Acquitting Zimmerman

by Jack Dunphy

The question is no longer whether or not George Zimmerman will be convicted of murdering Trayvon Martin, the question is what will happen after he is acquitted.

Prosecutors in Florida brought a feeble case to court, filing a charge they knew — or should have known — would not withstand the challenge of even a modestly capable defense. There has been much testimony that supports Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense and precious little that undercuts it. The prosecution invested hope in the testimony of Martin’s parents that it was his screams for help and not Zimmerman’s that were captured on the 9-1-1 call, but on Monday the defense presented witnesses who effectively rebutted this claim. And on Tuesday, a forensic pathologist testified that the physical evidence was consistent with Zimmerman’s account of his confrontation with Martin.

Assume that prosecution and defense witnesses all testified in good faith as to their belief that the voice belonged to one or the other of the men. There is a commonsense way to reasonably infer which of them was screaming for help. By now the extent of Zimmerman’s injuries are well known (though prosecutors seemed determined to keep this information under wraps for as long as possible). Zimmerman suffered a broken nose and lacerations to the back of his head, all consistent with his account of being punched, knocked down, and having his head bashed on the concrete walkway. Other than the fatal gunshot, Martin’s only injury was bruising to one of his hands.

For the jury to believe the screaming voice was Martin’s they would have to accept a scenario in which Zimmerman remained silent while sustaining his injuries, and in which Martin screamed for help while sustaining only a bruised hand. Unlikely. For this and the prosecution’s many other manifest weaknesses, the jury will not convict. Nor should they.

And then what? Fortunately, it is beginning to dawn on members of the media and, through them, on the public at large that an acquittal is very likely, thus lessening the potential for outrage when it comes to pass. Yes, there are those whose very existence depends on their being perpetually and professionally outraged, and there will be no shortage of aggrieved posturing when the not-guilty verdict is delivered, but I doubt the reaction will come to little more than that.

— Jack Dunphy is an officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. “Jack Dunphy” is the author’s nom de cyber.