FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).
November 2018 (3)
October 2018 (4)
September 2018 (3)
August 2018 (6)
July 2018 (4)
June 2018 (3)
April 2018 (1)
March 2018 (2)
January 2018 (1)
September 2017 (1)
August 2017 (1)
May 2017 (1)
April 2017 (1)
January 2017 (1)
November 2016 (1)
September 2016 (1)
June 2016 (2)
May 2016 (3)
April 2016 (2)
March 2016 (1)
February 2016 (3)
January 2016 (1)
December 2015 (1)
November 2015 (5)
October 2015 (1)
September 2015 (3)
August 2015 (3)
July 2015 (6)
June 2015 (3)
May 2015 (2)
April 2015 (3)
March 2015 (5)
February 2015 (1)
January 2015 (1)
December 2014 (9)
October 2014 (2)
September 2014 (2)
August 2014 (2)
July 2014 (1)
June 2014 (2)
May 2014 (2)
April 2014 (4)
March 2014 (2)
February 2014 (3)
January 2014 (3)
December 2013 (2)
November 2013 (2)
October 2013 (3)
September 2013 (5)
August 2013 (3)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (3)
May 2013 (4)
April 2013 (3)
March 2013 (5)
February 2013 (3)
January 2013 (3)
December 2012 (5)
November 2012 (2)
October 2012 (4)
September 2012 (2)
August 2012 (5)
July 2012 (4)
June 2012 (3)
May 2012 (5)
April 2012 (6)
March 2012 (5)
February 2012 (3)
January 2012 (5)
December 2011 (5)
November 2011 (3)
October 2011 (3)
September 2011 (3)
August 2011 (2)
July 2011 (2)
June 2011 (3)
May 2011 (4)
April 2011 (3)
March 2011 (5)
February 2011 (3)
January 2011 (3)
December 2010 (2)
November 2010 (4)
October 2010 (4)
September 2010 (5)
August 2010 (4)
July 2010 (4)
June 2010 (4)
May 2010 (4)
April 2010 (3)
March 2010 (3)
February 2010 (1)
January 2010 (3)
December 2009 (4)
November 2009 (4)
October 2009 (2)
September 2009 (3)
August 2009 (4)
July 2009 (5)
June 2009 (3)
May 2009 (5)
April 2009 (4)
March 2009 (4)
February 2009 (3)
January 2009 (2)
December 2008 (4)
November 2008 (3)
October 2008 (3)
September 2008 (3)
August 2008 (2)
July 2008 (3)
June 2008 (4)
May 2008 (5)
April 2008 (5)
March 2008 (4)
February 2008 (5)
January 2008 (3)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (5)
October 2007 (4)
September 2007 (4)
August 2007 (5)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (4)
May 2007 (5)

In Defense of George Zimmerman

Some people are willing to defend their neighborhoods, others just let them decay and become crime infested.

May 03, 2012  |  by Robert

I hail from Texas, but I have lived in a variety of Los Angeles neighborhoods for the past 35 years. Some were nice and some were crime filled and absolutely dangerous. And I have watched as some of the neighborhoods in L.A. have changed from nice to dangerous in the span of a generation. One of them was mine.

First a large apartment complex in our neighborhood went Section 8. Then came the drugs, and the graffiti, and the crime.

My neighbors were now calling the police with every sighting of criminal activity. The cops in our previously quiet neighborhood were unprepared to cope with the new crime trends. Many of our neighbors sold their houses after being victimized. They were frightened and moved to a "nice" neighborhood.

The law enforcement agency in our neighborhood became apathetic. They were slow to respond and ineffective upon arrival. They were commonly far more put out by the caller than the crime.

My neighbors became frightened and stopped calling the police with their observations. I continued calling the police while witnessing several felonies in progress. I always identified myself as a fellow officer. The police never apprehended the criminals I identified. Before long, the police began treating me with the same patronizing behavior my neighbors told me about regarding their experiences. I knew the police in my area could do a better job.

Crime flourished and I grew frustrated. I started calling the police and then following the criminals. I interrupted many felonies in progress.

Felons don't like being challenged, and I fought with some of the suspects. I owned my home and loved my neighborhood. I wanted the word to get out that we would not be easy victims. A few of my liberal neighbors bought guns. Some of my neighbors reluctantly supported my efforts.

I continued intervening in the crimes occurring on my street. I got into a shooting with armed men who were stealing my wife's car. I tied the suspects up and the police arrived some time later. One of the suspects was also wanted for murder.

My shooting was investigated. It was justified, but the police agency I worked for hated it. I was getting involved in off-duty incidents and exposing them to civil liability. They were furious with me. Funny thing, I became a far bigger issue than the criminals. I was told I would eventually be fired if I continued getting involved in crimes I was witnessing. I reluctantly moved to a nicer neighborhood.

Like you I work in the realm of human violence. I have responded to more than a thousand armed incidents. I have even been present when some shootings were still happening. I have been shot at on over a dozen occasions, and I have been in five shootings. I have killed people on and off duty while protecting myself and others. I have been investigated and exonerated for my actions in my shootings. I have also investigated dozens of officer-involved shootings as a detective. And I have investigated several incidents where armed civilians used guns to protect themselves.

I have learned many things. Some people like guns and some don't. Some do bad things with guns and some accomplish positive tasks with guns that could not be accomplished with any other tool. Some even buy guns when they are morally opposed to them. Most gun owners when threatened, will never use them in their own defense. The reasons are commonly emotional paralysis, legal fears, and proximity limitations.

Some people defend themselves while others simply won't. Some wait for the police to protect them and others believe their need for defense is too immediate for any option other than immediate countermeasures. Both camps typically judge each other harshly. I believe the appropriate response is dictated by each situation.

There are many unpleasant truths regarding safety, violence, using guns for protection, quality policing, and public involvement. These issues are intertwined.

Politicians and law enforcement administrators often credit law enforcement with the safety enjoyed in nicer neighborhoods. We don't deserve the credit. Safe neighborhoods are not made so by quality policing. Truth be known, there is an inverse relationship which exists regarding quality policing and neighborhood safety.

