high does opiod therapy as effective treatment:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/health/opioid-painkiller-prescriptions-pose-danger-without-oversight.html?pagewanted=1&partner=rss&emc=rss

  64. #64 |  JOR | 

    “One thing that the Zehm beating and other similar incidents reveal is that police are poorly trained in martial arts.”

    I think they’re trained in certain approaches to martial arts that are packaged to appeal to macho-tripping “alphas” and alpha-wannabes. Most people who go for that kind of training never get to actually apply it on anyone seriously, but cops are often enough allowed to manufacture situations where it is ‘necessary’. Additionally, for practical self-defense, most people have to worry about 1) an opponent actually fighting back and hurting them and 2) legal ramifications of using excessive force, especially against a restrained or fleeing opponent – and training and techniques reflect these realities. Realistically, cops have to worry about neither of these factors, and so they thrive on training that is designed to cater to their egos but would get them injured, maimed, killed, or arrested if they ever used it in the real world.

    It’s similar to the way that their armed raids are often performed with stunningly sloppy tactics. When you realize that these raids are usually not that dangerous for the cops, and that they know this very well (even if they refuse to admit it), it starts to make sense. It’s not that their training is bad. It’s just that their training is for a different purpose than what they claim it is: terrorizing relatively harmless victims in particularly vulnerable circumstances, for varying purposes that most people would recognize as utterly depraved if anyone other than Our Heroes In Blue were using them as excuses.

  65. #65 |  Cynical in New York | 

    The whole Martin case is just getting weirder by the week

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/10/trayvon-martin-case-george-zimmermans-attorneys-quit_n_1416031.html?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D150763

  66. #66 |  JOR | 

    “Right To Work” laws do violate freedom of contract. They make it illegal for a union and employer to make a voluntary agreement that employees must be members of that union. This is what is called a union shop contract. Nobody forces employers to agree to such conditions in states without “right to work” laws.

    Now maybe you think that’s fine and justifiable*, but you should at least be aware of and honest about what it is.

    *It’s interesting that the people who insist that Right To Work laws are justifiable are generally the same people who argue in almost every other case that surface-voluntary agreements between agents is complete proof that there is no exploitation or coercion or anything unseemly going on. If a boss demands daily blowjobs from his secretary, why, that’s perfectly fine and voluntary in libertoidland – she could always quit, after all.

  67. #67 |  rmv | 

    @65 JOR

    “Nobody forces employers to agree to such conditions in states without “right to work” laws.”

    You’ve never worked construction in NYC. Holding a baseball bat and/or a city inspection over your head if you don’t perform a certain action ain’t voluntary.

    Re: second half of your comment.
    Lame strawman is lame.

  68. #68 |  Homeboy | 

    So, the Clarke County DA believes that there can be no malice expressed in a pig’s actions so long as the PD trains their thugs to exhibit malice routinely in the field? How in the world does that make sense?

  69. #69 |  Homeboy | 

    Nevada Revised Statute, Chapter 200: Crimes Against the Person – “Malice shall be implied when no considerable provocation appears, or when all the circumstances…show an abandoned and malignant heart.” I don’t seem to find any indication that a DA’s subjective view of “evil intent” is to be considered in the finding of malice. Further, the justification that someone abandoned themselves to training that called for him to act with a malignant heart doesn’t seem to remove a suspect from culpability here. Finally, am I the only one who finds it shocking that a DA would publicly adduce the most radical form of the Nuremberg defense to pre-emptively exonerate a suspect, given the current state of the law? ‘He is not guilty of a crime because his training or instructions allowed him to behave criminally.’ Really?

  70. #70 |  JOR | 

    “Lame strawman is lame.”

    It’s not a strawman if it’s an accurate characterization of the logical conclusion of commonly stated principles, let alone an actual commonly held position. I don’t even completely disagree with the “strawman”. Yes, the hypothetical boss is a shitty human being who ought to be shamed and ostracized into decency or at least abject poverty. But nobody has a right to a job.

