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GEORGE ZIMMERMAN SPEAKS — 66 Comments

  1. I see why you sign yourself “Anonymous.”

    No, no Fox parroting here. Just no CNN parroting either. The EVIDENCE puts my opinion where it is on the Zimmerman case. What would you rather do, Anonymous, go instead with some BS fantasy woven out of whole cloth?

    Oh, wait…you just did.

  2. Here story is fairy tale Mas about George Zimmerman.

    Police: George Zimmerman Named In Fla. Road Rage Incident
    September 12, 2014 5:50 PM
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    Related Tags: Bianca Gillett, Brian Andrews, Crime, George Zimmerman, Lake Mary Police, Road Rage, Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman

    ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — The man acquitted in the shooting death of unarmed Miami Gardens teen Trayvon Martin may be in trouble with the law again.
    Police say a driver has reported that George Zimmerman threatened to kill him after a confrontation on the road.
    Police are investigating two reports involving the driver and 30-year-old Zimmerman, who was acquitted in 2013 of a second-degree murder charge for shooting Martin.
    Police say that on Tuesday, the man called police after a truck pulled up next to him and the driver yelled, “Why are you pointing a finger at me?”
    Police spokeswoman Bianca Gillett said the man recognized the truck driver as Zimmerman. The man says Zimmerman asked, “Do you know who I am?” and threatened to kill him.

    That’s when the man pulled into the nearest gas station to call Lake Mary police who later released the 911 calls from that night.
    The man who identified himself as “Matt” said in the 911 call, “There was a passenger going, “Hey what’s your problem? Why are you shaking your finger?” I said, “Excuse me?…I looked over and it’s George Zimmerman who was the driver and they were threatening to kick my [expletive] and to shoot me! I said what are you going to do? Shoot me?”
    The dispatcher then asks, “And you know this was George Zimmerman?” The man responds, “Oh, for a fact!”
    “He then came up, in his ridgeline, this will be on camera, toward my car, almost hit my car, an aggressive move and said he was going to shoot me dead,” said Matt over the phone with a dispatcher.
    “Are they still there,” asked the dispatcher. “They peeled off,” said Matt.
    In the call the dispatcher asks Matt, “Just confirming this was all verbal. You didn’t see a gun or anything. This was just voiced to you?”The caller replied by saying, “That’s all verbal. He did not flash a gun.”
    Two days later, the man said he saw Zimmerman in his truck outside his work. He called police again but declined to press charges. His name hasn’t been released.Zimmerman was then stopped and questioned by police. He told them he was in the area to buy something and even said he had a receipt for the purchase and was let go.Lake Mary police had two previous encounters with Zimmerman last year, once when his estranged wife, Shellie Zimmerman, told police he had threatened her and her father. She later declined to press charges. In a second incident, Zimmerman was arrested and accused of domestic violence by a girlfriend, who later changed her story and dropped charges. Mas I did make these event happen they took place in real world. Buy way Mas you if your gone agree with ever thing Sean Hannity say at Fox News supports them and reporting there doing. Buy way Mas before can say o not support Fox News only ones supports your side story not cover other other side story like those other media outlets are. Mas hard tell other side story Mas when keep declair only side story you care about side story you support. I put my facts on fact Zimmerman cause own issues no else but him why he had issue he had. The event above show those facts Mas you know there not fairy tales.

  3. “Anonymous, you would benefit from learning the distinctions between allegations, and the results of actual investigations of the facts. They’re right there in front of you in your own citations.

  4. (Note to Mas: I’d really like to put this into a more recent thread, but it would be wildly off topic there. If you’d like to shift this over to one of those, please feel free.)

    There’s an interesting wrinkle in the police-filming subject: Advocates of open carry in Arlington, Texas, are following officers to stops and calls and taping while also engaging in open carry. There have been at least a few arrests with one of Jacob Cordova on Saturday, December 27, being particularly interesting.

    I’m posting this link from guns.com as the one the readers here will probably trust the most (be sure to watch the video at the end of the story):

    http://www.guns.com/2015/01/05/tensions-mount-as-texas-open-carry-advocates-patrol-the-police-video/

    but this story from the Daily Beast:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/02/texas-gun-nuts-police-the-police-with-a-black-panthers-tactic.html

    adds the interesting fact that, “According to police, Cordova drove up to a traffic stop, got out of his car, and began yelling at officers and pulling up his vest to show them he was armed.”