Your sharpest and most capable officers always work in, or were trained in, high crime areas. They had a high level of violent incidents to learn from and made observational arrests without radio calls to guide them toward offenders. This baptism of fire is how they got good at spotting criminals and stopping them. They see more violence and they are far more likely to be shot at and to shoot back. These officers typically commute long distances for the excitement and privilege of impacting crime and violence. But their hard work is not rewarded with the creation of a nice and safe neighborhood. Once crime sets in, it is like cancer. The hard working officers in violent areas are there to perform figurative and literal triage. Unfortunately, once crime and violence sets in, the bleeding seldom stops.

Officers policing nicer and safer neighborhoods commonly concentrate on traffic issues and answering calls for service. They often specialize in appearance issues rather than impacting crime.

Safe neighborhoods are made so because of a high level of care, involvement, and investment on the part of the home and business owners. These populations tend to notice people who are not familiar and they watch them. Some times they follow the strangers they see and call the police with seemingly silly concerns. This deters crime and violence.

People in dangerous neighborhoods know the price of getting directly involved in situations, so they don't. They won't even tell law enforcement what they saw or heard out of safety concerns and a misguided sense of loyalty to crooks over cops. And crime flourishes in their neighborhoods. It is that simple.

Residents in nice neighborhoods are very different. They don't commonly see violence. Their fear level is lower as a result. They show a high level of involvement and they take more risks in protecting their area.

This brings me to the Zimmerman-Martin shooting. Carrying a gun is a big step for anyone. Most civilized Americans don't want to hurt another person. I am sure this goes for Mr. Zimmerman as well. By all accounts, he followed someone he believed to be a criminal. He then shot him during a subsequent violent encounter. I don't know any more about the details of the incident, but everyone seems comfortable with that basic scenario.

The U.S. media will exploit any use of a gun because they are philosophically against anyone who is armed. This includes the military and the police. It should not surprise anyone that the media hates armed citizens.

Bottom line, I expect a slant from the media. After all, facts are often uninteresting. I expect racial sensitivity when it likely plays no part in an incident. This is often one of my largest hurdles when presenting facts to a jury. I expect televised statements of condemnation from famous people who have no clue what happened. They probably aren't as famous as they would like to be. I expect demonstrations from groups of uninformed or militant people who have been demonstrating against my job in law enforcement and the military for as long as I can remember.

What bothers me is the absolute lack of critical thinking demonstrated by intelligent people regarding this case. Zimmerman may have been attacked. He may have shot Martin while defending himself. I don't know because I don't have all the facts. What bothers me is a public and political demand for conviction when they know only as much about this case as me. And what bothers me most is the immediate condemnation of the simple act of watching and following a suspected danger to your community. Decent and intelligent people are saying how foolish and "criminal" it is to take this level of interest in a suspicious situation. I would be willing to bet these same people have likely been assisted or even saved by a Zimmerman at some time in their life.

These people haven't thought this case through. They believe because someone died, the assailant must always be bad. I believe violence without context cannot be judged.

These people who are so willing to crucify Zimmerman should examine their philosophy. Maybe they should move to Compton, Watts, or any number of communities where the cutting-edge thinkers are way ahead of them. These residents really practice what they preach: They don't ever get involved.

To those who condemn public involvement, I have some advice. Sell your guns. Their ownership goes against your morals. Then move your families to an area where you can put your philosophy to the test. You know you won't. You won't because you are insipid little cowards who typically pay people braver than yourselves to take risks for you.

Oprah often asks, "What do you know for sure?" I know I am not Trayvon. I guess I am more like Zimmerman. I have always cared enough about my neighborhood to become involved.

Comments (59)

Displaying 1 - 59 of 59

Rick @ 5/3/2012 4:20 PM

So far, the evidence supports zimmerman's claims as does the eyewitness testimony. Under the law, he shouldn't be prosecuted. As with the Rodney King incident, there is going to be riots when zimmerman is acquitted. LEO's better start getting prepared now.

Lloyd Reese @ 5/3/2012 4:30 PM

Excellent summary of different neighborhoods, police and citizens, and their responses to crime. As for his Zimmerman comments, he is absolutely on target.

Randy @ 5/3/2012 4:41 PM

Amen brother, Amen!

TimFromLA @ 5/3/2012 4:47 PM

Question: If I put myself in harm's way after being ordered by the LAPD to stand down, I get beaten up, even though the suspect is leaving the area, I give a good description, do I then after the shooting walk free or be charged for manslaughter as per the attempt by:

Chris Serino, the lead detective on the case, expressed doubts around Zimmerman's account of the shooting, according to ABC News. Serino filed an affidavit on the night of the shooting in which he said that he was unconvinced of Zimmerman's version of events.

But if Zimmerman's shooting was justifiable, killing a 17-year-old who was walking away, then why:

Judge denies Jacksonville woman new trial despite 'Stand Your Ground' claim

Is the requirement to use Stand Your Ground to kill and not discharge a firearm within city limits? Would any of you coppers please explain?

DPB @ 5/3/2012 4:50 PM

Spot On! Prepare for the riots because you know they are coming! It has been said that a republic can not stand if ignorance flourishes. Reading the comments from many sources across the country it is clear ignorance is rampant! I fear for my beloved country!

BW @ 5/3/2012 5:11 PM

TimfromLA: Your facts are all wrong; all mixed up. So no, we can't explain based on what you presented.

Tom Ret @ 5/3/2012 5:35 PM

TimfromLA- You seem to come up with a lot of why questions in your posts. I have one for you-why are you on this forum which is suppose to be for cops? You obviously are not one. I would suspect that most "coppers" as you put it, don't really take you very serious because your questions and statements show a total lack of any law enforcement experience and probably limited life experience.

Mark @ 5/3/2012 5:40 PM

TimfromLA, first, maybe you should check all of your facts. Your description is so flawed, that I will not even address it. Secondly, you are not a retired LAPD officer, you are a poser.