    I’m not invested in defending any aspect of liberal capitalism. We do have a toxic system that makes people far too dependent on jobs provided by the political-capitalist elite for a living. Unions, especially officially recognized unions, are just another part of that system, largely deserving the same scorn. But ‘secondary regulations’ aimed at mitigating the problems created by primary regulations (in this case, outlawing unions that refuse to represent the interests of all workers and not just paying union members) have a poor track record.

  71. #71 |  r.l.s.3 | 

    @65 JOR

    “If a boss demands daily blowjobs from his secretary, why, that’s perfectly fine and voluntary in libertoidland – she could always quit, after all”

    What an ignorant characterization of the libertarian position. The “live and let live” attitude stops short when behavior that is hurtful or coercive to others is involved. Using a position of authority to coerce sexual favors is definitely damaging to the secretary, and is NOT “perfectly fine and voluntary in libertoidland.”

    Regarding violation of freedom of contract: There is no state in the union that does not have a multitude of laws that regulate contracts. Absolute freedom to enter into whatever contract you want to does not exist. States that choose “right to work laws” as part of the package merely shift the freedom of choice from the employer – union relationship, to the employee-union relationship, which in my opinion, being somewhat of an individualist who values people above corporations, is the one that matters most because it replaces a single decision, made by the company with many decisions made by the individual. Right to work laws enhance individual freedom.

  72. #72 |  r.l.s.3 | 

    I think that trying to form an argument for or against SYG laws using the Zimmerman ordeal as an example is a waste of time. There just isn’t enough info there to make a solid argument either way without adding hypotheticals.

    I prefer SYG laws over duty to retreat. I’m not a prosecutor but I can imagine that if I were one, it wouldn’t be too difficult to convince a jury that a defendant had options to retreat. I’ve been robbed at gunpoint, and I can say with a certainty that your ability to be rational is severely compromised when your life is threatened and even if there are opportunities to retreat successfully, you will undoubtedly miss them. It’s just too easy for the prosecutor to Monday morning quarterback the whole situation.

    Not only that, but a man with a knife can cover a lot of ground in the time it takes your average person to clear a concealed weapon. A prosecutor telling the jury that you should have run because the man with the knife was 30 feet away might sound reasonable to the jury, but reality is much different.

  73. #73 |  r.l.s.3 | 

    One more thing about the “freedom of contract” between unions and employers: It sounds like a fine theoretical argument that right to work laws violate the freedom of a company and union to enter into a contract, but the reality is that in non-right to work states the company/union contract is not voluntary on the part of the company. It is a contract forced on the company by the employees and their right to organize. I believe that most companies will fight unionization to the best of their abilities and not voluntarily enter into contract.

  74. #74 |  Andrew Roth | 

    Re: JOR, #65:

    The blowjob example is extreme, but it’s entirely plausible and arguably less egregious than some of the conditions to which American employees are routinely subjected. I’ve had bosses, including ones I didn’t find sexually attractive, whom I would have much rather have had impose upon me for sexual favors than subject me to their standard bullshit artistry, mismanagement, manipulation and general disrespect.

    Obviously, sexual quid pro quo can be a managerial disaster, aside from any ethical considerations, since it often results in the promotion of incompetents and intense jealousy among those who have been passed over, but it’s far from the only horror in American corporate management. The very fact that modern-day personnel managers almost always refer to their departments as “human resources” speaks volumes. There’s little that’s human about the way that many companies treat their employees; hence the doublespeak.

    The standard libertarian position on labor relations is incredibly facile. Employers have immense power over employees and prospective employees to dictate unreasonable terms of employment. This is especially true in the absence of unions or equivalent employee advocates, which is now the norm in the American private sector, and it’s especially true in times of surplus labor, such as the past four or so years. Ignoring these conditions makes libertarians look either like fools or shills for the wealthy and powerful. As a practical matter, the distinction isn’t all that important. Libertarianism is just as dead on arrival either way if voters don’t trust libertarian politicians or policies to keep them from being preyed upon and beggared by the powerful.

