Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Killing In Florida

Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old black boy is dead, shot on his way home from a convenience store from which he had purchased skittles and soda during the half-time break in the NBA all-star game. The shooter, a volunteer ‘watch captain’, patrolling the gated Florida community carrying a 9 millimeter handgun,  radioed the police about ”…a real suspicious guy…” The police dispatcher told him to stay in his car. Presumably, they would check the situation out. But the shooter did not stay put. . Shortly after his call residents heard noise , a scream  and a shot,  and Trayvon Martin was dead. The Police accepted the shooter’s story that he acted in  self-defense,  and his word that he had a clean record. In fact, according to local sources, he had been arrested in 2005 for “battery on a law enforcement officer”. The District Attorney’s office says they do not believe the facts allow for a Manslaughter charge. Let me help them. Under the Florida Criminal Code,  people can use force when they believe they face imminent attack. Deadly force can be used only when facing a potentially lethal  attack or “great bodily harm”.   The Florida Criminal code defines manslaughter as the taking of a life through negligence (which in their code appears to encompass recklessness).  In this case an armed civilian, ignoring a police directive to stay put, confronts an unarmed youth on his way home from the store and shoots him to death. And the local D.A. cannot figure out what to do about it. If you are the parent of a young black male you might be asking,  “who’s next?”  All that is being asked for is a thorough investigation in the name of justice. Support should be given to the boy’s parents and attorneys in their pursuit of that end by contacting the Justice Department asking for intervention.


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