No, George Zimmerman was not “instructed” to stay in his car as the editors of the Tribune write today:
The first tragedy of the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case is that it was a case at all.
If Zimmerman had done as police instructed, there probably would have been no media circus and we would never have heard of either man. More important, the teenager would still be alive and Zimmerman would not have been charged with second-degree murder.
Unfortunately, Zimmerman, an armed neighborhood watch volunteer in a Florida gated community, did not stay in his vehicle and, for whatever reason, chose to engage the African-American teen whom he had been following.
Here’s ABC’s Dan Abrams with what actually happened:
@DianeSawyer If Zimmerman was told 2 stay in car, why did he get out & pursue Tray?
[. . .]
Dan’s answer: He wasn’t told to stay in his car. When he told the non-emergency operator that he was following Martin, he was told “you don’t need to do that” and he responded, “Ok”. He was already out of his car at that point. The question is did he keep following Martin as prosecutors allege or was he just walking back to his car as Zimmerman claims.
Abrams also covered self-defense law:
[. . .]
Dan’s answer: He is allowed to defend himself. Let’s assume that Zimmerman stalked Martin as you suggest (the defense would dispute that). The moment that Zimmerman threatens Martin or lays a hand on him or otherwise places Martin in reasonable fear for his safety, then Martin is allowed to use force to defend himself. But if Martin then gets on top of Zimmerman and starts beating his head into the ground as Zimmerman claims and he can’t escape, then the right to self defense shifts to Zimmerman. So if the jurors even had reasonable doubt about whether at the moment Zimmerman fired his weapon he reasonably feared Martin was about to beat him again (“great bodily harm”), it’s a not guilty verdict.
The entire Q-and-A with Diane Sawyer and Abrams here.