Lessons from Zimmerman: Part III

Dan Griffin

In the August 2013 issue of the Michigan Open Carry Newsletter I began a three-part series on the Zimmerman trial from the citizen gun-owner’s point of view. In the July 2014 issue we followed up with a look at the trial from an attorney’s point of view. In this, the third and final installment of the series, I examine the Zimmerman trial from a cop’s point of view.

Apparently great minds think alike because Masaad Ayoob recently wrote a column that touches on some of the facts I will be bringing forth in this article. His focus was different, but I just wanted to acknowledge his work and note that the similarities are coincidental.

I will not bother to go into the gross violations of protocol and police procedure that occurred when the Sanford city officials and Florida State Attorney Angela Corey became involved. I will merely state the results.

The Sanford Chief of Police Bill Lee was fired because he didn’t file charges when his investigation determined that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. He was fired for following the law, although the captain that replaced him and was tasked with the Zimmerman investigation came to the exact same conclusion.

Ben Kruidbos, director of Information Services for Angela Corey’s prosecutor’s office, was fired for providing discovery materials to the defense as required by law. State Prosecutor Angela Corey was withholding evidence, and she fired him.

The lead investigator, Detective Chris Serino, whose testimony backed up George Zimmerman and not Trayvon Martin, was busted back to police uniform rank That has to have a chilling effect on law enforcement in this country, to see people who were demoted or fired for following the law and not pressing for prosecution out of hand, and I think it has.

I routinely communicate with rank-and-file law enforcement at various state and local agencies across these United States, and despite their varied backgrounds and agencies, one of the things most are in agreement with is that their brass would not hesitate to throw them under the bus if need be. In fact, when the recent shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO occurred, the consensus was that officer Wilson was wound around a decreasing diameter helical axis and would be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness, despite the fact that it certainly seemed to be a good shoot.

I know a sergeant in the Detroit Police Department, and his position (which I strongly disagree with) is to err on the side of caution and arrest everybody and let the prosecutor sort it out.

This may be the final lesson from Zimmerman, as played out in subsequent police encounters. If you are a cop, why risk your career by following the law as written, especially if it is about something that doesn’t have the “right” type of public support? The worst case for a gun owner would be if he had to engage in a self-defense encounter, but I can see simple open carry fall into this in certain circumstances or with certain police officers or agencies and unflattering media attention. Indeed, we have seen this exact thing happen in Texas.

So the final lesson from Zimmerman is to be scrupulous in your actions, and be ready to back them up in a court of law if need be. The law is always your defense. Unfortunately, in today’s climate you may need to pay for the privilege of exercising it, even when you shouldn’t have to.


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