  75. #75 |  dunphy | 

    “One thing that the Zehm beating and other similar incidents reveal is that police are poorly trained in martial arts.”

    oh, absolutely. it varies agency to agency, but in general… poorly trained in MA. i have a few coworkers who are competitive MMA athletes, and i’ve learned a lot from them, but law enforcement defensive tactics training isn’t very good, but considering how little time is spent on it – it’s not surprising

    sadly, the physical standards are ridiculously low, and to be politically incorrect, a lot of the bar lowering came about to increase the # of women in law enforcement.

    i have had the pleasure of training with some of the strongest women in the country – record holders – but of course on average they are substantially weaker, so the strength requirement in law enforcement are weak – much weaker than firefighting, for example

    SWAT teams have more rigorous strength and fitness testing but the standards to be a police officer are … ridiculous and largely a hold over from the cooper standards era, which is ludicrous for law enforcement

    the reality is it takes a lot of skill to put a resistant person into handcuffs even if they are say 15% weaker than you are physically. with 2-3 officers, it’s easier, but still more difficult than most people realize

    the addition of tasers, etc. has given officers a crutch such that physical prowess viewed as even less important.

    compare our officers to japan, for instance. their officers receive much better martial arts training and very specific training is required for various positions that are vastly superior to our requirements

    let’s face it. law enforcement is very expensive, our salaries are great, benefits great, and many other costs associated with it. our academies are about 6 months long and filled with a lot of PC fluff, and they aren’t going to get rid of some of that crap to replace it with valuable martial arts training, nor are they going to raise the standards much because of union pressure, monetary concerns, gender concerns, etc.

    some of the guys i work with are phenomenally capable, former NFL, elite track and former major league baseball players, for instance. many others have gone out of their way to spend their own money and time studying BJJ extensively etc.

    but the requirements , much like firearms proficiency requirements are low and what is ridiculous is that once somebody gets out of the academy, at least in my agency, they will never have to prove they are at any given fitness level, no matter how low. i worked with a guy today, and he’s a great guy, but he is morbidly obese and simply cannot do many physical tasks one would expect a LEO would have to be able to do.

  76. #76 |  Mike T | 

    #7 (and others objecting to SYG laws)

    These two statements are irreconcilable. If Florida did not have SYG, Zimmerman would not thereby be guilty, but he would have been arrested and indicted for the reasons you’ve already conceded. You just don’t seem to like that conclusion.

    Assuming it is true that Zimmerman was already retreating when Martin approached him, this would not be true even in duty to retreat states. If someone is already practically upon you, you cannot effectively retreat. Furthermore, if someone attacks you, then gets you on the ground even in most duty to retreat states you’d have an iron clad right to escalate the level of violence to whatever it took to protect your life.

    What you and the other SYG critics cannot seem to grasp is that the SYG law in Florida actually unequivocally says that if you initiate a confrontation, you cannot use lawful self-defense force at all unless the opponent’s response is so over the top as to be disproportionate in the eyes of any reasonable person. By your own metric, that is that self-defense was to be proportional, Florida’s law is reasonable in that it formally abolishes a claim of self-defense when the would-be claimant instigates and is met with reasonable force.

    What we are finding is that it appears increasingly likely that Zimmerman was an overzealous watch captain, but turned around and left. Martin then followed him, pulled a thug attitude on him when Zimmerman was already leaving him alone and tried to kick his ass. If that’s what the evidence in court bears out, then Martin deserved to get killed because he is then the equivalent of the homeowner who followed the bear into the woods and shot him when he finally turned around.

  77. #77 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    The real con is allowing the laws to be “right-to-work”, when they’re actually “fire-at-will” – they have nothing to do with the employee and everything to do with the employer.

    @73 – That’s the point, they CAN’T provide any such protection. The entire *point* is stripping away those basic protections, but without anything to take their place.

  78. #78 |  Mike T | 

    Not only that, but a man with a knife can cover a lot of ground in the time it takes your average person to clear a concealed weapon. A prosecutor telling the jury that you should have run because the man with the knife was 30 feet away might sound reasonable to the jury, but reality is much different.

