The Immaculate Assault? Police Video Shows Zimmerman Without Obvious Injuries

Last night, the police released this video showing George Zimmerman shortly after he killed an unarmed Florida teen. I discussed the legal significance of the video on Countdown last night.

As I mentioned last night, the video would pose both strategic and tactical problems for a defense. First, the absence of obvious injuries would obviously undermine the claim of a reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or death in the use of lethal force. However, it would not be determinative on the question. Zimmerman was treated by paramedics at the scene who could testify that he was indeed bleeding. Moreover, the defense is based on a reasonable fear of such harm. If Zimmerman could convince at least one juror that Martin was the aggressor, he may be able to avoid conviction on this nebulous standard. This might be strengthened by a claim that Martin tried to grab his gun. However, the video shows a Zimmerman who appears unharmed and casual. At a minimum, it seems to contradict accounts that he was a bloody mess at the scene. That would put particular importance on the testimony of the paramedics and officers at the scene.

On a tactical level, my first thought as a criminal defense attorney was that the video could be viewed as admissible in a trial. It seems obviously relevant to the claim of self-defense. Yet, defense counsel (and judges) work hard to avoid jurors seeing a defendant in prison garb or handcuffs. The prejudice from such an image can be immense. This video of Zimmerman in handcuffs after the killing could present such a prejudicial impact, but still be viewed as admissible since the value of the evidence outweighs its prejudicial impact. The video leaves the impression of an immaculate assailment — where an individual fights for his life but shows no obvious injury.

While the 911 call has portions that help and hurt Zimmerman, this video is entirely detrimental to the defense in my opinion. I would not want a jury to see the video as a defense attorney but I would expect a judge to admit it as material to the question of self-defense. That does not mean that I would not try to keep it out. One claim would be that, since paramedics had cleaned him up at the scene, the video is misleading as well as prejudicial. Defense counsel could also point out that there is a reported four-hour delay the fight and this video. Finally, some have noted that one officer appears to check out part of Zimmerman’s head at one point on the tape. between A judge, however, could deny the motion on the ground that the defense can make that point through cross-examination and argument.

In the end, the prosecutor will have to decide on the viability of even a manslaughter claim based on the conflicting accounts of witnesses – and the generous self-defense standard in Florida. Courts have generally given shooters the benefit of doubts on the reasonable fear of grave bodily injury and self-defense. It is possible to use the privilege of self-defense before one is injured. It has also been used successfully in cases of an unarmed alleged assailant.

I still believe that there is sufficient evidence here to sustain a charge. However, as I have previously said, I have great reservations about the effort to pressure the prosecutor through petitions and political pressure — as well as recent irresponsible acts that border on vigilantism. I do not believe in prosecution by plebiscite and thus declined to sign the petition demanding prosecution. This video offers another piece of evidence that I believe supports prosecution. Yet, there remains difficult legal questions about the viability of a charge under the Florida standard and prior case law. The country and justice would be better served by an objective review of such evidence.

We still need to see the forensic evidence that I previously described as well as the statements of some of the witnesses like the paramedics. Many questions remain unanswered like the trajectory of the bullet, any fingerprints on the weapon, the extent of the respective injuries on the men, and the proximity and relative position of the gun when it was fired.

147 thoughts on “The Immaculate Assault? Police Video Shows Zimmerman Without Obvious Injuries”

  1. Folks, I have heard that two out of the three police reports filed were filed between 10 and 24 hours AFTER the event, and that one of them mentioned Martin BY NAME. Does anyone have the scoop on this? Confirm or deny?
    Thanks.

  2. well, between this;

    “I know you are in aggression defense mode now. Cool off first.”

    and this;

    ” Martin’s voice shouts loudly from the grayed.

    VenganceNow needs a hearing-aid.”

    I feel better and my confidence made 🙂

    [thank you Idealist707 and Dave Mann]

  3. Just read Sean Hannity’s interview with Martin attorney, Daryl Parks,Esq. When even right-wing flak Sean Hannity agrees that Trayvon’s school suspensions are totally irrelevant and that Zimmerman had no business exiting that vehicle after being warned off by the police, you know we reached about as much a consensus as we can in this country. Here’s Sean’s take on Fox News:

    HANNITY: It’s irrelevant to me about the school suspensions. That’s not relevant to me at all in any way. And I would just like, I would say, the allegations of racism against Mr. Zimmerman, you have a Hispanic- American, who apparently according to reports, tutored young African- Americans on the weekend. He does not seem to fit the profile of somebody that has racial antipathy, does he?

    PARKS: No, let me say this to you, sir. I want to say this to all of America. We are not making this a racial issue. I think that he was profiled, yes. We are past the issue. We all know that we have an issue that we all Americans are dealing with, most African-Americans accept that that is a challenge in life and we move on in life. In this situation, though, I think you have to give some credence to the girlfriend’s testimony.

    HANNITY: I agree. That’s part of the puzzle.

    PARKS: She was on the phone with him. We have the phone records, is starts from 7:12 to 7:16. At 7:17, the Sanford Police Department is on the scene. Mr. Zimmerman should have stayed in the vehicle like the authorities told him to do.

    HANNITY: I agree with that part.

    PARKS: If he stayed in the vehicle, that would have never happened.

    HANNITY: I agree. When the dispatch said that we don’t need to you do that, I agree, he should have retreated. I have said that many times.

