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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 25, 2013 at 7:26 PM

The case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

Stand your ground played a part

George Zimmerman arrives for his trial. Zimmerman was acquitted on Saturday when the jury found that he acted in self-defense when he shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old. [Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images.]

George Zimmerman arrives for his trial. Zimmerman was acquitted on Saturday when the jury found that he acted in self-defense when he shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old. [Gary W. Green-Pool/Getty Images.]

The Florida self-defense law, oft misquoted, allows one the right to “stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm …” In the George Zimmerman trial, the judge allowed the jury to use the law in its deliberations. [“Northwest Voices: The case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman,” July 24, seattletimes.com.]

Trayvon Martin presented no weapons. George Zimmerman was able to fend him off, and police were on the way.

A witness testified that Zimmerman’s injuries were superficial, consistent with a fistfight, no stitches — “only Band-Aids required.” Lethal defense seemed unnecessary and premature.

Yet Zimmerman used deadly force, a deliberate shot to the heart.

At close quarters, with certainty of aim, he could just as easily shot to disable — in the shoulder/arm and hip/leg if necessary. He did not have to use deadly force.

The stand-your-ground part of the Florida self-defense law as now written is unduly permissive. If it had been written to allow “ … force deemed necessary, including, only as a last resort, deadly force …” the lethal-force mindset that seemed to prevail in the Zimmerman case would have been led to consider alternatives.

If it had been written differently, Trayvon Martin might still be alive, or the verdict might have been different. Even in Florida.

Burt Berlin, Mercer Island

Comments | Topics: deadly force, george zimmerman, guns

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