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    George Zimmerman Tag

    Authorities in Lake Mary, Florida have told the press that George Zimmerman was shot during what is believed to be a road rage incident earlier today. He suffered minor injuries to his face.

    I suppose it's to be expected that on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad victim selection day we would get to enjoy a resurgence of the many false narratives surrounding Martin's attack on George Zimmerman, Zimmerman's self-defense, the circus of Sharpton-led protests, the politically-driven prosecution, and the resulting acquittal. Back when this was all going on in real time I had the pleasure of writing several posts that gutted the worst of the memes.  It seems, then, that the most appropriate response to the re-emergence of these lies is to re-post their evidence-and law-based rebuttals. Here I'll just point to the myths I busted at length in my own posts--I'll defer on the other related nonsense, such as the ubiquitous portrayal of the 17-year-old Martin using a picture of him at age 12 (a more age-appropriate "selfie" of Martin is featured above), and the lightening of photos of George Zimmerman to place greater emphasis on the "white" rather than the "Hispanic." I don't have time to cover all of the carefully orchestrated falsehoods perpetrated by those who wished to put an innocent Zimmerman in prison for the rest of his life--there were easily dozens of these lies--but here's an afternoon's worth of enjoyable myth-busting reading.

    The Department of Justice will reportedly announce that it will not bring federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman over Zimmerman's self-defense killing of Trayvon Martin, reports ABC News. This decision comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the actual facts of the case. Zimmerman's claim of lawful self-defense was overwhelmingly supported by evidence presented at trial, and there was no additional evidence suggesting Zimmerman had set out to deliberately violate Martin's civil rights. Indeed, the only shocking aspect of this is that it took the Department of Justice 19 months after Zimmerman's acquittal to make the announcement. Given the Obama Administration's incessant spinning of the news cycle so as to avoid getting pinned down to any single particular scandal, it seems likely that the announcement will be timed to coincide with the three year anniversary (February 26, two days from today) of Martin's death. Soon after the 2012 shooting, the Department of Justice ordered a team of FBI agents to interview witnesses, neighbors, co-workers, and friends of Zimmerman in a search for any evidence of racism.  They didn't just come up empty; what evidence they did find confirmed that Zimmerman was decidedly not racist.

    Despite all the hate directed at George Zimmerman for having successfully defended his life against a vicious ambush attack by Trayvon Martin, and numerous encounters with law enforcement both before and after that fateful night, he has yet to be convicted of any crime whatever. That trend continues with the dropping of the latest charges brought against him of aggravated assault.  Prosecutors have now declined to pursue these charges after Zimmerman's ex-girlfriend accuser recanted her testimony, reports the Associated Press (h/t @AaronWorthing). Zimmerman had been arrested and charged last month after his girlfriend was pulled over during a traffic stop, during which stop she told police that days prior Zimmerman had thrown a bottle of wine at her.  We reported on that arrest and surrounding details here:  Deja Vu: George Zimmerman Charged with Aggravated Assault. The Orlando Sentinel has the lastest details:

    Well, look who's back in the news with girlfriend trouble, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. And, consistent with similar past events, that girlfriend trouble has lead directly to jail, do not pass "GO," do not collect $200. George Zimmerman's girlfriend, pulled over yesterday by police for a routine traffic stop, volunteered to them that he had thrown a wine bottle at her the prior Monday while she was visiting Zimmerman's Lake Mary residence.  Nobody called the police at that time, nor at any time prior to the girlfriend being pulled over by police last night.

    Earlier this month we posted news that Frank Taafe, a self-proclaimed "friend" of George Zimmerman, was going to testify before a Grand Jury that he now believed Zimmerman had a racist motivation for the shooting of Trayvon Martin.  This news came just days before the hotly contested November 4 election in which the Democrats took the same kind of beating that Trayvon delivered to Zimmerman, but without the benefit of being armed.  (See: Key Witness for Zimmerman Grand Jury Changes Story.) Taaffe's Grand Jury appearance, scheduled for last Wednesday, was delayed for unexplained reasons.  (See:  We interrupt post-election gloating for news about the DOJ Zimmerman Grand Jury.)  According to reporting by the Orlando Sentinel newspaper, however, Taaffe was to appear before the Grand Jury today to testify about Zimmerman's purported racial animus. Such testimony would be a game changer in lingering efforts to seek Federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.  Despite dozens of FBI interviews of people associated with Zimmerman, there was never so much as a smidgen of evidence that Zimmerman shot Martin for reasons of racism.  Indeed, what evidence was developed ran counter to that narrative. Among those at the time who told FBI agents that they had no reason to believe Zimmerman had a racial motive for shooting Martin?  Frank Taaffe. Here's the video: Without evidence of racial animus there was no basis for a Federal civil rights prosecution, and in fact none was forthcoming. Earlier this year, however, with public interest in him waning, Taaffe suddenly recalled that he had, after all, had a phone conversation with Zimmerman in which the media-described "white Hispanic" had voiced racial animus towards Martin.  It appeared, suddenly and literally incredibly, as if there might be a hook on which to hang a civil rights prosecution of Zimmerman after all.