    Now, the rules on filming police seem to come down to that you can do it so long as you’re not physically interfering, do it from a reasonable distance (which at the end of the day is probably part of the same thing), and violate no laws yourself in the process of doing it. Here’s perhaps the question: What’s a reasonable distance when you’re lawfully openly carrying a firearm. And a second question is this: What difference does open carry make in this situation if you’re in a state in which concealed carry is possible and in which _any_ videographer could be armed? Here’s a third: If you are lawfully carrying and are going to have to interact with the police, it’s usually a good idea to inform the police that you’re legally carrying; is that still a good idea if you’re videotaping or can that be seen as a challenge or threat to interfere?

    Here’s a couple more links about these folks and this situation:

    http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/arlington/article5209383.html

    and an older incident:

    http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2014/09/arlington_police_department_kory_watkins_arrested_cop_block_peaceful_streets_project.php

  5. Dave, you offer this quote: “According to police, Cordova drove up to a traffic stop, got out of his car, and began yelling at officers and pulling up his vest to show them he was armed.”

    Then you ask, “Here’s perhaps the question: What’s a reasonable distance when you’re lawfully openly carrying a firearm. And a second question is this: What difference does open carry make in this situation if you’re in a state in which concealed carry is possible and in which _any_ videographer could be armed? Here’s a third: If you are lawfully carrying and are going to have to interact with the police, it’s usually a good idea to inform the police that you’re legally carrying; is that still a good idea if you’re videotaping or can that be seen as a challenge or threat to interfere?”

    Dave, pulling up your garment to reveal a firearm, particularly when the gesture is directed to a certain individual, is not simply “open carry.” It is easily construable as a direct threat. It sustains armed robbery charges when suspects do that to liquor store clerks or mugging victims.

    Answering your three questions in order:
    1. If you’re acting like the clown you describe, a safe distance from the officer would be somewhere beyond line of sight. Preferably Skype distance.

    2. Apples and oranges. I’ve always gone on the assumption that everyone is armed anyway. The person who carries a “black powder pre-1899 gun” to get through a loophole where open carry of handguns is otherwise illegal has to realize that damn few people will be able to make that distinction on sight. Right now, he’s doing an imitation of a lawbreaker who is visibly armed with a lethal weapon. Where do YOU think that is going to go?

    3. Can be seen either way depending on the totality of the circumstances. Do you think it’s a good idea to strap on a gun and go mess with cops, deliberately antagonizing them like the bozo in Arlington who shouted that he wanted to be arrested?

  6. Mas, I’m afraid that I may have given the impression, perhaps with the second question, that I was in support of what’s happening there. Not at all. If you watched the video in the first linked argument, what that guy was doing was well beyond just clownish. Once put into cuffs he starts spewing vulgarity and cursing the officers. Clown doesn’t even come close and that doesn’t even factor in the open carry element. Add that in and a few other descriptive terms come into mind which I’d rather not type out here.

    Frankly, I was looking at it from more a legal, abstract point of view, with the ultimate question in mind of whether legal carry (whether open or concealed) has or should have an effect on the right to film police in their activities or vice versa.

  7. Dave, there’s a reason that “the totality of the circumstances ” is not only a buzz word but a benchmark when things go to court.

    Let’s say you’re in a jurisdiction where open carry is legal. Fine.

    Let’s say you want to film an officer doing his job, from a distance that is safe for all. Again, fine.

    However, the mix may become more than the sum of its parts. Many if not most who film the police are somewhat inimical toward cops, and the cops know that some of them are downright hostile. We all know that while open carry in public is legal in many states, it also is not the norm.

    So now, the totality of the circumstances morph into this situation: we have someone who is deviating from the norm, with a deadly weapon visible, who may or may not become hostile to the officers. This at the very least can be a dangerous distraction to the officers, who are dealing with a suspect or you wouldn’t be filming them in the first place. Do you see how tensions and perceptions of danger can rise, as seen from the officer’s perspective?

