Lessons Learned: The Case Analysis of The Zimmerman Case.
We just finished the first case study of the Zimmerman criminal trial, and will be looking at these self defense case studies for lessons learned, and what actions may influence the investigation of a self defense case, and if criminal charges are filed.
In the Zimmerman case, I don’t think that anyone could argue that George Zimmerman was positively impacted because of his shooting. Here are a few things to look at in this case.
Neighborhood Watch/Security Team
If you are part of an armed neighborhood watch team, or even a team of people who carry as a security team, such as in a Church, be mindful of your role. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when there is no imminent threat, and often, such instances can easily lead to an escalation which we all know where that can end up.
In the case of George Zimmerman, one thing he could have done differently would have been to call the police to report the suspicious activity, and then wait there for police to arrive to give more information. Sometimes it is better to be a good witness than to become an involved party. Giving the physical description, and last direction of travel would be good information for the police to follow up on.
It is not that George did anything wrong, he had a right to be there, and even to follow Trayvon Martin. But you can’t control what someone else will or will not do, and what kind of position they may put you in. Remember, you won’t be the one that determines if lethal force must be used, it will be the suspect.
Situational Awareness/ Tactical Decisions
This is where training can make a difference. Good situational awareness and listening to your intuition can keep you out of some bad situations. Couple that with good tactics, and if you do find yourself in a bad situation, you might still be ok.
In the Zimmerman case, George found himself standing in the rain, in a dark and relatively isolated pathway when Martin re-approached him, and attacked him. The evidence suggested, as we found out in this case summary, that Martin punched Zimmerman in the face and quickly mounted him on the ground. Zimmerman was either caught off guard, or surprised, but either way, he wasn’t aware of his surroundings, and his lack of tactics put him in a vulnerable position. Had he watched from his car, or had he perhaps stayed in a more open, well lit area, he might have better seen the attack coming, or perhaps Martin wouldn’t have attacked at all.
The Citizen’s Use of Force Continuum
As we talked about earlier in the citizen’s use of force continuum, each level of the continuum should fall back on avoidance. Call the police and standby for them to arrive. If you feel the need to get more information, such as direction of travel, or physical description, attempt to heighten your situational awareness, and be mindful of your tactics.
The end purpose of this article is not to point blame, or criticize, but rather to learn from, and use in a positive way so that you don’t find yourself in a similar situation.