    Another aspect of this is that most people don’t understand how quickly normal people can lose a fight against someone who lands a few well-placed, hard blows to them. In the movies, a street fight can take what seems like 10-20 minutes; in real life it’s more likely to be over in under a minute unless both sides are equally matched (including pain tolerance).

  79. #79 |  zendingo | 

    “What we are finding is that it appears increasingly likely that Zimmerman was an overzealous watch captain, but turned around and left. Martin then followed him, pulled a thug attitude on him when Zimmerman was already leaving him alone and tried to kick his ass. If that’s what the evidence in court bears out, then Martin deserved to get killed because he is then the equivalent of the homeowner who followed the bear into the woods and shot him when he finally turned around.”

    how did we find this out? care to cite a source? is what george zimmerman claims happened? who saw trayvon follow zimmerman? citations please!!!

  80. #80 |  Mike T | 

    Zendingo,

    It isn’t my obligation to raise your understanding of the new witness’ statements to the level of a simple Google search. Do your own homework.

  81. #81 |  Ariel | 

    #78 Mike T,
    I was sucker punched to the left eye and was blinded in both for about 5-10 seconds, and couldn’t see clearly for about 30 seconds to a minute. He could have easily killed me during that time. Luckily, the one punch satisfied him. My pain tolerance is fairly high, I’ve walked on a split tibia, but a well placed blow can easily incapacitate.

    The question with Martin/Zimmerman is who initiated the attack that led to Martin’s death.

  82. #82 |  Ariel | 

    I see that the numbers do not stay attached to the comment, my comment was to Mike T’s starting with “Another aspect of this…”

  83. #83 |  Nancy Lebovitz | 

    I’m not up for reading the comments to the first link. Was it really “California liberals” or one liberal California editorial writer?

  84. #84 |  r.l.s.3 | 

    @73

    “I would have much rather have had impose upon me for sexual favors than subject me to their standard bullshit artistry, mismanagement, manipulation and general disrespect”

    Do you think a union would protect you from being subjected to “bullshit artistry, mismanagement, manipulation and general disrespect?”

    It’s been my experience that unions and union bosses can impose said discomforts just as well as non union bosses.

    Anyway, it’s not as if unions don’t exist in right to work states. They do, and if the employees want to unionize, they can, and the union can provide a level of protection between the company and the worker. I just don’t have to join if I don’t want to.

  85. #85 |  Burglars Allday | 

    So, the Clarke County DA believes that there can be no malice expressed in a pig’s actions so long as the PD trains their thugs to exhibit malice routinely in the field? How in the world does that make sense?

    It makes sense bcs eventually he will be made to re-read those words in front of a jury.

    What I am trying to say is that he probably, by dint of his words, lost summary-judgement-stage-qi for Clark Co. as a defendant entity.

    He is shooting his mouth off, legal consequences be darned.

    Of course, regular readers will appreciate that prosecutors often get absolute immunity. The difference is that those cases are generally for things that the prosecutor does, or causes others to do, in the confines of the courtroom, and/or through discovery, motion and/or appellate practice. This guy is talking about how police are trained in the field, and, perhaps more importantly, about widespread patterns of police behavior. I predict he will end up sad he talked. We, Agitatortotski’s will probably never find out that he will become sad that he talked. But that doesn’t mean it is not going to come to pass.

  86. #86 |  Burglars Allday | 

    @73

    Awesome diatribe. This is exactly what Mr. Balko needs to hear. I used to bug him with this kind of thing a lot in 06 and 07, but times were pretty good and I think he kind of came to dislike me and to avoid my posts.

    Still, antitrust libertarian. Yes. Not an oxymoron. Deconsolidation of economic decision making. Atomized markets (that is the kind that make for benevolent Invisible Hand) with lots and lots and lots of buyers and lots and lots nd lots of sellers for each and every “free” market transaction. It is the way out of the economic quagmire (just as it was in 2006, even if the quagmaire wasn’t as quaggy because of the Iraq War military spending boom. Lots and lots of broken windows there, if you catch my drift. Good in the near term, which near term is now long gone.

