Could a Trayvon Martin case happen in NC?

Gail Neely, Assistant Director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, weighs in on the horrific Trayvon Martin story and the similarity between Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law and North Caolina’s new and flawed “Castle Doctrine”: 

“By now you probably know about the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, who was gunned down in Florida by a man who said he was defending himself from a 17 year old boy armed with Skittles and an iced tea.  Part of the reason this man, George Zimmerman, has not yet been arrested is because of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.  This law gives the benefit of the doubt to those who use deadly force when they feel threatened.  Under the Stand Your Ground law, an individual does not have the responsibility to retreat, even when they may do so safely. 

What you may not know is that the Florida law is just one of 21 similar laws passed around the country in recent years. One of those 21 laws was passed in North Carolina last year—the ‘Castle Doctrine’ Law (House Bill 650). Castle Doctrine implies that this legislation applies only to a home or residence.  However, HB 650 extends past the individual’s home to their workplace or vehicle; making them immune to civil or criminal prosecution if they claim they felt threatened or in danger.

Since the Stand Your Ground law went into effect in Florida, the number of justifiable homicides has tripled. And a young life was tragically cut short because of a claim of self-defense. It’s time for Florida, North Carolina, and states across this country to take a hard look at these Stand Your Ground Laws.  Changes need to be made before another tragedy occurs.” 

 

28 Comments

  1. david esmay

    March 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    Absolutely, racism runs deep in NC.

  2. Nonanon

    March 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    While you don’t mention it in your story, the subject line implies NC Castle Doctrine is flawed, without any elaboration about why you think it’s flawed, except that it extends to the owner of a business, or passengers of a vehicle.

    The only flaw is that it doesn’t extend to anyone other than the owner of a business. Is one to assume you feel that if someone is attempting to hijack your car, you should give it to them? What if your kids are in the back seat. Do you have no right to self defense?

    Rob, the only flaw is in your misperception of NC’s law, which remedied a confusing and misunderstood existing law. Restaurant Carry will be the next to pass in the Legislature, notwithstanding the Rodney King style hate speech associated with the Florida case. All coming from your side of the aisle. Stay on your side, Rob, and leave the legislating to those who aren’t quite so narrow minded.

  3. Nonanon

    March 22, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    David, there’s as much racism among Dems, if not more so, than Independents and the GOP.

    Stop drinking the kool aid. It’s poisoning your mind.

  4. Sean D Sorrentino

    March 22, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    I wondered when you guys would decide to weigh in. You never disappoint, do you? In every other case you’d be screaming that due process should be afforded to the shooter, and he shouldn’t be arrested based upon the the screaming of an online lynch mob. But put the gun in the hands of a law abiding citizen with a concealed handgun permit and you’re ready to string him up along with our laws.

    Maybe you should let the legal system do its job. If he’s guilty of something then they will figure it out and prosecute him. If he isn’t guilty of something, then they won’t. Isn’t that what we want in a legal system, the guilty convicted and punished and the innocent left alone? Or do you just want the guy chucked in a cage to appease your sense of outrage no matter what the evidence shows?

  5. Sean D Sorrentino

    March 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Link to Gail Neeley please?

  6. Sally Buckner

    March 22, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I was just wondering about North Carolina’s laws last night, when MSNBC showed a map in which a number of states were tinted as “stand your ground states.” Don’t I recall a case not long ago when a teenaged boy shot someone in his yard? There was some comment about the legality, but not much.

  7. Sean D Sorrentino

    March 22, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    There was the case where a 14 year old young man in Henderson shot an intruder in his house right after Christmas. The only discussion that was had about it was “exactly how stupid is it that the law makes it illegal for an adult to leave a firearm where a 14 year old could get to it.”

    Technically the parents broke the law when they allowed him to have unsupervised access to a shotgun, but anyone foolish enough to have brought charges against the parents would likely have feared being tarred and feathered.

    http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/10553140/

    Make sure to listen to the 911 call.

