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Tonight on AC360: Justice and the Trayvon Martin shooting
The man who shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is claiming self-defense and citing the 'stand your ground' law.
March 21st, 2012
04:02 PM ET

Tonight on AC360: Justice and the Trayvon Martin shooting

Editor's note: Jeffrey Toobin will join the co-sponsor of the "stand your ground" law, Dennis Baxley, to discuss the Trayvon Martin investigation. Tune in to AC360° tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.

Trayvon Martin went out to buy some Skittles - and was shot dead before he made it home. The case is horrifying, maddening, grotesque. And - perhaps worst of all - there may be nothing Florida law enforcement can do about it.

As the world now knows, the 17-year-old Martin walked to a store in Orlando to buy some snacks on the night of February 26. George Zimmerman, a volunteer Neighborhood Watch captain, thought the boy looked suspicious and called 911. The 911 operator told Zimmerman to keep his distance - police would be sent - but there was a confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin. Martin was killed with a single shot to the chest. Florida authorities have not arrested Zimmerman, and federal authorities recently joined the investigation.

The legal question at the heart of the case involves Florida's so-called "stand your ground" law, which the legislature passed, at the behest of the National Rifle Association, in 2005. Before that time, Florida law resembled that of most other states; during confrontations, individuals had a duty to retreat rather than to respond to provocations. Under the new law, a person is allowed to use deadly force if he is in a place he has a right to be and feels reasonably threatened with serious harm.

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Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Trayvon Martin
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. DC

    The Sanford and Jacksonville, FL law enforcement leaders are pure racists of the worst kind. By their account, African Americans are non-citizens, unworthy of basic rights...

    March 22, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  2. bruce

    has anybody requested the sanford police department's written policy on homicide's. and checked to see how the department treated other homicide's, such as durg testing,and turning over the information to a state attorney.s office,or a grand jury.

    March 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  3. slugger

    I think it's extremely unlikely that a slightly built 17-year-old would "attack" a rough-looking older guy with a big round head who is 100 lbs. heavier. Also, the fact that the police did a drug test and background check on the dead boy but not on Zimmerman suggests that they were busy trying to prove the boy was the guilty party.

    March 22, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  4. Robert J Wampler

    Don't be too quick to condemn the no retreat law unless you understand it and the reasons for it. Keep emotions out of it. We don't know what happened that night and jumping to conclusions doesn't help

    March 21, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  5. Heather

    I've been sending this to Florida officials since I am concerned for the safety of visitors to Florida.  Hopefully others will do the same.

    "Do I understand correctly that if someone feels threatened by you, he/she can shoot you dead without any penalty or investigation in Florida?  A vacation to Universal Studio & Disneyworld takes on a different meaning to me now when the life of my family can be jeopardized just because someone doesn't care for you and uses that as an excuse to shoot to kill. Amazing. I'll take my chances in California instead."

    March 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  6. Laurie

    Singling out Zimmerman's voice on the 911 tapes was incredibly clear to me. We know what Mr. Zimmerman said. We all heard it. This is a clear violation of this young man's Civil Rights. Can't put ME on that jury. Give them an inch...they'll take a yard. Florida's Stand your Ground law has turned the Florida neighborhoods into the wild wild west!

    March 21, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  7. JC

    Why don't we create statutes to limit the action behind any self appointed citizen with a licensed gun, who must be registered every six months? For example: Shoot two warning shots first and wait for back up....Ask those politicians in the south..... they r just going to give you another excuse...thank you..concerned citizen in the Northwest.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  8. Abi

    This is a child who had skittles and iced tea in his hands. No drugs, alcohol, weed, weapons; what more can you ask for in a child? Why should Trayvon's parents loose him? Zimmerman is twice Trayvon's size. What self defense is he talking about?

    Trayvon was not near buildings. Zimmerman’s death will not bring Trayvon back, and even if he is prosecuted, I will still not be satisfied. Trayvons parents will not get him back. Zimmerman must pay for his deliberate murder of Trayvon.