    The Orlando Sentinel newspaper is reporting that it appears as if no actual witnesses showed up for today's Federal Grand Jury convened to determine if civil rights charges should be brought against George Zimmerman for his self-defense shooting of Trayvon Martin. The DOJ had subpoenaed Frank Taaffe, a self-declared "friend" of Zimmerman's, to testify before the Grand Jury.  In the days following the shooting Taaffe told FBI investigators that based on phone discussions with Zimmerman he did not believe there was a racial motive for the shooting. Earlier this year, however, nearly two years later, Taaffe changed his story and said he now believed that Zimmerman did have a racial motive for shooting Martin.  We covered this change of story previously here:  Key Witness for Zimmerman Grand Jury Changes Story, and the Grand Jury convening here:  DOJ Convenes Grand Jury For Zimmerman Civil Rights Case. In that latter story we had speculated that the sudden announcement of this Grand Jury, just days before elections likely (and ultimately) to prove troublesome for Democrats was merely a political stratagem seeking to draw greater numbers of African Americans to the polls.

    We wrote yesterday about the "October Surprise/Get Out the Vote" announcement by a flailing Obama administration that the Department of Justice will be holding a Grand Jury hearing next Wednesday regarding possible federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. The only named witness for Wednesday's hearing is Frank Taaffe, a self-declared "friend" for George Zimmerman. Earlier this year Taaffe suddenly announced that he believed Zimmerman had a racial, not merely self-defense, motive in killing Trayvon Martin. This would be more than two years after the shooting occurred. One wonders why Taaffe waited so long to speak to the FBI on this matter. Except that, of course, Taaffe had long ago spoken with the FBI on this matter, way back in May 2012 when he was interviewed by FBI Special Agent Oliver following the shooting. (h/t to Legal Insurrection commenter P4R4L3G4L for the reminder.) At that time he denied any racial discussions with Zimmerman, although he wasn't shy about expressing his own arguably racist sentiments.

    Note: Title has been updated. The Orlando Sentinel newspaper today reported that the Department of Justice has assembled a Federal Grand jury to meet next week to hear testimony about whether George Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin's civil rights on the night that Zimmerman ultimately killed Martin in self-defense. It was only last month that the Washington Post reported that unidentified Federal law enforcement officials thought it very unlikely that federal charges would be brought against Zimmerman, due to insufficient evidence.  Indeed, despite having dozens of FBI agents interview scores of people regarding Zimmerman's shooting of Martin, not even a smidgen of racism was uncovered in Zimmerman's past or in the particular events surrounding his self-defense shooting of Martin. Indeed, quite the contrary: what evidence was uncovered with regard to race showed the opposite of racial animus.  For example, Zimmerman and his wife tutored black school children. Zimmerman's elderly black neighbor testified at his trial (by television, due to severe illness) in glowing terms about Zimmerman's kindness towards her.  One of Zimmerman's college professors, a black Naval officer, also spoke glowingly about him, and noted that Zimmerman had told him he'd planned to become a prosecutor someday.  When a local black youth was beaten by the son of a local police official, Zimmerman organized the community to rally in favor of accountability.

    Well, this is interesting. I came across the University of Miami Law School Summer 2014 edition of their law review, and noted that it had a particular focus on Stand-Your-Ground. Awesome! I dug right into the Foreword, "Stand Your Ground” in Context: Race, Gender, and Politics," by University of Miami School of Law Professor Donna Coker. As you might expect, it was chock full of the race, gender, and political facets of Stand-Your-Ground, none of which is really in my wheelhouse.  It did, of course, talk about several of the recent (and upcoming) self-defense cases, including Zimmerman, Dunn, and Alexander--none of which, of course, actually are Stand-Your-Ground cases, but whatever. Here's a sample of prose to give you a taste of things, for those of you who daren't click on the link above for the entirety of it:
    If the phenomenon of violent crime is "classed," surely the social construction of criminality is more so. Professor Jones calls attention to the intersections of gender, race, class, and youth in the popular imagination of the "thug," which he argues is evidenced in George Zimmerman's assessment of Trayvon Martin and is perpetuated by Zimmerman's supporters.  Jones deftly demonstrates that the identity ascribed to young Trayvon Martin by Zimmerman's supporters--and Zimmerman--is an intersectional identity defined by race (black), age (youth), gender (male), and class (poor): "[t]he same moral panic, which once targeted all blacks, has refocused on black males in urban areas with saggy pants and hoodies," images that are "deeply associated with criminals and crime."  The references in the blogosphere to Trayvon as a "thug, vandal, burglar, pothead and/or drug dealer" illustrate this widely held association.
    (internal footnote references removed) So, there's 17 pages of that kind of stuff, if you're interested. I have to confess I didn't make it all the way through myself, as I bumped up across an interesting factual claim with regard to the Zimmerman trial.