    From the photo, the intruder that was shot made it (or was helped) out to the front law where he died. 2 of the 4 intruders had felony convictions, and the dead intruder had been arrested several times previously.

  8. david esmay

    March 23, 2012 at 7:45 am

    @nonanon, Did I mention a political party? You’re delusional if you think race isn’t a major factor on every level of NC society. I deal with racism every day on the jobsite, and as the father of two bi-racial children, both now grown, this has lead to several fist fights over the years and many heated arguements. That jackass in Florida stalked and killed a child. If that had been one of my kids, he wouldn’t be in hiding and I’d be in jail. I’ve hunted all my life and I’m a veteran. I grew up in a house with a lot of firearms and own firearms, but have never felt the need to point one at somebody. I was taught firearm safety from an early age and so were my kids, this Zimmerman character thought he was some kind of wild west vigilante. Look at the pictures of Trayvon Martin, he’s not in any way threatening, hoody or no hoody, and his killer’s actions are indifensible. If you want to make this political, one party and one party only, the GOP, uses fear and white insecurity to promote it’s political aims.

  9. Sean D Sorrentino

    March 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    @David: So you’d straight up murder a Hispanic guy who shot your son in circumstances that you are not sure of? And you are the one screaming racism?

    Sounds to me like your committment to the rule of law is a bit shaky too.

    Keep in mind that no one knows what happened exactly, and it takes time for the police and prosecutor to sort it all out. Once they know, they will file any appropriate charges. Until then, you’ll just have to wait. Lynching people went out a long time ago. Both Florida and NC hand out the death penalty for that now.

  10. david esmay

    March 23, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    What does his being hispanic have to do with anything I said? I can only speak for myself,the shooter’s race has nothing to do with it. Why did Zimmerman confront this kid in the first place? Is he deathly afraid of scittles? Trayvon was only slightly darker than my own son, but if someone comes up to me and says my son was shot and killed by some neighborhood watch guy while he was walking down the street minding his own business, you don’t have to explain to me what happened. My son is a Life scout with 37 merit badges, a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow, and an all-state wrestler. He’s not going to provoke anyone with a gun, and no matter what the guy’s story is, I know my son. The fact that Zimmerman isn’t behind bars is obscene. If he’d shot a white kid under the same circumstances, he would be, the Sanford police wouldn’t have hesitated. Sean, you need to do a little research on the Sanford PD covering the last two years. It’s a wonder the people of that town haven’t set the police station on fire. You have cover-ups, corruption, and intimidation that touches every level of the department.

  11. Sean D Sorrentino

    March 23, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    @David: The fact remains that you know NOTHING about what happened. You impute racist intentions not because they actually existed, but because you are afraid of them. Have you ever heard the idea that “you see what you expect to see”? That’s what you are doing here. You are basically saying that the racist cops let a Hispanic dude off for killing a young black man. Is that even a sensible statement?

    You claim that the shooter “confronted” the young man. You don’t know that. You have been told that, but not by the police or by anyone else that has first hand knowlege. This case will hinge upon who attacked who. If the shooter is found to have started the fight, then he will be going to jail. If the young man is found to have attacked the shooter, then the shooter will walk.

    And if your son was shot by anyone, white, black, or green, you would not do him any favors by rushing out and “avenging” him. You let the process play out. If the guy is guilty, he goes to jail for a very long time and you get to go home to your remaining children who need you more than the prison does.

    I also resent your implication that because your mixed race children have faced fistfights and that you have faced racism that all whites (like me) are somehow racist. You don’t know me, so you can’t possibly judge me.

    I think you should keep calm and await the slow grinding process of the evidentiary hearing, the Grand Jury, and maybe even the trial. That way if he gets convicted, we can all celebrate justice having been done. And if he is exhonerated, we can accept that with good grace. I will reserve judgement on him until I have all the info. Since I will never have all the info, I will have to accept the decisions of the courts. I hope that you will do the same.