ET @ 5/3/2012 6:08 PM

I could not have said it better myself. The media and the uninformed public seem to have a penchant for assuming someone is guilty simply because they pulled the trigger. It's amazing how people who don't know the whole story can jump to conclusions. And then when that person gets acquitted in court people take to the streets and riot (if they did that for Rodney King, you can bet they'll do the same for Trayvon Martin)! How can people be so convinced of someone's guilt when 12 jurors (with all the evidence presented to them in court, mind you) aren't?

I can't say for certain if Zimmerman's guilty. From what I hear he's not exactly the ideal vigilant civilian gun owner. But then again it's people like Zimmerman who care enough about their communities who are actually willing to put their lives (and livelihoods) on the line for their neighbors.

Anthony Manzella @ 5/3/2012 6:18 PM

As a 25-year trial prosecutor (now retired), I was disappointed in the decision by the Florida special prosecutor (Angela Corey) to prosecute Zimmerman for any crime, let alone murder. I know no more about the facts than does the author of the article, but I know enough to know that there has been, here, a "rush to judgement". From the perspective of a real, working, homicide prosecutor, this is simply political aggrandizement by the Florida special prosecutor.

Anthony Manzella
Deputy District Attorney
Los Angeles County (Retired)

Donn @ 5/3/2012 7:25 PM

Kudos to Robert for his very well-written article, and kudos to attorney Manzella for his succinct insights. The comments by TimfromLA -- despite this being a blog -- are uninformed, misplaced, and ignorant. [Tim, stck to your liberal lemming-like websites which the media panders to]. The outcome of Zimmerman's trial --guilty or not -- will result in riots. Revs. Sharpton and Jackson will bluster and pontificate over racial injustic but will never condemn black-on-black or black-on-white violence. They make their living and reputations off of fomenting class hatred. I, neither, know all of the facts in this case, but I am not participating in lynch-mob theatrics. It's gonna get ugly.

John Tate (New Mex.) @ 5/3/2012 8:12 PM

This is as insightful, valid, wise and timely an article on public safety as I have ever read.

It is consistent with my all life's experiences from "patrolled, gated communities" to downtown Oakland, CA at 0200 in the morning, to the slums of Cartagena (Colombia), Panamá City & Colón (Rep of Panamá), and Cebu, Manila or "rebel infested Tacloban" (Philippine Islands).

It provides the best descriptions of the gamut of society, from the sheep, to the wolves, to the sheepdogs.

Most sadly, it does seem to accurately represent many in police work - which is why the sheep need to grow their own teeth.

But those sheep, should they defend themselves or their neighbors, need to understand that by answering the call of duty, they will be an embarrassment to the cowards. And these candy-ass cowards, deeply jealous of the bravery of others, will therefore raise a condemning hue and cry over the barbarity shown by those who promote peace by actively opposing evil.

DaveSAM25G @ 5/4/2012 12:30 AM

We need more DA's like Anthony Manzella - who follow the true rule of law not tried in convicted in the media - a partial quote here by Dr. Robert Baize...honor and author all warriors who are condemed daily you know who you are from within, of the article who speaks from the heart also inside also:

"He does not seek out battle, the battles find him. His foes curse his name. Injustice is the battle field. As with the warriors of old, the reasons for war remain the same, Someone must protect the child, the elder, the weak. Principles and values, honor and dignity will forever be the spoils. The mighty warrior remains proud at heart. He walks the gaunlet of indifference, and apathy. He marks coup each time the suffering rejoices with equality."

God Bless and stay safe! Warriros are always welcome and are needed and like the four seasons change we live each one as it comes to the best of our ability!!

Rev. Lowrey @ 5/4/2012 4:59 AM

The PROTESTS were for an INVESTIGATION, not for a conviction.
This was a "gated community" in a small, low crime town, not a "section 8" neighborhood with roving gangs.
Being poor does not make a person a criminal.
Killing a minority does not make one a hero.
Zimmerman has since proved to have racist behavior.
You need a reality check - or maybe just to check in with reality.

Bg Sherm @ 5/4/2012 6:33 AM

The problem here is that some of you think that all cops would support Zimmerman on this. You wold be wrong in this assumption. I am a COP and I have to to say that I remember being taught sometimes it's better to to be a good witness. In this case Zimmerman was by all accounts told by dispatch to back off and he did not. He chose to get in harms way when he could have simply followed and provided police with good information. I don't know about you but if a strange man was following me I would probably turn to confront him too. So who was wrong here? I know as a COP we saw the attack on the agency first and began to take sides but to be honest none of you really know all the facts so why jump on any band wagon let the trial play out and let justice decide. That is why we police to allow everyone an opportunity for justice. Let's be real every citizen should not carry a gun especially without proper training. We have to qualify annually why not require the same for private citizens who want the responsibility of firearm carry. Remember we are trained to look at the hands and if it was one of us we would be on trial now too. Maybe, that's why you rush to defend Zimmerman. One fact remains true no matter what anyone says, If he would have listened to the dispatcher and not directly confronted, we would not be at this point today. I believe in the right to carry, but only with the proper training. Not attacking anyone's opinion just giving me so please don't attack my post because you don't agree just agree to disagree and move on. It's not a personal attack on you or your opinion it's just another observation.

Jim @ 5/4/2012 6:58 AM

This is truly one of the most powerful and thought-provoking articles I have read here. The first part is fantastic. In the second part, you are telling us all just exactly what I have told my family about the Martin-Zimmerman case. You are right when you say the vocal portion of the public wants Zimmerman convicted when it is possible he should not even have been arrested, judging by the more-neutral evidence presented to this date. There was a violent encounter that may not have been started by Zimmerman. (And there may be violent encounters - riots - if Zimmerman is acquitted.) One thing for sure, someone cared to get involved. I, too, am a Zimmerman. Although I wish the incident had not ended as it did (which I am sure Zimmerman would also say), I am proud of those that care enough to get involved as citizens. I am proud of those that choose to get involved as professionals. I am personally proud to wear blue. Have a safe day.

Moe67 @ 5/4/2012 1:46 PM

Why do people start out saying they don't know all the facts and then feel it's okay in the next sentence to pass judgement for or against. Let the process run its course. A jury of 12 peers will have the burden of debating this with all the facts. Armchair prosecuting and Monday morning quarterbacking our decisions in the street are the same. Doing the future juror's job with limited facts is the same as them saying what they would do if they were " that cop " in that situation", when they have no police experience in the street. Relax, all of us should let the system do its thing.