    The Washington Post reported yesterday that "The Justice Department is not expected to bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin." The reasons why appear in the 10th paragraph of the story:
    Mark O’Mara, the lawyer who represented Zimmerman, said that approximately 40 witness statements collected by investigators in 2012 indicated there was no evidence to support a civil rights prosecution. “I was watching the whole case pretty closely for two years, and they didn’t do anything except take those 40 statements,” O’Mara said. The statements “suggested that George acted in very non-racist ways. He took a black girl to the prom. His best buddy was a black guy. He mentored two black kids. He sought justice for a black homeless man beaten up by a white cop’s son.” “To those who have seen civil rights investigations and civil rights violations,” he said, “it looked as though the Department of Justice was just placating pressure that existed by suggesting there was an ongoing investigation.”
    [caption id="attachment_69481" align="alignnone" width="500"]George Zimmerman, immediately following the vicious attack upon him by Trayvon Martin (George Zimmerman, immediately following the vicious attack upon him by Trayvon Martin)[/caption]

    A JD student at the University of Miami School of Law--and a long-time fan of "The Law of Self Defense"--contacted me recently to share a notice he'd received from the school. It seems for the Fall 2014 semester they will be offering a "short course" (good for one credit) with a focus on the Trayvon Martin case, entitled "Legal Advocacy, Media and the Pursuit of Social Justice." The first note of interest is that the course is being "taught" by none other than Jasmine Rand, an attorney with the firm of Crump & Park. Benjamin Crump, of course, was the public legal face of the Martin family, as he is currently the public legal face of the Mike Brown family in the Ferguson shooting. Attorney Rand herself "leads the firm’s Civil Rights Department. Her evolving practice focuses on civil rights, wrongful death, civil rape, and catastrophic personal injury." Ms. Rand is perhaps most memorable for her appearance on the Greta Van Susteren show on Fox News in the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial. Zimmerman was, of course, unanimously acquitted by the jury of all charges after mere hours of deliberations. In the course of her four minutes or so of air time Ms. Rand expressed her view that the jury in that trial had not delivered "justice." When asked if it was not her duty as a lawyer to accept a duly empaneled jury's verdict, Ms. Rand responded that she has a greater duty than being a lawyer, and that was to be a "social engineer."  Good stuff:

    Controversy is sure to follow George Zimmerman, even though he has not been convicted of anything and the evidence suggesting he acted in justifiable self-defense in the shooting and killing Trayvon Martin was overwhelming. He also beat multiple accusations of assault brought by his ex-wife and ex-girlfriend when the evidence did not support the accusations. George apparently is hanging out at a gun shop keeping an eye on things, and that's big news, although it's not clear whether he is on "patrol" as some of the headlines suggest.
    News6 Orlando headlines the story as George Zimmerman 'patrolling' Central Florida shop after gun theft: Although he's not a hired security officer, George Zimmerman has been "patrolling" outside a Volusia County gun shop after it was recently robbed, according to the store owner. Pat Johnson told Local 6 that Zimmerman is not an employee of his DeLand store Pompano Pat's, which sells firearms, ammunition and motorcycles. Johnson said that Zimmerman, on his own accord, has been spotted outside the store since the robbery earlier this month. The thieves stole rifles worth up to $5,000 and two mini-bikes, according to Johnson. Johnson added that although he knows Zimmerman, he has not hired him as a security officer.
    video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player News13 has a less negative spin on it, George Zimmerman now working security for DeLand motorcycle, gun shop:

    [Clarification (7/26/14): I've just been informed by a knowledgeable person on the Zimmerman side of this case that what was submitted to the 5th DCA this past Friday is the official notice of appeal.  The actual appeal has not yet been submitted.] As anticipated by, well, everybody, George Zimmerman's civil lawyer, James Beasley Jr., has filed an appeal with Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeals (5th DCA) of the dismissal by June Debra Nelson of Zimmerman's defamation suit against NBC broadcasting.  This is per reports by Orlando's WKMG and the Orlando Sentinel. We previously covered Judge Nelson's dismissal of the suit here at Legal Insurrection, Zimmerman Libel Suit Against NBC Thrown Out, including the full text of her order. [caption id="attachment_93224" align="alignnone" width="450"]Judge Debra Nelson Judge Debra Nelson[/caption]