  8. I do see it. The question in my mind is what, if anything, we ought to do about it on a constitutional basis.

    Sometimes people simply have to live with things they don’t much like. In the book Lone Survivor, the ex-SEAL author Marcus Luttrell talks at length about the rules of engagement in Afghanistan which prevented him from treating every civilian who he met out in the field as an enemy combatant so that he could kill them. He rails about the liberals back home who would prosecute him as a murderer or war criminal if he should violate those rules and go ahead and kill civilians. When he and his team capture three shepherds who they feared would report them to the Taliban, but who they had no probable cause to know that would be the case, they were forced to let them go. When his team was subsequently attacked and all but him (along with a rescue force) were killed, he attributes that (at least by implication, I can’t remember him saying so in so many words) to the rules of engagement not allowing his team to kill the shepherds.

    I mention this because this situation may end up being much like it. I’ve thought through the situation more since my last posting yesterday and read a bit. (Again, let me preface this by saying that I do not like open carry, especially but not only in the aggressive form being currently practiced by its proponents and even more in the idiotic confrontational style adopted by the guy we were discussing in the last round. Open carry is, however, within limits legal in Texas and this analysis takes that into consideration.) Just because the firearms being carried openly might or might not be of a subtype which is illegal (a pistol may not be pre-1899, an assault rifle might be fully automatic, a short-barrelled shotgun in a holster might be fractionally shorter than the legal length), court decisions seem to be holding that’s not enough, alone, to create a reasonable suspicion for a Terry stop. That could, of course, change if the appearance of the weapon is enough to raise a reasonable suspicion that it’s not legal or if the totality of the circumstances justifies suspicion in some other way. If a Terry stop is justified, the officer has the right to take control of the weapons for his own safety. That probably does not give the officer the right to make a minute inspection of the weapons for illegal features, but the officer can plainly have probable cause to arrest if there are features of the weapons apparent during the process of securing them which would cause a reasonable person to believe that they are probably not within the scope of those weapons which can be lawfully openly carried. Short of that, then the person probably has a right, perhaps a constitutional right under recent case law, to carry the weapons without being detained or involuntarily questioned by the police and — this is the important part — to do so wherever an unarmed person can go, so long as weapons are not specifically prohibited by law in those places. That takes care of the open carry part.

    At the present time anyone can film the police so long as they do not physically interfere with police activities, do so from a reasonable distance in a public place, and are not somehow otherwise committing a crime. They need not follow police instructions to cease filming or move away unless one of those standards is not being met.

    I think that the present state of the law is — and I’m going to add “unfortunately” here — that if a person is engaging in open (or concealed, but that’s not the point here) carry in a way that does not justify a Terry stop, then they can also film the police with the same degree of freedom as someone who is not armed. I agree with you that the totality of the circumstances could change this, but I disagree with you that the mere fact that they’re filming for reasons the police consider to be, or possibly be, inimical or philosophically hostile is enough to either justify a Terry stop or to reduce their rights to film. If they’re known members of a group which are known to be, or threaten to be, physically hostile to police, that could be a different matter and might justify a Terry stop. (Let me add that though I’m a lawyer, I’m making this analysis for the purpose of this discussion of public policy issues and that neither you, Mas, nor any other person reading this should rely upon it in any way as legal advice.)

    I, like you I suspect, don’t much care for that result, but if we’re going to change it the question then becomes whose constitutional ox should be gored, those under the First Amendment, the filmers, or those under the Second, the carriers. So long as the rights of the 2A folks exist, especially concealed carry, I don’t see a way to preserve the rights of both groups. (That is, if the rights of the filmers are modified to say that you can’t film if you’re carrying, or to say that the reasonable distance is greater if you’re carrying than if you’re not, if that’s limited only to open carry it’s discriminatory against the open carry people and from a safety angle is largely a distinction with little justification, but if it includes the concealed carry people, that in effect gives the right to the police to do a Terry stop of anyone who’s filming to verify that they aren’t carrying concealed.)

    Like with the rules of engagement in Afghanistan, the possibility that citizens who are lawfully filming them may also be lawfully armed, either openly or concealed, may ultimately just be one of those things that LEO’s have to live with. You and I, Mas, have had discussions about other places where rights conflict, most notably, SYG or Castle Doctrine rights vs the rights of incompetent persons and their caretakers. This may simply be another of those areas where one side, in this case law enforcement, must simply learn to live with the risk.