    Something inside me knows that Balko has the brains and guts to make the shift (it will be the mirror image of when his hero Uncle Miltie flipped in 1980 after AT&T got busted). We just have to keep after him with the rhetorical thrusts and Pareto-efficient parries.

    The thing with him is that he is just so close to getting it.

    When he gets really defensive about the Koch-Octopus thing, I think we catch a glimpse as to what we are really up against as far as the Koch thingee goes. He is right that most of the specific Koch-related innuendoes made against him are groundless and ridiculous.

    The problem is, that doesn’t mean that the Koch Brothers are effectively putting constraints on his thinking, or at least on his thinking about what is practical and what is prudent and what is not.

  87. #87 |  Burglars Allday | 

    –Koch Brothers are NOT effectively —

    I am saying that they are putting certain constraints there. Just not the ones all the sill leftwingers complain about so vociferously.

  88. #88 |  Burglars Allday | 

    Oh, yeah. The other thing I used to try to tell him is that the free market needs to start putting cane back in the soda. That is no longer an issue, because it has happened in the time since 2007. You should see how mercilessly they (the commentariat, not Mr. Balko personally) used to tease me about the cane thing. But it happened. I can walk into a gas station and buy a bottle of soda with cane sugar in it.

    This may be the best thing that has happened in the US economy in the past 4 years. It is not much, but it is a good thing and it was the good thing that *I* was “agitating” for. Ha ha, commentariat circa 08! That means u, Flappy. and u, T.

  89. #89 |  zendingo | 

    @80 Mike T.

    so the version you present is your own with no basis in reality, gotcha.

  90. #90 |  Mattocracy | 

    This whole notion that employers are going to force people to blow them or put employees into dangerous conditions against their will is absurd. Sexual coersion is against the law and opens up an employer to a lawsuit no matter what state you live and work in.

    If you’re employed in an industry that has the risk of injury, the employer makes the effort to mitigate those risks and avoid lawsuits. Getting bonded and insured makes this a worth while endevour for business owners. I live in a right to work state and I’ve worked for a company that was sued for not having effective safety measures in place. No union was necessary. The employees are not helpless.

    The bottom line is that unions and employers are made up of individuals and individuals do bad things when they are given the power to do to so. We shouldn’t force unionization onto people nor should we outlaw collective bargaining altogether.

    Unions have a reputation for artifically inflating wages, forcing benefit packages onto employers that bankrupt them, and prevent bad emplyees from getting fired. Employers have a reputation for creating unsafe work environments and creating unreasonable demands on employees. There is a middle ground where these things are mitigated and that is through free association and uncoerced collective bargaining. Laws shouldn’t favor either side, they need to be neutral.

  91. #91 |  JOR | 

    #73, I actually agree with all this for the most part (though I’m not particularly interested in pandering to voters – if I were, I’d be a racist, police/prison statist, imperialist, rape/torture apologist, etc. – much like the people who, you know, get elected).

    We have a toxic system that makes people far too dependent on the political-capitalist elite for a living, and the abuses aren’t so much a bug as a feature of the system, much like the cops’ ability to thrash defenseless civilians at will. Unions themselves, sadly, can be and often are another vector of abuse, and as they exist now they’re just another part of the political-capitalist system.

  92. #92 |  JOR | 

    “This whole notion that employers are going to force people to blow them or put employees into dangerous conditions against their will is absurd. ”

    Whether or not it happens in the world we have now, it’s certainly something that is permissible under often-stated libertarian principles and is sometimes explicitly defended by libertarians. Of course everyone’s missing the point; my claim wasn’t that, without unions, bosses will suddenly start forcing their employees to blow them (maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t). It was that, by the principles given in common libertarian arguments (nobody has a right to a job, if you don’t like the conditions of your employment you’re free to quit and get another job, etc., all things I agree with in principle, mind), there are no grounds to complain if employers make union membership a condition of employment.