    March 21, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  9. TaTa

    After Anderson's episode Monday night, all I have to say is do we really need the ignorance of Jeffrey Toobin on the panel again? I was appalled at Jeffrey's interpretation and reasoning of the events that played out on February 26th. Clearly, he needs to check himself and until he, and others like Zimmerman do so, Trayvon Martin will not be the last young black male tried, convicted, and executed on the spot simply for being the wrong color in what some deem the wrong neighborhood for him to be in. I have to wonder if Jefferey has a son and if his son was visiting family members and he decided to walk to the store and on his way home, he was approached by a black male 10 years older than he, weighing nearly 100lbs more than him, would he not feel threatened, would he be so quick to answers the angry, aggressive, agenda carrying, gun toting black mans line of questioning as to what he's doing in the neighborhood? Or would he do what Trayvon Marting tried to do, walk fast, build to a run, get away, only to be confronted again by the angry black man with an attitude? After asking the angry black man are you following me, would Jeffrey's son not feel the need to defend himself while yelling, screaming, pleading for help? It is clear to most people with any level of common sense that Mr. Zimmerman was the aggressor, he was the hunter stalking his prey and if Jeffrey can explain to me how you can stalk, hunt a person down and when they turn to defend themselves, you shot to kill and claim self defense on your part? It makes no sense. A self defense claim went out the window. When Zimmerman ignored the request to end his pursuit and stalked that young man down and shot him cold blooded. Zimmerman needs to rot in jail, then burn in hell and Jeffrey needs a lesson in common sense...oh wait, you're either born with that or not...it's not something that can be taught, unlike racism. A white woman said it best, if I were black (which I am), I don't know that I'd have the courage to bring a child into this world (which is exactly why I haven't). Thank you Naderson for continuing to report on this story, I only wish Nancy Grace or Dr. Drew could find the cold blooded murder of this young man just as appalling as Caley Anthony. and Sunny Harrell, THANK YOU for NOT backing down to Jeffrey's idiotic, ignorant, and ridiculous line of reasoning Monday night, I applaud you!

    March 21, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  10. monica shepherd

    this is so wrong on so many different levels. when did skittles and tea become a deadly weapon? and sence when is a GROWN CREEPIE MAN allowed to stalk a child , try and detain him and then shoot him and kill him? then get to leave the scene of a murder with the cloths he commited the crime in. not get tested for drugs, or alcahol or background check all the while the Murdered Child has all the tests done? THIS IS SHAMEFULL. i thought we were better than this. i was wrong. this sucks .

    March 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  11. Henry

    Anderson can you have someone who can read body language tell me if Zimmerman friend is lying cause he seems like he can't keep a straight face

    March 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
  12. Al

    I completely agree that a racial slur was used in the 911 call before Trayvon Martin was senselessly slain. It was clear as day that Zimmerman is a racist and it was a hate crime. At 7:37 p.m. on AC360, I heard the slur "f**king coon" used. I hope Zimmerman is brought to justice for killing an innocent child. It makes me sad to think that our next generation can't even walk the streets without fear that they'll be gunned down for "looking suspicious". The "Stand Your Ground" law is clearly giving racial profiling a deadly twist. People are getting away with murder! I'm physically ill just listening to Zimmerman being free to walk the streets while Trayvin Martin never got the chance to really live. Shame on the justice department in Florida that let Zimmerman walk free!!