    At the risk of going off topic, the current black lives matter movement may very well be another of those areas since the real issue is, at least in large part, the way LEO’s approach and engage with suspects before the confrontation reaches the point that self-defense or deadly force is justified. I can see the possibility of legally-required rules of engagement, perhaps backed by penalties, which require LEO’s to approach and engage in a manner which minimizes the possibility of a deadly confrontation (or which at least expressly make the manner of approach and engagement a matter which may be considered in the question of whether a LEO’s use of deadly force in self-defense was reasonable or not). LEO’s may well claim that diminishes their discretion to make on-the-spot decisions which are necessary for their safety. Right now that movement is probably too focused on individual cases to make much progress in that direction, as well as being on the defensive as cop haters due to the NYC shootings, but in more serious and academic circles approach, engagement, and discretion are being clearly focused upon as the real matters to be addressed. (See e.g. the discussion between two professors, a NAACP lawyer, and a police official on NPR’s the Diane Rehm show on December 23: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2014-12-23/u_s_police_and_public_safety )

  9. Dave, thanks for sending the link. I hope everyone listens to it; it’s worth the 50+ minutes. Pay particular attention to the comments of David Klinger.

    A national dialogue is indeed needed, but any dialogue has to go two ways. The police are already deeply trained in how to deal with the public, but the public at large seems to have no clue how to deal with police. You and I seem to agree that the in-your-face open carriers you deplore obviously seek confrontation and do not represent the responsible Second Amendment community. So far, common ground.

    You tell me you are an attorney, so let me offer you a tool of your own trade, the hypothetical question. For the sake of discussion, set aside for a moment that your office is private (or, for all I know, government) property. Let us assume that I enter your workplace wearing ordinary clothing, with a camera on my shoulder and a pistol visible on my hip, and as a self-appointed “vigilante bar association ethics committee investigator” begin filming your interaction with clients. Then, assume further that you have reason to believe I am associated with opposing counsel in an emotionally volatile case. Would that change the totality of the circumstances as opposed to ivory tower discussions of freedom of speech vis-a-vis 2A issues? Would it impact your reasonable fear of who the person with the gun and camera is, and what a reasonable, prudent person (or, under the Graham v. Connor standard, a reasonable, prudent, trained and experienced police officer) would perceive?

    The cop’s workplace is “the street.” The self-appointed “internal affairs investigator” carrying both camera and gun will trigger a similar reaction.
    As a lawyer, you’ve doubtless discovered that the client who acts like an asshole rarely fares as well in court (or in life) as the one who is clearly, demonstrably on the side of the angels. In four decades of carrying badge and gun, I’ve found the same to be true in the police world.

  10. Dave, I should have added to the above a response to your comment,

    “I can see the possibility of legally-required rules of engagement, perhaps backed by penalties, which require LEO’s to approach and engage in a manner which minimizes the possibility of a deadly confrontation (or which at least expressly make the manner of approach and engagement a matter which may be considered in the question of whether a LEO’s use of deadly force in self-defense was reasonable or not).”

    I would be interested to hear how you would set those rules of engagement…and whether you would likewise require those in contact with police to follow “rules of engagement” with the officers…and what THOSE rules for dealing with police would be.

    Cordially,
    Mas

  11. Mas, of course all the things that you mention in your next-to-last posting factor into the question of reasonable fear and the more you know about the filmer’s violent tendencies the more reasonable that fear becomes. Just about every private person who routinely films the police can, however, be presumed to be somewhat antagonistic to police interests or they wouldn’t be doing it (though the trend towards everyone with a cellphone camera being an amateur journalist should be ameliorating that presumption somewhat), so that fact alone cannot be allowed to let the tail of the filmer with known violent propensities wag the dog of 1A rights for everyone else. The police would have to _know_ facts that make them believe — check that, not believe, but have a reasonable suspicion — that the filmer is intending to engage in violence towards them; they cannot presume that simply from the mere fact of filming any more than they can presume that from the mere fact that someone is engaging in open carry or, I believe, from the combination of the two. If they have additional information, then they can certainly take it into account.

    As an aside, it’s hard to get away from ivory tower discussions when you’re dealing with constitutional rights because the Bill of Rights was created to protect individual and minority interests from the power of the state and the majority. What seems like common sense and popular and practical solutions frequently have to yield to constitutional considerations and when they do, that’s always an ivory tower position. (I’m a frequent listener to Old Time Radio and I recently listened to an episode of Jack Webb’s excellent Dragnet series in which Joe Friday and his partner — and reportedly Webb himself — were appalled when the LAPD attorney explained that they were going to lose a case and a heroin dealer was going to go free because of the application of the then-new exclusionary rule adopted in California in People v. Cahan (1955). Listen: https://archive.org/download/Dragnet2/Dragnet_55-09-06_316_The_Big_Ruling.mp3 That’s the kind of ivory tower situation that happens with constitutional issues.)

