Bill Schmalfeldt of the Baltimore Liberal Examiner gives us some insight into the minds of the critics of the Sanford Police Department investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin.
In a piece titled "Trayvon Martin Case: Leaked police report raises more questions than it answers", Mr. Schmalfeldt raises eighteen questions about the investigation and delivers this Big Finish:
There. That is a total of 18 questions that need to be answered. It would be just wonderful if any of the conservative pundits rushing to judgement to blame Trayvon Martin for his own death had an answer to any one of these questions.
Call me Mr. Wonderful! Or, The Answerman - that works:
3. Since January 1, 2011, Zimmerman had called Sanford cops 46 times to report "suspicious activities." Did the Sanford police have Zimmerman on any kind of "watch"? Did they have a file on him?
I have no idea about a police file; maybe in East Germany. However, Mr. Zimmerman made those 46 phone calls between Jan 2004 and the present, not Jan 2011. That misinformation has been widely broadcast but also somewhat widely debunked (by NPR!); the Sanford website has them all, with dates.
One down, seventeen to go. Mr. Wonderful has time for one more:
8. When the cops arrived on the scene, they took the gun and cuffed Zimmerman. They put him in the back of a police cruiser. The responding officer wrote, "At no time did I question Zimmerman about the incident." Why not? Would that not be the job of an officer arriving at the scene of a shooting with the shooter in custody?
No, that would not be standard procedure; link to follow, but standard police practice would be for the escorting officer to listen to spontaneous outbursts and get the perp to the station house; the lead investigator will have more facts, an interview strategy, and recording equipment if desired. Seriously, does any Law and Order fan think the big interviews are conducted in the back of a squad car by whatever officer was first to the scene?
Two down, sixteen to go.
As to the remaining questions, I am as puzzled by the handling of the cell phone as anyone, so some of them are vexing. Others are on the lines of "Is there a forensics report, and if not, why not?" I assume, perhaps optimistically, that not everything has been leaked.
He closes with a call for a wholesale revision of the American justice system:
But they [these ignorant conservative apologists for Zimmerman] don't. No one does. Not even the conservatives here at The Examiner and elsewhere who write as if they knew for a fact that Trayvon Martin was just another black thug with trouble on his mind who was killed by a righteous guardian of the public safety in the line of duty.
It's nonsense, of course.
And no one will know for sure what happened until there's a proper investigation, arrest, and jury trial of George Zimmerman to determine the fatal sequence of events that took place that rainy evening on Feb. 26, 2012 in a gated community in Sanford, Florida.
Only a trial can establish the facts? What about prosecutorial discretion and innocent until proven guilty? Is the State of Florida obliged to trample George Zimmerman and bring a case they don't think they can win just to placate Mr. Schmalfeldt?
Mr. Wonderful thinks he knows the answer.
LET'S PLAY 'ASK ME ANOTHER:
7. Much of the conservative "Blame Trayvon" noise includes the "fact" that he had been suspended three times from school over the last year.... But this raises the question, even if Trayvon Martin was the most prolific catburglar in his high school, did George Zimmerman know that, and what does any of this have to do with the shooting? When he was killed all he had was the aforementioned candy and iced tea.
Well, granting the hypothesis for a moment, George Zimmerman claimed in his 911 call that Martin looked suspicious; maybe he has a flair for picking out the prolific catburglars and was engaging in cat-profiling rather than racial profiling. That would surely be the defense claim, and I suppose the prosecution would have to insist it was a lucky guess.
I can quit anytime...
4. The recently temporarily self-suspended Sanford Police Chief, Bill Lee, said, "“Until we can establish probable cause to dispute that (Zimmerman acted in self defense), we don’t have the grounds to arrest him.” Why was his claim of self-defense considered sufficient? Why did the chief accept that assertion?
Uhh, it's not what you believe, it's what you can prove? Surely that staple of crime fiction reflects the reality of the prosecutorial process. By my good luck, here is Ta Nehesi Coates making precisely that point:
The Case to Be Made Against George Zimmerman
It will not be an easy one. I received the following note from a former homicide prosecutor in Florida. He is responding to the latest account given, in which Trayvon Martin, evidently for kicks, decks Zimmerman with one punch and starts ramming his head into the concrete:
A couple of thoughts:
1.) I don't believe Mr. Zimmerman's story (presuming that what is in the report is truly what he told the police), but more importantly,
2.) What prosecutors believe is not nearly as important as what they can prove. I can not stress this enough, and my mind is about to explode with all of nonsense being written about what the government can and cannot do. It is up to the government, not anyone else, to prove that Zimmerman is lying.
Ta Nehesi Coates is a liberal and he understands this, so I know it is not hopelessly complicated.
5. We understand why Trayvon's body was checked for drugs or alcohol. Standard procedure with a DOA with violence. What were the results?
I am sure that "standard procedure" is to respect the privacy of all involved. However, I am confident the family could obtain and release those results the moment they were available. One might presume they have their own reasons for keeping those results quiet, but why not ask them? After all, they did keep his school records quiet until an inappropriate leak scuttled that strategy.
2. Authorities say Zimmerman's account of what happened was corroborated by "several witnesses." Who are these witnesses? What did they say?
The witnesses are free to self-identify, but protecting witness privacy is standard procedure; given the New Black Panther bounties and Spike Lee home address tweets, I think we can understand why supportive witnesses are not identifying themselves.
4....Did they take Zimmerman's gun? Did they give it back if they did? If they did not, where is the gun now?
At some point canwe penalize Bill for failure to do his homework? From the last page of the police report at the Sanford website:
BILL SPEAKS! I am graced with a response in the comments at his site:
It's an evolving story, Tom. I have neither the time or inclination to go back and rework every story I've written when some new fact is revealed.
My opinion os his credibilty has actually stopped evolving but my advice remains the same. Do your homework!
AND NOW A TOUGH ONE: Ok, where is the wound on the back of Zimmerman's head on this ABC News video? The best view is at the 1:01 mark, and I don't even see anything that looks like a band-aid.
Minimal damage would not have surprised me, especially to the face - normally broken noses and black eyes reach their flowering the next morning, so clean off his face and he might look fine that night. But the cut to the back of the head mentioned in the police report? Where is that?
Interesting to-and-fro with the police leaks - today, the "Get George" people are dropping their bombs.