    And BTW, you must be very proud of your son. He sounds like an impressive man. And if he’s catching chaff because of who his parents are, the confidence of being a champion wrestler should help him deal with that. People have a tendency to leave others alone if they are convinced that that person could clobber them.

  12. James

    March 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Ah yes. We’d all be safe if only we could clobber each other. I’m sure the baby Jesus would be happy to know about that rule of thumb.

  13. Jack

    March 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Fact:
    Police officers who are trained and experienced observers are held accountable when they get it wrong. Mr. Zimmerman is a private citizen who is allowed, by Florida state law, to shoot to kill if he feel is necessary. Mr. Zimmerman is neither a trained nor an experienced observer of human behavior. He is simply a Neighborhood Watch Captain.

    Fact:
    There was no investigation into the killing of young Trayvon Martin until the community made his death an issue. If not for the community speaking up there would be no “slow grinding process” because there was no process taking place. It is fair to ask why there was no investigation into this young boy’s death. Is the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law a license to kill?

    Fact:
    When suspecting criminal activities, members of the Neighborhood Watch are encouraged to contact authorities and NOT to intervene. Mr. Zimmerman intervened by following Trayvon. The 911 operator told Zimmerman to stop following – Trayvon is now dead.

  14. Sean D Sorrentino

    March 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    @Jack:

    Fact: The shooter was not a neighborhood watch member, nor was he patrolling his neighborhood at the time. He was known to do that and make calls, but at that particular time he was on a personal errand.

    Fact: Florida law considers self defense to be an exception to the general rule of “don’t kill anyone.” The requirements for self defense are pretty strict. The actor must be reasonably fear imminent death or serious bodily injury. Simply “feeling” that it is necessary is a ticket to prison for second degree murder. It is considered perfectly legal to shoot a person who is on top of you punching you into unconsciousness. That is what was claimed, and nothing found at the scene or during the three interviews of the shooter challenged that claim. Lacking probable cause to arrest the shooter, they were required both by Florida law and the Constitution to release him.

    Fact: You have no idea what the status of the investigation of this incident was. You are merely reacting to the only groups of people who are publicizing this, the anti-gun crowd and the race baiters. Strangely, both seem to be left wing groups. When one camp is screaming to the heavens that something bad has happened and neither the police nor the shooter (nor his lawyer) are talking, you can be absolutely sure that you are only getting one side of the argument.

    Fact: You have no idea if the altercation was started by the shooter or the dead young man. You must somehow assume that the shooter told the operator that the youth had disappeared, told the operator he’d meet the cop at his truck, hung up the phone and then chased down the youth. Given that it would be immediately apparent if the shooter was in the vicinity of his truck, it seems unlikely that the cops would miss this important detail when they were measuring the crime scene.

    Fact: You don’t really know a single detail about this case at all. It seems to me that you are reacting simply to the fact that the dead young man is dark skinned and the shooter is a lighter shade, and that offends you. That, plus the shooter had the temerity to carry a gun for self defense, seems to make him some sort of pariah to the Left in America.

    Self Defense cases rest on FACTS, not opinions. The screaming for the shooters head is nothing more than a modern, digital lynch mob.

    http://www.americanlynching.com/photos-old.htm

    Remember this stuff? I thought we left that behind. Now we insist that everyone get due process of law.

  15. Jack

    March 23, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    FACT: George Zimmerman is a Neighborhood Watch Captain. Just because he was on a personal errand doesn’t mean the training as a NWC shouldn’t kick in. If he left his NW training at home that night perhaps he should have left his weapon there as well.

    FACT: Trayvon 17 and unarmed against an adult with a gun.

    FACT: Mr. Zimmerman followed Trayvon against the recommendation of the 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher was saying – let the police handle the matter. As a NWC Mr. Zimmerman knew what the dispatcher said to him was for his safety. It is part of his NW training.

    FACT: “Lacking probable cause to arrest the shooter, they were required both by Florida law and the Constitution to release him.” Sanford police admit they miss handled the case by not properly investigating the shooting. The police took Mr. Zimmerman’s word as to why he had reason to fear imminent death or serious bodily injury from Trayvon.