    The only question that still remains and is open is whether or not he was walking back to his car and whether or not Trayvon confronted him or he confronted Trayvon. And we don’t know. And we don’t know whether.

    PARKS: Yes, we do.

    HANNITY: Wait a minute. We don’t know who screamed on the tape that we hear. And we don’t for sure — both sides are claiming that it was — one side says Trayvon, one side says Mr. Zimmerman. We don’t know who was on top of who. The eyewitness from that night said it was Trayvon on top of Mr. Zimmerman. You’re claiming it was just the opposite with a brand-new witness that came out just tonight.

    PARKS: Well, let me ask you this here.

    HANNITY: Yes.

    PARKS: If we go to the 911 tapes, the 911 tapes are very clear on Mr. Zimmerman’s words that he was following Trayvon. You agree with that, correct?

    HANNITY: Oh, yes, absolutely.

    PARKS: OK.

    HANNITY: You can hear him out of breath.

    PARKS: That makes him the instigator. And in America, if you instigate an altercation of any sort, right? When in our life, that if you instigate a fight with someone, you happen to be losing the fight —

    HANNITY: Oh, following somebody that you think is that maybe a suspect because there is a rash of crimes in your neighborhood doesn’t make you an instigator of a fight.

    PARKS: But also, he never properly identified himself. He has no badge. He’s a guy walking around with a 9-millimeter. He’s a vigilante.

    HANNITY: All right. Well, we are going to find out in time. The only I do hope is that it’s fully investigated and I hope that people, including Congress members stop rushing to judgment. There’s both sides here. And neither, you and I were there nor do we know the answers. And I think, over time, hopefully, we will get to the truth and our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Thank you for being with us.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/hannity/2012/03/30/trayvon-martin-family-attorney-george-zimmerman-vigilante?page=2#ixzz1qdpEddnA

  4. Martin’s voice shouts loudly from the grayed.

    VenganceNow needs a hearing-aid.

    (and spell check)

  5. Convicted him? Where did I say that? Was talking about the DIY murder law and the cops being jury and judge. Do you think that’s fair?

    As for knowing a lot. Nothing hinders you doing the same.

    Did you buy the cheesecake? Could of guessed it. You go to Coney Island and live in Brooklyn with youse buddy too???? What an act.
    Don’t make us think you can’t spell. Get a better act Vinky.

  6. Excellent response Mespo. It is amazing that the person best able to testify as to the circumstances of that night is unable to testify because Zimmerman killed him. Zimmerman will get a fair trial, if he is ever charged.
    Elaine,
    Hilarious!

  7. Idiocy707,

    Sure. You dont know a damn thing about NYC. But youse know everything about everything else.

    Zimmerman has not been charged at all. But, you have convicted him.

  8. VenganceNow:

    “I just do not understand why youse guys don’t think George is not entitled to a fair trial. The media has convicted him, which is very unfortunate. I do not like fish anyway, I love pork.

    There is a Rican bakery in NYC called Portos that is to die for.”

    **************************

    Your plea for due process for Zimmerman is truly touching. Now maybe you could explain why Trayvon couldn’t get the same favor from Zimmerman before he fired at least one fatal shot into his chest. That unarmed teenager was executed without indictment, trial, or chance to speak for himself. And we have only armed busybody, wannabe cop, George’s Zimmerman’s word that it was justified. That’s not ehough for me and hopefully for prosecutors or grand jurors.

  9. VN
    George is entitled to a fair trial. But some of the cops were going to give him a write-off. So we got our B/W sensation. to finally pushback on DIY murder when feeling like it.

    Now open your mind and read that again at least 5 times. I know you are in aggression defense mode now. Cool off first.

  10. VN

    That’s the only sensible thing today.

    Googling Porto’s and most other food things show why you people are overweight/obese/gross. But if I lived there, I would gross out too..

    Love good bakery goods. But Porto’s seems to offer other goodies like pork sandwiches. OMG, I’m hungry and just ate supper.

    Seems it was a west coast thing, but nyc branch offers genuine cheesecake.
    That’s a copout to local tastes. Echhhh!

    My niece in NC has a favo tapas restaurant in Asheville. Just reading the menu gives an eargasm. You don’t even find that stuff in Madrid.

    And in Stockholm, you can go hang yourself.

    Why don’t you stick to food and forget the rest. Munch, munch.

  11. I just do not understand why youse guys don’t think George is not entitled to a fair trial. The media has convicted him, which is very unfortunate. I do not like fish anyway, I love pork.

    There is a Rican bakery in NYC called Portos that is to die for.

  12. Wonder why when the arguments don’t work the swear words come from.
    Seems always to happen. It’s just the arguments are finished sooner with some than others.
    What do we give Vengance? 0–10?

  13. It gets boring fishing with racist swine. So, you accept the fact that a honky is not entitled to a fair trial! Figured you for a racist.

  14. From the article..

    “This might be strengthened by a claim that Martin tried to grab his gun.”

    Let me get this straight.. Zimmerman (may have) felt threatened because a guy he was threatening with a gun tried to grab it..

    Got you..

    “Mommy, mommy, it all started when he tried to hit me back”..

    From John..

    “To me the whole thing hinges on who approached who. If 911 told Zimmerman to NOT follow and he did anyway then HE instigated the incident.”

    Strangely enough, one of the legislators who crafted the SYG law said essentially the same thing.. go figure.

    enjoy
    bobby

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