FireCop @ 5/5/2012 6:58 AM

Just another case of 'tried and found guilty by the media without a complete and thorough investigation'. Three media types have been fired as a result of their putting a biased spin on reporting this story. We don't know all of the facts....we cannot offer judgement. Be safe.

John Schulte @ 5/5/2012 10:02 AM

I'm so happy to have come across this article. I've run a citizen patrol in NE Minneapolis for 7 years. This being our eighth season. Many of our volunteers are now wary of going on the streets again for fear of being thrown under the bus by the very people we have helped all this time.

While we never patrol alone, there have been times when I could have been in a similar situation as Zimmerman at the end of a regular patrol, and on the way home alone.

I know if we quit, the criminals win, but if we go out and find the dirt bags more aggressive than normal because they feel they have the media on their side...what's a concerned citizen to do?

Even if Zimmerman is acquitted, which I feel is likely, his life is ruined for years to come. So when I think about putting my uniform on again and getting out there to face the chance of getting wacked, or being crucified for defending myself at some time, my motivation to help the neighborhood is greatly diminished.

If Zimmerman is convicted, I believe it will be open season for every neighborhood patrol group out there. It will certainly embolden the criminal element.

I welcome readers to visit our page and give us a like.

R.E.Payne @ 5/5/2012 3:08 PM

First of all I am a retired copper I wanted to get that out of the way. I think evrybody on this site knows that if Mr. Zimmerman was not half Hispanic we would have had a riot on our hands already. The only thing he did wrong is to not back off when he was told to, if this is in fact the case, is his biggest mistake. However I was not there to make that determination. At the time not being trained who knows. The pictures they show of the victim is of someone alot younger and smaller. The rush to judgement is still way out of line. Political pressure makes a normaly trained politician unpredictable. If he is in fact a killer then justice should prevail. If being stupid and afraid is the case then that's another scenario. I hope I have not offended anybody

Ima Leprechaun @ 5/6/2012 4:36 AM

I get to disagree again. If a man jumps out of the shadowns and threatens me with a gun and I am unarmed we are going to be in one hell of a fight for my life. Since Zimmerman had no authority to act as a neighborhood watch person and was not in any uniform then Mr Martin would have made the same assumption I would. This guy is here to rob and kill me. Of course he fought back, wouldnt you? Zimmerman had been drinking so Mr Martin probably smelled an alcoholic beverage on his breath and I bet he was scared to death he was about to die, and he was right.

Mr Zimmerman was told not to approach the suspicious person which the only reason he was suspicious to Zimmerman was that Martin was black. Zimmerman does not qualify for "stand your ground" since he was not in that spot and had no reason to stand his ground. Zimmerman inserted himself into the situation and he was the cause of all the illegal activity. The "stand your ground" law is stupid and a political ploy to appease the gun lobby. Personally I think Martin's family should sue the Governor that signed this stupid law into existance. The on scene Lieutenant was going to arrest Zimmerman but was ordered not to by the Chief of Police who was not at the scene. There are obvious problems within that agency.

Encourager @ 5/6/2012 5:52 AM

Great article! I love that next to last paragraph, "insipid little cowards"! A perfect example of the expression, "You hit the nail on the head" Robert. Great article! Sorry you had to finally move.

Robby @ 5/7/2012 4:57 AM

Things seem to be a little, let's say, mixed up. First this was a gated community, with little or no crime, maybe because of people like Zimmerman or maybe because there is a lot of communities with little crime. Second, unless I missed something, the kid was walking on a sidewalk, with a can of tea and a bag of skittles in his pocket, neither of which I would find "suspicious" and justify a 911 call. Third in our "stranger danger" classes we tell kids to run when being followed by a stranger and as a last result fight as hard as you can, if you can't get away. When the whole story is done, Zimmerman might be right, but looking at ONLY the known facts, how can we justify killing the kid under the known circumstances and in fact who was "standing his ground".

Dan Howard @ 5/7/2012 9:42 PM

Great story on being involved. The only fact we know for sure, Trayvon was not a criminal, the only thing that made him suspicious was the color of his skin and a hoodie. You I suppose are a trained law enforcement officer and Zimmerman was not. Big difference! Notice, no mention of guilt or innocense, just the facts!

Ima Leprechaun @ 5/18/2012 9:16 AM

The basic facts are these: One man was carrying a loaded gun while drinking alcohol and taking psychotropic meds while driving and then in public. One man broke no laws whatsoever while walking in his own neighborhood toward his home. These are the only true facts about this case everying else is window dressing. Under the definition for the Stand your Ground Law the only person here it applies to is the dead victim that was blocked from his home by an armed violent intoxicated man. Wouldn't you fight to live? I sure as hell would.

Ima Leprechaun @ 5/18/2012 9:24 AM

I knew a self appointed neighborhood watch guy that was crazier than Zimmerman. He lived in Muncie Ind and he would evict the neighborhood crack houses with ease. He would stand on the sidewalk out front of the crack house and take a .357mag and fire until he ran out of ammo at the house, not the people just the house. He did this every day until they got the point. His method was very effective but is this what you really want for a neighborhood watch guy? As it turned out the self appointed nighborhood watch guy was off his "meds". Not sure I'd encourage this response but it did work.

Capt David-Ret LA County @ 5/23/2012 5:52 PM

Zimmerman- wow. Unless someone is holding a video of the whole incident and will share it, Mr. Z may be in big trouble. Witnesses will change their story, those who stood by him before may cave to the pressure of just being associated with him. And, people lie. Just read If most media TV stations wanted to defend Mr Z they would not have shown Trayvon's photo when he was 15 in jr. high. "They", the agency in charge of prosecution, are out go get Z, and they will do whatever the costs and whomever it will hurt. That's what they do, and they sleep well.

James Nye @ 5/23/2012 7:49 PM

Zimmerman dialed 9-1-1 for the police to handle the situation, he is not a vigilante. As to why the police did not/could not respond in a more tiimely manner is another matter to be checked into.