    FACT: You have no facts about me, only supposition.

  16. david esmay

    March 24, 2012 at 9:27 am

    The fact that Zimmerman, armed with a 9mm, left his vehicle to confront this kid proves he instigated the entire situation. Zimmerman is not the victim here, he wanted to be a hero, instead of a 28 year old smuck living off his parents.

  17. Frances

    March 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    David is beginning to scare me with some of his comments. There is an awful lot of anger there !

  18. david esmay

    March 25, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Frances, you’ve been scaring me for quite some time. Here’s the main problem with any of Sean’s arguments. All the evidence of self-defense come from the shooter, who definitely has a motivation to lie, and the circumstances surrounding the shooting calls his credibility into question. Even the guys lawyer says the “Stand your ground” law does not apply because he was not in his home, and pursued his victim.

  19. Sean

    March 26, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Gentlemen, a number of you are scaring me. I’ve worked in Law Enforcement for over 23 years and Sean has an excellent understanding of the situation. None of us knows what really happened that night. Also, it is a horrible situation that a 17 year old is dead, and my heart does go out to his family. However, I’ve seen it many time where people will say how great someone is and then they turn out to be involved in something illegal. As I said, I don’t know this young man nor am I making any allegations. In the end, Florida law enforcement will have to investigate and either charge Mr. Zimmerman or say that he acted in self defense. What bothers me is that mayors in some cities and even the president all have an “expert” opinion here. In reality, they know nothing too and should keep their mouthes shut. We need to allow the system to work, and its silly to make this a gun issue. Zimmerman owned the gun legally, period. If he killed a man without justification, then he will pay the price.

  20. Sean D Sorrentino

    March 26, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Thanks Sean. (above)

    Now we have even more info and (not) surprisingly it directly contradicts the “Official” anti-gun racially divisive narrative.

    Now we know that it wasn’t the cops on the ground who made the call to release the shooter without charges, it was the prosecutor. They called the prosecutor and were told directly that they couldn’t even make a manslaughter charge stick in court.

    Why couldn’t they? Because the story told by the shooter matched the physical evidence they found, plus they had an eyewitness who confirmed that the dead young man was on top of the shooter, punching him in the face. They were, and still are convinced that the screaming for help heard on the 911 call was the shooter. The father of the dead young man, when they played the audio for him the first time said the screaming was not his son. He only later changed his mind.

    Go back and listen to the screaming again. Listen to how long it goes on before the shot. Now understand that the whole time he was screaming, he was on the ground getting pummeled. Are you now going to tell me that he was supposed to allow himself to be punched unconscious or dead instead of using his pistol to defend himself? No doubt some of you might actually think that. Fortunately for the rest of us, the law considers that a deadly force threat.

    I have tried to refrain from labeling either of the two people involved in this as “Victim” or “Suspect,” because that is a value judgement that I am not in a position to make. We have no idea whether the shooter did anything wrong. We have no idea if the dead young man was totally in the right. What we do know is that the people closest to the investigation determined that there was no way they had enough evidence to even arrest the shooter. So why are we Monday morning quarterbacking their decision from hundreds of miles away?

    I mean aside from political reasons, of course?

  21. Joe

    March 26, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    This is just sad. After watching the Trayvon story get warped into a divisive racial issue, I figured I’d check in here to see if Progressive Pulse had joined the fray. I went through the whole first page of blog posts and was pleasantly surprised to see no mention of the issue. Of course, this post was waiting for me on page two.

    Unless someone posting here is an investigating officer on the Sanford Police Department, none of you or me have full access to the facts. It is ironic that so many have tried and convicted Mr. Zimmerman, and there is even a $10,000 “bounty” on him. I see representatives of organizations that are missioned to promote healing of the racial differences using this incident to instead drive wedges between black people and whites. Isn’t this what MLK fought against, the idea that a man can be presumed guilty without a fair trial? Would MLK support placing a bounty on somebody’s head?

