I previously posted on the death of Trayvon Martin, calling it a tragedy. I stand by that description– when is a young man’s death not a tragedy? However, since that time, additional details regarding this case have come to my attention, and the waters seem murky at best. Given that many in the media seem to be rushing to judgment, I just wanted to join those who are calling for caution. If found guilty, Zimmerman should be held accountable. But he is also entitled to the presumption of innocence, and deserves physical safety as the facts of the case are sorted out. Briefly (and incompletely):
1. On the one hand, according to the Orlando Sentinel, Zimmerman called the cops 46 times between January 2011 and Feb. 26. It seems he might have used racial epithets (along with expletives) in his 911 call. This, along with the fact that he followed Martin the night of his death–against the counsel of the Sanford police department–suggests he may have had an inflated view of his neighborhood watch duties, or was simply too quick to judge.
2. On the other hand, Zimmerman had severe injuries at the time of Martin’s death, suggesting a physical altercation had taken place. And Martin had been suspended from school for marijuana at the time of his death, though the slain teen had no criminal record.
[What would be more relevant, I think, than the marijuana suspension is if Martin had a history of anger leading to violence or if he was high on drugs at the time. Zimmerman claims Martin punched him and then "jumped on top of him and began banging his head on a sidewalk."]
I don’t claim to be following this story closer than others. My only goal in adding this update is to join those who are calling for a fair, careful, and balanced evaluation of the relevant data. May those in positions of authority exercise their duties with wisdom and without partiality.