Trayvon Mar-tin had a cellphone, he didn't dial 9-1-1 for help, he handled the situation himself. Trayvon Mar-tin is the vigilante in this event.

Why did Trayvon call the his girlfriend and not the police. Did he ask her to call his homeboys and set up a Jena-Six styled ambush of Mr. Zimmerman ?

Warren @ 5/23/2012 8:26 PM

So, Z follows a "suspicious" black male, in a vehicle, then on foot, confronts the young man, a struggle ensues, Z shoots and kills the young man. Who was the provoking party? Who usurped the police role? Z deserves his day in court. The dead kid was denied any access to justice. Yes , did protect and serve for 30 years....

wolfva @ 5/23/2012 9:05 PM

What exactly is 'the police role' Warren? The Supreme Court of the United States of America has declared that it is NOT the job of a police department, federal or local, to protect the lives of the individual but to protect society as a whole. It is thus inclement upon the INDIVIDUAL to protect his or her own life and property. Which is what Zimmerman was doing. He did not 'usurp' the Police role. He was engaged in the CITIZEN'S role. If Martin did, in fact, pursue Zimmerman (who after all claimed he was walking BACK to his truck when Martin approached him) and assault him, then how was he denied justice? Even if Zimmerman threw the first punch (which none of the little evidence I've seen suggests) you can only use the amount of force necessary to end the situation. Repeatedly smashing a man in the face while he begs for help would seem to be excessive force. Don't believe me? Put on your uniform and do that to the next suspect you catch, then tell us what happens. Granted, civilians DO get more leeway then officers in use of force, but nonetheless...

TJ @ 5/23/2012 9:24 PM

While the above article is interesting in regards to the Zimmerman Shooting it does not address 1 key factor.
Trayvon Martin was not breaking any laws and actually belonged in the complex he was killed in.
One of the reasons the police do not like civilians to get involved in criminal matters beyond calling and reporting is to avoid such situations.
While I don't think Zimmerman should have been charged with murder I do think he should have been charged for the shooting.
And I say this as someone who is well aware of the arrogance of the public and youth in general today. I also cannot cannot help but think of this case from the perspective of being a father.
It is highly doubtful Martin went to Zimmerman's Car, it is likely Zimmerman got out and accosted Martin. After provoking an altercation you cannot cry self defense when you start getting your ass kicked.

Martin should have listened to the dispatcher. He chose to ignore it and do the opposite and a 17 yr old who was walking to his home with candy and a soda was killed, how can any of you say this is ok and Zimmerman should have been allowed to walk free?

Some of you seem to either not be aware of or ignore Zimmerman's Past regarding challenging law enforcement officers.

Zimmerman in my opinion made the same mistake I started seeing far too many newer cops making long ago. Assuming every black male they saw is a criminal.

Martin was an innocent 17 yr old who should not have died.
If my 17 yrold son was acosted by someone in a car who got out and challenged him I'd expect him to defend himself.

I don't see or understand how some of you seem not see this or would advise your 17 yr old son to not defend themselves against a stranger.

John Wilson @ 5/23/2012 9:24 PM

Excellent Article, the author addresses the issues and only comments about what he knows. He doesn't guesstimate like 75% of the American public. The State of Florida passed a stand your ground defense law and citizens act upon the contents of the law. Now in after thought the legislators want to review and maybe change the language of the law. Well, that may suit them, but how about the citizens that used this law to defend themselves and find themselves arrested and charged for protecting themselves?

Public pressure should never, repeat never, be the catalyst for arresting or prosecuting anyone in this country. It is wrong to do so, and the Florida's Prosecutor's office is wrong in this instance.

I then ask why the press keeps showing the babyface travon and not the real pictures that portray his real personality? My understanding is he doesn't or didn't look anywhere like the innocent kid the press portrayed. If so, the press should be ashamed of the future riots they will be responsible for causing.

The Sanford Police did their job according to the law. In the end someone mentioned race and the federal government got involved. Everything is not about race and everything can not be solved by the federal government. Trust your local law enforcement or get new officers and a chief that meets your expectations. Unfortunately the public is the worse judge of what is good or bad about a police department. I pray for the Sanford Police "Department, the Chief, and the City Council. May justice truly prevail and not innuendoes and speculation.

Retired Chief in Virginia

Tj @ 5/23/2012 9:29 PM

While the above article is interesting in regards to the Zimmerman Shooting it does not address 1 key factor.
Trayvon Martin was not breaking any laws and actually belonged in the complex he was killed in.
One of the reasons the police do not like civilians to get involved in criminal matters beyond calling and reporting is to avoid such situations.
While I don't think Zimmerman should have been charged with murder I do think he should have been charged for the shooting.
And I say this as someone who is well aware of the arrogance of the public and youth in general today. I also cannot cannot help but think of this case from the perspective of being a father.
It is highly doubtful Martin went to Zimmerman's Car, it is likely Zimmerman got out and accosted Martin. After provoking an altercation you cannot cry self defense when you start getting your ass kicked.

Martin should have listened to the dispatcher. He chose to ignore it and do the opposite and a 17 yr old who was walking to his home with candy and a soda was killed, how can any of you say this is ok and Zimmerman should have been allowed to walk free?

Some of you seem to either not be aware of or ignore Zimmerman's Past regarding challenging law enforcement officers.

Zimmerman in my opinion made the same mistake I started seeing far too many newer cops making long ago. Assuming every black male they saw is a criminal.

Martin was an innocent 17 yr old who should not have died.
If my 17 yrold son was acosted by someone in a car who got out and challenged him I'd expect him to defend himself.

I don't see or understand how some of you seem not see this or would advise your 17 yr old son to not defend themselves against a stranger.

Big Jim @ 5/24/2012 2:58 AM

An EYEwitness John was interviewed on this youtube titled:

Trayvon Martin was punching Neighborhood Watchman when he was shot

Another good video is:

Sean Hannity Speaks about Trayvon Martin

Greg @ 5/24/2012 3:39 AM

"Ordered by the LAPD to stand down"? I didn't realize the 911 operator could order any citizen to "stand down", Zimmerman was walking to his car when St. Trayvon attacked him (with drugs also in his system).