    March 21, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  13. nivardo

    dooley shot james he got arrested on the spot, even he claimed self defense, and why zimmerman went on following this boy even when the 911 operator asked not to, even witness(that white lady) said some different from what zimmerman claimed and still dude is still running free....i wonder would it be the same if someone kill his children and claimed self defense, how the police would react

    March 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  14. Simon

    911 dispatcher clearly asks Zimmerman not to follow Martin. Zimmerman disregards that suggestion and proceeds to pursue Martin. Moments later a 17yr old boy lies dead. Zimmerman has a case to answer and his word aren't worth a cent in due process of law. He acted as a vigilante, a law officer, a judge and executioner and he must be discouraged for public sanity to prevail.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  15. webb johnson

    Jeffrey Toobin is an idiot.He is suggesting that "Castle Doctrine"in Fla.be repealed because out of thousands of responsible
    gun owners in Fla.two possible cases of misuse of the law are being profiled.Why don't we look at the cases where law abiding citizens successfully protected themselves and others due to responsible gun ownership,the key word being responsible.I live in Tn.and when taking the class for a concealed carry permit they constantly stressed that you are legally responsible for what you so you better be sure before you draw your weapon.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  16. C.Perry

    CNN, what are you trying to point out? I hope, simply, this law is stupid and harmful to all.

    There is still a DIFFERENCE here: Dolley was arrested and is now being tried for murdering Mr. James.
    No, Mr. Dolley should not have walked over to that basketball court with a gun - what was the need!???
    Same applies to Mr. Zimmerman, why was he stalking that young man, simply because of his appearance, with a gun?
    I do not think Mr. Dolley is going to "walk" for killing Mr. James.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • C.Perry

      Just to add on: Mr. Zimmerman was not arrested or charged with anything.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  17. Marcia Chicago

    I have two comments. One, why was the black man who shot the young father arrested? He is using the same defense as George Zimmerman. It definately seems that race is in question here. Why does the black man has to go to court and prove self defense and the white man doesn't. All anyone wants is justice and clearly young Mr. Martin is not getting it. If George Zimmerman is claiming self defense, than arrest him and have him prove it in court. Also it is very insulting for his friend and neighbor to say that all Mr. Martin had to do was to tell him who he was and where he was going and it would have been over. Does every white person have the right to stop young black males inquire about them. Since when do strangers have a right to question one in the street

    March 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  18. Doreen tarrant

    Anderson....why is the old "black" man in jail and was arrested under the same state law?

    March 21, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  19. Jay

    The stand your ground law cannot apply to members of a neighbor watch. It is illegal for any person involved in actively patrolling their neighborhood to do so with a firearm

    March 21, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  20. Florencio Mendiola Jr.

    The "stand your ground" law allows for match force only. If someone uses higer use of force than the force he is being threaten with, in this case, the use of "deadly Force" this law affords no protection because he excelled the level of force used to stand his ground. In this case, he shot an unarmed person, the crime of murder (homicide.) He was given a directive not to pursue the allegged supicious person by the 911 representative but refused that directive and ended up shooting an innocent victim. I would also investigate to insure the Volunteer Neighborhood Watch Program is lawfully in place. Gerorge Zimmerman was armed with a deadly weapon, I would check to see if he has a "concealed weapon permit." In my professional opinion, George Zimmerman is guilty of homicide because he shot an unarmed person, he excelled the level of force used to "stand your ground" law, which affords no protection if you kill someone under excessive use of force and in this case Zimmerman used the "highest use of force "Deadly Force." I don't know what kind of police officers they have in Florida but If it was me responding to the crime scene I would have arrested Zimmerman for homicide and possibly for carring a cancealed weapon, discharging a weapon in public etc.. I suspect racial hatred just by the words used by Zimmerman in the 911 call. The guy was out for a kill and the police officers did a very poor job of protecting the victim again! I would have fired every cop who was connected with this case and were at the crime scene. Seemed like no cop there understood the "stand your ground" law. Gives good cops a bad rep!

    March 21, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  21. Dave

    "The 911 operator told Zimmerman to keep his distance – police would be sent – but there was a confrontation between Zimmerman and Martin."

    This statement seems to skip over what has been stated regarding the events of that night. It appears there was a confrontation *because* Zimmerman pursued Martin, not because Martin attacked Zimmerman. The kid seems to have been MYOB when he was pursued. How's he supposed to know Zimmerman's intentions, since the latter wasn't an officer?

    March 21, 2012 at 7:32 pm |