Up until now, I’ve done a relatively good job of avoiding any of the coverage of the George Zimmerman trial. There are plenty of uninformed opinions flying around and plenty of partisan positions espoused. I’m not a lawyer nor am I familiar with the self-defense laws of Florida. I couldn’t possibly have an informed opinion.
Nonetheless, I happened to catch some discussion of the trial on NPR, while I was running some errands yesterday. I was a bit shocked to hear how some of the trial has progressed and some of the things that seem to be important (one of the witnesses not speaking the “Queen’s English“). My thoughts about the situation stem from some of the things I heard back when the event first transpired last winter.
I don’t remember where I heard it, (this is *kind of* important), but I remember thinking that it seemed noteworthy. It was one of the 911 tapes that were released. The conversation was between Zimmerman and the 911-operator. Zimmerman was calling in about the person he saw walking in the neighborhood (Trayvon Martin). I don’t remember if he said ‘suspect,’ but the folks on NPR today seemed to think that he did. While that would be important, it’s not the point that I’m going to make, so I’ll move past it.
On this call, after Zimmerman alerted the 911-operator about Trayvon Martin, the 911-operator said that there was someone on the way. I don’t quite remember what was said in the interceding section, but the 911-operator must have gotten the impression that Zimmerman was going to start following Trayvon Martin because she said something to the effect of, “I’m going to need you to not follow him.” Let me say that again. The nine-one-one operator said don’t follow him. Of course, we all know that Zimmerman went on to follow Martin. I haven’t even really brought into the equation that Zimmerman was a “self-appointed” neighborhood watchman.
Bear with me for a second as we just boil down to the fact that Zimmerman didn’t follow the directions of the 911-operator. Would you do that? I most certainly wouldn’t. If I’m calling in because of an emergency of someone I see outside walking down the sidewalk, I’m not going to jump out of my house and try to follow him. I might go upstairs (if I had an upstairs), to watch where he goes. I’m not a trained police officer or security guard. What would possess me to think that I’m smarter than the 911-operator and begin following someone who I’ve just labeled “suspect?”
As I said in the beginning, I am not a lawyer, but this seems like it’s an important part of this case. And not just inside the case, but outside of the case. Do other citizens make a habit of not following the direction of 911-operators?