Of course, now 4 of the witnesses are changing their surprise there with various black groups making threatening noises about anyone not mimicking their victimhood claims.

apvbguy @ 5/24/2012 5:03 AM

to the author, you sir are an idiot!
I agree with you comments regarding the zimmerman case, however you go way off the rails when you call people cowards because they might not intervene to stop a criminal act.

The fact that I have permit to carry a gun concealed in public does not make me a trained LEO, does not make me into a super hero, mortal or immortal.
I certainly would use my gun to defend myself, my loved ones and whomever I might be with but I am under no obligation to bust up crimes in progress, there are just way too many variables and possible bad outcomes, I have a lot to lose if I make a blunder while playing cop whereas if I foul up while in defense of myself I can reconcile such a blunder with I had little choice.
there are so many pitfalls to getting involved in a crime you are witnessing I can't begin to list the dozens of scenarios that you could encounter and have go bad in an instant, it is wiser to take cover and be a good witness for the police.
anyone who would call someone a coward for not playing cop with their gun is a real dunderhead.

Rob @ 5/24/2012 6:26 AM

This was a great article! As difficult as it might be sometimes, good police work starts in our home neighborhoods. This Zimmerman case is as polarizing as anything I've seen since the Rodney King incident. What happened in those moments after Zimmerman got off the phone with the dispatcher to the point that he was on the ground getting his head beat in has not yet been told. It is going to be a bitter pill for some people if it turns out that he was wholy justified to use whatever force was necessary to preserve his life. I've heard a lot of comments that he was a police wannabe. On an April morning in 1775, about 75 "neighborhood watch" guys assembled in a town square to face off against what they probably considered the most able "criminal" organization in the world at the time. The fact that they got their tails kicked that morning did not hinder them from reassembling and facing off again at Concorde Bridge later that day. Today, the country we broke away from has some serious issues with self defense and prosecutes law abiding citizens who are defending themselves. I don't want us to go any further down that road. If Zimmerman really screwed up, he's going to have his day in court. As the article so aptly stated, even police officers can be unfairly scrutinized for defending their home neighborhoods, and that is just plain wrong.

Carl Francis @ 5/24/2012 6:59 AM

30 years in law enforcement has proven to me one thing. Those who serve in law enforcement and prove themselves day in and day out as trained rational decision makers will make the right decisions in these situations. The dispatcher made the right decision. Mr Zimmerman made the wrong decision. My guess is, that is exactly why he was not in law enforcement. I worry about allowing those who are untrained, want to be's making these types of decisions on the street. The country made a decision many years ago to allow law enforcement to make these decisions for us. We should keep it that way.

Dan @ 5/24/2012 7:04 AM

What is lost in this article is the speed with which Chief Bill Lee stepped down as Police Chief. Had he stood up for his staff, the quality of the investigation, and met the media and outside activists head on, this might already be a non-issue. Leadership isn't easy. Stepping down was cowardly.

For the anti-gun LA prose @ 5/24/2012 7:04 AM

George Zimmerman has a record of harassment of minorities and co-workers had file formal complaints against him before. On the night of shooting, Zimmerman has been told by police dispatch to back off and police is on their way to this trespassing complaint. Zimmerman decided to get up close to the 17 years old Black teenager Trevon Martin and stalked him. I have no doubt that if Martine had a gun just like you all are who pro-gun that the outcome would have been very differently in such close range. U.S. Supreme Court usually ruling on excessive force is usually based on the three points of threshold of a landmark case Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). Point one, what is the severity of the crime? Did the teenage commit a felony? The answer is NO. Second, did the 17 years old teenager post an imminent threat and danger to George Zimmerman’s safety from a distance? The answer is NO. Third, was the 17 years old being challenged with a gun to freeze in a dangerous neighborhood? The answer is probably NO. I doubt that you would be brave enough to beat me up if I were to point a gun at you and “challenge” you. Just like the writer Robert who claims to be a cop said that felony doesn’t like to be challenged. I go further to say even law abiding citizens don’t like to be challenged by guns. I promised you that you would freeze and pee in your pants if I were to point a gun at you. I have seen that happened many times during my night operations in the past twenty five years. Then how the aggressor-stalker George Zimmerman got beaten up? If you can’t handle a fight, do not try everything you can to get in a fight. I am a life time pro-gun NRA member and I enjoy living in a very progun state. If George Zimmerman were justified in this shooting, NRA would speak up for him already. Have you visited NRA website lately? Did they have anything to say about George Zimmerman’s shooting was a “good shooting.” Or you guys have been educated by the media?

Rob in FL @ 5/24/2012 7:15 AM

TimFromLA: It sounds like you’ve been misinformed, probably because you believe what's been put out by the news media. If you form your opinions about any matters involving law enforcement matters based solely on the “facts” presented by the news media, you will continue to be misinformed. As every law enforcement officer knows, each individual shooting case is judged based on its own unique facts and circumstances. Two shooting incidents that may appear almost identical on the surface could have radically different circumstances unknown until after investigation, resulting in one shooting being considered legally justifiable and the other shooting considered unjustifiable. The Jacksonville case has completely different circumstances than the Zimmerman case; no one with a knowledge of the law would attempt to link those cases and call for similar prosecutorial action.

By the way, you apparently also believe the news media hype about Florida’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” law. Well, no such law exists. What does exist is a short subsections of Florida Statute 776, entitled "Justifiable Use of Force," that includes a provision that "a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony." Thus, to be legally justified in Florida, deadly force must be used to prevent an imminent physical threat that could result in loss of life or limb. That’s a lot different than the blank check to “shoot first, shoot often” that the news media depicted and the law doesn't allow you to kill someone, only to use deadly force in your own defense.

