Sanford Police is Wrong to Accept George Zimmerman's Self-Defense Argument

The Sanford Police Department has a moral responsibility to the citizens of Sanford, Florida to thoroughly explain why they find Mr. Zimmerman’s self-defense argument to be persuasive. 

A mere citation of the relevant statues in Florida's Stand Your Ground law is not sufficient. Forty-six days passed between February 26, the night of Trayvon Martin’s death, and March 11, the night when George Zimmerman turned himself in to the police. Like many observers across the country, I am astounded and outraged that it took that long to arrest an individual who admitted to killing an unarmed teenager. It should not take two million plus signatures, coast-to-coast protests, and an affidavit of probable cause by a Governor-appointed State Attorney to initiate the most basic procedures of justice in the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman case. The standard police response is essentially as follows: Zimmerman deployed deadly force out of a legally protected right to stand his ground when he feared for his life.

The Sanford Police Department has conducted press conferences and released a Frequently Asked Question letter, but has not stated why they find Mr. Zimmerman’s testimony and the relevant physical evidence to substantiate his self-defense argument. Their failure to provide an in-depth explanation of their reasoning undermines the public trust of an institution that is supposed to protect families and communities. 

Without a detailed explanation about why the police department refused to arrest Mr. Zimmerman, the citizens of Sanford, Florida — particularly its black and brown citizens — are unnecessarily subjected to anxiety and anger about either the conduct of their police department. Again, State Attorney Angela Corey filed an affidavit of probable cause for second-degree murder, based upon evidence available to the Sanford Police Department. 

We have yet to hear the Sanford Police Department account for their widely divergent interpretations. Sanford, the world is waiting.

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Andrew Wilkes

Andrew Wilkes is a concerned citizen and ordained clergyman who has built his career on a dual commitment to economic development and economic justice. He currently works as the Faith and Community Relations associate at Habitat for Humanity - New York City. He is an alum of the Coro Foundation's Fellowship in Public Affairs and serves as an affiliate minister at the Greater Allen Cathedral of New York. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary and Hampton University, his writing has been featured in the Washington Post, Sojourners Magazine, and UrbanFaith.com.

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