01 July 2013

Could a flashlight have changed things in the Zimmerman Case

First off let me say that I have been following the Zimmerman case very closely.  It is my personal  and professional opinion that George Zimmerman is innocent.  As with any publicized use of force incident, there are things we can learn to increase our physical, legal, and financial survivability.  In this article, I will discuss the need to always carry a flashlight.

One of the only facts of the case accepted by both the prosecution and defense is that on the night of 26FEB12 it was dark and rainy.  Previously I have said that everyone should carry a flashlight all of the time.  It is more important in your EDC than a knife or a gun because not only will you need to see more things than you will need to attack, but lights can be carried in the most non permissive environments. This affords you the ability to have an effective improvised impact weapon in your hand during low light conditions where many attacks occur.

The video below was shot on 27FEB12, the day after the shooting.  It shows George Zimmerman, before having legal representation, reenacting what happened the night before.  At about 8:09 you will hear Zimmerman say he turned to his right looking for Martin.  He said he had a flashlight but it was dead.  When he did not see anything, he moved forward on the path to get an address for the police to meet him.  He then turned around and was confronted by Martin.

Had Zimmerman had an operable flashlight maybe he would have seen Martin in the shadows as he looked to his right.  Even if he didn't, he no doubt would have had it in his hand when walking back.  When Martin called to him he would most likely have immediately turned towards Martin putting the light on him.  This along with good verbal commands may have encouraged Martin to stay back, and if it didn't could have provided Zimmerman with an impact weapon.  Of course this is all speculation, but I hope you can see the points I am making.

By his own admission, the first officer on the scene to a shots fired call only had a dedicated light on his pistol.  Time and time again I have said that this leads to it being used as a flashlight attached to a gun, not a gun attached to a flashlight.  If you are carrying a gun with a dedicated light, you need to have another light on you.  That light is both your primary light and back up light.  You use it to look at things that you are not ready to destroy as well as back up for not "if" but "when" the light on your gun fails.

The second officer that took Zimmerman into custody had a primary light as well as a dedicated light on his gun.  Imagine if he and subsequent officers did not have primary lights.  It was dark out.  They have to take a subject into custody, administer first aid to someone else with a gun shot wound, and search for evidence in the grass.  These things are not best accomplished by a light on your pistol.

Zimmerman was a citizen, and by looking at the cheap one size fits all holster that was seized with his pistol, not very dedicated to carrying good gear.  But police officers, and those who consider themselves prepared, have no excuses.

Hindsight is of course 20/20 especially in this case, but just consider if it would have changed the outcome in this case if Zimmerman had seen Martin before he saw him.

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