Robocop @ 5/24/2012 7:22 AM

When this incident first happened, not far from my town, it seemed from the 'reports' that Zimmerman was a LEO wanna-be and the aggressor who was not justified at all in shooting and killing Martin and definitely not under the 'Stand Your Ground' rule. As more information leaked out I started to slowly rethink my first impression but still said stand your ground did not apply. Now that most of the information is out there I believe that Zimmerman was a concerned citizen and possibly a LEO wanna-be but not crazy like. Additionally it seems he did back off when told to do so by the dispatcher and was walking back to his truck when Martin confronted him and attacked him and proceeded to really beat him badly. STILL, Zimmerman is NOT covered under the stand your ground rule. He IS covered under self-defense! Martin was attacking him and causing him great bodily damage and Zimmerman was in fear of his life and so discharged his weapon ONCE to stop the threat. Martin died as a result. I do not think I could convict him of any crime. Understand I am leaving race completely out of this as well as public opinion but based on the facts as I have heard them. How many LEO's do you know who have been in this situation? I personally know of one that was involved in very much the same thing and he also shot and killed the unarmed suspect with his last bit of physical exertion knowing that if he lost the fight the suspect would kill him. Justified.

Bob@Az. @ 5/24/2012 8:34 AM

Robocop, Well said. I've noticed that few, if any, have stated that they had been in a similar situation. In fear for their life. As an LEO your taught to NEVER STOP FIGHTING! And if you think you wouldn't be scared, you ain't been there yet. I really hope the truth makes it out of all this media & political attempts to "spin" it into a election year show.

tom @ 5/24/2012 8:34 AM

as important as involvement is it would be prudent to be prepared for the circumstance you are injecting yourself into and able to communicate your intentions. these are 2 failures that are quite evident in zimmermans situation. legal or not the altercation more than likely would have been avoided had he clearly communicated his intentions or been better prepared for a confrontation. by his own admission there was a verbal confrontation before it was physical. while admirable in intent it was a failure of execution that created the end result.

strongisland @ 5/24/2012 10:40 AM

Wow! A man with a violent history is somehow able to carry a gun and become part of a neighborhood watch program who in turn stalks a person and confronts him then kills him because he was standing his ground. Where I'm from its called Murder.

Peggy Wilson Dobbs @ 5/24/2012 2:44 PM

I cannot believe how the average person can rush to a conclusion without all of the facts, nor can I understand way their conclusion most generally goes against the very protectors of our communities.

WESTCOASTLEO @ 5/24/2012 5:54 PM

As a West Coast Law Enforcement Officer employed by LASD 32+ years still active, I see your point and agree 100%. The problem with our society in the U.S. is that we have never had the violence as in Mexico or other countries. Our citizens are soft and do not understand the violence. When we come apart, and we will, law enforcement will go home first. They will protect their own and forget about the rest of the softies who will just give up and pull their pants down.

For Louisa chief @ 5/24/2012 9:48 PM

Wow! I am amazed that the small town of Louisa police chief decided to open his mouth and put in his two cents. May be he thinks people have forgotten that he has been a chief for less than a year and had to resign in disgrace or go to jail. No wonder you are such a sympathyer of George Zimmerman.

TJ @ 5/24/2012 10:14 PM

Many of you who are talking about defending ones community/standing your ground/self defense/seem to be ignoring one fact.
Trayvon Martin was not breaking any laws and belonged in the gated community he was walking in!

You mean to tell me that if I am walking in my own neighborhood carrying candy and a drink any asshole from the community can confront me because he does not know me?


That is what cops are for.

Zimmerman was in a car when this started. He chose to get out of it.

He killed an innocent 17 yr old kid who was not doing anything wrong.

I still want to know which one of you posters defending Zimmerman who feel he should have walked with no charges advises your kids to cooperate with a stranger who accosts them on the streets.

Dwayne Juedes @ 5/25/2012 7:02 AM

From everything I have read about the Martin/Zimmerman case I don't believe Mr Zimmerman is guilty. Could he have used better judgment? Possibly. What I do know is this case has brought out the idiots and criminals that are now trying to repeal the stand your ground laws all over this country so the criminals can once again have the upper hand.

Dwayne Juedes

Retired LEO

Doubting Thomas @ 5/25/2012 9:09 AM

Where's all you pro Zimmerman types right now? This is who the guy REALLY is. Keep up the hero worship.

Top News
May 24, 2012
Zimmerman Blasted Fla. Police As 'Disgusting'

George Zimmerman blasted the Sanford (Fla.) Police Department at a community forum about a year before the agency made the now-controversial decision not to initially arrest him in the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
In the public remarks, Zimmerman said he went on a ride-along at the time and "what I saw was disgusting."
Zimmerman went on to say, "The officer showed me his favorite hiding spots to take naps." Zimmerman also said the officer told him he doesn't like to do paperwork and took many breaks, reports WESH, which has the audio of the remarks.

TJ @ 5/25/2012 11:13 PM

When ones bad judgement leads to the death of an innocent person its not unreasonable that some kind of charge might be bought against them.
Cops in this country are subject to this everyday, why should Zimmerman get a free pass?

And for the life of me I am flabbergasted that anyone would suggest Zimmerman should not have been charged with anything.

Under this philosophy anyone could accost anyone on the streets and pull out a gun and shoot when the person you accosted starts kicking your ass.

I say it again, Trayvon Martin wasn't breaking any laws and belonged in the gated community he was walking in and wound up dead because George Zimmerman didn't know him.

If that's what the Florida Stand your ground law permits then it needs to be repealed.

Mike Hargreaves @ 5/26/2012 9:06 AM

The charges laid, Murder, will not be proved in a court of law.

But, it stopped the marches (all the people who can march in mid week!) they don't work. Which was the purpose of the charge.

George will be exonerated, were I live, we will not have any problems, and IF! we do, I am legally armed every day.

My job in life is to love and protect my Wife, I will do that.

Jason Barnes @ 5/30/2012 12:57 PM

Zimmerman fired in self-defense while under attack by a criminal, a hulking football player, much younger, fitter, and taller than Zimmerman. The attacker had already knocked Zimmerman to the ground and was commencing to pound Zimmerman's noggin on the pavement. This was a clean shoot by any standards. It is clear that Zimmerman is being thrown to the wolves in an attempt to appease the scummiest elements of society. And if the juries act honestly and acquit Zimmerman? More than one colleague believes that will be an excuse for riots.