    Before this is over, we will have Rodney King-type riots, not just in Sanford, but all across the country. And all of that without knowing all the facts. A shameful time for our country.

  22. Jack

    March 26, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Therefore, no one can read information about a situation elsewhere and develop an opinion. After all the liberal press isn’t reliable.

    Bottom line, from your point of view is, unless you have all the information say nothing and ask no questions. After all, shoot first and ask questions later is the rule of thumb and all others keep your mouth shut.

  23. Joe

    March 26, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Well Jack, you’re welcome to keep your mouth shut but don’t do it on my account. Today, a petition was submitted demanding the trial and conviction of Mr. Zimmerman. There are protests going on all over, demanding “justice.” Well, what is “justice?” If justice means Mr. Zimmerman gets arrested, then shouldn’t that decision be up to the Sanford PD since they have all the available facts and they’re sworn to uphold the law? If justice means conviction, isn’t that what we have trials and juries for?

    Mr. Zimmerman initiated the altercation because he thought Mr. Martin looked “suspicious.” We don’t know whether Mr. Zimmerman came to that conclusion because Mr. Martin was black, because of what he was wearing, because of how he was acting… you get the picture. There is zero evidence available to the public on which we can make the judgement that this was a racially-motivated hate crime. The incident should be fully investigated.

    Try looking at it this way. If it had been Mr. Martin that shot Mr. Zimmerman because he looked suspicious, would that justify a nationwide white/latino uprising demanding justice?

  24. Jack

    March 26, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Once again,
    FACT: Trayvon 17 and unarmed against an adult with a weapon.

    FACT: Mr. Zimmerman followed Trayvon against the recommendation of the dispatcher. The dispatcher was saying – let the police handle the matter. The dispatcher said this for the safety of Mr. Zimmerman yet he ignored the dispatcher. Why?

  25. Sean D Sorrentino

    March 26, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    @Jack

    Fact: all the evidence and the witness statements point to 6’2″ 180 lb football playing Trayvon punching Zimmerman to the ground, sitting on top of him and pounding his head on the ground. This is a deadly force attack. It is grounds for deadly force self defense in any state. If you doubt me, find someone of similar build to Trayvon and have him bounce your head off the pavement a couple of times and tell us if you fear for your life.

    Fact: There is no evidence that Zimmerman pursued Trayvon after the dispatcher gave his advice, which still did not have the force of law. Indeed, the evidence indicates that he was returning to his truck when Trayvon attacked him.

  26. Ricky Leung

    March 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

    @Joe

    If Mr. Martin shot Mr. Zimmerman, there wouldn’t be an uprising because Mr. Martin would already be arrested and tried within a week. (Opinion)

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57405078/trayvon-lawyer-police-trying-to-blame-victim/

    “The family isn’t asking for a conviction. They only want what would happen to Mr. Zimmerman what would happen to their son had he pulled the trigger, and that’s equal justice and a fair and impartial investigation. They deserve that. That’s the least that they deserve.”

    Timeline of events:

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/trayvon-martin-case-timeline-of-events/

    I encourage everyone on all sides of the issue to source their facts.

  27. Ricky Leung

    March 27, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    for what it’s worth, though gawker may not be the most unbiased of reports:

    http://gawker.com/5896490/your-guide-to-the-idiotic-racist-backlash-against-trayvon-martin

  28. Katina

    March 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    So very sad. As an African American mother, it has been hard to sleep at night. That being said, I agree that we do not know everything yet so demanding a trial and conviction is premature at best. What is really bothersome here is that it APPEARS that Mr. Zimmerman pursued Trayvon and that Trayvon defended himself—which was his right as well. It was also Mr. Zimmerman’s right to then defend himself also. No matter where you stand, you have to admit that it is sad that a young person was killed! It really angered me to see someone on here describe Trayvon as a 180 pound football player pummeling Mr. Zimmerman. It just demonizes Trayvon and he cannot speak for himself…… May God be with us all!