  93. #93 |  Mike T | 

    #89,

    so the version you present is your own with no basis in reality, gotcha.

    So you admit to being incapable of doing a Google search, gotcha.

  94. #94 |  zendingo | 

    @93 Mike T.

    Trouble is, after an exhaustive search i can’t find any kind of information to support the version of events you’ve posted other than the word of george zimmerman, who is directly contradicted by the account of trayvons girlfried, deedee.

    why should we belive george zimmerman over deedee? do you think george zimmerman has motive to conceal the truth?

  95. #95 |  Les | 

    JOR, you’ve got me thinking about this in a new way. What if the law only applied to public sector unions, in which there is an arguable conflict of interest?

  96. #96 |  MikeZ | 

    Seems to be lots of web statements regarding witness statements with a simple google search as Mike T suggests. Not that I give credence to any of them as so far they all appear to be anonymous statements. There is Fox News’s “Secret Witness” who claims the guy in the red sweater (zimmerman) was being attacked (google: red sweater zimmerman), as well as theguardian’s “anonymous source” who claims zimmerman walked back to his car uninjured.

    As for the girlfriend she seems like she would have the same credibility issues as Zimmerman. Do you think she has motive to protect the image of her former boyfriend? Do you think she may be angry at the man who killed him?

  97. #97 |  zendingo | 

    “As for the girlfriend she seems like she would have the same credibility issues as Zimmerman. Do you think she has motive to protect the image of her former boyfriend? Do you think she may be angry at the man who killed him?”

    this is what it really comes down to; who do you believe? do you believe the heroic neighborhood watchman, or do you believe the girlfriend of the thug who attacked george zimmerman.

  98. #98 |  dunphy | 

    anybody who talks about whether martin “deserved” to get shot, isn’t understanding use of force doctrine/law

    it has NOTHING to do with ‘deserving’. deadly force is not a moral judgment. lots of people who are shot justifiably, whether by cops or others don’t ‘deserve’ to die. the issue is:

    was zimmerman placed in a situation/position such that a reasonable person would fear imminent serious bodily injury or death by martin?

    that’s the standard.

    in ANY self defense shooting, whether this one, a cop one, or any other one.

    imo, the evidence is starting to lean towards zimmerman’s claim of self defense – physical evidence, witness statements, ‘smell test’, and the fact that he volunteered a statement of self defense after being handcuffed, mirandized and taken to the station is consistent with how innocents act. it reminds me a lot of the duke case, another case where there was a rush to judgment against them, and their behavior, from providing alibis to VOLUNTEERING dna w/o a warrant was strongly suggestive of innocence.

    any witness credibility in any situation is taken in light of their nexus to either person. there is an independent witness – no tie to either party – and what he saw is consistent with zimmerman’s claims. and zimmerman could have no way of knowing that when he was taken down to the station and he gave his statement. martin’s girlfriend may be telling the truth, but just as cop critics here would be less likely to believe a cop testifying on a cop’s behalf, there is a reason to be critical of a girlfriend testifying on behalf of her boyfriend. there is at least a MOTIVE to lie, whether or not she is lying, whereas an independent witness has no such motive.

    it’s about totality of the circumstances. her statement is but one piece of the totality

  99. #99 |  Cynical in New York | 

    #97

    If you frame it that way of course Zimmerman looks better. Oh and you gave me a good laugh for the “heroic” part.

    #98

    Maybe its my cynical outlook on life but especially on how big this issue is blown up. I doubt that any “mystery or surprise” witness that comes up is going to have no tie to either party. Which is sad since I rather see this play out with actual justice not assholes gunning for political points but of course that disappeared weeks ago.

    BTW Zimmerman is expected to be charged

    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/george-zimmerman-charged-trayvon-martin-death-reports-193845232.html

  100. #100 |  dunphy | 

    yea, i saw that. one benefit (to society) is if he is charged and the case goes to trial, we will theoretically have less bogus speculation and false statements and more info.

    of course, i HOPE the prosecutor is making this decision based on evidence, not outrage.

    but god knows prosecutors are often political animals

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