I’ve read and heard a lot about the Trayvon Martin tragedy and thought long about my personal position on the matter. I understand that emotions are running high on both sides of the equation, but if reason doesn’t rule the day, then we learn nothing from all of this and are doomed to repeat the cycle. There is a 17 year old young man dead. We must ask why and assign some culpability, once we have the answer.
We should use the power of reason to uncover the exact moment, the very beginning of wrongdoing, that set in motion the chain of events leading to death.
Where do we begin?
1.) Trayvon is walking through the neighborhood. There is no wrongdoing here.
2.) George is following him because he perceives Trayvon to be suspicious. There is no wrongdoing here.
3.) George confronts Trayvon. This is the beginning of where things go wrong. As a neighborhood watch, the job is to observe and report, which George was doing when he was following (observing) and talking to dispatch (reporting).
This should have been the end of his duties, with any further action being continued observation. Instead, “observe and report” was abandoned in favor of “approach and confront,” and this is the beginning of an action that was contrary to the duties of his position.
From this action stemmed further actions, most notably the altercation between the two. If we are to believe the testimony, Trayvon attacking George then this action is also wrong, however it is not the catalyst of the event.
For an attack by Trayvon to be the full catalyst of the events leading to his death, he would have had to approach George, while George was still in the car observing and reporting and doing nothing wrong, and attacked him without any provocation.
That is not what happened. Had that been the case, then Trayvon alone would be responsible for his death.
There is a degree of fault on both sides here. If culpability is indeed shared, then where is the punishment?
Trayvon has already paid, with his life. George has rendered no payment for his role in this tragedy. I believe he is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
“Involuntary manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another human being without intent. The absence of the intent element is the essential difference between voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. Also in most states, involuntary manslaughter does not result from a heat of passion but from an improper use of reasonable care or skill while in the commission of a lawful act or while in the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony.”
Nobody can say for certain that George intended to kill Trayvon, but a death has happened, and there is a cause. That cause is the “improper use of reasonable care or skill” displayed by George when he went outside the confines of his duties.
In order for George to be free of all culpability in the death of Trayvon, for the “stand your ground” law to apply and render him innocent, he would have had to be in his car performing his duties correctly, when he was accosted by Trayvon. All other facts in this case are moot. Death is cause and effect. We already know the effect, and the jury dropped the ball when determining the cause.
The fact is the prosecution could not provide sufficient evidence to meet the burden of proof required for George to be guilty of second degree murder. Being negligent in your duties does not automatically equate to malice.
For all those saying George is innocent, I think I’ve already addressed the question of culpability as seen through the equation of cause and effect. Innocence would mean that he had no part, whatsoever, in the cause.
For those that go the extra step and affirm that Trayvon “deserved” to die, I caution you on the heavy hand by which you judge. There are very few people, when compared to the total human population, that are, or have been, deserving of death. Being an impressionable 17 year old that obviously didn’t have all of life’s answers does not qualify as being deserving of death. Whom among us didn’t make mistakes at that age or at any age?
Perhaps I was deserving of death as a 17 year old boy and did a lot worse than Trayvon ever did? Perhaps my life was a waste because of bad decisions I made at that age? I think history proves that position wrong since today I serve my fellow citizens in a capacity that offers my life in the performance of that service. Trayvon will never have the opportunity to make a similar contribution.
As we struggle to understand this tragedy, we should remember that understanding is a three edged sword: your side, their side and the truth. There are extreme opinions and feelings in all of this, and somewhere in the middle is reason, and the truth. The jury got it right the first time but failed to understand the model of which I’m speaking of, and therefore didn’t recognize the truth.
In their first vote they were three for not guilty (one extreme), one for second degree murder (the other extreme) and two for manslaughter (the middle where reason was. and ultimately, the truth as far as culpability for cause and effect).
The system doesn’t always get it right, everyone already knows this. What needs to be addressed now is how to fix it, so we don’t have more of the same regarding the actual incident and the lack of understanding that followed.
Blind fury and bitter rebuttal as an answer to that fury, are not the answer. Reason must be the rule of the day or we will forever be in the endless darkness of that tragic night.