Provigil @ 7/6/2012 2:11 AM

"Those of the, "baptized heart of Gold,enlisted to protect and serve, must know Soldiers who accost the injustice doers wear no badge.
The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights is constantly evolving as Thomas Jefferson put it. Jefferson and John Adams precisely knew that the New World was going to consume, absorb and digest the Declaration of Independance The modern countrymen in the future were going examine under a microscope and explore the very last empty corridor of the Justice System. Citizens of the country were going to express themselves, have peaceful protests and take part in the process of the Executive, legislative and judicial branch. As Americans we will always reinvent cases that must put to trial the very justice system that we call Socialism. In the words of Sam Brown," The Police is the Community, and the Community the police.

sharon @ 7/7/2012 5:04 PM

Trayvon wasn't a hulking football player. He was about 6 foot and weighed 158 pounds. He played football in the Optimist League through the 8th grade.

I think George Z is guilty of manslaughter. If he truly thought that a skinny teen was suspicious he did the right thing to call the police, but he was reckless not to wait for them.

Here: I am quoting another poster.

what is the severity of the crime? Did the teenage commit a felony? The answer is NO. Second, did the 17 years old teenager post an imminent threat and danger to George Zimmerman’s safety from a distance? The answer is NO.

George is lying about Trayvon doubling back and ambushing him.. Trayvon ran away (Stranger Danger) and didn't know George got out of his car.

Chrissie @ 7/11/2012 7:27 AM

I wanted to give another view. Thank you Sharon because Stranger Danger is what comes to mind when I hear about this case.

I am an African American Female who was taught Stranger Danger (like most kids.) If Zimmerman IS found not guilty than we really need to come up with some way to protect ourselves against potential threats.

At 8 yrs old, I was walking to the bus stop in the snow when an older Caucasion guy rode up to me and ask if I needed a ride. I stated "no sir" and kept walking. He asked a second time and I gave the same response. He then stopped his vehicle got out and grabbed for my wrist. I instantly fell to the ground kicking, screaming and trying to bite him, when a neighbor came out and ran the guy away. Now, yes.....the guy could have been a sweet man trying to give a little girl a ride....but why wait to find out? What if I was shot because I attacked him. (And I DID attack him with every fiber of my being.)

The next time this happened to me I was 12, and an African American man tried to follow me home while I was walking from school.....I am sure you see where I am going with this. If I had NOT have gotten away quick enough I would have fought like hell. What if I was shot then? If what people are saying is that Trayvon had no business "attacking" Zimmerman, then we really need to Revamp "Stranger Danger."

POAndrea @ 7/12/2012 11:29 AM

As a law enforcement officer, a parent, and a female, I must admit I agree with Chrissie. Martin's understanding of the encounter might have been that what his parents always warned him about was actually happening. I hope my teenage son would fight a man whom he thought was going to grab him off the street. I don't want to investigate anyone else's daughter's abduction, rape, murder and body-dump in a cornfield. As for myself, if some crazy dude drove down the street after me and then got out of his car with a gun, I'd draw and drop him, may G*d forgive me for it. I know the very last thing I want to do on this earth is let him get me into that vehicle, because it is likely to BE the very last thing I do on this earth. I hope I would have called 911 before that, but then I believe the police will respond to assist instead of arrest me. I take it kinda personally that maybe Martin didn't trust the cops to come to his assistance, and it concerns me because it is one of the attitudes that make the stand-your-ground laws worrisome. Zimmerman's position that this law means he can drive around (patrol? investigate?) his neighborhood while armed and approach (question? detain? apprehend?) those he suspects of bad behavior despite being instructed by dispatch NOT to do so is a potentially dangerous one. He certainly made a bad decision in following and confronting an unarmed teenager who's not shown to have been committing any crimes when contact was initiated. Zimmerman demonstrated disregard for and a deliberate defiance of the very authority he claims to support. When we have vigilantes AND paranoid civilians with concealed weapons and neither the training nor the common sense to use them, it's going to be an absolute NIGHTMARE to investigate. And it will essentially be whomever survives the shoot-out is the one who was in the right. (The reports might be a little simpler, but

Linda D @ 7/13/2013 9:09 PM

I’m a young female who comes from a long line of soldiers & police officers. I know the basics of responsible self defense. I’ve been taught to use a gun & am in the process of acquiring my own concealed carry permit for solo hiking trips.

And I’ve been taught to fight like hell if accosted in the manner in which Trayvon Martin was.

Zimmerman is the instigator. That simply CANNOT be denied.

Martin was a guest in that gated community. He had a civil right to be in that place at that time, dressed however the hell he wanted, carrying whatever kind of food items or beverages.

Martin is the only one involved to which “self defense” could accurately be said to apply.

Zimmerman CHOSE to follow an unknown individual, in car and on foot. He CHOSE to disregard multiple requests from a police dispatcher to back off & wait for law enforcement.

He CHOSE to begin a confrontation with a person of whom he was suspicious -- to be suspicious, one must be concerned. Zimmerman's own statements reveal that he considered Martin a threat, & yet he CHOSE to confront him. He CHOSE to place himself in hypothetical danger.

So for Zimmerman to shoot the unarmed minor he CHOSE to confront at night without any witnesses present, when he was fully aware that there was the potential for that person to harm shoot a child because this minor fought back & ended up kicking his CHOOSE all of this, and then have the gall to yell "self defense / not guilty / not my fault" when he ended up with a dead body on the pavement as a direct consequence of his own foolish beyond pathetic.

To me, those are the actions of a true coward: a person who hides behind his ego & a gun, with no regard for the value of life itself.

And for law enforcement officers to applaud, defend, & even ENCOURAGE such a twisted response by any citizen....more than chills me to the bone. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Where is your honor?

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Recharging Your Batteries: The Benefits of "Unplugging"
There is certainly benefit to being current on events involving the people you consider...
Speaking on the Unspeakable: Ending the Pandemic of Police Officer Suicide
I've talked with officers who have lost a colleague to suicide—as well as many widows of...

Police Magazine