This unfortunate incident has created a backlash among people from both sides–unfortunately much of it counterproductive. People who are angry over the verdict are generally angry because they believe the story line of events that was never proven in court. If Zimmerman’s side of the story was accurate (his story was consistent with available evidence–eye-witness testimony included– and it’s the prosecution’s burden to refute it) then he was indeed acting in self defense. If the early (and unsupported) narrative (that Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin, then shot him) is true, well then that’s an entirely different story. But regardless of what’s true, what can we learn from this?
You never know if the “other guy” has a weapon.
Whether Zimmerman’s story about losing track of Trayvon Martin and being confronted by him while on his way back from his truck, or a more sinister version of the confrontation (that Zimmerman pushed and initiated the face-to-face confrontation) happens to be the case, the fact that Trayvon Martin was on top of him when being shot is no really in dispute. Between this and the fact that Trayvon Martin had no so much as a scratch on him while Zimmerman had a broken nose and was bleeding from several places suggests that Trayvon Martin had an upper hand in an MMA-style confrontation of ground-and-pound. Nevertheless, Zimmerman was able to pull a gun and end Martin’s life.
Virtually every martial arts school I’ve attended has discouraged personal confrontations like this. One of the reasons: You never know what sort of weapon the other fighter may have. As dominant as a position that Martin had, his life was ended because Zimmerman happened to have a gun. At 17 years of age, we are unfortunately less likely to know or follow such maxims and allow our pride to take over. Since Martin did in fact belong in that neighborhood and was doing nothing sinister, he could/should have merely pinned Zimmerman down and yelled for someone to call the police. Of course, this assumes that Zimmerman initiated the face-to-face confrontation. If Martin indeed came from an angle and confronted Zimmerman, then this of course throws a number of other variables into the mix.