Published May 16, 2012
The new medical reports on the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case tell us a lot. And it is not just for what they find, but also what they don’t find.
First, the reports provide striking evidence that Zimmerman did not start the fight with Martin, and that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense. Martin’s injuries were two-fold: broken skin on his knuckles and the fatal gunshot wound.
Zimmerman’s injuries involved: a fractured nose, a pair of black eyes, two lacerations to the back of his head and a minor back injury.
It takes considerable force to break the skin on multiple knuckles. The large range of injuries on Zimmerman indicates that the Martin’s attack was prolonged. But here is what is missing: where are the injuries to Zimmerman’s hands? Where are the bruises on Martin’s face or other parts of his body? The evidence paints a picture where Martin was the only person landing blows.
The broken skin on Martin’s knuckles and Zimmerman’s wounds obviously provide some justification for self-defense. But if Zimmerman is to have justifiably used self-defense, he can’t have provoked Martin’s attack.
The affidavit filed by the prosecutor against Zimmerman was extremely weak and had many glaring omissions. It does not answer the most crucial question: Who attacked whom? All it states is: “Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued.” “Confronted” does not mean “provoked” or “assaulted.” It may mean that Zimmerman merely followed Martin and asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood.
Surely Zimmerman had the right to investigate a strange person in his neighborhood. But, in any case, Zimmerman simply asking Martin why he was in the neighborhood doesn’t give Martin the right to start striking him or pounding his head into the concrete sidewalk.
Simple words do not justify hitting someone.
Anyway, it appears that Zimmerman didn’t even question Martin. The 911 tape of Zimmerman reporting a strange person in the area indicates that Zimmerman didn’t even try to ask Martin a question.
When the police operator told Zimmerman “we don’t need you to do that [following Martin],” Zimmerman appears to have stopped following Martin and agreed to go to where the police would be arriving.
The medical evidence implies that Zimmerman did not physically attack Martin and thus there was no justification for Martin to start hitting Zimmerman.
With the case unraveling, it makes the prosecutor’s behavior look even more outrageous. The prosecutor wasn’t required to go to the grand jury for the indictment, but the fact that she didn’t in such a high-profile case is troubling. Everyone knows how easy it is for a prosecutor to get a grand jury to indict, because only the prosecutor presents evidence and the standard of proof is very low.
A grand-jury indictment would have provided political cover; that charges were brought without one means that the prosecutor was worried that even a grand jury would not give her the indictment.
The Obama administration has been fanning the flames, and it isn’t just President Obama’s attempt to personalize the tragedy.
News reports surfaced Tuesday that the US Justice Department was pushing hard to charge Zimmerman, who is part black himself, with a hate crime because Martin was black. Such a charge can carry a life prison term or even the death penalty.
A recent Reuters report that interviewed Zimmerman’s neighbors found that both black and Hispanics viewed Zimmerman as someone who cared deeply about his neighbors and volunteered to head the community watch to help them.
The claim that Zimmerman referred to blacks as “f***ing coons” has long since been dropped.
Using this case for political purposes has already come at a real cost. In Gainesville, Florida; Oak Park, Illinois; Mobile, Alabama; Toledo, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and possibly Norfolk, Va., blacks have attacked whites in what they think is revenge for Zimmerman attacking Martin because he was black, and those are just the cases where the perpetrators would make some comment such as “This is for Trayvon.”
The media has been partially responsible for this aftermath with its sensational reporting. Recent coverage has helped to balance things out, but responsible reporting requires still more.
Bottom line: the medical reports about George Zimmerman are revealing a lot more information than the media have so far let on.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a FOXNews.com contributor. He is an economist and co-author of "Debacle: Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future."