    How can we miss her, when she won't go away? Judge Debra Nelson, who presided over the murder trial of George Zimmerman, today issued a ruling dismissing his libel suit against NBC (a copy of that ruling can be found at the bottom of this post). Those of us who followed the Zimmerman murder trial closely will recall Judge Nelson as ruling so consistently in favor of the Prosecution, fairly bending over backwards in her deference to prosecution arguments. Judge-Debra-Nelson-trayvon-martin-case In contrast, her rulings in favor of the defense were few and far between.  It was surely a similar perception by the defense that inhibited them from ever seeking self-defense immunity for Zimmerman, as provided for under Florida statute 776.032 "Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force." That the same judge who so consistently ruled against Zimmerman at his murder trial would be the one chosen to also preside over his libel suit against NBC is eye brow raising, to say the least. Zimmerman's libel suit against NBC was based on NBC's admitted doctoring of the audio of his 911 call to police, apparently done with the intent of making Zimmerman appear to be racist. Purported evidence of racism on the part of Zimmerman was, at the time, extremely important to the prosecution of the case, for two reasons.

    Robert Zimmerman Sr. and Gladys Zimmerman have filed suit against comedienne Roseanne Barr, nearly two years after Barr published their home address on Twitter in the aftermath of their son George Zimmerman Jr.'s killing of Trayvon Martin in self-defense.   (Zimmerman successfully argued at trial that he shot Martin in necessary self-defense,  and he was acquitted by a unanimous jury.) The Orlando Sentinel reports that the suit, filed in a Florida circuit court, accuses Barr of attempting to incite "a lynch mob to descend" on their home and carry out "vigilante justice." Zimmerman's parents say that Barr's tweet of their home address compelled them to flee their home in the middle of the night, and they remain unable to return and in hiding for fear of violence. They also point out that their son George did not live with them, and they had nothing whatever to do with his shooting of Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

    Alan Grayson will not be charged with wife-beating after an incident in which his wife Lolita claimed he hit her. When first reported, I cautioned that Grayson was entitled to the same presumption of innocence as George Zimmeran. And like George Zimmerman, both in the shooting of Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman's alleged domestic violence against his ex-wife and girlfriend, the evidence supported that presumption of innocence. The video of the incident did not support her story and neither did the 911 call: First Coast News reports:
    "Investigators have interviewed Lolita Carson-Grayson, Alan Grayson, and others and reviewed the evidence. In this instance probable cause does not exist to effect an arrest on Alan Grayson," said a release from the Orange County Sheriff's Office. The Graysons, who were married 24 years, are divorcing and are living apart. Grayson's staffer Juan Lopez said the congressman went home to pick up his mail, his medication and see his children when he had a confrontation with his wife. The incident was captured on video and witnessed by several people. Grayson's attorney Mark NeJame says she video shows Lolita as the aggressor. Deputies released a 911 call from after incident. "Please come down and arrest him. He's disturbing my peace and he's threatening me," Carson-Grayson said. Carson-Grayson told the dispatcher during the call that Grayson did not hit her. "I pushed him because he's been coming to the house and he's been disturbing my peace. Now he's leaving," she said. Carson-Grayson then told the dispatcher that she didn't need assistance, but on Sunday, she showed up at the Dr. Phillips Hospital Emergency Room saying her husband pushed her up against a door and she had bruises.
    In other news, Grayson is still a loudmouth jerk. Update: Unlike Zimmerman, the public will accept Grayson's innocence. But it's worth revisiting the Zimmerman case evidence, just because:

    Alan Grayson's wife, Lolita, has accused Grayson of physical battery, and obtained a protective order. The Orlando Sentinel reports:
    A judge has granted a temporary protective injunction against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson after his wife filed paperwork accusing the Orlando congressman of shoving and injuring her during an incident this past weekend. Lolita Grayson's petition for the injunction, dated Monday, says her husband pushed her against a door, causing her to fall to the ground, during a confrontation Saturday at their home on Oak Park Road near Windermere.... Asked about the incident, Orange County Sheriff's Office Capt. Angelo Nieves said in a written response that the agency "is currently conducting a Domestic Violence investigation which is open and active at this point." A heavily redacted Sheriff's Office document released Tuesday identified Lolita Grayson as the victim in the incident and listed the offense under investigation as domestic-violence battery.
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