    As for your second posting, I can’t say that I know how I would set the rules, but I’m concerned that if the law enforcement community treats the movement towards something like that as nothing more than hatred of the police, an offense to their dignity, and a movement without any credibility or substance to it that they’re going to lose the chance to participate in the discussion of whether and, if so, how to set the rules and risk having them imposed upon them. That would be very bad. I couldn’t agree with you more that the dialogue has to go two ways. In these kinds of cases there is often posturing and conflict in public, but constructive dialogue behind the scenes. I truly hope that’s what’s going to happen here for both sides’ sake.

  12. Thanks for that blast from the past, Dave. (Warning, folks, Dave’s link to the old Dragnet radio show is a full-length episode.) I also see a bit of apples and oranges in it. We go by Graham v. Connor these days in the matter now under discussion..

    I think you and I agree that a two-way dialogue is needed. I think we both know the totality of the circumstances will be critical to courtroom outcomes in these situations. And we certainly agree that any dialogue needs to go in both directions.

    Can we also agree that educating the public in how to deal with police seems more important now than it used to seem?

  13. Mas, yes educating the public is certainly part of the package that needs to be discussed, though I’m not at all sure how successful it will be in practice. I heard a report the other day that a study showed that in affluent neighborhoods researchers found an average of 300 books per child per household while in a poor neighborhood they found 33 books per neighborhood — not per child nor per household but per neighborhood. Another study of communications between parents and infants found that affluent kids had heard, on the average, 30 million more words by age 3 than poor kids.

    Balancing that, on the other hand, at least in the minority communities, there seems to already be a great deal of knowledge and parent-child instruction on how to interact with the police. For example, at least one New York high school is offering instruction on “What To Do If You’re Stopped by the Police.”

    http://nypost.com/2014/11/23/new-hs-class-teaches-kids-how-to-deal-with-cops/

    A copy of the pamphlet which is being distributed – actually a card – can be seen here:

    http://www.nyclu.org/publications/palm-card-what-do-if-youre-stopped-police-english-and-spanish

    Of course, once again the devil is in the details and I doubt that most LEO’s are going to be entirely – or perhaps even mostly – happy with what’s in that card, though it does also provide for the kind of non-resistance that they’re hoping for. While one police official refers to this as the “Civil Liberties” view in that article, I don’t think it much differs from what most lawyers would advise if asked, especially in abstract.

    Frankly, while I can see people of good will perhaps coming to some consensus about how to deal with the other matters we’ve discussed, I’m not at all sure that it would be possible to come to a consensus on what to inform the public about how to interact with law enforcement. While I think all parties would agree on not resisting physically and not doing anything which might be perceived as being threatening, there’s at least three different and conflicting viewpoints on what ought to happen beyond that: the police’s, the minority communities’, and the lawyers’. (There could be even a fourth or fifth: an affluent citizen’s and an employer’s.)

  14. Out of curiosity after my last posting, I did a Google search on and then read a random selection of articles by police organizations and by lawyers, skipping all the ALCU-related and other civil-rights-related sites. All the lawyers’ advice conformed closely with what was said on the NYCLU card. The police organizations’ advice varied widely but several organizations — at least three in my short random sample — used this same text:

    http://www.hampdentownship.us/what-to-do-if-you-are-stopped-by-the-police/

    (One interesting outlier, not too different from that text, but with some different emphasis was this pamphlet from the National Black Police Association:

    http://www.blackpolice.org/education/whattodowhenstoppedbythepolice81814.pdf )

    The contrast between that document and what most lawyers and civil rights organizations advise is fairly staggering. There’s yet a third interesting contrast between both of those and what this sample of advice given by black parents to their children:

    http://gawker.com/what-black-parents-tell-their-sons-about-the-police-1624412625

  15. Dave, thank you for sharing those links. I was particularly saddened by the theme of the Gawker piece…when parents tell their children that the police are an enemy to be feared, it’s no wonder some police encounters with their sons end as they do.

    What a vicious circle. The anti-police mentality and “don’t snitch” mentality paint the police as the enemy…young black men and women who would have made fine police officers are dissuaded from applying for those jobs…and people criticize the police for not having enough black officers.